THE ILLUSION OF GOVERNMENT COMPETENCE
I think what’s involved here is a difference in viewpoint between collectivists and individualists analagous to the former’s belief in positive rights and the latter’s emphasis on negative rights.
The US has over the years been lauded for, and criticized for, its belief in “American exceptionalsim”. I find that people dedicated to individual liberties find this exceptionalism to be derived from a systemic difference, i.e., the freedoms and progress of the American experiment are built on the foundation of the Constitution, and its accompanying intellectual and moral context. These individualists do not believe the US is immune from the mistakes of other societies, but that the structure of the state helps to prevent some of the more egregious abuses.
While collectivists are the loudest among those deriding the idea of exceptionalism, their fervent belief in the state as miracle worker is, in fact, a variation of that very concept. But, instead of an exceptional structure, the collectivist relies on a belief in exceptional people, right-thinking members of their own mythological group, who are free from the “false consciousness” that afflicts so many of those unworthy of inclusion in the mystical vanguard.
Collectivists can thus ignore everything that has happened in the past, or is happening presently right before their eyes, that might cast any doubt on their proposals to always increase the state and restrict the private, because those flawed examples are obviously the work of confused pretenders, or actual sabateurs, and would not be repeated by “the right people”.
Coupled with this view are the corollaries of self-description and intentions=achievement.
If someone describes themselves as a “peace activist” or “advocate for the poor”, and has the correct collectivist pedigree, why, then, that is what they are. It doesn’t matter, then, that they support Hamas, or volunteer to be human shields for gruesome dictators, or anything else. All that matters is that they claim to be activists for peace, then they are cleansed, as International Answer, or that British creep that used to be an MP, or crazy Cindy.
The same process cleanses anyone who claims the mantle of poverty advocate or social justice activist. The fact that they can swoon over Castro or Chavez, and defend any number of policies which empirical studies have shown to stifle economic progress and increase poverty is unimportant—they are advocating for the poor.
And that, of course, is the defining characteristic of those for whom intentions, not actual results, are all that matters. Pass a big new program to eliminate poverty, or raise school achievements, or save failing industries. Years later, when the program is analyzed and found to be worthless, at best, or actually harmful, as many have been, where is the fault? Is it with the idea behind the program? Oh no , never that. The failure is always due to—wait for it— not doing enough. Not enough funding, not enough power, not enough caseworkers, not enough, never enough.
The only possible answer, when everybody who matters knows that this is just, absolutely, positively, the right way to go: bigger programs with more money and more staff and more everything. After all, it just has to be good. It’s to help the poor, or feed the hungry, or (fill in the blank).
We have to do something. And you know those selfish, indifferent schmucks in the suburbs would never do anything voluntarily. The right thinking, truly enlightened, have to do it, by force if necessary.
When one has wrapped one’s mind in the warm, comforting cacoon of collectivist mythology, and therefore knows that all the open-minded, tolerant, clear thinking, truly concerned and compassionate people think just like you, and anyone who doesn’t is mean and greedy and lacks compassion and a true desire for peace and other really, really good things, the rest is easy.
As long as the right people are running things, it will be different this time. You just have to believe, and believe, and believe.
I couldn't have said it better.