Recent comments from Rev. William Barber, self-appointed spokesman for the “Moral Monday” protests and leader of the NC state chapter of the NAACP, confirm that his vision for society endorses an aggressive use of violence against innocent individuals, and seeks to negate morality itself.
At a convention of far-left activists last week, Barber told the audience he is “bothered” by politicians citing “freedom” to campaign against an over-reaching government. Indeed, Barber for years has lobbied for massive government programs under the cloak of “justice,” while characterizing as immoral any talk of individual liberty and free markets.
“Our deepest moral traditions declare that the true challenge of society is not private charity but public policy that impacts how people exist every day of our lives,” declared Barber.
“Morality” and “justice,” according to Barber, can only be achieved through political means.
To evaluate these claims, we can compare the two institutional frameworks constituting the hero and villain in Barber’s narrative: government versus voluntary free markets featuring private charity.
The use of force backed by the threat of violence is the bedrock upon which all government programs are built. Their very existence relies on compelling citizens to pay their taxes lest they be punished for their resistance. And to be clear, such threats are not leveled against the perpetrators of any crime, but rather against innocent victims who have aggressed against no one.
By contrast, in a free-market, capitalist system based upon property rights, people and institutions rely on peaceful, voluntary exchange for their existence. From the biggest corporation to the local farmer, free enterprises survive only if they offer something that others value at a price they are willing to pay.
Furthermore, consumers are free to refrain from turning over their money to an individual or business if they object to the goods or services offered in exchange. In response, the producer would either silently suffer the financial loss or use peaceful means to persuade the consumer to once again resume their voluntary exchange relationship.
Contrast that with how the government would react if you decided to stop paying taxes because you don’t like the services it offers and provides in return. Agents of the government would descend upon you and threaten fines and imprisonment – resorting to physical assault if necessary – if you didn’t obey.
So without you having threatened or aggressed against anyone, but merely by boycotting the submission of your property (via taxes) to the government, this organization would not stop short of invading your property and initiating violence against you.
Such is the true nature of how to achieve Barber’s “moral code” of “justice.”
I prefer the definition of justice offered by George Mason University professor and columnist Walter Williams: “What’s just has been debated for centuries, but let me offer you my definition of social justice: ‘I keep what I earn, and you keep what you earn.’ Do you disagree? Well, then, tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you – and why.”
Finally, Barber’s brand of “morality” not only extols the use of aggressive violence against innocents, it would run the risk of extinguishing the ability of individuals to exercise moral judgment, thus negating real morality. True morality and charity for those in need is housed in the hearts of individuals expressing their own compassion, not in response to political orders.
As noted economist and political philosopher Friedrich A. Hayek stated, “Responsibility, not to a superior, but to one’s own conscience, the awareness of duty not exacted by compulsion, but the necessity to decide which of the things one values are to be sacrificed to others, and bear the consequences of one’s own decision, are the very essence of any morals which deserve the name.”
Humans act in accordance with their own judgment. This includes judgment about helping others in need, as determined by one’s own conscience. Government, however, interferes with the connection between judgment and action. As the state forcibly outsources the exercise of moral compassion, individuals’ ability to do so atrophies.
Barber’s blustering about “morality” is really a smokescreen designed to distract from his vision of a society organized around the threat of government violence against innocents and devoid of the exercise of individuals freely expressing true moral acts.
This article originally appeared in the Fayetteville Observer.