Better Living Through Coercion

 

389px-Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863Prior to the Civil War, apologists for the South’s “peculiar institution” concocted “positive good” rationales that claimed slavery was beneficial. Though the arguments varied, they were broadly based on assumptions of white superiority: intellectual, spiritual, and civilizational. The “superior” white man had the right to live off the labors of the “backward” African because doing so freed him to engage in the higher pursuits afforded by his loftier intellect, morality, and civilization.

Abraham Lincoln’s rejoinder — made during his debates with Stephen Douglas — was that the Southerners’ arguments could equally justify their own slavery by their supposed betters. Islamists, for example, believe their religion, morals, and culture are infinitely better than ours and so it is their religious duty to conquer the West and bring it under Sharia Law. Those refusing to convert to Islam are to be subjected to death, slavery or — at best — to the partial slavery of dhimmitude, which entails limited rights, obligatory humiliation, and special taxes to help enhance the lifestyles of the faithful.

In early America, people voluntarily supported the weak and infirm, but such practical compassion is not compatible with the enlightened and progressive times in which we live. Instead, the left of today imposes its own form of better living through coercion, based – not on assumptions of superiority – but on assumptions of inferiority. In the left’s utopia, productive individuals are forced to support those unable or unwilling to work; the recipients’ poverty, ignorance, infirmity, or victimhood entitling them to the fruits of others’ labor. The successful must be subjected to special taxes and to humiliation (“greedy,” “uncaring,” “elitist”) to justify the confiscation of their property and to soothe the beneficiaries’ feelings.

Antebellum apologists for slavery buttressed their arguments with force, sometimes running obstinate newspaper editors and preachers out of town. Today’s apologists resort to similar tactics. They “disinvite” or shout down speakers with whom they disagree. They charge dissenters and deniers with committing “hate speech” and “micro-aggressions” to bully them into subservient silence.

Lincoln’s response is just as relevant today as it was in 1858. Those who live by claims of their own inferiority and victimhood can be outbid by others purporting to be even more wretched than they. Thus, a world ruled by the progressive dictum “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” collapses into a downward spiral of competition to demonstrate ever less ability and more need. Those hoping to live by the efforts of others end by enslaving themselves; they forge their own chains of helpless dependence.

Image Credit: “Abraham Lincoln November 1863” by Alexander Gardnerhttp://www.britannica.com/bps/media-view/112498/1/0/0. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Brilliant! Editors, promote.

    Update: Thank you for listening.

    • #1
  2. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    It’s the same things that’s going on in feminism regarding privilege. Feminists are in a constant battle with other socially downtrodden subgroups, the most recent of which are the “gamers.” Gamers may have it bad overall socially, but they’re still privileged “because men,” or something.

    I’ve postulated before that “privilege” is a classic motte-and-bailey term. The motte, the uncontroversial and attractive definition, is “some people have built-in advantages over other people, and it might be hard for them to realize these advantages even exist”. Under this definition, it’s easy to agree that, let’s say, Aaronson has the privilege of not having to deal with slut-shaming, and Penny has the privilege of not having to deal with the kind of creep-shaming that focuses on male nerds.

    The bailey, the sneaky definition used to push a political point once people have agreed to the motte, is that privilege is a one-dimensional axis such that for any two people, one has privilege over the other, and that first person has it better in every single way, and that second person has it worse in every single way.

    This is of course the thing everyone swears they don’t mean when they use the word privilege, which is of course how the motte-and-bailey fallacy works. But as soon as they are not being explicitly challenged about the definition, this is the way they revert back to using the word.

    • #2
  3. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    Yes, very well done!  The Left’s ‘plantation’ comes into sharp focus.

    • #3
  4. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    And it also shows that ISIS and the Democrats are just two sides of the same coin.

    • #4
  5. user_966256 Member
    user_966256
    @BobThompson

    Way to think!

    • #5
  6. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @WardRobles

    “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help. ”
    – Ronald Reagan, August 12, 1986.

    • #6
  7. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Are you comparing ISIS to the Confederacy?

    Antebellum apologists for slavery buttressed their arguments with force, sometimes running obstinate newspaper editors and preachers out of town.”

    Lincoln had reporters, editors, and publishers arrested, and their papers shut down. He banished a US Congressman to Canada, for God’s sake. It never ceases to amaze me when conservatives make excuses for Lincoln’s abuses of power, usually boiling it down to “Well, it was for a good cause”. That’s precisely the thinking of the Left when they take your money and use government to coerce you.

    Today’s apologists resort to similar tactics. They “disinvite” or shout down speakers with whom they disagree.”

    You act as if this is a new phenomena invented by the Left, when it goes back at least as far as Classical Greece. The whole reason Plato wrote The Republic was his distrust of democracy after his teacher Socrates was sentenced to death by the mob. That was a lot worse than being shouted down. Group intimidation of opponents has been around as long as there have been rival groups.

    • #7
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Douglas:Are you comparing ISIS to the Confederacy?

    I’m hardly a Lincoln fan, but I got his point, and I certainly understood Richard’s. That kind of argument always leads to comparative trumping, and should not be enshrined in Law. Anyone who thought the War of Northern Aggression was for a good cause is uneducated and is actually exhibiting the same behavior Richard is calling out. Because, there will always be a better cause out there.

    • #8
  9. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Hmm, I like it. Would make a good meme. Simply add the logo of your target below the lettering:

    template_betterlivingthroughcoercion

    SVG version here, if yer curious: template_betterlivingthroughcoercion

    (I also uploaded this my personal gallery at The People’s Cube, BTW.)

    • #9
  10. user_278007 Inactive
    user_278007
    @RichardFulmer

    Douglas,
    I was not comparing ISIS to the Confederacy.  I was agreeing with Lincoln’s point that the “positive good” argument in favor of slavery is a double-edge sword.  Just as the slavery apologists believed in their own superiority and that this superiority justified enslaving Blacks, Islamists believe that their religion and culture are superior to ours and that justifies killing and enslaving us.

    I agree that Lincoln employed coercion.  Are you saying that, because he did,  his reply to the “positive good” argument is incorrect?

    I also agree that coercion is not new.  Are you saying that, because it’s been around throughout mankind’s existence, we should not point it out when we see it today?

    • #10
  11. TeeJaw Inactive
    TeeJaw
    @TeeJaw

    Human societies seem always to involve two broad categories of people. There are those who do not trust what they can achieve through voluntary cooperation with their fellow man.  They believe government coercion of the others with whom they must deal will deliver them to a better life.   Then there is second category who also favor government coercion because it offers them opportunities for graft by exploiting the first group, all the while holding themselves out as their saviors by convincing them they are being exploited by some imaginary third class.

    The first group have contempt of freedom in general and the second have contempt for freedom of the first group but favor it greatly for themselves.

    There also exists a tiny little third category who have no desire to be part of either of the other groups. They love freedom and wish everyone did.

    Lincoln was  a member of this third class.

    • #11
  12. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Richard Fulmer:

    I agree that Lincoln employed coercion. Are you saying that, because he did, his reply to the “positive good” argument is incorrect?

    I also agree that coercion is not new. Are you saying that, because it’s been around throughout mankind’s existence, we should not point it out when we see it today?

    Maybe it’s not the best of ideas to use Lincoln as some kind of anti-coercion exemplar if he does the same things as his enemies, is it not? He seemed to think coercion… the kind with guns and pointy things against Northerners, not just Southerners… was just dandy.

    • #12
  13. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    TeeJaw: There also exists a tiny little third category who have no desire to be part of either of the other groups. They love freedom and wish everyone did.Lincoln was a member of this third class.

    Is that the same Lincoln who exiled an Ohio Congressman for disagreeing? The same Lincoln who almost arrested a Supreme Court judge for disagreeing with him? The same Lincoln who used the draft to coerce thousands upon thousands of men to fight (or pay to get out of fighting) to coerce and conquer a separate nation? Or is this Blanche Lincoln you’re talking about?

    • #13
  14. user_278007 Inactive
    user_278007
    @RichardFulmer

    Douglas,
    I didn’t say Lincoln was an anti-coercion exemplar, though he was certainly anti-slavery.  What I did say was that Lincoln’s rebuttal to the “positive good” argument was correct.

    • #14
  15. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Glad to see Lincoln hatred is alive and well on Ricochet.

    Sad.

    • #15
  16. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    Douglas:Lincoln had reporters, editors, and publishers arrested, and their papers shut down. He banished a US Congressman to Canada, for God’s sake. It never ceases to amaze me when conservatives make excuses for Lincoln’s abuses of power, usually boiling it down to “Well, it was for a good cause”. That’s precisely the thinking of the Left when they take your money and use government to coerce you.

    Well, c’mere my good man, you’re a treat.

    Lincoln was actually facing the most violent danger to America & America was very much unprepared to face it, morally, intellectually, politically, & militarily. The progressives face no such thing–your likeness is an embarrassment.

    You make no effort to distinguish mistakes from willful offenses & you have no patience for the fallibility of man new to the office tasked with the greatest thing any president can be asked to do. You’re a peach.

    You act as if this is a new phenomena invented by the Left, when it goes back at least as far as Classical Greece. The whole reason Plato wrote The Republic was his distrust of democracy after his teacher Socrates was sentenced to death by the mob.

    Ostensibly, The republic is about the question of justice. Inasmuch as it concerns philosophers, it gives an explicit teaching that they should be enslaved for the good of the city, never mind what’s good for them. Of course, they’d be sitting pretty, too, & would no longer get killed…

    • #16
  17. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Titus Techera:

    1 – Lincoln was actually facing the most violent danger to America & America was very much unprepared to face it, morally, intellectually, politically, & militarily. The progressives face no such thing–your likeness is an embarrassment.

    2 – You make no effort to distinguish mistakes from willful offenses & you have no patience for the fallibility of man new to the office tasked with the greatest thing any president can be asked to do. You’re a peach.

    1 – WHAT “Violent danger”? What Northern states were the Southern states threatening with invasion in 1861? The violence in the Union states came from Union citizens revolting against being drafted into a war they didn’t want. There was no threat to “The Union”. There  was a threat to Union power, resulting in a smaller Union. That’s a pretty big difference.

    2 – You think suspending Habeas Corpus was a mistake, and not a willful offense? “Oops, sorry, we didn’t mean to suspend that whole principle of common law that’s been around for centuries. We goofed”.

    I’ll never understand the cult of Lincoln. Washington is revered, but Lincoln is worshiped. It’s sin, heresy even, to speak ill of him or even question him. And yet everything we complain about in modern government overreach had it’s start with that man. He set the precedent that Woodrow Wilson emulated, taking us into a war we had no business being in along the way, and then FDR perfected the template.

    • #17
  18. TeeJaw Inactive
    TeeJaw
    @TeeJaw

    Arahant:

    TeeJaw: There also exists a tiny little third category who have no desire to be part of either of the other groups. They love freedom and wish everyone did.Lincoln was a member of this third class.

    Is that the same Lincoln who exiled an Ohio Congressman for disagreeing? The same Lincoln who almost arrested a Supreme Court judge for disagreeing with him? The same Lincoln who used the draft to coerce thousands upon thousands of men to fight (or pay to get out of fighting) to coerce and conquer a separate nation? Or is this Blanche Lincoln you’re talking about?

    I’m talking about the Lincoln that fought and won the Civil War.  You don’t win wars, especially civil wars, without fighting, real hard.

    • #18
  19. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    Douglas:1 – WHAT “Violent danger”? What Northern states were the Southern states threatening with invasion in 1861?

    A number of states entered into rebellion against the Union. They threatened to break up the country by some kind of extraordinary hijacking. There was no referendum in the South. It was not a democratic decision. Then again, democracy cannot justify secession. I can find no argument in the American Founding that allows for the secession.

    2 – You think suspending Habeas Corpus was a mistake, and not a willful offense? “Oops, sorry, we didn’t mean to suspend that whole principle of common law that’s been around for centuries. We goofed”.

    I do not say that it was not done on purpose. I say, was it indeed necessary to do in order to enforce the constitutional oath of office? I am not sure everything Lincoln did was legal, just or necessary. But in the main, I do say, he acted with justice, doing the necessary in order to restore constitutional politics, which he did.

    • #19
  20. TeeJaw Inactive
    TeeJaw
    @TeeJaw

    TeeJaw:

    Arahant:

    TeeJaw: There also exists a tiny little third category who have no desire to be part of either of the other groups. They love freedom and wish everyone did.Lincoln was a member of this third class.

    Is that the same Lincoln who exiled an Ohio Congressman for disagreeing? The same Lincoln who almost arrested a Supreme Court judge for disagreeing with him? The same Lincoln who used the draft to coerce thousands upon thousands of men to fight (or pay to get out of fighting) to coerce and conquer a separate nation? Or is this Blanche Lincoln you’re talking about?

    By the way, the Ohio Congressman to whom you refer must have been the Copperhead Clement L. Vallandigham. I wrote a theme paper on him in college.  If that’s who you are talking about I don’t see how Lincoln, or any other President trying to win a civil war, could have done anything other than exile him. He wasn’t just disagreeing. Lots of people disagreed and Lincoln took no action against them. Vallandigham presented a clear and present danger to the North’s war effort.

    • #20
  21. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Titus Techera:

    A number of states entered into rebellion against the Union. They threatened to break up the country by some kind of extraordinary hijacking. There was no referendum in the South. It was not a democratic decision. Then again, democracy cannot justify secession. I can find no argument in the American Founding that allows for the secession.

    Should the constituent states of the Soviet Union been allowed to secede from the USSR? Should the various states of the Warsaw Pact been allowed to break off and go their own way from Moscow?

    If a people wish to break off and go their own way, should they be allowed to go in peace, or conquered to maintain the larger polity?

    • #21
  22. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Douglas:

    Duplicate post

    • #22
  23. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    Douglas:l never understand the cult of Lincoln. Washington is revered, but Lincoln is worshiped.

    The answer is obvious–maybe you are blind to the obvious–he lived & died for the Union & he dealt with the worst injustice in America–slavery.

    It’s sin, heresy even, to speak ill of him or even question him.

    With some, it might go as far as idolatry, but I do not think it is so with many or most of those who admire him. I would say, talking about him as a monster is simply inadmissible. This is not about finding fault or learning he made mistakes. This is saying that what he did was basically evil. That argument is inadmissible; ignoble; foolish.

    And yet everything we complain about in modern government overreach had it’s start with that man. He set the precedent that Woodrow Wilson emulated, taking us into a war we had no business being in along the way, and then FDR perfected the template.

    I dislike this kind of reading–it seems Progressives looked at him as their fount & origin, but I disagree. There is a great difference between the crisis of the House Divided & fantasies about the future. The man did face the destruction of the Union even before he was sworn in to his office!

    He stood for election, was elected, accepted the elected, & proceeded to swear the oath to protect the constitution, which does not itself allow for secession, which the South betrayed-

    • #23
  24. Mark Coolidge
    Mark
    @GumbyMark

    Douglas:

    Titus Techera:

    A number of states entered into rebellion against the Union. They threatened to break up the country by some kind of extraordinary hijacking. There was no referendum in the South. It was not a democratic decision. Then again, democracy cannot justify secession. I can find no argument in the American Founding that allows for the secession.

    Should the constituent states of the Soviet Union been allowed to secede from the USSR? Should the various states of the Warsaw Pact been allowed to break off and go their own way from Moscow?

    If a people wish to break off and go their own way, should they be allowed to go in peace, or conquered to maintain the larger polity?

    Who are “the people” of which you speak?  Seems to me that quite a few people in those states did not have a say about their wishes.

    • #24
  25. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    Douglas:

    Titus Techera:

    A number of states entered into rebellion against the Union. They threatened to break up the country by some kind of extraordinary hijacking. There was no referendum in the South. It was not a democratic decision. Then again, democracy cannot justify secession. I can find no argument in the American Founding that allows for the secession.

    Should the constituent states of the Soviet Union been allowed to secede from the USSR? Should the various states of the Warsaw Pact been allowed to break off and go their own way from Moscow?

    I am unsure about whether to take you seriously. You are aware, unlike the American revolution & later constitutional politics, the USSR was a violent tyranny? Are they the same to you, from the political point of view of otherwise?

    If a people wish to break off and go their own way, should they be allowed to go in peace, or conquered to maintain the larger polity?

    I’d say, if there had been some kind of popular rejection of gov’t for whatever serious crime or tyranny, there is a right to revolution. But being part of the country, then organizing & participating in an election, & trying to break up this acceptance of the country’s politics & constitution upon losing the election is petty & terrible at once!

    Why should not any town be allowed to dissolve political associations unilaterally whenever anyone–not even popular majority–decides? What’s the point of any law if you can secede!

    • #25
  26. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    Mark:

    Douglas:

    Titus Techera:

    A number of states entered into rebellion against the Union. They threatened to break up the country by some kind of extraordinary hijacking. There was no referendum in the South. It was not a democratic decision. Then again, democracy cannot justify secession. I can find no argument in the American Founding that allows for the secession.

    Should the constituent states of the Soviet Union been allowed to secede from the USSR? Should the various states of the Warsaw Pact been allowed to break off and go their own way from Moscow?

    If a people wish to break off and go their own way, should they be allowed to go in peace, or conquered to maintain the larger polity?

    Who are “the people” of which you speak? Seems to me that quite a few people in those states did not have a say about their wishes.

    Obviously, no one in the South can claim the right to revolution of which Locke spoke & which is written into the Declaration. They denied to blacks all political rights that are implied in that doctrine. That’s like kidnapping people & then declaring yourself a sovereign nation to not face the police! The South had a right to the slaves because of the way things had been before the Revolution. A compromise had been necessary to avoid a greater evil. But slavery had to go or else the Declaration & modern democracy had to go.

    • #26
  27. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    Douglas:Are you comparing ISIS to the Confederacy?

    Lincoln had reporters, editors, and publishers arrested, and their papers shut down. He banished a US Congressman to Canada, for God’s sake. It never ceases to amaze me when conservatives make excuses for Lincoln’s abuses of power, usually boiling it down to “Well, it was for a good cause”. That’s precisely the thinking of the Left when they take your money and use government to coerce you.

    You act as if this is a new phenomena invented by the Left, when it goes back at least as far as Classical Greece. The whole reason Plato wrote The Republic was his distrust of democracy after his teacher Socrates was sentenced to death by the mob. That was a lot worse than being shouted down. Group intimidation of opponents has been around as long as there have been rival groups.

    Are you confusing pre-war activities with war activities? And not just a war, a civil war.

    • #27
  28. user_278007 Inactive
    user_278007
    @RichardFulmer

    Wow, this post got hijacked!

    • #28
  29. Ricochet Contributor
    Ricochet
    @TitusTechera

    Richard Fulmer:Wow, this post got hijacked!

    Yes, it has been–let me apologize.

    • #29
  30. user_278007 Inactive
    user_278007
    @RichardFulmer

    No reason to apologize, that’s part of the fun.

    • #30
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