Does the European welfare system promote hate by allowing people to avoid learning the lessons of mutual dependence and cooperation that the workplace teaches?
Consider for a moment how little we can do for ourselves. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the fuel we burn are mostly obtained through the efforts of others. Would we not perish in short order without what Rose Wilder Lane calls the “brotherhood of man”?
Rose Wilder Lane was the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Rose played a crucial role in bringing her mother’s Little House on the Prairie books to life. Lane’s deep understanding of the human condition shines through in her classic book, The Discovery of Freedom.
Since we cannot survive on our own, Lane explains, “All men are brothers, of one blood, of one human race. They are brothers in one imperative desire to live, in one desperate necessity to combine their energies in order to live.” Thus, “The brotherhood of man is not a pretty phrase nor a beautiful ideal; it is a fact.”
Lane adds pointedly, “Men who behave as if the brotherhood of man were not a fact, are alive to do so only because it is a fact.”
In other words, those who harm others are themselves able to thrive only because the efforts of others.
Work is one way through which we learn to create value for others. At work, we are unlikely to succeed if we don’t experience the common humanity we share with our colleagues and customers.
Now, consider the consequences when able-bodied individuals are paid to not work.
When we don’t work because taxpayers are supporting us, it is easier to lose touch with our common humanity with others. Without creating value for others, we may never develop the facility to appreciate the “brotherhood of man” that keeps us alive.
When individuals no longer must cooperate with each other to thrive, they have perverse incentives to act against the natural brotherhood of man. In Europe, jihadists and potential jihadists are paid to separate themselves from the brotherhood of man.
Consider these facts:
1. According to The Telegraph, the Manchester bomber Salman Abedi “is understood to have received thousands of pounds in state funding…even while he was overseas receiving bomb-making training.” Abedi never held a job in his life.
2. Danish citizens who have been granted a “disability” pension have gone to Syria to fight on behalf of ISIS. Other Danish jihadists are receiving unemployment benefits.
3. When the German newspaper Bild “ran an analysis of the 450 German jihadists fighting in Syria, it found that more than 20% of them have received benefits from the German state.”
4. Before the notorious radical Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary was convicted and jailed on terrorism charges in 2016, taxpayers in England had funded his hate-filled sermons for over two decades. Choudary had been receiving more than 25,000 pounds a year in benefits and was living in a home worth over 300,000 pounds. (Note, the English pound is worth more than the U.S. dollar.)
5. Choudary encouraged his followers to not work and instead to live off government benefits: “The normal situation is to take money from the kuffar [non-believers]. You [the kuffar] work, give us the money, Allahu Akhbar.” In Choudary’s warped world, he and his fellow jihadists are entitled to live off the labor of others.
A basic economic law is that you get more of what you subsidize. The more you pay a person to not work, the more isolated, the more alienated that individual can become.
Are subsidized and alienated individuals more receptive to messages of hate? If the subsidized embrace hatred, their thoughts of hatred may go unchallenged by the realities of work life that demand cooperation, not conflict, with others.
If we understand our existence depends on our brothers, we understand the truth of Lane’s observation: “Any man who injures another, injures himself, for human welfare is necessary to his own existence.”
The jihadist living off the sweat of others has no such understanding. Jihadists may believe God is on their side, but radical jihadism is at odds with the truth of the brotherhood of man.
The great divide is not between Muslims and non-Muslims. The great divide is between those who respect the brotherhood of man and those obsessed with hatred.
Why is Europe undermining the brotherhood of man by subsidizing those who hate?
[Image Credit: BBC | Youtube]
Barry Brownstein is professor emeritus of economics and leadership at the University of Baltimore. He is the author of The Inner-Work of Leadership. To receive Barry's essays subscribe at Mindset Shifts.