Nicely Put

Bill Reader, at Sarah Hoyt’s blog, speaking of American democracy:

It is also remarkable in how undramatic it was in its conception, admitting the probability that people with some flawed ideas are not flawed in all ideas—that extreme measures to silence a person because of disagreement, even totally valid disagreement over things that are an existential threat to the nation, would throw many babies out with the bathwater and render the country draconian and uncomfortable in the meanwhile.

A very good point–someone having bad ideas, or at least ideas that we think are bad, does not mean that he doesn’t also have good ideas.

One thing that I have noticed about “Progressives” is that their categorization engines tend to be over-aggressive:  if someone has any of the opinions/beliefs in a particular list, then it is assumed that he/she also has all other beliefs in that list.  For example, IIRC, I’ve seen commenters assail our friend Bookworm for being an Evangelical Christian, whereas actually, she is Jewish. They simply cannot grasp that there might be a Trump-supporting human who is in material ways unlike their mental model of Trump supporters (uneducated, angry, anti-sex, highly-religious Christian, etc).

The quoted passage is from a very interesting essay that is worth reading in full.

9 thoughts on “Nicely Put”

  1. From the linked article, right before the line you quote:
    “Indeed, one of the strengths of American democracy was that it was conceived in a way that allowed us to resist the proclivities of humans to centralize and plan-from-above, which have been destroying societies at least as far back as ancient Greece.”
    1. This is worded very strangely. The “allowed” in there makes it sound this was an accident, rather than an explicit feature in the design of the Constitution.
    2. That’s not “one of the strengths”, it’s THE strength–that power was very deliberately divided between various segments of society, NOT just between branches of government.
    3. Almost all of that separation of power has been thrown away, starting with the 17th Amendment and then with the Supreme Court’s “one-person one-vote” rulings being holed below the waterline. The Senate is the only vestigial remnant, and it’s not nothing, but it’s not that much either.

  2. Brian…huh, I don’t read it that way at all. The Constitution was *designed* in such a way that we can resist the centralizing tendency, but it does not–can not–automatically prevent the operation of that tendency: we the people have to actively resist it, and the Constitution gives us mechanisms for such resistance, ie, it “allows” us to do so. In an absolute monarchy, for example, no such resistance would be possible short of violence.

  3. The Constitution was written to divide power among multiple states with a string executive, which the Articles of Confederation lacked.

    The 10th Amendment made this specific.

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

    The Civil War ended that as states that had rebelled were stripped of citizenship and the Slaughterhouse Cases ended the rest of the 10th Amendment.

    A 1873 U.S. Supreme Court decision, 83 US 36, on a series of cases in which the Court expressed its first interpretation of the privileges and immunities clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court interpreted this clause as protecting the rights people have by virtue of their US citizenship, not by virtue of their citizenship of a state. It then defined the rights of US citizens narrowly, excluding civil rights. The dissents, and modern critics of the case, say that this effectively rendered the clause meaningless.

    As far as I know, not being a lawyer, these precedents still apply.

  4. The Left calls their binary classification system “intersectionality.”

    A friend of mine noticed this in the 1980s, when she tried to be a anti-abortion Democrat. She got schooled. Now is hard Left, but keep silent about her abortion views. Now she’s publically an anti-gun nut and a White coyote (that is, she’s part of an “Underground Railroad*” smuggling people into America).

    * A phrase she uses unironically, since she smuggles people not from slavery into freedom, but from freedom into the most racist, sexist, fascist country on Earth.

  5. As Chicago Boy Robert Ardrey once pointed out, the human tendency to perceive others in terms of ingroup and outgroup is innate. We are very flexible in how we define these categories. When the tendency evolved there was nothing arbitrary about it. The hunter/gatherers in the neighboring territory were the only potential outgroup around. Now we’re aware of a lot more “others,” and the evolved trait no longer accomplishes the same thing as it did in the stone age. We can perceive the outgroup in terms of race, economic class, religious beliefs, sports affiliation, and a host of other categories. Today’s “progressive” Left defines its outgroup according to ideology. As is the case with all other humans, they hate the outgroup, consider its members evil rather than simply wrong, attribute disgusting traits to them, etc. That explains the supposed “over-aggressiveness of their categorization engines.” All humans have over-aggressive categorization engines when it comes to the outgroup. Today, of course, it is a very dangerous tendency. Consider, for example, the mass murders of the 20th century by the Nazis against their outgroup (the Jews) or by the Communists against theirs (the “bourgeoisie”). In both cases, the blind, irrational, yet innate behavior in question was rationalized as “good” for reasons that are familiar to those who have read the relevant history. So it is with today’s leftists, who are thoroughly convinced that they occupy the moral high ground, in spite of the fact that they have no normative basis whatever for making such a claim. They also consider it “good” to hate the evil ones who dare to disagree about what is “good.” We will never be able to control the behavior in question unless we understand it, and in order to understand it one must first accept the fundamental fact that there is such a thing as human nature. IMHO, that is why the Blank Slate orthodoxy, which denied human nature and derailed and bowdlerized the behavioral sciences for more than half a century, ranks as the greatest scientific debacle of all time. The high priests of the Blank Slate were mainly leftist “scientists.” That’s a good thing to keep in mind the next time you hear a leftist claiming to be on the side of “science.”

  6. They lost me after the second paragraph:

    [Roman culture really. Darn those Roman colonialists. We took their form of Republic, but not their culture, which is why we do well enough. The Latin countries… sigh.- SAH]

    Despite the “Latin” in Latin America, the Hispanosphere has little claim to Roman culture or civilization. The western empire was overrun by Germanic hordes after the 4th century. The Iberian peninsula was settled by Visgoths that eventually formed the Castilian Dynasty and Franks that became the Joanine Dynasty.

    It’s true that close to 2/3 of Roman/Byzantine emperors were deposed, overthrown, killed in battle, or lost their rule in some way. Relatively few passed the imperial leadership over to a designated successor, and that was usually done with approval by the Senate, aristocracy, or the Church. However, this had the effect of maintaining socio-political mobility and preserving Roman civilization for two millennia.

    In comparison, in the United States our record of deposing leaders is 100%. We just do it regularly every four to eight years. We merely institutionalized the Roman tradition of elite recycling.

  7. Gurray: “We merely institutionalized the Roman tradition of elite recycling.”

    An interesting perspective — but we clearly need to do a better job of it. When the proven incompetent & dishonest wife of a sex-offender former President comes within an inch of herself becoming President … Houston, we have a problem!

    And that is merely one of many indications that we have a nepotistic elite. Bush, Murkowski — high government positions become inheritable. One of the surprising things about Lying Chrissie’s accusations against a Supreme Court nominee was the almost incestuous nature of all the connections between members of the elites.

    Problem is that once an “elite” has burrowed its way into the national fabric, there is no Low Pain way of removing that parasite.

  8. Here’s a good example of what Roman culture could accomplish. Emperor Anastasius, the original classical liberal, introduced financial reforms, cut taxes, and spread free market prosperity throughout the Roman Empire during the late 5th century into the early 6th century. This was about 25 years after the fall of Rome to the Goths.

    His most important reform was possibly introducing copper coinage in lower denominations that was still backed by gold. The follis was particularly popular. It was valued at roughly 200 to 1 gold solidus coin, and 1 follis bought about 1 pound of a loaf bread for several subsequent centuries. The currency reforms eased practical restrictions on commercial activities and private payments that fell under the value of the previous gold coinage. A strong and stable currency was one of the major factors that kept the empire going for another century.

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