Progressive ideals require government enforcement of several notions that oppose human nature. For example, equality (meaning “sameness” in leftist circles) requires the coercive hindering of some and the unnatural aid of others. Erasing economic disparity requires taking money by force from a person who worked to earn it and giving it to someone else. Government jobs mean taking money from the private sector and putting them to use in a way that there is no private demand, and therefore wealth, to support. Abortion requires denial of the truth that a fetus is not a part of a woman’s body for the sake of sexual “freedom.” Sexual “freedom” requires denial that sex is has more meaning than a handshake or the coitus of dogs. Positivism and technocracy usually requires the denial of all aspects of humanity beyond the material. Government charity eliminates the need for human morality. The grant of positive rights requires that the government force someone to work for another’s benefit. The regulatory apparatus, aside from in a criminal sense, denies the self-determination of each person and the importance of personal morality. All coercion, of course, requires denial of individual human free will. Leftist utopia requires a total state that regulates and taxes all behaviors for the sake of the greater good. Nothing else will suffice, as Anthony Gregory notes:
The left loves to talk about humanitarianism, putting people above profits, and saving the poor and disadvantaged from the inequity of private enterprise. Yet behind the rhetoric of all economic interventionism is the iron fist of the state.
The statists will usually try to obscure this fact, or even deny it. They will perform philosophical gymnastics to argue that, in fact, they do not favor state violence at all, since we all live in a community ruled by a government by consent.
Sometimes, however, the naked brutality they endorse is clearly on display for everyone to see. Witness Michael Moore, paragon of modern progressive liberalism and egalitarian social democracy. The target of his hateful demand for violence? The CEO of S&P. For the crime of running a company that lowered its credit rating for the United States, this man should be punished, thunders Moore: “Obama, show some guts [and] arrest the CEO of Standard & Poors. These criminals brought down the economy in 2008 [and] now they will do it again.”
Moore is calling on the president, the head of the American ruling class, the man occupying the most powerful office in the history of the world, to use executive prerogative to throw a businessman in a cage. Is S&P a questionable operation in bed with the corporate state, whose ratings cannot be trusted? Surely, and yet at worst S&P is a junior partner in crime. If anything, its sin has been exaggerating the solvency of the establishment. Its credibility is today questioned since it gave high marks to Lehman Brothers three years ago, yet this was due to the exact kind of political pressure and intimidation that Moore is demanding in the wake of S&P’s belated and mild chastising of the American state for its obvious lack of trustworthiness.
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In the deficit madness and the midst of the downgrade, we see in all its glory the progressives’ nearly invincible faith in the state, the only problem they identify being the state’s detractors. There is no slump that more deficit spending can’t fix. There is no deficit crisis that more taxing can’t remedy. Bailouts are to be blamed on those being bailed out, never the looters and distributors. If a rating agency downgrades the U.S., this is a problem with the agency, not the politicians. If the economy is not recovering, it is to be blamed on the people who hate the president’s domestic policies, not those policies themselves. If the president does have any fault, it is that he has been insufficiently active, has not bullied business nearly enough, or spent enough trillions we don’t have to get the economy rolling. If all the social democratic plots to protect the economy have been a flop, surely the adversaries of social democracy are at fault.
Some might find it ironic for Moore’s love of the democratic state to be so all consuming that he will actually petition the president to unilaterally jail a CEO for no clearly defined crime in particular. After all, the president he wishes would bring his hammer down on the heretic is overseeing a set of war policies that Moore very sensibly condemned when they were conducted by President Bush. Obama has not only continued the rampage in Iraq and Afghanistan, spread the war to Pakistan and Yemen, and bombarded Libya; he has also covered up torturers, spied on the American people without warrants, escalated the drug war in Mexico where tens of thousands have been slaughtered on his watch, and claimed purely tyrannical powers to detain and kill people without due process. Add all this to Obama’s dozens of other similarities to the Bush regime and it may seem odd indeed that a progressive would so shamelessly defer to the chief executive with the blood of thousands on his hands, much less call on him to convene an inquisition for enemies of the state.
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The state is God to the progressive mindset, although it is not infallible, and can sometimes be overtaken by people with bad intentions. But it is not the government itself that corrupts. It is not state power itself, like Frodo’s ring, that is unavoidably prone to evil. No. It is those who hold the ring of state that corrupt it, not vice versa. At the core of the democratic state, the very essence of the public sector, is holiness, sacredness, the greatness that unites the collective will behind a purpose higher than that of any mortal individuals acting in their regrettable, pathetic, and fallen self interest. Even an imperial corporatist police state that does more to prop up Wall Street than bolster Main Street, that incarcerates minorities more than it educates them, that does a thousand other things abusive to progressive sensibility, is in the end the highest of all institutions, the source of our salvation on Earth. The state is, at the same time, an institution of coercion and brutalization. Those enamored of it usually conceal this truth but on occasion concede it without apology. For them the central state’s violence is the very feature that allows all their collectivist dreams to be pursued by a planning elite leading us mere subjects lockstep on the road to secular redemption. The jail cell lies in wait behind all the schemes and dreams of the progressive mind, and those honest and reflective enough in this tradition will occasionally admit this with unsettling clarity. It is no wonder that even when a relatively decent and thoughtful lefty like Michael Moore sees that someone dares to say the emperor is not only nude but can’t afford a new set of clothes, his only reaction is: “Off with his head!”