I haven't done a substantial post recently (sorry), so I was going through some "articles" I'd written a bit ago. I came up with this. Hopefully I'll get up the nerve to do a post on the healthcare bill soon, but until then, this will have to do.
And for those of you who were wondering, yes, I do write out nearly all my "real" posts well before I actually post them. =P
I read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged a few months ago, and I was discussing it and the libertarian movement with my mom recently. Basically, we came to the conclusion that hedonism is equal to Objectivism (Rand’s espoused philosophy), which in turn is approximately equal to libertarianism. Thus, by the substitution property of equality, hedonism is approximately equal to libertarianism.
Yes, I just said what you thought I said.
Why? Well, let’s begin with a few definitions. Libertarianism, in its essence, is basically state-condoned anarchy, which necessarily allows the people to do whatever they want. Hedonism is the pursuit of personal pleasure at all cost. Objectivism is, according to Rand, “[The] concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”
Now with those definitions, it should be pretty clear that hedonism and libertarianism are both pretty nearly equal to Objectivism, and thus pretty nearly equal to each other.
If you’re a Bible-believing Christian, or at least a Constitution-loving American, this is a problem. If people are allowed to do whatever they want, and doing whatever they want involves hurting someone else, isn’t that sort of a violation of the constitutional rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? On the flip side, if the government restricts the people’s ability to hurt other people, even if it makes them happy, isn’t that also violating their rights?
This is where “promoting the General Welfare” comes into play. By necessity, to promote the welfare of the people as a whole, the government must violate the rights of a few people. This seems uncomfortable at first glance; however, when people decide to use their rights as license rather than as liberty, they must forfeit their rights. Rights are not right when used to harm other people.
So should everyone give up their rights in the name of General Welfare? No. That would be swinging the pendulum too far in the direction of totalitarianism. If the people give up all their rights, welfare isn’t general anymore. The government would be the only thing left to protect the people, and we’ve all seen what happens when that’s the case. Thus, rights are necessary.
What am I advocating, then? Conservatism? Liberalism? Constitutionalism?
None of the above. I’ll do another post sometime on the subject of political parties. This isn't the post for such a discussion. So I’ll leave you with a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes: “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”