This is why I think David Brooks is a moron.
He wrote a piece detailing why he things America and Europe are failing, and said this:
“Though the forms were different, the democracies in Europe and the United States were based on a similar carefully balanced view of human nature: People are naturally selfish and need watching. But democratic self-government is possible because we’re smart enough to design structures to police that selfishness.”
Um, no. Go read the Founder’s writings, and individual selfishness is not a common argument. They believed government was overpowering and oppressive, and the less centralized power, the less likely to infringe on individual rights.
Also liberals often point to the Madison quote, without READING THE REST OF THE QUOTE. It comes from Federalist no. 55, and it talks about how people use the ‘depravity of humans’ to argue for DESPOTISM. The quote is here in its entirety:
“As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.”
They did understand that governments and movements were depraved…but look at the Constitution, which completely focuses on RESTRAINING GOVERNMENT and MAXIMIZING INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM.
I could go on and destroy Brooks’s argument about the European ruling classes…but why bother, when his fundamental theory is so unsound?
I do agree with one point: Brooks goes on to say that the balance between government and individuals is out of whack. Absolutely…government has grown out of control.