I should probably have called this section “Notes for the Reader”, since my purpose here is to put the reader on notice about certain conventions and other standards which I have adopted for this work, especially those which might lead to some confusion if not mentioned up front.
The first issue is one of terminology: I have agonized a good deal over how to characterize those political players whom I consider to be the source and wellspring of virtually all our problems. I had considered the terms “Leftists” or “the Left” but have rejected them, primarily because I am not enamored with the linear left-right one-dimensional spectrum which it connotes. I am closer to believing that the spatial relationship involving only left and right is more nearly circular in that the extremes at each end fold around and ultimately connect in what could be construed as a circle, i.e. the extremes of communism and of fascism are but different manifestations of, or variants of socialism. Why, after all, is Nazism also referred to as National Socialism? It s not an accident.
I like much better the two-dimensional portrayal of political space known as the Nolan Chart. This chart places individuals (or factions) at various points in a rectangular field which measures their commitment, or lack of it to various kinds of freedom ( aka liberty)—Personal Freedom and Economic Freedom. This arrangement more accurately defines the foes of liberty as those who have very low scores on both personal and economic freedom issues, and in fact includes a number of so-called conservatives who are given over to authoritarian solutions, particularly with respect to certain social issues. So, with some reluctance, I have adopted the term Statists for the political players who are doing the most damage with their proposals and policies. Statists, as I mean the term, describes those who have an abiding belief that the answer to most, if not all, social and economic problems lies with government action and/or direction. They wish always to intervene in some way and take control of social and economic processes; they believe in the perfectibility of society.
Another alternative to Statist is “liberal” or “modern liberal”; the modifier “modern” is required to distinguish this from what has historically been considered the liberal tradition. This is the tradition which enshrines individual liberty as the primary political virtue, as well as promoting those institutions which nurture and protect it. So, an alternative, to avoid the confusion with modern Leftist liberals was to call it classical liberalism. Where it is necessary to refer to those having this persuasion, I have opted to use this term.
Some of you may already have noticed that the list of blog Categories is extensive, and yet there are no entries for many of them. Yet. This is in fact a skeleton outline of where I am going with future posts.
In fact, the creation of this blog is a substitute for a book-length project which I had wanted to publish before the 2012 election, but which, due to the press of events, went unrealized, and the above-mentioned Categories are largely derived from the draft table of contents for said book. I did finish Chapter One, and the posts on Justice and Fairness in three parts is a serialized version of this chapter.
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The foregoing is a very rough outline of the content I propose to address. Equally important, however, is the methodology which I propose to pursue. If you have read popular books about politics from any perspective, you will have noticed that the style is largely one of assertion: the author states what he believes is a self-evident truth, and then, more or less rapidly, moves on to the next point. This is fine when preaching to the choir or for arousing the “base” as they are wont to call the committed minority. It will not do, I feel, for a work whose function is , frankly, proselytizing. I want my converts, if there be any, to be comfortable with their conversion. For this reason, certain minimum standards must be met.
I propose to organize the narrative as follows: to lead with a proposition which states a fundamental misconception or instance of what may be regarded as “conventional wisdom” on a particular subject, and then proceed to undo, unwind, analyze, and likely to thoroughly debunk that notion before moving on. The counter-arguments to these misconceptions form the corpus of this work, and I hope that the reader will perceive these arguments as related and as a more or less coherent whole.
For each such fundamental misconception (Conventional Wisdom), I will endeavor to show that at least one of the following applies:
- The proposition is logically false or incoherent;
- The proposition is not based on fact, or only partially so;
- The proposition has major negative consequences which were not intended or anticipated (i.e. is likely to prove impractical);
- The proposition inevitably leads to conclusions or to consequences which are morally unacceptable.
Moreover, I will bend over backward to avoid arguments which are misleading, i.e. contain obvious logical fallacies, misuse statistics, or glide over important objections by uncritically accepting certain premises.
Having at length discussed a variety of misconceptions which have contributed mightily to our present plight, i.e. imminent governmental failure, I move on to present my own ideas on solutions, and what I believe their characteristics must be. I make it abundantly clear that changing one set of people, and, in particular, the party and/or the ruling elites for others whose values are somewhat different will not be sufficient. It took us generations to get this far away from our founding premises, and it will take a major revision of our societal arrangements to recover. It will take a studied amendatory posture toward our Constitution to undo what has been done and protect it from future abuses. It will take the unusual fortitude of certain lawmakers who are willing to unring the bell of bad laws, to migrate, not just temporarily, but for a lengthy commitment, to a mode favoring repeal over that of making new laws. Perhaps even to a suspension of new lawmaking entirely for a time.
Furthermore, solutions, to be considered, must be radical. I mean here, not a solution which the dictionary definition of the term might imply, that is, extreme or tearing asunder the social fabric, but rather a solution which, as its Latin origin implies, goes to the root of the matter, to the principle that holds it in place, and either tears it out, as one might a weed, or reinforces it by pruning out the extraneous elements as the case may be. Also, to be considered as valid and enduring, a solution must pass the test of being both moral and practical; as often as not, this will involve a re-assessment of what our moral standards are, and how misconceived they have become.
As time goes on I plan to create at least two additional Pages ( as opposed to Posts) which will contain a recap of the various statements of Conventional Wisdom and Bedrock Principles that appear in the various posts to that point. The Bedrock Principles are those which inform my proposals for changing laws, regulations, and institutions; taken together, they should present a coherent plan for radical change, and most important, one which morally justified.
Let me hasten to say that I do not regard myself as the intellectual equal of a Hayek, a von Mises, or a Robert Nozick, but rather I see my function as integrating the ideas of other commentators and scholars which I perceive as being held in common and presenting a coherent assemblage of these ideas for the reader’s benefit. My stress will be on presenting arguments—those of others more accomplished than I, but occasionally my own, advocating for free market and liberty-oriented and individualist-oriented solutions , and more particularly, against statism and all of its ramifications. In particular, I will want to stress how the nature of these two opposing mindsets dictate that there is, in fact, no middle ground, no middle way, no compromise solutions that do not inevitably lead to some increase in some aspect of what is agreed to in the compromise, and that said increase seems always to lead to yet another erosion in the same direction, and so on. One example of this is the intervention into matters economic by government; every such intervention seems to have unintended or unanticipated negative consequences, and once the intervention is seen to be failing in its primary purpose, then its proponents insist on yet another, perhaps more robust, intervention with the excuse that they were right in principle but erred in underestimating how vigorous the intervention should have been! The radical solution here, is, you may have guessed, is for government to adopt a completely hands-off attitude toward all economic behavior, without exception. Gee, this sounds like that awful, dreaded, frequently castigated concept called Laissez-faire. True and full Laissez-faire has never existed in modern nation-states, but the economic and societal success of those states with more of it rather than less is demonstrated empirically. More on this subject later…
Since I view argumentation, and it concomitant element, logic as vitally important, commentary which ignores or refuses to answer or deal with the assertions made here will not be replied to, and commentary which consists primarily of name-calling or invective will be deleted posthaste.