Jack Kerwick

We now have exhibition 4,003 to prove that, at bottom, Barack Obama’s agenda is and has always been socialistic to the core.

The most recent piece of evidence confirming what, by now, everyone should know all too well is an audio recording of a speech the President delivered at a Loyola University conference back in 1998. It was there and then that Obama called for Americans to “pool resources” in order to “facilitate some redistribution [.]” He unabashedly declared: “I actually believe in redistribution.”

When we couple this with Obama’s now notorious claim that the successful did nothing to deserve their success—“You didn’t build that!”—a larger worldview begins to come into focus.

Yet to see that worldview spelled out, we must go beyond the sloganeering of the leftist politicians who promote redistributionist ideas to the leftist intellectuals who give rise to them.

Philosophers John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin are among the contemporary academic world’s biggest stars. And they are recognized as such because of their ingenuous and tireless efforts to construct an intellectual apparatus for “social justice”—i.e. redistribution.

Rawls devises what he calls “the original position.” In the original position, individuals gather together to determine what kind of society they shall inhabit together. In this regard, it is roughly comparable to what philosophers of an earlier era called “the state of nature.” However, in the original position, individuals stand behind a “veil of ignorance” that blinds them to every one of those characteristics—race, sex, class, religion—that distinguish them from one another in the real world.

Now, because no one knows what his circumstances will be in the society chosen, parties to the original position arrive at a consensus that their society shall be governed by two principles of “justice.”

The first asserts that everyone is to have as expansive a right to liberty consistent with the same right for everyone else. But the second demands that all inequalities that arise from the observance of the first principle must be “arranged” or redistributed in order to benefit “the least advantaged.”

Parties to the original position would agree to this, Rawls thinks, because no one knows whether or not he will be counted among the least advantaged in the new social order.


Jack Kerwick

Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture. Contact him at jackk610@verizon.net or friend him on facebook. You can also follow him on twitter.