Daniel Pitt is currently lecturing in an Higher Education Institute and studying for a MA in Philosophy. He is a former Deputy Chairman of Bath and Nottingham Conservative Associations.
It is not fair to be lucky! What a loaded sentence. We all know that language is an important means of communication, and the words we put into action can have an impact on how we think. In the political area, words and slogans are important way of captioning our thoughts, values and beliefs or of our adversaries. The Left has done a splendid job at this: think of the recent general election, and how Labour came up with ‘The Dementia Tax, andcor other examples, such as ‘The Bedroom Tax’ and, in Margaret Thatcher’s day, ‘The Poll Tax’. They seem rather good at making the Conservatives look like the party that will tax you. Surely that is not fair. We are the party of lower tax, are we not?
Moreover, it is now seldom that I listen to, read or watch an interview without the word ‘fair’ springing from the interviewer’s or interviewee’s lips like spring water from Enigma Fountain in Great Malvern. The Left has done a spiffing job of defining the term ‘fair’ as equality of outcome for all. So much so, that I now hear Tories using it this way.
However, the conservative view of ‘fair’ or just would follow Aristotle’s view of the ‘proper proportion’ – meaning that it would be unfair for a person to receive a greater or smaller proportion of the good than what he himself has earned. Under Aristotle’s view, the leftist view of equality of outcome would be unfair and unjust. In other words, to utilise an old adage: it is “what you put in is what you get out” that is fair.
At any rate, the word ‘fair’ is not the word that is most worrying to me: it is a five-letter word stating with an L – Lucky. (And not just because it leaves me with an ear-worm of Britney Spears’ song ‘Lucky’, which of course is irritating.) It is because my leftist friends, acquaintances and colleagues love ‘lucky’. Ask any of them why they are successful at sport, or attend a good university, or obtained well-paying employment in the City, or found a discounted ready-meal in the local grocers, and they will answer in unison; ‘lucky’. Unfortunately, this term is also tiptoeing silently into the lingo of the right.
‘So what?’ I hear you cry. Who gives a kipper’s you-know-what if people say, ‘well, I was lucky’? If you are sitting comfortably, let me demonstrate my point – why conservatives should give a kipper’s.
The notion that all the good outcomes in life derive from ‘luck’ is determinist in nature, and this rejection of the free will or human freedom – meaning to do one thing rather than another or, in other words, an ‘intentional act’ – should indeed worry conservatives of all stripes.
People will ask themselves why? Why work hard or save or sacrifice? Why take control of my own life? Why aspire to improve my lot? If the people who have obtained high station, or are in long-term marriages or in a stable family life, have obtained all this based on determinist luck, then choice is only an illusion. Why should we take control of ourselves, our family, or our nation? If we believe this view, we cannot expect people to take responsibility for their actions.
This determinist view plays well for the Leftists and their worldview. Why? Because if we did push one of them to explain why he got to where he has and not someone else, he would have to say things like this: worked hard, study rigorously, made sacrifices in my relationships, et cetera. Consequently, the question shall pop up like a bad penny: ‘if you can do it, why can’t others do the same as you?’ The answer shall be this: “because I am lucky, and others are not, and because of this, I can help the unlucky people or in other words, the ‘disadvantaged’.
Of course, not because he has talent, or has made good choices in life or he is able. Oh no! That would smash the leftist dogma of egalitarianism, and the ideology that the ‘capitalist system’ is oppressive since people get ‘stuck’ in poverty, and thus have no agency to escape it. It must be mere luck you see, because that unruly question pops up at them again like a jack-in-the-box.
Moreover, the ‘she is so lucky’ (indeed, lyrics from Britney Spears’ song, I couldn’t help myself – deterministic I know) helps with the leftist dogma of class-war. For example, the left use this argument: ‘The Rich’, don’t you know, only got where they are today because of luck and not through their own efforts. Therefore, we can tax them ‘a little more’ (it is always a little more) or confiscate their property and distribute it to the unlucky. One can see where this ends.
We Conservatives need to restore our confidence in human freedom and reject the ‘lucky’ narrative, as the Left has an vested interest to deny human agency and argue that the ‘system’ or luck will determine your outcomes in life unless the power of the State steps in, and therefore the Left can make you lucky too.