As far as I am concerned, I wish to choose for myself and do not want anyone else to make choices on my behalf, against my will that is all. And if someone claims the right to substitute his judgment for mine in matters that concern me, I will ask to substitute mine for his in transactions that concern him. Where is the guarantee that things will go (any) better? It is obvious that competition is another word for freedom. If you destroy the freedom to act, you destroy the possibility and consequently the right to choose, judge, and compare; you kill the mind, you kill thought, and you kill man himself. Whichever way they go, modern reformers always end up at this point; in order to improve society, they begin by destroying the individual on the pretext that all harm arises from this source, as though all forms of good did not arise from it too.
-Frédéric Bastiat ( Economic Harmonies)
(H/T: Cafe Hayek)
I could not help but notice that Steve’s post points out the exact opposite of the above from Bastiat, who is only arguing, to put it into today’s vernacular “Leave me alone” and “Get off my lawn!”, from Steve’s post:
“the important point is that ever since philosopher William James coined the phrase the “moral equivalent of war,” American liberalism has been recycling the same basic idea: The country needs to be unified and organized as if we are at war, but not to fight a literal battle. The attraction stems from what John Dewey called “the social possibilities of war” — the ability to reorganize and unify society according to the schemes of planners and experts.”
The Individual vs the Collectivist. Our Founders versus Progressives / Socialists. The former uplifts the Individual, the latter reduces him to being a mere cog in a “social machine”. One treats the Individual as a person to be valued, the other, someone merely to be manipulated.
Classical Western Liberalism / Enlightenment vs Socialism / Communism. “…in order to improve society, they begin by destroying the individual”.
And we are seeing that now, aren’t we?