"Liberalism's offer to the adolescent and young adult is far from benign. Collectivism does not consist in mere mannerisms but is instead a permanent and defining social architecture, dangerous to liberty precisely because its principles are in direct opposition to it. Given modern liberalism's dominance in the contemporary world scene and its growing presence in western culture over the past century, it will be useful to ask again what collectivism has to offer the adolescent, whose further development requires a worldview that both inspires allegiance and resonates with his emerging identity."
After observing the recent student marches across the country demanding free college tuition and debt forgiveness, "safe spaces" free from the tyranny of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, the bullying by students to force the resignation of college administrators and teachers, one needs to understand the collectivist principles and mindset behind the anti-individualist movement that is a direct threat to Personal Liberty and Freedom.
The Liberal Manifesto: Major Principles
1. The citizens of a modern nation are, in effect, the children of a parental government; they are members of a very large family with enforceable obligations to each other. These obligations are not defined by traditional individualist western social conventions, nor by mutual consent based on moral imperatives, but are instead prescribed by liberal intellectuals and politicians through legislation, judicial decisions and the canons of political correctness.
2. The individual's relationship to government should resemble his original relationship to his parents, or the fiduciary relationship between guardian and ward. The state is a proper source from which to gratify the longings of the people for various forms of surrogate parental care. The care should encompass the entire life span from cradle to grave. It should consist of various forms of economic, social and political assistance, protection and indulgence in every major sector of life. Self-reliance and the role of individual responsibility should be diminished in favor of collective care-taking administered by the state.
3. This relationship between government and the governed properly diminishes the sovereignty of the individual in favor of the state. As a political entity, the state is superior to the individual. Moreover, the individual can not exist without the state.
4. The people will be better off under the direction of government programs than if they care of themselves through cooperative arrangements of their own. Because most citizens are not competent to run their own lives effectively they need government guidance to do what is good for them. Collective remedies coordinated by the state are nearly always preferable to those initiated by individuals on a voluntary basis.
5. Socialism and its variants with far reaching power vested in centralized government is the proper political foundation for an ordered society. Collectivism is the proper political philosophy for an ordered society. Government coercion is needed to ensure that the activities of the people achieve politically appropriate ends. Traditional property and contract rights and other protections on individual liberty against encroachment by the state must be subordinated to this collective process.
6. It is not necessary that a good life be earned through diligent individual effort, voluntary cooperation with others, or conduct consistent with traditional moral values. Instead, a good life is a government entitlement owed to each citizen regardless of the nature and quality of his acts and their usefulness to others. Material assets under the control of the government are to be distributed to those deemed in need of them. The beneficiaries of government handouts are entitled to them and owe no debt of gratitude to the persons who fund them.
7. Voluntary cooperation based on the consent of the parties in a transaction is not an especially important ideal and may be overridden by the coercive apparatus of the government. Consent of all parties is not morally or legally necessary to complete a transfer of material assets for welfare purposes or to alter an individual or group's circumstances in the name of social justice. In fact, collectivist concepts of justice require that redistribution of power and social status as well as material assets should be effected regardless of the objections of those who possessed these goods prior to their transfer to others. In these cases collectivist definitions of distributive and social justice should override older considerations of earned benefits, just title, freedom of exchange, due process, rights of association and historical precedent.
8. The natural and acquired inclinations of moral persons to cooperate with each other in a framework of laws governing property rights and contracts are not the primary basis for an orderly society. Rather, a large government regulatory apparatus, analogous to the authority of parents in a family, is needed to exercise control of the citizenry and to ensure that social justice is achieved. Where legal disputes emerge, court decisions should be determined in accordance with collectivist ideals. Outcomes in social matters should be judged by whether or not they promote material and social equality, aid the disadvantaged, enhance diversity, reduce envy, protect self-esteem and mitigate disparities in social status, among other considerations.
9. Altruism is better understood as a virtue of the state, a socialized function or collective expression of the General Will embodied in government programs. Voluntary acts of compassion and charity by private individuals or groups are always inferior to the welfare activities of the state, cannot be substituted for the state's welfare machinery, and cannot meet the welfare needs of the people. Massive welfare programs administered by the state at taxpayer expense are necessary to meet the needs of the disadvantaged.
10. An individual's destructive actions against himself or others are not primarily the consequence of his personal choices, values, goals or other mental and emotional processes occurring in his own mind, but are instead caused by negative influences impinging upon him from his culture. He should therefore not be held responsible for his bad actions. Rather, he and others should be encouraged to view his actions as the collective fault of a society that has in some way oppressed, neglected, deprived or exploited him.
11. Traditional ideas about the separateness and sovereignty of the individual are invalid. Although his is a physically separate entity, and individual's political significance derives from his membership in a collective; the collective is the primary economic, social and political unit, not the individual. Rights formerly held to reside in the individual, such as property rights in his person and possessions, are not longer primary but are to be subordinated to the people as understood by government officials takes precedence over the rights of the individual and may properly displace older ideals of liberty and procedural justice whenever necessary. Claims to personal sovereignty and the right to have a life of one's own are selfish and therefor morally wrong.
12. Materials subsides are to be paid to persons designated by the state and based on need, suffering or inequality, not on merit or desert. Reparations to persons deemed by the state to have been wronged may be made by forcible transfers of property from other persons who are assigned responsibility for injuries or disadvantage even though they have personally done no wrong. In general, rights to life, liberty and property enshrined in the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights should be set aside in favor of whatever collective rights are asserted by the state.
13. Human nature is highly malleable. Not only can it be molded to accommodate collectivist ideals without contradicting that nature and without adverse consequences, but adherence to collective ideals will improve human nature. Government programs based on social science research can and should alter behavior toward politically approved ends. Liberal insights are superior to traditional conservative beliefs, in part because liberal policy makers are intellectually superior to conservatives and other opponents.
14. Prescriptions on how to act and how not to act should not be based on the distilled ethical and moral wisdom of the centuries but should instead be decided by liberal intellectuals and promulgated through the canons of political correctness or evolved through the creation of alternative lifestyles in a spirit of cultural diversity. Many behaviors traditionally counted as offensive, immoral, or illegal should now be deemed acceptable. Behaviors of this type are not to be judged in regard to their moral or ethical implications or by their tendency to disrupt social order, but should instead by explained by the motivations behind them and understood as expressions of human freedom, healthy absence of inhibition, progressive morality, or defensive reactions to adverse social influences. Sexual freedom, in particular, should be given wide latitude among consenting adults even if its exercise results in extramarital pregnancies and single parent families, increases the incidence of sexually transmitted disease, violates traditional marriage vows, invades stable unions or destroys family integrity.
15. Established traditions of decency and courtesy are unduly restrictive given modern liberal insights. Traditional courtesies may also be rejected because they support class distinctions that oppose the liberal ideal of social equality.
16. In general, traditional social ideals, ethical standards and prohibitions of conscience are to be regarded as outmoded, opposed to the evolution of progressive social codes, and not applicable to modern social systems. In fact, there are not objective grounds on which to favor one set of societal arrangements over another. Traditional moral and ethical codes such as the Golden Rule may be rewritten ad libitum in view of insights gained from contemporary relativistic and multicultural constructs.
17. Traditional moral, ethical and legal codes have not been promulgated for such reasonable purposes as ensuring social order or promoting good will or human happiness, not have they been based on a rational understanding of human nature and the conditions of human existence. Instead, they are essentially political constructs created for manipulative purposes by persons who seek power over others. Equality before the law, for example, is a fiction even as an ideal and represents an apparently ethical cover for what is in fact the exploitation of certain subgroups such as women and ethnic or racial minorities.
18. Good character as an embodiment of certain virtues is not an important ideal. Individual dispositions to behave with honesty, integrity, responsibility, self-direction, mutuality and dependability in interactions with others are not to be especially valued or praised. More generally, one should avoid judging the actions of another person based on standards of ethics, morals or virtue. Condemning the behavior of another person on grounds of right and wrong or good and evil is harsh, mean-spirited and judgemental and may diminish self-esteem, but this criticism of others by liberals should not itself be subjected to disapproval because it is needed to achieve social justice. Economic, social or political disadvantages should be sought for as explanations for bad behavior by any definition, and such explanations are to be understood as excuses for that behavior. Because such hardship and disadvantage are caused by other persons and other factors, the individual committing the bad act should receive sympathy, not blame. Society's primary response to such actions should be to treat or rehabilitate the offender, not to punish him or require him to make restitution for his wrongdoing. Persons who have been disadvantaged should not be held to ordinary legal duties or obligations if such responsibilities would be burdensome to them.
19. These considerations also apply to alleged good and evil behavior between nations and among religious and ethnic groups, including various types of terrorist acts that inflict devastating injury and death on apparently innocent persons. Moral and ethical judgements about what individuals or groups do on the international scene should be withheld pending further analysis of their motives and the economic, social and political context in which the acts occur.
20. In the interest of social justice, it is the duty of the state to determine which groups or classes of persons suffer from deficits in material security and in social and political status and to cure these deficits through government initiatives. The state should provide benefits to persons of its choosing based on perceived need, or on certain types of inequality, or on past, present, or ancestral hardship. Traditional concepts of merit and desert are themselves unjust, fraudulent and injurious to the sensibilities of those who are unfairly blamed for wrong doing, self-neglect, laziness or other self-defeating tendencies. These tendencies, if present, should not be condemned as weakness, immaturity, irresponsibility or moral turpitude.
21. More generally, time-honored conceptions of justice as reflected in common sense, ethical philosophy, judicial practice and the history of political thought are invalid. It is not true, for example, that a person should be rewarded or punished in proportion to the good or evil he causes. It is also not true that the outcome of a transaction is fair just because the processes that lead to its completion are fair and the decisions made by the parties to the transaction are informed, voluntary and competent. Instead, justice must be based on considerations of need, inequality, disadvantage and suffering. An outcome that leaves one or more parties to transaction in a disadvantaged, unequal, or needy state is unjust by definition. To satisfy need, remove inequality and eliminate and compensate for suffering, it is proper to take economic goods from persons who own them according to older standards of just title and give them to persons or groups now deemed deserving by government officials. It is also proper to lower the social and/or political status of certain persons and elevate the social and political status of certain other persons based on considerations of need, equality, disadvantage and suffering. Adjustments of this type are proper even if those demoted in their status have not committed and social or political wrongs. The ideal of equalizing disparities in status justifies the realignment.
22. Traditional ideals of self-determination, self-responsibility and self-reliance are invalid. These concepts are illusory anyway, since the manner in which any one person conducts himself cannot be attributed to particular characteristics that differentiate him from others. What appears to be virtuous effort or moral integrity, for example, is merely a complex result of societal influences, expressed through the individual. His own effort, talent, ingenuity, risk taking, persistence, courage, or other apparent personal contributions to his success, including those he sustains in the face of hardship are illusory. (Obama: You didn't build that.) Furthermore, the fruits of an individual's labors should be shared with others without compensation because his talents, virtues and abilities are actually collective assets belonging to the population as a whole, and his achievements are more reasonably attributed to the collective process from which he benefits.
23. Economic activity should be to a great extent be carefully controlled by government. Where the means of production are not owned outright by the state, they should be closely regulated despite burdensome administrative costs, interference with prior ownership and contractual agreements, or negative effects on allocation of resources and incentives to economic activity. Adverse effects on the freedom with which individuals can run their economic lives, even when severe, are appropriate concessions to the ideals of government regulation, especially where redistribution of material wealth is concerned. Likewise, the distribution of what is produced should be strongly influenced by government, as should the nature of what is produced, the persons who do the producing, the sale price at which products are offered, and the margins of profit enjoyed at each state between production and consumption. Competition at all levels of economic activity, including that arise from innovation, is unduly harsh, demands excessively hard work, and may cause financial and other hardships through job loss, business failure and career change. Comprehensive government protections are needed to mitigate these dangers. It is well known that capitalists and the rich rise to wealth and power on the backs of the poor. The policy that wealth should be passed on to the heirs of one's choice wrongfully deprives others of material goods to which they are entitled by collectivist principles.
24. Every individual is born into the world with a legally enforceable obligation to take care of an indefinite number of persons whom he will never meet and with whom he will establish no voluntary association or agreement. He will be entitled to only a portion of the fruits of his own labor, and that percentage will be determined by government policy. Citizenship in a collectivist society properly implies that as soon as an adolescent makes the transition to adulthood, a substantial portion of his time, effort and ability becomes rightfully indentured to others. The persons to whom he is obligated will be identified for him by the state according to their membership in a group or class deemed deserving. The more economically productive one is, the greater his liability to others. This system is designed to combat the greed that causes productive persons to want to keep what they earn.
25. The primary purpose of politics is the creation of an ideal collective society run by a liberal elite committed to a just redistribution of economic, social, and political goods. This redistribution is to be achieved along egalitarian lines using the coercive power of the state. Traditional negative (Jeffersonian) Rights that protect individual liberty through guarantees of freedom from encroachment by others should not limit the state's actions and must instead yield to positive rights that guarantee freedom from material need and from disadvantages in social status and political power. Government enforced entitlements are to be the primary means to these ends.
26. The traditional social institutions of marriage and family are not very important in the dynamics of social progress and should yield to progressive alternative lifestyles. The traditional bond of marriage is too restrictive and does not allow for more diverse social and sexual experience, including the self-discovery that comes from relating to a variety of partners. Similarly, children do not need parents who are deeply committed to each other or to an intact traditional family. If a child needs attention, love, affection, guidance, protection, training, education, medical care, socialization and acculturation, these needs can be met by daycare facilities, village programs, summer camps, neighbors, sitters, teachers, social workers and other staff in public schools. Moral and ethical values and the family's racial, ethnic and cultural traditions can be acquired from these and other sources and do not have to be taught by parents or extended family. Finally, traditional religious training instills a narrow, prejudicial and judgemental view of morality and culture and should be replaced by more enlightened secular philosophies, especially those that promote cultural diversity. Morality and ethics should be seen as evolving value systems subject to progressive insights. There are no moral absolutes for human relating, nor is it possible to make a valid argument for the superiority of one moral code over another.
Based on these considerations, the question of whether modern liberalism prepares the emerging adult to live in freedom must be answered in the negative. Far from an interest in preparing its children for lives of genuine liberty based on personal autonomy, self-reliance and cooperation by consent, the liberal agenda promotes an uncritical childlike accommodation to the rules, regulations and expropriations essential to the collectivist state and and equally childlike dependency on a society that likens itself to an all embracing family. Mature competence is achieved only with difficulty, if at all, under these conditions. By the very nature of its operations, every government program comes with an increase in the state's power and a decrease in the domain of individual freedom: the will of the government officials is substituted for that of the individual citizen whenever and wherever a government program tells him what he may or may not do. With directives for nearly every conceivable situation, the programs of modern government constantly interfere with the individual's most immediate experience of personal freedom: that of making his own decisions at the countless choice points of daily living. These intrusions undermine his growth to competence by extending the dependency of childhood well into his adult years and even for the duration of his life. More specifically, the collectivist society diminishes the young adult's opportunities for continued development of autonomy, initiative and industry; subordinates this personal sovereignty to the authority of the collective; and defines him politically by his obligations to the state.
- Lyle H. Rossiter, JR., M.D.