The Thinking 

Why Do Liberals Oppose Self Defense?

January 7, 2013


IN A 2008 discussion at VFR, the commenter Thucydides wrote:

Why is the idea of armed self defense so repugnant to liberals? It crosses their core assumptions in several ways.

First, the need for it suggests that human evil is a normal, expectable state of affairs, not something aberrant that is produced by some imperfection in collective social arrangements. The core liberal assumption is the sentimental faith that humans are essentially good and reasonable; violence is explained away as the regrettable result of anger proceeding from some form of injustice, real or imagined. The problem then is not the violence, and not human nature, but some social condition. (Small comfort to the victims!)

Second, it threatens their vision of a collective rational management of society in which human strife and the other tragic realities of human existence can be eliminated. (This is the Enlightenment project characteristic of all the ideologies spawned from it, including Marxism, Fascism, and the last survivor, liberalism). If human evil is a constant threat that cannot be planned away, and the imperfections of human nature not evanescent, then all grand projects of universal reform are futile.

Third, it calls for individual moral judgment that someone represents a threat, resulting in action to avert it. This implies that there are at least some minimal objective absolute moral standards binding on all, in the present case, “Thou shalt not kill.” This clashes with the liberal goal of protecting unlimited personal autonomy from social consequence. Once you allow for private community action to ward off an imminent threat, where does it stop?

For liberals, it is better that innocent people die, than that liberals have to sacrifice their presuppositions in finding a solution to the problem of mass killings.

 —- Comments —-

Forta Leza writes:

I think a big part of the liberals’ reasoning is the superficial desire to see everyone as equal. Thus, a thief is an otherwise normal person who does not have enough economic opportunities. And a murderer is an otherwise normal person who had access to a gun at the wrong time. I say “superficial” because that’s not really how liberals think. It’s how they think they think, but their charitable thinking applies only to people at the bottom of the social scale. To liberals, conservatives really are bad people.

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