Monday, February 14, 2011

A Question

I have a question that has always troubled me about the leftist world view:

The left often argues that the government needs to intervene in the economy, provide for retirement, control the media, etc. because people are not able to recognize their own best interests. OK, fine, as far as it goes, that is a valid world view. I disagree with it, but it is a consistent, logically tenable perspective on humanity.

My question is how the leftists can then support an elective government. Assuming people are as incompetent as they say, then how does being elected to office suddenly turn one of these morons into a genius who can divine not only his own best interest but also the best interest of all of his fellow citizens?

If one truly believes the government needs to protect us from ourselves, then elective government would seem to be unthinkable. The citizens in this philosophy are essentially idiots, and, elected or not, should not be entrusted with governing. If you truly believe we need the government to protect us from acting against our own interests, then it seems you would have to support something akin to Plato's philosopher king, as entrusting government to an incompetent citizen elected by other incompetent citizens seems an unacceptable choice.

Well, perhaps a leftist can correct me and explain how they can believe we are competent to elect our leaders but need the government to veto our other choices for our own good.

Originally Posted in Random Notes on 2007/06/20.

NOTES: I later realized that, while I was not consciously doing so, I was paraphrasing a question raised by Frederic Bastiat here. I was not hiding this inadvertent plagiarism, I even gave credit in my reply to a comment posted on the original essay. Nor was it truly plagiarism, at least not in the sense of stealing another's good idea to garner some cheap praise. This idea, even if not entirely original to me, became a central part of much of my political thought, developing eventually into my comprehensive model of liberalism and all other modern interventionist systems. So, though I did accidentally appropriate an idea from another writer, I think what I eventually did with that idea makes my accidental lack of attribution forgivable.

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