What is it about giving up individual liberty that sometimes seems so appealing to people? On Sunday night's episode of Life, Liberty & Levin on Fox News, Claremont McKenna Professor Charles Kesler told LevinTV host Mark Levin that it's the result of the "intoxicating bargain" that progressivism offers.
Kesler deftly explained the natural law philosophy that informed the Declaration of Independence and how the philosophy of progressivism runs contrary to that understanding.
"With the progressives, you have a kind of counter-revolution against the American Revolution," Kesler — who is also editor of the Claremont Review of Books — explained. "And all of the things that the Declaration endorsed, progressivism essentially negated or countered. So the notion that rights are based upon your individual status as a human being, that rights pre-exist government, that they come from God or from nature: That's rejected by progressivism."
According to progressivism, Kesler continued, "You get your rights from the stage of civilization and the kind of state that you have."
Under that system, "The most important rights are not any rights you might have as some kind of an individual pre-existing government, which in a way progressivism denies is even a possibility; the most important rights you get come from the government," Kesler explained. "We give the government power; it gives us rights."
This power-for-"rights" arrangement has "been a very intoxicating bargain," Kesler noted. "It's been hard to resist the notion: 'What could go wrong? The government becomes more and more powerful and it gives us more and more rights; what's not to like about that?'"
"I think we've lost touch with common sense and with the Founders' commonsense understanding that government is run by human beings too — very imperfect human beings — and the more powers it accumulates, the more dangers it can pose."
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