Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Ok, another great Tam piece, this time about the trend of tendentious conservative bloggers taking potshots at the anti-war movement:

MORAL EQUIVALENCE, PART 21351255685: A lot of warbloggers are slamming those anti-war protests that took place this weekend because some of the key organizers were ANSWER people, which is a front for the quite extreme Workers World Party, a communist organization that stupidly says nice things about North Korea and Castro...

Here's my argument on why the communist freaks of the left should be treated with less moral repugnance than the racist and fascist freaks of the right:

Communism, as an idea, is not prima facie evil. You may think that it is a really dumb idea that would in practice condemn many people to misery, and you may also think that its institutional application would require restrictions of basic liberties unacceptable to you (its proponents would disagree). But it is not a fundamentally evil idea, because it at least in principle respects the idea of equal basic human dignity, which must be the basis of almost any acceptable contemporary political theory (liberalism [both the progressive and classical varities], libertarianism, moderate conservatism, socialism, etc.)...

The same cannot be said for racism or fascism. As ideals, they are EVIL. Not just bad in practice, as communism often is, but simply EVIL. If you are a racist or a fascist, then I have an a priori desire to kick your ass. In short, our freaks tend to be stupid whereas your freaks tend to be evil. End of story.
I think the problem is a confusion of means and ends. Communism has laudable ends (allowing everybody to get out from under the rat race of the market, de-alienate themselves from what they produce, fulfill their full potential, and create a world where resources aren't controlled by the very few at the expense of everybody else), but the means by which they've tried to do this have been pretty damned bad, and it's a system that's open to hijacking by those who don't give a rat's ass about the goals but are just trying to build their own power (Stalin, among others). Marxism also tends to ignore the problem of these ends having unforeseen consequences, massively overemphasizes the effects of class, and misinterprets problematic situations that are supposedly to be solved having their own benefits that (in the eyes of most liberals and capitalists) far outweigh the negative aspects. I'd say communists are misguided, but I agree with Eric: not evil, unless one is so consequentialist that the U.S. (and to a lesser extent liberal capitalism) itself also becomes evil because of the unintended consequences of its fight against communism.

Fascism (whether of the national socialist flavour or not) and racism, on the other hand, are based on the sort of nationalistic chauvanism that deserves exactly the kind of thoroughly-administered ass-kicking that Eric wants to administer, preferably at the hands of the supposedly-inferior group in question. As a minority, Eric has a pretty legitimate beef. Were he to administer said savage beating, I'd be glad to help.

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