“My own view is that left-wing positions largely come about from resentment-I agree with Nietzsche about this-a resentment about the surrounding social order. They have privileges, I dont. Or, I have them and I cant live up to them. Things should be organized differently. And theres always some sense on the left that power is in the wrong hands. You know, that the world is misgoverned. And in particular, the nearer something is to yourself, the more you feel that on the left. Theres this rejection of your own country, of your own government. That emotion is very strong. I think its the fundamental source of left-wing politics throughout the 20th century.” – Roger Scruton, from a WSJ interview about his new book, Green Philosophy.
Everyone is dissatisfied with the way the world is today. In response, there are two basic ways of dealing with this. One is through imposing one’s views of how things should be on others through government fiat. The other is to attempt to effect voluntary change through social interaction with others using market transactions, civic/religious association, and/or charitable endeavors.
Following along with Roger Scruton, we might say liberals desire to use government to fix the world because of their “resentment about the surrounding social order.” But what about “big-government” conservatives who also want to use government to shape the world to their worldview? Perhaps they are also motivated by this resentment, but their “conservative” worldview leads them to a different end, though the means they use are the same.
Whatever side of the political spectrum we may be on, Scruton’s words should cause us to examine how we are attempting to effect change to make sure we are not using the ends to justify the means.