a boring and tiresome list of principles
I know, I know, I know - there's no point to doing this, they'll just say what they want to anyway, it seems defensive, etc. Which is always easier to say when you're not the one who is constantly accused of wanting to put trans children in camps or whatever.
“I am one of those rubes who still believe in passionate disagreement that does not close your heart to the other.”
In a democracy, this is the only principle I care about. Happy 4th, friend.
Nice summary. There's a fair amount I agree with and a fair amount that I don't, but I see no need to scream abuse at you about any of it. This isn't really the thread to get into detail about any of those things, but there may be others where we can discuss some of them.
The one thing I will say here is that I would have simply put a period after the words "I believe that achieving a just society cannot happen". Capitalism is not the problem, and there's no evidence to date that socialism can do any better. Civilization of any kind is basically an attempt to construct a set of rules to make it possible for people to live together more or less peacefully, but it can never be perfect. It's always going to be messy, because it's full of people. This is not to say we shouldn't try to address specific injustices, but it would be foolish to think that the result will ever be "a just society".
The lede (was buried): "Integrity," and "I believe that there are *pre-political commitments to fairness and decency* that are too often dismissed as a fetish for civility in our contemporary media. I am one of those rubes who still believe in passionate disagreement that *does not close your heart to the other.* Also, while I am a very weird person I would like to think that I *avoid* the bipartisan tendency in contemporary politics to talk like a complete lunatic." There you have it. Best of the July 4 posts in my inbox, which is no surprise. Never stop never stopping, Freddie.
I don't subscribe because you agree with me. I subscribe because you are a good writer and authentic.
Yeah, you have these utopian ideals that contradict each other and don't work. So what? You are grounded in truth and individual liberty and won't twist truth to fit some narrative.
"I believe that contemporary left-wing and progressive people generally have better policy positions than their conservative counterparts, and their social and institutional cultures are generally more healthy than their conservative counterparts."
I think you've missed one of the biggest cultural changes of the last decade - the social cultures of conservatives are now healthier and better than those of progressives. It seems clear to me that progressives have abandoned social intelligence and nuance for a strictly black-and-white worldview, which intrinsically makes any social environment an unhealthy one. Their reliance on social media is ruining their lives.
Where is class in your long list of beliefs? There is more to it than capitalism, or economics. I would like to know your position on working class and rural people, who in my experience have a far broader range of beliefs than progressive people seem to comprehend. I have not seen much on this in your recent writing - I have subscribed for about 6 months.
Not sure I understand why racism is defined so that it is always “whites” who are the oppressors/benefitters? Reasonable enough for American history but surely in other times and places various non-“white” groups practice(d) something strongly akin to racism? I guess you could say that it was white Europeans that came up with the word “race” but I’m not convinced that the general concept hasn’t existed elsewhere and wasn’t used at various times for justification for poor treatment of other people.
“the idea that all people are deserving of lives of material security and comfort…I believe that borders are an illegitimate fiction and that immigrants contribute to the flourishing of our culture. I therefore advocate for dramatically looser immigration policy than our current status quo”
How would that work? It seems to me that high levels of immigrations are making your preferred policies harder to achieve.
I appreciate your honesty and your right to espouse nonsense. I will continue to read and support you.
This has less to do about celebrity and more to do with the times. If you're in any way skeptical of identity politics as a synonym for class, you're automatically a racist, transphobic monster. It happens to all of us. I try my best to never interact with my co-workers because they are just constantly policing for a mild disagreement on literally fucking everything. Clarification and discussion is pointless. Even if I put a constitution in my corporate email signature denouncing racism and homophobia, it will be ridiculed unless it includes pronouns. There is nothing you can fucking do. We live in a weird time where a secular religion is purging the witches -- and you, Freddie, are a witch. Sorry.
I greatly admire your passion and conviction on many issues. I just wouldn’t vote for you or any politician espousing your ideas, alas. I believe that many things in society need fixing, but gradually, through “piecemeal social engineering”, as I remember Karl Popper’s terminology. So, I’m one of those detestable centrists. Can you site any historical events in which the purported coerced imposition of your ideas of equality (aka “revolutions”) have NOT resulted in untold human catastrophe and the death of millions? IMO we need far LESS “muscular government intervention” in people’s lives in an attempt to make them more perfect. That “muscular government intervention” actually means “forced change at gunpoint”, the guns being pointed at ornery, uppity humans who may respectfully disagree with you. As for equality, it’d be nice if there was an easy way to mitigate it. But as historian Walter Scheidel has pointed out in The Great Leveler, in the entirety of human history, the only events that have substantially reduced inequality were: plague, war, revolution, and state collapse, all involving mass death, bloodshed, and suffering. There MIGHT be less toxic levelers, but given history, I think I’ll pass on that one.
Also, I worry about the sheer volume of words pouring forth from you. It’s mind-boggling, volcanic. Do you ever take a break, do something fun, take a walk, etc.? I became a paid subscriber based on your eloquent, moving defense of the reality of mental illness, so I worry about you. (Having myself suffered from clinical depression for decades, I understand this reality. )
“The sad and inevitable next step is that I will eventually write something that they deeply disagree with, and the intensity of their love for the other stuff will make this unexpected disagreement hurt much more. It’s a privilege to make people feel so deeply. But we all must take care to not invent each other.”
Applies as much to life as it does to writing imo. We must take care not to invent each other.
I'm one of your libertarian readers, Freddie, and this piece reminds me of why I read your work in the first place: for your unique perspective and your courage in standing up for what you believe is right. Cheers from St. Louis on this miserably humid July 4th.
"I believe that achieving a just society cannot happen within a framework of capitalism, which inherently and necessarily increases inequality over time and which depends on exploitation for its basic functions. I believe in the peaceful and democratic replacement of capitalism with some kind of a socialist system."
Excuse my French, but le socialisme ne fait pas de putain de travail.
There is an old Russian saying that the workers pretend to work and the bosses pretend to pay them.
The simple argument against those that prefer collectivism over capitalism is that capitalism is the only system that provides an open meritocracy and thus provides a self-healing trajectory toward greater progress as it leverages the natural human behavior tendency to seek advancement and achievement. Capitalism isn't the problem, it is when capitalism is corrupted by corporatism.
Those that pursue collectivism (in any form) to replace capitalism are in fact supporting an autocracy format that would provide equal crumbs to a larger population of dependent moochers to support a declining system. Collectivist style systems destroy the open meritocracy and any progress requires achievement motivation through fear delivered by the point of a gun. But these system always fail because of human will and the human psychological needs hierarchy.
Just consider the system of higher learning giving equal grades to all students so that equality could be achieved. Sure, that will work.
"Our project is thus to increase certain types of equality in a way that ameliorates suffering and promotes human well-being, under the belief that a society’s well-being can only be improved if it is improved for all."
First, please define "suffering" and also please define the constituency you would limit this to. Let's assume you are limiting this project to the US.
In terms of the human needs hierarchy, there should be no material want for the lower needs (except for housing which is another issue). Food benefits are available. Even housing assistance is available. And if your argument is that we still have some people without enough food, etc. I would argue that perfection with the human condition is never achievable as some people get so effed up they cannot put their pants on. If the benefits exist and they are too incapable to access them, how can we reduce their suffering by providing greater benefits? We cannot. The pursuit of perfection is often the enemy of the good. At least 5-10% of the population is always going to self-destructive no matter what care is provided.
For the sake of argument I am going to assume that "suffering" in your context is this never solved 5-10% human mess plus a nebulous sense of other people being outside of and below the socioeconomic averages. The first point I would make here is that any relative measure of attainment relative to "suffering" is toxic and potentially destructive. I think of the employee happy in their job that finds a page left on the office printer that shows the salary of a coworker being paid more and now that employee is unhappy with resentment. The guy up the street with the larger house and nicer car does not really impact our prosperity, but he can inflame our envy. That inflamed envy is our problem... not his problem... nor it is any indication of systemic problems as long as there are no significant barriers to us being able to also achieve the bigger house and nicer car if we want it bad enough.
And THAT is the key to what is broken with our capitalist system. Access is broken. There is way too much consolidation. Our rules should prevent it, but our politicians and government employees benefit from these relationships with Wall Street and the large corporations controlled by Wall Street. We migrated from a nation of small business production economy, to a nation of just a few mega large corporations run by a gambling economy.
Capitalism is frankly just a social system that is a game. It is a game where everyone should be allowed to play. Corporatism is the corruption of that game where oligarchs collude with big government to consolidate control and loot all of the wealth while punching down the smalls that would otherwise compete for the wealth.
We saw this happen before during the Gilded Age. This is our new modern gilded age.
So, collectivism (including socialism) does not work (if you disagree, please provide examples that prove otherwise). And capitalism works very well, but corporatism does not work.
If the goal is greater equality best serving the long-term human condition, the solution is to retain capitalism while extracting from it the corruption of corporatism.
“Finally - what my conservative, libertarian, and moderate subscribers and supporters will have to decide for themselves is whether their fondness for my integrity and my political process, as well as how I express myself, overwhelms whatever distaste they may have for my substantive positions.”
A thousand times, “Yes!” I disagree with you on a great many things, but appreciate and am grateful for your helping me challenge my assumptions to consider an informed alternate view point.
In my estimation, you, David French, Kmele Foster, Michael Malice, and few other thoughtful media personalities have helped me cultivate a broader perspective and my world is richer for it.
Thank you for your radical candor and transparency, and for your care in crafting each missive and adroitly tackling the ofttimes daunting task of balancing completeness, accuracy, and precision with brevity. I appreciate it and I know others having the benefit of your perspective do too.