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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugurating the Principle of Unprincipled

"There is no doubt that any policies I implement will be based on the economic situation I inherit from George Bush - ...as a manager of the economy you should base your decisions on facts not ideology - so even if I am predisposed to a certain set of policies I will want to see what's going on at the moment and ask a wide range of viewpoints from business leaders...some of these [tax increases] you could possibly defer..." - Barack Obama
The quotes in these links capture the essence of modern philosophy and therefore represent everything that is wrong with American politics...

The above is an excerpt from my June 2008 post, The Pragmatist Fascist vs. the Principled Fascist, in which I attempted to philosophically distinguish the two presidential candidates. On the day of Obama's inauguration, I am linking back to that post because I think it is relevant in helping to understand the current president's ideology of non-ideology and therefore in forecasting what he is likely to do. I hold that Obama's default position from the nothingness of pragmatism is liberation theology or Christian Marxism which I previously discussed here.


Burgess Laughlin said...

> ". . . default position from the nothingness of pragmatism . . ."

Thank you. This is an intriguing insight for, among others, anyone writing a biography of almost any modern politician. Many are idealogues (those who have a set of fundamental ideas that guide them in political and social actions) and pragmatists (those who eschew principle--on principle).

Exactly when a particular politician retreats from his pragmatism to rely on some principle absorbed in some semi-random fashion can probably only be decided by a scholar who has the patience to work through a mound of documents and interviews, tracing the evolution of a position step by step.

There is a related phenomenon: A pragmatist politician delegates an assignment to assistants who are themselves a mixture of pragmatism and ideology--or, in some cases, primarily ideologues.

This range of possibilities is the fact that leads me to expect surprises in the flow of particular events coming in the next four years. It will be a circus.

The Rat Cap said...

Thanks Burgess.

What you are hitting on is the key to understanding pragmatism. Pragmatism is really a nothing so there must be a default position if the pragmatist is to be more than a vegetable (thanks Aristotle for that one).

I think in practice, modern pragmatism is a smoke screen to soften the edges of the socialist program. In other words, most modern thinkers are such cynics and such subjectivists that anything reeking of systematic thinking is instantly rejected out of hand - even if it is socialism.

This is what leads to the popular refrain condemning "extremism". It is the basis of Obama's quote in my post and the essence of which he again reiterated in his inauguration speech where he said something to the effect that we have to put ideology aside and do "what works" (he literally said that) and then cited "retiring with dignity" and a bunch of other socialist platitudes as means to the end of doing "what works."

So Objectivists face a double problem in that first you have to get ideas per se to be taken seriously and then you have to defeat the default ideas of altruism, collectivsm, mysticism, etc.

Obama's pragmatism might make him more dangerous because he might be seen as a moderate (not an raging socialist) and on the other hand, maybe he will randomly do something smart if the local "consensus" sways him.

Myrhaf said...

Thank you for the informative post.

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