Wednesday, September 28, 2005

the mythology of libertarians

Dean has up one of those mythological political charts that libertarians love so much. Take a look so that you can understand my description. (UPDATE: Xrlq has one up too. I decided to link him too so I could trackback).

These charts always put the Democrats at economic-restrictive/social-permissive and put Republicans at economic-permissive/social-restrictive. But in what universe are the Democrats more socially permissive than Republicans? Ever heard of hate-crimes? Ever heard of anti-smoking campaigns? Ever heard of lawsuits to force private organizations like the Boy Scouts to give up their principles? Ever heard of seatbelt laws?

The Democrats are the party of sexual permissiveness, yes, but social permissiveness? Give me a break. There is more to social freedom than sex. What is Political Correctness but a dedicated campaign to coerce certain social behaviors? And not only social behaviors, but social beliefs. It is the Democrats that want to force people into "sensitivity training" classes and "sexual harassment awareness" classes where they can be indoctrinated into the politically correct mindset. Democrats use court orders and conditions of employment to force people into these things. How many Republicans want to force people to go to church?

For that matter, how many Republicans want to force Christianity on other people's children in public schools? Now, how many Democrats want to force Political Correctness on other people's children in public schools? How many Republicans sue other groups and governments to enforce their own idea of morality? Now, how many Democrats sue other groups and governments to enforce their own idea of morality?

Yes, the Republicans have a large group of people with strong convictions about morality. But almost everyone has strong convictions about morality. The only difference is that Republicans happen to think lots of sexual acts are immoral while Democrats only think a few sexual acts are immoral. In other areas, Political Correctness is far stricter than Christianity.

And anyway, what difference does it make on a political chart whether some group thinks blow jobs are a sin or not? Their beliefs in that area largely effect no on besides themselves. What is important from the political point of view is whether they think their morality should be forced on other people against their will. And for the last thirty years, all of the forcing and most of the attempted forcing has come from the Democrats.

Those two-dimensional political charts tend to confuse sexual freedom with social freedom and tend to confuse private moral convictions with public policy goals. Both confusions tend to make the Democrats seem more socially liberal than the Republicans even though they are not.

The chart on Dean's site has an additional problem: it is historically naive. It uncritically accepts the urban legend that Republicans are "kind of fascist" and that Democrats are "kind of socialist". The Democrats of today have more in common with fascists than Republicans do. The fascists believed that the governments should tell manufacturers what to make and how to make it and what to pay their workers, they believed that public schools should indoctrinate people, and they believed that private citizens couldn't be trusted with guns. Even if you accept the hysterical views about how Republicans want to force everyone to be Christians, there is nothing remotely fascist about that. Theocratic, yes. Fascist, no. I can't think of a single element of the Republican platform that is closer to the fascists than the Democrats are.

Fascism and socialism are both totalitarian forms of government. They both insist on controlling both economics and social systems. Fascists may have let the owners keep formal title to their property, but they completely controlled what could be done with the property. And socialist countries control people's entire lives, not just the economy. They control what you can teach your kids, where (or whether) you can go to church, what is considered art, what is considered science, what books you can read. This, folks, is not "socially permissive".

UPDATE: I wanted to clarify that it wasn't Dean (or Xrlq) who made up the chart, it's from some sort of quiz site.

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