The Way of Perfection

Paradoxically, Westerners of every faith and political opinion seem perennially unhappy with Western society, despite the West’s assurance that it is the best, most fair, most free, most enlightened, and most humane way of life in human history.  The left faults Western institutions because they seem to it insufficiently fair and progressive, too much influenced by the right; the right, because the liberal establishment refuses to confront and rein in the left but instead indulges and encourages it.  There never has been a time, in fact, when modern society measured up for everybody, when some grave complaint was not being leveled against it.  The current protest is that Western society is deformed by social and economic inequality, and growing rapidly more so.  Having recently discovered this fact, our sitting President, whose income last year commanded eight digits, has announced that inequality will be his party’s unifying and offensive theme in this election year of 2014.

Certain Republicans and other enemies of the democracy have noted that, in a society whose poorest members, illegal as well as legal, are far better off than the great majority of the planet’s seven billion people, material inequality is not the soundest standard by which to measure the public welfare, and that, in any case, the federal government’s highly self-interested definition...

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