Human Dignity Beyond Sentiment: Part 6, The Paternalistic Threat

This last threat might not warrant addition to the list, but I'll float it here for consideration. 

By paternalistic threat I mean a stratified society where a handful of elites manage and look after the masses. This is a species of the Nietzschean threat, but I think it stands separately because there is a benevolent and prosocial aspect in play here. 

Again, one of the political implications of human dignity is that governments must treat people with care, especially those who might be ranked at the "bottom" of some social metric. And while social hierarchies can tip toward domination (what I've called the Nietzschean threat), they can also take on a paternalistic aspect. The goal here isn't domination as much as benevolent management. Since the unenlightened masses don't know what is best for themselves, an enlightened elite makes those decisions for them and engineers society accordingly. 

Paternalism is also different from uptopianism. Utopian visions of society tend to be idealistic, whereas paternalistic visions tend to be more pragmatic. Though the two often blend together. The revolution might be driven by utopianism, but that idealism is hard to sustain given subborn realities, and so it eventually gives way to a totatarianian paternalism. 

The reason this paternalistic stance is a threat to human dignity, despite its goal of care, is that, once again, it is introducing a ranking of value and worth between the "parents" and the "children" of society. Care is being mediated through a hierarchy of worth. 

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