Monday, July 16, 2012

The Death Of A Conservative

As I stated in an earlier post, I've experienced a wholesale shift in my perspective from a single realization: I cannot know another person's world. I mentioned how it has affected all areas of my thought, with one area affected most practically of all: politics.

Politics, at its root, exists on a spectrum between no government and absolute government. No government has only a single formulation, anarchy, and absolute government has as many different formulations as totalitarian states throughout history have managed to conjure.

Underlying those two extremes are two metaphysical extremes vis-a-vis the person. The first extreme is found in absolute government, where the Grand Machine is seen as the defining element of life. The second is found in anarchy, where the soul of the individual is seen as the defining element of life. I now consider the latter viewpoint to be entirely untenable. I once considered myself a libertarian. I no longer do.

It requires me to believe that my internal world, my soul, is identical to someone else's soul. It rejects the importance of outside variables and thus ascribes power and responsibility to the soul contained within a human. It's no surprise that "personal responsibility" is practically a mantra of the conservative right.

My viewpoint also rejects extreme government because any rigid formulation of government makes the exact same assumption as rigid conservativism. There can be no "one size fits all" approach. It is in this way that my view is fundamentally behavioristic. We cannot know someone else's world, and as such, our governmental formulation cannot take into account any assumptions about their world. It must work only with quantifiable variables of behavior and society and stated goals.

If we have high crime, we cannot simply say "Criminals are bad! we must punish them!" because we have a great deal of evidence to show that this viewpoint doesn't do anything. We must draw upon history, psychology, neurology, economics, and sociology to figure out what the best answer to a finely stated problem is. Whatever that solution turns out to be, we should enact it. The argument should take place during the goal-defining phase.

I think that this viewpoint has inherent limits. It could never result in anarchy or despotism since both extremes are historically and philosophically untenable. There is no argument that can be made in their favor.

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