I’m continuing my reporting on the next installment from Conservative Estimate, the recently founded website that is devoted to demolishing Conservatism.
Yesterday, Alfred George showed that the Myth of Independence causes people to misunderstand the very notion of justice.
Today he discusses how the Myth of Independence corrupts the peculiarly American traditions of justice, and could destroy the American way of life if allowed to go unchecked.
A slight detour around the waltzing double orange traces will take you to an account of today’s installment.
Mr. George begins today’s post by noting a quotation from James Madison in The Federalist: “Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society.” Then he points out that those who fail to understand justice because their minds are clouded by the Myth of Independence act like brakes on the train of justice, slowing down its arrival to those who most need it.
Those who do not care about justice—those who aim only at getting and keeping their own rights over against the rights of others—retard the progress of justice by refusing to admit any advantage they might have, and by clamoring to reinstate any advantage they used to have that may have been diluted by advances in the direction of greater fairness, more inclusion, or increased assistance for their fellow citizens.He goes on to liken such people to infectious diseases in the body politic:
According to Madison, however, and to decent people of good will everywhere, it is justice—not happiness or self-sufficiency, and certainly not selfishness or independence—that is the highest good of society. Those who impede the advance of justice by their intransigent adherence to Self-interest or Independence, together with those who actively obstruct it out of bad will, are contaminants in the body politic. Citizens of good will can and must find ways to minimize the contamination, for the sake of social well-being.And he draws all the Myths into this problem:
The Myths are extremely dangerous to society because they tend to produce people who are blind to the demands of justice. The more success we have in eliminating the influence of the Myths, the greater will be our progress toward extending the reach of justice for all.In a separate section, Mr. George says that the Myth of Independence undoes the specifically American character of justice, by letting some people imagine that their own rights are more important than the rights of others.
The distinctive character of American justice, the mark that distinguished it from all political attempts to attain justice prior to the American revolution, is that it is grounded in the central ideal of the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal. According to this conception of human relations, we come into this world on an equal footing. None of us is born “better” than anyone else; no one has a birthright to superiority over anyone else; no one is “owed” a position of wealth, power, or influence just because he may have been born to parents who had wealth, power, or influence. . . .With this, Mr. George completes his treatment of the Myth of Independence.
Unless we can eradicate the Myth of Independence, which creates the impression in some people that their rights matter more than the rights of others, the peculiarly American form of social structure that the Framers established will fall victim to extreme individualism and egotism, and the great experiment in self-governance they initiated will have failed.
You can read the whole post here.
He goes on to point out that many people, taken in by the Myth of Independence, try to replace the communal and social benefits of interdependence with another form of security—the security of Religion. This is another mistake. And not because Religion has no place in society, but because acceptance of the Myths causes people to misunderstand the very nature of Religion. Thus a new Myth arises, the Myth of Religion, which will be the subject of the next series of posts
I’ll be reporting back each day as a new installment appears.