Pluralism And Majoritarianism And All That-Some Links

Ross Douthat at the NY Times: ‘Why Liberalism Needs Pluralism

Watch those radical roots:

‘…much of progressivism is straightforwardly organized around the idea of the state-as-liberator, and inclined to see “the private life of power” as a greater threat to true liberty than either the tyranny of the majority or the kindly despotism of the administrative state.’

One of this blog’s primary concerns is that modern liberalism, as practiced with its progressive, collectivist and activist roots, has not addressed vital concerns between the individual and the collective, which can soon lead to the ‘tyranny of the majority or the kindly despotism of the administrative state’ as Douthat points out.

It’s not always as grave as that, but current liberal politics, with pressure from below, has been busy dragging 60’s feminist, environmentalist, and Civil Rights activism back into political discourse (to say nothing of New Deal, Big Labor, and other, older entitlement programs).

Perhaps Douthat’s piece also highlights a gap between many libertarians and conservatives that will very tough to bridge: Some libertarian ideas lead to anarchic consequences, and a vigorous libertarian defense of the individual contradicts many social and religious conservative organizing principles as well.

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On that note, if you want to see where labor activism in progressive politics can lead (unions and politicians generally fighting for the cause, their paychecks and their pensions first, the actual concerns of children later), look no further than California:

‘But after those basic protections were enshrined in law decades ago, labor leaders pushed legislators to expand rights and entitlements for public school teachers—at the expense of educating kids. In the last ten years, only 91 teachers out of about 300,000 (.003 percent) who have attained permanence lost their jobs in California. Of those, only 19 (.0007 percent) have been dismissed for poor performance

This is neither economically nor politically sustainable, and places impossible demands upon our institutions. As for the mayor of New York City:

‘The people are to show “the leaders the path.” But, it turns out, there is only one, progressive path, already marked out with thick hedges on each side. All we’ve really got to do is make sure everybody’s in the lane–get’em all signed up. The means has become the end–“universal” enrollment, not universal achievement–and the work of the good neighbor a matter of paperwork, not particular care or love’

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

From The New Yorker: ‘Writing Powered By Amtrak’

Cast a cold eye on life, on death, Amtrak, pass by!:

Amtrak has created a writing residency, or something between the clever use of social-media marketing and a ‘writing residency’.

From The New Yorker:

‘Amtrak is largely government-funded, though it operates as a for-profit enterprise. Also, it would cover Gross’s travel but wouldn’t pay her for writing. Still, there were similarities. While Amtrak was processing the tickets, Gross got an e-mail from Emily Mannix, a public-relations representative who works with Amtrak. ‘

Perhaps vigilant citizens who care about the arts and an open society could keep on eye on some struggling English and liberal arts majors out there.  Your sympathy can become someone else’s ’empathy’ and from there the demands can flow.

From David Thompson quoting a piece in The Guardian:

‘The perennial question among most creative people I know is not what to create, but how to create: how am I going to write this book/play/polemic and also pay the rent? It’s a tricky balance. Apart from a lucky few writers who get big advances or grants, most novelists cannot live off their work. They need a second (or even third) job to keep on writing.’

Thompson in response:

‘This admission, by novelist Brigid Delaney in the Guardian, may prompt readers to wonder whether we have a surplus of such “creative people,” more than the market can support. More than is required. Certainly, the career prospects of being a novelist, playwright or unspecified creative person don’t sound terribly good:’

Food for thought.

Related On This Site:  Repost-From Poemshape: ‘Let Poetry Die’

Ken Burns makes a good documentary, but he’s also arguing he absolutely needs your tax dollars in service of what he assumes to be a shared definition of the “common good” as he pursues that art.  The market just can’t support it otherwise. Repost-From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?…We’re already mixing art and politics, so…
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Here’s a suggestion to keep aesthetic and political judgements apart-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

From 2 Blowhards-We Need The Arts: A Sob Story

 From Big Hollywood: ‘The National Endowment For The Art Of Persuasion?’

A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’

Kenneth Anderson At Volokh: ‘The Fragmenting of the New Class Elites, Or, Downward Mobility’

Full post here.

Anderson has his own theory of the Occupy movements and the recession:

‘In social theory, OWS is best understood not as a populist movement against the bankers, but instead as the breakdown of the New Class into its two increasingly disconnected parts.  The upper tier, the bankers-government bankers-super credentialed elites.  But also the lower tier, those who saw themselves entitled to a white collar job in the Virtue Industries of government and non-profits — the helping professions, the culture industry, the virtueocracies, the industries of therapeutic social control, as Christopher Lasch pointed out in his final book, The Revolt of the Elites.’

I think the definition of liberty here is key.  The “New Class”, on this analysis, would be generally seeking to enshrine positive definitions of liberty as a libertarian might view liberty and liberalism (with individual freedoms eventually threatened by the consequences of political and social order such folks pursue…namely big States and perhaps a big World Government entity).

You can easily think of some Davos types, Bono and other entertainers, various non-profiteers, the right’s boogeyman George Soros and perhaps Al Gore, some advocates for world government,  humanists and cosmopolitans (old and new money) at the top.  Beneath them here at home one could easily think of social workers, community organizers, government nutritionists, environmentalists, unionized teachers, all of whom require the welfare State for their existence (other people’s money taxed and redistributed to them as they pursue their own self-interest and their own conception of the Good and public Good).

All of them, on this analysis, are rent-seekers (and rent-seeking is quite normal, but for these folks it requires a large State or the benefits gained here at home…and other markets abroad).  The problem is there’s no money left at the moment in the public coffers.  This could help explain the protests and many mainstream liberals awkwardly trying to co-opt what they see as a potential populist base for their own political and ideological interests.

Food for thought.

Related On This Site:   Ken Burns makes a good documentary, but he’s also arguing he absolutely needs your tax dollars in service of what he assumes to be a shared definition of the “common good” as he pursues that art.  The market just can’t support it otherwise. From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’

Steven Pinker curiously goes Hobbesian and mentions an ‘international Leviathan’:   At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

The market will make people better off, but always leaves them wanting more and in a state of spiritual malaise, which invites constant meddling.  Can economic freedom and free markets reconcile the moral depth of progressive big-State human freedom:  Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’A Few Quotations From F.A. Hayek’s: ‘Why I Am Not A Conservative’A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

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