Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Its not an Either/Or

The American Right and Left commit the same error when it comes to politics. See if you can catch it.

On the Right, Glenn Beck was interviewed by NY Times Magazine: "Progressives speak of putting “the common good” before the individual, which “is exactly the kind of talk that led to the death camps in Germany,” as he said on his show in May."

On the Left, Slate’s William Saletan argued Christine O’Donnell is a Socialist because she believes certain private acts which occur in the bedroom are immoral.

Catch it? In both instances, the reader is given a false dichotomy. The suggestion is there are only two choices, individualism or collectivism, when really there are more. Ross Douthat explains: “[they’re] reflecting the modern tendency to reduce all of human affairs to a state/individual binary (or a Marx/Rand binary, if you will), with no room for family, community, and other intermediate areas of effort, collaboration and self-sacrifice." Beck and Saletan mistakenly think that any denial of an individual right is an endorsement of the centralized government.

Both sides of the political spectrum see the only possibilities for ordering society are two Enlightenment extremes: Individualist Capitalism or Totalitarian Government. If that's the case, its just a matter of picking your poison.

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