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Mistaking the will for the deed

By Harriet Smith - posted Friday, 25 September 2015

Our society is today enslaved by the desire for good intentions over good outcomes. According to the left consensus, it is preferable to have policies which incentivise dangerous, deadly, and immoral behaviour such as people smuggling, because the alternative, is considered personally unjust. They advocate reducing the disposable income of the poorest in society because "climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our generation". They like throwing money at failing services, because implementing spending reforms contradicts their belief that more government will solve everything. They focus on the impact it will have on their personal morality, rather than how it will improve a family's standard of living.

The resounding push for "social justice" is a way to protect privilege without sacrificing any personal advantage. The easy road is to expect others to act first, or redistribute their own wealth or advantage, before personal responsibility becomes necessary. By demanding action of others without personal cost, the trade-off between action and outcome is distorted or not present at all. The glowing self-congratulation of attending a protest to "demand change" gives a subject a sense of positive action, without any material cost to the protester. This is ever present and accentuated in the social media arena where costs are close to zero. The Twitterati get a hit of moral sugar in having their own views reinforced in their political echo chamber where dissenting voices, or even alternative phrasing of a problem, are prohibited. Sacrificing real progress and legitimate debate to echo chambers and good feelings is the real moral crime.

Recall the masked "anti-racist" – but supposedly "pro-violence" – protesters antagonising and punching not only their targets, but repulsively, innocent Melbournites carrying out their private business on a Saturday morning in July of this year. Once again, the intent of yelling down those whom they categorise as "racists" becomes more important than respecting the norms of a civil society. Further, the harassment of the Foreign Minister, a woman of stature and success, by Sydney University students because they believed their privilege was threatened by changes to University funding. Their intent trumps the outcome, which was, if nothing else, an appalling display of physical and verbal abuse against a female. Let's not forget the stalking of Tony Abbott's daughters and invasion of their privacy which occurred knowingly, unethically and smugly by their father's detractors.


The modern "liberals" or "progressives" (self-selected descriptions that reinforce the positive belief in their own ideology) are overwhelmingly devoid of critical rationalism that allows ideas and knowledge to not just be irrefutably known, but tested. The true tragedy is that active debate, divergence of opinion and free will are subjugated to their world view which tolerates no divergence from the orthodox. The consequence of this is that decisions are made based on false assumptions that are never challenged resulting in ever poorer outcomes for society outside of the bourgeoisie. As Thomas Sowell laments, there are three questions that will confound a liberal advocating socialist ideas: Compared to what? At what cost? Where is the hard evidence?

Just like teenagers, socialists use a semantic brush to characterise those who oppose them instead of engaging in an evidence-based discussion. Attaching negative personality adjectives, such as "evil", "bigot", or "racist", certainly minimises effort when directing an insult or redirecting an argument. Playing the ball is an abstract notion.

Voltaire, in his own struggle of self-discovery, can lend some much needed advice to those wanting to emphasise their moral position for their own self-satisfactory gains: "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." The foundation of a free society is lost to the left consensus; one can only reason is due to the apathy associated with being delivered the highest standard or living in history, without the true realisation of the generational sacrifices that made this possible. Diversity of individual belief and philosophy is increasingly becoming a hostile concept to these people who wish to subject the world to their own agenda.

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About the Author

Harriet Smith is doing a Masters in Economics.

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