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July 26, 2009

Age and Political Awareness

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

The old saw about one never ceasing to learn isn't actually a universal truth, but it works well enough in practice. It's also true that the greatest surge in learning begins in infancy and tapers off after ... when? puberty? ... whatever developmental psychologists say will do for now.

Eventually, if all goes well, raw input becomes categorized, correlated and tested against an increasing body of life experience and distills into something we call "wisdom."

This has everything to do with politics.

There was a presidential election when I was five years old and it totally escaped me. Four years later, I knew who the nominees were and who I favored (the one my father did), but was basically clueless about issues. At age 13 I knew many of the issues, but my understanding was bumper sticker thin (though I don't think bumper stickers had come on the scene yet); basically, I was simply parroting slogans. When I was 17, I was able to articulate issues in more depth, but that election (the second Ike-Adlai match-up) had a foregone conclusion and issues didn't much matter. I turned 21 just in time to cast my first vote and was in the heat of youthful certainty that I was part of a crusade to make the world a better place.

And so on and so on. How old was I when enough "wisdom" had sunk in that my understanding of politics went beyond the superficial?

It might have been when I was 33 and finally voted for a candidate of the party I hadn't voted for previously in presidential races. Certainly it was by the time I was 41 and had definitely changed parties. For me, this benchmark seems appropriate because party change usually requires a good deal of thought about issues and how the world works as well as self-examination of core beliefs. Habits and inertia had to be broken. Folks who never experienced a party switch would have to use some other criterion to mark political maturity.

At any rate, my "deep" understanding of politics with reference to issues clicked in when I was in my thirties. When I was younger, I of course thought that I understood. But I really didn't.

I've always felt that I was a slow-to-mature person, so it could well be that my political maturity came later than it did for most others. On the other hand, the timing of outside events such as wars, recessions and exposures of corruption might be a factor for others as they were for me.

For those of you who believe you have mature political awareness, let us know in Comments how old you were and, perhaps, what event or events brought you to that state.

Later,

Donald

posted by Donald at July 26, 2009




Comments

$10 says I'm not the first to recall Churchill: "If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain."

Is this the way it went for you, Donald? I am 39 and wondering.

Posted by: Matt Mullenix on July 26, 2009 9:39 PM



Donald, do you think you will look back in twenty years and think similar things about your current self?

Posted by: dzot on July 26, 2009 10:13 PM



I would say that at age 49 I am just about beginning to get enough experience in life to be able to make truly well-considered political decisions.

This is why I think a great improvement to our system would be to say that only people 50 and over can vote in Senatorial elections. All through history, the tribal elders have led the tribe, with good reason. In our time, however, a child of 18 is given a vote equal in importance to the vote of a 70 year old with a lifetime of experience. That's foolish.

Yes, there is a need to provide a way for youth to introduce new innovations that the always more conservative elders might resist. But there needs to be a way for the elders to put the brakes on ill-considered "progressive" ideas that the elders will already have seen fail in the past. Let the elders elect the Senators, and let everyone else elect the Representative. Then the Senate might begin to exercise its intended role as the more deliberative, thoughtful body.

Posted by: Marlk on July 26, 2009 10:15 PM



Donald - I'm 19, in college, and I know everything.

Posted by: Matt on July 26, 2009 10:45 PM



dzot -- Possible, but not likely; I've held pretty much the same perspective for the better part of 30 years.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on July 27, 2009 12:14 AM



I voted for Hubert Humphrey in class mock elections at age 5 because I just KNEW that Richard Nixon was a mean and bad man.

Posted by: Bradamante on July 27, 2009 7:51 AM



At least in a welfare state like Britain's, before you are 35 you have probably been drawing out of the pot; after that you are paying in - that may clarify thinking too. It's also an argument for raising the age of the franchise to 35. After all, when voting at 21 was introduced, that was just a little below half a lifespan, so there's a second reason why 35 would be suitable now.

Posted by: dearieme on July 27, 2009 8:53 AM



I'm 35 years old. I live in the Northeast. I'm involved in politics. I've even helped run some campaigns (all successful).

I'd say my political awareness is not so much about stances on issues, as I believe most reasonable people have pretty similar views regardless of party affiliation (I guess this in itself is a statement of political awareness). My awareness is more about why some candidates win and some lose. In fact, it's not about specific stances on issues. All candidates will say what they need to get elected, and then do something else. At the local and state level both party candidates almost always have the same stances on issues.

It's more about strategy and effort. Which ever campaign is the most organized and cohesive will win the election. Easier said than done. I know.

Of course it does start with the candidate and his/her views--just to make sure they generally reflect the values of the community they are going to represent. But more important is knowing if they are going to do the leg work necessary to win--knock on doors, make phone calls, raise money, etc.

New England is a very Democratic area--not necessarily because of its liberal leanings (we have many Yankees here too), but because the Dems are much better organized and put forth better candidates.

The Republicans who run are usually retired businessmen looking for something to do. Most do not have the desire or energy to do the leg work. Most GOP candidates simply run ads in the paper and on some billboards.

Dems on the other hand are younger and more passionate about public service--especially right out of college. They are willing to do the leg work to get elected.

I mean how many recent college graduates who are Republicans want to take a public sector job starting in the mid $20,000 range? Most of them want to make money fast.

Young Dems on the other hand are much more likely to get low paying public-sector jobs and gain the experience, connections, and credibility to run for office a bit later in life.

There are obviously exceptions to this, but it seems to generally be the case in this area of the country. I'm sure circumstances are different elsewhere.

Posted by: Steve-O on July 27, 2009 10:20 AM



Since the first election in which I could vote, I've always tracked the issues and who represented those closest to what I wanted to occur. I do believe I have gotten a better grasp of the various issues as I've aged, and my predictions and worries - given who was elected - have largely born out to be true. (For example, Republicans suck at running an economy, but they're a wonderful and vital catalyst that keep Democrats from going too far and creating economic situations that harm growth.)

I don't know if it's because I've always focused on the issues, or what, but my political leanings have been pretty much consistent throughout my life.

I've always felt that Marxism was complete and utter bullshit on the face of it. Capitalism as the primary engine of the economy is probably the best we can do given human nature. However, like children and dogs, capitalism needs some controls and oversight, or else you get economic messes like the one we have now. Or lead paint in children's toys. Or salmonella in freakin' peanut butter.

Further, you can't claim to have an enlightened and fair society unless everyone has access to education, medicine, and justice. Children are our future, and therefore they simply come first.

There are some evil motorscooters out there, so I also support gun rights and the death penalty; I don't view the death penalty as punishment, but as a means of protecting society. You can't count on future generations not giving some evil bastard parole. As for the person facing death row, if you've done something bad enough to get there, you need to be introduced to eternity, for our sakes.

Thus, because of that, harsh laws around victimless crimes like drugs and such to me are immoral. If you're gonna deprive someone of liberty or life, they better have done something to merit it.

Outside of that, adults should be able to live life how they want and pursue happiness. The old adage "the right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose" covers it pretty well.

Those concepts pretty much form my political views.

Posted by: yahmdallah on July 27, 2009 11:32 AM



Marlk:

I find that older people have a beaten down by life attitude, and this is reflected in the people they vote for. I am a 27 year old conservative, and I guess I have that same vigour that young liberals possess, because any time I discuss issues with older people who don't like the current "progressive" society, I'm met with a "what can we do? It's best just to put your head down and get by".

We need conservatives who are willing to entertain ideas as radically conservative as the present radically liberal ones that are mainstream, and you mostly find that in under 30s.

Posted by: ASDF on July 27, 2009 1:55 PM



ASDF:

I think it's great that you're 27 and filled with vigour for the political fight. But if older conservatives seem to have a "beaten down by life attitude", you have to remember that they were just like you are now when they were your age. They've been where you are now, and they've lived 20 or 40 or 60 more years and seen where that passion they had at 27 went. Basically they know everything you know about life, generally speaking, and then they know another X years worth beyond that.

So don't be too quick to dismiss older people. This is the classic attitude of the young: you old people are tired, cautious, old-fashioned, and defeatist; things are different now, the world is different, opportunities are different now, things can change now, so take your old pessimism and just go away somewhere and leave us young people to fix things the way they ought to be fixed.

But the truth is that human nature doesn't really change because the age-old drives and pressures on people don't change.

I think what makes older people seem defeatist to you is that they have come to recognize that the more things change, the more they stay the same. They recognize life is short and the things that really matter in life do not involve expending emotional energy, money, and time trying to change the world. They recognize the current fads pursued by passionate young people as versions of the same fads that were around in their youth or their parents' youth, so it's hard to get passionate about something you've already seen doesn't lead anywhere.

But it's good that young people are passionate and optimistic and full of energy and hope. Go ahead and fight those battles and we'll even contribute some money and cast a vote for your candidate. But don't be surprised when, in 40 years, you find that the world hasn't changed much from when you were young and no big revolutions have happened and human nature is the same as it was before, and you find yourself looking with wry, fond amusement at the passionate young people who feel they've figured things out for the first time in history and are ready to change the world.

Though I will say that anyone who is conservative already at 27 DOES have more things figured out than the usual liberal at that age!

Posted by: Mark on July 27, 2009 2:27 PM



My politics matured in my 40s as I realized that the only politics is self-interest.

For most of my youth, I tried to prove to liberals that I was a nice guy who worried constantly about women, gays and blacks. The end result was that everybody was supposed to pursue their self-interest with a vengeance... except for me.

Interestingly, a gay friend began to ask me why I was so willing to play the martyr. He kept insisting that I ought to be demanding something for myself. In time, he won me over.

I'm neither conservative nor liberal. I don't give a damn about causes. I'm in favor of getting the best out of life for me and my family. The rest is horseshit.

This is my enlightenment. I'm in politics now only to defend my self-interest. I vote the candidate who does the best job of promoting my interests. That's it. There is nothing else.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 27, 2009 2:44 PM



"For most of my youth, I tried to prove to liberals that I was a nice guy who worried constantly about women, gays and blacks. The end result was that everybody was supposed to pursue their self-interest with a vengeance... except for me."

What I've observed is that there actually are some people out there who are truly only interested in helping and caring for others without material compensation. I know a few people like this. One of them is an elected official in state government.

The trick is trying not to be like them. It's impossible. Helping others truly makes them happiest, which I guess is a form of self interest. But we shouldn't feel guilty if we don't get the same degree of pleasure from helping others the same way they do.

Of course, the opposite end of the spectrum is always hurting others to achieve self interest/happiness.

We all have different things that make us happy, and I think for most of us helping others to some degree is part of it. The other part of it is usually something that can only be obtained through more competitive means.

I understand the frustration with elected officials. However, know this. The only thing that can endure the constant and intense scrutiny of the public spotlight is an equally large ego. As the stage grows, so does the ego of the candidates. Even the largest heart in the world alone couldn't endure what these candidates go through.

The people who derive the most happiness through altruism, though, are usually the ones who dislike this public spotlight. It doesn't give them any happiness. It's not worth the sacrifice. They can find plenty of other ways to help people that don't involve political office.

Posted by: Steve-O on July 27, 2009 4:27 PM



I know this is a good way to be thoroughly disdained by almost everyone, but I pursue much the same strategy as Shouting Thomas, while voting Libertarian whenever there's a Libertarian on the ballot. In a fairly recent mayoral race here, I voted for the candidate I judged had the best chance at defeating the incumbent; in the congressional race, similar calculations applied though there was no incumbent--let's say there was a would-be "incumbent's dynasty."

I have no problem with voting -against- people, obviously.

My first election was 1971, the same year I turned 18 and the first year 18-year-olds could vote. I worked for McGovern, hauling (mostly) old and (mostly) black ladies to the polling stations. Since then I've voted across tickets with the L. tendency described above.

My wife is pretty much a Yellow Dog Democrat, and at least I have the satisfaction on occasion of cancelling her vote ;-). Our 23 y.o. son rolls his eyes whenever she brings up voting; I'm happy to discuss politics with him, but I never tell him he should vote, or for whom.

Posted by: Narr on July 27, 2009 4:49 PM



"After all, when voting at 21 was introduced, that was just a little below half a lifespan, so there's a second reason why 35 would be suitable now."

You've fallen for the oldest and most durable fallacy in demographics: the idea that pre-modern Europeans typically died in their 30s or 40s. In fact, although life expectancy at birth was short, once you made it to adulthood you had a good chance of making it to what we today consider old age. For example, in 18th-century England a newborn baby boy had a life expectancy of less than 40 years, but if he made to age 15 he had an even chance of living into his 60s and a 25% chance of making it past 70.

There was extremely high infant and childhood mortality in those days, whereas today children hardly ever die. I've heard it said that if everybody had the mortality rate of a modern 11-year-old, the average life expectancy would be 11,000 years.

Posted by: intellectual pariah on July 27, 2009 5:35 PM



I cast my first presidential vote for Jimmy Carter when I just turned 20.
I've been a staunch Republican ever since.

Posted by: Jerry on July 27, 2009 5:57 PM



I'm a Peak of the Curve Boomer. By now it's no surprise my views are often considered the antithesis of "conservative" ... as the term is generally (mis)used.

During childhood my father shaped my political awareness. He taught civics and American History at a public high school (and the dinner table) serving a cluster of poor and working class neighborhoods in a southern New England city. The neighborhoods were fairly un-mixed "villages" divided by the usual lines of race, religion, country of origin, class and so on. In practical terms this meant you had gangs (literally and figuratively) of post-pubescent adolescents mixing, somewhat against their will, in a setting where it was up to the teachers to keep the peace, which meant enforcing a set of rules, in order to accomplish the actual task of imparting some knowledge or reasonable facsimile of same. Dad had an endless supply of "teaching opportunities" getting the kids to co-operate with and respect each other. Or, failing that, achieve detente.

During the school year we lived in a nearby, rural going suburban, town as caretakers for a Fresh Air Fund summer camp; summers we lived with my maternal grandparents in a destitute seaport city way down east in Maine where Dad took manual labor jobs. When I was ten my folks bought a house across town. After I graduated high school the family returned to mid-coast Maine and I stayed behind, heading to Maine with my wife and daughter a couple of decades later.

Dad was an inveterate writer of letters to the editor, mostly concerning local politics in the communities where he lived or worked. I was taken to town meetings periodically and remember being eight or nine and excused from my own school to go with one of his high school classes on a field trip to the Statue of Liberty and U.N.

When I first registered to vote I attempted to register as a member of the "Good Government Party." It had been a successful, single-issue formation created to keep a well-liked, respected school board member on the board after her party backed a more party-centric candidate. Dad was among its founders, the GGP remained active for a brief time, but when I was old enough to register it was no longer a recognized party. I became an unaffiliated independent, which I remain to this day.

I attempt to honor my father by upholding and supporting the principles and ideals he taught, that I see as traditional and conservative. These include the concept that there are rights and responsibilities to citizenship and they apply to all, regardless of race, creed, color, class or any other attribute. He taught me to both rely on and support local people and businesses. He was a big fan of the First Amendment and "E Pluribus Unum." He liked capitalism and distrusted Capitalists, he supported small businesses and where possible avoided corporations.

So, oddly enough, or perhaps not so oddly, he taught me from an early age, as Shouting Thomas says, to ignore party labels and politics and "vote the candidate who does the best job of promoting my interests.

ST and I generally reach very different opinions based on how we each interpret our self interests, which might be where the philosophical/political/practical implications of "wisdom" "maturity" "realism" "idealism" "passion" and all the rest collide. We can sling manure (organic local vs. GMO feedlot) at each other over who is correct. My default position is that narrowly defined self-interests can easily collide causing conflict. As I've grown older, my appreciation for Dad's lessons about every individual, having not only unalienable rights, also being part of larger wholes, from family, faith, and community on through state and nation, and up to all-inclusive humanity become more clear.

So, I haven't a clue whether I "matured" early or haven't done so yet. It is all an ever unfolding journey.

Posted by: Chris White on July 27, 2009 5:58 PM



I no longer vote. It's utterly pointless.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on July 28, 2009 7:00 AM



I still vote even though I became resigned at around age 42 to the realization that the country really is run by a corporate shadow government.
I find the far right and the far left equally disturbing, and equally detrimental to the country's viability and stability. I guess that marks my relative political maturity, and that occurred at about age 45.

Posted by: KR on July 28, 2009 11:29 AM



I attempt to honor my father by upholding and supporting the principles and ideals he taught, that I see as traditional and conservative.

Like socialized medicine, wealth redistribution, and race and sex politics? Quite conservative! Traditional from whose perspective, everybody else's or yours?

These include the concept that there are rights and responsibilities to citizenship and they apply to all, regardless of race, creed, color, class or any other attribute.

You mean like your support for illegal aliens who you think should be granted citizenship and receive welfare? Like affirmative action, or better said institutional racism against whites, particulary white men? How is that equality of rights and responsibilities?

He taught me to both rely on and support local people and businesses. He was a big fan of the First Amendment and "E Pluribus Unum." He liked capitalism and distrusted Capitalists, he supported small businesses and where possible avoided corporations.

This must be why you are a socialist. Or how did you become a socialist?

Say hi to John Boy on Walton Mountain for me, Chris. I have no idea why you lapsed into that yarn, but you are anything but traditional and conservative. However, I'm sure your dad was a nice guy FWIW.

Posted by: B on July 28, 2009 1:00 PM



I think you have to draw some kind of distinction between political maturity and just getting exasperated or disgusted with politics. I mean, don't get me wrong, both are totally legitimate reactions that come with age and experience. But I wouldn't call throwing up your hands about the whole mess a real functional political stance.

Posted by: MQ on July 28, 2009 1:18 PM



Till 15 I was a fanatic anti-imperialist, then my interest drifted to girls and money, and lived my life as a shiftless opportunist. I have softened or matured into a rabid imperialist.

Posted by: j on July 28, 2009 4:39 PM



I can remember when Tito came to visit Australia, the Labor Government of Gough Whitlam was on the lookout for "Croatian Terrorists" and I can always remember the look of terror on My parent's faces when a policeman came knocking on our front door early one Sunday morning.(Totally unrelated matter). If I remember correctly,Gough had actually deported some Croatian migrants back to Yugoslavia where they were executed, and I guess Mum and Dad thought their time was up. It was my only ever experience of what life was like behind the iron curtain. I was five years old at the time.

Though my parents told me stories about the "joy" of living in a workers paradise where people "disappeared" in the night, it wasn't their experience that influenced me. For as long as I can remember, I've had this conception of human dignity and viscerally it was opposed to the vision of the Left. My hatred of the Left is instinctive.

Even before I could articulate what I hated about the Left, I've had a innate repulsion to the adherents the ideology. Post War Australia was full of refugees from Mitteleurope. We knew many people who were Nazi sympathisers and though they were always polite and nice, they always struck me as underneath being mean, nasty and brutish; the same impression one gets with regard to David Irving or David Duke. But the people who really scared me were the Communists and their idiot sympathisers. The best way I could describe the feeling I had when I was about these people, is sort of like the feeling you get when you see a known paedophile start taking an interest in child. It was like a sense of manifest evil,horror, fear, and inevitable doom all mixed in one. I never ever felt comfortable around these people(still don't),and as a child I wanted to escape from them, wriggle away. I felt like I was their prey, the air became suffocating around them, and a feeling of badness and nausea permeated their presence. Their homes always seemed dark, no matter how open the curtains were.

Some people may attribute my stance to the household I was bought up in. But my parents were far more intelligent than their station in life would suggest. The best way I could describe my upbringing was traditionally tolerant, upper middle class morals within the context of working class means. Dad was always interested in politics, and before I was 12, I had a good grasp of DeGaulle, Adenauer, Mao, Stalin, Khrushchev,Hitler, Tito,Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Kennedy. Economics and social justice issues were mealtime conversations. It wasn't your normal childhood, but it was a happy one.

Still, like Michael, I was a non political person, and what my parents had taught me was just "back of the brain" knowledge and irrelevant to my daily life. That was until I was about 16, when I borrowed a friend's copy of 1984; it was the only book that I put down because it made me sick reading it. I can still remember the line that made me nearly vomit:

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face

I put the book down and didn't want to read the rest of it. Still my curiosity wanted to see how it ended and I read the last few lines of the book:

But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

The total destruction of the human being. I became ill. It was my political birth.


And if it may so please God, I ask that He, in His Mercy, may let me live long enough to see the total annihilation of His enemies and grant me a part in their destruction; so help me God.

Posted by: slumlord on July 28, 2009 9:56 PM



Through my teens I loathed Communism (I was raised in a commie Eastern Euro country) and loathed the Democratic Party almost as intensely upon arriving in the US. Reagan was my hero. And still is.

Through my late teens up to about 30, I was a party-line Republican.

The GWB disaster changed all that. I'm now a radical paleoconservative.

Posted by: PA on July 28, 2009 10:05 PM



Somehow, especially post Reagan, conservative has come to be code for radical notions like redistribution of wealth from the many to the few, global corporatism, restriction of voting rights to the elite, emphasizing individual rights over collective responsibilities, embracing white identity politics, international interventionism to protect commercial interests rather than any true national security concerns and all the rest of the crap being dished out by the likes of Hannity and Rush.

These are the antithesis of the ideals and traditions on which the country was founded and toward which it moved over two centuries. Admittedly we've progressed in fits and starts with frequent slides backward or side detours. As I see it the immediate post WWII era produced, on the one hand, a renewed, reasonably successful, period of recognizing both the rights and responsibilities of all citizens including minorities and women; on the other hand there was a counter balancing drive toward internationalism, which at the time meant the Cold War alliances of the western democracies in the face of Russian and Chinese communism.

B offers a litany of supposedly radical rather than traditional and conservative items including socialized medicine, wealth redistribution, and race and sex politics. Until the recent past medicine had been seen as an altruistic, community oriented, calling but has now become viewed as an exclusive commodity to be exploited by various industries especially pharmaceutical and insurance companies and their stockholders. Anyone remember talking to their grandparents about Doc So-and-so who took a year's worth of eggs or a haunch of venison in exchange for great grandma's emergency appendectomy? Ol' Doc So-and-so wasn't hamstrung by insurance company requirements and badgered by drug merchants to peddle their elixirs, he was the town doctor who served everyone in the community equally to the best of his ability, charging what his patients could afford, even taking stuff in barter. Sounds kind of like "socialized medicine" doesn't it? Look up the statistics regarding wealth distribution and you'll see a dramatic increase in the concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer elites (percentage wise if not in absolute numbers) over the past forty years. That sort of wealth redistribution seems to be fine with so-called conservatives, just not the spreading of wealth more equitably. Anyone ever hear about the town poor farm, the Homestead Act, or Forty Acres and a Mule?

I consider myself a small "c" capitalist. The distortion of capitalism that Global Corporatism has become would, I'm quite certain, cause Adam Smith no end of grief. This is why, like my father, I support small local businesses and avoid mega-corporations whenever and wherever possible. Again, I see this as a traditional and conservative rather than radical stance.

Posted by: Chris White on July 28, 2009 10:13 PM



Chris White,

America was founded as a white Christian nation. Period.

Somehow, especially post Reagan, conservative has come to be code for radical notions like redistribution of wealth from the many to the few

That must be why welfare has been extended to illegal aliens.

global corporatism, restriction of voting rights to the elite

Or do you mean motor voter laws where people don't even have to prove residency to vote? Pushed by socialists like yourself.

emphasizing individual rights over collective responsibilities

What "collective responsibilites"? Where is the "Bill of Collective Responsibilities" in the Constitution?

embracing white identity politics

There are absolutely no white political entities. Only non-white politcal entities like the Black Caucaus, La Raza, the League of Women Voters, etc. Once again you prove that you are psychotic.

international interventionism to protect commercial interests rather than any true national security concerns and all the rest of the crap being dished out by the likes of Hannity and Rush.

And Obama with Pakistan and Clinton in Yugoslavia and Carter in Afghanistan and Johnson in Vietnam. Good job Chris.

Your screed about "socialized medicine" is a classic example of your bullshit. The socialized medicine you call for would never get rid of profit-driven medicine, but ramp it up to unheard of levels, as corporations lobby Congress to mandate "treatements" for everybody, which will be enforced in the courts and with jail cells. Holy crap you are clueless! Wait until they deny care based on money and you can't get out of the system to get treatment!

Wealth concentration is a direct result of the socialization in government and cartelization in businesses with government protection, in the form of regulations that prevent competitors entering into the market. Nice try. Pat yourself on the back for that one too.

You are anything but conservative and traditional. You are a Stalinist with a capital "S". And you will stop at nothing to lie about that fact, it appears.

BTW, your Dad would hardly be able to get an education job today, what with the affirmative action and H1-b policies you support so heartily, plus the illegal aliens around to take up the blue-collar jobs. And yet you fully support the attack on the white middle and working class. What a sweetheart you are.

Posted by: B on July 29, 2009 2:19 AM



My political views had been evolving continuously since my mid-high-school years, but somewhere around age thirty, all the last remaining scales fell off my eyes; I lost my last remaining illusions that there was any point left to politics, that there was any good in the system as it is constituted currently, that there were any heroes in politics for me to admire and follow; that there was anyone out there deserving of my vote, any one side worth cheering for and identifying with, on some level.

I thus haven't voted in the last three Canadian federal elections, and unless things change radically, or there's some local independent I can get behind and/or at least vote for in protest, I may never vote again. In the last Ontario provincial election, I voted only in a referendum on an important issue - electoral reform - but it was defeated; the people themselves have now failed me, choosing not to vote for a motion that would have given themselves more say (and might have made voting mean something), the idiots. I declined my ballot in the election itself, something one can do in Ontario - which basically says, "I'm not participating in this fraud and farce." In the last local election, I only voted because someone I loathed tried to get me to vote for his buddy who was running, and I loathed him enough to get out and help elect the other one, just for spite - but I was actually happy with the outcome, because it ended up being revenge of the countryside against the town we'd been forcibly joined to; the countryside's candidate won, so we got to force our ways on the townfolk for a change.

Posted by: Will S. on July 29, 2009 4:54 AM



"...restriction of voting rights to the elite..."

WTF?

Posted by: David Fleck on July 29, 2009 7:58 AM



Epic comment, slumlord on July 28, 2009 9:56 PM

Even before I could articulate what I hated about the Left, I've had a innate repulsion to the adherents the ideology. Post War Australia was full of refugees from Mitteleurope. We knew many people who were Nazi sympathisers and though they were always polite and nice, they always struck me as underneath being mean, nasty and brutish; the same impression one gets with regard to David Irving or David Duke. But the people who really scared me were the Communists and their idiot sympathisers. The best way I could describe the feeling I had when I was about these people [the Left], is sort of like the feeling you get when you see a known paedophile start taking an interest in child. It was like a sense of manifest evil,horror, fear, and inevitable doom all mixed in one. I never ever felt comfortable around these people(still don't),and as a child I wanted to escape from them, wriggle away. I felt like I was their prey, the air became suffocating around them, and a feeling of badness and nausea permeated their presence. Their homes always seemed dark, no matter how open the curtains were.

Expresses exactly the feeling of primal dread the Left evokes in me. The bolded part in particular is a good analogy and I will use it in the future.

Posted by: PA on July 29, 2009 8:11 AM



Chris,

You're so confused.

First, Adam Smith did not invent a system called "capitalism." He described how an existing, organic market system worked. Capitalism, unlike socialism or communism, is not a theory.

Second, when people succeed at doing something, their enterprises become larger. This is what caused the formation of those dreaded "corporations" you hate. People who succeed in the market enlarge their enterprises.

This is not an evil process, as you imagine it to be. It's inevitable.

Of course, as enterprises enlarge and become more successful, it becomes more difficult for start-ups and small businesses to compete against them, because they don't enjoy the same economies of scale.

It's the same in any business. The Rolling Stones have access to huge reservoirs of capital and publicity. A start-up band has virtually no capital or publicity available.

You are confused in thinking that size is an indication of evil. It can be. But, I've seen plenty of small businesses that were completely worthless ripoffs.

You are constantly elaborating on a distinction that is without any discernible characteristics. To repeat my constant refrain, what really appeals to you is your notion that you are sainted. You really enjoy that one. You never tire of pointing at your halo.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 29, 2009 8:43 AM



Like Slumlord and PA, I have loathed Communism, the radical left in general, as long as I can remember. I have no history with leftist regimes either personally or through my family, but I always despised Marxists, the New Left, and socialist redistributionists and nanny state totalitarians.

I used to be a libertarian (surprise!), but my recognition of the impact of genetic variation in our population on intelligence and personality, variations that have significant social and economic impacts, has made me change my mind about government provision of certain basic services. To put it bluntly, many people are too stupid to look after themselves.

I used to think as a libertarian that a "rising tide lifts all boats". As I've gotten older, I realize that just is not true. There are fellow citizens who are incapable of improving their lives, and who will never be able to fend for themselves. They will be, unfortunately, permanent wards of society. I can no longer in good conscience propose libertarian abolition of the welfare state, since I think such abolition would lead to the deaths of millions of the less intelligent, sooner or later, but inevitably.

This is also why I have come to oppose third-world immigration. Too many new permanent wards. I used to be an open-borders libertarian. No more.

Odd...my genetical biologistic reductionationism has led me to come to support the welfare state. I wonder if any others have moved that way for anything like that reason.

Posted by: PatrickH on July 29, 2009 9:19 AM



PatrickH: "My genetical biologistic reductionationism has led me to come to support the welfare state. I wonder if any others have moved that way for anything like that reason." Isn't that how Charles Murray's thinking has evolved?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 29, 2009 10:45 AM



Chris,

Very well articulated. I think about why or how our value system has changed so much over the years. No longer is it about helping the community or being responsible for responsibility's sake. It's about growing and making money.

We are forced to accept the value system of these few Global Corporations, which is all about profits and less about responsibility. New businesses are started with the expectation/hope of being acquired by the larger "competition" because they know they cannot compete over the long haul.

I see it happening at the local level too. The local farm market has become somewhat of a popular regional destination for weekend travelers, but they have sacrificed community for profits. The have employed more "outside" help to maintain the fields. Instead of baking their pies from scratch, they now use third-party "powdered mixes". They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep out the competition, including community gardening initiatives and other local farmers who want to start selling their goods. At the same time I see their billboards and advertisements pop-up farther and farther away.

This value system inevitably trickles down to the private individual. It's now about making as much money as possible as quickly as possible. But this is an illusion. Look at the recent fall out. Many people lost their jobs or took pay cuts. As prices drop, wages will inevitably follow one way or another. But in the interim a select few have made a ton of money to withstand any economic downturn.

As long as people can vote, they will inevitably turn to government for help--or blame government--but I suspect most reasonable people understand the value and need for our government. Despite its inefficiencies and isolated corruption, our government is still "of the people, by the people, for the people".

And the absolute last thing we should do is elect people to government that are cut from the global corporate cloth. These people don't want to reduce the size of government in an effort to make it more efficient; they want to completely destroy it. Our government is not profit driven. The goal of government is not to make money; therefore, it is a direct threat to global corporate culture and thinking, which is why we need to preserve it.

If people don't want government to intervene, then they should be less selfish, less profit driven and more community minded on their own. But as we've seen, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch. As global corporate culture grows, so will our government.

Posted by: Steve-O on July 29, 2009 12:08 PM



Yes, it has. He's got this Plan thing, in essence a negative income tax. From what I've read about the Plan, it's not generous enough. But yes, he has moved in that direction. Which is itself an interesting story. Murray started out in the Peace Corps and was no doubt strongly in favour of welfare. Then he went libertarian...and then ran into the implications of Herrnstein's syllogism...and ended up, well, where he is now.

Good catch, Michael. I wouldn't have thought of Murray as an answer to my question, but he does fit.

Posted by: PatrickH on July 29, 2009 12:11 PM



PatrickH:

I used to think as a libertarian that a "rising tide lifts all boats". As I've gotten older, I realize that just is not true. There are fellow citizens who are incapable of improving their lives, and who will never be able to fend for themselves. They will be, unfortunately, permanent wards of society.

But how did they survive before the modern welfare state? A century ago, the life of the lowest social classes was by no means comfortable by today's standards, but somehow they managed to fend for themselves without starving to death even without the bureaucratic army of the welfare state to watch over their lives. (Of course, there are severely disabled individuals, but only a minuscule part of the contemporary welfare state apparatus deals with them specifically; most of it is about far wider campaigns of social engineering.)

What you're saying is true for the underclass in the modern atomized society where the traditional culture, customs, human bonds, and non-state sources of authority have been destroyed and replaced by a bureaucratic managerial system whose entire public presentation is based on a mix of delusions and duplicity. The traditional norms and customs that the present establishment scorns, and whose tattered remnants is seeks to completely obliterate, had the important purpose of providing guidance in life for the lower classes so that they could lead independent, orderly, and respectable lives even if they were incapable of figuring out how to avoid stupid decisions and self-destructive behavior by themselves.

Nowadays, this organic system of cultural guidance has been mostly removed and replaced by destructive PC delusions emanated by the education system and the rest of the government propaganda machine. Unlike the upper and middle classes, the majority of the underclass are not smart enough to figure out a realistic and practical way to live by themselves, and their lives are thrown into a state of self-destructive, violent, degraded chaos -- and even if they manage to avoid the worst of it, they're typically incapable of carrying themselves in a dignified and respectable way, certainly far less than their ancestors from a few generations back.

Meanwhile, the upper and middle classes are on average smart enough to ensure that their lives go on in a decent fashion even without firm cultural guidance, and they look at the underclass with utter contempt and horror, even as they talk about "social justice" and the need for the welfare state to step in and set their lives straight (no matter how many times it's been shown in practice how much this fuels the self-destructive behavior further). All this in the deluded self-righteous way typical of the modern hegemonic leftism -- I can easily imagine how they congratulate themselves on doing God's work uplifting the underclass from the misery that it has always suffered under the capitalist or (in case of the black underclass) racist oppression, even as they're busy destroying the last remnants of the cultural restraints that are essential for any chance of orderly and dignified life for the lower classes.

Posted by: Vladimir on July 29, 2009 4:17 PM



I used to think as a libertarian that a "rising tide lifts all boats". As I've gotten older, I realize that just is not true. There are fellow citizens who are incapable of improving their lives, and who will never be able to fend for themselves.

Agreed. As I see it, the Conservative case for welfare state is based on three factors:

1) The inherent dignity of man.
2) The inherent inability of a large section of the community to manage their own affairs.
3) The charity(virtue) we owe to each other.

However, what the Conservative will also argue is that people who can't govern themselves should not govern others. This does not mean that wards of the state have no rights, it simply means they have no business running the state. It is also an argument why basing an economy on a totally free market is socially corrosive. Not all men are equal players.

Posted by: slumlord on July 29, 2009 6:15 PM



America was founded as a white Christian nation. Period.

Many colonists arrived here to escape religious persecution in their European homeland(s) ... and certain colonies had official religions ... so the conspicuous absence in the founding documents of all references to religion beyond a few mildly theistic references to the Creator or God combined with the quick adoption of the First Amendment prohibiting the government from either establishing or interfering with the free exercise of religion should be prima fascia evidence that this reduces the complexities regarding religion and the relationship between government and religion at the time the nation was founded to a simplistic bumper sticker slogan that distorts the facts beyond the point of being useful.

The facts speak for themselves when it comes to the redistribution of wealth from the many to the few over the past thirty years. Dueling links and arguments over the relative veracity of different sources may be useless, but a quick search finds many items like this one from the British New Economist site:
----
A recent Chicago Fed working paper, "Wealth inequality: data and models (WP 2005-10)", summarises key facts about wealth distribution in the United States, and what economic models have been able to explain so far. The authors, Marco Cagetti from the University of Virginia and Mariacristina De Nardi from the Chicago Fed, find that wealth in the US "is highly concentrated and very unequally distributed: the richest 1% hold one third of the total wealth in the economy". As to recent trends:

Inequality increased again in the 1980s. Wolf argues that while wealth inequality fell during the 1970s, it rose sharply after 1979, with a dramatic increase over the 1980s, to the level of in the 1990s. The trend in the 1990s is much less clear. The decade saw a stock market boom and the rise of some large internet fortunes, as well as increased income concentration.

Compared with other OECD countries (for which data is available) the US is the most unequal:

..the United States exhibits the highest degree of wealth concentration, with the largest shares of total wealth in the hand of the richest percentiles of the wealth distribution. The lowest values are found in, among others, Australia, Italy, Japan and Sweden, and intermediate values in Canada, France and the United Kingdom.

---------

David & others – I would think a reference to restriction of voting rights to the elite would make sense in a thread that includes a number of comments such as Marlk's offering the opinion that voting should be restricted to those over 50. And where various well-documented and publicized efforts have been made to aggressively purge voter lists of those ineligible to vote have had (I believe) the intended side effect of disenfranchising eligible voters deemed undesirable by entrenched interests. And where poll taxes and similar impediments to voting are not exactly dim and distant memories.

WTF indeed.

Among my political beliefs are the notions that everyone has a right to their opinion, no one has all the answers, the legislative system should strive for consensus, but when failing to achieve consensus we need to accept the will of the majority within a system designed to protect the rights of minorities.


FWIW in a pluralistic democratic republic it is hardly constructive to see such mindless and hyperbolic expressions as those comparing those with whom you politically disagree as the equivalent of pedophiles. While it is tempting, and I admit to sometimes giving in to temptation, this sort of junior high school, "it's Us against Them", name calling is hardly emblematic of political maturity [the actual topic of this thread, after all].

Finally, the notion that wealth and status must be tightly linked to intelligence, ability, and hard work, thus those in poverty must be stupid, inept, and lazy is such a load of self-satisfied crap one must question the "political maturity" of those making the comments.

Posted by: Chris White on July 29, 2009 6:55 PM



It suddenly struck me as a curious disjunction that those who most overtly reference religion, specifically Christianity, as a vital foundation for our nation also seem most appalled and contemptuous of the very idea of mutual shared community responsibility.

Here are a few quotes from a well-regarded world leader I agree with and find pertinent to this discussion of political maturity and the various specific views that have been brought up, especially regarding civic responsibility.

... the peoples of the earth, too, are called to build relationships of solidarity and cooperation among themselves, as befits members of the one human family: “

The family needs to have a home, employment and a just recognition of the domestic activity of parents, the possibility of schooling for children, and basic health care for all. When society and public policy are not committed to assisting the family in these areas, they deprive themselves of an essential resource in the service of peace.

Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man. Rather, it means not selfishly considering nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests, for future generations also have the right to reap its benefits and to exhibit towards nature the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves. Nor must we overlook the poor, who are excluded in many cases from the goods of creation destined for all.

Efforts must also be made to ensure a prudent use of resources and an equitable distribution of wealth.

In difficult times such as these, it is truly necessary for all persons of good will to come together to reach concrete agreements aimed at an effective demilitarization, especially in the area of nuclear arms.



[italics original] Posted by: Chris White on July 29, 2009 8:41 PM



"I would think a reference to restriction of voting rights to the elite would make sense in a thread that includes a number of comments such as Marlk's offering the opinion that voting should be restricted to those over 50."

Two pseudonymous commenters make comments about raising the voting age, and to you that means "restricting voting rights to the elite". Marlk, dearieme -- how come you didn't tell us all that you, you two, are the official collective mouthpiece of post-Reagan conservatism?

"And where various well-documented and publicized efforts have been made to aggressively purge voter lists of those ineligible to vote have had (I believe) the intended side effect of disenfranchising eligible voters deemed undesirable by entrenched interests."

No offense, Chris, but what 'you believe' doesn't matter outside your own head.

So now Chris White's "elite" has expanded from everyone over 50, to the over 35, to everyone who legitimately has a right to vote! Those dastardly conservatives!

"...it is hardly constructive to see such mindless and hyperbolic expressions..."

Pot, kettle, meet Mr. White.

Posted by: David Fleck on July 29, 2009 9:27 PM



I started out in my teens as a libertarian. Majored in economics in college and was all about free market type arguments.

That was where my politics stayed until I started reading the steve-o-sphere in my early 30s. I realized that although the free market stuff is true (mostly) there are other factors that override; open borders isn't such a good idea because of HBD. Plenty of issues are about HBD at heart. Conventional economic libertarian or rights libertarian arguments don't get you there. My preference never really changed; I'd still like to live in a free well governed low crime orderly society but my understanding of how to get there was improved. I guess you could have called me a paleoconservative (or paleolibertarian) at this point.

My preferences are still the same today but after a dose of Mencius Moldbug and his red pill of primary source material from centuries past, I've widely applied the conclusions of public choice economics and realized that my preference in government is impossible in any kind of democratic state. Voters are subject to a lifetime of propaganda for the expansion of the state to fill every role in life.

I'd describe my politics today as believing that any brand of politics will result in the same bad government unless the structure of government is radically changed to something where there are different incentives. There's no one who can be voted for that will solve the problems with the progressive state (seeing as how the permanent bureaucracy is untouchable). The current incentives for the government and the governing class are so bad that a collapse seems inevitable.

Still haven't changed what I'd like out of a government: complete suppression of (real) crime and enforcement of contracts.

Posted by: Steve Johnson on July 29, 2009 11:44 PM



Chris White,

Protestants founded the country. Protestants were fleeing Europe because of religious persecution by the Vatican (the Inquisition, Thirty Years War, etc.) They set up a separation of Church and State because that was how the Vatican came to rule the political affairs of european nations (kings divinely ruled through papal grant). They didn't set America up to be a home to hindus, buddists, or muslims. Only Christian sects, and non-Catholic ones at that. The Vatican later forced Catholic immigration into the country to change the nature of the US. They still are, as can be seen by their backing of millions of Catholic Mexicans illegally immigrating into the US. That's a different topic altogether.

The Pope is not Christ, nor is Catholicism Christianity--its just the old pagan religion of Rome with a Christian mask on. And Protestants, who founded the country, don't recognize his authority. In fact, all the old leaders of the Protestant movement indicated Rome as the seat of AntiChrist. The Vatican held about a quarter of feudal lands, where people were bought and sold with the land--they didn't even have the status of southern slaves. The Vatican is anything but a moral authority, what with all the money-grubbing, political intrigues, homosexuality and pedophilia.

But what do you care bout Christianity anyway, since you are a Unitarian and they don't believe in Christ?

BTW, Where is "mutual shared responsibilty" in the Bill of Rights? The Constitution? Any Amendments?

The rest of your post is the usual BS where you try to act like your beloved Stalinism is indeed consistent with good ol' American values. It ain't.

Posted by: B on July 30, 2009 1:36 AM



David - Are you suggesting "elite" is a hyperbolic insult along the lines of "pedophile"? Or that aggressive efforts to keep ineligible voters from the polls have NOT had the practical effect of keeping eligible voters from casting ballots? Even a cursory examination of the positions taken by (so-called) conservatives over the past couple of decades shows a preoccupation with limiting those who vote. [see Katherine Harris, Florida, 2000] While this certainly is a different kind of elitism than either the purely economic or the type that results when power is held by a small group, it is elitism nonetheless.

I've often thought that if a third world nation had an election dominated by two parties with overlapping support by entrenched interests, heavily weighted in favor of incumbents, in which it was very difficult for independent candidates to appear on the ballot, and with the level of voter turnout that we typically see here in the US that we would refuse to recognize the results. Our government would be demanding international oversight to assure new elections with the widest field of candidates and the greatest percentage of the population voting as possible.

Posted by: Chris White on July 30, 2009 8:32 AM



Chris White.

Are you suggesting "elite" is a hyperbolic insult along the lines of "pedophile"?

That was no hyperbolic insult, that was a statement of fact.

One of the things about growing up amongst all those Poles, Balts, Czechs, Germans etc is the common thread of personal tragedy that united them in the hatred of "the thing".

Families ripped apart in the night, brothers hacked to death, women raped, children murdered, family homes for generations stolen, people who simply "disappeared"; their only memory some small wallet sized photo of them smiling, knowing full well that they died some horrible lonely death. Women who cried for husbands and kids, dead years ago and endless pain. Pain, Chris White; an ocean of sorrow that beneath the veneer of respectability and normalcy was always there, ready to bubble up. A few drinks, a song, an anniversary; some woman sitting in a corner sobbing. Some drunken man smashing up a room out of despair. As a child the impression that "this thing" had upon me was pure and unmitigated evil.

There is no hyperbole that describes the malignancy of this ideology.

You clearly have no idea of the charnel house that was Eastern Europe during and after the second world war. The "liberation" of Warsaw is was not the same liberation Paris had. The "liberating" march of the Red Army across Eastern Europe was like to be cured of an infection only to be given cancer instead.

Posted by: slumlord on July 30, 2009 11:01 AM



It is depressing and curious that the Blowhards, a generally genial and rational group of bloggers, have attracted so many regulars who espouse views that might well have been lifted from literature disseminated by the KKK. It is also depressing and curious that even slightly left of center views are quickly responded to with unbridled scorn while views that are little more than racist fantasies are ignored and thus tacitly accepted. Equally depressing and curious are the repeated distortions, projections, and out right lies scattered about in lieu of reasoned and reasonable discourse. To see all this playing out on a thread discussing when one thinks they achieved political maturity borders on being absurd (black) comedy.

As noted previously, I have never been a Unitarian and never belonged to any political party. Not that I have any problem with Unitarians or their beliefs. Whether one is a devote Methodist or a secular Jew, an activist Republican or disaffected Libertarian, rarely factors into my decision making process when determining who I respect, do business with, or would have as a friend. My default position is to respect everyone's right to believe, politically and religiously, whatever they wish.

In the WTF category, it borders on the absurd that I get tweaked for hyperbole for suggesting that those who want to see voting be more restricted are among (or perhaps "useful idiots" serving the interests of) an "elite", while expressing slightly to the left of center views, well within the mainstream, elicits such a rapid and rabid rush to label me a Stalinist, and thus no better than a pedophile. No hyperbole there.

FWIW I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist Party, Senator McCarthy. When sorting historical figures, Stalin has always gone in the same column with Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Pol Pot, Mao, Genghis Kahn, all other dictatorial tyrants.

The amount of effort required to untangle pretzel logic presented by some (talkin' about you there, B) regarding rights and responsibilities is obviously not worth it.

Posted by: Chris White on July 30, 2009 3:50 PM



"Are you suggesting "elite" is a hyperbolic insult along the lines of "pedophile"?"

I am saying that "conservatism is code for ... restriction of voting rights to the elite" is hyperbole, at the very least. In fact, that's the most charitable thing I could call it.

And nobody called anybody a "pedophile" here. Mr. Slumlord said, "the feeling I had when I was about these people, is sort of like the feeling you get when you see a known paedophile start taking an interest in child. It was like a sense of manifest evil, horror, fear, and inevitable doom all mixed in one."

He is describing how he says he felt. I can't say whether or not he really felt that way; I've noticed in my time among Miami Cubans that people who have fled from totalitarianism tend to be a mite touchy on the subject.

You know, Chris, I don't think it's the content of your views. Other people of your general political persuasion are able to post here without getting the universal pile-on that you seem to inspire. Given that that is the case, I am afraid that the real problem may not be in your views, but in your self -- or at least how you have decided to present yourself online.

Take this thread as an example. It was a pretty civil discussion until you came along. For whatever reason, even though it didn't really pertain to the subject at hand, you apparently just could not resist having a go at your personal bête noire -- those evil modern
conservatives! To whom you then ascribed a host of evil traits:
"redistribution of wealth from the many to the few, global corporatism, restriction of voting rights to the elite, emphasizing individual rights over collective responsibilities, embracing white identity politics, international interventionism to protect commercial interests..."

I pretty much stopped reading at that point – I can recognize duckspeak when I see it. But I was personally intrigued by the "voting rights to the elite" bit, which seemed totally out of left field to me. I mean, I disagree with quite a bit of what is written at 2BH, but usually I understand where the argument comes from, and thus I remain silent. Or, it's sufficiently loony for me not to care where the argument comes from. But in this case... WTF? Thus my comment.

Posted by: David Fleck on July 30, 2009 10:46 PM



David Fleck:

He is describing how he says he felt. I can't say whether or not he really felt that way.

Firstly: Thank you David.
Secondly: Yep, I really did feel that way. Certain people have always given me a very bad "vibe", and it's not because they disagree with me. Orwell was a committed Socialist but I feel a great affinity for him. He is a man I could share a drink with. This particular "sense of character" is not that unusual; this quote from Scruton:

By 1971, when I moved from Cambridge to a permanent lectureship at Birkbeck College, London, I had become a conservative. So far as I could discover there was only one other conservative at Birkbeck, and that was Nunzia—Maria Annunziata—the Neapolitan lady who served meals in the Senior Common Room and who cocked a snook at the lecturers by plastering her counter with kitschy photos of the Pope.

One of those lecturers, towards whom Nunzia conceived a particular antipathy, was Eric Hobsbawm, Hobsbawm the lionized historian of the Industrial Revolution, whose Marxist vision of our country is now the orthodoxy taught in British schools. Hobsbawm came as a refugee to Britain, bringing with him the Marxist commitment and Communist Party membership that he retained until he could retain it no longer—the Party, to his chagrin, having dissolved itself in embarrassment at the lies that could no longer be repeated. No doubt in recognition of this heroic career, Hobsbawm was rewarded, at Mr. Blair’s behest, with the second highest award that the Queen can bestow—that of “Companion of Honour.”

Dalrymple "sees" the malice as well, as well as the incipient potential for unrestrained evil:

Eric Hobsbawm, the famous, much feted, and unrepentantly Marxist historian. No one would feel personally threatened by him at a social gathering, where he would be amusing, polite, charming, and accomplished; if you had him to dinner, you wouldn’t have to count the spoons afterward, even though he theoretically opposes the idea of private wealth. In short, there would be no reason to suspect that he was about to commit a common crime against you. In this sense, he is what one might call a moderate Marxist.

But Hobsbawm has stated quite openly that, had the Soviet Union managed to create a functioning and prosperous socialist society, 20 million deaths would have been a worthwhile price to pay; and since he didn’t recognize, even partially, that the Soviet Union was not in fact on the path to such a society until many years after it had murdered 20 million of its people (if not more), it is fair to assume that, if things had turned out another way in his own country, Hobsbawm would have applauded, justified, and perhaps even instigated the murders of the very people to whom he was now, under the current dispensation, being amusing, charming, and polite. In other words, what saved Hobsbawm from committing utter evil was not his own scruples or ratiocination, and certainly not the doctrine he espoused, but the force of historical circumstance. His current moderation would have counted for nothing if world events had been different.

My bolding of type. The men who instigated the Russian revolution were well read, articulate and had excellent table manners. Hobsbawn fits the mould. Middle class society would consider this mild mannered, unassuming and polite man certainly a better social companion than some Dago kitchen hand. Note too, how frequently this same man would probably be arguing the rights of the workers and social justice while at the same time having the potential to slit all their throats, all in the name of some societal good. He and Nunzia probably never spoke enough to know each others views on things but it's obvious they were "natural" enemies. Nunzia didn't need a college education to see his evil, she "sensed" it. Note too how our idiot leadership honours the knave.

I grew up amongst Nunzia's but I've known a few Hobsbawns as well. Some people just give off the vibe.

(I know it's rude to post large chunks of text from other sources but I thought it pertinent to the discussion. My apologies for the long post.)

Posted by: slumlord on July 31, 2009 8:21 AM



David Fleck:

He is describing how he says he felt. I can't say whether or not he really felt that way.

Firstly: Thank you David.
Secondly: Yep, I really did feel that way. Certain people have always given me a very bad "vibe", and it's not because they disagree with me. Orwell was a committed Socialist but I feel a great affinity for him. He is a man I could share a drink with. This particular "sense of character" is not that unusual; this quote from Scruton:

By 1971, when I moved from Cambridge to a permanent lectureship at Birkbeck College, London, I had become a conservative. So far as I could discover there was only one other conservative at Birkbeck, and that was Nunzia—Maria Annunziata—the Neapolitan lady who served meals in the Senior Common Room and who cocked a snook at the lecturers by plastering her counter with kitschy photos of the Pope.

One of those lecturers, towards whom Nunzia conceived a particular antipathy, was Eric Hobsbawm, Hobsbawm the lionized historian of the Industrial Revolution, whose Marxist vision of our country is now the orthodoxy taught in British schools. Hobsbawm came as a refugee to Britain, bringing with him the Marxist commitment and Communist Party membership that he retained until he could retain it no longer—the Party, to his chagrin, having dissolved itself in embarrassment at the lies that could no longer be repeated. No doubt in recognition of this heroic career, Hobsbawm was rewarded, at Mr. Blair’s behest, with the second highest award that the Queen can bestow—that of “Companion of Honour.”

Dalrymple "sees" the malice as well, as well as the incipient potential for unrestrained evil:

Eric Hobsbawm, the famous, much feted, and unrepentantly Marxist historian. No one would feel personally threatened by him at a social gathering, where he would be amusing, polite, charming, and accomplished; if you had him to dinner, you wouldn’t have to count the spoons afterward, even though he theoretically opposes the idea of private wealth. In short, there would be no reason to suspect that he was about to commit a common crime against you. In this sense, he is what one might call a moderate Marxist.

But Hobsbawm has stated quite openly that, had the Soviet Union managed to create a functioning and prosperous socialist society, 20 million deaths would have been a worthwhile price to pay; and since he didn’t recognize, even partially, that the Soviet Union was not in fact on the path to such a society until many years after it had murdered 20 million of its people (if not more), it is fair to assume that, if things had turned out another way in his own country, Hobsbawm would have applauded, justified, and perhaps even instigated the murders of the very people to whom he was now, under the current dispensation, being amusing, charming, and polite. In other words, what saved Hobsbawm from committing utter evil was not his own scruples or ratiocination, and certainly not the doctrine he espoused, but the force of historical circumstance. His current moderation would have counted for nothing if world events had been different.

My bolding of type. The men who instigated the Russian revolution were well read, articulate and had excellent table manners. Hobsbawn fits the mould. Middle class society would consider this mild mannered, unassuming and polite man certainly a better social companion than some Dago kitchen hand. Note too, how frequently this same man would probably be arguing the rights of the workers and social justice while at the same time having the potential to slit all their throats, all in the name of some societal good. He and Nunzia probably never spoke enough to know each others views on things but it's obvious they were "natural" enemies. Nunzia didn't need a college education to see his evil, she "sensed" it. Note too how our idiot leadership honours the knave.

I grew up amongst Nunzias but I've known a few Hobsbawns as well. Some people just give off the vibe.

(I know it's rude to post large chunks of text from other sources but I thought it pertinent to the discussion. My apologies for the long post.)

Posted by: slumlord on July 31, 2009 9:12 AM



David - My initial contribution, like Donald's original post, was a thumbnail history of how my childhood formed my basic political outlook and understanding. In it I outlined the sort of New England town meeting, shop local merchants, respect everyone, E pluribis unum, American traditions I learned from my farther and suggested that, like ST, I ignore labels and vote my self-interest as well, but have a different understanding of what constitutes self-interest.

In what way was that comment uncivil or needlessly argumentative? How did I provoke B's attack with its laundry list of hot button topics and questions such as "how did you become a socialist?" Then slumlord offered his take on Communists and their idiot sympathisers and how they give him the same feeling he gets seeing a pedophile showing interest in a child. It is splitting hairs beyond normal rhetorical logic to say that because it was phrased as his "feelings" he was not equating communists with pedophiles.

Yes, I could have ignored B, but did not, and offered my take on some of the topics he brought up such as (so called) socialized medicine, wealth redistribution, and race politics. The views I hold seem to me consistent with the ideals of equality and justice on which the nation was founded and toward which it has progressed through the efforts of its citizens and elected representatives since its founding. As such they seem to me to be traditional, even though many who call themselves conservatives today do not hold them.

In this comment I did note the tendency of some of those on the right to favor tight restriction of voting and characterized this as elitism. Since there had already been a comment or two about dramatically raising the voting age, and since recent elections have seen various orchestrated efforts to limit voting, ostensibly to keep felons or illegal aliens from the polls, but with the practical side effect of discouraging voters thought less inclined to support candidates from the right, namely the poor, the elderly, and minorities, from voting there seemed to be a logical context for making this point.

David, you note that this thread ... was a pretty civil discussion until you came along. When the comments all share the same basic POV and the echo chamber effect is going strong it is easy to have a civil discussion. When, without personal insults or particularly incendiary language, I challenge some positions currently held by those who call themselves conservative it seems civility flies out the window. Admittedly, I could refrain from commenting at all on 2BH, but (and again I credit/blame my father) I was taught it is far more interesting and important to have political discussions with those holding a range of views different than one's own rather than ignoring or being ignorant of them. My views get reduced to distorted caricatures in which there is little distinction made between them and Stalinism (and thus pedophilia) and yet when I disagree with various positions held by many on the current right (and without a full review of all comments I've made I can't recall characterizing them as "evil") I am personally attacked. Other than suggesting that I either stop commenting altogether or convert to some variation of paleo-conservative libertarianism do you have any suggestions as to how I might continue to participate without provoking extreme and personal attacks?

Posted by: Chris White on July 31, 2009 10:07 AM



How did I provoke B's attack with its laundry list of hot button topics and questions such as "how did you become a socialist?"

Because you passed yourself off as traditional and conservative, when you are not, and anybody who reads here knows that. You are indeed a socialist. That's not an "attack"--it's simply stating the truth. And your positions on the laundry list of issues that I posted proves that you are anything but traditional and conservative. That's why I listed them.

The views I hold seem to me consistent with the ideals of equality and justice on which the nation was founded and toward which it has progressed through the efforts of its citizens and elected representatives since its founding.

The views you hold are consistent with socialism. America was not founded on socialism, but has indeed ben moving in that direction for the last 100 years. We don't have a country run by the citizenry. We do have a country run by elected representatives who work for plutocrats. Plutocrats love socialism because it secures their favored positions, and they can use government to stifle new innovation and competition. Big government is all about plutocracy.

My views get reduced to distorted caricatures in which there is little distinction made between them and Stalinism (and thus pedophilia) and yet when I disagree with various positions held by many on the current right (and without a full review of all comments I've made I can't recall characterizing them as "evil") I am personally attacked.

Your paternal views of government lead to totalitarianism, and that is one of the most easily and thoroughly proved historical points there is. Don't be so comforted by western Europe--they are being radicalized as we speak. Stalinism may not be what you want, but it will be the result of what you advocate.

The reason people call you names is that you avoid directly addressing anybody's points, and then you launch into a soliloquy of platitudes. That tends to make people angry. FWIW I wish more socialists would post here, so that the vacuity of their ideas could be exposed. Most of the socialist posters flee to other websites that support their socialism, rather than hash it out with somebody they disagree with. Lefties tend to be about feelings, and when they get their feelings hurt or are proven wrong, they run away. Or they start the censorship.

I didn't post about how you became politically aware through the involvements of your Dad. I posted because you lied about being traditional and conservative. Publish your views on a variety of topics, and see if anybody else thinks you are traditional and conservative. I will bet you anything most don't. That's the point. Just be honest about your leftist stance, that's all.

Posted by: B on July 31, 2009 2:39 PM



Chris White:

Other than suggesting that I either stop commenting altogether or convert to some variation of paleo-conservative libertarianism do you have any suggestions as to how I might continue to participate without provoking extreme and personal attacks?

Well, since you're asking, I'll tell you. For start, you could try addressing the substance of what's written, rather than engaging in well-rehearsed moralistic platitudes and scornful, wannabe-witty rhetorical cheap shots whenever you're responding to arguments that are outside the comfort zone of the liberal mainstream. I just remembered that comment thread from a few weeks ago where I made some honestly and elaborately argued points that you dismissed with a few arrogant snide remarks, theatrically questioning my sanity in the process. Please don't get offended, but you really have a talent and inclination for doing that sort of thing in an extremely annoying way. I don't engage in personal attacks and online shouting matches as a matter of principle, but if other people lose their temper in such a situation, I can't say I blame them.


Posted by: Vladimir on July 31, 2009 2:54 PM



Chris White is the Lady Raine of 2Blowhards.

A profoundly delusional and somewhat dullwitted individual who just keeps jabbering while saner people abuse him for his thickheaded promotion of shit he mistakes for gold.

Posted by: PA on July 31, 2009 3:32 PM



Since I began to follow and comment on 2BH I've repeatedly been insulted and labeled with all sorts of pejoratives, many quite over the top. It often seems to me that the short, snarky, zinger is the default style here. Therefore, I confess I sometimes take the stance that my "best defense is a good offense" and send a zinger when I should take a more reasoned and reasonable approach to the debate du jour. If these are at times misdirected, I apologize to those who do not deserve such a reaction. To the best of my memory Vladimir, for example, has made no such personal attacks and so I apologize to him for taking the low road of the quick snippy quip and failing to adequately address his points in a previous thread. Some who comment here (like PatrickH) manage to skewer me with panache and wit, so I say more power to him and I am happy to trade (mostly) good-natured jibes with him. But the venom and nastiness that some here regularly send my way push my buttons in a way that unfortunately leads me to respond in kind.

My political views are far from radical, never have I suggested any support or admiration for communism, especially not the Soviet model. My views are consistent with small "c" capitalism and town meeting democracy, the antithesis of global communism. The (admittedly provocative, if nevertheless honestly made) comments about considering my views as traditional and conservative were (part of my on going and repeated efforts to question the utility and veracity of the right/left balance beam view of judging relative political positions. I rarely see anything in terms of binary opposites [right/left, liberal/conservative, good/bad, black/white] but rather see things as complex, multi-faceted, multi-dimensional, and multi-colored. This leads me to find areas where I might agree (or disagree) with views held by those who identify themselves as being a Green, or Libertarian, or moderate Republican, or liberal Democrat ... and I've voted for candidates who fit all of those descriptions. On this thread I pointed out that Shouting Thomas and I agree that political parties don't matter and we make our choices based on our understanding of which candidate will best serve our best interests. That we may disagree on the specifics about what that means is a given, but it was again an attempt on my part to move beyond simplistic political labeling.

When my support for (to take one example) a public option in health care is bounced back as evidence that I am therefore a socialist and the result would inevitably be the creation of an American version of Stalinism, I admit I find myself at a loss as to how to respond. This is such a distorted view of my position, as well as of what socialism is and its relationship to communism and of that in turn to Stalinism books could be written to explore the topic. I cannot hope to offer, in 500-600 words, a cogent rebuttal of a position I find to be so misguided and distorted. However, I do agree with B (and have made many comments to this point) that we have a plutocracy (well, I think of it as an oligarchy, but that's hair splitting). As with my agreement with ST on voting for self interest, the specifics and solutions I may favor to address this are likely to be different than B's.

Perhaps political maturity remains an elusive goal, still to be achieved.

Posted by: Chris White on July 31, 2009 8:34 PM



What part of a complete government takover of medicine and health care is "traditional" and "conservative"?

How is this takeover capitalism with a small "c"?

Do you think this new system will be run by town meetings? Really? Can you show me an example of how that works in, say, Canada?

Posted by: B on August 1, 2009 1:41 PM



B - Nowhere have I ever suggested "a complete government takover of medicine and health care. I support a public option in addition to private insurance for those who wish to keep their existing plans.

My reference to capitalism with a small "c" was not directly connected to health care but instead related to portions of the thread dealing with my dislike/distrust of global corporatism as opposed to small, local, businesses. This is in turn connected to the issue of how we as consumers choose to support the very entities that are of a piece with big government and the revolving door between government and giant industries and thus support the oligarchy/plutocracy.

As for how our health care system compares to Canada's if one looks at objective metrics ... how many citizens have access, average lifespan, infant mortality, cost of health care as a percentage of GDP, etc. ... the system we have is demonstrably worse than that of Canada. Now, I have no doubt there are some in Canada who feel their system is inferior and Americans who feel ours is superior, but these feelings are not validate by the facts.

Here are a few quotes from a quick Wiki search [feel free to offer sources you deem better, but from the World Health Organization on down the statistics are clear]:

The U.S. spends much more on health care than Canada, both on a per-capita basis and as a percentage of GDP. In 2006, per-capita spending for health care in the U.S. was US $6,714; in Canada, US $3,678. The U.S. spent 15.3% of GDP on health care in that year; Canada spent 10.0%.

Life expectancy is longer in Canada, and its infant mortality rate is lower than that of the U.S.

The U.S. has a higher infant mortality rate than all other developed countries.

More is spent on health care in the United States on a per capita basis than in any other nation in the world.

[U]se of health care services in the U.S. is below the OECD median by most measures.

Medical debt is the principle cause of bankruptcy in the United States.

A 2008 report by the Commonwealth Fund ranked the United States last in the quality of health care among the 19 compared countries.

So, I am in favor of more citizens having access, better infant mortality rates, longer life spans, and spending significantly less of the GDP on health care ... aren't you?

Posted by: Chris White on August 1, 2009 8:50 PM



This is a very interesting thread. It’s getting to fundamentals.

I hate the left as well (while not being at all reliably on the right) for three basic reasons. 1) I hate the pervasive lying, FAR more than on the American right, FAR MORE and far more fundamentally, and pervasive soft but effective PC censorship of the left; 2) I want the best to prevail, not the PC or the AA boosted, primarily with a view towards the NATION’S competitiveness, as if off to big time war, which wars have made mankind sharpen unto today, but are still unfortunate and distructive; 3) I don’t believe in equality of outcome, or trying to reach it. I believe in consequence and the judgment of competition.

That doesn’t mean that I’m not sometimes sympathetic to some limited redistributionist schemes. We are a social species. The result of mass audience effects and global money is that a few people have huge leverage. Such that tiny bits of better among them when placed there, probably mostly for ability, results in huge differential gains out of all proportion to their differential ability or talent. Some of this should be given back. It seems an artifact to me.

Posted by: doug1 on August 1, 2009 10:38 PM



PatrickH--

I can no longer in good conscience propose libertarian abolition of the welfare state, since I think such abolition would lead to the deaths of millions of the less intelligent, sooner or later, but inevitably.

This is also why I have come to oppose third-world immigration. Too many new permanent wards. I used to be an open-borders libertarian. No more.

On way to express the later is that we N.Americans shouldn't let in any immigrants from groups that we feel "need" affirmative action in any form. California with it's budget implosiong despite being the highest tax state in the nation, is certainly suffering from having done very little to stop such low end mass immigration.

As for the former, I know this is a forbidden thought, but I'm going to throw it out there if just for a moment. Would it be such a terrible thing for the species, since you say you do think biologically, or our civilization if those so unintelligent and unmotivated that they couldn’t make it in our modern societies without welfare did die off? Perhaps persons of either sex who sought welfare benefits would have to be at first temporarily sterilized (norplant’s successor; depo shots) and then if still wanting/needing it after two years, permanently voluntarily sterilized as a condition of getting it. Instead of mollycoddling juvenile criminals delinquents who are repeat offenders or commit serious crimes (not talking juvenile shop lifters here), why don’t we sterilize them as a condition of their getting out? Particularly if they have low IQ’s? High T and low IQ plus demonstrated criminality are very socially destructive and no it doesn’t tend to change. Funny how recidivism among serious JD’s is something that the media NEVER talks about.

Posted by: anonymous9 on August 1, 2009 10:41 PM



Does anyone else recall that a version of what anon9 is suggesting was tried in Europe just before the mid-mark of the 20th Century? The results weren't very pretty, nor did the architects of the new system achieve what they set out to accomplish ... thank God.

Looking at immigration more holistically it might be argued that "free" trade policies, subsidies for global agribiz, etc. simultaneously help to destroy the livelihood of many, especially rural farmers and factory workers, in nations to our south while creating incentives for the displaced workers to come to the US by any available route. The same industries then attract and recruit these workers because they will be able to better exploit them ... hard to unionize or demand better wages or safe working conditions if you risk deportation.

It is entirely possible to be in favor of tighter immigration while remaining pro-immigrant. Perversely enough the same corporatists who benefit by exploiting illegal immigrants also benefit both by keeping the flow of illegal versus legal immigration high and by vilifying the immigrants themselves.

There's little that pleases the corporate elite more than seeing their workers and consumers disorganized and fighting amongst themselves.

Posted by: Chris White on August 2, 2009 8:11 AM



@doug1
You state:
"I hate the left as well (while not being at all reliably on the right) for three basic reasons. 1) I hate the pervasive lying, FAR more than on the American right, FAR MORE and far more fundamentally,"

Could you give 3 verified/verifiable examples of the these lies?

Posted by: yahmdallah on August 5, 2009 2:20 PM



Meh. typos. strike "these"

Posted by: yahmdallah on August 6, 2009 2:05 AM






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