I covered a lot of ground in my recent posts on Communism and the Modern Purists. I think many, if not most, of those who lean toward Socialism, do so without thinking of the slope that can lead to Communism. I think I discussed that enough in those four pieces to not belabor the topic any longer. What I do worry about now is if those who had never considered the possibility of falling into such a fateful ideology would know when they had fallen into it.
Now, before you go steaming off in a fit that I am again warning against the perils of the far-left, you would be pleasantly surprised that I am splitting the question on two ends. The far-right are now under the throes of scrutiny (my scrutiny, as if that counted for much).
I have been reading American Lion, the biography of the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson. The author, Jon Meacham, made this statement about Jackson before presenting a quote from him:
“ ‘The majority is to govern’—yes, Jackson believed that, but he also believed in order, in virtue, in forbearance, and in securing the nation and its people not only from foreign foes but from the disruptive winds of their own passions.”
The Jackson quote followed:
“There is too much at stake to allow pride or passion to influence your decision. Never for a moment believe that the great body of the citizens of any State or States can deliberately intend to do wrong. They may, under the influence of temporary excitement or misguided opinions, commit mistakes; they may be misled for a time by the suggestions of self-interest; but in a community so enlightened and patriotic as the people of the United States argument will soon make them sensible of their errors, and when convinced they will be ready to repair them.”
HYPOCRISY OR MISGUIDED OPINION
I found it very interesting that President Jackson would say this while also being the driving force, during his presidency, for the removal of the Indian Nations west of the Mississippi River. Now either he was being utterly hypocritical or was disposed to what he considered misguided opinion, an opinion of which he was never convinced otherwise, despite the many who tried.
This is not a critique of the long ago president. It is a critique of us as a society and as individuals. Approximately 30 years later, America broke out into the Civil War. Why? Various reasons. One of them being slavery. The Confederacy believing it to be right, or a “necessary evil” as they would cowardly state, and the Union believing it to be absolutely evil.
There was no argument made that was so intuitive and powerful to change the minds of our ancestors, despite their enlightenment and patriotism.
DO WE INTEND TO DO WRONG?
The question is do we intend to do wrong? I think Jackson made the accurate assessment. No. Society does not intend to do wrong. They are subjected to their misguided opinions and “misled for a time by the suggestions of self-interest”. When this is the case, I believe it to be more destructive and cataclysmic than had that societal group intended to do wrong.
I say this because if a faction of society intends to do wrong, at least there are those among them who know it is wrong and are far more viable to have their conscience reconstitute their proceedings. In other words, the probability of breaking away from the wrongdoing is much higher. Intending to do wrong and then conducting that wrong enables guilt to pervade and triumph. Guilt is often a very rewarding tool to society.
But when wrongdoing or evil is conducted with the belief that what they are doing is right or at least justified, then the only method to changing that mindset is by force. For example, the Civil War or the Holocaust. Or perhaps something even closer to home, Islamic extremists.
Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize winning economist, made a statement that has stuck with me. He said, “The most harm of all is done when power is in the hands of people who are absolutely persuaded of the purity of their intentions.”
Therein lies the real danger.
Friedman was referencing how Socialism is forcing people to conduct a supposed good. It is telling people that since they aren’t doing these good things voluntarily, then they must be forced to do it.
SIDE NOTE: You might suggest that I made an error in stating that force is only good when I think it is because I suggested force had to be used in certain times, like the Civil War, but not from a socialist standpoint. Those are apples and oranges—very red apples and very orange oranges indeed.
But just as much as the left must understand that Socialism is merely a platform of force, the right must also understand the platform of Nationalism as the same. The former can lead to Communism and the latter to Fascism. They are both equally a slippery slope that can lead to mass destruction of what is currently a pretty good society.
For this reason, our forefathers were wise enough to institute the Electoral College and not abide by the popular vote when electing a president. America is, whether you like it or not, made up of multiple societies, and for that reason, California, New York, and Texas luckily cannot dictate the majority of America.
CAN WE BE MADE SENSIBLE OF OUR ERRORS?
Speaking of multiple societies, there is no convincing one major group at a time. Convincing is done individually. It is a case-by-case basis, much like religious conversion. But can the conversation even take place? According to a Gallup poll, it looks like that just might be a possibility with the younger generation.
My series on modern Communism, however, would make it appear as if that wouldn’t be the case.
Much of the reason why I feel that way is because of the media. It is quite obvious that the many outlets today are not interested in convincing anyone of anything; rather, they simply affirm our previously held political and social beliefs. Continually being fed the line, “You’re right,” is no way to ensure that people of whatever group can be made sensible to their errors.
So the question now comes to you on a very individual basis: can you be convinced of being wrong? You may have said yes involuntarily, but that is only because you are assuming that you would be convinced that you are wrong about something that is wrong. On a deeper level, can you be convinced that you are wrong when you believe that you are right? Especially when you’ve only surrounded yourself with those who never questioned you. You would be surprised at how often you are wrong, especially regarding things you are quite certain to be right about.