The Tax and Spend Spectator

Understanding the Left’s Demands on What Others Own

What it can't control the left will call unfair and undemocratic.

By 3.13.13

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The Left's inherent challenge is justifying their claim to what others own. This challenge arises from the contradiction between the Left's motivating ideology and the failure of its economic application. Understanding this inevitable contradiction and the necessity it creates enables us to understand everything else the Left think, say, and do.

Nowhere is the hypocrisy of accusing others of one's own greatest fault clearer than with the Left. The accusation in question is materialism -- the charge with which they seek to indict capitalism. Yet, it is the Left themselves who are utterly captivated and defined by material production.

If there is a political embodiment of the ethos of greed, it is not capitalism, but socialism, where everything is reduced to no more than a means to that society's self-professed end: material production. While Marx explicitly made this the basis of everything -- not only in socialist and communist societies, but all human history -- it is no less the implicit motivator of the rest of the Left.

However it is perhaps history's greatest irony that the Left consciously choose to eschew capitalism -- history's most efficient means of producing the material resources they require. The Left deny the equity of any distribution of resources that they do not control. Capitalism is therefore the most egregious violation of their sense of fairness, because it is premised on a lack of control -- i.e., a free market.

As a result all Leftist systems are rooted in a profound and insoluble contradiction: an ideology of producing a materially superior society that is doomed in practice to be a materially inferior one.

In order to compensate for their innate material deficiency, all Leftist systems must have two things: access to others' resources and a means of enforcing others to participate in a suboptimal economic system. As history has repeatedly shown, people will not acquiesce to either willingly for long.

The necessity to enforce participation requires a strong state. Again, in contradiction to Marx's assertion that under communism society would be classless and the need for a state to enforce class rule would disappear, just the opposite occurs. The Leftist system can only exist be force.

Because the disparity between its economic system's failure and capitalism's success grows, the Leftist state must expropriate at increasing rates.

Others' greater resources are also an implicit condemnation of the Leftist system -- a living refutation of its fallacies. Even if redistribution were not part of the Left's ideology, it would have to be part of its practical application.

The growing gap between the Left's failure and capitalism's success -- and its citizens' desire to gain access to the latter -- requires ever greater levels of state interference in the lives of its citizens.

To obtain access to the resources it needs from its citizens, the Leftist state must justify a greater claim to them. For this reason, traditional property rights can not and do not exist in socialist states. Nor can a socialist state be founded on negative rights -- as was the United States by our Constitution -- by which a citizen is assured protection from state encroachment.

State encroachment is elemental to the Left's state model. Accordingly, their model is founded on positive rights -- the citizen being given "rights" to things, which the socialist society is then justified to obtain for the citizen from others. In the Left's model, society's rights thereby supersede the citizen's and the state maintains an eminent domain over them.

There is a reason why no truly socialist state -- or even an attempt a truly Leftist system within in a capitalist nation -- has survived for very long, and none without oppression. The state must compensate for what its economic system cannot provide. It can only do this by expropriating its citizens -- of their property and even their labor.

While the economic necessity of this is relatively easy to see, the citizen's subservient relationship to the Leftist state does not stop at economics. Because the state must have access to its citizens' resources, its entire foundation rests on its citizens' inferior position to it. The citizen serves the Left's state -- the very reverse of the relationship that our founders envisioned for America.

Thus everything the Left thinks, says, and does must ultimately return to its self-inflicted economic necessity and its endemic need to create an ideology and mechanism of expropriation to address that necessity.

What starts as a denial of an individual's property rights, comes to extend far more broadly -- to a denial of an individual's property of rights at all.

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About the Author

J.T. Young served in the Department of Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2004 and as a Congressional staff member from 1987 to 2000.