The Writer in Black

The Writer in Black

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My political philosophy

I have been told from time to time that I should keep my politics to myself if I want to sell books.  I'll "turn off" readers.

Well, maybe.  But I am who I am.  And one of the things I am not is a shrinking violet.  So to hell with that.

I tend to more or less lean libertarian as a philosophical basis but don't believe it is truly achievable in the real world (so long as "real people" are involved) and also recognize that no system is stable in the long run and the trend is usually toward more "government" control over individual lives and less individual liberty.

This leads to making political decisions based on "will this help or harm on balance" or even "do less harm, or greater harm on balance" when "help" isn't an achievable option in furthering the cause of individual liberty.  Sadly, I've never seen a case where the choice was "helping less or helping more on balance".  Would be nice to have the luxury of such a choice.

And this tends to annoy the h*ll out of Libertarians of the "ideologically pure" stripe (as well as both Conservatives and Liberals) as I will agree with them philosophically while radically disagreeing with them tactically. (Oh, and by not buying the idea that the Liberal/Conservative/Libertarian "utopia" will every be achievable in the real world--that the best we can achieve is some stumbling approximation that only lasts for a while.)

I suppose you can call this position "Pragmatic Libertarian."

One of the consequences of my position is that sometimes "slow down the rate things get worse" is all one can expect to achieve. When I point out that a proposed "fix" falls somewhere between "very likely" and "almost certainly" on the "make things worse" scale it doesn't mean that I have a "better answer" other than "don't make things worse than they already are." Sometimes "don't make things worse" is the best you can hope for, at least for now.

I have seen that "not stable in the long run" and "trend toward more government control over individual lives" tend to be universal truths. In the long run there isn't a fix that anyone's found.

You don't have to like it. I don't. But that doesn't make it any less true.

And remember that just because "don't make things worse" or even "slow down the rate of things getting worse" may be the best you can hope for now, there's always tomorrow.  If you don't screw things up too much in the meantime, tomorrow gives you another chance to find, or build, something better. 

Neil Gaiman, on the subject of where he wanted to go with his art and career thought of his goals as a mountain.  And wherever he was at any given time, if he could look to that mountain and make his choices based on whether they moved him closer to or farther away from that mountain.  Some things he might choose to do at one point in his life, because they moved him closer to that mountain, he wouldn't do at others because, from that point in his life, they would be going farther away from the mountain.

That's how I think of politics.  What I want is that mountain.  I'm not going to get there all at once.  The question is, what can I do now that will move me closer to, or farther away from the mountain.  Unfortunately in politics there are lots of other people also moving around and as a result influencing where I can go.  And based on those other people's actions moving toward the mountain may not be an available choice.  Staying in one place may not be an available choice.  Sometimes the best I can do is try to avoid being pushed back too far away from it and hope I can get situated to move closer to it later.  And even that will not always succeed.

What has the best chance of moving me closer to that mountain?  If moving closer is unattainable, what has the best chance of minimizing how far I'm pushed away from it.  There are no simple answers.  This requires constant assessment of where you are and what is going on politically.  But it is the one thing that, if pursued, might actually reach the mountain in the end.

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