May 06, 2005

Heads Up

I just taped a radio interview for Canada’s The World Tonight. It went pretty well, I think, and you can listen to it live here at 7:00 pm West Coast time. (That’s 10:00 pm for you East Coast laggards.)

UPDATE: It has been pointed out in the comments that those on the West Coast are laggards. Well, I can't be right about everything, can I?

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 6, 2005 04:06 PM
Comments

(That’s 10:00 pm for you East Coast laggards.)

Michael,

that would be the WEST coast laggards.

Posted by: spaniard at May 6, 2005 04:55 PM

Michael, it’s a Calgary station, which is Mountain Time. So 7 PM Mountain is 9 PM Eastern, and 6 PM Pacific.

Which means, unfortunately, I think I’ve missed it.

Let us know if there is any way to replay it from archives.

And if the east coast are laggards, then I guess we’re ALL laggards compared to the Spaniards.

And the French of course.

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 6, 2005 06:27 PM

They just announced that you're later in the program!

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 6, 2005 06:36 PM

Great radio interview, Michael!

You’re a guy who puts his actions where his mouth is. You’re also a guy who uses his mouth very well.

The interviewer did a good job too, I thought. He seemed prepared enough to ask good questions, and then let you answer.

I suspect you will get more Canadian, especially Albertan, visitors to your web site after this. Especially since the interviewer mentioned the pictures of babes after the interview.

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 6, 2005 07:29 PM

"I suspect you will get more Canadian, especially Albertan, visitors to your web site after this."

Will Alberta break off from the rest of Canada in the near future? How much longer can they endure the French Canadians? This is a country with a Mickey Mouse military and growing welfare state economy. Let’s face it, the United States defends its borders. I’m sure that the more conservative Albertans are ashamed of the liberals who dominate their national government. Yes, it will be good to hear from them.

Posted by: David Thomson at May 6, 2005 08:03 PM

David,

As a non-Albertan Canadian I'm sick and tired of the bumbling and corruption of the federal Liberals too, but it ain't all black and white. Say what you will about the slimy bastards, but the Liberals get it fiscally. When the Liberals came to power in the early 90's, the annual deficit was almost 40 billion. Multiply that by 10 to get a comparable figure for the American economy. The federal government has had budgetary surpluses, and hence has been paying down the national debt, since the mid 90's.

The Conservatives were in power from the early 80's to the early 90's. They inherited a deficit, and always talked about doing something about it, but never did. The deficit was larger than they found it when they lost power. Plus there was the same stench of corruption towards the end of the Mulroney government. The conservative movement in Canada split into two parties for about 15 years, largely over fiscal and corruption issues.

Anyway, after witnessing the food fight that the comments section became in the "Unintended Consequences" article, I've decided to try and keep my comments as constructive as possible. No doubt, being human, I will occasionally slip and give someone the e-finger, but I'll do my best. And I will simply ignore comments that are just flaming. So if you want to dialogue about this, skip the gratuitous insults about my country. I shall try to extend you the same courtesy.

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 6, 2005 09:57 PM

Vino,

Sorry about the insults, even if they weren't from me. I have always liked Canada, and I include Quebec (which I have visited) when I say that. The only thing that really bugs me about your country is the border police. Even the Libyan border was easier for me to cross, though getting the visa was a royal pain.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 6, 2005 11:14 PM

Michael,
You sounded different I thought you would from your picture, for whatever that's worth.
The interviewer wasn't exactly Mr. Excitement but the interview was pretty interesting, though not nearly so as the pictures.
Mike N

Posted by: Mike at May 6, 2005 11:43 PM

Mike,

People always sound (and act) different than you expect them to. I've met a lot of writers and bloggers and am always surpised.

The biggest shock is Marc Cooper. Look at his picture, then listen to one of his radio interviews. The disconnect is just incredible. I don't mean that in a bad way or anything, it just is.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 7, 2005 12:59 AM

I have posted too many comments on your blog recently. This last comment, probably one to many, is about an essay you wrote in 2004 about the Jacksonians. I hope you will make more of an effort in judging the Jacksonians. They may not be interesting as a culture, but they have a long history that includes the Romans. (the original wall to keep them out). Also those of us who are "Jacksonian" want to contribute to the Union.

We are not a bunch of oafs sitting around in Red America looking for a fight, although we tend to enjoy one, the blue and red must engage each other. We are all being sliced up by clever politicians along demographic lines. I am certain that a Wilsonian, Jacksonian and a Jeffersonian will probably meet somewhere in the middle. We will probably despise each other and agree on something that benifits all of us, ooo-rauh.

Posted by: Mike at May 7, 2005 01:09 AM

MJT: "The only thing that really bugs me about your country is the border police. Even the Libyan border was easier for me to cross, though getting the visa was a royal pain."

That surprises me. I've never had any real problem going in either direction. Over the years I've had my car searched once coming into Canada - a random check. I've also encountered a few cranky American customs agents, but anyone can have a bad day, and it was probably near the end of their shift.

I also find your comment ironic, given the common American view that Canada has lax border security.

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 7, 2005 05:52 AM

Michael,
What was your interview about? The connection speed over here is horrendous.

Posted by: lebanon.profile at May 7, 2005 08:32 AM

LP,

It was about Spirit of America, Lebanon, Syria, Hezbollah, etc. I don't remember what I said, exactly. It was yesterday. :)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 7, 2005 09:14 AM

"People always sound (and act) different than you expect them to. I've met a lot of writers and bloggers and am always surpised."

My most recent shock is seeing a pic of Eric Sheie. I always thought he was a 20-something grad student.
My previous shock was meeting Damian Penny, who I always thought had a beard.

OTOH, Hitchens looks just like he's supposed to. :-)

Posted by: Yehudit at May 7, 2005 06:21 PM

Wait. VinoVeritas is Canadian? Whereya based, VV? I'm in Vancouver.

Michael, re the border police. We're just trying to keep the riff-raff out. :-)

David Thomson: Re Alberta. We have no legal means of succession built into our constitution, so I'm afraid the oil, um, I mean Alberta, will have to stick with the rest of us for a while. ;-)

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 8, 2005 09:20 AM

DPU: "Whereya based, VV?"

Big bad Ontario. aka the heartland of Canada. aka the engine of Canada's economy. aka those arrogant eastern bastards.

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 8, 2005 03:13 PM

“We have no legal means of succession built into our constitution, so I'm afraid the oil, um, I mean Alberta, will have to stick with the rest of us for a while. ;-)”

They are not going to like hearing you say that. When will the revolution begin? How many heads will roll down the capitol steps?:

“Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, CPC): Mr. Speaker, yesterday there was more sworn evidence that the Liberals bought elections with illegal cash. Money was skimmed from the pockets of honest, hard-working Canadians and used to corrupt our once proud democracy.

Vote buying is now ingrained in the Liberal culture, as we see the government's daily backroom deals costing billions. Is it not true that the elastic Liberal budget is just another dishonest ploy to cling to power?”

http://newsbeat1.com/

Posted by: David Thomson at May 8, 2005 05:58 PM

Yehudit,
How old is Damian Penny and what does he look like? I assumed he was in his late 20's to late 30's?

Mike

Posted by: Mike at May 8, 2005 10:37 PM

For the uninitiated, David Thomson is quoting a Conservative in "Question Period" - a pathetic, embarrassing feature of parliamentary democracy in which the opposition parties ask the government questions, and the government answers. Except the questions aren't really questions, just strident posturing; and the answers aren't really answers, just strident posturing.

To the best of my knowledge Americans don't have Question Period, which I guess is why they need things like the Lewinsky affair.

David is right that there is a major scandal in Canada right now. In a nutshell, the federal Liberal government gave government advertising contracts to Liberal-friendly ad agencies, who in turn gave kickbacks to the federal Liberal party. To what extent was the Liberal party as a whole involved, and to what extent was it rogue elements? Well, that's currently the subject of an independent inquiry.

But stepping back, let's look at the dynamics of the "discussion" David is trying to instigate.

If a Canadian, or a Democrat, or anyone with whom conservatives disagree makes a critical comment about American policy in the Middle East, that person is labeled an enemy of America - someone who is gloating over every small misfortune that occurs in the march to democracy. And it becomes the duty of every lefty, liberal, and socialist to denounce that statement and every other similar statement that was ever made, anywhere.

What we have with David is the opposite - a right winger who seems to be gloating over the problems in a peaceful democracy, and who seems to be eagerly hoping for the violent break-up of that democracy.

What a strange thing to hope for! To have your largest trading partner, with whom you share one of the longest borders in the world, racked by corruption and violence. In short, to have a Mexico to your north as well as your south. Is that really in your national interest?

I'd call it schadenfreund, except it's obvious that David doesn't consider Canada to be a friend.

Perhaps, like Pat Buchanan, David hopes that if Canada breaks up the US will absorb the English-speaking parts. Again, what a strange thing to hope for - if you're a conservative! Most Canadians, even Albertans, are generally more liberal than most Americans. The annexation of Canada would tip the balance and guarantee a Democratic president for the next 50 years.

Look, I don't think it's the duty of every conservative to denounce David Thomson's views, but it might be nice if one or two did.

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 9, 2005 05:32 AM

“What we have with David is the opposite - a right winger who seems to be gloating over the problems in a peaceful democracy, and who seems to be eagerly hoping for the violent break-up of that democracy.”

I do not hope for the violent breakup of Canada. But this country is no longer a close ally. It has chosen to kowtow to the politically correct establishment that essentially runs the national government. You should visit Roger L. Simon’s blog. He has posted a number of items concerning the widespread corruption of Canada’s political leaders---and how the citizens are prohibited from telling the truth. Censorship is almost the norm in Canadian society.

America defends Canada. It is our tax dollars that are indirectly used to protect this nation’s borders. Far too many Canadians do not hesitate to stab us in the back. They are no longer to be trusted. That’s just the reality of the situation. There’s no reason to continue lying to ourselves.

Posted by: David Thomson at May 9, 2005 06:36 AM

Censorship is almost the norm in Canadian society.

David is absolutley correct in this. I'd like everyone to know thaXXXXXXXXX. CSIS INTERCEPT *** MALFORMED POLITICAL CONTENT *** INTERNET TRANSMISSION TERMINATED ***

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 08:45 AM

alberta is interesting as the only place where the social credit movement has ever come to power. social credit was a right-wing populist economic ideology popular in the thirties, very much associated with antisemitism through famous supporters such as ezra pound. I'd bet that most albertans would have more sympathy for a pat buchanan type of conservativism, as opposed to the corporatist variety of conservativism current currently ascendent in the U.S.

Posted by: at May 9, 2005 08:57 AM

Alberta is interesting as the only place where the social credit movement has ever come to power. social credit was a right-wing populist economic ideology popular in the thirties, very much associated with antisemitism through famous supporters such as ezra pound. I'd bet that most albertans would have more sympathy for a pat buchanan type of conservativism, as opposed to the corporatist variety of conservativism current currently ascendent in the U.S.

Posted by: Markus ROSE at May 9, 2005 08:59 AM

Alberta is interesting as the only place where the social credit movement has ever come to power.

Incorrect, Markus, the Social Credit Party ran British Columbia from 1952 until driven from office by the socialist hordes in 1991, unnterruption except by the aforementioned socialist hordes gaining power from 1972 to 1975.

That doesn't mean we'd like Buchanan very much.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 09:12 AM

"Alberta is interesting as the only place where the social credit movement has ever come to power."

Actually the Socreds held power in British Columbia as well for quite a while - DPU help me out on the dates. There were also Socreds elected to the feredarl parliament from Quebec, as well as Alberta andBC in the 60's.

Alberta has been consistently conservative for a long time, but BC politics are much more eclectic, and make a much better spectator sport.

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 9, 2005 09:14 AM

Alberta has been consistently conservative for a long time, but BC politics are much more eclectic, and make a much better spectator sport.

Indeed. There was an entertaining fistfight between political campaigners just the other day. And while we're going to the polls next week, we're also voting on whether to radically change the way we do elections. We're considering changing to the Single Transferable Vote system, which is a bit more complicated, but will result in a more truly representative government. If implemented, you're likely to see Green Party MLAs, and possibly members of the Marijauna Party elected. Then we'll see some entertaining government.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 09:32 AM

Most Canadians, even Albertans, are generally more liberal than most Americans.

If you define "liberal" as anti-authority, then most Candadians, who prefer a strong, centralized nanny state, could not really be called more liberal than most Americans. They're more socialist, in a democratic sort of way.

The Greens, who are about as isolationist as Pat Buchanan, couldn't be called liberal, but the Marijauna party probably could.

Posted by: mary at May 9, 2005 11:51 AM

If you define "liberal" as anti-authority...

Why would anyone do that? Liberalism places a strong sense of obligation on government to be good government, and as such are stong proponents of the, ahem, "nanny" state. As opposed to classical conservatism, which urges minimal interference of government in the natural workings of society and the marketplace.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 12:16 PM

You damn socialist nanny-stater Canadians with your made-up country and your pretend government. I curse you and your healthcare system that covers everyone in your country and on which you spend a smaller percentage of your GDP than do we Americans! Especially while we Americans spend our money to guard your borders from your natural enemies, Santa Claus and his elf army, and also Greenland and such.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go. The police are knocking on the door to make sure no one is having any gay sex, that any straight people are receiving blowjobs from one another, or that people of any sexual orientation are freely entering into contracts concerning inheritance and the like with one another. It's so good to live in a non-nanny-state like America, where only sex between consenting adults is punishable by arrest and fines.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 9, 2005 12:19 PM

Commenter, I should mention that our stupid government won't let us drink booze out on the street or at the beach, and until recently we had to buy it at government run liquor stores.

We can, however, smoke dope in the street if we want to, and see full-frontal nudity on prime-time TV without anyone panicking. Plus the state doesn't yet tell us which countries we can or cannot visit, so there may be some hope for us yet.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 12:32 PM

Curses! Roger L. Simon has led me to believe that you are unfree to speak your minds! Now excuse me, I have to go bail my grandmother out of jail. She attempted to carry a humerous sign* to a Bush rally, and is now being strip-searched.

*"Re-Defeat Bush!" Can you believe this stuff? Wowza!

Posted by: The Commenter at May 9, 2005 12:41 PM

Oh yeah. And we don't have one of these yet: Vere are your papers, old man?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 12:52 PM

Re: Markus:

"Alberta is interesting as the only place where the social credit movement has ever come to power. social credit was a right-wing populist economic ideology popular in the thirties, very much associated with antisemitism through famous supporters such as ezra pound"

Others have pointed out B.C. but the Social Credit movement was also very popular in Quebec until the 1960's. If my memory serves me, its last best known leader was Real Caouette. The Quebec version was called Creditiste

Posted by: John B at May 9, 2005 01:28 PM

If you define "liberal" as anti-authority...

Why would anyone do that?

Ask Merriam webster. From their definition of liberal:

5 : BROAD-MINDED; especially : not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms

or

Main Entry: lib·er·al·ism
Pronunciation: 'li-b(&-)r&-"li-z&m
Function: noun
1 : the quality or state of being liberal
2 a often capitalized : a movement in modern Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity b : a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard c : a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties d capitalized : the principles and policies of a Liberal party.

Liberalism is opposed to a strong, centralized state with too much authority over the economy and social issues.

You, like Jacques Chirac, seem to be confused by the concepts of liberal vs. conservative. Chirac is opposed to the liberal philosophies of the Anglosphere, and he claims that liberal market principles are “the new communism of our age”.

??

Posted by: mary at May 9, 2005 01:34 PM

Ah, yes, the liberal philosophies of the Anglosphere, such as steel tarrifs and anti-sodomy laws.

Recall also that the Godfather of liberalism, Adam Smith himself, believed that capitalism, left to its own devices, would ultimately disserve humanity, and that intervention by the government (such as to oppose the trend towards monopolies) would be neccessary.

Imagining in the purely hypothetical (ignoring the reality of the cheaper and, in many ways, better health care systems of places like Evil France) that a government-run healthcare system were better (covers more people with better care) and cheaper than its free market alternative, would a classical liberal oppose such a program? Probably not. A libertarian might - but there's a difference between the two. A liberal can make a principled liberal argument that a government-run healthcare system that's was cheaper and provided better care than a market-oriented system actually increases individual liberty by putting more money into one's pockets and by ensuring a healthier population (granting people greater freedom of action by freeing them from the burdens of illness).

So, really, all these words are, you know, less than perfect when it comes to describing an infinitely complex reality.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 9, 2005 01:53 PM

You, like Jacques Chirac, seem to be confused by the concepts of liberal vs. conservative.

Gosh you're quick to say that others are confused. Aren't you the one who thought that the very conservative Chirac was left-wing?

At any rate, let me try to clear up the confusion that befuddles me. I must have picked it up from those political science courses I took. Stupid liberal acedemics must have clouded my mind or something.

You have equated being against authoritarianism as being against government. It isn't so black and white. Liberalism defines the role of government as protecting individual freedom and promote goodness in society. While liberalism rejects authoritarian states and encourages individualism, it doesn't reject government, not its role in protecting the individual from the tyranny of the state, the majority, and the economy.

As Canada has run by the largest liberal party in the world for most of the last fifty years or so, our nanny state could be said to be the definitive liberal government.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 01:56 PM

Mary: "If you define "liberal" as anti-authority, then most Canadians, who prefer a strong, centralized nanny state, could not really be called more liberal than most Americans. They're more socialist, in a democratic sort of way."

When was the last time you visited Canada, Mary? Maybe I'm just totally brainwashed, but I definitely don't feel like
I'm living in a nanny state.

Is this liberal enough for you? "The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation." - Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Liberal Prime Minister of Canada, circa 1968.

Can you imagine any American politician saying such a thing then, or now, and not igniting a storm of protest?

Does your government allow you to visit Cuba? Mine does. Did your government allow you to visit Communist China in the 1970's? Mine did. I haven't been to either Cuba or China, but as a Canadian I could have.

As I understand it, depending on what US state you're in, certain bodily orifices have statutory restrictions on their use by consenting adults. There are no such restrictions in Canada. Not even in Alberta.

If we're a nanny state, I guess Nanny Canuck must have Alzheimer's or something.

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 9, 2005 02:02 PM

DPU,

Although I disagree with Mary on her depiction of Canada, I have to agree on her definitions of liberalism and conservatism. Stephen Harper (leader of the Canadian Conservative Party) gave a good speech on this issue about two years ago.

Harper:

"Ted Byfield labelled these factions "neo-con" and "theo-con." More commonly, they are known simply as economic conservatives and social conservatives. Properly speaking, they are called classical or enlightenment liberalism and classical or Burkean conservatism.

The one called "economic conservatism" does indeed come from classical liberalism. Its primary value is individual freedom, and to that end it stresses private enterprise, free trade, religious toleration, limited government and the rule of law.

The other philosophy is Burkean conservatism. Its primary value is social order. It stresses respect for customs and traditions (religious traditions above all), voluntary association, and personal self-restraint reinforced by moral and legal sanctions on behaviour."

*****

It's funny how polarities flip in politics over the decades. The Liberals lost the election of 1911 for advocating free trade with the US. The conservatives won the election of 1988 advocating free trade with the US.

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 9, 2005 02:29 PM

Modern consevatism does owe some of its lineage to liberalism, but I think that Mary is confusing libertarianism with liberalism, as her assertion that Canada is socialist indicates (the NDP would be very surprised to hear that they're running the country, I imagine).

Or possibly I'm misspeaking, and Mary can explain what she sees as the differences between conservatism, liberalism, socialism, and libertarianism, and how they apply to our nanny nation.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 02:45 PM

Geesh, I wish I could spell correctly today...

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 02:46 PM

You have equated being against authoritarianism as being against government. It isn't so black and white. Liberalism defines the role of government as protecting individual freedom and promote goodness in society. While liberalism rejects authoritarian states and encourages individualism, it doesn't reject government, not its role in protecting the individual from the tyranny of the state, the majority, and the economy.

You, a socialist, are trying to explain liberalism to me, a liberal, by redefining liberalism as socialism. It's not working.

No liberal would oppose the "tyranny" of a free economy. However, Chirac, a conservative, opposes American 'liberals'.

Basically, liberals believe that everyone, regardless of birth, should have equal opportunities.

Socialists believe that equality should be standardized at the expense of freedom and opportunity.

According to the definition of economic liberalism, Canada's economic policies are more socialist than America's. They are, by definition, less liberal.

Canada's gun laws are less liberal than America's. Americas gun laws were intended to protect the individual from the tyranny of the state. Most Canadians support these gun control laws, so in that way most Canadians are less liberal than most Americans.

While our government is, at the present time, socially conservative, according to most polls the majority of Americans are pro-choice. The majority oppose anti-sodomy laws, and they also support equal rights for gay couples. Most of the people who oppose gay marriage do so because of the word 'marriage'. They're ok with the idea of civil unions with the same rights & responsibilities.

Americans are less liberal than Canadians about drug laws, but they do understand the concept that all men are created equal. Americans are unique that way. The British and the Candians, with the respect paid to the monarchy, don't really get the concept.

In general, Canadians are less liberal than Americans.

I've been to Canada many times and I like most things about it other than the lack of real highways and "God save the Queen". But I don't understand why fans of big government pretend to be liberals?

American big-government types pretend to be liberals too, and when you disagree with them, they say 'you're not a liberal, you're a neo-con'. I've been annoyed by that for awhile.

Posted by: mary at May 9, 2005 03:10 PM

What do you see as being the difference between liberalism and conservatism, Mary? And what's the difference between libertarianism and liberlaism?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 03:15 PM

Crap. Make that "And what's the difference between libertarianism and liberalism?"

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 03:17 PM

Mary:You, a socialist, are trying to explain liberalism to me, a liberal, by redefining liberalism as socialism. It's not working.

A quote from the the always-valuable Wikipedia's article on the State
In broadly-defined liberal thinking, the state should express the public interest, the interests of the whole society, and to reconcile that with those of individuals. (This job seems best performed by a democratically-controlled state, but different types of liberalism put different meanings on the word "democracy.") The state provides public goods and other kinds of collective consumption, while preventing individuals from free-riding (taking advantage of collective consumption without paying) by forcing them to pay taxes.

Within this school, there is a wide variety of differences of opinion, varying from free-market libertarianism to modern, New Deal, or social liberalism. The main debate along this line concerns the ideal size and role of the state. While libertarians argue for a small or "minimal" state, which simply protects property rights and enforces individual contracts, the New Deal or social liberals argue that the state has a greater positive role to play, given the problems of market failure and gross inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth inside a capitalist system. In general, almost no liberals see the state as currently living up to the philosophical ideal, and therefore argue for change in one direction or another.

The views of social liberals regarding the state are also broadly shared by the social democrats and democratic socialists.
From the article on Liberalism:
The fundamental difference between liberalism and social democracy, besides the fact that they have very different origins, lies in their views regarding the role of the state in the economy. Social democracy seeks to achieve a certain extent of equality of outcomes, and upholds egalitarianism as the source of its moral values. Social democrats support a large public sector and the nationalization of utilities such as gas and electricity in order to avoid private monopolies, achieve social justice, and raise living standards for all. Liberalism, on the other hand, prefers much more minor state intervention, for example in the form of subsidies, and believes that major industries should be regulated, but not state-owned. Social democracy is also generally believed to place more of an importance to a positive conception of rights and liberties, as opposed to a more strictly (though by no means completely) negative one more commonly associated with liberalism. Beyond that, however, liberalism shares many of the same basic goals as social democracy.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 03:30 PM

I like what Churchill had to say about the differences between liberalism and socialism.

Liberalism is not Socialism, and never will be. There is a great gulf fixed. It is not a gulf of method, it is a gulf of principle. […] Socialism seeks to pull down wealth. Liberalism seeks to raise up poverty. Socialism would destroy private interests; Liberalism would preserve private interests in the only way in which they can be safely and justly preserved, namely by reconciling them with public right. Socialism would kill enterprise; Liberalism would rescue enterprise from the trammels of privilege and preference […] Socialism exalts the rule; Liberalism exalts the man. Socialism attacks capital; Liberalism attacks monopoly.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 9, 2005 03:37 PM

Mary: "I've been to Canada many times and I like most things about it other than the lack of real highways and "God save the Queen"."

Um, Mary somehow on your trips to Canada you got stuck in a time warp. I haven't heard "God Save the Queen" sung in many decades.

Yes, technically we're a monarchy, but very, very few of us up here give a damn about it. Why don't we get rid of the monarchy? Because we're Canadian. Getting worked up about national symbols is so, well, so American.

Of course we could be just as nationalistic as you, if we had a decent animal symbol, like the eagle. All we have is the beaver - a fish-like mammal - a cross-dresser if there ever was one...

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 9, 2005 04:10 PM

I thought Ward Churchill had been largely discredited.

Oh, wait, the other guy. While able to turn a phrase, that's just wrong. It might be understood in context of the fact that Churchill preferred the fascists in power rather than the socialists, despite the majority of the Spanish socialists being anti-authoritarian.

And remember, he was talking about a movement that included Orwell in its ranks.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 04:12 PM

Um, Mary somehow on your trips to Canada you got stuck in a time warp. I haven't heard "God Save the Queen" sung in many decades.

Jeez, VV, there's nothing my socialist comrades and I like better at the cadre meetings than belting out a rousing rendition of "God Save the Queen."

Seriously, Mary's said this before in complaint about our fine nation, and I too have to wondered where in hell she was visiting where they sang this. Possibly visiting the Red Ensign bloggers? They seem to have a love of all things old and Canadian. Or maybe there was a Sex Pistols concert in Toronto or something...

Mary? Enlighten us please.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 04:17 PM

A few other bom mots from Churchill (not the extremist one, the British one) to put his views in context:

"The unnatural and increasingly rapid growth of the feeble-minded and insane classes, coupled as it is with a steady restriction among all the thrifty, energetic and superior stocks, constitutes a national and race danger which it is impossible to exaggerate... I feel that the source from which the stream of madness is fed should be cut off and sealed up before another year has passed."

"I do not admit... that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia... by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race... has come in and taken its place."

"One may dislike Hitler's system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations."

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 9, 2005 04:29 PM

Eugenics and race-based thinking was a powerful, insidious movement up until WW-II. Hitler was the most extreme example, and fortunately he ended up discrediting the whole idea.

I'm disappointed, but not surprised that Churchill said that. I've heard of similar quotes from other major public figures from the 1st half of the 20th century - some quite surprising, and from all over the political spectrum.

I don't have any examples at my finger tips, but I'm sure a little artful googling would turn up some for anyone who's interested.

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 9, 2005 05:53 PM

Mary,

I think the point of contention here isn't that liberals oppose government intervention in the lives of citizens, but that liberals oppose unnecessary intervention. A liberal might say "this policy, while an intrusion into our lives, generates a net benefit". A libertarian might say "this policy, an intrusion into our lives, cannot by its nature generate a net positive."

For example, in America, we have anti-trust laws. These laws are explicitly designed to interfere with the operation of the free market to produce a net benefit - increased competition and all the goodiness that comes with that. Adam Smith himself foresaw that capitalism would tend towards monopolies and that this was bad. So a liberal might say: let's interfere in the market in such a way as to produce a net benefit, increased competition.

Government intervention is, in no way, antithetical to classical liberalism, and as such there is far less diference between classical liberalism and modern American liberalism than is frequently assumed by people who are neither. Roosevelt did some pretty serious economic intervention in the 1930's. Thanks to that, we now have capitalism here and not communism. By limiting certain freedoms, Roosevelt was able to ensure many more.

I guess that's the trade-off, but one that I am absolutely willing to make. Put it another way: in theory, a democratic society could vote itself into a dictatorship. This is one of the fears associated with allowing free elections in countries where Islamists are popular, such as Egypt. I believe that people in a democratic society should be allowed to choose pretty much whatever they want, but I believe there are limits - I believe that any democratic system should have a built-in defense mechanism, a "You Cannot Vote In a Dictatorship" Clause. I am perfectly willing to strip people of one freedom - the ability to choose to vote into power a dictator - in order to ensure that other people, such as future generations, have the freedom to choose everything else. I don't think this is illiberal at all. In fact, I believe that this is probably the ultimate expression of government intervention in defense of liberty.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 9, 2005 06:17 PM

Getting worked up about national symbols is so, well, so American

Oh, please. If you drive through Canada on the Queen Elizabeth Way, it's hard to miss the succession of crown-shaped highway symbols.

Speaking of obsession, even the Brits don't love the monarchy the way Canadians do. It's kind of a reverse-nationalism, an anti-equality, a determined opposition to genuine independence.

Of course, that could be an attitude that's left over from Canada's role in the Revolutionary War.

The Brits have better highways, too.

Posted by: mary at May 9, 2005 06:30 PM

Queen Elizabeth Way? We have a Queens County, a Kings County, a MARYland, and a number of other places named after the royalty that we booted out.

Hell, not far from here is the Jefferson Davis Highway. THEY NAMED THE ROAD AFTER A TRAITOR!!! It would be like naming a road after Benedict Arnold. Naming the highway after a queen isn't all that bad, in comparison.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 9, 2005 06:33 PM

Mary,

The QEW was, I believe built, in the the 1950's. Canada was a differnt place then. And yes, Ontario provincial highway signs have little crowns on them. If that bothers you visit Quebec. you'll like it better there. I forget offhand what the other provinces do.

And how come a self-described small-government liberal is so fixated on a big-bucks public institution like highways?

And please answer the question that is driving DPU and me crazy: where, where, where in our fair Dominion have you heard God Save The Queen being sung in the past 30 years? (Royal visits don't count. We're just being polite.)

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 9, 2005 06:43 PM
Speaking of interesting WWII quotes, here's one from Gandhi, calling for the Jews to voluntarily die, by the millions, under Hitler's rule.
If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment . And for doing this, I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my example. If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now. And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy which no number of resolutions of sympathy passed in the world outside Germany can. Indeed, even if Britain, France and America were to declare hostilities against Germany, they can bring no inner joy, no inner strength. The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the god fearing, death has no terror. It is a joyful sleep to be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long sleep."
Churchill never liked Gandhi. After reading that, I don't either.

Churchill successfully fought a destroyed a fascist regime. Actions speak louder than words.

Posted by: mary at May 9, 2005 06:54 PM

The God Save the Queen info is just a summary of general Canadian attitudes about the royalty. (and instructions I heard for one of those Royal visits). I was just in Canada last summer, but I can't remember if the Queen still appears on your paper money. Has she been replaced by a loon, or does she accompany it?

Posted by: mary at May 9, 2005 07:24 PM

Wow, Mary, you and I read that quote very differently from one another.

It sounds a lot more like Ghandi recommending to the Jews that they face their inescapable fate with courage and resolve, that even as they suffer they do so standing, not on their knees groveling. That even if other countries come to their rescue, inner strength comes from, you know, within. You know, very philosophical, very spiritual.

Of course, since the quote was made in 1938, before the massacres had started and before the world realized the scope of what was happening in Germany, it's kind of hard to accuse Ghandi of calling for the Jews to die by the millions. The Germans themselves weren't even talking about that as official policy until the Wannsee Conference in 1942.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 9, 2005 07:35 PM

"The God Save the Queen info is just a summary of general Canadian attitudes about the royalty."

Got it. Just a sweeping generalization to which I was supposed to nod my head dumbly. Not meant to convey actual information.

"...I can't remember if the Queen still appears on your paper money."

She's on the twenty dollar bill.

"Has she been replaced by a loon, or does she accompany it?"

She's on one side of all our coins. The loon has recently been replaced by Terry Fox.

While we're on the subject of money, what's with the pyramid and that creepy-looking eye staring out of it. Don't you think that's just sick? When are you going to do something about that? and what about the First Amendment and the "In God We Trust" stuff?

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 9, 2005 07:35 PM

Vino, ixnay on the all-seeing eye-ay on the yramid-pay. It's always watching.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 9, 2005 07:40 PM

"Vino, ixnay on the all-seeing eye-ay on the yramid-pay. It's always watching."

Thanks for my belly laugh of the day.

Posted by: lurking loon at May 9, 2005 08:17 PM

It sounds a lot more like Ghandi recommending to the Jews that they face their inescapable fate with courage and resolve

Their fate wasn't inescapable. What makes you think it was?

The world followed Churchill's philosophies and many Jews survived. If the world had followed Gandhi's recommendations, we wouldn't be talking about this because we wouldn't know what a Jew is.

The Warsaw uprising was an example of courage and resolve. Voluntary suicide would have shown the world that the Jews respected Hitler's power and his fascist goals, and that they believed that their deaths for the 'crime' of being Jewish was justified.

it's kind of hard to accuse Ghandi of calling for the Jews to die by the millions

No it's not, because this is what he said:

"The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant"

Commenter, do you understand what "all men are created equal" means? I don't think you do.

Posted by: mary at May 10, 2005 06:55 AM

DPU, Old Chap,

All this Talk of our good Queen has set my Mind to Speculation.

As you know, all loyal Subjects of Her Majesty are required to tug their Forelocks in the Direction of London once a Day, the precise Direction being determined by the shortest Great Circle Distance to Windsor Castle. Thus the Canadian faces easterly, while the Aussie and the loyal Hindoo face northwest. The Zulu and the Bantu face west of north, while those in the Falklands face north of northeast.

In my Youth, determining the exact Direction provided Boys with a good Opportunity to learn the Compass and some basic Spherical Geometry. Now, of course, all that is done with GPS Gadgets, and I think Boys are the poorer for it.

But what if One were on a Ship on the International Date Line? Would One face easterly or westerly? And what if One were on a Ship in the South Pacific, whose Location and London were Antipodes? Could One face any Direction? Or should One face downwards? That would seem disrespectful, yet paradoxically most accurate geographically.

These are fascinating Questions, think you not, DPU?

Posted by: VinoVeritas at May 10, 2005 07:11 AM

Mary,

Once again, I think that this is an issue of slightly different interpretations of a text, as opposed to fundamental differences in understanding of the world.

In other words, durrr, I shore doo now wut that meens.

Again, I don't think Gandhi was calling for the Jews to die at all.

Gandhi wrote: "I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment."

Sounds like Gandhi is, you know, opposed to oppression.

Gandhi wrote: "And for doing this, I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my example."

Sounds like Gandhi is suggesting to the Jews of Germany that in the face of discrimination they should adopt his strategies of nonviolent civil disobedience against the Germans. We know, thanks to hindsight, that this would not have worked. So Gandhi's biggest mistake so far is underestimating Hitler, something that most everyone on the planet did.

Gandhi wrote: "If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now."

In other words, if the Jews were to adopt Gandhi's strategy of refusing to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment, then their fate wouldn't be any worse: the Germans are already super-oppressing them, so if they resist, it's not like they can super-duper-oppress them.

"Indeed, even if Britain, France and America were to declare hostilities against Germany, they can bring no inner joy, no inner strength."

In other words, the rest of the world can rescue Germany's Jews, but only the Jews can preserve their own dignity by resisting the Nazis.

"The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities."

Read: if those countries named before attack Germany, Hitler's crazy enough that he might start killing Jews in response.

"But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant."

If you're going to die, die with dignity, die standing up, and deny your enemy the final victory of robbing you of your humanity. Very ethereal morality in the sense that it's not going to save you from being murdered, but then, I already said this was heavy philosophical stuff.

"For to the god fearing, death has no terror. It is a joyful sleep to be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long sleep."

Heavy religious stuff here. In other words, the Nazis can take away this world, but they cannot defeat the Jews, as the Jews, a pious people, know they will be rewarded by their God. It's kind of like expecting the Pope to be scared of death. If he doesn't have a place up there, who does?

Churchill disliked Gandhi because Gandhi wanted to strip Britain of the Crown Jewel of its Empire. One of Churchill's biggest goals was to preserve Britain's empire. Roosevelt frequently found himself with Stalin, ostensibly anti-imperial, supporting him against Churchill's aspirations for defending the empire. Churchill spent a large part of his second term combatting rebellions in Malaya and Kenya. He wasn't an autocrat, but he also wasn't the biggest friend to democratic aspirations around the world.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 10, 2005 07:56 AM

Vino, shut yer commie yap and get back to clubbin' baby seals and buggering mooses.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 10, 2005 08:02 AM

“Churchill never liked Gandhi. After reading that, I don't either.”

Mahatma Ghandi was a well meaning fool who did enormous damage. He was not only a naive pacifist, but also hostile towards modernity. The people of India needed the British to stay in their country a few more years. They were not ready for independence. The English crown was helping to secure the uneasy peace between the Muslims and the Hindus. Once its administrators and soldiers left the country---over a million people were murdered.

Posted by: David Thomson at May 10, 2005 08:34 AM

The people of India needed the British to stay in their country a few more years. They were not ready for independence.

I wouldn't have spotted you as a Loyalist, David. Flee to Canada, quick, we're still under Her Majesty's protection.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 10, 2005 09:06 AM

Mary: The God Save the Queen info is just a summary of general Canadian attitudes about the royalty.

Oh man, that's a pretty weak metaphor. I thought you'd actually heard someone singing this. Because you said so.

If you want to poke fun at our monarchist traditions, why not make fun of the upcoming Victoria Day? I mean, here we get an actual day off to celeberate Queen Victoria's birthday! Now that's funny! Much better than making stuff up about people singing God Save the Queen.

Then again, you guys get President's Day, which is almost as goofy, so maybe not.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 10, 2005 09:12 AM

VV: As you know, all loyal Subjects of Her Majesty are required to tug their Forelocks in the Direction of London once a Day, the precise Direction being determined by the shortest Great Circle Distance to Windsor Castle. Thus the Canadian faces easterly, while the Aussie and the loyal Hindoo face northwest. The Zulu and the Bantu face west of north, while those in the Falklands face north of northeast.

Could you be more of an in-your-face Canadian, VV? And that was seriously amusing. The loyal Hindoo. Good stuff.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 10, 2005 09:29 AM

Very ethereal morality in the sense that it's not going to save you from being murdered, but then, I already said this was heavy philosophical stuff.

No, it’s not heavy philosophical stuff, it’s standard pacifism and religion-inspired submission to authority.

Gandhi already knew that resistance was futile, but he was advising it anyway. I’m sure he was, in some way, well meaning, but, like most pacifism and like the genocide pacifism has always allowed, it’s a hell paved with good intentions.

..and it's true, despite the fact that Churchill saved millions of lives and preserved democracy in Britain and Europe, he wasn't perfect.

Posted by: mary at May 10, 2005 09:45 AM

sorry, that should be "Gandhi already knew that passive resistance was futile, but he was advising it anyway."

Posted by: mary at May 10, 2005 10:00 AM

..and it's true, despite the fact that Churchill saved millions of lives and preserved democracy in Britain and Europe, he wasn't perfect.

But an awesome speaker nevertheless. And quite a wit. I also like the fact that he was an accomplished bricklayer.

He too sang God Save the Queen, and used money imprinted with the visage of the sovereign.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 10, 2005 10:02 AM

Mary,

I'm not sure how you reconcile this, by Gandhi:

"If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment . And for doing this, I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my example."

with your statement:

"it’s standard pacifism and religion-inspired submission to authority."

Let's do that again.

"I would...challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment."

"submission to authority"

Do you see what I'm getting at?

I'm also curious: when I said that I interpreted Gandhi's statement differently, you accused me of not understanding the concept of equality. Is it your habit to automatically assume the worst in someone who disagrees with you, even if the interpretation they offer, if different from yours, in no way defends oppression?

In other words, do you automatically assume that people who disagree with you hate freedom and, if so, why?

Posted by: The Commenter at May 10, 2005 10:04 AM

He too sang God Save the Queen, and used money imprinted with the visage of the sovereign

As I said, nobody's perfect.

Posted by: mary at May 10, 2005 10:38 AM

In other words, do you automatically assume that people who disagree with you hate freedom and, if so, why?

Binary worldviews demand that all opposing viewpoints be demonic. It's a symptom of polarization. It's also common in the blogosphere, as you have to build a mental image of others that inhabit it, and in order to fill in a lot of missing detail, you have to assign those personalities to inner mental templates. Often those templates have a lot of bad qualities.

But you're a fan of Baudrillard, so I'm betting you know all this already.

Me, I know this is just politics, and I like to assume that we're all decent people who can disagree without the blog equivalent of shooting each other. And you're all figments of my imagination anyway, so no big huhu.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 10, 2005 10:45 AM

Baudrillard makes me want to cream my pants. Assuming that I have pants! After all, you stare at a computer screen, words appear, and you pretend like they're coming from real people talking about some place called "Lebanon" that, to most people here, exists simply as an object of discourse that appears on this little box. Beautiful. OR IS IT????!??

Posted by: The Commenter at May 10, 2005 10:48 AM

Commenter - Gandhi knew that passive resistance would be a futile gesture, simple martyrdom. He knew it was ineffective. But he advised it anyway.

A deliberately ineffective response to tyranny reinforces the legitimacy of that tyranny. [Evil thrives when good men do nothing.]

Pretending that deliberate martyrdom is heroism reinforces this ineffective response to tyranny, and thus keeps the tyranny and the status quo intact.

Your comment here:

"Put it another way: in theory, a democratic society could vote itself into a dictatorship. This is one of the fears associated with allowing free elections in countries where Islamists are popular, such as Egypt. I believe that people in a democratic society should be allowed to choose pretty much whatever they want, but I believe there are limits - I believe that any democratic system should have a built-in defense mechanism, a "You Cannot Vote In a Dictatorship" Clause. I am perfectly willing to strip people of one freedom - the ability to choose to vote into power a dictator - in order to ensure that other people, such as future generations, have the freedom to choose everything else. I don't think this is illiberal at all. In fact, I believe that this is probably the ultimate expression of government intervention in defense of liberty"

Made me wonder if you understand equality & liberalism. Sorry I didn't include it.

Posted by: mary at May 10, 2005 10:49 AM

Why does it make you question my understanding of equality and liberalism?

To me, it's very simple.

Take the population of the country, let's say it's one million.

Now, figure out the FreedomQuotient of allowing them to vote in a dictatorship. Let's say each person's decision is worth 10 mililiberties.

Multiply them together, and we have 10,000 Freedom Units.

Now, imagine the future population of people who will live under this government. Let's look at, say, 9 generations of people, with 0% population growth (I forgot how to do natural logs). So that's 9 million future peoplem, each with 10 mililiberties, which adds up to 90,000 Freedom Units.

So, if we deny people the right to choose to vote in a dictatorship by structuring the Constitution, for example, in such a way as to prevent that choice from being possible, we have denied people 10,000 Freedom Units.

However, if we allow people to choose a dictatorship, we are denying them their 90,000 Freedom Units.

This doesn't even take into account all those other decisions they wouldn't get to make under a dictatorship. All those first generation people can't choose is the dictatorship, so they only loose 10,000 Freedom Units. All future people can't decide that (90,000 Freedom Units), plus the Freedom Units associated with all other choices. Their Freedom Units start to add up to the millions.

In other words, sometimes it's good to deny people some freedoms in order to ensure more freedoms for everyone else.

For example, I would deny you the right to spray your family with an automatic rifle, no matter how great your bloodlust may be. I would gladly deny you a single choice if it meant that your family could then enjoy all the other choices available to them.

Make more sense?

Posted by: The Commenter at May 10, 2005 11:00 AM

Gandhi knew that passive resistance would be a futile gesture, simple martyrdom. He knew it was ineffective. But he advised it anyway.

Newsflash: it worked. India is now independent.

Besides, haven't I heard you recommending that the Palestinians should use Gandhian tactics? What's changed?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 10, 2005 11:01 AM

Gandhi knew that passive resistance against Hitler would be martyrdom, just as passive resistance against Islamist terrorism is martyrdom (as the Thai buddhists have discovered). When passive resistance meets a tyranny, passive resistance is crushed.

Passive resistance is very effective against Democracies. It worked for Gandhi, it worked for Bobby Sands, it worked for the civil rights movement. It's just completly ineffective against tyranny.

Oddly enough, Gandhi wasn't peaceful enough for the Nobel Prize committee, while Arafat and Kissinger were.

Posted by: mary at May 10, 2005 11:25 AM

Ok, let's set aside the question of whether Gandhi was a monster.

I'm really curious about something else: that you question whether I "understand" what freedom and equality are.

Now, if I had posted something like "I read that Gandhi quote and love how he wants the Jews to die!" it might be one thing.

But I didn't write that. I wrote "I disagree with your interpretation of what Gandhi wrote, and as a result challenge your assertion that Gandhi wanted those people to die."

Again, if I had agreed with your interpretation and still said that Gandhi was good, then I would be bad.

If I disagree with your interpretation, and suggest that Gandhi isn't saying what you think he's saying, and that he's actually good, well, what would lead you to believe that I don't understand freedom?

I've very, very curious.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 10, 2005 11:36 AM

Commenter - do you think Egyptians are as capable of handling freedom as Americans? Your comment implied that you didn't, but with your subsequent hand waving, calculations of odd percentages and natural logs (?), I have to admit that I don't know what you're talking about.

But I do know that Baudrillard is an ass.

Posted by: Mary at May 10, 2005 12:02 PM

Mary,

Please allow me to try explain once more.

Anyone who wants freedom should have it.

No one should have every freedom they could possibly want.

It's ok to deny people the right to vote in a dictatorship, so as to ensure future generations all the freedoms that would be denied to them. It is ok to deny people the right to commit murder, among other reasons, to ensure that their potential victims can exercise all their rights that would otherwise be denied if they were killed.

To me, that's why liberalism and state intervention are not incompatible. The state should intervene in such a way as to maximize net freedom when no better alternatives present themselves. It should intervene to prevent crime. It should intervene to prevent the rise of a dictatorship. If government-run healthcare is found to be cheaper and provide better coverage, the government should intervene to make people healthier, maximizing their ability to make choices.

And don't you mess with Baudrillard, or he'll drop some hyperreal bombs on your hizouse.

Posted by: The Commenter at May 10, 2005 12:09 PM

Commenter - The state, run by the people for the people, should intervene when the people tell it to intervene. If things aren't being run that way, there's a problem.

Real democracies are set up to avoid the election of a dictator for life.

Personally, I think state-supervised health care is a good idea (the Canadian system is awful, but Germany has a good plan). Unfortunately, most Americans don't want it, so, that's that.

Posted by: mary at May 10, 2005 01:09 PM

(the Canadian system is awful,...

And that opinion is based on what?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 10, 2005 01:23 PM

Mary, I'm not sure what we disagree about then.

I would like to point out, however, that in America we do have socialized health care, and that's called Medicare and Medicaid. The people most likely to use these services - the elderly and the poor - have much higher rates of satisfaction with their healthcare than do we poor shmoes stuck with our HMOs. People in this country do want government-run health care. They've just been taught that the thing they want isn't what they want, and that what they want is bad.

And, I'd heard the opposite, that Canada's system was pretty good while Germany's was kind of a mess. Ezra Klein did a series on various health care systems around the world, which is where I got my impression. You?

Posted by: The Commenter at May 10, 2005 01:25 PM

My opinion about German health care is based on my experiences, living in Germany for a year. My opinion about Canada's system of healthcare is based on complaints I've heard from Canadians. Germans didn't complain as often, and it seemed to be working to me.

After the deaths of thousands of elderly people during a heat wave in France, I'd guess that their health system isn't very good either. Germany suffered the same heat wave, but their elderly survived.

My husband and I were starving students when my son was born, so I had to use American socialized health care. According to the doctors I talked to, it blows.

I haven't researched the subject, and I have no reason to, but if Americans did decide that they wanted socialized medicine, we should look at other, working systems and combine the best of all of them.

Posted by: mary at May 10, 2005 03:18 PM

Ezra Klein's take on the Canadian system here.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at May 10, 2005 03:52 PM
Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member



Testimonials

"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

"Terrific"
Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere


Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com


News Feeds




toysforiraq.gif



Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button

totten_button.jpg


Tip Jar





Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn