Friday, February 08, 2008

Introducing Me

I started my first blog back in 2003. I was in college, then, working (or rather, largely not working) on my senior thesis, and blogging was what I did when I needed a break from taking a break from the thesis. It's fitting, I think, that it would take another absorbing writing project to bring me finally out of my mostly permanent blogging hiatus. I never would have guessed that when I finally figured out how to sit down and write for eight (or twelve) hours a day, I'd want to go home and write some more. Yet, somehow it works that way.

I'm also motivated by the sense that our long national nightmare of pointless and bad-faith arguments about the war in Iraq is finally drawing to a close. I didn't have much to say about it when it started, beyond a general sense that wars were generally better avoided than not. I wish I'd said more at the time, but I'm not a specialist in the Middle East or political science or counterinsurgancy, and I dislike reading uninformed bloviation, so I try to avoid producing it. It didn't really occur to me that that my standards regarding who was qualified to comment on the invasion of Iraq were higher than the administration's standards regarding who was qualified to plan the occupation of Iraq. (That's a cheap political shot. I'm sorry. But not sorry enough to delete it.)

At that point in my life, I identified with the conservative movement, though I never identified as a conservative. Sometimes I'll identify as a libertarian, when I'm feeling energetic enough to explain that no, I don't mean that I'm a conservative but feel that saying "libertarian" means I'm more likely to get laid, nor do I oppose an active federal government because it gets in the way of straight white males exercising their patriarchy-given right to exploit women, children and poor people. When I'm feeling less energetic, I simply let people assume that as an Upper West Side resident who uses words like post-colonial and patriarchal unironically, I must be liberal. It's easiest, and true for the definition of liberal that most people hold.

But to move beyond the question of identification, I believe in the most general sense in a political system that trusts individuals to make decisions that are best for themselves. I dislike what might broadly be termed the welfare state because it so often ties its assistance to asinine attempts to separate out the "deserving" poor from the "undeserving" poor, because it fails to treat individuals with dignity, and because it prefers the judgments of politicians and experts to the judgments of the individuals who have to live with the results. (Obviously, these indignities are preferable to say, mass starvation, but I refuse to believe these are the only two options.)

I also dislike what might broadly be termed the virtue state because it confuses outward displays of conformity with internalized standards of morality and faith. It too is based on a profound distrust of the decisions of ordinary individuals, overlaid with a deeply unappealing stench of hypocracy. (There is just as much casual sex among young conservatives as young liberals. By and large they all seem to find it harmless fun, and eventually go on to get married and have babies. Unlike the young liberals, however, they seem to believe that everyone who is not them must be deeply damaged by and unable to handle the consequences of all of this unregulated pleasure.)

So. Trusting people is good. War is bad. On with the blog.

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