More lifting from the comments, where, following this post, we were discussing how to spot good intentions, however dire their actual consequences:
If we set aside the explicitly sadistic and murderous fantasies of Marx and Engels, and Lenin and Trotsky and all the others, I suppose we have to ask whether the claim of benevolence and altruism, or the delusion of such, signifies actual benevolence and altruism, or whether it can be used as camouflage, a fig leaf, for something else entirely.
What if someone - say, a politician and supposed intellectual - wants to confiscate even more of other people’s earnings and wants to do this regardless of whether such confiscation would have the social benefits they claimed it would have, even if it makes their stated objective impossible. Are we to trust in their self-image as a person of unassailable virtue?
And what about these guys here, the ones who want to compel us to live more simply, as they conceive it, and who claim, apparently in all seriousness, that not permitting us to own the “dispensable accoutrements of middle-class life,” including “cars, holidays, electronic equipment and multiple items of clothing,” will make us “better neighbours,” “better parents” and better people? Do you trust their stated motives - of “healing” us, and curing us of our acquisitiveness - and do you trust their self-image as benevolent and just?
And when a Guardian columnist rages against a random family in the neighbourhood, about whom she knows nothing beyond the size and amenities of their home, and then exults, proudly and in print, at the thought of that random family’s downfall and suffering, and at the thought of the “aggressive redistribution” of their belongings, and that Guardian columnist tells us how pleasing this will be and that she just “can’t wait,” are we to believe that her motives are selfless and high-minded?
Readers are invited to fathom the intentions in play behind each of the above examples.