Posts Tagged ‘Aristotle’
March 27th, 2010 at 6:06 pm
Government’s Goal Should be Freedom, Not Happiness

Amid the MSM’s mischaracterization of all things Tea Party, this brief meditation on the true end of government is a welcome corrective.  A sampling:

There is a more fundamental reason why government policy ought not to be directed at happiness. There is more to life than that. There are many forms of life — monastic devotion, public service, freedom fighter — in which the pursuit of happiness is a subsidiary value, if it appears at all. The realms of art and literature would be hugely impoverished if nobody were ever miserable. “Happiness,” as Montherlant wrote, “writes white.”

Precisely because human life is prolifically diverse, the history of Utopian politics is littered with offences against freedom by people who thought they knew what the people really wanted. The economics of happiness invariably leads to the politics of paternalism. The happiness gurus would be better off starting with Aristotle’s generous account of flourishing, an idea that implies people choosing their own life course. If politicians need a single objective — and it is not obvious that they do — then setting the people free is a lot better than forcing them to be happy.

Democrats used to understand this.  Progressives don’t.  If the former ever extracts the latter from its ranks, the Tea Party won’t be necessary – and neither will most of the federal apparatus.