January 2012, N1    

By Victor Volsky             

THEY MEAN WELL.  REALLY?                           


For the life of me I can’t figure out why conservative pundits, even such stalwarts as Rush Limbaugh, when discussing the virtually inexhaustible supply of liberal follies and blunders hasten to express their confidence that the perpetrators are “well-intentioned.” Why do conservatives hew mindlessly to the conventional line that far-left radicals are necessarily high-minded and motivated by the best of intentions? Why aren’t liberals challenged when they generously absolve themselves of any wrong-doing on the grounds of their good intentions?

“Good intentions cannot compensate for evil works,” advises the Torah (Hebrew Matthew 3:1); “By their fruits ye shall know them,” avers Scripture, (Matt. 7:16). St. Francis de Sales warned that “Hell is full of good intentions or desires." Shakespeare wrote, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, in his writings discusses “the tragedy of good intentions.”

If you think that the wisdom of the sages should have long since disabused the naifs of their delusion, think again. Human credulity is probably the deepest of all abysses, for one can be falling into it forever. And so a lot of conservatives cheerfully go on believing that liberals are good at heart and hence deserve understanding and sympathy even in the face of the most gigantic calamities engineered by the left – no doubt with the best of intentions.

The war on poverty, that has so far cost $16 trillion, has beggared America while achieving results exactly contrary to those intended. The lower-class black family has been all but destroyed with 70 percent of children being raised in single-parent homes. Millions of inner city denizens have been sentenced to a lifetime of dependence and despondency, their self-respect demolished, their spirit crushed by the culture of handouts. Meanwhile, the poverty level has not budged an inch. If a racist enemy planned to destroy the black community, he couldn’t come up with a more efficient strategy of achieving his objective. Ah, but the deep thinkers who are responsible for this tragedy “meant well.”

For the last three and a half years, the country has been in the grip of a severe economic crisis brought on by the subprime mortgage bubble. It was caused by the desire of the progressives to promote home ownership for the poor, above all minorities. The architects of the disaster were too busy patting themselves on the back to ask themselves the obvious question: what happens when the housing bubble bursts, as it sooner or later will, and the largely indigent owners of the homes, practically forced on them by the well-wishers, find themselves unable either to make their mortgage payments or to sell their abodes. Have Barney Frank and his cohorts owned up to their monstrous blunder? That would be too much to expect, because, you see, their intentions were pure as the driven snow.

Claiming good intentions as a blanket justification of bad behavior is nothing new. It is a modern equivalent of medieval antinomianism, which Wikipedia defines as a notion that “under the gospel dispensation of grace, moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation.” The communists adapted the concept to their needs, substituting ideological fervor for grace. One of the basic precepts of Leninism is that whatever serves the cause of the working class is moral and whatever is contrary to its interests is immoral. So for the progressives, Lenin’s spiritual heirs, it was quite natural to adopt his situational morality and use it to deadly effect.

It is impossible to underrate its importance for liberals. So divorced are they from reality, so used to dealing only with abstractions, so innocent of the world as it is, that they exhibit a sort of reverse Midas touch - any attempt on their part to do something practical inevitably turns into a series of pratfalls. Naturally they are loath to talk of their deeds, concentrating instead on their pristine and virtuous intentions, the only thing that really counts in their book.

And what do you know – it appears that conservatives tacitly acquiesce in their opponents’ lofty view of themselves. For some strange reason, conservative pundits and politicians seem to agree that whatever the left does, no matter how obnoxious or destructive, it’s okay because its intentions are so virtuous.  Liberals are far less liberal in their attitudes. It is only toward themselves that they are endlessly forgiving. They judge their opponents by an entirely different set of rules: in their view, conservatives are ignorant knuckle-draggers, vicious troglodytes, evil schemers, salivating at the prospect of throwing grandpa out of the house into the cold, forcing grandma to eat dog food, and gleefully watching black children starve and die in the streets.

Good intentions are the trump card of the left, the one-size-fits-all excuse for all its setbacks. The spectacular failures of communism around the globe never bother them: after all, one cannot really expect those barbarous Russians (or Chinese or Vietnamese or Cubans or…you name it) to succeed, now can one? In our case, insists the home-grown breed of progressives, everything will be different. All we need is a chance: as smart, educated, and erudite as we are, it will be a cinch we’ll build paradise on earth in no time flat.

They stridently proclaim their love for America. But the country they purport to cherish only exists in their imagination. It is an America they promise to build after they seize power and blow up the evil capitalist system; a country where everybody will be equal - except for themselves, of course, because, after all, somebody has to lead the dumb masses.… But as for the real America of today, they see it as the epitome of evil, the greatest imperialist and militarist oppressor in history, the bane of the minorities and the Third World. They hate it with abandon and dream feverishly of destroying it.

Does any court accept good intentions as extenuating, much less exculpatory, circumstances? Would any of the liberals who took a bath with Bernie Madoff be mollified if the crook assures them that he meant well? No, they are hopping mad - because Madoff has lost their own money. Had these same liberals sunk billions of taxpayers’ money into Madoff’s rat hole, they would no doubt view the debacle with perfect equanimity, pleading good intentions in their defense.

It is not difficult to understand why liberals are two-faced hypocrites on the issue. But why do conservative swallow the bait? Because it is the Zeitgeist? But is it a sufficient justification? Truth is independent of vogue. Did Copernicus consent to shelve his heliocentricity theory just because the Zeitgeist of his era maintained that the sun revolved around the earth? The CIA-driven Zeitgeist of the early 1980s was that the Soviet Union was indestructible and “here to stay”. But Ronald Reagan refused to bow to the Zeitgeist and boldly proclaimed his conviction that the communist system was a colossus on clay feet destined to land on the ash-heap of history. And a few years later, while the liberals were still chuckling at the stupidity of that “amiable dunce,” Reagan, the USSR was no more.

The progressive cause has all the trappings of a quasi-religion, and its adherents are every bit as fervent in their beliefs, every bit as intolerant and hate-filled, as any religious fanatic. Seeing themselves as the holy warriors of progress, they are absolutely single-minded and ruthless. Conservatives view them as “our friends across the aisle,” as honest, well-meaning opponents. But liberals don’t reciprocate. For them, conservatives are enemies devoid of humanity and deserving only of pitiless destruction. Does anyone doubt the sincerity of Democrats when they castigate their Republican opponents as Nazis?

The Koranic principle of taqiyya allows the faithful to dissimulate in their dealings with the infidel. By the same token, liberals never feel bound by any moral constraints dealing with conservatives. In any war, the enemy must be dehumanized so as to stiffen the warriors’ resolve and inure them to the bloody task at hand. So liberals feel no compunction lying and cheating to bring down the conservative enemy - after all, the holy cause justifies any means however reprehensible they may be otherwise. Until conservatives understand the ruthless mindset of their “friends across the aisle,” they will continue to operate at a huge disadvantage in the political arena. As President Obama said, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”  

Good intentions? Good Grief! Handy paving material for hell on earth!


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