Hunger Games: Daily Kos Smears Conservatives as Cannibals With 'Donner Party Ethics'

While Chris Hayes complains about National Review misplacing Barack Obama in Paris, no one will expect MSNBC to question the Daily Kos comparing National Review and other conservatives with...the Donner Party, the snow-trapped pioneers who succumbed to cannibalism to survive in 1847.

The original subject was the “pragmatist” philosopher John Dewey, a left-wing hero. Writer Alex Budarin was upset that Tiffany Jones Miller wrote in National Review in 2009 that Dewey’s philosophy did not match the Founding Fathers. He not only disagreed, but felt compelled to smear "the Donner Party ethics of contemporary conservatism."

This was Budarin’s excerpt of Miller:

“In the founders’ view, by contrast, the natural rights of the individual correspond to a series of natural duties, the scope of which vary with the social relationship in question. Thus, while parents are obliged to promote the comprehensive good or welfare of their children, and to sacrifice their personal concerns accordingly, the obligations they owe unrelated adults are far more minimal — e.g. to refrain from interfering with their freedom, to honor contracts with them, and, at the outside, to promote their (mere) preservation. Beyond these duties, individuals are entitled to pursue their own concerns, a right that government, in turn, is obliged to respect. While individuals are free to assume a more robust obligation to unrelated others, as through a church, government itself is not the agent for advancing it.

From Dewey’s (and the progressives’) standpoint, so minimal an understanding of obligation allows men to pursue a degree of selfishness that is developmentally primitive and hence morally disgusting.”

To which Budarin brought out his broad black brush:

It is not only disgusting, it is also counterproductive and destructive to the fabric of any social group larger than the family.  It is an understanding worthy of the Donner Party at the depth of its hunger, but not of a social group intent upon survival of the group as a group.

After arguing that the Founding Fathers were not really libertarians, but proto-statists, Budarin returned to repeating the Donner smear:

We Americans continue to see our government as responsible for recognizing our social equality and ensuring our equal rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  This is why U.S. administrations, Republican and Democratic, have sought over the years to institute policies and programs related to such things as public health, public education, civil rights, environmental protection and labor laws.

It hasn’t been a 100-year conspiracy of progressives to create a “socialist utopia.”  It is the result of a progressive, pragmatic evolution of human relations.  We live and work together for mutual aid in survival and happiness.  We share common needs, and we learn from experience that working together with other people enhances our ability meet those needs.  This requires coordination.  It is out of this need for coordination that governments arise.  The more effective a government is at coordinating and ensuring our mutual survival and happiness, the longer it will remain.  Eventually we learn that the survival and happiness of the social group is best achieved by ensuring that the  “mutual aid” we all seek is “mutually” enjoyed by all members of the group, not just a particular individual, class or sub-group, and that the “aid” we seek addresses all of the challenges we face in life, not just defense.  As a result, the majority of us do not subscribe to the Donner Party ethics of contemporary conservatism.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis