Personal freedom is the sine qua non of moral development of each individual; it is necessary for the human growth of each and so an essential component of human well-being. Socialism blocks moral development. Individual freedom of choice within societal life, and the resultant personal gain or loss, is the necessary component for each person’s personal moral development. It makes for beautiful people.
Until recently, American society and government structure provided a masterful construct of responsible personal freedom and personal development, guaranteeing liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Sadly, the dark side of socialism has overshadowed this brightness.
The practical outcomes of past and present socialist, communist, fascist, and authoritarian regimes throughout the world provide ample warning to thinking people. Concomitant with the presence of these forms of societal organization is the directing, ordering, and controlling environ which limits the horizon of individual and collective moral development and to a certain extent dehumanizes mankind.
For some decades politicians at the local, state and federal levels in America have advanced the darkness by offering America’s docile and the ignorant segments creature comforts under the guise of government caring.
These dark practices were originally offered to the weaker Americans in the decade or so on each side of Prof./Pres. Woodrow Wilson’s participation in America politics near the turn of the last century. It was said at the time that Government was to take the burdens off their shoulders, solve their personal problems, they need not think for themselves, and others in government would look out for, provide for, and care for them. It turned into a frightening machine of leftist governmental and quasi-governmental domination and control of everyday life until it was later shed by the citizenry.
In local, state and federal levels Americans have for decades heard many political candidates and commentors talking a great deal about turning over self-care to others in the government. Under guise of the mantra of “caring” or “providing essential services” those who would have our freedom are running for office with great promises of our receiving something for nothing. Nothing, that is, but the cost of our development of moral character. And of course we would in the end have to reorganize our daily lives around their rules and comply with them to avoid sanction. It is impossible for them to deliver what they offer without a massive reorganization of our lives and society.
To advance the plans they have drawn against us the dark side has slowly gained control of society’s principal means of teaching, communication, block knowledge, and blocking free discourse. The weak and the ignorant were not taught, and could not learn for themselves, any of history’s lessons on the offerings.
Socialism and Collectivism is Immoral
Now, while the mere act of living is in and of itself a process contributive to well-being in the individual, the process of life must go much deeper than survival if it is to bring each person to his or her highest potential. The circumstantial means which provides this process in its fullest is freedom, an essential component of humanness. Enabled to do so because of the history and example of America, this fundamental right was recognized as a common standard by the world community in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is held as a fundamental inalienable right, a self-evident truth, precisely because it is recognized as an essential human need.
Perhaps this is why the development of mankind’s societal arrangements has shown a trend towards freedom as implemented through a free form of government, and why many of those in the world today who do not have it, want it.
Perhaps also this is why God gives each of us the right to accept or reject Him.
But I need to show why freedom is essential, and it is to that task I now turn.
Why Freedom is Essential
The why here goes to the dependent nature of man’s relationship with society. Aristotle’s theory held that only in society can man (a term which historically includes both man and woman) be most fully human because society is the only association wherein men’s subordination to other men is ordered on principles of justice, fairness, and equality. A fully human life would not be possible were one alone, because humans are inherently social beings. Indeed, all are persons-in-relationships and social interaction thus permits the very personhood of each individual. Only within society does the opportunity obtain for achieving the highest intellectual and moral development. Therefore, the structure of society is critical, as it concerns the well-being of the individual. That societal life-world structure of the daily and lifelong activities of the personal individual forms, shapes, colors, and tones the nature of one’s mind set, character, spirit, soul, and self-image.
The Moral Kind Of Authority
Therefore, as to the rulers and the laws, the right kind of authority is free authority exercised in the common interest. Rightly constituted laws must be the final sovereign reflecting the constitution, which is adopted by the people and which reflects the sovereign people. The regime is elected by the people and may be called into account by them for failure to conform its behavior to the prescribed conduct. Its purpose is merely to facilitate and coordinate those aspects of societal affairs which the citizens are not individually capable of providing and managing in an efficient or consistent manner. Society is not a supreme moral authority, but rather provides the only condition within which morality is possible. It serves as a frame of reference within which moral actions are intelligible.
Only a relatively free and open societal structure provides the social environ most conducive to personal development and happiness. Its practical resultant is an environ of maximum available opportunities to exploit the human potential: satisfaction of our quite naturally inquisitive appetites; sensory stimulation through total freedom to create or perceive any form of art and culture; the opportunity to travel widely and freely; the wide range of forms of play available; the stimulation of the mind by the knowing of myriad viewpoints made possible by wide-open, robust, uninhibited discussion and debate; the deep genuine feeling of belonging and purpose one receives from being able to read, discuss and question widely, conceive an idea which will help answer a local or societal need, and present that idea for public consideration, the opportunity to join autonomous groups and devise independent approaches to answer individual and community needs; the satisfaction of being personally responsible for the management of one’s needs and problems in life; the free availability of forms of spiritual worship available to each; in short, the maximum opportunity for each to pursue his or her personal choice among the available human Goods.
Actual Support For Freedom and Right Societal Constructs
Although most free thinkers would recognize this theoretical construct as a given, we need not settle for intuition, as the construct is supported by physical evidence.
In the first place, that this sociopolitical theory is both internally and externally valid is evinced by simply looking about the world at the practical manifestations of the main political theories as they are found forming the structure of the various nation-states: Few who have ever lived in free states would choose to live in a controlling state.
In the second place, there exists extensive reliable empirical research on people’s patterns of reasoning about moral decisions which sketches a comprehensive picture of the way in which individuals develop morally.
Lawrence Kohlberg identified six stages an individual goes through in achieving moral maturity. The omni-cultural validity of his findings, according to this descriptive theory, has been established with a high degree of reliability.
- In stage one the physical consequences of an act solely determine its goodness or badness. Avoidance of punishment and unquestioning deference to power (that is, skill at obedience) are valued in their own right.
- At stage two right action is that which satisfies one’s own needs and sometimes the needs of others. As in a marketplace, reciprocity is the key concept.
- At stage three good behavior is that which pleases or helps others and is approved by them.
- At stage four right behavior is doing one’s duty, showing respect for authority, and maintaining the given social order for its own sake. The key orientation is toward authority and fixed rules.
- In stages five and six there is a clear effort to define moral values and principles apart
- from the authority of the individuals and groups which hold them.
- At stage five right action tends to be defined according to general individual rights as such have been determined by a contractarian process of agreement according to a utilitarian standard. Outside the legal realm, free agreement and contract are the binding elements of obligation.
- At stage six right is defined by decision of conscience in accord with self-chosen abstract ethical principles which appeal to logical comprehensiveness, universality, and consistency. They are based upon universal principles of justice, reciprocity and equality of human rights, and respect for the dignity of fellow human beings as individual persons.
Most important for our purposes are the four qualities of this stage development.
- First, stage development is invariant. One cannot advance to a higher stage without going through the moral stage preceding it.
- Second, one cannot comprehend moral reasoning at a stage more than one stage beyond one’s own.
- Third, one is cognitively attracted to reasoning one level above one’s own. The reasoning of the next higher level is intelligible, makes more sense, resolves more difficulties, and is therefore more attractive.
- Fourth, movement through the stages of moral development is stimulated when cognitive disequilibrium is created. When one’s cognitive outlook is not adequate to deal with a moral dilemma he or she will look for a more adequate outlook. If one’s orientation is not disturbed, there is no reason to expect development.
Socialism is Immoral Because it Blocks Moral Development
If, as the theory posits and evidence supports, moral development occurs in the transformation of cognitive structures, with the early stage correlative with external rule, then a regime that provides a societal structure which organizes people for the most part through controlling means inhibits their growth to higher levels of moral development. This is because it encourages only a morality of submission to its rules (avoidance of punishment). But these rules are external rules of compulsion, peripheral to the person’s conscience, not internalized principles of motivation.
As Kohlberg’s students Duska and Whelan noted:
If a person spends his [or her] whole life doing what he has been told to do by authority, merely because of fear of authority (stage one), or because it will bring him pleasure (stage two), or because it is expected by the group (stage three), or because that is the law (stage four), he has never really made moral decisions which are his own moral decisions. He may be acting in accord with laws, but is he accepting these laws because he is conditioned to accept them, or because he has chosen them as the most ideal? If I do something my father approves of without examining whether it is acceptable, I am merely following my father’s principles, not my own. One must be one’s own person, so to speak, in order to mature fully. One must develop one’s own principles of judgment and action. It will not do merely to follow what one has been told.
To the extent that moral decisions remain out of one’s hands and are decided by another, one’s moral development and growth is retarded. To rise to a higher level of moral development one has to be stimulated, and the necessary stimulation is the responsibility of choice-making. Therefore, the more social, economic, and political freedom a societal structure provides, the greater the opportunities for the moral development of each citizen.
In fact, that freedom is the sine qua non of moral development; it is necessary for the human growth of each and so an essential component of human well-being.
Based on a recognition of all the foregoing (the why), it is clear that the abandonment of personal responsibility to a socialistic or caretaker government form of government nor program is immoral in that it prevents the moral development of each person. Just like the darks side’s caretaker welfare society of the 1960s and 1970s destroyed the black family in exchange for votes increasing the power of the few in government, it has in recent years been hard at work infecting and destroying the entire American family.
A free societal structure thrusts upon its citizens distressing, anxiety-fraught dilemmas in which each must exercise choice between his or her wants and others’ well-being. Its structure provides the maximum likelihood that each member will often encounter cognitive disequilibrium and therefore maximizes the potential of effecting movement through the stages of moral development.
This has always been why America has what she has, and is what she is. She is simply the aggregate of her highly moral and personally motivated individual persons.
Regrettably, as I said at the beginning, it is impossible not to feel the constraints the dark side has imposed on our lives, darkening America’s brightness.
Back in the elections of 2008 immoral socialist and fascist constructs, previously tried, suffered, and cast off here and elsewhere, were again successfully peddled to the lazy and to the ignorant segments of America by those who preferred to control them, rather than teaching them how to control themselves. Personally, this writer would rather be the observer of ten free eagles, than the caretaker of a hundred in a zoo.
For decades these matters have been excluded from education and pubic discourse in preparation for this moment of America’s history.
The question is whether there is enough time and strength for those who understand these self-evident truths to educate and convince the others to join ranks against the dark side.
The tragedy is that it is the dependent segments of a nation’s population which typically support these collectivist constructs which end up suffering the most as their inevitable course of failure and destruction plays out, most often consuming millions of lives along the way, and always ending with the strong and the wise resurfacing and rebuilding a properly ordered society. A regrettable repetitive process which one might imagine brings tears to the Creator's eyes as He looks down upon His creatures who have each been given the gift of life that they may work out His plans for them, and not die like unpollinated flowers in much same condition as they were born.
 Though there are differences, John Rawls argues a societal structure which is closely similar to the following Aristotelian construct. Rawls argues that maximum equal personal liberty for every member of a society is necessary for the wellbeing of each individual, indeed, for the justice of the society as a whole. See J. Rawls, A THEORY OF JUSTICE, at §§11, 29, 31-40 (1971).
 THE POLITICS OF ARISTOTLE esp. bks. 3 & 4 (E. Barker trans. & ed. 1946 rpt. 1978).
 Id. bk.1, ch.2.
 Id. bk. 3. Aristotle and his contemporaries meant by the term “democracy” something greatly different from what we mean today. Aristotle meant the Athenian situation during the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. wherein the democratic practice as we know it today was confined to a very narrow class of citizens from which a large slave population was totally excluded. Historical evolution in the 2500 years since the Athenian situation has expanded the class to all citizens at the national level. On contemporary democracy as compared to that of Aristotle, see M. I. FINLEY, DEMOCRACY ANCIENT AND MODERN (1973).
 THE POLITICS OF ARISTOTLE, supra note , at ch.4.
 J. Finnis’ list of the basic aspects of each person’s well-being essential for achieving “human flourishing” are knowledge, play, aesthetic experience, sociability, (friendship), practicable reasonableness, and religion. J. Finnis, NATURAL LAW AND NATURAL RIGHTS 23 (1980)
 For a view that the reality of freedom of choice and random chance in open society so unnerves and uproots the masses that they desire to escape from reality to the fantastically fictitious consistency of a comprehensive ideology wherein they may give up personal responsibility for decision making to an all-encompassing totalitarian regime, see H. Arendt, THE ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM, esp. chs. 11 & 12 (1951)
 L. K0HLBERG, MORAL EDUCATION: INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACHES 23, 86-88 (Beck, Crittendon, & Sullivan, eds. 1971).
 Id. at 34, 41.
 R. DUSKA & M. WHELAN, MORAL DEVELOPMENT: A GUIDE TO PIAGET AND KOHLBERG 47-49 (1975).
 Id. at 69.
 L. KOLBERG, supra note , at 43.
Martin C. Boire
Overly educated, overly experienced. Often right, often wrong.
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