Sunday, April 27, 2003

Seeking the inner Chris

One thing I like about Matthew Yglesias' blog is that he often gets into the philosophical side of political discussions and I have always been something of an armchair philosopher (along with being an armchair historian, an armchair political theorist and an armchair psychologist. So many responsibilities I have.) Take, for example, this recent posting: Jacob Levy told us he wouldn't blog until Monday 'cause he was going to be engaged in some "tenurable activity" but instead he brings us an amusing anecdote:
[A senior CATO official] went on to generalize this to a "secret sin" theory of politics-- that people form their political views on the basis of a generalization of their own deepest darkests. (This, by the way, is something like the method Hobbes defends, though that fact didn't come up in conversation.) So: if you think it's only the law that keeps you from plunging into a life of full-time sexual depravity and debauchery, you become a moralistic conservative. If you think it's only the law that keeps you from becoming Ebeneezer Scrooge and screwing the poor just for the sheer sadistic joy of it, you become a lefty. And if you look inward and detect a craving for power, you generalize that to everyone else and become a libertarian. The moral was that people should listen to libertarians, believe them, follow their policy recommendations-- and not elect them.
I think there's probably at least a grain of truth to that view. Nevertheless, Professor Levy should get back to work. If he needs motivation, the Invisible Adjunct has many a cautionary tale to offer.
It's an interesting thought. I remember having a discussion with some friends a few years back in which I confessed that there is a part of me that suspects that inside everyone is a part of them that secretly agrees with everything I believe in and all I have to do is find the magic words that will release their "inner Chris" into the outside world. I fully admitted that my more rational side understands that this theory is ridiculous. But, in my more depressive moments, I can't help but think that if everyone just thought the way I did then the world would be such a better place. Since then the phrase "inner Chris" has become something of an in joke between myself and these friends.


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