Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I hate to casually move on, with all these great

and thoughtful comments by everybody, but I've been derailed by S Michael, who showed me these guys.

I'm particularly enamored of this speech by David Brin:

Essences, Orcs and Civilization:
The Case for a Cheerful Libertarianism

A Keynote for the 2002 Libertarian Party National Convention

by David Brin, Ph.D.

Nobody makes me choose between freedom for my children and their safety!

This is abhorrent. A complete non-starter that demonstrates nothing but mental rigidity and lack of imagination by fools trying to foist an odious dilemma on the American people. The rigidity of zero-sum, inside-the-box thinking. It is completely unworthy of a civilization that has grown accustomed to positive sum games -- having our cake, eating it, watching the cake grow larger, while aggressively sharing slices with the poor!

I refuse to accept this vile 'devil's dichotomy,' and so should you.

In The Transparent Society I talk about how the very notion of a tradeoff is disproved every day by this very society that we live in. One in which people are simultaneously both safer and more free than any of their ancestors ever were. Indeed, these two desiderata appear to go hand in hand.

They had better. For I do not intend to live without either.

Go ahead, call them fools. Why not? It's what you've been doing for decades. The voters are idiots! It feels good to say that, right?

Alas, pragmatically speaking, that won't change any minds. And it sure won't get them to vote for you!

In a market -- one of your beloved markets -- an entrepreneur who presents the same product over and over, deriding customers for not buying it, would be the real fool. You'd laugh at such a fellow and tell him he deserves what he gets -- bankruptcy. Yet, you never view your political program that way, do you?
This habit of contempt is demeaning, futile and self-defeating, on so many levels:

1. Science has learned recently that contempt and indignation are addictive mental states. I mean physically and chemically addictive. Literally! People who are self-righteous a lot are apparently doping themselves rhythmically with auto-secreted surges of dopamine, endorphins and enkephalins. Didn't you ever ask yourself why indignation feels so good?

2. It gives voters the creeps.

3. Libertarianism isn't the only dogma that encourages true believers to wallow in contempt for the masses. But only among Libertarians is contempt so blazingly and blitheringly hypocritical! Think about it. Your fundamental postulate -- the core basis -- is a belief that people, left alone, can be trusted with more than a burnt match! They should be treated like grownups, capable of making their own decisions, right? Yet, your excuse for failure is that they are fools. You can't have it both ways! (See Questionnaire section #3 "The Toxicity of Ideas.")

4. It gives voters the creeps.

5. If this civilization is so stupid, fallen and flawed, how come it's the first one to produce so many Libertarians?

6. It gives voters the creeps.

7. Contempt is utterly redolent of the Look-Back Worldview!

It's a five [web-] pager. I'm very close to placing this quote, cited in the speech, at the head of my blog:
"Any comfortable American who is cynical of progress -- or the competent decency of modern civilization -- hasn't pondered how life was for our ancestors. Any day that cossacks haven't burned your home should start out a happy one, overflowing with optimism."

- M.N. Plano

My early response to contact with these gentlemen is that I think I'd like to earn a place at the New Libertarian table.

What has blown me out of Libertarian circles is the contempt shown for people that I love and respect, some of whom have been warriors in Iraq. But that's another post.

Update: M.N. Plano also wrote this essay, these stories and this quote: "Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. Don't assign to stupidity what might be due to ignorance. And try not to assume your opponent is the ignorant one -- until you can show it isn't you."

I suspect Plano is a pseudonym for Brin.

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