A 3-Step Political Theory Recipe – How To Avoid Killing Each Other (Without Avoiding The Hard Stuff)
Your Grandmother gave us some good advice: If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your damned mouth shut, boy!
OK, she didn’t say it precisely like that – that sounds more like your dad. But the point stands. In polite society we like to avoid topics of discussion that leave a bad taste in the mouths of others, as well as those prone to generate arguments over details no one in the room has any control over.
Top on this list are:
- Math (boooooorrrrrrrrrring!)
- Whether “Soccer” is really American
Well… Too bad!
I’m willing to talk about all of that, except #4 of course, as that would be RUDE.
This blog is ostensibly about Zen and the Art of Weightlifting, more deeply about self-development, and fundamentally about whatever I decide in the moment. Ah, the joys of having your own blog. (I suggest you join us with yours HERE .)
Things are about to get heated. Albeit in a very geeky, well-thought-out, researched, honest, non-conclusion-ist kind of a way.
Why Politics Is Not About Voting Or “The News”
Watching the news makes you stupid. Most people shouldn’t vote. And being a Liberal doesn’t mean you like nature.
These are just a few of the topics I will be writing about here – explaining why I feel that way, and why it isn’t (at all) as sensational as it sounds.
But in order to do that, I have to first start developing for you (from the ground up) a robust political philosophy that supports those positions; do so in a way that isn’t “slap-dash”; and be sure the views are not based upon nothing but gut-emotions and reactions that are then justified after-the-fact, but rather upon serious science, reason, and morality.
I Am Not A Liberal, I’m A liberal
I used to be into Politics the way other kids were into sports. By the time I was 10, not a night went by that I wasn’t obsessively watching the news, reading newspapers, and following the “game” that is our American political system.
I found it FUN.
As I got older, I translated this into a deeper love of Political Philosophy and Political Economy. I voraciously read Marx, Keynes, Mises, Hayek, Smith, Mill, Locke, and so many others.
Like most children who grow up with hippie-leaning parents, and oddly uber-liberal Grandparents(1), I began my journey as a rabid pacifist-protesting-anarcho-communist. (If that doesn’t make any sense to you, then you clearly have never been 17 years old.)
Much of that died away during the next 18 years. Some of it was replaced with opposite beliefs. And still other parts of my youthful exuberance have stayed with me – and intensified.
- Young college kids are passionate out of ignorance.
- The passion of the aged is born out of experience.
So today, I can’t really say that I’m a (big letter) Liberal anymore.
If I allow myself to have some fun (I always do), then I might say that I’m a: Neo-liberal-leaning-libertarian-sort-of-except-when-I’m-not-because-most-libertarians-are-fucking-crazy.
In America, when you tell someone you are a Liberal, they assume that you are a hippie-socialist-vegan. I am closer to being a drag-queen meat-eater, and my economic thoughts lean more toward the Austrian school (most easily expressed by Hayek).
But then… that makes me sound like that Neoliberal (libertarian crowd) who worship that idiot Ayn Rand, who over-care about their money being stolen by the “man”, and love their guns more than they love their kids. No thanks.
Not-so-random-side-note: I hate Ayn Rand. I can’t express that enough.(2)
Alas, I am neither a Liberal nor am I a Libertarian. I am a (small letter) liberal.(3) I believe in Individual Sovereignty & Freedom as the core of ethics and politics. BUT, that is meant to be the “spirit” of the law, not always the “letter”.
In the real world: shit gets hairy, then you shave.
The 3-Step Method Of Creating A Political Philosophy
Below is my 3-step process for creating a Political Theory. If more people adopted this BEFORE they got all hot-and-bothered, there would be far less battling, and far more movement toward solutions.
It is so simple, yet the simple things are what are most often ignored.
Consider this a corollary to the Scientific Method – a process oriented way to reach solutions to social problems that isn’t solely based on “feelings”, yet avoids the traps of being emotion-less.
The world is not black or white. It is not grey. It is both black and white. Deal with it.
STEP ONE – Decide What You WANT To Be True: Your End Goal
Personal Ethics is the key to phase one.
For me, this means that individuals should be treated as sacred beings who’s freedom to be themselves (in themselves) should be protected and cultivated.
Maybe you value the group over the individual more. That’s OK, too. But it means we are going to be shooting for TOTALLY different goals. If you and I can’t even understand that we aren’t on the same page at this stage, we will NEVER be able to discuss anything without fighting about nothing.
Talking past each other…
STEP TWO – Discover What The Roadblocks Are
Science is at the core of this phase of your politics.
Just because you want to believe that YOUR fitness routine is the end-all-be-all of fat loss, that doesn’t make it true.
In other words, if the GOAL is fat loss, you need to know exactly how fat loss occurs, how to maximize results, how to optimize vs how to protect with redundancies, and on and on and on…
There is a near endless amount of (deeply important) data that you will need to make an EDUCATED decision about what policies/actions you support or decide not to support.
Most everyone fails here. It is disgusting.
Science. Math. Study.
All the shit most people (the very people who get the most pissed off in political discussions) fail to bother with.
STEP THREE – Generate The Blueprint
Engineering in all forms (economics, politics, business, education, physical) is the basis of the final phase of your Political Theory.
Once you know your GOAL, and you know what it will take, you can begin building a system.
All government policies fall under this last phase. As do all business decisions, or any other major decision one makes that affects OTHER people – not just yourself.
BONUS STEP FOUR – Iterate!
We will fail more often than we get it right. If something isn’t working, then to reach our goals we need to find out WHY it isn’t working, then change it.
Lastly, at any one of these stages, we can disagree for GOOD REASON. We may not have the same goals. We may not see the data the same way. We may choose totally different strategies for reaching that goal. And all possible combinations there of. Endless.
You may not like it, but we are political animals living in a socially connected world. That means that everything YOU do affects others. Politics is not reserved for the imbeciles in Washington. It is something we all engage in daily. There is no way out of that save for running away – alone – into the woods.
Given that I’m a liberal who hates camping and hiking, preferring the gentler confines of coffee shops and weightlifting gyms, I will opt for an acceptance of my interconnected role in society.
Now go lift something heavy, Nick Horton
- I say “odd” only because they were Southern Baptist preachers, and you don’t often associate Baptists in America with the word “liberal”! [↩]
- She was an emotion-based rationalizer of immorality, and among the worst examples of how a (reasonable) hatred of a particular government (in her case, communist Russia) can turn your mind to mush. (The precise opposite of the reasoned ethics-based morality of Nozick and Hayek, who stuck with Ultimate, rather than Proximate, causes.) While not always right, Nozick and Hayek represent a true intellectual tradition. Rand was nothing of the sort. [↩]
- I have often called myself a liberal-libertarian, and have even contributed to more than a few sites that cater to such things. But even that is misleading. Labels have a way of obscuring the truth. [↩]