Writing on his blog C. Bradley Thompson opines on the “common good,” channeling many of the same arguments used by philosopher Ayn Rand.
He reviews “six problems with common-good politics.”
First, all versions of the common-good school of thought assume, without proof, that there is one, absolute, universal, eternal, knowable “higher” or “common good” that should guide public policy despite the fact that there are innumerable and competing definitions of the “common good.”
Second, the very real practical problem with “common-good” politics becomes manifest when rival factions compete with one another for political power in order to impose their view of the “common good” on society as a whole.
Third, until recently, Left- and Right-wing proponents of the “common good” were reverse mirror images of each other. Liberals typically wanted social freedom and command-style economics, whereas conservatives typically wanted economic freedom and command-style morality.
Fourth, does anyone seriously believe that Harvard professors, the Vatican’s College of Cardinals, or Deep State bureaucrats actually know what is best for ordinary Americans better than ordinary Americans?
Fifth, virtually every tyrant throughout history has used the “common good” to justify acts of violence and oppression. Jacobinism, socialism, fascism, communism, and Nazism all claimed to serve the common good.
Sixth, common-good harpies of the Left and Right misunderstand what virtue and moral action are. They fail to understand that to be moral requires uncoerced, free choice. Coerced virtue is not virtue; it’s obedience.
In the end, the promises of the “common good” theory of politics is a fraud. This is because the idea of a “common” or “highest good” is an undefinable concept, particularly when governments attempt to define it, which is exactly what we’re talking about.
There is no such thing as a “common good” (at least as the concept is typically used by its Left- and Right-wing proponents), unless one is speaking of an ant colony or a bee hive. But man is neither ant nor bee. To the extent that the idea of a “common good” has any valid philosophic meaning, it can only be the sum of the interests or goods of all men and women in a particular society, and the primary “goods” common to all men are freedom, justice, safety, and the rule of law that protects them.
Hat Tip: @JWoiceshyn