By JR on Friday, October 30, 2015
Does Leftism promote social peace?
Throughout history, redistribution of wealth and income has been from the poor to the rich and many of those societies were quite stable -- with Tokugawa Japan being the outstanding example of that. So the idea that redistribution from the rich to the poor is needed to secure social peace lacks immediate plausibility.
Starting with the arch-conservative and deep-thinking Otto von Bismarck, however, the idea has grown that government welfare handouts to the poor are needed to prevent revolutions and social upheavals. And Leftists have gladly latched onto that idea.
The idea that Leftists would promote social peace is however implausible at first glance. How could the politics of rage promote any kind of peace? And there are clear instances where Leftism has in fact promoted social conflict. Communist revolutions are the pre-eminent example of that but the way the American Left has promoted rage among blacks by telling them constantly that their various disadvantages are due to white racism is another deplorable example.
And it seems clear that Leftists preachings about equality are hostile. Such preachings seem more motivated by a desire to tear down the rich rather than lift up the poor. It is only capitalism that has in fact lifted up the poor.
For decades now I have been impressed by the provocative dictum of Leibnitz to the effect that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Various improvements in all sorts of things since Leibnitz make it clear that he was wrong but the intended message that some good things have bad things as their precondition and that some bad things are needed to secure good things still resonates.
And I think that hate-motivated Leftist raging about inequality and injustice could be rather like that. It could be doing us all some good, despite appearances. Among the genuinely disadvantaged it must create the impression that someone is listening to them and working on getting help to them. And the alternative to that could well be social unrest. Traditional societies were able to keep the poor powerless because they controlled the means of communication. That is no longer so. Communication is something of an epidemic in the age of the internet. Muslims already use social media to organize their attacks so it is obvious that others could do likewise.
So I am rather inclined to think that Leftism may on balance be a good thing. It may help preserve social peace. The task of conservatives is not then to shut them up, persecute them or remove them -- which is what Leftists try to do to conservatives. No. Our task is simply to do our best to thwart their brainless and destructive levelling policies. Let them preach but also let us block or unwind their ill-considered and impoverishing policies wherever we can.