Make Me Comfortable

by | Aug 14, 2013

Confusing comfort with rights is what socialism does—and what democracy makes possible.

“Socialism needs democracy like the human body needs oxygen,” said the famous Marxist, Leon Trotsky.

Trotsky was right. Although democratic vote (in a republic) does not necessarily have to mean socialism, socialism—by definition—feeds off the mob rule of the majority.

We’ve seen it throughout world history, and we now see it has happened to the United States, as well.

A majority of people will always say they want freedom. However, the way most people conceive of “freedom” is not what freedom actually is.

Most people see freedom as a kind of comfort. “If I don’t have all the things I basically want and need—well, I’m not free.” This is a reflection of how most people feel, and probably what most people would say, explicitly, is true.

But comfort is not freedom. A guarantee of comfort requires someone else to do something for you. Why? Because there’s simply no other way to guarantee comfort, if you’re not going to do it yourself.

In a democracy, the majority of people vote for what makes them most comfortable. If a majority decide they want to be guaranteed health care, then they will vote for a right to health care.

Granted, Obamacare isn’t very popular, because people perceive it as bringing some discomfort. But there’s no question that the overall thrust of Obamacare—health care is a right, and everyone is entitled to it, no matter what—is something the majority will vote for, every time it’s offered.

Opponents of Obamacare don’t say, “You have no right to health care. Having a right to health care means you’re coercing someone else to pay for it; that coercion violates their rights and freedom.” This is something you’ll never, ever hear. Instead, you only hear, “Obamacare is bad because it makes you uncomfortable.” The implication is that you have a right to comfort, but Obamacare is not the way to go about it.

Ditto with any other “right” which is manufactured first by socialist intellectuals, and then by politicians who get elected on the premise that their job is to make people comfortable.

Confusing comfort with rights is what socialism does—and what democracy makes possible.

People will generally resist socialist dictators imposing “their own good” on them. That’s why Nazism (i.e. National Socialism) and ultimately even Communism collapsed. These were forms of socialism imposed from above. People loved–and still love–what they thought were socialist “ideals,” but dictatorship proved too high a price.

At the core, I don’t think most people want—or ever wanted—dictatorship. They’d rather impose dictatorship on each other…without having to call it dictatorship. That’s where democracy comes in. Democracy allows the voters to utilize some segment of the population to make life comfortable for them. Why? Because they’re entitled to that comfort. How so? Because some are perceived as more comfortable than they are; and the role of government is to make things equal, right?

That’s not what freedom is. That’s not what liberty is. Liberty refers to a state in which you’re free to do whatever you wish, so long as you leave others alone. Leaving others alone means never imposing coercion (including fraud) on another. At that point government must step in, but only at that point.

That was the standard of the original American republic. America’s founders actually took it for granted as the standard, and hoped it would be the standard going forward. You can see that in their writings. Unfortunately, that standard is long gone. If you told the average voter today—even the average Republican—“You have no right to anything, other than to be left alone”—you’d be greeted with a blank, if not hostile, expression.

In the hearts of most people, liberty and individual rights are dead. This is because the concept does not even exist in most people’s minds.

Depressing? Yes, in a way. But if you actually have a concept of what freedom and liberty are, never fear. They are powerful concepts, because they are true. The more human beings move away from those concepts completely, the less comfortable their lives will become.

We’re already seeing that happen. Witness the lack of economic growth and the troubling national debt. Witness Obamacare. Witness rising taxes and regulations leading businesses not to hire. Watch how little innovation we see as freedom—rationally defined—becomes scarcer.

People are going to miss these things. Therein lies the opportunity to demonstrate the power of freedom and liberty. “You want those things back? You want life as your parents knew it? With innovation and change for the better every single decade? You’ll have to understand what freedom really is.” Capitalism, profit, technology, individualism, individual rights, private property … it may be fashionable to hate these things (at least in front of your friends), but in reality you need them more than you know.

Nothing speaks more powerfully than the absence of something valuable. Those of you who keep voting for comfort disguised as freedom … watch and learn.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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