Social Justice - Human Nature - And the Pursuit of Happiness
Who wants to be a utopian socialist?
The idealistic and progressive intellectuals of the left as typified by Barack Obama, consistently refuse to acknowledge the reality of human imperfection. The squalid utopian fantasies of socialism, communism--or any variant of Marxism for that matter--appeals primarily to people who refuse to acknowledge their own human imperfections (narcissists), and hence their own capacity for evil. They don't want to admit it, but those who are drawn to the leftist view of the world, tend to see themselves as superior; above all the other boring, ordinary human beings around them; more virtuous, more compassionate, smarter; and of course, much better qualified to decide what's best for lesser beings like you and me.
It is extremely ironic, considering the left's rhetoric to the contrary, to realize that it is conservatism and its underlying priniciples that fundamentally embrace the awful truth about human nature; and understand that the reality is closer to your average selfish, lazy, superstitious, and money-grubbing con artist than to that utopian "ideal" or "new" man--so prominently promoted in the rantings of communists, socialist, or any collectivist or totalitarian.
As a consequence of understanding that fundamental truth about human nature, conservatism and its economic policies (i.e., capitalism) are able to harness even the most negative aspects of human nature to bring positive good both to the individual and to the larger society as well. Yes, that means allowing people to pursue their own selfish happiness (without initiating force agains others); as opposed to "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Benevolence toward others is up to the individual and a voluntary matter in the former system; but it is forced upon you by the omnipotent State in the latter.
Next, the idealistic and progressive intellectuals of the left also refuse to acknowledge the reality of how wealth is created and how capitalism is able to produce it so well and their systems are not.
The left's fundamental economic assumption is that the only way to get wealth is to steal it from someone else, because they simply cannot imagine how to go about creating it. It is a zero-sum game for them; and thus, all their political policies are imbued with an infantile economic primitivism--of the sort a caveman, whose only strategy is brute force, would come up with: Ugg hits Grog over the head with his big club to get his "rightful" share of nuts and berries--and that's the only economic theory they can understand.
This economic blindness about the creation of wealth is the origin of what Ayn Rand calls "the looter mentality." It is the mentality of the parasite who wants the benefits of wealth without the effort of having to create any; who is always demanding "his 'fair' share" of wealth without the necessity of providing any value to anyone. Looters are people who think that wealth just appears out of nothingness and that it is perfectly justifiable to steal it from someone else, since it is a zero-sum game; and therefore it is a matter of "social justice" to redistribute it according to their whim.
Capitalism does not pretend that those messy negative human emotions like greed or envy can be "stamped out" by the will of a tyrant or a "benevolent" State. It accepts human nature as a given and provides a system through which humans are able to pursue their own happiness which allows them to sublimate and redirect those negative emotions to better both themselves and incidentally the larger society.
(H/T Dr. Sanity)