September 2, 2007

When Politicians Tout Social Justice ...

... The belief that no country has a moral right to rule over another has its corollary that no group within a country can arrogate to itself the right to make decisions for others ...

We cherish freedom of speech, of association and of belief, and the right to life, liberty, and the protection of law, but we cannot agree that fundamental liberties include opportunities for a small number of individuals to amass unlimited property. People steeped in poverty naturally yearn for relief from want and social injustice. This can be achieved only through a vast expansion of the productive apparatus and equitable distribution of the fruits of progress.

It is obvious that development cannot be left to the mercy of market forces. The profit motive which deifies the rights of owners of property denies hope to millions. State intervention becomes necessary to insure that the limited resources are directed into priority sectors of the economy.

We do not follow the extreme path of forced savings through the use of state power. We have tried to bring basic industries, financial institutions and wholesale wheat trade under public control and initiate measures for social investment.

We aim at growth with social justice. A different strategy might have yielded increased industrial production and a higher rate of growth, but there is no doubt that any approach leading to greater concentration of economic power in private hands would give cause for explosive social tensions and would distort, even disrupt, our entire democratic structure ...

--- excerpts from "Democracy in India", Address by Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India at the Joint Meeting of the Empire Club of Canada and the Canadian Club of Toronto, June 20, 1973.[emphasis mine]

Apparently, Mrs. Gandhi and her admiring sycophants hadn't paid — and, many who have followed her haven't paid — much attention to Richard Feynman's cautionary note against social engineering:

The Government of the United States was developed under the idea that nobody knew how to make a government, or how to govern. The result is to invent a system to govern when you don't know how. And the way to arrange it is to permit a system, like we have, wherein new ideas can be developed and tried out and thrown away. The writers of the Constitution knew of the value of doubt.

--- Richard Feynman, 1963.

Two years after her speech in Toronto, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, brought democracy in India to "a grinding halt" by declaring Emergency, and launched her 20-point program to eliminate poverty and institute social justice.

1 comment :
  1. I think more important than what Feynman said is that the Founding Fathers knew what not to govern. Their deep distrust of the State had sound philosophical principles, and not merely the lack of knowledge of governance!

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