Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Liberal Values Part I: Natural Goodness

Our multi-part series to explore liberal values based on the definition from that we promote here at TTGSIMH:
Liberalism: A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil and political liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority. [Also a] 19th-century Protestant movement that favored free intellectual inquiry, stressed the ethical and humanitarian content of Christianity, and de-emphasized dogmatic theology.

Natural goodness sounds like an ad for a healthfood candy bar. But what do we really mean by "the natural goodness of humans"? Simply put, we liberals -by our very nature- assume that most everyone is pretty good at heart. Sure, we all make mistakes, we all have our weaknesses. But very few people (in our world view) get up in the morning and say, "Oh happy day! Today I will go hurt someone!" And, much like Hume, we tend to think, "The supreme moral good benevolence, an unselfish regard for the general welfare of society that [is] consistent with individual happiness." (Encarta) Or, if you prefer Easter philosophers, "...Mencius (4th century B.C.) supported ...the natural goodness of mankind, for which he found proof in the natural love children have for their parents."

It reminds me of something from management class - X vs. Y management theories as proposed by Douglas McGregor back in 1960. Liberals are basically believers in Theory Y. The one that postulates employees are essentially good and WANT to work. That it is part of their self-actualization.

I believe that human nature is, in fact, driven to goodness. It was what made us all patsies to be played by September 12th. It is why non-profit organizations get millions of dollars and millions of volunteer hours every year. Are there bad people? Of course there are. Estimates are that about 1 in 25 could be classified as sociopathic (The Sociopath Next Door), so odds are that you work with someone who is 'evil'. But the other 96% are just chock full of natural goodness. Even the annoying ones.

What say you, blogmunity? Is this your view of natural goodness? It's the first brick in my House of Liberalism so I'd better get it right...

1 comment:

  1. Moving comments from HaloScan:

    The "management technique" that has never failed for me was actually best described by Robert Asprin in his book "Phule's Company." Unfortunately I loaned my copy out and haven't gotten it back, so I'll have to wing it: I do my best to assume that the people I'm working with are capable of living up to their potential, and reward them when they do. That's an understated way of putting it, but the entire idea of expecting good things from people rather than bad things would make me a liberal by that definition, it seems. ^.^
    StealthBadger | Homepage | 01.18.06 - 10:48 pm