Monday, October 29, 2012

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)

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)
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.

Anyway, as for the rest of Prager's book, I haven't read it and therefore have no opinion to offer . . .

Labels: ,


At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The notion that rightwingers are more concerned about deficits and the debt than leftists is a myth. Under Obama, federal spending growth has slowed to a virtual halt; compared to 5.6% inflation-adjusted growth for Bush Jr. Under even 'smaller' government Reagan, spending increased by 2.7% , inflation-adjusted. The unadjusted numbers make Bush Jr. and Reagan look even worse. In the past year, the debt actually DROPPED for the first time since Clinton was in office. Cons fool people into thinking they are fiscally responsible by cutting taxes and welfare spending while doubling the defense budget and putting foreign wars on the nation's credit card. The most fiscally irresponsible federal budget buster in modern US history, the 2003 Medicare Act, expanded an entitlement program that was already unsustainable and handed Big Pharma a golden goose by barring he federal government from exercising the same right as private insurers to negotiate drug prices. Yes, that's right - the law forced Medicare and its recipients to pay top dollar for drugs that non-retired people with private insurance were paying less for. On,y one Republican senator voted againstfiscal assize taxpayer screw while a majority of Dems opposed. When the Dems took control of Congress in 2009, they repealed that heinous clause, yet Big Pharma remains the third most profitable industry with 16% margins.

Republican presidents have provided military assistance to brutal rightwing dictators in Latin America and Asia. The political party that is currently fretting about Iran's nuclear development is the same one that sold arms to the regime and its enemy Iraq back in the 80s. One of the many things I like and respect about Barack Obama is that unlike Reagan and the Bushes, Obama understands that the enemy of my enemy is not my friend and has avoided getting us entangled in new conflicts on the Middle East and Central Asia, where we have no real friends.

Liars, lairs, liars, I hate liars, Jeffery.


At 9:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate autocorrect, too.

....only one Republican senator voted agains that giant taxpayer screw...

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the details, Sonagi, which add to what you wrote over at the MH.

By Right and Left, I don't think solely of politicians, and I think that the rule of thumb holds fairly well.

You're correct to note that the Right has too often supported right-wing dictatorships, so they can't claim to be untainted by evil.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not just politicians but commentators, pundits, and voters, too. The conservative right TALKS about the debt and the deficit but cannot be bothered to educate themselves about the causes or discuss real solutions, other than cutting entitlements while protecting the sacred cow that is defense. The final sentence in the second paragraph,, valuing equality versus wealth, is defensible but the the statement preceding it, aw, hell no. Notice how rightwing shill Prager uses 2009, the year Obama took officer, as his starting point, ignoring the fact that Obama inherited two significant drivers of our present debt - tax cuts and the wars - from Bush. Prager's 2009 reference year also skips past the mountain of debt that had already piled up under Bush. Easily disproven statements like Prager's assertion that cons care more about deficits and debt than lefties often make me wonder whether the person making the statement believes his own falsehoods.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I realize the shrillness of much of the Right, and I don't share it. I prefer to read reasonable, courteous conservatives like David Brooks.

Nevertheless, I think Prager has a point about the Left -- the one great evil the Left sees is material inequality.

That's something that I find true and useful.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing the right and left have in common is hypocrisy. Family values politicians and 'ideologues like Dinesh D'Souza get caught in flagrante deliicto with extramarital partners of both sexes while prominent 'save-the-world" activists like Bono leave enormous carbon footprints or worse yet, actually reap millions in financial gain by lending their names to a cause, like Kerry Kennedy's sweetheart deal with the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Equadorean government. The left as a side of he political spectrum values equality over wealth accumulation, but its leaders tend to value the opposite for themselves. Left or right, it's often "do as I say, not as I do."


At 10:05 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Right, Left, and Center are all inconsistent, so I suppose that means all of us. I'd distinguish inconsistency from hypocrisy, but there are surely a lot of public figures who are hypocrites.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 1:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe hypocrisy is the correct word choice to describe people who condemn publicly activities they choose to engage in privately. If I decide to become a vegetarian and sometimes give in to the temptation of a burger or chicken leg, that is inconsistency. If I castigate others for eating meat while I secretly indulge, too, that is hypocrisy.

At 5:14 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

My rule of thumb on this one? I'm inconsistent, the other guy's hypocritical.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home