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Blupete's Weekly Commentary


January 23rd, 2000.

"Macaulay's Views On Socialism."

"He [Robert Southey] conceives that the business of the magistrate is, not merely to see that the person and property of the people are secure from attack, but that he ought to be a jack-of-all-trades, architect, engineer, schoolmaster, merchant, theologian, a Lady Bountiful in every parish, a Paul Pry in every house, spying, eves-dropping, relieving, admonishing, spending our money for us, and choosing our opinions for us. His principle is, if we understand it rightly, that no man can do anything so well for himself as his rulers, be they who they may, can do it for him, and that a government approaches nearer and nearer to perfection, in proportion as it interferes more and more with the habits and notions of individuals. ...
There is surely no contradiction in saying that a certain section of the community may be quite competent to protect the person and property of the rest, yet quite unfit to direct our opinions, or to superintend our private habits.
... we see no reason for thinking that the opinions of the magistrate on speculative questions are more likely to be right than those of any other man. None of the modes by which a magistrate is appointed, popular election, the accident of the lot, or the accident of birth, affords, as far as we can perceive, much security for his being wiser than any of his neighbours. The chance of his being wiser than all of his neighbours together is still smaller. Now we cannot understand how it can be laid down that it is the duty and the right of one class to direct the opinions of another, unless it can be proved that the former class is more likely to form just opinions than the latter."1


For further vies on socialism, see, blupete's essay, The Siren's Song

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NOTES:

1 Macaulay, "Southey's Colloquies," Edinburgh Review, January, 1830.

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Peter Landry

January, 2000 (2011)