Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Kevin Rudd's Reply

Kevin Rudd has been given a reply in the Oz to John Howard.

In part he writes;

The Prime Minister's fundamentalism is driven in large part by the neo-liberalism of Friedrich Hayek, who argued that the only determinant of human freedom was the market. In fact, Hayek also argued that any form of altruism was dangerous because it distorted the market. To avoid inefficiencies, altruism had to be purged from the human soul. Hayek described altruism as something belonging to primitive societies that had no place in the modern world.

By contrast, social democrats offer a different narrative for our country's long-term future. To values of liberty, security and opportunity, we add social democratic values of equity, sustainability and compassion.

Social democrats believe in the market. But we don't believe in market fundamentalism. We don't believe in an unconstrained market. We believe passionately in public goods such as education and health. We accept the reality of market failure, as we have seen most recently and most spectacularly with the failure to respond to global climate change. We also believe in the intrinsic dignity of human beings.

In the final analysis Rudd is wrong in his precepts - it is not right to ask whether one "believes" in the market, whether fundamental or not. The operation of markets is the subject of scientific inquiry, and the question of whether markets "fail" or not is an empirical question.

The question at issue is actually a moral question. The moral question is what does it mean to be good. Or another way - how ought I behave. Hayek believes to be good is to not interfere in the choices of an individual. Rudd, like I and many others, say that to be good is to treat others the way I myself would like to be treated (the so called Golden Rule.

Now is not the time for it - but the evolution of capitalism from feudalism can only occur in the presence of the moral principle of the Golden Rule.

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