Quote of the day—Charlie

Having lived for many decades in deeply liberal enclaves and having had many long-term friendly and working relationships with progressive types, I puzzled about the mental diff myself.

What I came up with is that your basic libertarian conservative is an optimist who doesn’t doubt for a second that, left to our own devices, things slowly but surely tend to get better. Your social conservative feels much the same *provided* we are on guard against moral trespass–you can’t get on the right track if you’re living on the wrong track.

Your progressive, otoh, is a pessimist who firmly believes that, left to our own devices, we will surely go astray in mass through greed, ignorance, prejudice and other low motivations. Hence, we need parental-type authority over us. Love of material things, particularly in categories like guns and cars, stands as proof of intent to drag all of society into your own mental hell.

If you point out the march of progress over recent centuries to them, to the extent they reply at all (as opposed to just blowing you off as some idiot), it is to state that that’s all delusion, a bubble that will burst leaving us in worse shape than if we had not pursued the folly of econo-technical progress at the expense of getting our heads right. Almost anything you say to them not from the choir book is mere confirmation that you are hopelessly delusional.

Curiously, most people who come right out and say they are socialists, you can have a debate with. They just think you’re the enemy, a swine, deluded but not delusional.

October 17, 2010
Comment to Same Planet different worlds.
[I really like this. I like the way it succulently expresses the philosophical viewpoint of the various camps. Of course it’s possible to construct some gray area between the various camps. For example it’s possible to say the government should stay out of the lives of people but if people want to use public roads it might be okay for government require proof of driving skill.

But the main conclusion which can be drawn from this is that the progressive/pessimist leads themselves into a logical trap. If they are correct that people will “go astray” and need parental-type authority over them then the same argument can used against government. Hence you end up requiring an infinite chain of parental-type authorities. Just like requiring the universe to have a creator—who created the creator? It’s not turtles all the way down and the government can’t be fathers all the way up.—Joe]


4 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Charlie

  1. I don’t know. I’m a pessimist who thinks that left to our own devices we may very likely go astray. But I’m still a libertarian, as I don’t think it then follows we need an authority to prevent this result.

    Maybe “going astray” isn’t the greatest of all evils.

  2. Mr. Huffman,

    I think the problem with your argument there is this: A typical lib-prog will try to claim that, just as Aristotle invoked a prime mover to avoid the problem of infinite regress, the State fulfills the role of the unparented parent. And if there were one such state for all the world, so much the better. You or I might ask the question of whether leaving them “unparented” would be such a great idea, but they would probably argue that it shouldn’t need to be parented. I’m a bit stymied on how to argue back against this one–if I point out that such a State is composed of human beings, subject to imperfections and foibles–particularly where power is concerned–they could pull out the “in a perfect world…” rejoinder, but I can’t find myself conceding that it’s a good idea even in a perfect world.

  3. A conservative also recognizes that everything has a cost. Progressives don’t seem to acknowledge this.

    Conservative principles are in a way based on the notion that people will go astray, AND that if certain people have too much power (such as a government that’s allowed to meddle in our every day lives) their going astray will have vastly more disastrous outcomes.

    Conservative principles follow from the understanding that people going astray is one of the costs of liberty, and that this situation of the occasional individual going astray is vastly preferable to the wholesale-level destruction that results from governments going astray. Communists don’t seem to acknowledge any real costs of the totalitarianism they advocate.

    We can try to analyze and pick layer after layer of deception apart all day, but it’s really very, very simple; there is that beast that wants to divide us, steal our wealth and trample our rights, there are those who fall for its allure and its rationalizations, and there are those who don’t.

    Argue and analyze all you want, fall in with this group or that group, though it isn’t about personalities or political parties. Eventually you want to be able to recognize the choice between two sides; liberty and rights on one hand, thievery, enslavement and ruin on the other. Dress it up all pretty one way or the other, redefine the words, rationalize all day and pretend there are infinite complexities here and there, but it still comes right down to a very simple choice. As said here recently; the choice is binary.

  4. I’m a libertarian conservative, but I don’t believe, necessarily, that individuals will generally choose the right thing if left to their own devices–but I don’t necessarily believe that people will choose the wrong thing, either.

    I believe in liberty for several reasons: that whether people choose right or wrong, they will have the choice, regardless of legality; that natural consequences ought to be sufficient for pushing people to do what’s right, and if it isn’t, then adding on more punishment will usually make things worse; that tyranny always makes things worse–and that, once the majority of people choose evil over good, tyranny will not help one whit–indeed, it makes things worse, because the tyrant will the power to encode evil into the law, and the people will cheer it on.

    If we’re going to choose to destroy our society by choosing evil over good, we might as well do it as free people…but then, if we are evil, chances are, we’ll be trampling property rights, killing innocent people, and forcing people to do evil things they don’t want to do. In other words, it would probably be a tyranny anyway.

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