The 'Evil' of Material Inequality . . .
I owe my friend Bill Vallicella a hat tip for this entry, for he blogged on it first, and I'm borrowing the Dennis Prager quotes from him. According to Prager, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (Broadside Books, 2012), there's a reason that the Left has so often entangled itself with totalitarian (and would-be totalitarian) regimes over the past hundred years or so:
The Left's great fight is with material inequality, not with evil as normally understood. Thus, the Left has always been less interested in fighting tyranny than in fighting inequality. That is why Leftist dictators -- from Lenin to Mao to Pol Pot to Ho Chi Minh to Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez -- have had so much support from Leftists around the world . . . . (page 29)I wouldn't say that this understanding of evil as primarily material inequality characterizes all those on the Left, nor all liberals, but it captures well the Left's tendency toward judging the world this way and is thus a useful rule of thumb by which to evaluate Leftist statements. It definitely takes the measure of many Leftist arguments that I read here in South Korea when the 'Progressives' are defending North Korea. Indeed, they at times seem to worry more about inequality emerging from the small markets now permitted in the North than about the people's need for such markets in order to survive. Only yesterday, I proofread an article written by a scholar on the left who actually voiced this concern about rising material inequality if the North truly initiates reforms.
This explains the Left's relative disinterest in creating wealth. The enormous and unsustainable debts facing the individual American states and the United States as a country from 2009 on have disturbed the American Right far more than the American Left . . . . The reason is that the Left is not nearly as interested in creating wealth as it is in erasing inequality. (page 29)
Anyway, as for the rest of Prager's book, I haven't read it and therefore have no opinion to offer . . .