Friday, December 02, 2005
How Different Are Conservatives and Liberals? Consult the Philosophers (Hint: it comes down to money and sex)
Conservatives are feeling pretty cocky these days. And for good reason (notwithstanding recent and pending indictments). Let's face it: two Bush terms, Republican control of House and Senate, tax cuts for the rich, Roberts and Alito (likely) on the Supreme Court for decades, and a mostly impotent political opposition.
You limit yourseslf to the current American definition of Liberal or Conservative, both predicated on self-definition. I know that in our current era where self-awareness is assumed and people or similarly self-designated intellectuals are seen to be what they say they are this should be enough, but it isn't.
Among the educated, conservatism and liberalism are philosophically opposed mostly concerning those things that affect the lives of others. There is no consistent critique of individualism in either the 'moderate' American left or right. Steven Bainbridge is an economic liberal (read: modernist conservative) and a moral (social) conservative who makes no attempt to reconcile his contradictions. Pretending they don't exist does nothing. This is often noted in discussion of conservative thought, but the same applies to his opponents.
I made a reference in another post to Burke and Blake, meaning to their similar views of history.
The proper response to purblind economic modernism is to see precisely how it - and philosohical exceptionalism- underlie both contemporary liberal and conservtive thought.
You can build logic on a foundation of mud, but if you don't see the mud for what it is, your logic will crumble.
Liberals are smarter than moral conservatives, but their arogance and overconfidence dooms them to failure in the arena of popularity and politics. Charming liars -always philosophically if not morally! conservative- are more popular than clueless pedants.
As far a philosophy is concerned knowing thyself is still the best -the only- way to start, and that is to ask the question of how it is possible, to interrogate the very idea of the individual. That it is assumed otherwise these days is a symptom of an old and well documented form of academic decadence.
Look it up.
And Posner still sucks
I would say that the chief difference between conservatives and liberals is that the latter try to maximize the best case outcome, while the former try to minimize the worst case outcome. But, of course, it has to be remembered that there are few liberals OR conservatives actually occupying public office, or positions of power within major parties. Mostly those people are pragmatic rent seekers for whom liberalism or conservatism are brand identities, not principled positions.Post a Comment