December 10, 2003 -- Rarely has the moral decadence of the philosophy that places "society" above the individual been better illustrated than in the case of left-wing British Labour Party Member of Parliament, Diane Abbot. Ms. Abbot seems to be ashamed of herself. Why? Because she stole taxpayer money, endangered national security, or had some sordid extramarital affair? No!
What so disturbs her is that she decided to send her 12-year-old son to the City of London School. You see, while she judged that school to be the best for her son, it is also a private school and, as she said, "I've always believed that private schools prop up the class structure of society."
As a socialist, Abbot is an egalitarian. But what if "equal" means depriving her own child of the best education possible—an education she would pay for with her own money? She admits that she "agonized" over the decision, and she said, "It's inconsistent, it's indefensible, and that's why I haven't sought to defend it." Abbot knows all about inconsistency; in the past, she was critical of Prime Minister Tony Blair for sending his sons to a selective state school rather than the local, presumably poorer quality, government school.
Here we have the socialist philosophy in its essence. Equality is preferable even if it means that everyone is left equally ignorant or, in the economic sphere, equally poor. One of the greatest Britons, Winston Churchill, was right to say that "socialism is the equal sharing of misery." Further, it makes no difference that someone is better off through their own efforts, that they're richer because they better serve paying customers, or that they want to use their own assets to gain what is important to them in life, like the best education for their children.
Ms. Abbot at least had the sense to put her son's welfare before her altruist ideology and to recognize that she was being inconsistent with that ideology. That's more than most of America's hypocritical politicians acknowledge. Too bad Abbot didn't take the final step by rejecting her ideology and urging her followers and colleagues to put rational self-interest rather than self-destructive socialism first.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.