The Last Redoubt on Virtue and the State

Inspired by a recent post on this humble blog, reader The Last Redoubt takes the political football and runs with it.
Conservative, Inc. has fixated on how "big" the government is. Leftist cant in response to "it's too big" is that "size doesn't matter if it's good government" - and I don't think that is what Brian is saying here either in the leftist sense, especially as the leftist application is the usual doublespeak of appearing to say something good which, when unpacked, is utterly evil.
It's because of their definition of "good" government.
I've said before that size isn't just how many people, or how many dollars, or how many offices. It's also the scope of power. In some cases the scope is beyond the power of the town, county, etc. to affect outside of itself - national defense and international treaties - or because dictating a choice at the national level is not in the best overall interests of the municipalities, as neither they nor the people in them are equal. Skin in the game, and the ability to even know what is actually best put practical upper and lower bounds on what scope of power should be exercised at any level before one is making choices for which others suffer the consequences but not oneself. Nevermind the attraction unlimited power over others holds to psychopaths.
There's also a deeper moral level though.
Virtue is something we must choose for ourselves. We are not generous when we vote for the state to take other's money and give it to the poor. Yes, some of it is our money, our time, as well, but we lose a little of the choice, and we take that choice away from others. Does that mean absolutely no safety nets? No - but it does mean that every law that is passed that takes virtue away from people renders unto Caesar that which should be Gods, or in a secular sense, takes away moral agency.
Yet government operates at a moral level as well, because all of the choices made for others have implications and make it easier for people to do good or evil. Those choices can protect people or place them in harm's way. I don't have the knee-jerk response that "vigilante justice" - especially when self defense is misnamed such - is "bad" because I also don't believe the police should be everywhere, even if they could be. It's a symptom - and if there's too much of it, that means that government is failing in its job of protecting the people by removing and restricting those who commit crimes. Who steal, murder, etc.
Read the rest here.

The two key concepts that the Last Redoubt is describing here are solidarity and subsidiarity. Leftists emphasize the former to the exclusion of the latter, and Libertarians run headlong into the opposite error.

Societal problems should be addressed at the smallest level capable of handling the issue, starting with the family. If a smaller institution isn't equal to the task, you kick it up to the next higher level. Continue up the chain until the problem's solved.

For instance, your uncle's gambling problem is probably best handled by a family intervention. On the other hand, big tech has accumulated so much unwarranted power that only the federal government with all its powers can break their tyrannical monopolies. There's continuum with no place left unfilled.

LR is also correct about the Leftist dodge re: good government. Their entire worldview is based on denying the existence of objective good, so anytime they appeal to the good, you know it's cynical manipulation.

Off-topic P.S.: Combat Frame XSeed backers, check your email for an exclusive Halloween treat or two.

Combat Frame XSeed 

Combat Frame XSeed: CY 2 Gaiden


  1. Signed up for the newsletter.

    This is a treat indeed.

  2. Sharp cover on the side story. Looking forward to reading it tonight.

    1. Give the glory to Todd.

      Considering how valuable your feedback on the novel was, I'm on the edge of my seat in anticipation of your take on CY 2 Gaiden.

  3. Subsidiarity and solidarity, plus skin in the game, law based on first principles, and a bill of responsibilities so that the virtuous get pushed into power so that their lack of participation does not create a vacuum for the psychopaths to fill. I wish.

    1. Durandel,

      Your comment and Brian's post are spot on.
      Heere's an apropos post from Acton institute
      You can download the doctoral dissertation (in Spanish) from the article. I'm reading it now and very very interesting.
      TD;LR Mariana influenced John Locke's Two Treasties and Madison's Defense of the American constitution as well as a precursor to liberalism

  4. Great cover on CY 2! GrenThree, HAI! Pats on the back for Todd!

    1. Good eye. That is indeed a Grenzmark III on the ropes against an unknown XSeed.

      Todd, and my crack team of international artists, do indeed deserve an official pat on the back.

  5. Last Redoubt's article and analysis are spot on, as usual.

    Blast from the past: The Tragedy of American Compassion, Marvin Olasky.

    TL;DR Version: Private charity more effective than government handouts.

    WHO KNEW?!

    1. *nods*

      Insert obligatory Argumentum ad Venezuelam.

  6. Brian,

    I've always been partial to Carlos V/I's reign.
    He got it and Spain flowered under him