Saturday, February 15, 2014

A right-liberal thought experiment

Let's say, as a thought experiment, that right-liberals got what they wanted, so that in 50 years' time all that existed were deracinated individuals each pursuing their rational self-interest in the market.

Let's say that you were one of those individuals. Who would you then vote for? Would you vote for a right-liberal party emphasising small government, low taxes and equal opportunity, or would you vote for a left-liberal party emphasising the idea of high taxation in order to redistribute wealth from the upper middle-classes to the lower classes?

It seems to me that in the most ideal right-liberal conditions most people would vote for the left-liberal party. Why? Because it would be in their rational self-interest to do so. If all that I am told is that I must pursue the best material outcomes for myself, and I belong to the majority which will benefit from a redistributive state, then why wouldn't I vote for that state?

What right-liberals really have to think about is why someone from the majority social classes would vote against their own material self-interest and in favour of small government, low taxation and low welfare.

And the problem here for right-liberals is that the reasons people might do so are not supported by right-liberalism itself.

For instance, a working-class man might from a sense of masculine pride prefer to stand on his own two feet and support his family from his own labours rather than having things handed to him by a welfare state.

But this requires a culture of masculine honour, as well as a very strong sense of a masculine provider role, that the materialistic and individualistic ethos of right-liberalism cannot uphold. Right-liberalism does not reach deeply enough into men's souls to be able to draw on such motivations.

Similarly, if the middle-classes thought of themselves as belonging to a distinct, historic people and as having a duty to promote the highest existence of themselves as a people, then they might forego material self-interest to promote the overall well-being of their own tradition. They might then reject welfarism and statism as sapping the energy and spirit of their own people, and as disrupting intermediary forms of communal life, such as the family.

But right-liberalism is again too individualistic to allow people to form such motivations. Right-liberalism encourages us to identify with ourselves alone as individuals.

Is it really so surprising that nineteenth century right-liberalism was followed by twentieth century left-liberalism?


  1. Mark,

    This is OT, but I thought it might interest you:

  2. Left ideas will always be more appealing to the majority because they "promise" the equality. Democracy inevitably leads to socialism. This is a positive feedback system: the more "recipient" voters, the more left the politicians are and the even more "recipient" voters are created.
    Almost uncontrolled Immigration is a robust way to produce more left voters, who want to be "equal" and easily vote for any such a promise.
    Most of voters, who don't pay taxes, would vote for the wealth redistribution by raising taxes for the upper classes and increasing the benefits for the lower classes.
    Probably, this is in the DNA of the Western political system. Will it lead to the decline of the Western Civilization?

  3. If right-liberalism always ends up in left-liberalism in a democracy, which is the way the United States has been going for the past couple of centuries, the solution would be an oligarchy like Singapore. Singapore is the ultimate meritocratic state where diversity actually works a lot better than in most places. Nowhere is perfect, but Singapore works better than even many homogenous countries in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and some parts of Asia.

    I would say that Singapore is the closest thing to a well functioning state on the face of this earth. Other states that function well (at least for now) are Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

  4. Nearly all secular rightest usually sell out the second they get close to power. I see this as a natural extension of their philosophy.

  5. It depends on the existing distribution of wealth, i.e., before any attempts by the government to redistribute wealth. If most people are middle class, and identify as middle class, they will tend to resist redistributionist policies.

    Of course, the middle class is shrinking in most developed countries. An additional factor is that ethnic identification is overriding class identification. In the U.S., middle-class blacks and hispanics tend to favor redistribution of wealth because ethnicity trumps class. For the same reason, however, lower-class whites are moving to the political right (or rather right-liberal).

  6. Note, that currently we have two major trends on the job market.

    1. Automation
    2. Globalization

    Both these processes "eat" the job market. There is only demand for highly skilled/educated employees and small local jobs market (waiters, cab drivers, cashiers etc.).
    Imagine in 10-20 years self-driving cars would replaces human drivers at all.

    If you think that jobs go to China, then you're wrong. There are less jobs in China compared to what they had 10 years ago because of automation.

    So we're are moving to something like 70-80% unemployment. Probably there is no room for anything but leftist ideas (high taxes for those, who have job and welfare for those who don't).