In the early hours of Gettysburg, the Union Army’s first commanders on the scene seized the geographical high ground. The Confederates spent the next three days trying to charge up hill in the face of rifle and cannon fire. Since time immemorial, defending the hill has conferred an advantage. Holding the high ground has allowed a smaller force to sometimes prevail against greater numbers. Even in Star Wars III, Anakin Skywalker learned a burning lesson about trying to take high ground held by a Jedi master. In the realm of morality and outside of warfare, we often refer to somebody who is doing the right thing as taking the high ground. Unless a society has completely gone to hell, the moral high ground can even confer an advantage in the marketplace of ideas.
Those who support liberty, self-ownership, and non-aggression as first political principles are in a seeming perpetual battle against those who believe that society owns you and has a right to initiate force against you in support of its progressive programs. And because progressivism is largely based on an appeal to emotion, those who support progressive ideas are used to reinforcing their views of their own moral goodness with their ideas. Thus, one who believes that government has no place in providing charity must be bad. One who believes that people should be left to themselves unless others decide voluntarily to assist them is downright horrible. And, if you are wont to believe that you have a fundamental right to arm yourself in defense against force from both criminals and tyrants, you are downright evil, the devil’s own spawn directly from hell itself.
Unfortunately, conservatives and libertarians and others who support the principles of liberty often fall prey to such thinking themselves. They willingly cede the moral high ground to the enemy at the beginning of the fight. They do so mostly by agreeing that their opponents are morally right but then arguing that their opponent’s ideas just do not work in practice. So the argument about socialism becomes one of the liberty-minded arguing that it doesn’t work and its supporters arguing it just hasn’t worked yet, but give us this one more chance and we will get it right. Or the liberty-minded agree that gun control sounds logical but just doesn’t work and its supporters argue that it’s not broad enough, or we haven’t taken enough guns, or (in Great Britain) maybe we need the knives too. If only people were good socialism would be a great idea and gun control would work right?
Wrong. Socialism is an evil idea. When imposed by government it is nothing but a system of extortion and slavery. When voluntarily entered into, it is an arrangement of the gullible choosing to support those who immorally want more than they are willing to produce. Gun control is fundamentally immoral because it limits an individual’s fundamental human rights to defend themselves against criminals and tyrants and places them at the mercy of both. It is not logical. It is not ideal. It is not even moral. Yes. Neither of these immoral ideas works in practice. But if you resort to arguments of utility as primary and give up on arguments of morality and natural rights then you begin by ceding the moral high ground to the enemy. You are essentially saying socialism is morally better but just doesn’t work. As soon as you make that argument you have lost.
Progressives advocate theft and extortion cloaked as compassion because it makes them feel good. They call people greedy because they want what they earned but they accept the mistaken idea that it is acceptable for other people to want to take what they did not earn. They believe it is perfectly acceptable to initiate force against others to pay for whatever they feel might be compassionate at the moment. They accept theft, extortion, and slavery as the fundamental foundation for the political and economic solutions they advocate. They are why there is a second amendment. They are the problem with America. Their feeling good does not trump my rights. Ever. No matter how many votes they can muster. People should not be enslaved to their flawed reasoning and emotional whims.
So, if you are liberty-minded, stand up and fight back. Start with the premise that they are morally wrong and that their ideas are evil. Then, if necessary, follow up with all the facts that show that their ideas do not work. But they do not work, not because they are good and people just aren’t good enough, but because they are bad and most people aren’t trying to be. You might be surprised at the response. Usually, they are shocked because they have so much emotional capital tied up in the notion that their ideas make them good people. Sometimes they will even run like cowards in the face of the truth because they have no answer other than their “feelings” and they certainly are not equipped to handle truth. Other times they will immediately resort to attacks on you and name calling because they are intellectually weak and incapable of separating the false ideas they hold from their own concept of self-goodness.
Do not cede the moral high ground in this most critical battle. If you do, then the battle is lost before it has been seriously joined.
Hello Liberty Pirate,
A strong point which cannot be emphasized enough or too often. Never give up the moral high ground and lead with the moral argument.