John Kekes, "Dangerous Egalitarian Dreams," City Journal, Autumn 2001.
The most celebrated public philosophers of our time—our Rousseau and Voltaire, so to speak—are John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin. Prophets of a non-Marxist socialism, they provide the rationale for the domestic agenda of the left wing of the Democratic party, and they are in large measure responsible for the Left’s remarkable success in occupying the moral high ground. They have convinced the nation’s elites that it is a matter of simple justice for our society systematically to deprive the large majority of citizens of a sizable portion of their legally owned property to benefit a much smaller minority—an Orwellian redefinition that mocks as well as violates justice. In their egalitarian philosophical system, there’s no need to debate the merits of progressive taxation, anti-poverty programs, socialized medicine, affirmative action, and welfare legislation: a society that lacks them is, by definition, not a just society.