Reading the original “progressive” thinkers I notice that it is an unquestioned assumption in their reasoning that there is something we might refer to as ‘the good of society.”  They cannot deny that “society” consists of individual humans because that fact is too obvious to everyone–except to certain devotees of a metaphysics once popular among German thinkers in the 19th Century and still implicit in the present thinking of the more extreme statists among us.  But society is nevertheless an abstraction, whereas individuals are the “things” which form or are subsumed in the concept “society.”  There is no question that associations of individuals exist–to refer to a relationship among them, a relationship which we conceive in our minds.  Therefore, what “good” can can there be for such a relationship apart from the several goods of the individuals?  Can we say that the relationship benefits from putting one group in conflict with another, such as labor and business? Things are good or bad for individual humans and only in that sense can they be be good for “society.”  How can society even “exist” in the mind apart from the people who compose it?  It reminds me of the point Murray Rothbard made:  If Nazi Germany was a society, it included German Jews as components. If Germany supported the Holocaust, then German Jews condemned themselves because German society required their destruction.  But, of course, Hitler didn’t believe the Jews were part of the Volk (another abstraction), so that society itself contains conflicting interests and the good of “the society at large” is nothing more than the “good” of the majority or of one faction against the rest.


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