Liberals, Conservatives, and ideology

by Russ Roberts on November 11, 2011

in Truth-seeking & ideology

Carl Bogus, a self-avowed liberal read a bunch of conservative books and came to some strange conclusions. (HT: MR)

First, his list of canonical conservative books:

There is, of course, no official list. But I think there is a consensus that at least half a dozen books deserve such a designation. In chronological order, they are: F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (1944), William F. Buckley Jr., God and Man at Yale (1951), Whittaker Chambers, Witness (1952), Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind (1953), Barry Goldwater, The Conscience of a Conservative (1960), and Milton Friedman, Freedom and Capitalism (1962) (sic).

What did he learn?

One striking difference is that the iconic conservative works are about ideology. By contrast, the most influential liberal books of the era are about policy issues. Those works are Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962), The Other America by Michael Harrington (1962), The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963), and Unsafe at Any Speed by Ralph Nader (1965), which helped launch the environmental, anti-poverty, feminist, and consumer movements, respectively. Some prominent liberal books of the time were about ideology — such as The Vital Center by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (1949) and The Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith (1958) — but these are exceptions to the rule.

This is a bizarre conclusion. I only know two of the “conservative” books, The Road to Serfdom and Capitalism and Freedom. Neither book is about ideology. They are both about policy. I suspect the rest are ideological because they are iconic conservative books, ergo, they are about being conservative, ergo about ideology. But then Bogus comes up with an even weirder observation:

Conservatives have big appetites for ideology; liberals don’t. There are, of course, taxonomies of conservative schools of thought. People on the right classify themselves as libertarians, neoconservatives, social conservatives, traditional conservatives, and the like, and spill oceans of ink defining, debating, and further subdividing these schools of thought. There is no parallel taxonomy on the left.

Really? Communist vs. socialist? Stalinist vs. Leninist vs. Trotskyite? But by the phrase “on the left” Bogus presumably means “liberals” under current American political usage. So Michael Moore and Paul Krugman and Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben and Bill Clinton all have the same ideology? If that’s true, what is that ideology? Maybe Bogus is saying that all they care about is solving problems and they share an ideology that the best way to solve them is use government. Is there much nuance about that among contemporary American liberals? I don’t know–maybe they don’t name their differences the way conservatives do. Or maybe if you think that many problems are best solved from the top-down there isn’t much room for nuance about how to describe it.

 

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{ 181 comments }

Randy November 11, 2011 at 3:07 pm

So Carl doesn’t see any reason to draw lines between liberals… actually, neither do I. They’re all socialists to me. The distinctions are only in the extent of the disasters they have already caused versus the greater disasters that they will cause if they achieve greater power.

SmoledMan November 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm

What I find amazing is how modern liberals twisted the meaning of the word “liberal” from it’s classical definition which meant reformer to socialist progressive.

John Papola November 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Not just the “classical” definition… but the world definition still today.

Economic Harmonies November 11, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Very true. The word “liberal” in most of Europe today still refers to the idea of liberty and free markets, in contrast to the words “leftist” and “socialist.”

m November 12, 2011 at 10:18 am

I think you’re being a bit mean here. Most liberals don’t self-label as liberals due to poisoning of the word in the 80′s and 90′s (maybe earlier)?

Greg Webb November 12, 2011 at 10:29 am

SM, liberals always twist the meaning of words. It’s standard operating procedure for them. Their view is that all words are vague and can mean anything that they want them to mean. Unless, of course, the true meaning of the word supports their big-government ideology. In that case, and only that case, do words mean what they actually say.

Speedmaster November 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Nicely-stated, Randy.

Dan J November 11, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Depends… Some classify themselves or are classified, as liberal, because they are thinking with emotions and don’t connect the political or economic dots…. Only, the want, to see people helped.

SmoledMan November 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Mr. Bogus is aptly named.

Preston Speed November 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Haha, you beat me to it :)

Sam Grove November 12, 2011 at 11:27 am

Gives greater meaning to the phrase “bogus argument”.

SmoledMan November 11, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Where libertarians fail is in their demonization of all things government. Most people know elements of government that work for them like police, fire, teachers, even some administrators. They don’t take kindly to the libertarian blanket condemnation of government. Government is not a 4-letter word to 80% of the population.

Justin P November 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm

What Liberals fail to understand is that not all Libertarians are anarchists and not all Libertarians think government is a four letter word. Its a strawman that Liberals use so they don’t have to have a nuanced debate over what works and what doesn’t work.
Government is great when it defends property rights but not when it takes private property to give to its cronies in the name of eminant domain. Libertarians support firefighters and police. Libertarians aren’t the ones that constantly threaten to refund the police when budget cuts are debated, Liberals do that.

Gil November 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Which Libertarians? Many would point to firefighting is voluntary is some place whereas most would point to police brutality and corruption as big reasons why the police should abolished and let the private sector come up with solutions.

kyle8 November 12, 2011 at 6:36 am

Prominent libertarians? Libertarian scholars? Who are they? You might find a few, but not many.

Greg Webb November 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Prominent libertarians include:

Larry Reed – President of the Foundation for Economic Education.

Sheldon Richman – Editor of The Freeman, published by The Foundation for Economic Education, and senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Craig Biddle – Editor of The Objective Standard and author of Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It, an introduction to Ayn Rand’s ethics.

Dwight Lee – Economists

Isaac Morehouse of the Institute for Humane Studiess

David Simpson, Representative to the United States House of Representatives.

Don Boudreaux – Economist and Professor at George Mason University.

Ron Paul – Representative to the United States House of Representatives.

Rand Paul – United States Senator.

That is a few easy ones to find. When I Google it, I find a lot more. I think that there are a lot more prominent libertarians and libertarian scholars than you might think.

Jon Murphy November 12, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Are we just talking alive Libertarians? ‘Cause there’s a long list of dead ones.

Also, don’t forget Steven Landsburg & Cowen.

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 12, 2011 at 8:10 pm

and, exactly, what would be the private solution to the police

who decides, when the police for Bank of America arrest the police for Chase

and what about our millions of people who cannot afford police at all

Captain Profit November 13, 2011 at 8:22 am

Who cares, as long as somebody at Chase or BoA finally gets arrested?

Russell Nelson November 13, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Whole books have been written on this subject, Nikolai, and you expect one of us to write another one for you? How’s about you do some research and come back with less ignorant questions?

Greg Webb November 12, 2011 at 11:45 am

Exactly so, Justin P!

Nikolai Luzhin, Eastern Promises November 12, 2011 at 8:03 pm

the people you just mentioned are not prominent

El Diablo November 12, 2011 at 9:14 pm

So says the bland and boring stooge for George Soros.

chuck martel November 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Yeah, the cops work out just great, we hear more and more about their virtues every day. Teachers have been doing a great job, too. Isn’t their fault that high school grads can’t read, it’s the unions. After all, it’s the steward standing in front of the class lecturing on algebra. The reason 80% of the citizenry supports the government is because they’ve been fed its BS since Head Start, as well as corn flakes and moo juice from the SNAP program. Nobody really knows what anarchism is all about because none of them have even heard of Tucker, Proudhon, Andrews, or Rothbard, much less read any of their stuff. The media portrays anarchists as somewhere to the left of Stalin when in reality they refuse to accept a place in the political spectrum.

Dan Phillips November 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Bravo! Chuck, you and I are kindred spirits!

Corey November 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Uh education is most certainly not working. Have you seen how much tuition costs have risen lately? Not to mention high school graduation rates peaked in the late 60′s. Were soon approaching a point where average Americans wont be able to put himself through college. I don’t know any teachers who are remedying that problem.

John Papola November 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Boom.

It’s just demagogic pandering to preach about how everyone loves the police, fire, teachers, etc. It’s effective pandering, but pandering none the less. Meanwhile, there used to be a time where the “new left” understood how abusive monopolist police can be. Fire fighting is important but doesn’t even make the top 20 most dangerous jobs. K-12 in the US speaks for itself.

All jobs well done in the service of others are worthy of praise. Stop the childish pandering. It’s unbecoming of adults.

aldous November 12, 2011 at 2:37 am

calling cops brutal and labeling them as oafish, blind arms of the state is just as strawman as all the rest of the arguments libertarians rightly refute. If you want to blame government, which indeed, it often deserves the blame, make sure you don’t do it without a little forethought first. The rest of us libertarians bear the burden of your ill conceived attack in our name. There are lots of cops who just don’t think of it from our perspective. Just like there are people who run printing presses who have never heard of Gutenberg. The whole point is to find the real problems, I’m pretty sure most of which do not start with the men on the street in uniform.

vikingvista November 12, 2011 at 2:51 am

The real problem is coercive monopoly–its immoral enforcement, and its perverse incentives.

Harold Cockerill November 12, 2011 at 7:29 am

The real problem is the willingness of many to believe they are better off with the coercive monopoly. I think this is the same group that believes there is a free lunch.

chuck martel November 13, 2011 at 8:12 am

If you’re attempting to defend law enforcement, or perhaps the personnel involved in it, you’re not being very successful.

Russell Nelson November 13, 2011 at 2:57 pm

SmoledMan, I’ll bet that you’re white. Try asking some black people if they think the police are working for them.

Justin P November 11, 2011 at 3:13 pm

His conclusions are (sorry can’t help it) bogus. I think one problem with the Left is that ideology is so ground into their makeup that they can’t see anything without ideological glasses on. Then confirmation bias kicks in and wouldn’t you know it, everyone else is ideological but them.
Of course I can be just as guilty of it as they are. But I think acknowledging it is very different from assuming you don’t have it at all.

SmoledMan November 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm

They’ve defined anything as opposite to them as ideology. Brilliant tactic to win over moderates.

Justin P November 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Lol which is why moderates are leaving in droves. The tactic only works when they aren’t in power.

Josh S November 11, 2011 at 3:43 pm

It’s exactly what Marx did. Once you understand that the American left is unconsciously Marxist in its methods, goals, and ideas, they make a lot more sense.

SmoledMan November 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I’ve understood that for a long time, but most people function like those people plugged into the Matrix, oblivious to it all.

Gil November 11, 2011 at 10:06 pm

In for a penny in for a pound? Once you’re a “kind of Leftie” you terminally ill?

Albus Dumbledore November 13, 2011 at 9:04 pm

No. We just hope that you will grow up and out of that kind of stupidity.

Rick Hull November 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Let’s leave aside the massive cognitive dissonance of declaring libertarians to be conservative. Glenn Greenwald is a conservative? Noam Chomsky? I see Mr. Bogus’ holds the same primitive misconception of the ideological spectrum — that there is only a liberal/conservative axis. He ignores the libertarian/authoritarian axis, which is orthogonal to the former, thus presenting a 2D plane rather than a mere 1D line.

As such, only statists, and not necessarily the left, need fear the views of Hayek or Friedman.

SmoledMan November 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm

How is Noam Chomsky a libertarian? Dude – are you smoking something strong right now? Pass me the joint dude!

Rick Hull November 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm

He’s a radical leftist, but he is no statist. He considers himself a libertarian in that respect. I certainly do not agree with his views, though I consider myself a libertarian. This distinction is why the 2-axis political map is important.

Rick Hull November 12, 2011 at 3:48 am

To be completely honest, I would make the political map left/right and up/down. Left and right according to historical convention. Up for liberty, down for authority.

I think what we consider liberal / conservative is a dance partnership that goes around in a circle on the political map. Liberal leads and conservative follows.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 12, 2011 at 11:22 am

Even a two-axis definition is deficient. There could be another axis, would be an attitude on the role in “intermediating” social institutions (family, faitIh, even country (not state).

Although I am generally favorably disposed to the the vast majority of views on this blog, favoring voluntary, market based solutions, I part company with many generally accepted positions expressed on this board when the principal animating position becomes anarchist or radical individualist.

I think the intermediating institutions (to the extent membership isn’t compelled-but we all know the old saw about picking your family) are necessary and must be self-regulating.

Anybody who believes the intrusion of the modern state is only advanced as it intervenes in economic or commercial affairs is missing a much more pernicious and noxious intrusion. The advancement of the state has been proceeded most rapidly as it attacked the intermediating instutions. When it destroyed the nuclear family, it created millions of women with kids who readily accepted the state “husband”.

In short, as bad an a

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 12, 2011 at 11:29 am

dang buttons!

In short, as bad as the uniaxial representation is, two axes are are hardly much better. There are innumerable characteristics that inform whether you are generally disposed toward the state as a reasonable, effective and efficient and beneficent possessor and user of relatively unlimited user of power, or whether you think at best its a necessary evil and at worst an intolerable one.

g-dub November 13, 2011 at 4:15 pm

anonPhil> Even a two-axis definition is deficient.

True, but it is certainly less deficient than the cartoon line. At least “classical liberals” and “libertarians” are distinguished from conservatives with the Nolan Chart. (Frankly, I lump classical liberal into the libertarian bracket. lol)

I thought about it some, and more or less gave up on the spatial model, as one might rightly say it has as many dimensions as there are people. That said, the Nolan Chart is not too bad for being such a *simple* model.

Josh S November 11, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Libertarians get classified as conservatives because liberty was a founding principle of the United States and, therefore, libertarian interests and conservative interest overlap quite a bit.

The left, by contrast, has no overlapping interests with libertarians. Oh sure, they *talk* a good line about “social liberalism,” but then one of them drops the masks and praises China’s one-child policy, and you realize it’s not that they support abortion rights; it’s that the support the right of the government’s absolute control over life and death, and defining an unborn child as a human life with rights gets in the way of that. Likewise, you really think a socialist who wants the government to decide how much salt can be in your Doritos will let someone get away with smoking marijuana?

Jim November 11, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Umm. You are mistaken. Have you not met the Left anticapitalist libertarians?

kyle8 November 12, 2011 at 6:38 am

all three of them

Josh S November 12, 2011 at 8:57 am

Yes, they’re called “communists.” And the minute they actually get power figure out that you can’t have communism/syndicalism without a central authority to beat the choice-making and trade-making out of people, they drop the “liberty” part of their agenda and keep everything else.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 12, 2011 at 11:33 am

Have you not met the Left anticapitalist libertarians?

Yes, frauds and counterfeits providing a veneer of acceptability to entice people to be useful idiots in the what inevitably be the advancement of the state.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 12, 2011 at 11:51 am

Abortion “rights”.

The institutional use of the state to enforce the interests of a conscious calculating, visible, powerful cartel acting to secure (almost always) convenience interests of its customer base against the existence interests of an invisible, individual, unconscious, powerless individual.

Even without the millions or billions the industry has received-the ultimate rent seekers.

JR November 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Nicely said. The second dimension is precisely what has been missing in the debate.

Studio Hayek November 11, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I don’ t have much to say about this post other that your usage of the word liberal.

I think classical liberals should be more careful about using the word liberal.

I think classical liberals should call themselves liberals, true liberals, or classical liberals.

I think classical liberals should refer to their opponents as fake liberals or statists.

I think John Papola is onto something when he says in this talk that we are liberals.

http://www.studiohayek.com/2011/10/classical-liberal-story-telling.html

SmoledMan November 11, 2011 at 3:18 pm

They prefer to be called socialist progressives.

Studio Hayek November 11, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Yes, but this is misleading because it refers to them by their intentions, not by their results. Socialist progressives are the true conservatives as Milton Friedman pointed out long ago in this wonderful interview on the Open Mind.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6813529239937418232

Jim November 11, 2011 at 5:21 pm

A socialist / progressive is by his nature a statist and therefore against all change. For no innovation can occur under a controlling state.

g-dub November 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm

*like*

Gray Brendle November 11, 2011 at 5:39 pm

I agree completely!

Hornung November 11, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Thats probably why its important to let people describe their differences and self identify. If you call yourself a libertarian or liberal and state your definition, I will debate the position and not the title. Labels are thrown around as slander so that the label itself no longer serves any useful purpose. Its been striped of meaning and now just means that person is an idiot or something.

Hornung November 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Which is why I suggest new works so that insults are fresh sounding and not boring. I coined a new insult recently by juxtaposing libtard with libertarotard. It means, that you love freedom and truth but you are a god damn idiot

Hornung November 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm

“words” i mean

Gil November 11, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Indubitably.

Greg Ransom November 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Wasn’t Mr. Bogus one of the folks discussed in Steven Levitt’s Freekonomics chapter on names?

Greg Ransom November 11, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Hayek has a famous chapter on “Principles vs Expediency” in his Law, Legislation & Liberty — Mr. Bogus is simply reiterating a central tenet of classical liberalism in a perverse carnival mirror form ..

khodge November 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm

How can you even define a problem if you don’t have an ideology?

Randy November 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Interesting question. I do it all the time. For example;

Problem: Why is door A not allowing access to Person B?
Solution: There are three likely causes, let’s work our way though them…

No ideology required.

In fact, could we not say that ideology causes problems? And perhaps causes more problems than it solves?

khodge November 11, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Did you just call the locksmith before asking the precedent question (ideology) that Person B is not allowed into my house (door A)?

Randy November 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm

That’s for the customer to decide. I only need to determine that the hardware and software are working as they are designed to work and/or determine which part is not.

As for the “should” question, it seems to be a bit of a stretch to refer to such specific relationships as “ideology”, but yes, someone at some point did have to form a mental construct of who should be allowed into which doors.

khodge November 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm

“That’s for the customer to decide.”
How is that not an ideology?

Randy November 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Again, bit of a stretch on the definition, but okay.

khodge November 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm

My company is deeply involved in Sarbanes-Oxley compliance right now. One does not fix established procedures – no matter how broken they are – without following another set of established procedures.

Hal November 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Isn’t it ideological to define that as a problem to begin with? Who is Person B? Why is door A preventing access to Person B? These questions are simply ignored and the closed door is simply declared to be a problem. In other words, Randy, you’ve implied ideology and claim that since you didn’t declare explicitly an ideology no ideology exists.

The discovery that the closed door is in fact a “problem” is exclusively an ideologic one. Your question takes place after ideology has done the heavy lifting identifying a “problem”.

I can’t think of anything that can be identified as a “problem” without taking ideology into account. Even solving an equation for a quiz involves an ideology by setting up a framework in which testing people on their problem solving abilities has all ready been identified as a problem (people’s lack of problem solving abilities) that needs to be solved (giving people experience in solving a problem).

Randy November 12, 2011 at 6:20 am

Guys, I know where you’re coming from (Plato, ideal forms, and all that), but I do not believe it is generally useful to conflate “idea” and “ideology” – and certainly not for the purpose of this discussion, in which the term refers to a set of ideas about how society should be ordered (or not). My point is that I don’t need this type of “ideology” to get through the day – though certainly I do have constant need of ideas.

khodge November 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm

No, you need not explicitly state your principles before each decision but to say, as did Mr Bogus, esq., that one side has ideology and the other has policy is to miss the fact, as commented in recent posts, that there are always biases at work. More pertinent was a post by Don a few week back on media bias where he pointed out that journalists are offended if you call them biased.

Captain Profit November 13, 2011 at 8:33 am

“Why is door A not allowing access to Person B?”

Dunno. Is door A and American port and door B a Chinese manufacturer?

Brian November 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Regarding your question, “What is that ideology?” I think the answer is pretty obvious: more government spending more money.

The conservatives may differ in ideology, but typically their policy has the same result as that of the “liberals”.

Brian November 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm

And regarding your final question and comment, “Is there much nuance about that among contemporary American liberals? I don’t know–maybe they don’t name their differences the way conservatives do. Or maybe if you think that many problems are best solved from the top-down there isn’t much room for nuance about how to describe it.”

If you think the problems are best solved with a top-down approach, you probably also think that the problems are best identified with a top-down approach. Meaning you don’t need to identify the problems, you’ll be told what they are, at the same time you’re given the solution to those problems. This is the mentality of a follower, regardless of the underlying ideology.

Greg Ransom November 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Having principles, i.e. an understanding of & commitment to the rule of law, is an “ideology” (to use the perverse and misleading language of Napoleon & the Marxists).

Having no principles and only looking to short term expedience to “solve” the problem of the moment with an expedient intervention that advantages particular client groups, is also an “ideology” (to use the perverse and misleading language of Napoleon & the Marxists).

If we avoid the perverse and unhelpful and abusive and dismissive language of “ideology” and stick with characterization of what we are really dealing with, me make progress ….

Josh S November 11, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I have one friend on the far left. He considers himself the consummate pragmatist, unconcerned with ideology, and concerned only with the best solutions that obtain the best results.

Of course, in real life, he’s a hyperventilating socialist who gets the vapors when he talks about “inequality” and considers the destruction of the market economy to be an urgent moral imperative that no one with a conscience could disagree with.

So the real difference here is that the left doesn’t even realize it has an ideology. Leftists believe they are extremely scientific, following Marx, who simply asserted the “scientific” nature of his crackpot ideology over and over until the point where anyone who disagreed with him quit reading his stupid books or left the room.

JR November 11, 2011 at 4:32 pm

That’s right, Josh. The fish does not know it swims in water. As a recovering Academic, I survived the echo chamber that liberals live in. Scarred forever. But survived. Ha ha. Hopefully with humor intact.

Sam Grove November 12, 2011 at 12:07 am

So, you know muirgeo.

brotio November 12, 2011 at 2:34 am

:D

g-dub November 13, 2011 at 4:32 pm

exact-an-effing-moon-dough!

J. W. November 11, 2011 at 3:45 pm

It seems to me that when most people use the word “ideology” they mean philosophy or how one views and considers reality. It wouldn’t surprise me if people who hold to the dominant philosophy of the age spend less time explaining their premises than people who hold to another philosophy.

Chris November 11, 2011 at 3:56 pm

That’s generous. It looks like to me when people talk about “ideology”, especially in reference to someone else’s “ideology” it is used with disdain. As in, there is the right way, then there are all these “ideologies.” I realize Russ (as he has documented several times lately) struggles with his ideology, and the challenges of competing ideologies, but he is in the minority, in my experience. And, as he has admited, not without blinders as a result of his ideology.

J. W. November 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Oh, I agree about the disdain. I was referring to denotation. The common use of “ideology” and “philosophy” is, I think, similar to the common use of (for example) “activism” and “advocacy” to refer to the same activity. (Although some people proudly call their activity “activism,” in common use the connotation is negative, whereas the connotation of “advocacy” is positive.)

That said, my impression from Russ’s posts is that he uses the term “ideology” in a much more neutral way than most people do. You can replace each use of it with “philosophy” and the posts will read much the same.

khodge November 11, 2011 at 4:01 pm

We risk a danger in getting hung up over terminology…”ideology,” “philosophy,” “principles” all presume that some thought goes into “decision-making” whether or not that thought is explicit every time a decision is made. Of course, we can tell from our resident trolls that thought is seldom used prior to posting.

Speedmaster November 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Great analysis, Dr. Roberts. When reading stuff the the piece from Bogus (ironic name, no?) I am left frustrated and at a loss for where to start with a response.

Seth November 11, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Agreed.

But, then realized it’s the typical leftist fallacy knuckle ball of red herring (keep the conversation away from which policy works best), straw man (it’s all about ideology) and personal attack (they’re just silly ideologues).

MarkD November 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Saying all these “great” liberal works are about policy tells me how short-sighted someone like Mr Bogus is, and reminds me of something my dad taught me when I was learning to drive. If you are only looking at the road directly in front of your car, your driving will be erratic, constantly reacting to the most minute detail, whereas if you look further down the road, you are better prepared and react less.

The lesson applies to these liberal pet policies and the knee jerk reactions, versus the consistent, long-term guiding principles (not ideology) of works by Hayek, et. al. It’s easy to see why the liberals get so lost in the weeds of their myriad causes, as to be oblivious to long-term effects.

Chris November 11, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Russ, regarding the third passage you pulled:
Bogus goes on to say “Maybe, in part, it is because a central tenet of liberalism is that ideology should be eschewed in favor of the supposedly enlightened, pragmatic approach of making ad hoc judgments about issues. But on this conservatives are more realistic. Ideology is inevitable; we all have an ideology, whether we are aware of it or not.”
In other words, conservatives are much more in tune with the reality of having an ideology, and thus have spent time discussing, dissecting, and debating the nuances of their ideologies. The liberals, on the other hand, have preferred the head-in-the-sand approach to dealing with ideologies within their camp.

Chris November 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm

sorry, meant to conclude with:
I read this (admittedly through my own conservative lens) as a knock against liberals, not against conservatives.

Nick November 11, 2011 at 4:24 pm

He is a law professor. Don’t expect much in the way of original or interesting thoughts out of him.

Beyond Posner and Epstein, I can’t think of another legal academic/law professor worth reading.

g-dub November 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Barnett.

Michael Tyson November 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm

I think his analysis just reeks of confirmation bias that was linked to recently by you Don.

When a person reads opposing works, they seem like ideologues. When a persons read works you agree with (or feel like you should agree with), its sensible policy.

When I read the list of liberal books, they seemed like a collection of ideological writings. But, I’m sure that many people read those books as policy. I remember attempting to have a conversation with members of my family about “Silent Spring” and the effects of the DDT ban. It came off to me like the book was a matter of unquestionable orthodoxy, part of the founding myth of environmentalism. But, I’m sure from their prospective, I seemed like the one who was misguided.

To the point of the post: Bogus seems far too uncritical of himself to competently evaluate an intellectual tradition.

Michael Tyson November 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I meant to say:

When a person reads opposing works, their opponents seem like ideologues. When a persons read works they agree with (or feel like you should agree with), the conclusions just seem like sensible policy.

Dan J November 11, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Shouldn’t your words have a lisp attached, Iron Mike.

Michael Tyson November 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Not really, but I used to be good at imitating his voice.

Evidence of his poor timing – he bit off Holyfield’s ear when I was in middle school, that bastard.

EG November 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Actually I think Bogus isn’t that far off. He is saying that liberals..pretend…to have no ideology, and pretend that their solutions to problems are based on pragmatism, free from ideology. Instead, he says:

“But on this conservatives are more realistic. Ideology is inevitable; we all have an ideology, whether we are aware of it or not. First of all, ideology is about values, and we can’t decide how we wish to solve policy issues without having a firm grasp on the values we are seeking to advance. Second, the world is too complex for us to make informed judgments about all of the issues that confront us. We need a philosophy to serve as a north star. One way I’ve been enriched by reading the great works of conservatism is that I’ve come better to appreciate how central ideology is to thinking about matters of governance and public policy.”

When you read Silent Spring, you don’t get any “ideological” feel of what the intentions and background of the author are. You don’t often get that from those who push AGW today, either. You don’t at least, in their public writings too much. After all, all they are trying to do is find a solution to a problem in a pragmatic enlightened way. (right?) Its not about ideology! Thats what they say in Congress all day too: lets get everyone together because we need to solve a problem! No time for divisive bickering. Its what leftists scream all day every day “We need more action to solve the problem! Why can’t the government do more”

In their mind, it truly is not about ideology, because if your ideology says “you are the smartest guy in the room and your solutions are always right”, then opposing or criticizing those solutions can only be about not knowing the…facts. Its like having a conversation with a Taliban. To them everything is self-evident because it says so in the Quran. Once that’s been established, then it is simply a matter of “policy”

khodge November 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Good point. The press can’t seem to get it into their heads that there may not be a workable solution to gridlock and, just because you have a majority pushing “solutions” through doesn’t mean that you actually have solved anything.

EG November 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm

“Conservatives have big appetites for ideology; liberals don’t. There are, of course, taxonomies of conservative schools of thought. People on the right classify themselves as libertarians, neoconservatives, social conservatives, traditional conservatives, and the like, and spill oceans of ink defining, debating, and further subdividing these schools of thought. There is no parallel taxonomy on the left. ”

And he’s pretty spot on in this case as well. There is no parallel taxonomy on the left. You don’t see Jon Steward or whomever discussing how “liberal” one Democratic candidate is over another, how progressive or how socialist etc. They often talk only of “policies”.

What Bogus rightly points out, is that this is false. (although he only considers the “left” to encompass modern American liberalism of the Democratic Party type, not further to the left. if he looked further to the left, I’d suspect he’ds see a lot more ideological talk there too, as evidenced by the wackos that came out of the woodwork with OWS)

But the “right” does focus on ideology to a much greater extent. “Libertarians” will bicker all day over whether Rothbard is truly the disciple of Mises, and why Friedman is a statist pig. “Conservatives” will bicker all day as to why Romney is really a liberal. Is there a better example of how obnoxiously ideological “libertarians” can be than the mises website or any place where Ron Paul’s name is accidentally mentioned?

WhiskeyJim November 13, 2011 at 9:54 am

EG makes a point that is generally ignored.

The most pragmatic argument against libertarians is that they would rather lose the argument or election altogether than give up an ideal. While compromise rarely gets us to the finish line, abrogating the playing field is worse.

The pacifist argument is pretty as well. If you’re satisfied being a heckler while others fight for you.

vikingvista November 14, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Sometimes, there really isn’t an immediate political choice or solution, and the best you can do is argue ideas for the more long term effects of rational persuasion. Doing something for the sake of doing something is hardly a rational approach to anything, in spite of its popularity.

Fred November 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm

While compromise rarely gets us to the finish line, abrogating the playing field is worse.

“In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit” -Ayn Rand

When you dance with the devil…

Mesa Econoguy November 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm

“Conservatives have big appetites for ideology; liberals don’t.”

That statement alone is evidence of a gargantuan blind spot, or just massive stupidity. One could argue that the leftist/”liberal” obsession with policy IS the ideology, specifically the quest to enact policies to control social behavior and interaction (yes, both sides can be accused of this, but given the past 3 years, it’s pretty clear which side is more invasive and intrusive).

Whether or not liberals actually believe this is another matter. As someone above mentions, it defines everyone else as ideological, except them. Most 5 year olds can see through that kind of disingenuous sniveling.

Jonah Goldberg explores some of this in his book Liberal Fascism, specifically an examination of the evolution of core beliefs and major left-liberal “thinkers,” what little there is.

EG November 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm

But that’s what Bogus is saying, too.

Mesa Econoguy November 11, 2011 at 5:40 pm

That’s not how I read this.

He says conservatives are “more realistic,” in their willingness to espouse and embrace a philosophical affiliation, in contrast to the left’s “supposedly enlightened, pragmatic approach of making ad hoc judgments about issues” modus operandi.

But the left is equally – whether consciously or otherwise – tied to central core beliefs, particularly with it’s reflexive (and nauseating) devotion to issues like failed stimulus policies emanating from incompetent pseudo-intellectuals, and quasi-religious belief in global warming/climate change/climate disruption/climate crisis rebrand of the month.

In my experience, “liberals” are far more ideological and willing to step on others to express that affinity than “conservatives.”

EG November 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Well, whether they are far more ideological or not is another issue. he does recognize, however, that they are ideological despite the claim to be otherwise.

So he isn’t actually saying that one is, and the other isn’t.

Mesa Econoguy November 11, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Um, dude, that’s exactly what he’s saying,

“Conservatives have big appetites for ideology; liberals don’t”

Incomprehension much?

GhengisKhak November 11, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Also from the article — “Ideology is inevitable; we all have an ideology, whether we are aware of it or not.”

So you are both right. Or both wrong. Or Bogus is just confused. Or he is just speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

Mesa Econoguy November 11, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Fucking bogus lawyer talk.

F. Lee Bailey November 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Lawyers don’t speak “bogus”. That is the language of leftist trolls.

Caleb November 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm

It should be noted that Mr. Bogus goes on to say that he thinks ideology is inevitable in policy, and that Conservatives are more realistic in this respect. He thinks Liberals have much to learn from Conservatives in their focus on ideology, and he is glad for the perspective. In other words, I don’t think he is being critical. It seems to me a fair observation, and there’s probably some truth there.

EG November 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Yep. His actual point, wasn’t quoted here. He actually makes a very reasonable observation.

Jim November 11, 2011 at 5:18 pm

But the Left is extremely driven by ideology. One can not argue consequentialism and post-modernism and large bureaucracy without a veritable mountain of ideology.

And the economic worldview, which is predominantly Marxian, is all ideology; a complex tautology that is fantastically incorrect and always tragically implemented.

One does not need to be ideological to refute Progressives and Marxists. One only needs to be pragmatically aware of history. In fact this is the argument of many conservatives.

Martin Brock November 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm

When I saw the list, I first thought, “The Road to Serfdom is not a conservative book, and Freedom and Capitalism doesn’t sound like a conservative book either.” I don’t read many books with “Conservative” in the title, because I’ve never identified with the label. I have always preferred “liberal” but not the modern, Orwellian sense of the word.

Anyone who thinks that he has no ideology is delusional. Thinking outside of an ideology is impossible.

muirgeo November 11, 2011 at 4:52 pm

I’m simply a real world pragmatist. Go with what works best to maximize liberty. Label me as you will.

Government is ABSOLUTLY necessary so the goal, complicated as it may be, is to optimize the function of government. Simple minded ideas that less regulation and less government are always better are indeed just that…simple minded designed for people who wish not to deal with all the nuances of the real world.

When you ALWAYS assume government can do nothing write and has almost NO roll to play THEN you are being an ideologue. That happens far more on the conservative/ libertarian side then on the liberal/progressive side.

We don’t ALWAYS want more government. We want good government, good rules and fair enforcement. But their is NO dogmatism on what degree of government is needed or that more government is ALWAYS better.

khodge November 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm

1) nothing you post is in favor of maximizing liberty
2) maximizing liberty is a stated ideology

PKSully November 11, 2011 at 5:42 pm

I’ve always thought the CFTC did a good job of regulating my industry, until recently. Now there’s thishttp://www.forbes.com/sites/robertlenzner/2011/11/08/mf-global-used-customer-funds-in-the-losing-6-3-billion-trade-without-informing-clients/ Apparently the CFTC realized that sovereign debt was no longer the risk free asset they thought it was so they were going to amend regulations to account for this risk. John Corzine convinced his good friend, former co-worker and fund raiser, Gary Gensler to let FCMs continue to use other people’s money to invest in this toxic debt. Thousands of people are out of work and many thousands more have lost confidence in markets due to this crony capitalism between the government regulator and their favorite “Wall Street guy.” Also see this http://www.forbes.com/sites/francinemckenna/2011/11/09/mf-global-assets-have-left-the-building-how-when-where/

Dan J November 11, 2011 at 5:42 pm

With your good govt, good rules, fair enforcement (all value judgements, therefore moot), those ‘good’ measures of govt always lead to further restrictions on individuals actions, en masse, to regulate or govern, one person or one groups unfavorable behaviors.
I am not in agreement on ‘no’ govt, only vary limited centralized govt mandating favorable behaviors.

andy November 11, 2011 at 6:41 pm

“Government is ABSOLUTLY necessary so the goal, complicated as it may be, is to optimize the function of government.”

That’s a very simple-minded idea, actually. I would say it’s more-or-less the same, that the free market is ABSOLUTELY necessary to the goal, complicated as it may be, is to optimize the function of the free market by persuading the people on the free-market to behave better. You know, we could solve externalities by just persuading firms not to pollute… the same, that we could solve the damn negative externalities of the government by persuading the people in the government to ‘optimize the state’.

I would say THAT is very simple-minded. So, considering the very different incentives for government and free-market, I would say that the conclusion ‘less government’ (compared to today) is actually significantly better-argued position than ‘optimize government’. You can optimize the government in a same (or even worse) way, you can freely optimize the free-market.

Craig November 11, 2011 at 7:02 pm

“We don’t ALWAYS want more government. We want good government, good rules and fair enforcement”

Is there an example of some issue you thought could be solved with out government?

“But their is NO dogmatism on what degree of government is needed or that more government is ALWAYS better.”

Krugman said the same thing and its disingenuous at best. You may not think more gov’t is need just for ints own sake, but can you give examples where you don’t think government is needed?

brotio November 12, 2011 at 2:55 am

Our Dear Ducktor doesn’t believe the State should interfere with the Right to Terminate Inconvenient Life. This issue is the only example where Yasafi is an advocate for less government.

Mesa Econoguy November 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm

“I’m simply a real world pragmatist”

Yes, you’re Exhibit A for left-liberalism’s indictment.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 11, 2011 at 11:08 pm

“We want good government, good rules and fair enforcement.”

Translation: more powerful government, more exacting government rules and more government.

muirgeo November 12, 2011 at 11:03 am

Nope … people lead government. You know the same individuals YOU trust to make proper market decisions for themselves I trust to keep government as efficient and fair as it can be.

Captain Profit November 13, 2011 at 8:57 am

You’re right, Tex. I trust alla them individuals to make proper market decisions for temselves. What I don’t trust is that any one of those individuals can make proper market decisions for ME.

Jon Murphy November 13, 2011 at 9:06 am

The difference is:

in markets, people spend their own money

In government, people spend other people’s money.

In markets, one cannot compel another to do business with him

In government, one can.

Greg Webb November 11, 2011 at 11:50 pm

I’m simply a real world pragmatist. Go with what works best to maximize liberty.

LOL! George, I have no doubt that you see yourself this way. And, that’s hysterical given your normal socialist rants.

Economic Harmonies November 12, 2011 at 4:12 am

I’m simply a real world pragmatist. Go with what works best to maximize liberty.

He meant to write “proctologist” not “pragmatist.”

Now it makes sense.

brotio November 13, 2011 at 2:12 pm

*like*

muirgeo November 12, 2011 at 11:02 am

Yeah… Greg because in reality it is YOU who is the pragmatist… believing in libertarian societies which are in such good abundance around the world confirming the strength and practicality of what you believe…oh and striped unicorns too…

And then…LOFL… you looking to the Clown Convention that is the Republican Primary of Presidential Candidates as if one of them has any answer to our problem. Everyone of the 50 debates has proved the moderators far more intelligent and informed then the clowns you put your faith in… the same one who brought the economy down the last two times.

Greg, I support the pragmatism of socialized medicine and I can point to 30 other developed countries where it works for less… YOU have to deny this reality to convince yourself you are the pragmatic one. YOU are reality averse…. I am firmly planted in reality. I’ve had more deep and serious arguments with 3 year olds.

Greg Webb November 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm

George, you said, “Yeah… Greg because in reality it is YOU who is the pragmatist… believing in libertarian societies which are in such good abundance around the world confirming the strength and practicality of what you believe…oh and striped unicorns too…”

STRAW MAN ARGUMENT ALERT! George, now that is silly. It is regressives who believe in man living happily and in harmony with nature in some pre-industrialized village in the remote woods. That is pure fantasy! And, it is regressives who believe that we could have a full employment, wealthy society with centralized planning. These myths have been proven time and again not to work, yet you regressives still call for them. You cannot see reality for your silly big-government ideology.

Your understanding of world history is misguided to say the least. World history has been about highly centralized governments where the few ruled over the many for the good of the few. Yet, your argue for more centralization of power in government despite its poor results.

The United States started out with the promise of an increasingly free society that is the hallmark of a libertarian society, and it resulted in great prosperity and peace for its people. Yet you would willingly take it back down the road of increasing big government just so you and other regressives could control others and their resources. Have you ever thought what might happen to you if the other side decides that they ought to do to you regressives what you intend to do to them before you can do it? The latest Gallup poll shows that conservatives out number regressives by 2 to 1.

You said, “And then…LOFL… you looking to the Clown Convention that is the Republican Primary of Presidential Candidates as if one of them has any answer to our problem. Everyone of the 50 debates has proved the moderators far more intelligent and informed then the clowns you put your faith in… the same one who brought the economy down the last two times.”

UNSUPPORTED CONCLUSORY ARGUMENT ALERT! LOL! George, your hysterial, illogical, and unsupported by the facts emoting does not win an argument, especially about an issue that I did not bring up in my previous comment that you seem to be responding to. LOL! You know, people think that you are crazy when you rant emotionally like this.

You said, “Greg, I support the pragmatism of socialized medicine and I can point to 30 other developed countries where it works for less… YOU have to deny this reality to convince yourself you are the pragmatic one.”

And, where is your evidence, George. At least try to persuade me. Cuba has terrible health care…unless, of course, you are well-connected politically. Then, you get the best that Cuban society has to offer. That is the old Soviet model where the corrupt politicians and their political cronies get the best of everything, while the normal comrades have to wait long periods of time to get substandard goods and services.

If you really think socialized medicine is so great, then you should move to Great Britain. I am confident that there are many pediatricians in Great Britain who would gladly change places with you. And, both countries would benefit. We would get a better pediatrician and medical malpractices lawsuits would drop. Great Britain would get another “useful idiot” to parrot the big-government party line.

You said, “YOU are reality averse…. I am firmly planted in reality. I’ve had more deep and serious arguments with 3 year olds.”

ANOTHER UNSUPPORTED CONCLUSORY ARGUMENT ALERT! George, you are being silly again. Merely saying that you are firmly planted in reality does not mean that you are. King George III, your namesake, said similar things about not being crazy and firmly rooted in reality before they carted him off to the insane asylum.

Tell those 3 year olds not to be too tough on you. But, keep trying. Perhaps you can win an argument with a 2 year old.

muirgeo November 13, 2011 at 10:33 am

Greg,

You just repeated the same non sense. You just denied the same reality and facts. You are just proving my point. There are NO examples of countries with private funded health insurance anywhere in the whole world. Ours is the closest to that being the only one of ALL industrialized nations NOT to have full coverage public health care. Ours is far more expensive and has far worse performance and far more inequity of performance as well.

The most amazing growth of any country in the world ever…followed FDR’s administration and occurred after having to fight and win a world war in record time. The Jack Ass Republicans who took over after WW! quickly ran the economy into an economic nightmare. And now the social democracies that have MORE government programs like Denmark, Germany, Canada, Norway have higher standards of living for more of their people and greater economic mobility then what we have and the trends are favoring them still.

Those are facts…. go ahead and deny them more but I already stated and you’ve repeatedly proved you need to deny these realities by bringing up countries like Cuba. You are a Denialist and nothing more. Reality is not your friend.

Greg Webb November 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm

George, you made a lot of unsupported conclusory statements in your last post. By unsupported, I mean you need to provide objective, verifiable evidence supporting your claim.

Your understanding of history and economics is twisted and full of misunderstanding. I believe that is why you do not support your conclusory statements.

Much of the productive ability of the world was destroyed during WW II, thus creating lots of demand for American goods immediately following the war. That and FDR had cleaned house of the rabid socialists of the New Deal era and replaced them with business people in order to win the war. Then, FDR died before the war was over and President Truman wisely did not restart the anti-business rethoric of the New Deal of much of its spending. Capital, freed up after such a long time and now with lots of opportunity, created a growing economy.

The insurance industry is strong and vibrant in much of the developed world. Government intrusion has caused the insurance industry to recede in areas because industry insures for a profit while government bails out political cronies such as Goldman Sachs. Those are too very different things. It’s a healthy indicator when people desire a company’s services so much that the company can pay its employees and make a return for investors. It’s unhealthy when government bails out the corrupt and the lazy.

People in Europe are poorer than people in the United States. That is why many still want to come here. And, apparently , you have forgotten about the European crisis caused by European governments offering too many subsidized programs to buy people’s votes. It only works, George, until they run out of other peoples money. And they have just about run out. Austerity awaits many Europeans.

I know that you want to change economic reality, but wishing, hoping, and emoting never work. The only thing that works are free people unfettered in making good decisions by the selfish and controlling actions of corrupt government officials, political cronies, and “useful idiots” to that corruption.

g-dub November 13, 2011 at 10:16 pm

dumbass> There are NO examples of countries with private funded health insurance anywhere in the whole world.

Maybe that’s because free people would rather spend their money on other things.

Russell Nelson November 14, 2011 at 12:22 am

You do a better job arguing against yourself than any of us can do. First you say “Government is ABSOLUTELY necessary” then you say “But there is NO dogmatism on what degree of government is needed”.

jorod November 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm

He classifies conservative books as ideology because they are based on experience. Liberals reject experience as a foundation since it is prima facie evidence of ideology to them. The liberal mind considers policy to be what most be call fairy tales.

Chris Bowyer November 11, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Doesn’t Bogus contradict himself here? In the second quote he says there’s no similar taxonomy on the left. Yet in the seminal liberal works he lists, he specifically points out how they all specialize in different topics. So unless he feels comfortable assuming that Rachel Carson believes the exact same things as Ralph Nader, he hardly needs you to point out the problems in his thinking; he did it himself a few paragraphs before.

flashdrive November 11, 2011 at 5:08 pm

“Really? Communist vs. socialist? Stalinist vs. Leninist vs. Trotskyite?”

Yes. Really. So tell me Russ, how many communist/socialist or Stalinist/Leninist/Trotskyite think-tanks can you name?

BZ November 11, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any [ideology], are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.

Anon November 12, 2011 at 2:04 am

Probably one of the few accurate things Keynes said. Ironically, it so happens frequently that Maynard IS the defunct economist.

Jim November 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I generally agree with the prominent conservative who said:

Conservatism, I repeat, is not an ideology. It does not breed fanatics. It does not try to excite the enthusiasm of a secular religion. If you want men who will sacrifice their past and present and future to a set of abstract ideas, you must go to Communism, or Fascism, or Benthamism.

But if you want men who seek, reasonably and prudently, to reconcile the best in the wisdom of our ancestors with the change which is essential to a vigorous civil social existence, then you will do well to turn to conservative principles.

The high–minded conservative believes in Principle, or enduring values ascertained through appreciation of the wisdom of dead generations, the study of history, and the reconciliation of authority with the altered circumstances of our present life.

He is a highly reasonable person, although he looks with deep suspicion on the cult of Reason––the worship of an abstract rationality which asserts that mundane planning is able to solve all our difficulties of spirit and community. But the high–minded conservative detests Abstraction, or the passion for forcing men and societies into a preconceived pattern divorced from the special circumstances of different times and countries.

Russell Kirk

If I give Conservatism its best reading, it is a pragmatist approach which finds in history no reason to believe large government bureaucracies will ever solve anything. In a soundbite, it is almost a curmudgeonly insistence on being left alone, with the threat of force to keep interference to a minimum.

I view all else as talking points.

Randy November 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm

+1

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 11, 2011 at 11:10 pm

+2

Greg Webb November 11, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Exactly so!

Jim November 12, 2011 at 9:06 am

Before Russell Kirk, Hayek wrote Individualism and economic order, (Ch. 1)

…But it is merely one aspect of an even wider difference between a view which in general rates rather low the place which reason plays in human affairs, which contends that man has achieved what he has in spite of the fact that he is only partly guided by reason, and that his individual reason is very limited and imperfect, and a view which assumes that Reason, with a capital R, is always fully and equally available to all humans and that everything which man achieves is the direct result of, and therefore subject to, the control of individual reason. One might even say that the former is a product of an acute consciousness of the limitations of the individual mind which induces an attitude of humility toward the impersonal and anonymous social processes by which individuals help to create things greater than they know, while the latter is the product of an exaggerated belief in the powers of individual reason and of a consequent contempt for anything which has not been consciously designed by it or is not fully intelligible to it.

F.A Hayek

We can see why many conservatives embraced Hayek as one of them despite a selective refutation.

We can also see why many religious folk consider themselves conservative, having a natural inclination to this reasoning, as opposed to the brash arrogance needed to ‘manage’ the world.

What is more perplexing is that so many religious folks are indeed Progressive or socialist, for God and Progressive / Post-modern tenets make extremely uneasy bedfellows.

vikingvista November 12, 2011 at 4:34 pm

A religious mindset obviously reflects different inclinations. But one of those is the inclination to believe that some powerful intellect is directing world events, for good or ill. Such people have trouble accepting that undesireable history follows a series of stupid mistakes, rather than a grand conspiracy or evil force; or that orders spontaneously emerge, rather than being consciously guided by a mysterious force.

Not that good and evil don’t exist. But human beings are individually far less capable than some of these people believe.

Dan J November 11, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Right down to an individuals circumstance.
Should VikingVista purchase a 500 acre lot in South Dakota.
Why should he pay property taxes, aka rent to federal govt or SD just to Be allowed to keep his property? If he grows 200 acres of crops, which he trades to get things he wants or needs that he cannot fashion himself, why should federal govt or SD be able to dictate conditions of trade or even if he can trade or not (Wickard v. Filburn) ? Why should he even have to ever participate in commerce (Obamacare ), if he becomes self sufficient, and his wife has trained in medicine or he himself is a physician who can treat himself?
All things govt. Is not needed, but they interject, despite objections….. On behalf of those who do not want to act as adults or because of an ideology based on societal controls and reorganizing as a minor group sees fit.

I don’t see the individual wanting to be left to his own choices as being of an ideology… Only wanting to be as free as the bird in the sky or fish in the
sea. An ideology is composed by wanting to impose the idea onto another.

BZ November 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Sorry, one other comment: If Walter Block and William Grigg are in the same political category as Mike Huckabee and Ann Coulter, then I’m afraid some subdivisions are definitely needed.

EG November 11, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Yes but Walter Block is a raging ideologue as much as Ann Coulter is. And thats his point…we all have an ideology, left or right.

BZ November 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Totally Agreed EG. I was just referring to his lumping Libertarians and Conservatives under the label “The Right”, as in this statement: “People on the right classify themselves as libertarians, neoconservatives, social conservatives, traditional conservatives, and the like, and spill oceans of ink defining, debating, and further subdividing these schools of thought. ”

I have a hard time lumping people who would, literally, agree on Nothing At All. Think Mike Huckabee: a welfare state cheerleader, warmongering, theocrat, and Walter Block: a welfare state hating, peacemongering, atheist, together in the same pot.

SmoledMan November 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Define ideology vs practicality.

Peter November 11, 2011 at 6:47 pm

The left would love to view themselves as Pragmatists, with an implied contrast to Ideologues. They think this both 1)Makes them seem more “reasonable” and 2)Gives them intellectual cover for all of their inconsistencies. They aren’t smart.

Jim November 11, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Well, it is impossible to argue utilitarianism or coercion without talking ideology.

If you rub them at all, most of them believe Marx was right. Listen to Obama’s class warfare right now. It is Marx 101.

Economic Harmonies November 11, 2011 at 10:24 pm

True. The left sees itself as a group of pragmatic freethinkers who simply want to solve problems, while it sees the right as a group of ideological purists and dogmatists.

Of course, if the left really were just pragmatic, we would expect to see about the same number of voluntarist, market-based solutions to problems as coercive, government-based ones. Yet we don’t. The left consistently relies on centralized planning and bureaucratic intervention by government as being the most “pragmatic” of all possible solutions.

This is very similar to how the left views the oft-cited issue of media bias. They eagerly admit that New Media — conservative talk radio (Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, et al.) , cable television (Fox News), and the blogosphere (Cafe Hayek, Mises.org, PowerLine Blog, Free Republic, etc.) are biased to the right; but they adamantly refuse to admit that mainstream media — established venues such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, etc. — are biased to the left. For them, these mainstream news outlets are simply objective in their reporting.

SmoledMan November 12, 2011 at 10:50 am

They pretty much give themselves away when they praise films like “The Motorcycle Diaries”.

Griff November 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm

I think a key point is liberals want a great deal from government. And since government cannot do everything for everyone, it ultimately disappoints some segment of the constituency. Conservatives and libertarians, at least in my view, value the individual and self-reliance, shunning the nanny state and a big, obtrusive government. Enforce the law and otherwise leave them alone, and most conservatives and libertarians would be quite content.

Economic Progress November 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Bogus actually writes “Freedom and Capitalism” instead of “Capitalism and Freedom” when citing Friedman’s book?

LOL! That tells you how close a reader he is.

Mesa Econoguy November 11, 2011 at 10:32 pm

His other book reviews were Peace and War, Punishment and Crime, and Nations of the Wealth

Economic Progress November 12, 2011 at 12:03 am

LOL! And don’t forget “The Serfs of Roaddom” (one of the great historical studies of the medieval feudal system in Russia — you’ve read it, of course. I have a signed 1st edition).

Jon Murphy November 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm

This article, I think highlights some issues plaguing political discourse: Those who disagree (and are, therefore, unreasonable) are hopelessly fractured. Those who like your suggestion (and, therefore, reasonable), are of one mind.

Failure to recognize differences within your caucus is failure to see anything besides what you want.

Economic Progress November 11, 2011 at 8:02 pm

The libertarian/classical-liberal renaissance was only just beginning in the 1960s, while the leftist/progressivist agenda had been in place in certain key institions (education and media, to name two) since the 1920s. Leftist books from these earlier decades were more explicitly ideological than the hit-and-run “policy-only” books by Carson, Nader, et al., of the 1960s, which took leftist ideology for granted.

Here’s an interesting interview by G. Edward Griffin with Norman Dodds who worked for the Reece Committe during its investigation of tax-exempt foundations. You might find it relevant to the issue of implicit vs. explicit ideologies, especially his assertions regarding the American Historical Association.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqyRAxW-uOg

richard November 11, 2011 at 8:03 pm

It’s even worse. In the piece he mentions that he talked to economists and they assure him he is wrong. And then he still continues. He also mentions the luddite argument and then he still continues.

It appears that this mr Ford does not know what he is writing. Some sort of cognitive dissonance.

Even more sad is that it is published by Project Syndicate, and that is a well respected group of columnists.

withouteyes November 11, 2011 at 8:16 pm

“Or maybe if you think that many problems are best solved from the top-down there isn’t much room for nuance about how to describe it.”

Well, yeah…that’s the rub. It doesn’t really matter what their differences are, their solutions are the same…expand the government. Why argue about etiology when the treatment is the same?

Jack Davis November 11, 2011 at 10:53 pm

I’d like to ask Mr.Bogus (very appropriate name) this question: Being as Hayek wrote a book “Why I am Not a Conservative,” how could Road to Serfdom (or any other book he wrote) be considered a legitimate example of “conservative” thinking? OK, a second: Do you not understand that libertarians are not the same as conservatives?

J Cuttance November 12, 2011 at 5:14 am

zactly

Walter Clark November 12, 2011 at 10:28 am

I don’t see what all the fuss is about guys.
I disagree with modern liberals and embrace libertarian, but on the distinction Mr. Bogus (I can’t believe he retains that name) makes . . . it seems to me, it’s OK. Not profound, and not useful, but maybe there is something to it. I find in my correspondence with liberals that they are indeed very policy specific. The are religious about some policies like civil rights; so religious, you can’t even begin to discuss it with them. Rarely are they philosophical and often complain that my arguments are not implementable. (Can’t be turned into law, I guess.) I think they are right and I’m proud to be among the philosophers. I suspect all of you oppose Mr. Bogus (love that name) because he’s a liberal. That there are so few deep thinkers among the list of influential liberal books, very much speaks for their “if there’s a problem, pass a law” mentality.

mp2c November 12, 2011 at 10:30 am

“Communist vs. socialist? Stalinist vs. Leninist vs. Trotskyite?”

So, a pretty key distinction here between the left and the right (at least from an American-centric view). The right (at least many on this site) seem to view all of the above as subcategories of modern liberalism. As a practicing liberal, I’ve never met a modern American liberal who would consider themselves any of the above other than the occasional socialist. Most just label themselves as liberals or progressives (with no clear distinction between the two). That is, I’ve never ever met an American Stalinist or Leninist, etc.

SmoledMan November 12, 2011 at 10:51 am

Who cares – your ideology inevitably leads us the to the same gulags.

mp2c November 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

Who cares? Potentially someone reading the original post, since I was commenting on it directly. Why are you reading the comments if you don’t care about the original topic?

As for “inevitably leads us to the same gulags,” counter examples exist and are plentiful.

Jon Murphy November 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I think, mp2c, Don’s point was to point out some of the extreme points of liberalism. I hope this doesn’t sound rude, but I am not sure how long you’ve been reading the blog. Russ often uses extreme examples to illustrate his point.

It would be similar to someone making the opposite point: “No parallel to taxomity on the right? Really? What about Fascism? The Tea Party? Fundamentalists?” Not everyone identifies with these categories, but they are the extreme POVs.

Jon Murphy November 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Russ’s point…sorry

mp2c November 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Jon,

I’ve read it a bit off and on. Once upon a time I was a regular listening to econtalk, but now I don’t listen regularly due to having a shorter commute.

You bring up a good point about extremes, but I’d point out that Christian Fundamentalists are a very sizable and vocal portion of the American right. The teaparty is very visible and in fact has influenced elections and seems to be effective at pushing elected Republicans to the right. The ideologies mentioned by RR don’t really seem to exist in current day America. BTW, i was ‘m’ on the other thread where we interacted.

Jon Murphy November 12, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Ah, ok how are you, M?

I’d agree that the fundamentalists are vocal, but I disagree that they are the majority, but that’s a discussion for another time.

I guess the better way to say things would be that there are gradients on both sides of the political spectrum. The unsaid conclusion in Bogus’ piece is that there are gradients on the right, but the left is one side, one place, one mind and the is singing und dancing.

mp2c November 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Absolutely there are gradients on both sides. For instance I think you can draw a clear centre->left line between President Obama and Micheal Moore with Krugman in between the two. I do think that it’s a fair statement that modern day Democrats are less concerned with ideology than modern day Republicans. These things may ebb and flow, but I think it accurately describes the current state. Two examples, on the left you have Obama and his constant “hippie punching” vs the all the pledges Republican candidates are being made to sign.

anthonyl November 12, 2011 at 10:05 pm

I don’t care what you call me! I have a set of beliefs that don’t fit into any category as is the case with just about everybody. Labeling stifles discussion. If I talk about supporting Ron Paul I get his campaign views on abortion thrown in my face. Not my view, but now I’m a conservative religious freak.
As I grow older I see the rigidity of so many of my “liberal” friends positions. People just don’t get the idea of freedom and the want government to save every poor uneducated child from their fate! I now understand that that child’s and everyone else’s fate is made worse by government interference.

El Diablo November 12, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Good point, my conservative religious friend.

Acertainflorentine November 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Fascinating (ok, maybe that too much) that he would not consider feminism to be an ideology….I think that says a lot about the error of his thinking.

Jonathan November 14, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I think Carl has a proper last name.

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