The Libertarian Wing of the Conservative coalition has started to peel off from the Limbaugh-Beck-Fox News-Tea Party wing. Here’s Julian Sanchez(Cato Institute) last week. Sanchez accused the Red meat wing of “epistemic closure”. Here’s how Sanchez now defines what he meant.
One of the more striking features of the contemporary conservative movement is the extent to which it has been moving toward epistemic closure. Reality is defined by a multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News. Whatever conflicts with that reality can be dismissed out of hand because it comes from the liberal media, and is therefore ipso facto not to be trusted. (How do you know they’re liberal? Well, they disagree with the conservative media!) This epistemic closure can be a source of solidarity and energy, but it also renders the conservative media ecosystem fragile. Read more…
When historians want to mark the moment the hyper-libertarian economic philosophy died in America, they might take this morning’s appearance by Ayn Rand’s disciple, Alan Greenspan before the House Oversight Committee.
Mr. Greenspan said he had made a “mistake” in believing that banks in operating in their self-interest would be sufficient to protect their shareholders and the equity in their institutions. Mr. Greenspan said that he had found “a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works.”
Mr. Greenspan, who headed the nation’s central bank for 18.5 years, said that he and others who believed lending institutions would do a good job of protecting their shareholders are in a “state of shocked disbelief.”
It is perhaps a marker of how far we have traveled in five weeks that when I proclaimed the end of the Uber-Libertarian on September 12, there was still a lot of push back from the community. For the leader of the libertarian philosophy to now proclaim he was wrong, seems to be the nail in that coffin. As Jacob Weisberg points out, libertarians have an excuse for every failing of the last few years, but they all ring false. Read more…
Categories: Business, Economics, Innovation, New Federalism, Politics, Recession, Wall Street Alan Greenspan, Banking Deregulation, House Oversight Committee, Jacob Weisberg, Libertarian, Slate
The conservative columnist David Brooks argues this morning that the basic principle that the conservative movement has been run on since Barry Goldwater–rugged individualism–is both wrong and disproven by science.
Goldwater’s vision was highly individualistic and celebrated a certain sort of person — the stout pioneer crossing the West, the risk-taking entrepreneur with a vision, the stalwart hero fighting the collectivist foe.
The problem is, this individualist description of human nature seems to be wrong. Over the past 30 years, there has been a tide of research in many fields, all underlining one old truth — that we are intensely social creatures, deeply interconnected with one another and the idea of the lone individual rationally and willfully steering his own life course is often an illusion.
Brooks argues that if man is an intensely social animal, then the uber-libertarian solutions of Republican dogma cannot solve the current crisis.
If there’s a thread running through the gravest current concerns, it is that people lack a secure environment in which they can lead their lives. Wild swings in global capital and energy markets buffet family budgets. Nobody is sure the health care system will be there when they need it. National productivity gains don’t seem to alleviate economic anxiety. Inequality strains national cohesion. In many communities, social norms do not encourage academic achievement, decent values or family stability. These problems straining the social fabric aren’t directly addressed by maximizing individual freedom.
These of course are issues we have been talking about since I started this blog in January. I welcome a pillar of the conservative movement into the conversation.
Categories: Economics, Education, Innovation, Journalism, New Federalism, Politics, Recession, Science cooperation, David Brooks, Libertarian, Politics, Science
One of the members of our community, Pete Wolf wrote on my Innovation Culture post about,
the way ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ are used to apportion the political field in a way that, although it does in some ways respond to existing divisions, also exacerbates certain tensions while suppressing the differences between many diverse interests.
I think the community on this blog is proof that the liberal-conservative identifiers are becoming useless in defining our politics. Perhaps the political compass (above) is more useful in locating us in this multi-dimensional world. Here is an example where some political figures might fit on this map.
The biggest problem with contemporary American politics is that locating ourselves along a left-right continuum makes for gridlock. Even though there are many differences of opinion on this blog around given issues, my guess is that we all locate ourselves somewhere in the bottom half of the compass in a decentralized, networked society. From that position of common beliefs, it becomes easier to seek common solutions to problems like alternative energy, education and health care. I’m interested in your thoughts on this.
I am about to take an 18 hour trip to Singapore on business, so for the next week I will be on a very different posting schedule. It may be sporadic, but I assume this issue of the political compass may provide grist for the comment mill, while I am offline.