February 23, 2003

intro to poly-psi

A few unorganized thoughts on politics. Most of these were placed at 3:00 in the morning during a bout of insomnia.

Dubya Bush didn’t hijack our planes. Bill Clinton didn’t hijack our planes. George Bush Senior didn’t hijack our planes. We weren’t the victims of terrorism because we drive big cars or because we built a McDonald’s in Moscow or because we refuse to let the Palestinians push the Israelis into the sea. We were the victims of terrorism because we are free, because we are successful, because we send humans into the heavens on pillars of fire.

I believe in a strong stance. We were whooped, which is no reason to go curl up in a corner and whimper. “Why can’t America just leave the world alone?” Lunacy. “The best way to avoid conflict is to not have any enemies.” Like, are you not thinking???

Where they fail and continue to fail we have succeeded. The only way they see to pull themselves out of their rut is not to build themselves up, but to tear us down. This cannot be allowed. The enemy cannot be bought by kindness. From the liberation of Iraq will come the liberation of the Arab peninsula.

Perhaps the reason I am so vehemently for this war is because it is all I have. There is nothing else that I have so thoroughly and continually researched that I feel justified in holding an opinion about. I do not believe on professing opinions on something that I am not well-versed in. I often have gut-feelings on issues, but I’ve never been one to merely trust my gut on things of importance. I need facts, I need arguments, I need reasons. To hold an uninformed opinion, I believe, is wholly irresponsible. An argument for war based on supporting our armed forces no matter what? Based on patriotism? Please. Clumsy and inelegant arguments to the core.

I can’t even read the claptrap, anti-war or otherwise, that oozes across the pages of the Ripsaw anymore. I used to feel that by reading alternative newspapers I was getting the real scoop on what’s going on in the world, but really it’s just a bunch of wool-pulling in the other direction. Every single insufficiently developed argument they print I have seen systematically refuted a hundred times over across the blogosphere.

And thus the blogosphere. To grossly simplify, I really have two choices for where I want to go from here: Liberal or Conservative. The liberal stance has never sat with me very well. It sounds all fine and dandy, but I’ve always had the sensation that somewhere, underneath all the calls for social reform and grassroots revolution, that it’s all based on a deeply flawed premise. I can’t place the flaw, but I know it is there.

The problem as I see it is related to the lack of robustness in the political/economic theory of liberalism. It is delicate. Under an ideal setting socialism and a benevolent dictatorship would be by far the best governing body for a people, but it is too easily corrupted. Government quickly becomes too powerful.

Liberalism also has a certain amount of moral elitism to it. The ability to cast stones is granted only to those who can say they sold their television, bike to work every day and weave bonnets out of hemp.

Really, I suppose I end up with three choices. I can remain on the sidelines and watch the fight with my hands in my pockets. I can side with the liberals and feel like I’m doing the ‘right thing’, which for me feels like the wrong thing, but must be the right thing because it’s the Right Thing. Right? Or. I can side with the conservatives and have a good time throwing punches.

Conservativism has an intuitive wrongness to it; a kind of cold and uncaring attitude that nevertheless holds an appeal for me. It seems more real than liberalism. What it lacks in intuition it makes up in rationality. Sweet, sweet, cold draughts of logic. Delicious and refreshing.

When people find out I support military action in Iraq, or even when they find out I’m conservative to begin with, they need to wind their jaws back up from the floor. Dane? Conservative? Impossible! I might as well tell them I’m a werewolf or something. I think it may have something to do with my demeanor. Most creative, artistic, funny people find themselves on the left side of the spectrum. Very few writers and artists are right-wingers. The right wing is reserved for computer geeks, political science majors and business majors.

Or engineers. Mr. Den Beste grapples with the same question of political tidings and does a wonderful job at it:

I am a humanist. I am a liberal, in the classic sense of the term, meaning that I think that the goal of a political system should be to liberate the individuals within it to have as much ability to make decisions about their own lives as is practical, with as little interference by other citizens or the mechanisms of the state. I strongly believe in diversity at every level: diversity of opinions, diversity of political beliefs, diversity of lifestyles. When in doubt, permit it unless it is clearly a danger to the survival of the state or threatens the health and wellbeing of those within the state.

Which, in 2003 in the United States, makes me a “conservative”, at least in the reckoning of self-anointed “Liberals” in this nation. I’ve never been comfortable with that term, myself, and indeed I’m uncomfortable with almost any “ism” as a label for my beliefs (except for “humanism” and “populism”). Is there such a thing as “ain’tism”, as in “I ain’t any ism”?

Den Beste’s platform can be elegantly summed up as “It is better to be free than to be correct.” I agree entirely, and therein lies the problem. Yesterday at a party I tossed out the word libertarian to express my leanings and was immediately shot down by people that knew me better. We were obviously working from different definitions, but who has time to establish premises when there’s beer to be drunk?