History is plagued with Communist & Socialist countries which are also totalitarian. There is a reason for this. Communism & Socialism is founded on the principle that we have a moral duty to serve others, whether “the poor” or “the public interest” or “society” or “the common good.”
Since no one wishes to serve others, there is only one way this can be realized: coercion.
A government animated by the principle of an individual’s moral duty to serve others will increasingly force citizens to serve the so-called “common good”—and with each political success, the government will get bolder and more aggressive in its enforcement of this principle.
It is important to note that, when the Left speaks of duty they are not talking about chosen obligations like contracts and other mutually beneficial agreements, instead they are talking about unchosen obligations.
Philosopher John Rawls explains, whereas regular obligations “arise as a result of our voluntary acts,” duties “apply to us without regard to our voluntary acts.” We have a duty “to help another, whether or not we have committed ourselves to [doing so]. It is no defense or excuse to say that we have made no promise . . . to come to another’s aid.”
A “duty” is non-optional; it is something you must do regardless of what you want, regardless of what you think is in your interest, regardless of what you would choose to do if you had a choice in the matter. In the words of the foremost advocate of this idea, the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, “duty is a necessitation to an unwillingly adopted end,” and its “specific mark” is “the renunciation of all interest.
British philosopher John Stuart Mill explains:
It is a part of the notion of duty in every one of its forms that a person may rightfully be compelled to fulfill it. Duty is a thing which may be exacted from a person, as one exacts a debt. Unless we think that it may be exacted from him, we do not call it his duty. . . . There are other things, on the contrary, which we wish that people should do, which we like or admire them for doing, perhaps dislike or despise them for not doing, but yet admit that they are not bound to do. . . .
Whereas a “duty” is an (alleged) obligation that one has apart from one’s choices or interests and that one “may rightfully be compelled to fulfill,” a right is a prerogative to act in accordance with one’s choices and interests so long as one does not violate the same rights of others. In other words, “duties” and rights are utterly incompatible. They are mutually exclusive. A person can have one or the other—but not both.
The French philosopher Auguste Comte (who coined the term “altruism”) puts this clearly: Because “to live for others” is “for all of us a constant duty” and “the definitive formula of human morality,” it follows that “[a]ll honest and sensible men, of whatever party, should agree, by a common consent, to eliminate the doctrine of rights.” Altruism, explained Comte, “cannot tolerate the notion of rights, for such notion rests on individualism.” On the premise of altruism, “[rights] are as absurd as they are immoral. . . . The whole notion, then, must be completely put away.”
Thus we see how unchosen obligations are the anti-thesis of natural rights. Unchosen obligations necessarily lead to destruction of rights, i.e. totalitarianism.