Breaking News: TGGP Nabs Dain

With the dramatic implosion of The Art of the Possible blog, Dain has moved in with TGGP. I say we steal them both. Here's a taste of Dain's first post:

Diana C. Mutz of the University of Pennsylvania has done some excellent work on the degree to which deliberation and participation in our modern representative democracy are working at cross purposes. The problem is that exposure to different viewpoints - deliberation - is negatively correlated with political participation, because people don’t often voluntarily pursue intellectually antagonistic relations. In other words, individuals associate with like-minded others. Duh. When people get involved in politics it’s to get that “fellow feeling” based upon a shared…hobby, quite frankly, albeit one with a sense of intrinsic worth that can rival that of a religion.

Mutz’s rather bleak finding is that inducing deliberation can inadvertently strengthen partisanship, as the increase in potentially heated and uncomfortable political disagreement causes conflict-avoiding folks (most of us) to retreat to friendlier territory. [...] When you’ve already shared a hookah watching the final episode of Battlestar Galactica at your friend’s cousin’s house, what kind of monster would you be to rebuke said cousin after learning she is a member of the Save Darfur Coalition? (As a libertarian with an Old Right disposition toward world affairs living in the bay area, the above hypothetical rings familiar.)

Which calls to mind that great Learned Hand quote: "The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women."

I have reached (or am in the process of reaching) that Zen-like post-libertarian state. You can break the social rule of talking politics or religion at the dinner table as long as you don't take yourself too seriously. I get along great with both diehard Republicans (having been one myself way back when) and wooly-headed lefties (becoming one more so each day), but I still haven't figured out how to mediate between the two, without just changing the topic to something less controversial. And that's just admitting defeat, as far as deliberation is concerned.

The problem with deliberative democracy isn't the deliberation part; it's the participation part. If all talk of politics ended after the dinner party was over, and never reached the ballot box, things would be peachy.

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Micha, Do not go gently into

Micha,

Do not go gently into that fuzzy-headed night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the right.

I have moved further and further towards the right wing lately. I would like to think this is because of logical reasoning, but it is probably just through my more frequent association with right-wingers since the kick off of the Ron Paul campaign in 2007.

It's not a big deal, "right" and "left" are more of a state of mind than a stance on policy. I like that the right wing appreciates the traditions of western civilization instead of dismissing them as yestermillenia's fashion. The heavily Christian historical culture of the west has its faults, and I don't believe it is the optimal culture for a rapidly changing world. However, the default secular culture, consisting mostly of a few platitudes like "follow your dreams", "you are special", and "vote for Obama", also seems unsatisfactory.

"right" and "left" are more

"right" and "left" are more of a state of mind than a stance on policy

Bingo. I probably agree with Micha on policy than I do with my allies on the right (even if temperamentally I'm far more given to gradualism and experimentation). But left/right isn't just about policy; it's an approach to the world. And I think we righties have things better, for as the Washington Post put it

"[Republicans] have more money," Paul Taylor, director of the Pew Social & Demographic Trends project, writes in the new report. "They have more friends. They are more religious. They are healthier. They are more likely to be married. They like their communities better. They like their jobs more. They are more satisfied with their family life. They like the weather better."

Come back to the dark side, Micha . . .

I get along great with both

I get along great with both diehard Republicans (having been one myself way back when) and wooly-headed lefties (becoming one more so each day), but I still haven't figured out how to mediate between the two, without just changing the topic to something less controversial.

I dislike talking politics in person so much that I sometimes just walk out of the room when the topic comes up. I find it almost physically painful to do so. (I'm not even sure my friends know my politics, which tends to come out in very occasional bursts of exasperation.)

Left vs Right is nonsense

What matters is policy.

Left vs Right is

1) A remnant of the reptile brain, the same part that led Blues and Greens to massacre each other in Nika.

2) A search for ethos, which all humans yearn for. Better to get it from family, friends, and community than political factions.

There seems to be a greater

There seems to be a greater than random correlation between culture and politics. Most people pick up their politics based on the leaning of their peer group - their family, friends, and community. Policy matters very little in politics. So, "left vs. right" has a certain validity as both a political and a cultural concept.

Now culture is a lot more fine-grained than politics, so perhaps we lose out on some detail when we abstract to that level. "Left" and "right" are giant buckets in which multiple cultures fit, the fact that there are only two giant buckets is a function of a kludgey political system.

Right but...

Policy matters very little in politics.

But it ought to matter much more. The progressive stance is to argue about the rules, or as the SL might say, rules about rules, not to argue about the people.

Most, maybe all of us, got into politics as a Dem or Rep. The first step towards libertarianism is to realize that you don't have to be a Dem or be a Rep. You can be neither. Heck, you don't have to even be a Libertarian. You can simply be a libertarian. Even moreso, you don't even have to be a libertarian. You can simply argue for what rules are best. Arguing for "left" or "right" is going backwards.

"Left" and "right" are giant buckets in which multiple cultures fit, the fact that there are only two giant buckets is a function of a kludgey political system.

Right. At the very least we should acknowledge that the two culture classification is so coarse as to be useless. All is does is to divide the world between us and them.

But given that people do

But given that people do already classify themselves as left or right, the question becomes where the greatest opportunities for proselytization lie, and one strategy (appealing to the right) may be mutually exclusive with the other (appealing to the left). Since I think the growth opportunities for appeals to the right have been thoroughly exhausted, and the left has hardly been tapped, that leads me to align myself with the left.

Also, in my personal life, I'm a rabid secularist living in a thick religious community, a sex-positive deviate living in a very prudish (to my mind) culture, a responsible drug user, a radical, and in every which way not a conservative (albeit one with a slightly Hayekian, federalist bent).

It just seems to me that

It just seems to me that left wing culture is relatively ill-suited for leading a good life.

But then again, I am getting old. Maybe there is some truth to the left-wing in youth/ right-wing in later adulthood stereotype. Even if I have been a libertarian for awhile in my politics, my outlook has definitely changed from left to right. I used to wonder at the closed-minded old fuddy-duddies who got married and had low risk-tolerances. Now I am upset by the kids who succumb to short-term thinking and don't value the important things in life.

This appears to be a common path. If it is, then that would speak for advocating our ideas to people on all parts of the political spectrum, and not just the left or the right.

But given that people do

But given that people do already classify themselves as left or right, the question becomes where the greatest opportunities for proselytization lie, and one strategy (appealing to the right) may be mutually exclusive with the other (appealing to the left).

1) Hence the progressivity of thin libertarianism. The best argument for any political system is, "Here's why you'll like it based on your very own standards".

2) The vast majority of arguments for proselytization are not mutually exclusive to one side with respect to the other. Economic freedom is good for everyone, not right-wingers or left-wingers only. Decentralization/federalism is good for everyone, not right-wingers or left-wingers only.

3) It's too easy to fall prey to the reptile brain's way of thinking and split the world into good people and bad people. In psychiatry, there is a notion called "borderline personality disorder" in which the afflictee sees people as either good or bad, and sometimes he sees a particular person as good only to do an immediate 180 and conclude the person is evil. When I first learned about BPD, I realized I had known someone in the past who fit the description to a tee. She was unable to see people as they actually were--usually a flawed mix of good and bad--and only saw them as heroes or villains.

While BPD may be an extreme version of this tendency, it's more common in its milder forms all around us: sports rivalries, videogame fanboys, East Coast/West Coast rappers, Ford guys vs Chevy guys, etc. For anyone interested in truth, it's prudent to not fall into the trap of thinking with the reptile brain.

Given that the reptile brain is an obstacle toward truth, the left/right dichotomy leads to biases: an inability to see fault in your chosen side, and a dismissal of valid arguments presented by the other.

4) If the means to proselytize is via the internet, there really is no fixed-sum game here. You can shout to the world and see who listens. It's not like you have to pick which political convention to attend like back in the 60s. We have technology on our side. Everyone is within reach.

5) If people do categorize themselves as either right or left, I prefer to try to convince them this classification does more harm than good. To me, it's ridiculous to believe that there are two types of politics, let alone two types of people in the world.

I don't think you are using

I don't think you are using the term "thin libertarianism" in the same way that I and others who talk of thick vs. thin use the term. By thin libertarianism, we mean something like "lowest-common denominator libertarianism" - those minimum qualities which all libertarians share. I don't see this as analogous to what is often called the immanent or internal critique, i.e. "Here's why you'll like it based on your very own standards".

As for mutual exclusivity, I don't think it's true that economic freedom is good for everyone, by which I mean I don't think it's true that this argument is good for using with right-wingers. A certain right-wing mind set (shared by many on the left, albeit less consciously) simply does not care about people outside their tribe. Lefty cosmopolitans are therefore, in theory, more open to movement towards the correct policy position, so long as they can be convinced of the economics. The right-wing tribalist rejects the utilitarian calculus out of hand, by placing zero importance on people outside the tribe relative to people inside the tribe, and infinite importance on people inside the tribe relative to people outside the tribe.

There is no immanent critique available for dealing with the right-wing tribalist, other than scrapping the entire mindset out of hand. And the only way to do that is to keep pointing out how monstrous the bigotry of tribalism is. Libertarians who extol the virtues selfishness and vilify egalitarianism are working at cross-efforts here, by reinforcing the tribalist mindset.

It's possible that the

It's possible that the reason for that is that the right is more willing to put up with libertarians, while the left is always looking for heretics.

Personally I'm not so much interested in Blue v. Green politics these days. A number of Moldbug fans are here, and his latest post exhibits this with insisting that you pick one side in the American war of independence and it was really a black-and-white issue (but white is black and black is white). He fully accepts the B.S liberal frame, but just wants to reverse it. I come from conservatives and came of age when Clinton was President, starting wars around the world and sending jack-booted feds against religious compounds with arsenals he dissaproved of, so it was easier for me to identify with the right. Then when Bush took everything I hated about Clinton to an even greater extent and the people that had denounced such things earlier cheered him on, I didn't feel I could associate with any of them. I suppose I'm still "culturally conservative" and bourgeois to the bone though. I don't feel I have much of any common ground with the left. The right can accept chunks of the economic-consequentialist libertarian arguments, but I don't care a whit for any of the altruistic-moralistic arguments that some libertarians and liberals agree on.

I agree with Jonathan on thin-ness. If Micha has been steadily heading toward wooly-headed liberalism, I've been headed toward the pluralist decentralism which takes people as they are with no ambition to uplift them. I am completely on one side of liberalism's divide.

Re: treatment of heretics on

Re: treatment of heretics on the right and left, one counter data point is Christopher Buckley getting purged from his fathers magazine for endorsing Obama - a magazine and father notorious for excommunicating heretics (many times for the better, in my view).

I too am completely on one side of liberalism's divide - the same side that you are on. But the side of pluralist decentralism doesn't rule out the ambition to uplift others taken as they are; it merely rules out certain (non-pluralist, non-decentralist) methods for doing so. Leading by example and peaceful persuasion are perfectly kosher within the realm of pluralist decentralism.

Correct me if I'm wrong

Correct me if I'm wrong about 1) but I don't think the blue and the green massacred each other, they both rioted and then Justinian had imperial troops massacre the greens with the passive complicity of the blue who were spared.

Trudat

But the massarce couldn't have happened if the Blues and Greens didn't hate each other based on their "color".

Why do we always have to

Why do we always have to associate ourselves with either the left or the right? Does it really matter? Understand both sides. Modify them according to one's convictions. Form your own belief system. Above all, never pull the other down. Instead, support each other. We succeed by lifting each other, not by shooting them down.

Because I think the

Because I think the construct is interesting and it captures truth.

True but

I agree that it captures a certain truth. But in American politics, the actual lists of policy positions of the two main camps are both mixed, and libertarians agree with liberals on some things and with conservatives on other things. This situation is roughly described by the statement that libertarians are socially liberal and fiscally conservative (though the statement creates the false impression that the libertarians are the ones with a mixed platform). Libertarians making this point sometimes express it by saying that libertarians are neither right nor left.

However! The tremendous increase of government under Reagan (who was certainly a great communicator of libertarian ideas but, in the end, not a great implementer) followed by the rise of George H. W. Bush to power as a "compassionate conservative" followed by the eventual political failure of the Contract with America followed by eight years of Bush II accompanied by the massive shift to the fiscal left of the high-profile Republican governor Schwarzenegger (who had once lent his celebrity to an important television series by Milton Friedman) followed by the McCain nomination followed by the bipartisan passage of the 700 billion dollar bailout demonstrates that the Republican Party has, in effect, abandoned fiscal conservatism. There is very little left of the Republican Party to attract libertarians. This is unfortunate, because, earlier, there was very little left of the Democratic Party to attract libertarians, and this situation has not changed.