Recent posts and discussions at Deliberately Considered have been about fundamental problems in contemporary democratic culture: the need to engage in political discussion beyond clichés, the consequences of the persistence of modern magical political thinking, and the danger of transition to dictatorship from democracy. It makes me think about the state of the right and the left and the ideal of a contested political center.
Ideology has not ended, to my dismay (as I reported in my New Year’s post). People believe that they have the truth in politics in a variety of different forms, on the left and right, in the U.S. and globally. In a strange mirroring of Socrates, who confirmed that he was the wisest of men because he “knew that he didn’t know,” contemporary ideologues know that their opponents don’t know. Opponents don’t only think differently but incorrectly, politically incorrect. Material interests, character, moral failure and ignorance are used to explain the other’s mistaken position. Alternative views are dismissed instead of confronted. True believing market fundamentalists know that the problem of the economy will be solved through de-regulation. They will not pay attention to the arguments and evidence of those who explain how such de-regulation is the cause of our global economic crisis. Those who are sure that capitalism is the root of all evil won’t pay attention to those who examine how all attempts to construct a systemic alternative to capitalism in the last century have ended in economic and political failure. It is not the convictions that I find disturbing. It is the unwillingness of people to actually take into account the insights and evidence of those with whom they disagree.
Thus, I think that Gary Alan Fine’s imagined magazine is not only a matter of idiosyncratic taste. As he put it in his recent post:
“I hold to a somewhat eccentric contention that there are smart liberals (neo- and old-timey, pink and pinker), conservatives (neo- and paleo-), progressives, reactionaries, socialists, libertarians, and more. Is my generosity so bizarre?”
No, not at all bizarre. I think there is a pressing need . . .
Read more: Between Left and Right: The Contested Center