I read and watch the news on a regular basis, mostly because it eases up my anxiety. The news is something I can wrap my brain around. I understand it, mainly politics. I get it. And, since I am a liberal, I try to keep up on all the cool liberal vs. conservative stuff that I can. So, first, there’s Elizabeth Warren. Smart. Was going to head the Consumer Protection Agency. Teaches at fucking Harvard, all of that. Just a bad ass. Here’s what she said recently. And, yes, I sort of want to have her babies because of it.
The reaction from the “right” was, well, interesting. Que George Will. He writes stuff. He’s a conservative. He’s smart in a, “I know I’m smarter than you” kind of way. The only reason I even read his work is because, well, he’s smart. I mean, he really is. He has some good points. Here is what he had to say to about what Elizabeth Warren had to say. It’s long winded, so just muddle through it.
Everyone knows that all striving occurs in a social context, so all attainments are conditioned by their context. This does not, however, entail a collectivist political agenda.
Such an agenda’s premise is that individualism is a chimera, that any individual’s achievements should be considered entirely derivative from society, so the achievements need not be treated as belonging to the individual. Society is entitled to socialize — i.e., conscript — whatever portion it considers its share. It may, as an optional act of political grace, allow the individual the remainder of what is misleadingly called the individual’s possession.
The collectivist agenda is antithetical to America’s premise, which is: Government — including such public goods as roads, schools and police — is instituted to facilitate individual striving, a.k.a. the pursuit of happiness. The fact that collective choices facilitate this striving does not compel the conclusion that the collectivity (Warren’s “the rest of us”) is entitled to take as much as it pleases of the results of the striving.
Warren’s statement is a footnote to modern liberalism’s more comprehensive disparagement of individualism and the reality of individual autonomy. A particular liberalism, partly incubated at Harvard, intimates the impossibility, for most people, of self-government — of the ability to govern one’s self. This liberalism postulates that, in the modern social context, only a special few people can literally make up their own minds.
THAT’S NOT WHAT SHE SAID! That’s not what she said at all! Elizabeth Warren wasn’t saying that people can’t take care of themselves, or that people need a nanny state, or that liberals hate people who achieve, uh, achievements. Elizabeth Warren was reminding people, mainly the upper class, that paying taxes isn’t a bad thing. She wasn’t just saying that to rich people. She was saying that to everyone. We pay taxes so we can live in a world that is a little safer than it actually, really is. There are things that government should do, and we pay taxes and have a governmental system that works so that we can have roads, bridges, satellites in the sky, power, all that stuff. Everything we collectively use is subsidized by a government that we collectively fund. Elizabeth Warren wasn’t saying this was a good thing or a bad thing. She was saying how it was. She was speaking of reality.
More than anything else, I think what George Will wrote is a reflective how pissed off he was at Elizabeth Warren for articulating, clearly and calmly, the role of government. He spent an entire column arguing against a few sentences and he failed.