Thursday, August 12, 2010

What is Arnold Kling thinking? Part 2 which we chronicle Arnold Kling's bizarre obsession with and ideas about li'brulz.

Bruce Bartlett shares his experience with the otherwise brilliant Kling's preoccupation with the detailed description and taxonomy of modern American political ideologies. Essentially Kling botches the reporting of what Bartlett said about his normative position on marginal tax rates and how he reported the results of the paper he was citing. But that isn't what Kling focuses on in these posts, so that isn't what Kling bothers to check up on.

This is what Bartlett has to say about his ideology:

"On the question of where I place myself on the political spectrum, I will have more to say as time goes on. In my own mind, I have the same political philosophy I've always had--basically libertarian but tempered by Burkean small-C conservatism. But I am no longer a member of the Republican Party and no longer consider myself part of the "conservative movement." That's not because I changed, but because I believe that they have. The Republican Party of today is not the party of Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan that I was once a member of; it stands for nothing except the pursuit of power as an end in itself, with no concern whatsoever for what is right for the country. In a recent interview with The Economist magazine, I characterized the Republicans as the greedy, sociopathic party. I stand by that...

...Anyway, I am happy to classify myself, politically, as an independent these days; nothing more, nothing less."

That sort of "I've criticism for all sides" approach never goes down well with true believers.

Kling also recently had this post on the three dispositions of modern liberals. This is one of his more taxonomical posts. In it, we learn that liberals would be libertarians if they were more than "modestly" concerned about the impact that state power has on freedom.

And speaking of crazy fears of and conspiratorial attitudes towards liberalism, maybe Kling could write a few posts for Conservapedia, which holds that the theory of relativity is a liberal conspiracy. Actually, I was somewhat impressed that the author of the article on relativity in Conservapedia made something of a reference to "spukhafte Fernwirkung", or "spooky action at a distance", which gave Einstein pause and violates certain principles of relativity. He mangled the critique, of course, but it's pretty clear from the subt-text that he at least googled "problems with relativity" before writing the Conservapedia article.


  1. Biography can be pretty boring so I kept it out of the post itself, but I never really thought of myself as a "liberal" nor was I ever called a "liberal" until Obama got decently far in the campaign. He was, of course, branded a socialist and I suppose my considerable support of him got me identified as a liberal. It was pretty jarring at first, but no biggie. I used to fervently defend myself as a moderate in those cases.

    Then when the crisis really hit "liberal" often meant "not let us slip into a great depression". People were actually crying foul on the Fed. People were actually suggesting sitting on our hands when it came to fiscal stimulus (we ended up sitting on one hand, but that's better than both). In a situation like that, screw it - who cares what it's labeled. I'll be a liberal if that means doing the right thing.

    The health care debate actually offered something of a reassurance because there's a lot in the bill that I didn't like at all. Granted, it's stuff that the Heritage Foundation used to like but the point is it was being called "liberal" and I didn't like it, and I prefered a lot of the things that Republicans were talking about. So, "whew" - I'm not really a liberal.

    Now health care isn't talked about much anymore and I find I'm called a liberal more often again.

    Go figure.

    It honestly doesn't really matter. I am what I am - I don't feel like a liberal but I don't get concerned when people call me one. Some day they'll call me a conservative I'm sure. I wouldn't go as far as Bartlett in saying that "I hold the same views I always have". I think I'm too young for that - my views have changed over time. But I don't think they've changed in an opportunistic or flip-flopping way, and I'm not going to deny when they have changed.

  2. And I should emphasize - "it doesn't really matter - you are what you are" too. It's dumb to get obsessed with labels, even if you're applying them to yourself. They can only serve to limit you by tying your ideas to the ideas of other people. Unless you're running for office, what possible benefit could that have?

  3. Daniel said: "And I should emphasize - "it doesn't really matter - you are what you are" too. It's dumb to get obsessed with labels, even if you're applying them to yourself."

    That's, like, so liberal.



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