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    The Will to Create

    Entries in values (3)


    Morning Joe 11/10/2011 -- Anti-ideology and the consequences

    On Morning Joe today, although the crew focused mainly on Republican gaffes in the debate and the race going into 2012, they also condemned the Univeristy of Pennsylvania's handling of the child abuse scandal involving a former coach. I couldn't help but to think about a connecting thread throughout the discussions. One of the most troubling aspects of the University scandal is the reaction of the students, rioting when they heard Joe Paterno has been dismissed. In a society which is taught that ideas and principles lead to close-mindedness, extremism and lack of practical problem solving, Paterno and the powers that be at the University obviously felt that protecting the institution was more important than summoning the courage to confront a predator of children and to seek justice for the innocent and vulnerable. The students obviously believe that the personality of Paterno is more important than justice and retribution. The set of ideas which teaches people to stand on certain principles, even in the face of power or popularity, have been marginalized in a society of moral relativity, popularity contests, power-battles, political correctness, group-think and a superficial embrace of openmindedness. This is the easy case -- all people with a conscience can look at the Pa. case and feel a deep sense of horror.

    What's more difficult to realize is how the anti-ideology mindset has infected the political realm and spilled over into society at large. The Morning Joe crew at first expressed sympathy for Rick Perry's implosion on stage when during the debate he forgot one of the government departments he would eliminate, but, then several guests, such a David Gregory and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, said that his lapse in memory shows a lack of conviction regarding core values, and that his limited government stance must be more show than a deeply held value. Gregory and Schultz are usually among those who criticize "ideologues" for their extremism, their closeminded refusal to compromise and their lack of pragmatism.

    During the debate, Mitt Romney was shown in a clip defending charges that he's a flip-flopper on issues, and he made his defense by claiming that Obama is the real flip-flopper. But if anti-ideology is a political value, then flip-flopping should be a value. The pragmatic politician is expected to flip and flop, if it's necessary to "get things done". So which is it? Should we hold and defend principles, or should we act with ad hoc expediency depending on the issue right in front of us? Ideas have power, and the constant denigration of ideology is basically a denigration of integrity when those who remain true to their principles, like Ron Paul, are criticzed as extreme kooks, and these ideas have consequences.

    Perhaps Morning Joe can help reassess this denigration of ideology rather than promote anti-ideology, because if the 28 year old at the University of PA had been taught to defend principles and truly understand the difference between right and wrong, he would have stopped the coach from preying on innocent children, and when Paterno failed to follow through, perhaps the whole sordid mess would have been uncovered and justice served for the victims who have no power.

    Perhaps if ideology is not denigrated we can get presidential candiates who aren't picked because they project the right image, but because they possess integrity and substance. We're told over and over by the political class that political strategy and images are important, and that if you speak straightforwardly and hold your position based on solid principles that you'll be framed as extremist and become unelectable. Yet, the confusion is palpable when the consequences of anti-ideology are revealed and we see the flip-flopping, lack of conviction, the deification of personalities over what's right, and then we want integrity and courage. Perhaps we all need to decide what's important rather than searching for what's popular and convenient.


    Social conservatives

    This issue continues to pop up -- will the conservatives shy away from social/religious/moral issues or stick to governance and limited government principles? Liberal media outlets will make sure the issue is not forgotten. At the Conservative forum in Iowa today, Gingrich and Bachmann rallied on social issues and values, indicating that some conservatives are going to take the easy way out with platitudes rather than do the hard, intelligent work of explicating why conservatives have been criticized for attempting to legislate morality and assuring independents that morals will not be legislated and coerced.

    Republican candidates cannot ignore how they've been framed by their opposition, because independent votes are critical. When Gingrich and Bachmann take the arrogant approach to stir up the crowd by saying values are primary or that social conservatism and fiscal conservativism are the same thing, they miss the opportunity to clarify the issue.

    Of course values are important, but if a handful of Christian fundamentalists, for instance, are expecting their values to be front and center in a political campaign, this just feeds the fear in independents that the Republican Party is still set on using State power to instill certain religious values that many potential Republican voters don't share. The values in question should be political values when speaking about governance -- the 2012 election campaign is not a Baptist Revival, it's a campaign to elect government officials. If the Republican Party values limited government , a free market, individual rights and freedom, then they need to express and uphold these values, then allow people to deal with their own souls and issues of morality. Using State power to coerce people according to religious values is anti-limited government, anti-individual rights and anti-freedom.

    If the candidates are moral people who practice their values in their private and public lives, the public will see this, so the candidates don't need to preach and testify -- actions speak louder than words. 



    I've been involved in the start-up of four companies, and it's important to have good, qualified people to write clear and comprehensive policies and procedures, and good managers who achieve the goals of the company. One area that's overlooked when developing business plans is the meta-values of the company, the mission and purpose and clear understanding of the overriding meta-values and principles which cannot be violated.

    Our nation is presently in the process of re-evaluating our meta-values, and it's about time. For too long we've been driven by the technocratic values of pragmatism and utilitarianism, after losing sight of the original meta-values of individual rights, limited government and liberty. The hard-nose pragmatist makes a good case, but ultimately pragmatism is insufficient for a great nation and ends up defiling the better angels of human nature, mainly because individual rights are inevitably violated for some greater cause, which could be valid -- we can all imagine certain emergency situations, although extremely rare, like, perhaps, an attack on our nation, where temporary measures are taken which violate individual rights.

     But, even in these emergency situations, other values should come into play to prevent a wholesale destruction of rights just for the sake of safety, so that the nation quickly returns to its meta-values once the extreme emergency ends. People can understand extreme cases where the nation as a whole is in immediate danger, and they would gladly temporarily sacrifice rights for the sake of survival. What we haven't guarded against is pragmatic violation of individual rights justified by any form of "crisis", such as a recession, so that pragmatism has over-ridden individual rights. As they say -- hard cases make bad law. But with the wrong politicians in power, operating in a system of intervention without strict limitations, the tendency is to manufacture crises out of every event in order to expand control. Tibor Machan has wrtten extensively about these issues.

    We can't legislate or regulate or centrally plan our way to an excellent society, just as a company can't create excellence through policies and procedures and smart managers, no matter how well written the policies and procedures or how smart the managers.

    Americans have been forced to ask themselves what type of country we want, and, also, what type of government. Those who frame meta-values as ideological extremism and paranoid reaction miss what's happening. It's not about narrow-minded ideologues or frightened people holding on to old values, it's about people with integrity standing for something and realizing that some values are universal and too important to compromise. Once integrity is compromised something vital is weakened and placed at risk.

    Our nation has been morally negligent when it comes to government, failing to associate violation of individual rights with immorality. The idea that what's best for the greatest number should trump meta-values, if not immoral, is at least amoral and neglects human values which are vital to a just society. However, during this period of progressive transformation, or at least the attempt at transformation, people are forced to consider values at a deeper level, and as a people we're beginning to realize the failures of an interventionist State and our two party governmental system.

    I think this is part of the evolution towards a libertarian society, a society that values choice, responsibiity and liberty. I have a feeling that in the next twenty years politics as we've known politics will drastically change, with ordinary people playing a much larger role in the creation of the 21st century society, and with government playing a much smaller role. If I'm right, the 2012 elections ought to be interesting, and those who have lost sight of meta-values, still lost in the remnants of moral relativism, will be removed from positions of State power.