Archive for 4/9/2003
While reading Herbert Hoover’s 1934 book "The Challenge to Liberty," I discovered the groundwork of the political views held by both of the major parties today. Hoover was by no means the greedy capitalist that history professors bill him as, but rather offered the market system as a temporary excuse – because "for at least the next several generations, we dare not abandon self-interest." His defense of (mixed-economy) capitalism was not based the morality of capitalism, but on its practical necessity – at least until we could find a way to make socialism work. There are many lines I could offer, but following are quotes indicative of his approach:
"No civilization could be built to endure solely upon groundwork of greed or even upon the enlightened self-interest f the individual. It is out of the altruistic and constructive impulses that the standards and the ideals of the nation are molded and sustained."
"Proper action in relief of distress is inherent in the social vision of the true American System. No American should go hungry or cold if he is willing to work. Under our system relief is the first obligation of the individual to his neighbors, then of institutions, then of local communities, and then of State governments. The moment the need exceeds the honest capacities of the local agencies, then they must have the support of the Federal Government as the final reservoir of national strength."
"The American System holds equally that monopoly, group or class advantage, economic domination, Regimentalism, Fascism, Socialism, Communism, or any other form of tyranny, small or great, or small are violations of the basis of Liberty."
With this approach, is it any wonder that Statism/altruism has been the dominant political philosophy of the 20th century? The success of socialism was not caused by the supposed flaws of capitalism, but by the moral default of its so-called supporters. I won’t make the same mistake.