Tuesday, April 9, 2019

3 languages of politics, and what each misses

Arnold Kling, author of The Three Languages of Politics, suggests that each of the three major American political persuasions filters the world through a particular lens:

Progressives see the world as a battle between victims and oppressors;

Conservatives see the world as a battle between civilization and barbarism;

Libertarians see the world as a battle between freedom and coercion.

Each group interprets events differently and comes to different conclusions in no small part because it starts from a different guiding premise.

Russ Roberts of the Hoover Institution, following Kling, shows what each group misses.

Progressives, “in their eagerness to empathize with the victim . . . can turn the victim into an object rather than an independent actor. Poor people are so oppressed in the liberal view, they don’t just have limited agency to choose and live life in meaningful ways.”

Conservatives, on the other hand, “in their zeal to preserve civilization and the American way of life,” often “demonize those that they see as a threat to civilization. They can forget that most immigrants are hard-working individuals who want a better life for their children.”

Finally, libertarians—how Roberts himself identifies—“often romanticize the power of economic freedom. We struggle to imagine that some people are poorly served by markets, that some transactions involve exploitation of ignorance and that the self-regulation of markets can fail.” He confesses that libertarians, in their “zeal to de-romanticize government,” often just “ignore the good that government does, especially in cases where freedom might perform badly.”
Source: Them by Senator Ben Sasse

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