Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ever the Rush to Judgment

Two wrongs don't make a right.
In all very numerous assemblies … passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason.

–James Madison
It has been a bitter few weeks in the struggle for human freedom, not so much because of actual setbacks or defeats—though we’ve had those too. Instead, we’ve seen the usual political opportunism that attends controversial events but this time in the ugly company of both popular disregard for the constitutional separation of powers and the emotionally expedient disrespect for fundamental American legal principles, such as due process of law and the presumption of innocence. For me, this is always a painful reminder of how little the people understand or value liberty.

My disappointment is the greater, because it is my own friends and colleagues whom I cannot sway in the face of salacious hearsay spread by the mainstream media. These are otherwise intelligent individuals who profess desire for “social justice” but have let their own emotions and prejudices blind them. Now, in fits of vengeful rage, they would forsake the social and legal barriers that preserve and defend actual justice in a rush to condemn people and events about which they are not properly informed.

It’s moments like this when my own resolve weakens. If reason will always face defeat at the hands of passion, why continue the pretense of debate? Why not abandon the polite, legalistic contest for ordered liberty and hoist the black flag of bloody revolution? Or somewhat more mildly, should I simply surrender to the unhappy idea that to live free means to live as an outlaw—or at least to live as an outsider within a society ruled by the mob’s caprice?

No. I am not ready to retire from the battle of ideas just yet. Important victories for civil rights are in the offing, even if they seem perpetually two years away at the moment.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ideological Consistency

Marx was not ideologically consistent. His followers weren't even consistent with Marx.
I have a series of philosophical posts that I’ve been typically lax in completing. While continuing to delay that work, I will explain another concept that informs my thinking. That is ideological consistency, a notion I have mentioned many times in passing elsewhere.

Ideological consistency should be a simple concept to understand. Very plainly, it means keeping one’s philosophical ideas consistent with each other, even when that requires accepting related aspects that one may dislike. For example, opposing censorship while personally disliking “offensive” content would be ideologically consistent.

Nevertheless, many people clearly struggle with this concept and cling to contradictory philosophical positions. Such people are ideologically inconsistent. This is one of the major problems within American politics—a problem exacerbated by the fact that all political discourse must be jammed through the constraints of our artificial two-party system.

Both Republicans and Democrats suffer from ideological inconsistency. Republicans who want a strong national defense but smaller government and lower taxes are not ideologically consistent. Democrats who support the right to privacy but want universal gun registration are not ideologically consistent. These are but two examples of many.

Ideological inconsistency creates internal instability that often makes a given political goal much more difficult, if not impossible to achieve.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

“I can have my own life now.”

V. C. Van Norman
Last night, my seven-year-old daughter quietly wrote a letter attempting to declare her independence from her mother.

I am immensely proud of her for putting her thoughts into written words and for being partly correct in her judgment, but I also feel profoundly old.