The Right People

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Keep Right – Column by Ralph K. Ginorio

“The world would be a better place if only the right people were in charge.” This rather blithe sentiment is probably held by most people, regardless of political philosophy.

While people mean profoundly different things by “the right people” and “in charge,” this idea is rooted both in statist and in collectivist assumptions.

Hierarchies are useful in times of war and natural disaster. They serve a function in law enforcement, surgical treatments, and work teams.

However, Marxists, Progressives, modern Liberals, and Fundamentalists of the Left and Right employ hierarchy well beyond its usefulness. These believers in an activist government see the coercive powers of the state as a universal tool to solve all of life’s problems.

Wielding government authority like a sledgehammer, these reformists, revolutionaries, and restorers wish to hack apart the underlying structures that make up our traditionally evolved society. They then intend to employ the state’s force to hammer together a newly reconstructed society, redesigned along ideologically pure utopian lines.

These zealots yearn to employ legalism to create carrot-and-stick laws about literally every form of human choice. In their ideal new order, no significant decision should be left to individuals uninformed by ideologically correct priorities. Every person must be guided to live their “best life” by those who have won political power.

Communists, Socialists, Progressives, and Fundamentalists all crave to live in such a perfected culture, thoroughly purged of disagreement. “The Righteous,” comprising key leaders within whatever movement that has captured the state, will make all of the consequential choices for absolutely everyone.

Such thoroughgoing legalism actually has real appeal to certain people. Imagine an overweight man who is slowly killing himself by overconsumption of food and physical inactivity. Such a man has been heretofore unable to discipline himself to diet and exercise.

Along comes big government to deny this fellow extra food and mandate minimal physical exertion. Totalitarianism removes the burdens of adulthood both for his own good as well as for the commonweal.

As byproducts of this intervention, a black market develops in fatty sweet food and technologists sell computer hacks that falsify electronic exercise records. Well-connected and corrupt leaders can profit from such chicanery, using it for blackmail.

Paternalistic intervention makes government our perpetual guardian, ever standing protectively between us and harm. It gives us what we doubt we could acquire for ourselves while keeping us safe from our own unfettered autonomy.

Those who thirst for government to fulfill the roles of deity, parent, spouse, provider, conscience, and muse expect nothing less than salvation from politicians. Like magic, and all on their own terms, visionary leaders are trusted to save us from the uncertain nature of human life, itself.

Those ideologues who are most self-aware dispense with most of these propagandistic pretentions. They wish to be those who lead. They intend to become god, reshaping existence to suit their vanities and ruling the rest of us in order to do it.

We who see government as a necessary evil must more compellingly make our case. We must demonstrate that government is not, has never been, and can never be a trustworthy means to build a better world.

The question should not be about who is in charge. Rather, we each should concern ourselves with what we can and should personally do in hopes of leading a worthwhile life. Salvation is an individual matter. Justice is never social.

We Conservatives consider that government, the coercive power of the state, exists only to protect and serve individual liberty. For Conservatives, the “right people” are those committed to the spirit and letter of our Constitution. Instead of trying to manipulate society to progress towards some form of utopia, our Constitution preserves everyone’s liberty.

We must remind those around us that, by God’s grace, we might save ourselves. If only we take heart, nurture hope, and try to transcend our current limits then the possibilities are limitless.

A man must stand upright, not be kept upright by others”

Marcus Aurelius