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Old 01-14-2018, 02:28 PM
Derleth is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Missoula, Montana, USA
Posts: 21,336
Originally Posted by Tamerlane View Post
If you held a gun to my head right at this moment, I'm not sure I could come up with a universal definition of political "left" vs. "right" that I'd be 100% comfortable with. But whatever nervous gibberish I did spit out as you cocked the hammer, I doubt either idealism or utopianism would figure into it.

I mean both communits and radical libertarians are utopian. And earnest young neoconservatives can be just as idealist as earnest young left anarchists.
You cut an important part of my sentence, but you picked up on an important point in my diatribe.

Increasingly, my first-cut division in political matters is Idealistic (or, when I'm feeling less charitable, Teleological) versus Pragmatic: Does this person believe the world is governed by a Big Theory? Will this person deign to talk to those they disagree with? Is this person capable of governing? Because governing is the process of compromising grand ideas to get measurable victories. If you can't do that, you lose and lose and lose until you fade away or go to war, at which point you've given your movement over to the killers, who are infinitely more pragmatic than even the most pragmatic politicians because pure ideology is a poor meal and a worse hand grenade.

In extremis, it's a decision between humans as they are now and trying to bootstrap Humanity 2.0, Now With Less Bad Stuff! And, of course, getting from humans-as-they-are to humans-as-they-should-be never involves, you know, not killing people, that would be ridiculous.

I should note that being an Idealist and being an Ideologue are not quite the same thing. An Ideologue is simply fixated on an idea, but is possibly willing to compromise on their way to implementing it. An Ideologue who's good at governing can be effective, and can do quite a lot of damage or quite a lot of good, depending on what you think of their fixed idea. An Idealist relates everything back to their Big Theory, so any compromise looks like a defeat to them. The stupidest things become purity tests, and woe betide anyone who fails.

Pragmatists cluster around the center of the spectrum, because that's where the action is, and that's where decisions happen. So, in the converse of the Narcissism of Small Differences, which involves emphasizing the small distinctions of groups similar to yours, you get the Myopia for Distant Differences, or the false conclusion that all groups distant from you are homogeneous. Therefore, to someone out in the Trump Swamp, I'm a Liberal CommieSocialist Eurofag Pinko, and to someone in the Marx Mire, I'm a Fascist Republican Brownshirt.
"Ridicule is the only weapon that can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them."
If you don't stop to analyze the snot spray, you are missing that which is best in life. - Miller
I'm not sure why this is, but I actually find this idea grosser than cannibalism. - Excalibre, after reading one of my surefire million-seller business plans.