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April, 2006 Feature--Truth Based Logic

Social Reform: Confusion Or "Unintended Consequences?"



Synopsis
Social Reform: Compulsion, conspiracy & misguided idealism help stimulate mass movements demanding change, yet are not themselves the ultimate cause for societal breakdown. Primary disaster mechanism, described as 'unintended consequences,' results from conceptual confusion. Understanding the confusion caused by conceptual myopia--the inability to see the forest for the trees--that is destroying the West. Essential difference between Social Reformers & governmental reformers (such as Reagan, Thatcher & the Founding Fathers).

For all the wonder-filled scientific breakthroughs, the Twentieth Century was, in many respects, yet more noteworthy for its compulsion driven demonstrations of mass psychology--behavior, unfortunately, no less obvious since that Century ended on December 31st, 2000. It was also the age of great international conspiracies among cynical opportunists seeking to exploit the grievances (whether real or imagined), the compulsions and fanaticism of others: Conspiracies, such as the Bolshevik, later fragmented into Stalinist and Trotskyite factions (with many a home grown 'want to be' imitation or adaptation across the planet), as well as more culturally specialized Fabian and National Socialist manifestations of a common intolerant utilitarian mindset. Many of these employed tactics that would have made the small, relatively localized, Renaissance era schemes of the Medicis and Borgias appear very tame and amateurish by comparison.

Our purpose here, is not to dwell either on fanatics or on compulsive behavior, nor on real or imagined grievances, nor on conspiracies or the schemes of plotters or revolutionaries, who sought to exploit such behavior as well as any convenient social problem, to demand fundamental social change. Nor will our focus be primarily on the misguided idealism of those among the educated classes, who allowed themselves to serve as Lenin's "useful idiots" for those plotting against an existing social order. These, as individual malefactors, have surely contributed to a very serious problem for the defenders of tradition, property and cultural achievement. Yet they are not the ultimate cause for societal breakdown. Rather, we would demonstrate that the primary mechanism for social disaster has been the very notion of centrally directed Social Reform, a form of conceptual confusion, which while it drives Lenin's "useful idiots," also appears to afflict many of those, we would ordinarily expect to be among the defenders of heritage.

One frequently hears comments about the "unintended consequences" of social reforms, of public initiatives, Governmental programs intended to solve one problem, which instead unleash a whole series of entirely new problems. The implication is that some not reasonably foreseeable mechanism has intervened. We would suggest that what is involved--the actual dynamics of the process--are the absolutely predictable consequences of misguided programs; indeed, obvious consequences, only overlooked because of a conceptual myopia which, while having multiple causes, renders much of the public unable to see "the forest for the trees." It is our hope that in demonstrating the recurrence of the same malady in the development of reform policies in quite diverse areas of concern, we may make the actual pathology sufficiently clear, as to induce truly remedial thought patterns. In this, we will deal not with new subject matter, but with a slightly different view of, or perspective on, the focus of the Reformer, here analogous to that of one of those six blind Hindus examining the metaphorical elephant, to which we have referred in other essays.

Self-Righteous Stupidity--Addressing Problems Out Of Context

From the tenured Professor seeking fame in the Social Sciences, to the College Sophomore looking for a cause, to the aspiring journalist hoping for a Pulitzer Prize or some equivalent, to the ambitious politician trying to find the one issue that will distinguish him from the pack, there is great appeal in identifying and promoting a "necessary reform"--perhaps being among the first to recognize that "idea [cause], whose time has come." Unfortunately, very few of such participants in reform movements have ever demonstrated the slightest concept of how to approach the chosen subject for their "reform." To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling, the approach of the Social Reformer is almost always either "cloud" or "wind-borne." Once "need" is identified--the crisis or "injustice," to which the Reformer claims to be responding--the competition rapidly becomes one as to whom can cut most directly to whatever "solution," the particular Reformer feels will have the greatest immediate impact in the selected direction. And, of course, there is intense competition to show the greatest self-righteous fervor in that quest.

Why characterize such reform pursuits, without euphemism as "stupidity?" Because no existing society, with all the problems and achievements, happened by pure chance. Because all human progress or regression involves a myriad of dynamic factors, including the interaction of any people and/or natural factors, which may either positively or negatively effect the actions of those involved with the targeted institution or situation. Because to intrude Government or some other form of social collective into any situation, without having a clear understanding of the confluence of such varied dynamic factors, likely to impact or be impacted by the application of the proposed reform, is to confuse "wishes with horses." And, yet, how often have you heard a prominent Reformer discuss the social phenomenon he or she would alter in a manner that suggests real comprehension of why things are as they are; why rational folk, not pictured degenerates, would have embraced or allowed the institution under attack to develop as it has?

To be sure, Social Reformers know how to draw verbal cartoons; to hurl aspersions at those who appear, to their tunnel perception, to benefit from targeted behavior. But you will look in vain for any demonstration of real comprehension of the rational bases or argument for the status quo. We refer to those who would destroy without ever seeking to understand--a collection of fanatics, opportunists, pseudo-intellectual sycophants and neurotics, to whom "Reform" is a mission, but reasoned analysis of cause and effect, as foreign as a conception of the phases of the moon to one blind from birth.

The examples are legion. Whether the problem is poverty, poor race relations, unemployment or unsatisfactory working conditions, relations between the sexes, a natural disaster or some sympathy driving catastrophe overseas, the Reformer demands new public initiatives--Governmental action--and the sooner the better. Yet almost no one, in the rush of the "enlightened" to embrace the new cause, ever bothers to ask why, in something such as a human society, which has been developing and evolving for thousands of years, has the problem not been properly addressed before the enthusiasts of this generation demanded action? Are there reasons why the proposed solution was not embraced much earlier? Such questions are seldom asked. We are told we must act! Too much analysis is seen as a tool for those who would reject "progress" and continue "injustice." The only analysis the Reformer will tolerate, is that which shows the gravity of the "problem," for which--like a true fanatic--he demands immediate resolution.

The Fallacy Of Collective Solutions To Individual Problems

The initial premise for virtually every great "reform" of the past century was itself irretrievably flawed. This was true whether the "problem" addressed was, by nature, peculiar to each afflicted individual or actually common to a definable group. Consider, first, those which involved an attempt to solve problems inherently individual in nature, by collective action; that is, by arbitrarily classifying the individual with a particular problem as a member of a group of the afflicted, defined by the problem itself, before legislating for that "group" as a group--such as "poor people" or unwed mothers. In this approach, the Reformers, in their enthusiasm, scarcely paused to even consider how their reforms might impact the very recipients of any proposed reform as to other areas of individual interest or concern. Full of self-righteous fervor against imagined "injustice," they completely ignored the impact on societal interests or concerns of a more general import. Thus it should be no mystery why, in virtually every instance, only social disaster has followed.

In political economics, there has been an over two generation pursuit of a collective "solution" to the effects of poverty via a Welfare system, which ignores what actually works in the human condition, even as it ignores much of what actually causes individual failure. In dealing with unemployment, or the threat of unemployment, we have seen the deliberate fostering of unproductive, even wasteful, programs, calculated to trigger massive Federal Budget deficits, as a Keynesian approach to "managing" economic cycles, in part by masking a reduction in real wages. In what is likely the single most emotionally driven species of Social Reform, similarly myopic reformers have sought to indulge feminist anger over grievances, real or imagined, in the traditional family structure, by making divorce so easy as to trivialize marriage; by taking the stigma out of bearing children out-of-wedlock, thus aggravating a social disintegration already encouraged by the modern Welfare system; and by undermining respect for traditional sex roles, including the once nearly universal esteem for a wife and mother.

In each case--as in those we will discuss under "The Collective Mucking Up Of Group Dynamics"--the results have been precisely what anyone able to consider factors relevant to a determination of probable consequences for proposed actions would have foreseen. If those consequences were "unintended," it was only because of the myopia of the Reformer. For a starting point, consider the issue of Prohibition, well covered in the essay by former Senator James A. Reed, on "The Pestilence of Fanaticism," linked below. The United States, in response to intense lobbying by the Anti-Saloon League and others, adopted an Amendment to the Federal Constitution intended to treat the problems, which some individuals have with alcoholic beverages, by outlawing alcoholic beverages for all individuals, across the length and breadth of the Federal Union. The Reed article, written for H. L. Mencken's American Mercury five years into the "Great Experiment," captures the essence of the confused mindset far better than could we, analyzing the fanaticism so often present in projects to reform society. Let us, here, focus first on reforms directed at poverty, to more clearly demonstrate the confusion driven reforms of our era:

Perhaps nothing more clearly illustrates an underlying confusion of the Left, than the fact that so many will embrace any reform, which suggests a "cure" for poverty in America. Yet some of those, who are among the first to characterize others as "poor," are the very ones who cry out against racial or ethnic "profiling"--against categorizing people based upon real traits, their biology or lines of descent.

It is a major fallacy to consider the "poor" as an aggrieved class. People are poor for a great variety of reasons. Many lack any of the essential aptitudes for success; others may have had the aptitudes, but suffered some setback, which for another great variety of reasons, they were never able to overcome. Then there are those, who have simply lost the incentive to apply themselves. Some may have violated some law or standard of conduct, which led to their ostracism from respectable contacts. The old Welfare system--Church managed--discussed by Jefferson in his Notes On The State Of Virginia, and cited in our Essay for February, 2006, as well as in Chapter 1 of the Debate Handbook, could differentiate among those "in need" in ways that the present Welfare State can not. It could make moral judgments, invoking traditional Western values--the now largely discarded incentives to constructive behavior.

To the extent that all such politically driven programs provide a cushion to those not completely crippled, they stultify incentives to perform at optimum levels. To the extent that they create the illusion that humanity owes everyone a decent living, regardless of what one brings to the table, they undermine essential moral codes. In this they produce more, not less, poverty. Of course, this is perfectly clear to anyone who understands human nature; anyone who observes human conduct over an extended period. That those in the forefront of Reform seem unable to grasp the obvious is the point. The consequences of the modern Welfare State, however, are not limited to the contemporary generation.

One specific reform, under the more general umbrella of Welfare and Social Services, which most clearly demonstrates the intellectual confusion, was the Aid To Dependent Children program, launched in the late 1930s. While there were and are women, widowed or divorced without being adequately provided for, the bulk of the ADC beneficiaries were children borne to women out of wedlock. These were also the situations, where there were less likely to be other family members available to help the woman, alone, with her children. The Reformers saw this as a problem requiring not only Federal funds--which after all were basically coming from the same taxpayers, whose former State taxes had funded emergency programs for the poor on a County by County basis--but as one requiring social engineering to take any stigma--any social penalty whatsoever--out of having children outside of marriage.

The argument for not stigmatizing illegitimacy, of course, is that the stigma hurts children, who bear no fault for their mother's conduct. That is certainly a correct statement of the nature of the tree--to continue that metaphor--that the Reformers behind the ADC program had focused on. But traditional Society stigmatizes illegitimacy to discourage it. A healthy society passes on the achievements of each generation through the family. Strong families provide the foundation for a social infra-structure. As most unwed mothers come from the least successful segments of society, subsidizing such breeding outside a traditional family structure undermines both the family and the general aptitudes of a population. While not the only factor leading to collapsing standards in public school education, in major American cities, ADC has unquestionably been a significant contributing factor.

It is not easy to classify some of the other innovations of Depression era America. That they involved intellectual confusion is clear from the still massive unemployment at the start of World War II. But the Keynesian deception--for that is what the deliberate creation of an inflationary model, intended to reduce real wages while seeming not to, most certainly was and is--does not usually evoke the same myopic enthusiasm for folly that other "reforms," more clearly directed at social engineering--as opposed to economic manipulation--are likely to do.

On the other hand, Federal efforts in the 1930s to force citizens to turn in their gold coins, while repudiating the gold payment clauses in bonds sold as protection against the very monetary devaluation taking place, certainly undermined the moral fiber of American commerce, destroying the trust and reliance of those participating in a once "free" economy in the stability of the currency, and in the "uniform weights and measures"; both important promises in our written Constitution. Since such trust is essential to the confidence that enables long term commitments of capital resources to productive enterprise, there had to have been unfortunate consequences from the actions referred to. While the full extent may be impossible to quantify, that does not make the folly less serious.

It is important to remember that the macro statistics, by which we measure--or attempt to measure--economic activity, are only statistical aggregations. What is actually being measured is an estimated composite of all micro transactions and interactions within the sphere of that macro aggregation. And what undermines the confidence of a significant number of the players, obviously reduces the aggregation.

The damage done by a later appeasement of the Feminist movement may well be the single most serious example of myopic confusion in effecting Social Reform in America during the past century. While roughly half the population is male and half female, relations between men and women fundamentally involve individual not group dynamics. We are not competing interest groups. Each of us needs one of the opposite sex to be complete, to be able to continue from generation to generation. The fact that millions of people may have similar problems in their most important personal relationship, does not turn that intimate personal relationship into a group problem. Whatever the similarities, the most striking feature of any intimate personal relationship is that it is unique, particular in its most important aspect--the aspect that drives it in the first place--to the two participants.

Attempting to apply macro solutions to such intensely personal situations may reflect a different form of confusion than do attempts to apply macro solutions to poverty. The confusion is all the more destructive, because relations between man and woman are yet more basic than the mere level of material well being. Personal fortunes may rise or fall--even as the mode of measurement changes from era to era. But the mating necessity among sentient life forms is much as it was at the dawn of history.

The essay on "Women Hostage To Contrived Delusion," linked below, and Chapter Eight of the Conservative Debate Handbook, address many aspects of the intellectual confusion behind the Feminist movement. The Social Reforms adopted in response to that movement have seriously undermined both the traditional family structure and duration. Since the family is the mechanism by which the material and cultural gains of each generation are passed on to the next in a free society, this is hardly an inconsequential effect. Yet how often, in discussions of easy or no fault divorce, or of a coerced trivialization of sex roles, have you even heard that facet discussed? Early in the onslaught--in the frenetic demands for "Reform"--Conservative religious leaders attempted to defend traditional values. And while some denominations have tried to stand their ground, the dictates of Conservative theology have been considerably muted by the fanatic fury of the advocates for such "reform."

Second only to the damage to traditional family structure, has been the effect of the Feminist assault on sex roles in virtually every aspect of Society outside the home. In this we refer not only to the idiotic practices of "Affirmative Action," and the deliberate hiring of women in roles where they are actually at a distinct disadvantage, but to the inculcation of new attitudes into young Americans of both sexes--attitudes which greatly diminish not only moral values, but the sense of romance and joy in the mating quest, so important to the pursuit of individual happiness in both male and female.

Perhaps nothing better epitomizes the confusion behind Feminist driven Social Reform than the recent spate of so-called "Domestic Violence" Laws at both the State and Federal levels. We do not suggest that no husband or wife ever went berserk and seriously injured the other. Certainly, a significant percentage of murder cases have always been family related. There are also people who have vicious streaks, to whom brutality comes naturally. None of this, however, requires special legislation, to intrude society more deeply into the most intimate relationships than into daily lives in general. It is only because the advocates are fixated on an obsessive need to intrude into other people's personal relationships, that they cannot appreciate the obvious. The laws that apply to other situations, with regard to assault, maiming and killing, already applied and were perfectly adequate to deal with domestic strife. The special provisions, adopted in recent years to specifically focus on family life, are not directed at a new form of criminal conduct, but at the independence and privacy of man and woman.

Consider two situations, each involving two twenty year old college students, in a typical Domestic Violence State; in each, the precise same level of violence: In the first, two male college roommates, living in a Dormitory; in the other, a married couple living off campus, in a home which they are buying and working to fix up. There is an argument--tempers flare. In each case, one of the occupants of the residence punches the other. A neighbor hears the ruckus, and calls the local police. In many, perhaps most, afflicted States, the Police would inquire whether the roommate, punched in the Dormitory, wanted to file a charge for assault. Indeed, they might even try to discourage him from doing so, were he so inclined, if there was little or no visual injury.

With the married couple the Police would have no option--even if there was no visual injury. They would have no choice but to arrest the "primary aggressor," who would then ordinarily be ordered (on threat of new charges) to stay away from his or her spouse and from their common residence, until the case was resolved. In such situation, pleas from the putative "victim" for an early dismissal of charges against a beloved spouse would usually go unheeded by a Judge, afraid of a Feminist outcry, if despite the trust of that "victim," the "primary aggressor" were later to inflict more serious harm. No, often the only way to obtain a dismissal without trial is for that "primary aggressor" to attend a series of humiliating group therapy sessions, run by social workers to adjust social attitudes.

Now note the complete inversion of fundamental concepts and priorities, which result here from the myopic vision of the Social Reformer. Throughout our previous social history, the normal stress in the emotional involvement between husband and wife was considered a mitigating factor in assessing culpability for "crimes of passion." "Domestic Violence" laws make an intimate relationship between the sexes not only an aggravating factor in justifying Police intervention in a home situation, but one that completely reverses the most basic principles of due process and individual rights.

What would be no more than a minor offense, if the same level of "violence"--sometimes no more than an emotional threat or slap--occurred between any other two individuals, becomes an immediate basis for the most extreme form of societal intervention; often separating a couple against their will; banishing those, neither tried nor convicted, from their own homes; prohibiting them to even call or write to the person to whom they have formally committed their lives. Has the world gone mad? Or is this just one more very clear example of the confusion of the Social Reformer--here totally focused on one type of problem to the exclusion of every relevant consideration, which once governed rational thinking.

The Collective Mucking Up Of Group Dynamics

The Reformers track record is no better in dealing with what may be more correctly perceived as group problems or interests, than in dealing with the less than happy individual. Here, also, the rush to deal with a perceived problem [or opportunity, if the Reformer is an opportunist, rather than a compulsion driven neurotic, fanatic or cloud-borne idealist] has overruled careful analysis of cause and effect. And here, also, the long term damage, both to the interests of supposed beneficiaries and to Society, in general, has been immense.

Consider the great "reform" of the New Deal in Labor/Management relations, the Wagner Act, which created the National Labor Relations Board, and defined an alliance between a Union and the ownership of an American Company as an "unfair labor practice." It might be unfair to suggest that the major intention of the Wagner Act was to instill the concept of Class Warfare at the core of Labor/Management relations. Its main thrust was to intrude the Executive branch of the Federal Government into those relations under the pretended authority of the Interstate Commerce clause of the Federal Constitution. Guaranteeing a certain antagonism between the players was one way to increase the opportunities to invoke the Federal role asserted.

But the consequences of the Reformers' gamesmanship, here, has not been confined to a greater number of man hours lost to strikes and lock-outs. Creating a built in antagonism between capital and labor in any business, puts that business at a competitive disadvantage when compared to one where management and labor are more focused on a common interest in producing and selling a good product. This became agonizingly clear, when major Japanese manufacturers began to build plants in the United States, and imported concepts of Labor/Management relations, reminiscent of America before the Social Reformers held sway.

The most obvious example of totally confused Reformers' zeal has come in the many manifestations, loosely falling within the category of what have been labeled as "Civil Rights." No other social reforms have been more ambitious, more controversial, nor have more clearly demonstrated myopic confusion in mucking up group dynamics. Chapter 5 of the Debate Handbook deals with the damage to education, with particular emphasis to the harm done to the minorities, whom the Reformers claimed would benefit, because of a refusal to recognize differences in specific aptitudes. Chapter 19 deals with the extreme implications to the rights of employers and property owners. A click on the Table Of Contents, below, will provide instant access to either Chapter; as also to Chapter 10, which discusses the question of universal suffrage, another "Reform" sometimes included under the "Civil Rights" umbrella.

While those Chapters detail a great deal of what is wrong with specific reforms, additional consequences are still developing. For example, the matrix of forbidden considerations in employment or housing, in the 1964 and 1965 Federal "Civil Rights" Acts, included not only race, religion and sex, but national origin. With the increased--and now even more rapidly increasing population coming from Third World nations--the effective thrust of that inclusion is also rapidly increasing, to the detriment of what remains of any sense of community or continuity in many regions of the United States. (Although those, who claim that social environment determines human behavior and personality, would like to suppress discussion of this phenomenon, it is imperative that those who would preserve the unique American heritage discuss it fully.)

Another reasonably predictable consequence, largely unanticipated by the Reformers in the 1960s, was the likely agitation to come for expanding the original matrix. Thus, we have demands--some already fulfilled--to add "Sexual Orientation" to the list of forbidden considerations in employment and housing. Since we do not have a policy of snooping into people's bedrooms anywhere in America, forbidding discrimination on the basis of "Sexual Orientation" is not just about forcing people to hire or rent to those whose conduct they find--if they are of one of the Biblically based faiths--to be an "abomination." It is about forcing people to hire or rent to those who have elected to flaunt offensive conduct. Those who keep private things private, are really not affected one way or the other.

Yet is it reasonable to believe that the assault on personal freedom over private property will stop even here? Will not people with other perversions and idiosyncrasies, which other people find offensive, also demand "protection?" Will not ex-Convicts and people with loathsome diseases? What about the physically ugly; people with offensive political or social views? Is there really any limit to the Reformers' capacity to strip away the rights of a property owner to exercise personal preferences and personal judgment in the use of his own property?

Of course, the single most outrageous, if not dangerous, aspect of the premises underlying "Civil Rights" legislation, is that they make the supposed Utilitarian use of private property, by the collective, appear an accepted part of American life. It is no longer seen as extreme by anyone but a few really hardy Conservatives, still so "benighted" as to believe in the American tradition of private rights in private property. This aspect of what Social Reformers have accomplished, under the "Civil Rights" umbrella, is but a philosophic hair-breadth from an outright confiscation of private property and/or the rights of inheritance, sacred to the English speaking world since Magna Carta.

Consider, in this regard, the Girard Testamentary Trust Case from 1957, decided well before the passage of the "Civil Rights" Acts in the mid-1960s. The Warren Supreme Court, packed with Social Reformers appointed since the New Deal, invalidated the key provision expressing the Grantor's purpose in establishing a Testamentary Trust, which had funded a school for the benefit of poor White male orphans for well over a century, by interdicting the racial criteria. Surely, if one can no longer give money, earned in life, to those of one's choosing at death, those property rights, recognized as sacred for almost eight hundred years, have been largely discarded. Why in a free society, would anyone even suggest that there is something wrong with a man favoring those with whom he shares a kinship--close or distant--rather than the world at large, with his own money? If you understand the myopic focus of the Social Reformer, you will understand how we have come to this strange passage.

Pretending That Everyone Is Equal, Or May Be Made So

The inequality of man--and woman--that is the reality of our inequality, impacts most aspects of comparative economic and social development, even as it impacts what will appear to be most significant to each of us in the pursuits that are available in our individual progression and development. It also impacts those areas where the concern--the problem the reformer would tackle--actually is, at least in part, truly a group phenomenon. Absent a compulsion to deny the unique qualities of every individual--to pretend an equality of potential in any area of interest or concern--the very first thing which should occur to one analyzing a "problem" based upon observed differences in achievement, or in any form of social interaction, would be to study the question of possible innate differences between the subjects to such comparison; certainly the question of the innate characteristics of the individual or group, perceived to have the problem. That program after program has been launched without such analysis, demonstrates not the tolerance or enlightenment of the Reformer, but a compulsive need to deny a reality, which the advocate, for whatever reason, is simply unable to face.

We have explored many aspects of this compulsion to deny reality in other essays--including several linked below, referred to above. Consider the absurd difference between the recognition of genetically determined proclivities--the differences between the resistence and susceptibility levels of various racial groups to various pathogens, or with respect to problematical conditions--and the absolute refusal among many of the "Reformers" of our Society, to explore the differing racial distributions of aptitude, both scholastic and physical. Since the thrust of Reform, now for three quarters of a century, has been in the direction of an ever greater denial of reality, one may surely wonder whether the Medical sciences will someday experience a similar phenomenon--bringing the same "benefit" to medicine that it has brought to American education.

Regular visitors at this venue should be aware of the chronology, as to when different species of Social Reformer first embraced coerced racial denial as a favored cause. Many who read this essay, however, may be new to the subject. Although there were certainly racial issues in America before the Twentieth Century, and some supporters of the Abolition movement also sought to trivialize the importance of natural human differences; most were more focused on the concept of human slavery. Thus, the initial launch of the NAACP, in 1909, by a small group of White Fabian Socialists--one, admittedly, the child of a famous Abolitionist--drew only limited initial support from the broader spectrum of would be Social Reformers. However, when over the next two decades, the hard-core Marxist elements in Social Reform came to realize that the rhetoric of class warfare was far less effective in either America or South Africa, than it had been in parts of Europe, they turned to "Race" as a metaphor for Class in the 1920s; and by 1928, the more militant Social Reformers had openly embraced a wide spectrum of racially framed demands.

You know the rest.

It is because the hard core Left correctly perceived a sensitivity in the character of many in the American ethnic mainstream, to being mislabeled as racially or religiously bigoted, that so many of the public and private institutions of American culture have been so heavily impacted by the "Civil Rights" onslaught. New Rights--"civil rights," granted by Government against the traditional rights of the individual and community--have radically altered perceptions of liberty, education, private property and the rights of personal association. Yet fewer and fewer seem even aware of what has happened. While this movement was unleashed to force recognition of a human equality that does not exist, it has accomplished almost nothing of a positive nature. To be sure, some individuals, who knew how to play the new legal climate (the opportunistic in various communities), have personally benefitted. But, as demonstrated in Chapters 5 and 19 of the Conservative Debate Handbook, most members of each race, affected, have lost far more than they have gained. Yet, precisely because of that referenced sensitivity, most of the "Reforms" continue to go unchallenged. That does not make the net effect less disastrous.

At this Web Site we bear no hostility to any social class, community, tribe, faith, race or nation. We also recognize that no class, community, tribe, faith, race or nation, ever benefits from a program premised upon a lie. Only those who would tear down the achievements of others for ulterior purposes stand to benefit. Social Reformers, of course, come in many stripes. Those who largely understand our point--such as the opportunists among the Communist & Nazi variants of Utilitarianism--may seek power in new Monolithic totalitarian aggregations of people. The Parlor theorists, on the other hand, remain all 'at sea'--Lenin's "useful idiots." But regardless of whether opportunistic or delusional, "Social Reform," in our times, is still best defined as Kipling's "Social Progress":

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man--
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Does Any Governmentally Engineered Reform Not Spring From Confusion?

Can any proposed reform, promoted by Government, actually provide a net social benefit? And, if so, what type of reform?

There is no great mystery here. While political efforts to alter society--to engineer major cultural changes--are virtually certain to do more harm than good, because of the types of intellectual confusion discussed; when Government seeks to reform itself, it deals with what it actually knows or should know, with an infinitely greater likelihood for success. This is the essential difference between the Reagan reforms in America, and the "New Deal," "Great Society" and Clinton/Bush eras. It is the difference between what Margaret Thatcher did in Great Britain and what the Social Reformers in the Labour Party have wrought whenever they had the chance.

Reagan and Thatcher--as America's Founding Fathers--backed Government out of some of its more burdensome aspects, which had impacted the ability of the individual to succeed. The difference between their approach and that of the social engineers could not be more obvious. The social engineering Reformers sought to make Government the crutch for many, and in so doing they made it an intolerable burden on the creative elite. Reagan and Thatcher understood that the crutch mentality had failed and that the burden was totally counter-productive. Their approaches replaced confusion with mental clarity; the myopic vision of the compulsion driven, with a broad perspective on the human condition and the mechanisms for constructive human progress.

We have not actually addressed such valid Reform in this essay, because our subject has been the intellectual confusion of those who have tried to coopt the concept--the Social Reformers, the self-appointed meddlers in the lives of others. The term "Social Reformer" does not apply to those who seek to reform themselves, whether as Governments or individuals.

Conclusion

Whether it was an effort to solve the problems of individuals, change inter-group or intra-group dynamics, or reform perceptions of others, the modern American Social Reformer has accomplished almost nothing of positive significance for the long term benefit of anyone. By contrast, he has done an almost incalculable amount of harm. Too enthusiastic over problems, sometimes imagined, sometimes contrived; far too full of his own self-righteous fixations, the generic Reformer has been too biased to even explore other possible interpretations for existing phenomena, than those which appear to support the necessity for the reform demanded. Once launched on the pursuit of such reform, he has treated every effort to persuade him to a consideration of the possibly--and, in most cases, probably--harmful effects, with contempt and disdain. With the zeal of the fanatic, with the mental clumsiness of the metaphorical "bull in a china shop," the modern Reformer has wrought havoc upon the social order, both in America and in many other lands, wherever he has been able to influence the susceptible to the same mindset.

While the intent may, in many cases, have been "to do good"; the confusion, in both analysis and execution, has been to precisely the opposite effect. It has little mattered whether the Reformer was an idealistic enthusiast, a compulsive neurotic, a fanatic or an opportunist. Few, if any, of the most despicable figures in human history have ever achieved a greater harm, in the long term sense, than our confused subjects. Understanding the dynamics involved in their conceptual myopia, is an essential prerequisite to first containing, then rolling back, the effects of the social disaster they have wrought.

William Flax


[N.B. Those familiar with the techniques of dynamic analysis will have realized the common error in every effort at centrally directed "social reform," long before coming to our conclusion. It is, of course, the same error encountered in the equally idiotic notion of a "planned economy." The free market unleashes the greatest productivity by involving all of the factors of production & consumption, in a way that no plan can duplicate. Those denied the free market react instinctively to frustrate efforts to arbitrarily control the factors of production & consumption. So, too, an organically evolving human society, where customs & attitudes have been hammered out through the interaction of the population reacting to one another--not as "politically correct" mannequins, but as creatures with feeling & unique personalities, and at least some volition as to their own beliefs & attitudes--over generations, will not go easily into the night of a "planned society." This error always compounds those which flow directly from the confusion, detailed above.

A further note: We realize that there may be some question as to the appropriateness of including the Keynesian deception, in reducing real wages & salaries by triggering inflation, as "social reform," rather than economic manipulation. It is primarily the latter, of course. But to the extent that it lowers the status of some segments of society in relation to others, it also effectively manipulates the social infra-structure.]




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