Never Enough: The Utility of Impossible Objectives
I have been reading the new book, Never Enough, by William Voegeli at Claremont McKenna College, with great interest. His theme is that the advocates of the welfare state have never been able to give a coherent account of the proper size and scope of their ambitions. How much assistance to the poor is enough?
I think he is correct about the “Progressive” economic agenda. But I believe there is an even more insidious and destructive part of their agenda: their revision of what we might call the “sexual constitution.” The radical forms of feminism, as well as the destruction and redefinition of marriage, are part of restructuring the fundamental rules of engagement between women and men, and between adults and children. I have come to the conclusion that the Left’s inability to define limits is no accident.
My thesis is that the impossibility of achieving the agenda is precisely its appeal to the Left. In economics, it is impossible to eliminate all income differences in even a partially free market, since the huge variation in personality, abilities and behaviors that are normal among human beings are precisely the basis for differences in income. Yet, if the Radicals are able to create a moral urgency around “equality,” they will have justified an unlimited amount governmental power.
The feminists have insisted that any difference between men and women are the results of unjust discrimination and hence must be eradicated. The government must “do something,” to eliminate these differences. However, since men and women really are different, this moral imperative amounts to a blank check for the expansion of the state to intervene into virtually every aspect of life.
The latest incarnation of the sex radicals’ agenda requires elimination of all differences between same sex couples and opposite sex couples. The provincial government of Quebec issued a policy called the “Quebec Policy Against Homophobia,” which declared its opposition to all discrimination in the workplace, the school, the family and the sporting field. They also declare their determination to eliminate “heteronormativity,” the view that heterosexuality is normal. Since heterosexuality is normal, eliminating this view simply can’t be done. Hence, they’ve written themselves another conveniently blank check for unlimited intervention into civil society. See posts here, here,
I have had a difficult time getting my libertarian friends to see the menace in all this. Economists and political theorists have been arguing, quite correctly, against the irrationality of egalitarianism for some time now. But if I’m correct, this claim will never make a dent in the consciousness of any True Believer. The irrationality of their position is an essential part of its appeal.