Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Talk Among Yourselves

Ilya Somin has an interesting post over at the Volokh Conspiracy on right wing populism. It's not so bad, he says, or at least it could be worse. Somin is a libertarian and is cheered by the idea that conservative populism has tended to emphasize limited government over what he would view as a dangerous aggrandizement of government power. He writes:

On balance, however, the positions taken by the right-wing populists on these issues are basically simplified versions of those taken by the most sophisticated libertarian and limited-government conservative economists and policy scholars. There has been relatively little advocacy of strange, crackpot ideas or weird conspiracy theories. Indeed, efforts to paint the Tea Partiers and others as merely closet racists usually have to rely on unsupported claims about “unspoken” assumptions and subtexts.


Of course, he notes that right wing populist "rhetoric is oversimplified, doesn’t take account of counterarguments, and is unfair to opponents. But the same can be said for nearly all political rhetoric directed at a popular audience made up of rationally ignorant voters who pay only very limited attention to politics and don’t understand the details of policy debates." In other words, the stuff you hear at Fighting Bob Fest isn't any better.

I don't buy Somin's argument about the disconnect between social conservatism and limited government, but I think he has a point. Could we say, however, that there has been a similar moderation in left wing populism? It is also "oversimplified, doesn’t take account of counterarguments, and is unfair to opponents" but aren't the hard left fantasies of the sixties a thing of the past?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's the old saying...there are two sides to every argument and then there is the truth.

I think conservatives generally lean toward the truth and liberals away from it.

Anonymous said...

When have you been to Fighting Bob Fest Rick?

John Foust said...

His mention of Fighting Bob was the "unsupported claims about 'unspoken' assumptions and subtexts" part.

Anonymous said...

Like all of his scams, Fighting Bob Fest is probably just another way of putting money in Garvey's pocket.

John Foust said...

As much a scam as any other 501(c)(3) organization, I suppose.

"Probably"? Based on what evidence, exactly?

Anonymous said...

I don't think (c)(3)'s are supposed to engage in politicking, and FBF has plenty of politicking.

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