Countdown to Christmas
22 - Solidarity & Charity
Man naturally desires, not only to be loved, but to be lovely.
- While “solidarity” is a term and political slogan that is traditionally associated with the left, the very concept of a unifying concern and support for others is deeply ingrained in the liberal tradition. Hence, liberals have extensively written about mutual aid societies, dignified development aid, and the importance of civil society.
- The liberal critique of the welfare state has often been construed as a rejection of a concern for the poor. But as you might guess, this is a misrepresentation. Instead, liberals have been approaching the issue of aid and poverty relief from a more holistic perspective: Liberals emphasize the role of community spirit. Without that reciprocal concern for each other, we lack the necessary “social glue” that makes social institutions and thus a free society work. And in order to strengthen voluntary civil society, it would need to perform many of the functions associated with the welfare state. As Robert Nozick highlights, the grave danger of the welfare state is that it not only undermines these spontaneous networks of mutual aid but it also crowds out the very virtue of compassion.
Many of us (certainly me!) are lucky to live incredibly privileged lives. And this becomes painfully evident during the holiday season: While we are complaining about the fact that we have to rush around and buy more gifts or feel guilty about those calories at Christmas dinner, others can only dream of such problems. Hence, make sure to put that cash that granny put in your stocking (not what you think) to good use and donate it to a charity of your choice. Wherever it goes, it will be greatly appreciated. Be sure of that!