Thursday, October 08, 2009

C. S. Lewis: Bloody Socialist

A redated post.

HT: John Gibson

In the letter to Mary Willis Shelburne dated 7th July 1959 (Letters, vol 3,
page 1064), Lewis wrote

"What you have gone through begins to reconcile me to our Welfare State of
which I have said so many hard things. 'National Health Service' with free
treatment for all has its drawbacks - one being that Doctors are incessantly
pestered by people who have nothing wrong with them. But it is better than
leaving people to sink or swim on their own resources."

44 comments:

Ilíon said...

(Assuming the quotation is accurate)

So, Lewis allowed an emotional response to override his reason? So Lewis, who didn't live to see the depths to which the Welfare State would take his nation -- though he certainly understood as a matter of reason the outcome (and even expressed part of it in the quote) -- expressed some sympathy for an early recipient, as recipient, of the Welfare State?

So, Lewis isn't infallible. This is news?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Ilion: should we abolish public schools?

Clayton said...

I'm just about certain that Jesus once said that we're supposed to let people sink or swim on their own resources. That pretty much falls out of the golden rule. The problem is that the poor and needy haven't really projected themselves into the shoes of those who could help them, if they did they would realize that just as they'd tell people to sink, they ought to be allowed to sink in turn. I'm in complete agreement with Ilion. Also, let's get rid of public schools, let's not put out fires unless people can afford to hire the firemen, and only those in the top tax brackets should get full police protection.

Ilíon said...

Clayton: "[intellectual dishonesty]"

But then, what else is new? The man is, after all, what he is.

Ilíon said...

BDK: "Ilíon: should we abolish public schools?>"

Are you you asking me whether we should have separation of school and state?

Are you asking me whether having government-controlled indoctrination centers is a good thing or a bad thing? I mean, objectively good, and good for the people, in contrast to being in the interests of the elites who run the government.

Ilíon said...

You really do need to start thinking ahead.

Anonymous said...

And while we're at it, let's get rid of all the regulation that the progressives have fought and died for, too: child labor laws, safety and health laws, weekends and vacations, minimum wage, the 40 hour work week, water safety standards, etc., etc. I hate all that evil commie stuff. 'Cause we all know that markets, when unrestrained, regulate themselves. I think Ayn Rand's disciple and former Fed, Alan Greenspan said that. Oh wait, he retracted that recently, didn't he? And Bernanke, too. Well...

I'd love to see a movie that showed what America might be like if the progressives never existed -- something like It's a Wonderful Life.

Nah, it probably would've turned out all right. And, hey, the reason why the global economy's melting down has nothing to do with free market fundie principles. After all, they're known a priori. Therefore, my lyin' eyes are playin' tricks on me.

Ilíon said...

Anonymouse: "[nothing, nothing at all]"

RD said...

Why focus on what C.S. Lewis said? Why not go straight to the bible?

Acts 2:44-5: And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Hmm, sounds like socialism to me. I guess now we should accuse Jesus of having a lack of foresight and allowing emotion to override reason.

Gordon Knight said...

There is a long history of Christian socialism, so this should not suprise us.

Ilíon said...

RD: "[severe misrepresentation of history, and of the Bible, and of Jesus]"

Victor Reppert said...

The obvious objection to using that passage to support government socialism is that the Church was not a government. Just because the Church did it doesn't automatically mean that gummint (as Reagan would say) should be doing it, using its coercive powers.

Ilíon said...

GK: "There is a long history of Christian socialism ..."

This claim is, of course, not true. But then, you do have a habit making untrue claims, do you not?

What there is is a very minor history of some individuals conflating some variant of socialism for the Gospel. If the individual happens to have a forceful personality, he (or she) may gather around himself a small cult of easily-influenced persons who need a strong-man to run theor lives. If the leader happens to no be a psychopath, the cult may even last for many years.

But it always falls apart in the end, because human beings cannot live like that.

Ilíon said...

The obvious objection to using the passage to claim "moral" support for "Christian" socialism is that Jesus never commanded it, nor did any apostle claim the Jesus commanded it, nor did the early Church continue the practice for long -- it does not work, and they were not fools, so they abandoned the practice.

Merlijn de Smit said...

Of course there has been a long tradition of Christian socialism - at least one as long as socialism has existed as a political ideology (longer, if we count groups such as the Diggers and other radical strands among English puritanism).

Aside from this, politically organized Christianity in mainland Europe has always been welfarist - and was much more so at the time of the Lewis quote. The German Christian Democrats after WWII advocated a program of nationalization much more radical than any mere concession to the welfare state. (Of course, Christian Democracy in Europe has been influenced a lot by Catholic social thought).

Still today, Christian political parties in Europe tend to be conservatives of the communitarian variety - not the free-market variety.

I think, in fact, that the association of political Christianity and a hard-right free-market ideology is something peculiar to the modern-day US.

Ilíon said...

Ilion to GK: "But then, you do have a habit making untrue claims, do you not?"

That was too snarky for our limited acquaintance. I have allowed my disgust at the behaviors of some others to color my reaction to what you have said. This is wrong of me.

Ilíon said...

Some of the Puritan-like founders of our American culture, specifically the non-conforming separatists we call the Pilgrims, tried "communitarianism" when they first came over.

It didn't work ... as it never does ... and so they gave it up. As the Pilgrims are the "spiritual" fathers of our national culture, we have tended to be very anti-socialistic for these past 400 years.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Should the federal government provide funds to run an education system? It's a simple question.

If Ilion were a transformer his name would be Obfuscabot.

Ilíon said...

Where, exactly, exists the Constitutional authority for the federal government to "run an education system?"

If BDK were a Transformer, his name would be Ignorabus.

Ilíon said...

... or to provide funds for same?

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah. But don't stop there, illion. With that logic, we shouldn't allow the state to exract taxes for the military, etc. I agree: it's theft.

I also think it's theft for the state to extract taxes for roads, street lights, etc. And let's get rid of taxes for police. We should all be allowed to drive our cars through a roadless world, and to be defenseless against packs of roving marauders, too.

Yep, some top-notch logic, there.

Ilíon said...

Anonymouse: "[yet another waste of bandwidth]"

Ilíon said...

This particular Anonymouse really doesn't have the faintest idea about logic, does he?

Anonymous said...

Yep, I'm unable to tell that your replies are a seemingly endless string of red herrings. Poor muddled me...

Ilíon said...

Poor, poor Anonymouse: he imagines that saying thoughty things such as "red herring" makes it so.

Anonymous said...

ilion, don't you have something better to do than fill this discussion board with spam?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Only kids whose parents can afford it should have education, health care, food, a functional sewage system, and a roof over their heads. America has become too enamoured of the "healthy" child.

Ilíon said...

Oh, BDK, *that* was beneath even you! Hard to fathom, I know.

Anonymous said...

Poor, poor illion. He doesn't know that to change the subject (instead of responding to the issue at hand) is to commit the fallacy of red herring.

Poor illion...

Victor Reppert said...

OK Ilion, let's make a positive claim so we can have a look at it. What DO you think the government should do, and how SHOULD we pay for those services.

It looks like, from the point of view of your radical anti-socialism, that the Republicans and Democrats are just two different brands of socialism. I'm not even sure you should say that one is less socialistic than the other, and it may be an illusion that voting Republican is voting for the lesser of two socialisms.

Ilíon said...

Please!

What is it with you leftists?

rd said...

Victor: ilion isn't going to make a positive claim regarding what the government should do; he's demonstrated that his only concern is producing red herrings and making ad hominem attacks. More than half of the posts on this board are his. He has no serious contribution to make to the discussion. He's a spammer, nothing more. Boot his fucking ass out of here!

Ilíon said...

What an absolute *ass* this "RD" is.

Ilíon said...

Your leftism is both immoral and unConstitutional.

And, rather than facing up to those two facts and thinking rationally with that in mind, you imagine you have standing to demand of me to put forward policies based upon your immoral and unConstitutional leftism.

Victor Reppert said...

Nonsense, Ilion. I want to understand the position I will, I think, criticize. OK, you could be an anarchist, you could expect the government to run without funding itself (no armed robbery), you do believe we should protect ourselves against terror, I take it, so I'm just asking what you, as a conservative right-winger, think the government should do and how we should pay for it. I am not asking you to assume left-wing principles (and left and right are always relative to something), I just would like to see right-wing principles expounded so that we can have a look at them.

Bill Snedden said...

*crickets*

Victor, I'll take a stab at answering the question. As someone from what I might call a "progressive libertarian" position, I see the state's necessary functions as limited to doing that which is necessary to protect me from you and you from me. That means, at minimum, some type of defensive apparatus (to protect all of US from all of THEM) ;) and some type of judicial and police system (to preserve our rights within the context of society). As for paying for it, while some libertarians would argue that taxation is theft (not just that it *can* be, but that it is in *principle*), I have no problem with it, viewing it as a proper billing for services rendered. Of course, when the state gets bloated with all kinds of goods and services not delivered to me and for which I am nonetheless billed, there's certainly room for discussion about how just a *particular* system of taxation is, but I have no issues with it in principle.

I would also argue for some degree of minimal social services, to assist those who are *unable* to care for themselves. Personally, I don't want to live in a society where unfortunates are allowed to "fall through the cracks", but think it's a reasonable and expected benefit of living in a decent, enlightened society that we should set up such a safety net. I do believe that the lion's share of such assistance should come from individuals, rather than the state, but again I don't have a problem with a system of minimal state provided or encouraged assistance.

I'm not sure where public schools fall in all of this. I think an argument can be made that they are a necessary part of the infrastructure of society and thus could be seen as a legitimate concern for the state. However, I'm somewhat skeptical given the relevant inefficiency of state-run vs. private schools.

Is that enough of a start for a critique?

Ilíon said...

VR, you're really into the misrepresentation, aren't you?

Mike Darus said...

Victor,
I think the last campaign illustrated quite well that it is a mistake ofr either left or right wing to name a specific defining principle. One can only pronounce safe principles such as "fiscal responsibilit, udefined change, freedom, democracy, bipartisanship, and leadership." The danger in being specific is that you feed the real winning strategy: criticism. If Ilion said, "small government" it would only invite the charge of hypocricy for any time a Republican added an agency or increased a budget then he would be branded a hypocrite (instant argument winner). Political debate is an ugly mine field where positive initiative is soundly punished.

Ilíon said...

Actually, Mr Darus, Ilíon has been specific: honor and abide by the US Constitution -- if we did that, if that were the animating principle of our national life and the governments we elect, the effects it will have are implied in the statement itself.

But, these "liberals" are not satisfied with that, they are demanding that I accept their faulty vision of government and speak from that basis. They are so like the typical 'atheist' in this regard -- the typical 'atheist' will not acknowledge the flaws in his position, much less repair the flaws (but, that would mean abandoning atheism), but continues to reject anything which is said which highlights those flaws or calls into question his basic assumptions.

Just as one can make no headway with an 'atheist' if one will not call into question his faulty basic assumptions, so one can make no headway with a "liberal" if one will not call into question his faulty basic assumptions.

The error in both atheism and "liberalism" is not where they end up, the error is in where they start out. One cannot solve the error by tinkering around the edges, but only by uprooting the error itself.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Ilion had quite the knack for keeping a thread going by simply calling people names. Can't say I miss it.

Victor Reppert said...

BDK: Maybe I should have kept the post and dumped the comment thread.

Ilíon said...

BDK: "Ilion had quite the knack for keeping a thread going by simply calling people names. Can't say I miss it."

Once again, you demonstrate your hypocrisy.


VR: "BDK: Maybe I should have kept the post and dumped the comment thread."

To what end? You are what you are. He is what he is.

Mark Daniels said...

If only Christians in the US actually lived by their bible and wanted to help the poor...

It is irony at it's best that unbelievers such as myself tend to be more inclined to want to see society help those at the bottom and vote for left wing parties (generally)

Ilíon said...

Mark Daniels: "If only Christians in the US actually lived by their bible and wanted to help the poor..."

If only leftists didn't lie about:
1) "the poor"
2) their great compassionate concern to "help the poor" ... by making everyone poor and/or enslaved to The State (with themselves as the people who call the shots, in more ways than one)
3) "Christians in the US"
4) the content of the "[B]ible"

Mark Daniels: "It is irony at it's best that unbelievers such as myself tend to be more inclined to want to see society help those at the bottom and vote for left wing parties (generally)"

There is no irony here. What there is is leftist intellectual dishonesty, which includes a curious lack of curiosity about whether any leftist policy, much less any leftist party, has in the whole history of the world ever "help[ed] those at the bottom" in contrast to always helping the leftists lord it over everyone else.