16 Nov The pursuit of happiness and the common good
Note: although this is quite an “American-centric” article the sentiments are worth considering by all of us…
America is the land of “rugged individualism.” “No taxation without representation” is often mutated into “no taxation” – witness California. Government intrusion is derided as “socialism” – a tradition that has its roots in the heavy Elizbethan hand over colonial America. “Why should we help the losers?” was a refrain heard at “tea parties” and town hall meetings as health care was debated in at times highly uncivil circumstances this past summer.
Individualism, unlike in the United States, has a rather pejorative connotation in France. As the late eminent historian Franê_ois Furet described it, the idea that the happiness of the individual should become the goal of society and that the social realm should be limited to the sum of all these individual happinesses constitutes a “disguising of egoisms” – which leads to a twofold deterioration: political by a sort of anarchy and moral by hedonism. The concept of society as a market where the individual lives for himself and his own happiness and for that of those close to him, brings an “inevitable civic deficit, which contains the moral detour that it introduces: the absence of the common good.”
To read the remainder of this article on happiness and common good – click here