Friday, July 13, 2012

Even More on the Left's Core Error: The Welfare State's Origins

We mentioned a mid-length essay from Schindler, followed by a short essay of Fr. Schall.  Both of them focus, more or less, on the SCOTUS decision of ObamaCare, but both go into the historical antecedents.

Here's a bit more on the same general topic, focusing on the teachings of Irving Babbitt (Harvard) and how they affected T. S. Eliot--who makes a very trenchant observation about what is perhaps the worst evil of "humanitarianism".  We follow with a few thoughts from Santayana in similar mode.

...Babbitt had much the greatest effect on Eliot. In his books, he identified the Romantic era as the time when western thought went off the rails. In Rousseau and Romanticism, he blames Rousseau in particular as the one who initiated the revolution in thought that led to the modern malaise, and in Democracy and Leadership he shows what the negative effects of this revolution were for governance. Babbitt made a distinction between the humanitarian and the humanist. The humanitarian was, he said, a sentimentalist, one who felt for humanity at large and wanted to make life better for everyone. The humanitarian also subscribed to a naturalistic dogma, which held that all it takes to improve people's lives is an improvement in their material conditions: make sure that they have good food, shelter, and so on, and they will be happy. Babbitt and More called themselves the New Humanists, and they argued that the humanitarian approach ignored the spiritual dimension of human life, which could not be satisfied by material commodities alone. Thus the utopian schemes of Rousseau's humanitarians were destined to fail, and even to make human life worse. 

While the humanitarians treated the human race as a herd to be cared for, they also emphasized a relativistic individualism, and Babbitt asserted that, on the contrary, human beings must acknowledge some external authority higher than themselves if their society is to thrive. An essential part of Rousseau's sentimental humanitarianism is his assumption that human beings are basically good and would do the right thing if left alone, while Babbitt believed that external authority was necessary to curb individual appetites. The humanitarians, he asserted, were encouraging a vulgar individualism, with no call to virtue. 

Eliot has the humanitarian utopian scheme in mind when he later writes in The Rock

"They constantly try to escape
From the darkness outside and within
By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.

If the humanitarians have their way, virtue will be assumed or will be irrelevant: the systems that provide everyone with necessities will obviate any need for virtuous behavior. Babbitt's battle against them was one Eliot carried on lifelong. He eventually parted ways with Babbitt, for he came to believe that Babbitt's humanism, which acknowledged a vague spiritual authority but did not adhere to any religious creed, was itself inadequate as the basis of culture.

It is noteworthy that Babbit was not "religious" in the strict sense.   One cannot accuse him of "rabid XXXX-ism"--because it's not true.  What you have is a political thinker who understands the issues in a way that is consistent with the understanding of OTHER political thinkers who may have a 'religious' cast to their conclusions.

Most noteworthy is Eliot's conclusion that:

the systems that provide everyone with necessities will obviate any need for virtuous behavior

No longer a need for pursuit of virtue, or goodness, or truth, eh?

No wonder they've "dumbed down" education.

Santayana also saw a degradation of society under the tyranny of the majority, which Eliot also feared. "The philanthropists are now preparing," he wrote, "an absolute subjection of the individual, in soul and body, to the instincts of the majority--the most cruel and unprogressive of masters; and I am not sure that the liberal maxim, 'the greatest happiness of the greatest number,' has not lost whatever was just or generous in its intent and come to mean the greatest idleness of the largest possible population." Thus utilitarian and naturalistic progressivism was likely to result in a great degradation of human society, as the majority learned to use its vote to serve itself.

It's not co-incidence that ObozoCare will quash the First Amendment rights of the Church.

The linked essay is well worth reading in its entirety, as the latter half of it (not quoted here) discusses the Eliot/Dawson conclusion that a religion-less society will eventually collapse upon itself--due to disorder.


Anonymous said...

The Rights core errors and why I will not vote for Willard.

1. incinerating aborted babies. MORE CULTURE OF DEATH

2. Mitt Romney raising money at home of 'morning-after pill' executive. EVEN MORE CULTURE OF DEATH

3. Willard wants pro abortion CONDI Rice for VP.

Anonymous said...

.......more on Willards core errors..........

He is no different than Obama.....

Anonymous said...


Did you read this one?

"100 Ways Mitt Romney Is Just Like Barack Obama"
(Article should take about 21 - 34 minutes to read.)

Anonymous said...

Obamacare Delenda Est

Anonymous said...

More Obama Fail

US Poverty Rate to Hit Highest Level Since 1965, Economists Say