“Ideas are forces: the existence of one determines our reception of others.”
This is more than just a statement of associationist psychology.
Take the politics of “welfare.” The modern project has placed government at the heart of society, construing its basic mission as that of “rescuing” people who make mistakes or suffer ill fortune. Taking over where self-help, mutual aid, and charity left off — and at the risk of squelching self-help, mutual aid, and charity — government steps in and provides assistance. Often permanent assistance, and within the context of vast bureaucracies and inescapable institutions.
The socialists who most insist on this messianic government seem to be mostly driven by a concern for the poor . . . and a hatred for the rich. (Sometimes both, sometimes just one or the other.) But the Progressives and New Dealers who actually established the institutions of “welfare” didn’t stop with just the poor. Once the Rescue Mission mentality stuck, there was no class that “shouldn’t” receive benefits.
The result? We watch anti-corporate leftists squirm as they defend corporate bailouts.
But not all left-leaning folks buy the whole package. In America and Europe high-level panic led to vast fortunes squandered to bail out banks, etc. But in Iceland, the people let the creditors take their lumps and the banks fail while drastically cutting back on government deficits (though not targeting assistance for the poor).
That is, they behaved more like laissez faire economists than messianic technocrats.
And Iceland’s thriving, bounced back.
Of course, true believers in the awesome powers of government will resist any notion that bailouts aren’t necessary . . . ideas being forces and all.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.