Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Libertarians on the side of the Angels

Well, speaking figuratively, of course. I have my disagreements with libertarians, but I have to say that liberals and libertarians are standing shoulder to shoulder, reading from the same page, there is no daylight between us, speaking with one voice (hmm, I'm sure I've left out a few cliches...) on two issues: (1) Torture (and in general, the erosion of civil liberties), and (2) the distortion of science by politics. via Jim Henley:


Click permalink for the rest...
Here's the great libertarian blogger, Arthur Silber

The United States was uniquely the creation of the Enlightenment, and it originally embodied the Enlightenment’s cardinal values: reason, individualism, and free markets. For a long time now, individual rights and economic freedom have been under relentless assault – an assault carried forward by the Bush administration in a manner the most determined statist can only envy. The present administration goes so far as to advocate lifelong detention of “suspected” terrorists, with no charges ever being filed and without access to a lawyer. And the administration’s efforts on behalf of corporate statism seek to make permanent the Republican alliance with certain business interests in an immensely destructive melding of the private and public spheres, in a way which has nothing to do with genuine economic freedom. (By the way, this is true in spades of the administration’s proposal to “privatize” Social Security; more on that soon.)

Philosophically, reason has similarly been under attack for many years. But now, the outright rejection of reason has become commonplace. Mark this well, and let me repeat in very plain terms a point I discussed just last week: the fact of evolution is not a question open to legitimate debate. It is supported by endless amounts of scientific data, and nothing has yet been found to contradict or undercut its central arguments. Yes, there remain certain areas to be filled in – but this does nothing to undercut the truth of evolution. It simply means that certain explanations are not yet complete. But as is discussed further below (and in the earlier post), recourse to notions such as “intelligent design” explains nothing. It only represents ignorance parading as knowledge, and the substitution of faith for reason...

I am convinced that the neverending war atmosphere in which we now live plays a significant part in this, as well: people who are relentlessly terrified by their own government, and who have any number of mainstream commentators adding to the frenzy, are not likely to step back and reflect on basic ideas, at length and with care.

Fear is not conducive to detailed, analytic thinking. Instead, it gives rise to meaningless, propagandistic phrases such as, “You’re either with us or against us,” “You’re not antiwar…you’re on the other side!,” that teaching evolution represents nothing less than “an assault by the secular elite,” and that the ACLU is the equivalent of “the Taliban.”

It’s all propaganda, and it’s all designed to marginalize anyone who dares to disagree with the conventional wisdom, as announced by the self-appointed few. And it’s anti-intellectual in the most profound meaning of that term.

We are becoming a nation of ignoramuses. No wonder fewer and fewer people around the world respect us. In large part, they’re entirely correct.


Post a Comment

<< Home