We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

In politics, many debates are polarised for a reason. There are usually profound differences in the ideological priors underlying viewpoints and the interpretation of evidence. We should therefore be suspicious of the arrogance of those who feel they don’t have to formulate arguments from first principles, and instead unilaterally announce themselves and their ideas as above debate.

How often do we hear, for example, “it’s time to take the ideology out of this debate”, or, worse, “I’m only interested in what works”? Often these are rhetorical devices which simply mean “shut up, and accept I’m right”. But in other instances, users of these banal phrases seem genuinely unaware that what they are saying has any sort of ideological assumptions underpinning it.

Ryan Bourne

8 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Roue le Jour

    I’m not sure I have heard lefties say “I’m only interested in what works.” Have I missed some glaring example?

  • PeterT

    The central belief of the left is that liberal (classical sense) policies do not work, in that they fail to deliver a left wing agenda! No shit Sherlock.

    It is very dangerous to accept their premises (BHL libertarians take note – your good faith and gullibility will be taken advantage of). We must be honest about our ideological stance. Not every policy we favour (free schools etc) will unambiguously produce ‘better’ results (such as improved grades) and a resolute ideological commitment is necessary in the face of isolated set backs.

    The Achilles heel of libertarianism is that the benefits of our policies are large but diffuse and difficult to spot, whereas it is very easy to spot individual examples of where some policy (or lack of one) is ‘not working’.

  • Paul Marks

    Good post.

    It is indeed the case that “let us take the ideology out of this debate” or “let us work together for the common good”, or “let us take the politics out of this” means…..

    Let us expand the state, expand government.

    If all parties agree on something – it is generally wrong.

    “By partisanship” (or whatever it is called) is fatal.

  • Runcie Balspune

    The most common one is “the government should do something”, normally in response to some crisis that was probably caused by the government doing something.

  • Regional

    Mark Latham is one time candidate for Prime Minister who was soundly defeated in an election but he clearly expresses the mindset of the public broadcaster the ABC:
    ‘MARK LATHAM: That modern politics doesn’t handle big issues very well and we’ve now got to the point, effectively, of policy gridlock, where you can’t expect an Opposition Party like Labor to put forward carbon pricing at the next election for fear of Tony Abbott’s scare campaign…. That’s why I say that you have to think about alternative mechanisms of policy making that are independent, that are non-partisan…

    That’s the first step, for both sides to acknowledge that, really, you won’t get much done in this area if you open it up to political scare campaigns. The Reserve Bank model for monetary policy has been phenomenally successful in this country and Australians now have got accustomed to the idea this is how it’s done. So it can be applied in other areas of policy.’

  • Yeah, those pesky Other People, and their opinions.

  • Nick (Blame FrenchMEN) Gray

    I would not be surprised to learn that all democracies are really run by bipartisan committees of the two biggest parties, and the rest (Congress or Parliament) is window-dressing, or made for TV. For instance, everyone complains about gerrymandering- for the public, but nothing ever gets done to correct it.
    Any other examples?

  • George Tobin

    “The debate is over”
    “This should not be about politics”
    “Let’s focus on the real issues”
    There are numerous variants. For me, the question is always whether the speaker is a room-temp IQ who can’t think outside of a partisan script or a manipulative weasel. Very few manage to be both at the same time (John Kerry comes to mind).