Friday, 10 September 2004

Elitism 3

I get this odd feeling that if I were a committed Christian I’d be offended by lectures from non-Christians about my beliefs and the implication that my religious faith compelled me to support a particular party’s policies. Jesus may not have favored private property (or, rather, said the path to salvation was not through having worldly possessions, which isn’t exactly the same thing—having stuff was essentially orthogonal to salvation, although coveting more stuff was a distraction from that path), but I don’t remember anything in the Gospels about God’s will requiring the establishment of European-style welfare states either.

Monday, 27 September 2004

You are not X, say Y

I’m beginning to be increasingly fascinated by a certain strand of argument in the blogosphere. It started with Andrew Sullivan’s thoroughly non-sensical attempts to argue that conservatism necessarily required support for gay marriage, detoured through lectures by non-Christians to Christians about the necessity of their support for a particular American political party, and may have reached its apogee with a series of posts at Crooked Timber (made, incidentally, by people who make no pretense of being libertarian) alleging that any libertarian who supports the war in Iraq isn’t a libertarian.

What I find utterly fascinating about the last is that it originates from the longstanding view from left-liberals that the “wrong” (read “pro-war”) libertarians—folks like Glenn Reynolds, Virginia Postrel, Colby Cosh, and the libertarian-leaning Samizdatans—have dominated the blogosphere at the expense of the “right” (read “anti-war”) libertarians like Julian Sanchez, Jim Henley, and (never explicitly stated, perhaps because he actually says nice things about capitalism) Radley Balko. My general view is that expressed by Guy Herbert:

I was under the impression that libertarianism is a political orientation (opposite: authoritarianism) rather than a coherent ideological position.

Granted, I think there are people (Objectivists, for example, or the Libertarian Party) who conceive of libertarianism as a “pure” ideology, untainted by concerns motivated by the real world, but I don’t think most self-identified libertarians are among them. Of course, when the primary goal of one’s posting on libertarianism isn’t to analyze that political orientation, but rather to delegitimize it, I can see why one would want to hold it up to higher standards of conformity than liberalism or conservatism would be subjected to.

Thursday, 7 October 2004

Bob McElvaine sets up a strawman

My colleague Bob McElvaine, a history prof, has a column in today’s Clarion-Ledger that rests on this rather incomplete definition:

The word conservative means keeping things as they are.

I’m debating between writing a 500-word rebuttal (tying it in with the “You are not X, say Y” theme) or just fisking the mercy out of the piece, though I have to say anyone who’s holding up Charley Reese as an exemplar of mainstream conservative thought in America probably deserves the latter.