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01/15/2008

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"I’ve not read Goldberg’s book...."

That's one way to start a convincing debate.

You critique a book you haven't read by misstating its central premise and quoting a reviewer who hasn't read the book either. A hat-trick of ass-hattery.

And are you asseting that shooting politica opponents is an anathma to leftists? Gee, someone should have mentioned that to Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, etc. . . .

Conrad, you delight me. Really.

Couple of teensy issues:

First, I didn't critique the book. I appreciated the writing of the referred-to blog.

Second, it isn't necessary to read the book to understand Mr. Goldberg's premise. He's been all over the media explaining it.

Third, the "reviewer" I referred to wasn't reviewing the book at all, but a statement by the ubiquitous Mr. Goldberg.

Finally, since you so clearly scorn what I write and believe, why in the world do you read this blog? I seem to have attracted an audience that comes by for the pure, animal pleasure of insulting me, whether by direct statement or condescending implication.

Leads me to wonder not just why you read, but why I write.

I won't speak for Conrad, but I enjoy your writing. I also get a kind of pleasure out of "correcting" you (i.e., disagreeing and pointing out those things I think you get wrong). Furthermore, your blog gives me a forum to air my views, to try my arguments, to put into my own words the thoughts I've encountered and have tumbled around in my head.

Incidentally, leftism, which is liberalism taken to its logical conclusion, does have a lot in common with fascism, particularly the intolerance of dissent and the means taken to squelch it.

While there are definitely days that you make me yell at my monitor, for the most part I find your writing to be exceptional (especially sex day and your new "Ask Mr. Web" series). I also enjoy the debate in that there are enough people covering most of the political spectrum that comment here that whatever view is posted, you better be able to back it up, because someone is going to point out the weakness in your argument. So while I may post infrequently to my own blog, I comment on yours just about daily.

Me? For some reason you seem salvagable. Also, I just like insulting people, and you give me a fresh opportunity every day!

So, thanks for that.

As for this post, I think you need to admit this was just a dim witted hack bit and move on. It happens! You're cranking out 4-5 pieces a day, feeding the beast, one or two are bound to be stinkers every now and then.

I do love this whole bit about Goldberg being a walking talking argument against nepotism that seems be all the rage with lefties these days. Its obviously a false argument. Just because you disagree with a guy, does not hide the fact that he is obviously talented. His arguments in support of this book have been excellent, and the attacks against him have generally missed the mark.

The reason why extreme Leftism has so much in common with extreme Rightism is because the political spectrum has, as typically labeled, never made any sense. If a Nazi's on the far-right end and a Soviet on the far-left, where exactly are, say, Libertarians?

Put More Government on one end (left or right, I don't care) and Less Government on the other. Then it means something, and sure, then it's fairly obvious what the so-called Leftists and the so-called Rightists have in common: they're all a bunch of fascists who want to use the government as the enforcer of their own fantasies.

Adam,

That's an interesting and provocative analysis. However, I wonder how you would deal with small-government conservatives (i.e., what Republicans were before W) versus libertarians. I think it's pretty clear they're not the same. For you, are they different points on the same continuum?

Squid -

Sure - small-government conservatives being somewhere closer to Communism and Fascism than Libertarianism, which would be closer than... y'know... Anarchy.

That kind of spectrum doesn't take into account the difference between social freedom and economic freedom, obviously, so one could argue to his or her heart's content as to where Democrats fall on that scale (is economic freedom more important than social freedom? Libertarians who vote Republican rather than Democrat in tight races seem to feel that way, while many Greenies seem to disagree), but, y'know, hey, it's just a line. It's not really a valid measure of anything anyway, considering it has no scale whatsoever.

The only thing it has going for it is a far more inclusive spectrum than the severely-limited one commonly mentioned.

(Incidentally, the use of terms like "fascist" is, I reckon, rarely actually constructive; sorry, I thought I was just crabbing - didn't expect to have an actual discussion.)

I think the multiple-axes approach starts to approximate a usuable analytical method. Starting with your two scales of social freedom and fiscal freedom, it becomes easier to chart the various factions on Cartesian coordinates.

I would argue that small-government conservatives are closer to libertarians than other groups on the social freedom scale, and that on the same scale, the modern Democratic party is too close for comfort to the socialist and communist positions. W and his supporters would be somewhere between the Dems and the conservatives.

Incidentally, crab all you want, but you never know when someone might take you seriously around here! Also, I agree with your observation about the term "fascist." It's become so fraught with baggage from its abuse that it's probably best to only use it in historical contexts (e.g., fascist Italy).

The two axes of the matrix are fiscal conservative-liberal and social conservative-liberal. Conservative is defined as small/inactive government, liberal as large/active government.

On that matrix, the most libertarian quadrant is what I am: a small-government liberal. I want less government meddling in both our personal and economic lives.

The problem with saying the "conservatives" are more libertarian than "liberals" is the conservatism, as currently practiced, requires a large, active government on the social axis. You know: regulation of individual morality, the outlawing abortion and gay marriage, a government censorship apparatus to keep bad words and images off television and the Internet, the building of a fence around the United States to limit immigration, etc.

George W. Bush is a big government conservative. That is, he's relatively libertarian on economic issues but highly interventionist on social issues. You can argue (and I have) that he's not really that libertarian on economic issues, but he lowered taxes and likes to give business a wide berth, so he's at least trying on that front.

To my way of thinking, Democrats are generally better on social issues and Republicans are generally better on economic. I don't have a viable choice that is good on both sides of the matrix. So I'm forced to choose based on which type of freedom is more important to me. In that case, personal freedom -- of speech, of association, of religion, etc. -- wins hands-down over freedom from economic regulation. To put it bluntly, I'd rather pay high taxes and have personal privacy than pay low taxes and worry that some bureaucrat can arrest me for writing the wrong thing on my blog.

The parties don't have to line up that way, of course. But in the current world, that's the choice I've got.

It seems my prose was less than lucid; I did not mean to imply that Reagan Republicans are more "libertarian" than Libertarians.

Homosexual "marriage" and regulation of pornographic content are red herrings, Tom. No religion has ever condoned or sanctioned homosexuality, and very few societies have had much more than tolerance for it--until very, very recently. Why don't we let the decaying societies of Europe see how well their homosexual "marriages" work before we try the most radical social experiment ever devised in the US?

As for porn or other objectionable content, it is in the public interest to squelch certain individual wants for the good of society. Liberals have a hard time with this concept, because liberalism is all about the primacy of the individual and his wants, whereas conservatism is about greater goods, like society and nation, and their needs.

Immigration? Aren't you confusing that term with illegal entry and illegal presence? There's a difference. First, as I'm sure you noticed, we aren't a dangerously underpopulated continent, desperately in need of settlers to people and tame the land. Second, the very most fundamental duty of a national government is to secure the borders to prevent foreign invaders from entering, staying, and harming the citizenry. The Federal government has been failing miserably on that count, and illegal aliens are harming us--economically, medically, and criminally.

I understand your priorities. However, you should be aware of how awful higher taxes/bigger governments are for countries. Also, I wonder how much personal privacy you think you'll be able to maintain if the Socialists Democrats take over and start their national health care and other schemes.

Addendum, on the topic of personal freedom:

As much as I hate to attribute any good thing to a commie, Chairman Mao was correct when he observed that "power flows from the barrel of a gun." That's why the Founding Fathers made sure We The People would have that power, which is the power to defend all the other rights.

Now: how many of the Democrats are pro-gun and are therefore willing to support the one right that ensures we can exercise the rest of them?

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