TCS Daily


The Communitarian Connundrum

By Stephen Bainbridge - October 13, 2006 12:00 AM

University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone recently offered 10 tenets of modern liberalism, which included the following nugget:

It is liberals who maintain that a national community is like a family and that government exists in part to "promote the general welfare."

It is this communitarian aspect of modern liberalism, of course, which marks a principal difference between the modern version and classical liberalism. I suspect it is this over-broad understanding of what it means to be a community that is one of the things conservatives and libertarians steeped in the classical liberal tradition find most off-putting about modern liberalism.

The great moral difficulty with communitarianism is that, if taken to extremes, it treats individuals as though they were little more than cells of a larger organism. Just as when doctors kill cells to prevent cancer from spreading, communitarianism readily justifies state intrusion into the private sphere in the name of some communal good.

Worse yet, communitarian societies require a standard of behavior more demanding than most members of an unredeemed society are unable or unwilling to meet most of the time, and that all are unable to meet all of the time. Hence, it is hardly surprising that world history is littered with the failures of communitarian utopia. The communitarian agenda simply cannot be attained without invoking the state's monopoly on coercive force. Hence, as has been observed of the British (New) Labour Party's version of communitarianism, it amounts to "the nationalization of people instead of companies, as individuals are subsumed by their designated communities."

This is precisely why conservatives have always balanced the communitarian elements of our philosophy with a strong commitment to ordered liberty. Our goal is not some national "community" whose rules are enforced by the state, but rather the promotion of intermediating institutions that build what George Weigel calls "a citizenry regulating itself from within according to a shared public 'language of good and evil.'"

Conservatives believe that the state cannot build such a citizenry, because the state cannot make people virtuous. Virtue is an adaptive response to the instinctive human recognition of (and need for) a transcendent moral order codified in a body of natural law. People are most likely to act virtuously when they believe in an external power, higher and more permanent than the state, who is aware of their shortcomings and will punish them in the next life even if they escape retribution in this life.

Civic virtue also can be created by secular communities. As James Q. Wilson observes, "something in us makes it all but impossible to justify our acts as mere self-interest whenever those acts are seen by others as violating a moral principle." Rather, "[w]e want our actions to be seen by others—and by ourselves—as arising out of appropriate motives." Voluntary communities strengthen this instinct in two ways. First, they provide a network of reputational and other social sanctions that shape incentives. Virtuous communities will use those sanctions to encourage virtue among their members. Second, because people care more about how they are perceived by those close to them, communal life provides a cloud of witnesses about whom we care and whose good opinion we value. We hesitate to disappoint those people and thus strive to comport ourselves in accordance with communal norms.

The nanny state is a poor substitute, at best, for the virtue inculcating power of faith and voluntary community. We may fear the faceless bureaucrat, but he does not inspire us to virtue. Conduct that rises above the lowest common moral denominator thus cannot be created by state action. But while the state cannot make its citizens virtuous, it can destroy the intermediary institutions that do inculcate virtue. As Richard Epstein observes, "Communities can be destroyed from without; but they cannot be created from without; they must be built from within."

To be clear, I am not arguing for some libertarian utopia in which the state has no role beyond that of a night watchman. As Edmund Burke once observed, there is "a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue." At that limit, the state properly steps in.

The Calvinist principle of sphere sovereignty offers one way of thinking about the line between legitimate and illegitimate uses of government power. Social institutions—including both the state and the corporation—are organized horizontally, none subordinated to the others, each having a sphere of authority governed by its own ordering principles. Expansion of any social institution beyond its proper sphere necessarily results in social disorder and opens the door to tyranny. The trouble with the state thus is not its existence, but its expansion beyond those functions prescribed by custom and convention, which were legitimized by ancient usage, into the pervasive nanny state perpetually grasping at aspects of social life to drag into its slavering maw.

From a perspective founded on sphere sovereignty, the progressive communitarian's basic flaw is his willingness to invoke the coercive power of the state in ways that deny the right of mankind acting individually or collectively through voluntary associations to order society. In contrast, conservatives are unwilling to sacrifice ordered liberty at the altar of community. A conservative properly insists that individuals be left free to define for themselves what conduct shall be deemed trustworthy or honorable, rather than being forced to comply with, say, Geoffrey Stone's definition of what makes for a good community.

Steve Bainbridge is a TCS Daily Contributing Editor and a Professor of Law at UCLA. He writes two popular blogs: ProfessorBainbridge.com and ProfessorBainbridgeOnWine.com.

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346 Comments

commune-ing
Those liberals, aka communitarians, socialist, secular progressives and all the other akas they have like to think of people as a herd of sheep, and the liberal coercive predatory government as the shepard. They deny the basic difference between people and animals, ie that people all have an individual mind with rationality etc. Since it's individuals, not groups that keep striving to do what they want, it's better to go to the side of more freedom. That's why I like austro-libertariansim.

A sense of common purpose
Bainbridge puts his finger on the extreme libertarian strain of conservatism-- it's every man for himself and screw the other guy. But I think the country was actually founded on the strengths that come from becoming a people, and forming a strong common purpose.

The Founding Fathers would be spinning in their graves to see how we had hollowed out the national treasury, so that all it contained was eight billion IOU's. And they would not recognize a government so centered on enshrining privilege at the expense of the common wealth as being one descended from their own.

They would not call a democracy a government designed around the enrichment and entrenchment of two political parties. They would call it by its right name: an oligopoly.

And they would instantly recognize people who pointed to the community chest and called it a communist invention for what they really are: thieves desirous of the contents.

A pack of such knaves bent on bringing down our way of life can only be stopped by an organized community. As I believe Patrick Henry once said, we must all hang together-- or assuredly we will hang separately.

All abstract theory, no historical or political detail
I mean, this kind of argumentation is close to meaningless, It doesn't engage any real decisions, it doesn't quote any real people, it's just Bainbridge arguing with an elaborate straw man and all the real issues get lost in the rhetorical fog.

for example; the Gettysburg Address sounds pretty darn communitarian with all the 'we' stuff. Was Lincoln one of those nasty commitarian? If not, why not?

Examples Please
"...government so centered on enshrining privilege at the expense of the common wealth..."

"...people who pointed to the community chest and called it a communist invention..."

Examples
An example of a "...government so centered on enshrining privilege at the expense of the common wealth..." would be the attempts to create a two-tiered system of taxation, where employees pay at the full rate (the payroll tax and the income tax) while those whose income derives from investments get to opay at reduced rates (capital gains and dividend income).

An example of those "...people who pointed to the community chest and called it a communist invention..." would include nearly every one of my kibitzers here on the Forum. The extreme wing of the libertarian persuasion gets absolutely vehement at the idea that our government should administer any form of social insurance. While at the same time preferring a form of economic growth that does away with any sort of job security for the wage earner. It's a formula (IMO) for class instability and political strife.

In a decent and stable society, assurances are created that will satisfy both classes of stakeholders in America's strength-- the holders of investment income and the people who do the actual work.

This is true, except that most "conservatives" are not really on the right
The biggest problem plaguing the right on these issues, IMO, is that the right is negatively united. We're united by what we dislike, not what we like. This has had a profound impact on conservatives and populists who define themselves more often against something than for something else.

Memo to liberals…
There is no such thing as “social insurance” or “job security” and “class instability” is a good thing.

If someone/thing is powerful enough to give, it is powerful enough to take away.

You may be powerful enough to give me a job, but then you could always take it back. I would have to meet your requirements for keeping that job or lose it. If you treated me unfairly, I would be free to take my knowledge/skill and give it to another. I could also become a job giver myself.

But in today’s Liberal Monopoly Game I can go instead to the ‘social insurance’ company for a get-out-of-labor-free card from the ‘community chest’.

But just as the Monopoly game manufacturers would have no game unless there were people paying money to keep it in play, the government would have no community chest if there weren’t people laboring to keep cards flowing to the ‘job security’ game players. Too many reaching for the no-work option and you have no government and/or no community chest. Not very secure, n’est pas?

And who wants ‘class stability’? I was born into a family poor enough to be shoeless without choice in good weather. But I’m banging away on a piece of machinery so awesome that I can talk/listen to the whole world while enjoying the comfort of climate control and plenty of victuals just footsteps away. Should I have stayed hungry and uncomfortable so everything would be nice and steady?

Too true.
This reflects a fear perspective which in turn reflects weakness (the fear of being overwhelmed). The only way this promotes cohesion is in war since the material consideration of being overwhelmed by an enemy force bands all individuals together for the strength to repel invaders. This is totally inappropriate in peacetime (and why every government effort is cloaked in war terminology... war on poverty, for example).

A Good Community Only Needs One Law
"Conservatives believe that the state cannot build such a citizenry, because the state cannot make people virtuous. Virtue is an adaptive response to the instinctive human recognition of (and need for) a transcendent moral order codified in a body of natural law."

Natural law is not an exclusively conservative or liberal trait, it is a trait of every decent human that most conservatives and liberals should agree with. Natural law can be summarized best as "Never harm another for benefit or pleasure and only expect the same as others". It is the responsibility of government to enforce this one law.

Social services, while sometimes beneficial if properly funded and implemented, are just gravy.

The communitarian trait becomes a problem when any community 'circles the wagons' to protect a member or members that hurt others. This may help the individual but it ends up hurting the entire community.

The government's primary responsibility is to protect individuals from others who would harm them and to then prevent that criminal from harming others in the future (Law and Order). Government provided social services should be available to help someone get back on their feet but not to carry them.

Thanx,

Kevin

communitarian
Like when people tell us that we must outlaw drugs because people who misuse them are not able to properly perform their roll in society.

what roy doesn't understand, he insults, and there is apparently nothing that roy understands
In roy's liberal world, either you want big nanny govt, or you believe that it's every man for himself.

Like most liberals, roy can't conceive of any other possibility.

Kind of like stephen declaring that unless you are an atheist, then you believe in creationism.

translaton
eric can't refute it, so he's just going to throw insults.

social services
"Government provided social services should be available to help someone get back on their feet but not to carry them."

Since private agencies can provide such services more effectively and at less cost, why should we rely on govt?

translation
nothing at all to say, as always.

Lincoln
Lincoln was a vicious tyrant; one responsible for the commencement of the destruction of the founders' republican dream. The republic itself was in essence the political manifestation of states rights---the notion that the central government existed as a creation of the states and not vice versa. Lincoln turned that idea on its head.

From his destruction, via the War Between the States, of state sovereingty the centralization and consolidation of power in the federal government has led to a US that is little less than a fascist-like administrative tyranny.

So, yes Lincoln was as nasty as hell.

The man's article was incisive and surgical...
Self-governance at the individual, family and "real community level" is what makes me behave in socially approved activities -- cut the lawn, set up the "winterizer on the water heater, etc. today. I don't do it because the national community insists that i do...but because it is all in my own self interest (both economic and social)

The point is that I feel responsibility to myself, family and community, not the much vaunted "international community", national family or whatever the statists want to describe as this communality "thing".

"communality" as statisticians and mathmaticians have described is a function of independent variables measured in n-dimensional space. Factor analysis, discriminant fucnction analysis and the other multivariate models simply demonstrate mathematical proximity (distance). The models do not demonstrate or even approximate "homogeneity" which is the basic criterion for a community.

I behave in socially appropriate ways as a "member" of a real entity, not some anomolous "communitarian" principle.

And no, you can't use my car with out my permission, because you "just need the car" (and i don't intend to debate it with you) -- but i do have a legally registered handgun (so, you see "regulatory authorities" do have a place. Unregulated "feelings" and "wants" (gimme your car 'cause i NEED it" do not have sanctioned regulations

Ah yes, I'd forgotten. Lincoln was a tyrant
and the institution of human beings as chattal property was the fulfillment of the Founders republican dream. Sure.

my nothing to say, counteracts your nothing to say.
...

Lincoln wrote
that if he could preserve the Union while at the same time preserving slavery, he would.

Yes, I'd forgotten, Lincoln was incompetent
Terrible, that he had to free those slaves. Awful, awful, awful. A better president would have found a way.

Since you have nothing to say or to argue
why not shut up?

Privilege at the expense of the common wealth
"..." would be the attempts to create a two-tiered system of taxation, where employees pay at the full rate (the payroll tax and the income tax) while those whose income derives from investments get to opay at reduced rates (capital gains and dividend income)."

Would that our federal tax system were merely two-tiered. However, we have multiple income tax rates, including negative rates and zero rates.

Employees who pay income taxes pay at graduated rates; but, many employees (about half of taxpayers, pay no income tax at all). Employees pay half of the payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare; employers pay the rest.

Most of those whose income derives from investments are retired people who have paid payroll taxes their entire lives and are now receiving benefits, plus earning dividends and interest on the after-tax money they saved while they were working.

The federal government constantly complains about the low savings rate in the US economy; however, unlike you, they are not complaining because the low savings rate results only in the collection of taxes at reduced rates.

No such thing as social insurance?
Actually there is. If you're old and sick, and unable to pay, there's the Medicare that you put money into back during your working years.

And if you get laid off, there's the unemployment insurance you paid into when you were working.

I happen to think those prograqms are good things. What I don't want is to have someone wreck them and use up all the money we've put aside in order to conduct wasteful and idiotic wars of aggression.

"You may be powerful enough to give me a job, but then you could always take it back. I would have to meet your requirements for keeping that job or lose it."

In fact I've employed quite a few people over the years. And any one of them could lose their job if they stopped meeting their requirements. In fact I could have lost my own job if there was cause. But that's not what I'm talking about. In a globalized economy no one's job is safe from being moved to a low wage country. So we do have an ongoing need for some forms of social insurance.

And I think it's only right that the people who prosper from moving those jobs south should pay into the benefits their displaced workers need and deserve.

It sounds like what you're against is insurance itself. We pay into the chest when we can, and receive benefits from it when we must. What's the problem with that?

Finally, I think you misunderstand my meaning when I say that current government policies promote class instability. What I meant by the word was class warfare. I was trying to put it nicely.

Certainly Not Incompetent
But surely single-minded to the point of being ruthless. Portrayed as a fool, he was not a man to be trifled with, whatever you think of his policiees.

I would rather like to see a president today, do what Lincoln did when Roger Tanney objected to the suspension of Habeus Corpus. He thanked him for his opinion, informed him that he had a duty to see that the War was successfully prosecuted and informed the esteemed Jurist that if he did anything to prevent the successful prosecution of the War, he'd have him arrested.

Dear SCOTUS, buzz off!

Perspective
During the War of 1812 the Southern states championed the power of the Federal gov. and the New England states argued for state's rights and threatened to secede. The dispute wasn't really about some abstract notion of the division of power in the Republic.

Big wars tend to empower gov. and they also lead to unanticipated consequences (usually very bad ones). Look at the US Civil War and and the two world wars. The gov. assumed new powers, expanded into new areas and perhaps taught people to repect and trust the Federal gov. more.

Lincoln was a very polarizing figure who took extreme measures to win the war his election brought about. He won the war, so he is regarded as a hero and a great president (except by some sore losers). Machiavelli would approve.

Insurance
"I happen to think those prograqms are good things. What I don't want is to have someone wreck them and use up all the money we've put aside in order to conduct wasteful and idiotic wars of aggression."

Insurance is an invesment program. Premiums are paid and INVESTED. If the insurance company did their homework, they will make more money than they pay out.

Social security and medicare are NOT investmets. The money paid in is immediately spent on something.

If they were real insurance programs, the government could not steal the money.

I am for more liberty and more money.
Is that so hard?

Must punish all for the mis-deeds of a few.
That's the tolerant way.

Mus'nt make any ONE feel bad. Share the pain.

The true communist path.

Any laws against loudly breaking wind in public?
How many people do it?

Public ridicule and customs are powerful.

Far from my point
So are you saying that what you got from my comment was that I would feel entitled to borrow your car if I thought I needed it?

I was talking about insurance. How much community does one have to feel with those who have the same insurance policy you do? I get the feeling you are feigning a credulous stance.

in roy's world
it ok to take someone's money, without their permision, because you need it.

but it's not ok to take their car, without their permision, because you need it.

Since yo have nothing to say or to argue
why not shut up?

as usual, eric not only can't read what was written
but he also assumes that because he doesn't understand something, the other person must be evil.

You praised Lincoln.
I showed where Lincoln did not believe what you said he believed.
From that, you conclude I'm a racist.

Preferential tax rates
"Would that our federal tax system were merely two-tiered. However, we have multiple income tax rates, including negative rates and zero rates."

But more to the point, earned income is taxed at rates like 25% and 28%, while unearned income is untaxed, or taxed at rates like 10% or 15%.

And these preferential rates for capital gains and for dividends were certainly not enacted to benefit those retirees who scrimped and saved to buy a few thousand dollars' worth of mutual funds. They were enacted for the benefit of those individuals making over $200K per year-- the people who contribute to political campaigns.

"Under the Bush tax cuts, the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes - a minimum of $87 million in 2000, the last year for which the government will release such data - now pay income, Medicare and Social Security taxes amounting to virtually the same percentage of their incomes as people making $50,000 to $75,000.

"Those earning more than $10 million a year now pay a lesser share of their income in these taxes than those making $100,000 to $200,000."

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/05/national/class/HYPER-FINAL.html?ei=5088&en=f1a744d1ce38c79e&ex=1275624000&pagewanted=print

In fact 70% of the tax gains realized by the new investment tax cuts went to only the top two percent of income earners.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/05/business/05tax.html?ei=5090&en=2f0a3f0a0544a9bc&ex=1

Also, it may please you to think that employees only pay half the payroll tax while their employers pay the other. But of course the taxes are paid out of the total compensation package employers offer their workers. So I would note that everyone pays not 7.65% but 15.3% of their income up to the wage base limit ($90K) for the SS portion. Those of us who are self employed, as I was, get off a bit easier. They only pay 15.3% of their income.

So I am invested in the system-- in a way that those earning more than $90K are not. And I will not stand by to see my savings and health plans dismantled by avaricious zealots.

I can't really address the final part of your comment ("The federal government constantly complains about the low savings rate in the US economy; however, unlike you, they are not complaining because the low savings rate results only in the collection of taxes at reduced rates.") It has nothing to do with anything I've said. We have a low savings rate for the reason that wage earners feel strapped, and credit is abundantly being offered to them. So they succumb, and live beyond their means just like Uncle Sam does.

read Lincoln's writing...
and you will find that he cared nothing for blacks. In fact, having his way would have meant deporting them all to Africa.
Read DiLorenzo's Lincoln Unmasked. You'll be surprised what you can learn.

Bainbridge describes Roy to a T
A nation that ignores individual liberties to the whims of knaves who are bent on a greater good (Heard that before) and will stop at nothing to get it (seen that) should start alarm bells ringing. Indeed the founding fathers would be spining in their graves to see socialists ignorning the Constitution to redistribute welath not based on effort, talent or merit but according to their particular psychosis.

The would call a government based on the redistyribution of wealth and the use of bureaucracy and the judiciary to cirumvent the legislature and the will of the people a tyrannry, and a socialist one at that. They would blanch at the secular Left's bid to exile God from the public arena. They would revolt at the government's actions as an agent of cohersion but they would recognize it as the government that they had revlted against. Read the Declaration to see what our government does today and ask yourself does our government not do this today that was rejected then?

The Founding Fathers would recognize those who seek to stop progress and steal the wealth of the industrious. They recognize the sunshine patriots who depend on the efforts and sacrifice of their betters, risk nothing and demand more than their share.

This is the Left today. Watch the events at Columbia to see the toleration of the Left and its principles.

His primary reason for....
freeing the slaves was to curry political favor with the Europeans and the English in particular. He only cared about staving off any alliance between the southern states and the Euros.

You've been brainwashed by partisan history.

Msfitz you're like light to a vampire
Our founding fathers didn't risk and sacrifice for social insurance. They wish for freedom something the Left hates. Freedom to succeed, freedom to fail, but above all to have the freeedom to achieve and try. The Left hates change, it loves the status quo. It loves to be in charge. Freedom is its enemy hence we see the talk about social security, job security, etc. Who at Valley Forge or the Alamo fought for job security? Who at Bataan or Iwo Jima fought for Medicare? Who today in Afghanistan or Iraq fights for unemplouyment insurance?

These are the watch words of those too impoverished in spirit and attitude to understand the blessings we enjoy or to be able to guage or value them correctly. The Left is concerned not with the spiritual, indeed it hastens to abolish religion and faith where it can, to worship at the altars of materialism.

Today more people enter the US than the rest of the world put together because they know they will not be taken out by corrupt police, fleeced by crooked politicians and bureaucrats; not exploited by greedy bosses or condemned to a caste. They are motivated by the same desire for freedom and liberty that the Left tries to destroy with a soft and fuzzy offer of social insurance. The opportunity to share misery equally and the hope of avoiding failure rather than the chance of dazzling success.


It is the credo of envy; the faith of poltroons and lossers.
It is the voice of Roy.

To each according to his needs goes Commissar Roy
It must be pleasant to be able to ignore reality and utter such nonsense. To accumulate capital the average working man must pay taxes on his wages before he invests he can then invest. Upon investing he gets taxed again, but first the government taxes the corporation so his investment is taxed twice before he pays a third time.

Commissar Roy objects that the working man has been able to scrimp and save enough without the interfeence or permission of the state to invest on his own. The nerve. So Roy must steal that money r34easoning it is buy rights the State's and must have been obtained by illegal means.

So the skipped meals, the vacations not taken, the clothes not bought, the careful looking for bargians is all for nought because the State and Commissar Roy must pay illegal aliens welfare benefits or support some communist dictator's efforts tyo build a nuclear weapon.


As usual Roy resorts to the tired tactics of communists everywhere. The top 50% of wage earners pay 95% of federal taxes. Sound reasonable to you? The top 5% pays an amount that is incredible yet Roy denies them any reduction in rates, consider your own tax bracket, feel rich? Yet you are probably in the top third, or what the class warriors claim are the richj living off their dividends.

Having inflicted insured poverty on Americans by imposing a social security system that returns 2% a year, by comparison just buying savings bonds would yield 4%, and which byt the way the Sociocrats made sure they exempted themselves from reduces your income by over 13% a year and more if you are self employed. It gets worse once you realize the Supreme Court said you have no right or guarantee to these monies seized from you at gunpoint.

Worse the sociocrats tax that money three times. Think about it they remove your social security taxes before you ever get them, yet they tax you as if you received them when you file income taxes. When the government pays you (if you live to collect or the government deigns to pay) they will tax you again. Why is this such a Ponzi scheme and fraud.


Because the Left has to pay a 33% of Social Security's budget for SSI and Medicaid to support those who never worked, and who are probably not US citizens. They get 100% medical coverage-yet you work for years and get 85% coverage. Thank the Left for this.


Yes the Left loves preferential tax rates. Thats why it taxes and taxes and fights any attempt to allow a fairer system that rewards work and merit.

Its not what Roy doesn't understand its what provides a clear alternative to his police state
Roy hates freedom and liberty. He wants to eliminate choice and options to suit the limits of his dictates. You're right Roy would accept any other possibility, it would threaten his worldview as Bainbridge describes.

He is a scary dud telling us that it is commendable to be impartial between the light and darkness by splitting the difference and calling it reason or humanitarian. His de rigueur sanctimony and droning reminds us that of the two suicidal cults America faces today the secularist Left is the far more lethal and depraved.

What? No more Leeming Spamming?
No more tedious pointless evasions or refusals to focus? No more infantile arguments without bearing on the discussion? No more moral dyslexia?


And Mark you expect the Leeming Master to shut up? Its spam time for you.

Knew you'd love Lincoln
No one ever trampled on it more nor killed more people to gratuify his personal agenda in American history. But you gotta say he was the best paid mouth piece for the railraods at thaqt time. Too bad for the 650,000 Americans who paid for his ambition.

But Mark you must be racist
I mean no other nation in the world found it necessary to wage a war like ours to free the slaves. Whatever other motive could you possibly have.


Eric is a loon, he really is in a class with Roy.

Nice point Marjon
We shouldn't punish the drunk driver who has killed a vactioning family we must punish the entire community according to Mark. No one is responsible for his actions. And the community must now insure the drunk's family is provided for as well because it isn't the individuals responsibility but the community's.

Nice point Marjon
We shouldn't punish the drunk driver who has killed a vactioning family we must punish the entire community according to Mark. No one is responsible for his actions. And the community must now insure the drunk's family is provided for as well because it isn't the individuals responsibility but the community's.

So would Hitler
The Constitution was ratified with the understanding and approval of all 13 states that three states reserved the right to withdraw from the union at any time. No where in the Constitution is the Federal government "eternal" and acts only as the agent of the states. Lincoln turned the Constitution on its head dissolving the notion of a Confederation of equal states and making them subordinate to the Federal government.

Worse to enforce his will he waged war on civilians after having fdailed to subdue the Confederate military. Today he'd be a war criminal, but as you mentioned others would approve, Hitler would have.

So would Hitler
The Constitution was ratified with the understanding and approval of all 13 states that three states reserved the right to withdraw from the union at any time. No where in the Constitution is the Federal government "eternal" and acts only as the agent of the states. Lincoln turned the Constitution on its head dissolving the notion of a Confederation of equal states and making them subordinate to the Federal government.

Worse to enforce his will he waged war on civilians after having fdailed to subdue the Confederate military. Today he'd be a war criminal, but as you mentioned others would approve, Hitler would have.

Confederate bushwackers
Making war on civilians is nothing new. Washington was known to the Pennsylvania Indians as the "Town Burner" because that's what he did. In the Middle Ages when your foe declined to give battle you destroyed all the farms and villages, thus producing a famine. The RAF fire bombed German cities in WWII. The USAF fire bombed Japanese cities. The British Navy blockaded Germnay in WWI causing food shortages and widespread malnutrition and disease and on and on and on.

The notion of war crimes has become so inflated that the charge is now meaningless. Maybe it always was. When you lose a war badly you are at the enemy's mercy. Vae victus. That's why the ancient Romans remembered the story of paying tribute to the Gauls and vowing to never lose no matter what.

Let us not forget...
The 10th Amendment which is an embodiment of the principle of subsidium, that things that are capable of being handled locally, should be handled locally.

Of course, much of the jurisprudence in the US is aimed at avoiding the 10th Amendment.

This principle militates against communitarianism. It prevents the common good from being replaced by the collective good.

Also, I don't think that the motives of a communitarian are as noble as you describe. The real goal is centralized power over the lives of citizens. Any excuse to achieve this including communitarianism is used and of course ordered liberty suffers.

ABD

For the sake of argument...
so what? Were the europeans wrong to object to slavery? Was it wrong for Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation?

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