The Decline of the Liberal Mind

Written by Paul Parker

There was a time (as hard as it may be to believe today) when liberals actually had the mental capacity to reason.  During the Enlightenment, liberals (specifically, people with principles that were then described as liberal) understood the difference between facts and ideology.  They understood that life is not an ideology, liberty is not an ideology, and property is not an ideology.  Moreover, they understood that life, liberty, and property exist naturally, even if a nation does not exist and even if a government does not exist.

And they understood that if people create a nation, a just government exercises its powers not for the purpose of pursuing an ideology, but instead, for the purpose of securing the life, liberty, and property (i.e., the unalienable rights) of each of the nation’s citizens.  This monumental discovery, a process of human thought stretching from (at the latest) ancient Rome all the way to 17th and 18th century England, achieved its realization in America, with the founding of a great nation.  (Note to liberal readers: the great nation in question is the United States, and these fundamental truths are enshrined in the nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence.)

Now, in contrast, a recent legal case in Europe perfectly illustrates the state of “modern” liberal thinking.  A baby, Charlie, was born with a rare genetic condition that causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage.  Charlie’s parents received donations (equivalent to more than a million U.S. dollars) for an experimental treatment in the United States, but the hospital treating Charlie in England wanted his life support to be turned off, and the English courts as well as the European Court of Human Rights sided with the hospital.

In short, the government of the United Kingdom along with a “human rights” court of Europe not only refused to protect the child’s right to life, but also violated it by preventing the child from getting privately-funded treatment, and they not only refused to protect the child’s right to liberty, but also violated it by preventing the child from leaving the hospital and traveling to the United States.  And the reason for this extreme violation of a human being’s most basic human rights: ideology.

The doctors at the hospital argued that the treatment would not improve Charlie’s “quality of life.”  And in court, the lawyers for the hospital claimed that “[t]here is significant harm if what the parents want for Charlie comes into effect.  The significant harm is a condition of existence which is offering the child no benefit.  It is inhuman to permit that condition to continue.”  (Italics added.)  The judges agreed, concluding that Charlie should “die with dignity.”

However, to repeat, life is a fact; what constitutes “quality of life” is an opinion.  Likewise, death is a fact; what constitutes “dying with dignity” is an opinion.  In such a dire situation, some parents might want their child’s life support discontinued, while other parents might want their child’s life support continued until every available option had been exhausted.  (Just as some adults might want their own life support discontinued; others, continued.)  The important point is not which opinion is considered to be the best, or which opinion is considered to be serving a child’s best interests; the important point is who makes the decision.  And the decision properly belongs not to a doctor, a hospital, or a government, but to a child’s parents.  With medical decisions, as with nonmedical decisions, a government has the legitimate power to intervene only in very limited circumstances, such as negligence or abuse by the parents.  (Clearly, this does not mean that hospitals or governments have a duty to provide treatment, experimental or standard, unless already purchased or covered by applicable insurance; this simply means that hospitals and governments do not have a right or a legitimate power to prevent the parents, or adult patients, at their own expense, from taking advantage of other options.)

Along with the “quality of life” argument, the legal case relied on three key claims: That “existence” is a condition (implying a disease or disorder).  That a “condition of existence” is a form of harm, unless the condition is considered by a doctor, hospital, or government to be offering a “benefit.”  That “permitting” such a condition to continue is “inhuman.”

Permitting?  Really?  Permitting innocent people to continue living their lives!  How generous!

Ultimately, this argument provides doctors, hospitals, and governments with the power to end a person’s life, without any guilt of any crime.  Well, except the most serious crime of all: not qualifying as worthy of life according to liberal ideology.

Today, the liberal mind is unsound; liberalism is a constant threat to the rights of individuals.

While this particular case happened in Europe, the arguments used in the case, and similar arguments, have support in the United States among liberals, and the political left in general, who are pushing for government control over innumerable aspects of the individual’s life, not just health care.

This article originally published at