September 02, 2008


A blogger at Reclusive Leftist wrote about Palin and got instalanched. Her comment section is an interesting read. Some Instapundit readers tried to point out to her why Republicans aren't so bad. She replied to one of them with this comment:

“Ideally, the government would leave me alone completely and I’d return the favour. Since that’s not practical..”

Well, thereÂ’s the rub right there.

The fact is, there is a strong streak of libertarianism in Americans on the left and the right side of the political divide. ItÂ’s part of our heritage, our history. Many of the most radical feminists and leftists I know want above all to be left alone. Americans prize freedom from interference, freedom to live as we choose. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Where we on the left and the right differ is when we come back to real world, where no one is an island. We canÂ’t be left alone, by the government or anyone else. We live in communities, in towns, in cities. WeÂ’re a nation of 300 million, not a bunch of isolated Davy Crockets out there in the wilderness.

And when human beings live together in social groups, questions arise that donÂ’t obtain out in the wilderness. Poverty, pollution, interference between the needs of the many and the needs of the few. Your rights end at the tip of my nose, and all that.

The chief difference between liberty-loving leftists and liberty-loving rightists is that the leftists recognize that people who live in communities must be good neighbors. No one is an island. Rightists like to continue to pretend that weÂ’re all Davy Crockets, that weÂ’re all islands, and that no one owes even the slightest thought to anyone else.

The rich white Republican man likes to pretend that everything fortunate in his life is his own doing, that he has created his own reality all by himself, that he is not the beneficiary of being born into the right family and race and class and country.

And he likes to pretend that everything unfortunate in the life of the immigrant slave who sewed his shirt is because of her own doing, not because she was born into poverty or discrimination or urban blight. Why should it matter to him that she works for a dollar a day and is beaten by her employer?

The rich white Republican man thinks he has the right to pollute the river that flows by his factory because, in his mind, heÂ’s not responsible for anybody downstream. He doesnÂ’t even know or care that they exist.

This what the Republican idea of “individual rights” really is: the “right” not to be responsible. The “right” to do as you please no matter how much your actions harm others, and no matter how much you are dependent on others.

The most striking thing about the libertarian right is selfishness. It is the defining characteristic, really, a “f*ck you” to everyone else, an “I got mine” attitude.

So...I just found that interesting. I don't really agree with the underlying assumptions behind it, but I felt like it was at least a reasonable articulation of why she's not a Republican, like I tried to do when I wrote why I'm not a Democrat.

Plus, I thought it was hilarious that she said an instalanche is "like being inside an Ayn Rand novel."

Posted by: Sarah at 12:22 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 574 words, total size 4 kb.

1 1)Would have been a more impressive analysis had she not focused so obsessively on race and gender. Does she really think that factories run by nonwhites never pollute? A little travel in China should cure that illusion. 2)Come to think of it, there has been plenty of pollution by countries that are avowedly noncapitalist. The former Soviet Union was a notorious polluter. 3)A fundamental issue with many "progressives," and even some old-line liberals, is that they don't understand that government is made up of people who are themselves economic actors...instead, they tend to view government as an idealized parent, concerned only with doing whatever is best for everybody.

Posted by: david foster at September 02, 2008 01:58 PM (ke+yX)

2 I was reading along, finding it pretty articulate and interesting, but I have to take strong exceptions. David has captured some of the key items already. The writer has oversimplified and stereotyped badly. Most of the "selfish captialists" I know donate their money and their time to help others. And their efforts and results are tangible and significant. Not just attending some feel good rally and asking the government to be a nanny (yes, a stereotype). So.... I guess I started reading with interest, and ended with disappointment and disgust. And I do fervently believe in diverse thoughts. Just not stereotypes. They are oversimplified and do not match the real world. That said, thanks for sharing this, Sarah.

Posted by: jck at September 03, 2008 07:56 AM (fRt6P)

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