Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

November 22, 2006

An Open Letter to a Most Illiberal Liberal

by Chris Byrne

To a liberal of my acquaintance:

It’s not your core values I disagree with; it’s pretty much every
concept you have about how those core values should be applied and
executed.

You seem to make all your judgements about the truth of something, not
by the actual facts, but the motives you assign to the people telling
you about it. Additionally you seem to ascribe nefarious, or malicious motives,
to anyone who disagrees with you.

I believe that you are wrong in almost every detail about political,
social, economic, and environmental law, governance, policy, and
actions. This does not mean I am stupid, ignorant, evil, selfish,
greedy; or otherwise; however because you ascribe positive motive and
intelligence to yourself, it logically follows (within your own mind),
that anyone who disagrees with you must either be ignorant, stupid, or
have negative motives.

This is perhaps the ultimate form of intellectual arrogance; though it runs rampant
on both the far left and the far right.

I must say, I don’t consider you to be FAR left; you’re far closer to the
middle than many I know; and I acknowledge that in general you have
good intentions. I simply believe that almost nothing you propose,
support, or believe in would have good results (or rather, good results
worth the tradeoffs required to get them).

Intentions don’t matter very much in the real world; results matter. Bad
intentions with good results are better than bad results with good
intentions. Doing the right thing for the wrong reason, is better than
doing the wrong thing for the right reason (not that either are the best alternative).

Doing the wrong thing, for the right reason; is far worse than doing nothing at all.
I don’t understand why leftists and other authoritarians don’t seem to
recognize this basic fact of life.

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  • John Newman

    I don’t agree with the last paragraph, but the rest of it is a precise and pithy portrait of most liberals.

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