Intentions and Results

Back in January when I wrote What We Got Here Is . . . Failure to Communicate, essentially a book review of Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, I quoted extensively from that work. One of those excerpts was this:

Where in Adam Smith moral and socially beneficial behavior could be evoked from man only by incentives, in William Godwin man’s understanding and disposition were capable of intentionally creating social benefits. Godwin regarded the intention to benefit others as being “of the essence of virtue,” and virtue in turn as being the road to human happiness. Unintentional social benefits were treated by Godwin as scarcely worthy of notice.

To which I added:

So in the Constrained vision human nature is flawed, and while some flaws in some – even most – men can be ameliorated with time and teaching, this does not hold true for the whole of mankind. We are imperfect, and being imperfect the systems we establish, the institutions that we build, the traditions, laws and rituals that we practice carry along with them vulnerabilities to our inherent flaws. In order to achieve social benefits those institutions, traditions, laws and rituals must offer individuals some incentive. But more, those institutions, traditions, laws and rituals must also carry protections against abuse by those in which the flaws are extreme. In the extreme Unconstrained vision, intentions are more important than results, and results without intention are “scarcely worthy of notice.”

I was reminded of this when I read that the Dalai Lama proclaimed himself a Marxist, because:

(Marxism has) moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits.

Marxism has moral ethics.

However, he does admit:

(Capitalism) brought a lot of positive to China. Millions of people’s living standards improved.

But those improvements were unintentional, and apparently don’t count, because capitalism is only about how to make profits.

In Bill Whittle’s most recent PJTV piece We are Iron Men, Bill has a clip from this series of YouTube videos of Milton Friedman being interviewed by Phil Donahue in 1979. I invite you to watch all five pieces, but here’s the point that’s pertinent to this post:

Thomas Sowell authored another book that I think should be mentioned here, Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulations as a Basis for Social Policy. Perhaps the Dalai Lama should read it.

Communism, the “real-world” application of Marxism by the flawed humans we of Sowell’s Constrained Vision recognize, has resulted not in an improved standard of living for millions of people, but the deaths of millions of people at the hands of their own governments.

The Dalai Lama proves that the beautiful lie of Marxism truly does lodge deep in the hopes of some men.

But I wouldn’t trust even the Dalai Lama to organize society for us. I trust capitalism, self-interest, and Adam Smith’s “invisible hand.” We have the track records of both, and I KNOW which one works.

He ought to, too. Because he’s seen which one kills.

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