Its not every day that I wake up to find Patri Friedman being quoted in my local newspaper; but this story actually made the Opelika-Auburn News this morning.
Archive | December 26, 2010
I propose some new terminology: left-conflationism and right-conflationism.
Left-conflationism is the error of treating the evils of existing corporatist capitalism as though they constituted an objection to a freed market. Right-conflationism is the error of treating the virtues of a freed market as though they constituted a justification of the evils of existing corporatist capitalism.
Yes, these are basically just Kevins vulgar liberalism and vulgar libertarianism in new garb. And yes, the new terms sound more awkward and jargony than their predecessors.
But the advantage I claim for them is that they also sound less insulting than their predecessors. Of course neither set of terms entails anything about the etiology of the views it names. Nevertheless, left-conflationism and right-conflationism sound like intellectual mistakes, ones that well-meaning people might fall into; by contrast, vulgar liberalism and vulgar libertarianism sound like character flaws the outlooks of, well, vulgar people. And to be sure, in many cases they may be. But not all; and we only make it harder for ourselves when our terminology alienates the very people were trying to persuade.
Im not suggesting that we should simply junk the terms vulgar liberalism and vulgar libertarianism. Theres a time for polemics, and when we want polemical terms its handy to have them. But when were not engaged in polemics, its also handy to have a term for our interlocutors position that isnt a conversation-stopper.
The following letter appeared in yesterdays Opelika-Auburn News:
To the editor:
Jim Evans is quite right to point out Saturday that the founders (well, most of them) would not have approved of the insertion of under God in the Pledge of Allegiance. (Some of the founders would probably have had a problem with indivisible as well.)
But he omits the still more important fact that most of the founders would not have approved of any Pledge of Allegiance at all, with or without such phrases.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by the nationalist socialist Francis Bellamy. The term allegiance refers to the duty of obedience and subordination that medieval serfs owed to their feudal lord their liege.
The American founders, by contrast, waged and won a revolution against the Old World idea that we owe allegiance to our governments; the United States was founded on the opposite principle, that our governments owe allegiance to us.
The founders would have been horrified to learn that two centuries after the American Revolution, schoolchildren would be forced to recite loyalty oaths to the government. The Pledge of Allegiance is one of the most blatantly un-American documents ever written.
Roderick T. Long
For a previous post on the pledge, see here.