In my most-recent column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review I argue that society is far more complex than it is imagined to be by political “Progressives” – and that “Progressives'” attempts at social engineering, although cast in a scientific light, are dogmatic exercises in superstition . A slice:
Contrary to progressives’ superstition, there is no one optimal level of fuel efficiency. Because automobile buyers differ from each other in their preferences for style and for risk, as well as in their incomes, there are almost as many optimal levels of fuel efficiency as there are automobile owners. Yet, progressives unscientifically ignore such differences among individuals. Progressives believe that a handful of bureaucrats are capable of doing what is literally impossible — namely, divining the optimal level of fuel efficiency for tens of millions of diverse automobile buyers.
To justify centralized control — not only of fuel-efficiency but of countless other aspects of our lives — progressives unscientifically pretend that reality is vastly simpler than it is in fact.
True “reality-based” politics — for example, classical liberalism — understands and respects reality’s colossal complexity and the enormous diversity among individuals. Unsurprisingly, such a politics deeply distrusts centralized power. It leaves as many decisions as possible to each of the many individuals on the ground and gives as little power as possible to mandarins in capital cities.
Timothy Taylor just discovered Thomas Babington Macaulay’s magnificent 1830 essay “Southey’s Colloquies on Society. ” (This essay is one reason that my son’s name is Thomas Macaulay Boudreaux.)