I'm going to borrow a phrase my cowriter used in his last post: "As a caveat, this is an exploration more than an argument."
In the last week, I have been reading Dave's posts in conjunction with a myriad of essays on political theory (shudder), and more specifically, the primary political ideologies: liberalism, conservatism, and socialism. It is essential to read this post knowing that I am an infant when it comes to these topics, and therefore, it's likely that I'm quite a bit off. With this context in mind, I would like to cautiously respond to Dave's last two posts.
In "Achieving Community," Dave stated:
"Our ability to experience social justice as individuals depends on our belonging to a community, as it is only in community that our basic human needs are met."
Forthright declaration that human needs can only be met via the community is the foundation of Socialist ideology. With this assumed, Socialists prioritize the community instead of the individual. Thus the state equates the importance of individuals; people are but "cogs of a machine" working for the ultimate success of the entire community.
In stark contrast, Liberalism, which comes from the Latin "liber" meaning "free," is based upon the liberty and rights of the individual: the freedom to speak, write, assemble, earn, trade, and own, all in the pursuit of individual desires, needs, and success. The state must respect its citizens as people, not treating them as mere "cogs." State power must be both: (1) limited as much as possible wherever it infringes upon an individual's freedoms, and (2) utilized to protect its citizens from such infringements.
In "To and Fro: The Failure of Libertarianism," Dave stated:
"Libertarianism fails because it is premised on...the centrality of self-interest."
In actuality, self-interest is the centrality of the aforementioned Liberalism, of which Libertarianism is but one of many schools. And by no means has Liberalism "failed." Quite the opposite, Liberalism is the foundation of the American political discourse.
It should be noted that Socialism is not rooted in Christian thought. Socialists do not view cooperation and redistribution of wealth through a lens of "good" or "holy" the way Jesus Christ might have (remember: "It's easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven"), but through one of social justice and communal empowerment. Dave's realization regarding the selfishness of Liberalism was reached via the writings of a pastor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and was therefore founded on the Christian ideals of love ("agape") and faith.
I'd like to make it perfectly clear that I do not disagree with Dave. Instead, I'm attempting to explore the notion that Christian religion (or perhaps "love") and American politics--the latter of which, Dave never explicitly mentions in "Achieving Community"--may very well be inherently opposed to one another. Hence the absolutely essential need for separation of Church and State.
So: What's the point?
I suppose I would argue that self-interest and individual competition, as encouraged by Liberalism, are not cause for worry. If anything, these tenants are precisely what make modern, Western governance and economy work well. As contradictory as it may seem, strides towards a "world community" should be taken only insofar as these foundations are--at all costs--protected.
And since I stated from the outset that this post wasn't an argument, but an exploration, I'd like to ask the brave souls still reading: How?