Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Doubt, doubt, let it all out

According to Cass Sunstein, the Internet is supposed to give me the ability to "read only what [I] want to read....about only the issues that interest [me], encounter in the op-ed pages only the opinions with which [I] agree."

Professor Sunstein’s thesis gave me some pretty unrealistic expectations of the blogosphere. I had hoped to find writings by people like-minded enough to allow me to “outsource” the development and articulation of my political positions.

No such luck, so it looks like I’m forced to think and write for myself.

When liberals compare their political positions to those of conservatives, they use language better suited for a wine review: complex, nuanced, subtle, sophisticated. The political positions of Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore are many things; nuanced they ain’t. Like a Christian fundamentalist or neconservative, they see the world in terms of Manichaean good and evil; they simply flip the sides. Just over the other side of the dividing line are the libertarians, who at least have the benefit of consistency on noninterference in both economic and personal matters. However, many libertarians are willfully blind to market failures. Besides, people whose pastime is proselytizing for Ayn Rand/Noam Chomsky/Jesus/Muhammad/delete as applicable are terrible company.

I believe that people’s sympathies go first to their families, then to their friends and to others only if there’s any left over. Any society that tries to ignore or, worse, override that universal tendency is bound for failure at best, mass murder at worst. This sounds awfully conservative. At the same time, I believe that the duty of a society is the welfare of its people. This sounds awfully liberal.

Perhaps it would be better to illustrate my beliefs using examples. I’m an admirer or both Swedish social democracy and Singaporean enlightened despotism. I think that the US could do with a little more socialism and that Europe could do with a little less. Above all, I believe that people and their states have to go with what works, and that the policies that work, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum, accept human nature instead of trying to ignore it (as the libertarians do) or rewrite it (as both liberals and conservatives do).


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