Julie with a B

Sunday, July 24, 2005
Conversations with Rhod
The beginning of this conversation can be found over at Daisy Cutter's site, under his Thursday, July 21st post. The conversation is not relevent to the post. I quoted Rhod directly from his comments.

Rhod said: Small "u" utilitarian is an adverb or adjective too. Bentham is associated with a particular set of ideas about government and society. Your definition of it is good enough. What I mean is something different. I'm referring to unconscious tendencies to produce utilitarian results, with dangerous consequences.
For instance, if unregulated capitalism is proven to empirically produces benefits for the greatest number, and pain for the fewest, people who endorse unregulated capitalism are utilitarian in their thinking...usually w/o knowing it. The consequence is near indifference to those who are subject to the pain.

Yet most liberal/leftist are not indifferent to those in pain, hence the reference to liberals’ wish that Federal government be the “nurturing parent”, helping those at the bottom of the socio-economic scale, those generally in need – welfare programs, health care, environmental issues that involve polluted or poisoned water/ground.

Rhod said:
Utilitarian thinking is a reflexive kind of logic that pays ideological tribute to the individual while ignoring them in reality. The Kelo decision in New London is utilitarian, unregulated abortion is utilitarian in the minds of many on the left, so is affirmative action and a huge portion of the leftist set of ideas. Leftist thinking is also deeply collectivist.

Actually, I believe that most left/liberals lean away from the good of the individual, looking to “common good” attitudes. The Kelo decision may be utilitarian but it completely supports capitalism (ruling class) and does not lean towards collectivism or communism (proletariat). If the Kelo decision had given the property to a collective, the profits of which went directly to the city for public endeavors, I could see that reasoning, but it was a strictly capitalist proposition, off of which the city hoped to gain taxes.
Abortion is not utilitarian, birth control is. Affirmative action? Well, because its intent was to affectively use ALL of the human resources available, it might be, but I think that’s a stretch. Affirmative action is clearly in the “Nurturing Parent” camp.

Most goals associated with leftist thinking require statist solutions, which is to say the application of coercive power to accomplish liberal goals. I regularly refer to Orwell on this matter, because as a socialist, he labored with the problem that all liberal thinking tends toward authoritarianism, and often to totalitarianism.

Have no idea what “statist” means here, unless you mean actions by the Federal government. “Application of coercive power to accomplish goals”. The left perhaps - coercing capitalists to pay taxes to help care for the lower socio-economic rabble? But in general I think both left & right do their own coercing.

Rhod said:
This is, to me, the central problem I have with most liberals/leftists. There is often a deep good heartedness, which is indignant to complaints, but more often, an abrasive authoritarinism disguised as social concern.

Offering welfare, job training, and health insurance is hardly authoritarian. Authoritarianism is generally the purview of the conservative. The “authoritarian father” deciding what is best.

Rhod said:
I have no patience with the masquerade, and as you know, can be vulgar and brutal in my attacks. I think it's deserved.

How very authoritarian of you. I, however, prefer discussion and an attempt to reach some kind of common ground.

In my opinion, vulgarity and brutality is never deserved in conversation with individuals one doesn’t even know. Civility is the least due, no matter what your politics. Try sarcasm and cynicism, they are civil and accomplish similar ends.


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