Overestimating the goodness of mankind

Both socialists1 and libertarians2 believe that citizens should care about the welfare of their neighbors and help the down-trodden.  However, they both underestimate the extent of mankind’s sinfulness.

The socialist prescribes methods for caring for each other, and assumes that people will comply with these methods.  They assume the productive will contribute just as much as before.  They assume the needy will become productive once their needs have been met.

The libertarian believes that people will generally do the right thing on their own, and that the few “bad apples” will be held in check by market forces.  They believe that self-interest is ultimately good, because each individual’s self-interest is best served by working in harmony with their fellow men.  They assume that the majority are forward-thinking enough to see the benefit in helping their neighbors so that society in general, themselves included, can be more prosperous.

Unfortunately for both socialism and libertarianism, there is no limit to the laziness, selfishness, and greed that lives in the heart of man (Jer 17:9, Eccl 9:3).

Under socialism, the producers will scale back, seeing no personal benefit to increased productivity.  The needy will not seek to be more productive, because someone else will provide for them.  Poverty will increase, and the powers that be will attempt to exert more and more control.

Under libertarianism, individuals will seek their own profit with minimal personal effort, and as each person’s goals conflict with others, society will decay into anarchy.  After a period of anarchy, someone will rise to power, seize control and crack down on the anarchy.

So socialists and libertarians desire the same thing, make the same mistake in estimating man’s goodness, and both lead to totalitarian control.

  1. Socialist may not be the best label, but I am using it as a description of those on the very far left of the political spectrum. 

  2. Libertarian may not be the best label, but I am using it as a description of those on the very far right of the political spectrum. 

3 thoughts on “Overestimating the goodness of mankind

  1. I don’t believe capitalism encourage Philanthropy either or moral use of power of money. Even those claiming christian following show that in a 2007 Barna Research study shows only 9% of “christians” give the biblical 10% of income to help the Church care for the widows, orphans, and poor in the community. This was before the 2009 economic down turn which is showing an almost 48% reduction in tithing in churches (Barna Research Study also).

  2. So all three systems don’t work in the pure form for a society in a whole. A balanced system in which all three ideas balance each other negatives, but encourage the positives each brings to the population as a whole. A free market regulated to protect from abusive/bullying tactics, a market that is still allows individualism and corporate success but requires they think of the effect their choices could make on others negatively.

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