Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Political Case for Traditional Morality

Lee Harris makes it, in "Drug Addiction and the Open Society," at The New Atlantis. Here is one of many telling passages:
Herein may well lie one of the great advantages that highly authoritarian forms of government have over open and liberal society. They are in a position to crack down on social epidemics, like drugs, in ways that are far more effective, because far more brutal, than any option available to societies like Dalrymple’s England or DeGrandpre’s America. If so, what a fascinating paradox to present to Mr. Mill—those societies that most closely followed his “simple universal principle” could eventually be undone by their excess of liberty; in which case, the epitaph of the open society might well be taken from Dalrymple’s assessment of the addicts he dealt with in the British slum: “Freedom was bad for them, because they did not know what to do with it.”
Moral anarchy is fertile ground for totalitarianism.

Related posts:
The Meaning of Liberty
Social Norms, State Action, and Liberty