Saturday, June 06, 2009

Trends in public opinion on seven major social issues

At the Inductivist, Jewish Atheist illustrates the view many self-described progressives have of social conservatives who hold traditional moral views:
Look, conservatives are always a dying breed, "standing athwart history, yelling stop." One generation or two ago, opposition to segregation was trending down and conservatives were upset. Today, most publicly say that segregation was horrible but laws against gay marriages are great. Next generation, conservatives will be all about gay marriage but opposed to some other thing that they'll lose on.
The analogy doesn't really work, as the issue of same-sex marriage is fundamentally a definitional question--homosexuals are and always have been allowed to marry the same people heterosexuals marry. Identical legal restrictions apply to everyone. That is not the case with legalized segregation, where whites are permitted to use one designated drinking fountain while blacks use a different one.

For the comparison to work, segregation would have to have meant one fountain dispensing Jagermeister that everybody, black and white, could drink from, while hidden away from view was another fountain pouring forth Hennessy from which no one was allowed to drink.

It is also infinitely frustrating to leftists (although few will admit as much) that those putatively suffering the most from past segregation in the US are the most hostile to granting marriages to same-sex couples. Considering responses from 2000-2008, only 22.6% of blacks favor doing so, compared to 34.3% of Hispanics, 36.9% of whites, and 41.9% of Asians.

Enough digression from the purpose of this post. Those who reflexively defend traditional morality are, in the face of change, by definition going to be the ones yelling "stop" most of the time. As Michael Blowhard explains (albeit in a discussion of architecture), that is probably the preferred default position:
Tradition: Practices based in experience that almost always succeed.
Deviation should only arise when the evidence is unequivocally compelling.

Are progressive causes overcoming the moribund opposition of social conservatives in the US? Razib has stated, correctly I think, that same-sex marriage is a battle traditionalists are going to lose. While conservative opposition to it has actually strengthened slightly over the last several years, self-described moderates and liberals are moving in support of it four times as rapidly as conservatives are moving against it.

The GSS allows for positions on five major social issues--abortion, capital punishment, drug legalization, wealth redistribution, and school prayer--to be tracked from the seventies to the present. Affirmative action is first asked about in 1994. Respondents were queried on same-sex marriage in 1988, but a 16-year hiatus followed, presumably because Americans at the time were overwhelmingly opposed to it to the extent that it seemed silly to divert energy away from other survey items for something so lopsided. The following graph shows the percentage of those who either "agree" or "strongly agree" that homosexuals should have the right to marry one another.


Shifting opinions on same-sex marriage is the big victory those on the social left are able to claim.

A similar but quieter trend is evident on the question of drug legalization, for which support bottomed out during the height of crack epidemic and has since slowly but steadily risen. There is reason to suspect it may now be plateauing in the near future, however. The highest level of support for legalization is currently found among those in their late twenties. Looking only at responses from 2004 to 2008, 50.3% of those aged 26-30 favor legalization. Their younger siblings are far less enthusiastic. Among those aged 18-25, only 33.7% want to legalize marijuana use (the question is dichotomous, thus 66.3% are opposed). Their dopey baby boomer parents are more permissive than they are--of those aged 43-58, 40.2% support legalization.



Perceptions on other hot-buttons do not follow JA's trajectory. Support for abortion rights is flat and may have topped out despite longstanding legal sanction. A recent Gallup poll showed for the first time since the polling organization began tracking the question in 1995 that a majority of Americans self-describe as "pro-life".


Like support for drug legalization, opposition to the death penalty hit a nadir during the crack epidemic of the mid-eighties to early-nineties and has since returned to the level it hovered around during the seventies, but it is a minority view and will probably suffer again if the pattern of lessening violent crime reverses sometime in the future.

Affirmative action, when described as giving special preference to minorities at the expense of whites, has never been popular and this shows no signs of changing in the near future (although the long-term demographic transition the US is currently experiencing could effect it down the road, as NAMs are far more supportive of it than whites are). This explains why US Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor tried to smother the Ricci case to death without anyone noticing, rather than vociferously proclaiming the city of New Haven to be in the right, as she believes it to be.

The subsequent graph is based on a seven-point scale for responses, with a 1 representing the highest level of support for the government reducing income differences and a 7 representing the lowest level of support for it. The percentage of respondents who answered with a 1, 2, or 3 are shown.


Support for government wealth redistribution has essentially remained unchanged from where it was three decades ago. It dipped a little in the year of Reagan's election to the presidency and also during the Gingrich-led Republican insurgency of 1994, but in both cases subseqeuntly crept back up to the 50% mark it centers upon.


Support for the banning of sanctioned prayer in public schools, a legal reality since the 1963 US Supreme Court ruling in favor of Schempp, has treaded water for the last 25 years. The court's majority opinion has always been a minority opinion among the American public, although it should be noted that there is probably some confusion among respondents when the question is posed. It asks whether or not schools should lead prayer, not if prayer should be permitted among students acting on their own. If fleshed out in this way, support for banning it would likely be higher. That said, the primary purpose here is to look at trends over time, and there is nothing that indicates current respondents are less clear on what is being asked than their counterparts in the past were.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Affirmative action is first asked about in 1994.

Dear Whitey:

Do you mind our stabbing you in the back? We've been doing it for 24 years, so we thought maybe we should ask.

Yours Always,
The Establishment

;)

Jokah Macpherson said...

It surprises me that support for legalizing marijuana is at the same level as same-sex marriage and abortion for any reason. Same-sex marriage feels almost inevitable in today's political climate (it is already a reality in four states) while "legalizing it" seems like a fringe position.

I work across the street from a state capitol and get to see lots of demonstrations. Whenever the cannabis crew comes around, my friends and I joke that they would be far more successful if they took a bath, wore a suit, and left the congas at home. It's hard not to laugh when they conform so perfectly to stereotype.

Stopped Clock said...

I had no idea the level of support for AA was so low. I assume that graph includes people of all races? That must mean that virtually no whites, even Democrats, believe in AA. I had always assumed that the white level of support was around 50% and the nonwhite level nearly 100.

Faaaabulous color choice on the gay marriage graph btw.

Anonymous said...

Jokah, I think the explanation is that, we all believe Jewish Atheist's triumphalism in spite of ourselves. Not talking about him in particular - almost all secular leftists care more about gay marriage these days than marijuana legality. (Not sure why; the penalties for illegal marijuana use, while slight, seem to be greater than the penalties for out-of-wedlock sex.)

Not to overlinearize things, but there's probably some sort of distance from center ... somewhere between far left and center-left ... that represents the progress of the next ten years. These are the folks who don't support affirmative action, but don't think it's a major deal and won't really try to end it. They don't mind hunting weapons, but can't stand assault weapons, and will try to ban them. They don't think marijuana is a big deal but hey, congas are too hippy to be hip. (Or something ... hell if I know how they think.)

Rewind to the 1930s. The equivalent group created Aid to Dependent Children not because they didn't respect the institution of marriage (they weren't far left! they were mainstream left!) but because they were sure marriage was so strong that a little welfare money wouldn't kill it. By the 1960s, the mainstream left were saying marriage was optional (while to the far left it was "a form of prostitution" and thus forbidden).

In any case, the Sweet Spot Leftists, or you can call them the Unsilent Nonmajority, more or less represent ruling-class values. They never really warmed to legal weed because it doesn't really fit their self-image. They are the clean-for-Gene types who look like Mormons and have the diametrically opposite worldview.

I'm close enough to their worldview that while I don't really support gay marriage, I can't really see it leading to legalized public sex. I mean, the people who are advocating are so straight-laced! The tide of history may favor legalized public sex, but I just can't picture it.

ironrailsironweights said...

For the comparison to work, segregation would have to have meant one fountain dispensing Jagermeister that everybody, black and white, could drink from, while hidden away from view was another fountain pouring forth Hennessy from which no one was allowed to drink.

That was a funny analogy, dunno if it was intentional or not. Hennessey and other brands of cognac ("yak") are extremely popular among blacks. And Jager seems to appeal mostly to (white) fratboys.

Peter

OneSTDV said...

I think the characterization JA offers of conservatives is inaccurate. Well at least for the kind that frequent sites like this. I'm not obdurately rooted to traditional causes on the sole basis of them being traditional causes. It's actually somewhat coincidental that I support conservative causes. They merely coincide with what I believe is the most efficient system for success. As Blowhard said, tradition has generally survived because it's been successful.

And I was also shocked by the low support for AA. Too much time listening to the elites I guess? I've actually never come across a black person in my personal life or in a message board who didn't support AA and most actually support reparations as well.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

It's actually somewhat coincidental that I support conservative causes. They merely coincide with what I believe is the most efficient system for success.

This is also my position.

I generally lean conservative strictly for Utilitarian reasons, not religious (though I'm not an atheist. I'm more of a theistic leaning agnostic).

Still, most HBDers don't strike me as being former social conservatives.

I get the feeling that many are former libertarians who fell out of love with libertarianism for whatever reason.

AE,

The chart that shows the most change is the one about homosexuality.

I used the variable HOMOCHNG to see whether respondents believed homosexuality was a choice or if it is inherent.

I surprisingly did not find a big age difference; both young and old were about evenly split on the question.

But I did find the higher the IQ the more likely the respondent was to say homosexuality is inherent.

This is in direct contrast to the high IQs position on inbuilt genetic differences where the intelligent trend towards favoring nurturism.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

Btw, before I came over to HBD, I considered myself to be a libertarian and now I consider myself to be a utilitarian.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

One last thing,

Has anyone seen this article by Jonathan Haidt of UVa?

WHAT MAKES PEOPLE VOTE REPUBLICAN?

By Jonathan Haidt


----

Religion and political leadership are so intertwined across eras and cultures because they are about the same thing: performing the miracle of converting unrelated individuals into a group. Durkheim long ago said that God is really society projected up into the heavens, a collective delusion that enables collectives to exist, suppress selfishness, and endure. The three Durkheimian foundations (ingroup, authority, and purity) play a crucial role in most religions. When they are banished entirely from political life, what remains is a nation of individuals striving to maximize utility while respecting the rules. What remains is a cold but fair social contract, which can easily degenerate into a nation of shoppers.

The Democrats must find a way to close the sacredness gap that goes beyond occasional and strategic uses of the words "God" and "faith." But if Durkheim is right, then sacredness is really about society and its collective concerns. God is useful but not necessary. The Democrats could close much of the gap if they simply learned to see society not just as a collection of individuals—each with a panoply of rights--but as an entity in itself, an entity that needs some tending and caring. Our national motto is e pluribus unum ("from many, one"). Whenever Democrats support policies that weaken the integrity and identity of the collective (such as multiculturalism, bilingualism, and immigration), they show that they care more about pluribus than unum. They widen the sacredness gap.

A useful heuristic would be to think about each issue, and about the Party itself, from the perspective of the three Durkheimian foundations. Might the Democrats expand their moral range without betraying their principles? Might they even find ways to improve their policies by incorporating and publicly praising some conservative insights?

The ingroup/loyalty foundation supports virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice that can lead to dangerous nationalism, but in moderate doses a sense that "we are all one" is a recipe for high social capital and civic well-being. A recent study by Robert Putnam (titled E Pluribus Unum) found that ethnic diversity increases anomie and social isolation by decreasing people's sense of belonging to a shared community. Democrats should think carefully, therefore, about why they celebrate diversity. If the purpose of diversity programs is to fight racism and discrimination (worthy goals based on fairness concerns), then these goals might be better served by encouraging assimilation and a sense of shared identity.

Jokah Macpherson said...

"WHAT MAKES PEOPLE VOTE REPUBLICAN?

By Jonathan Haidt"

Does this mean they still haven't found what the hell makes people vote Democratic?

silly girl said...

Media drives social policy. When you demonize a particular position, people turn against it. Duh.

If there were no coverage of the same sex marriage issue, it would have as much support as it did in 1900, since very few people are genuinely interested in it (let alone have a vested interest).

People won't change their position on an issue unless it is discussed and they stop and think about it.

Only the media has the ability to focus the attention of the general public on an issue.

It is harder to convince people to adopt stupid economic policies that directly cost them money.

Marrying social issues to economic issues makes them harder to oppose. Affirmative Action is the obvious poster child for poor economic policy married to a sympathy for a social problem.

Anonymous said...

Silly Girl has it right. It's all about what is allowed and encouraged by the media and society. I and a not insignificant number of my friends would probably vote for stuff like segregation and ending universal suffrage if it was on a ballot, but it's not even up for discussion. We are admittedly a minority, but you'd probably see a big upswing in numbers on those issues if newspapers and academia weren't so vociferously opposed.

Audacious Epigone said...

Great discussion guys.

Anon,

I guess it took Jesse Helms and a few years of festering before it became worth thinking about!

Jokah,

Same-sex marriage still loses every time it's put on the ballot. I think the reason it feels inevitable is because of the relative rapid shift in public opinion.

Re: demonstrators, that is a small sliver of the legalization side's coalition--there are a lot of people from across the political spectrum who do not like the foreign interventionism/nation-building that has characterized the actionable piece of the US military for the last several years, but very few of them are going to go disrupt a Congressional session with Code Pink.

SC,

Again, the way the question is worded is of enormous significance. Check out the link in the post (and here) that shows recent survey results from Pew. If the question is whether or not past affirmative action programs should be used to overcome past discrimination, even a majority of whites apparently favor it. But note that it means giving preferential treatment to minorities, support plummets, with only 22% of whites in favor. The GSS question only involves blacks and does not specifically address women, which may be why it is consistently even lower (the bigger the pool of people who stand to gain from affirmative action, the greater the total support is going to be).

Anon,

It sounds like the group you are describing fits the definition of SWPLs almost to a tee. Is that correct?

Peter,

Heh, yeah, it's intentional. By shortening it to yak and Jager, you show you've obviously had the cultural experience of both ends.

OneSTDV,

This is why hbd realism, or however we want to phrase the idea of injecting disparate evolutionary influences onto human natures, is so important for the mainstream right to stop being so reflexively hostile towards. A less quixotic, more realistic approach will for the most part benefit the right more than it will the left.

UJ,

I got off the same boat, though I walked over to the "empirical paleoconservative" tent (I think) after footing the soil.

Thanks for the Haidt article. I find his five dimensions of morality a conceptually very useful way of thinking about political orientation (relatedly, see Randall Parker's recent post discussing the finding that conservatives are--predictably according to Haidt--more likely to feel/be disgusted by things than liberals are).

Hasn't Obama attempted as much, with his oratorical emphasis on self-sacrifice and the way he fairly sums up opposing viewpoints (without seeming to actually take heed of them in his decisions)?

Silly girl and anon,

Certainly. Stephen Pinker thinks opposition to the mass slaughter of animals may well be the next major 'surprise' in shifting perceptions of morality. I'm sure Peter Singer is happy to hear as much, but relatively few people know who Singer is because his philosophical worldview hasn't been given the media attention that the GLBT perspective has.

Nick said...

I gotta second the idea that lotsa HBDers might have once been libertarians. This certainly describes me exactly. You might say an HBDer is a libertarian who has been mugged by reality.

On a not entirely related note, I think it's curious how HBD types are given such a reputation for hatefulness when the Steveosphere (the bloggers, not necessarily the commenters) is so much more pleasant and congenial than the major libertarian outlets on the internet. Reason writers are too often smug, immature punks, while LewRockwell.com contributors are frothing at the mouth outraged about public roads and the like. Sailerites are so much more pleasant. Not that many will ever know . . .

OneSTDV said...

Undiscovered Jew said:

"and now I consider myself to be a utilitarian."

I think most HBDers are utilitarians with respect to government policy. It simply makes sense. I think I heard Charles Murray discussing this in terms of value and how one's societal value is dependent on gross utility.

But as for morality, I doubt you're a utilitarian. The moral utilitarian position explicitly opposes "selfish" objectives, which are often found in a free market (yes some selfish acts have wider positive impact, but that's not the objective and that situation doesn't encompass even most "selfish" acts). It also counts strangers as effectively equal to loved ones.

So I think there's generally a distinction between public policy and personal morality. Or at least, this is the case for me and I imagine a lot of others. If not, we'd have a bunch of HBDers moving to Africa to start growing crops.

OneSTDV said...

I just noticed. Thanks for the add to your BlogRoll.

Blode0322 said...

So I think there's generally a distinction between public policy and personal morality. - OneSTDV

Indeed. Utilitarianism is a solid framework for public policy, probably the only really tried-and-true successful framework. But as a guide to personal action it is unworkable.

ironrailsironweights said...

It surprises me that support for legalizing marijuana is at the same level as same-sex marriage and abortion for any reason. Same-sex marriage feels almost inevitable in today's political climate (it is already a reality in four states) while "legalizing it" seems like a fringe position.

I work across the street from a state capitol and get to see lots of demonstrations. Whenever the cannabis crew comes around, my friends and I joke that they would be far more successful if they took a bath, wore a suit, and left the congas at home. It's hard not to laugh when they conform so perfectly to stereotype.


Legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage are in some respects almost mirror images of one another. While the pro-legalization crowd may be rather colorful, to put it mildly, the issue is one with which a significant percentage of voters can relate, having made various transgressions in the past (and sometimes present). The typical middle-aged voter may well realize that he or she could have a criminal record had his or her luck been a little worse years ago, and for that reason may be favorably inclined toward legalization even if the people campaigning for it are a bunch of weirdos.

Same-sex marriage, in contrast, may seem like a more reasonable issue, and its proponents are more responsible, but it's also completely irrelevant to the vast majority of voters.

Peter

Audacious Epigone said...

Nick,

The back-and-forth between Jared Taylor and Justin Raimondo at Taki's is a beautiful example of this. Taylor is more genteel than the puerile Raimondo in every way (and I say this as someone more inclined to Raimondo's position)--his writing is less emotionally charged, he is not condescending or belittling, he actually responds to what Raimondo writes rather than to his preconceived notion of what Raimondo's points are, hell, he's even better looking and tends to be better dressed. But outside of self-described white nationalists and a chunk of the Steveosphere, which one of the two is overwhelmingly known to be a "hater"?

Blode,

Right. To be a true utilitarian at the individual level would require letting one's own child drown to save the life of an unknown kid who has an IQ that is 5 points higher or has a slightly lower time preference. Virtually everyone fails that test.

OneSTDV,

You're welcome, but it's a selfish act--quicker to read your stuff this way :)

Blode0322 said...

Or, another example of what Audacious mentioned - look at how Jason Malloy rips both Tim Wise and Jared Taylor for the incorrect things they said about race. It is a fine article, with lots of really eyebrow-raising facts, but Malloy just plain tries to hard to be even-handed. Wise is completely wrong and clueless over and over again, while Taylor get in huge trouble for:
"white people are[n’t] more similar to blacks, say genetically, than they are to other whites."

... Which Malloy debunks with:
"Taylor is wrong because a white person can easily be more genetically similar to a black person than to another white person."

Malloy has debunked a summary statement about a plural with a probabilistic statement about a singular. This is like saying men aren't taller than women because a woman can easily be taller than a man.

I don't really support Taylor's ethics (which Malloy hates and which he calls Taylor "psychotic" for), but as far as facts go - Malloy avoided the Occam's Razor summary: "Tim Wise was completely wrong, while Jared Taylor was on generally solid ground with a little bit of fuzziness here and there."

David said...

Very interesting post. Thank you. Love the graphs :)

The Undiscovered Jew said...

The back-and-forth between Jared Taylor and Justin Raimondo at Taki's is a beautiful example of this.

Why was Raimondo even allowed to debate Taylor on a conservative website in the first place?

Raimondo isn't a libertarian; he's a liberal who by some coincidence happens to like Austrian economics.

Taylor and the posters at Takimag seemed amazed that Raimondo would take a leftist position.

But, of course, if they had bothered to read Antiwar.com, they would have known in advance that Raimondo thinks the United States is an unmitigated force for evil in foreign policy and believes just about any crackpot consipiracy theory about the CIA, et al, that would never get published on DailyKos or the Huffingtonpost.

Raimondo should have been tossed out of the "alternative right" long ago as an obvious leftist.

Blode0322 said...

As usual, you talk sense, UJ. It took me a long time to figure out the same thing about Raimondo, because when I first ran into his writing, the political side of the blogosphere was a big wilderness to me, and he was so refreshing as the only critic of Bush's military interventionism who wasn't also basically a social democrat on economics. (Since then I've run into a bunch of folks, thank goodness.) Also his moderate immigration restrictionism was refreshing.

So, yeah, it's easy to take connect the wrong dots with Raimondo and think he's some kind of paleo-. If he's pulling leftists away from the establishment and toward a low-tax, low-immigration, low-intervention position, great. If real paleos are using his Americophobia as a handy way to bash the Iraq war, terrible.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

If real paleos are using his Americophobia as a handy way to bash the Iraq war, terrible.

It isn't just the Iraq war the paleos are against.

The Paleocons view the United States as a force for evil in the world.

Period.

If you don't believe me, name one war the United States has fought since the British surrender at Yorktown that the paleocons widely view as justified?

Even the Cold War is viewed as American arrogance by a large swathe of paleo opinion (including the worthless Raimondo). Granted, Buchanan was a proud Cold Warrior, but many paleocons still think we should have been isolationist even against the threat of Soviet tanks seizing Western Europe.

I stopped reading Lew Rockwell after Rockwell called the Cold War threat overblown.

This is garbage. The threat from the USSR was very grave, especially from 1945 to the mid 1970's when the United States and Russia were at relative technological parity in terms of conventional military forces (true, there was no missile gap but Russia still had nuclear weapon technology good enough to destroy most of the world).

In addition to the Russian military threat, there was a danger from 1945 to the 1950's that parts of Western Europe would go Communist politically because of a politcal backlash against the pro-Nazi European right who were blamed for leading Europe to catastrophic war. (We supported the rightist Franco in Spain, and the generals in Greece and Portugal to prevent pro-Communists from seizing power.)

It was clearly necessary for the United States to contain Russia, but most of the paleocons and paleolibertarians view the Cold War as a departure from isolationist dogma, despite the fact that no other Western nation could deter the USSR.

Now, let me say that I oppose the Iraq war (I'm in the Derbyshire "Hell with them" hawk camp).

If the Paleocons were only opposed to specific conflicts in US history, this would be understandable.

However, they interpret history in a warped way where America is always the aggressor.

If the paleocons and paleolibs represtented by Raimondo, Rockwell, etc, are not anti-American leftists, then they are flirting dangerously close with falling into the leftist side of the ideological spectrum.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

Oh, and Raimondo and Rockwell opposed the US retaliating against Afghanistan after 911 as well.

Blode0322 said...

Well, you have a harsher view of the harshness of paleoconservatives' foreign policy. (I don't know too much about paleolibertarians so I'll demure.) I generally perceive the paleocons saying our intervention abroad was either unnecessary, or helpful to the rest of the world but excessively costly to the US. Thus the wars are unjustified from a utilitarian standpoint, not necessarily a deontological standpoint.

Does that make any sense?

I guess I'm a to-hell-with-them hawk too. I'll look up Derb on the issues but he's always right so there's really no need. :)

The paleocons would be right if they were talking about perceptions. Our foreign interventions may work in the short term, but not in the long term because it's too easy to make us look like an unmitigated force for evil. After a few short-term successes, some guy will drive a hummer over some lady's foot, the Pentagon will dawdle over mentioning it to whomever ... and presto! Washington covers up atrocity.

To the degree that people buy these perceptions, well ... to hell with them.

In any case, we may not be talking about the same folks ... I'm thinking mainly of Chuck Baldwin and Pat B., and of course I'm too hazy to have exact quotes.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

I generally perceive the paleocons saying our intervention abroad was either unnecessary, or helpful to the rest of the world but excessively costly to the US. Thus the wars are unjustified from a utilitarian standpoint, not necessarily a deontological standpoint.

The paleocon outfits such as the American Conservative generally view ALL US wars since the Revolutionary War as unjustified.

I'll ask again, which US war since the War for Independence does the overall paleocon consensus view as justified?

Foreign policy realist intellectuals like Stephen Walt and James A Baker III also have wars they opposed for utilitarian reasons, but they don't knee jerk oppose everything the US does like the paleocons do.

The Undiscoered Jew said...

And one final thing,

I don't see why being right about the Iraq war indicates the paleocons and paleolibertarians have some impressive and unique insight into the complexities of foreign policy because the paleos were not the only intellectuals opposed to the war.

Realists such as Brent Scowcroft, Samual Hungtington, et al, also called the Iraq war correctly in advance.

n/a said...

"... Which Malloy debunks with:
"Taylor is wrong because a white person can easily be more genetically similar to a black person than to another white person."
"


Malloy is wrong.

Blode0322 said...

The paleocon outfits such as the American Conservative generally view ALL US wars since the Revolutionary War as unjustified.

If paleocons generally agree with Pat Buchanan about the Second World War, then I was wrong about that. I had kind of thought his "unnecessary war" stance just made him a super-paleocon.

I'll ask again, which US war since the War for Independence does the overall paleocon consensus view as justified?

I didn't answer that question because you know more about this than I do. I'd have said that someone who opposes every war since Yorktown , including the Barbary Pirates campaign, World War II, and a punitive response to Afganistan, is an "extreme isolationist". As a moderate isolationist, these people bother me.

If paleocons in general are extreme isolationists, well phooey. What it really means is that the realists, etc., need to construct an above-the-radar profile to distinguish themselves from the Buchananites and the invade-the-worlders.

P.S. Samuel Huntington is a pip.

Audacious Epigone said...

Blode,

Thanks for the link. I hadn't seen that post before, and was taken aback by Jason's assertion that someone of European descent will be more closely related to someone of African descent 1/3 of the time than he will be to another random person of European descent. That struck me as absurd, and indeed Gregory Cochran comes in at the end to show that it is. That is virtually never the case.

UJ,

Seconding Blode, is the paleocon consensus that WWII was a war the US shouldn't have been involved in?

Lover of Wisdom said...

OneSTD:

"The moral utilitarian position explicitly opposes "selfish" objectives, which are often found in a free market (yes some selfish acts have wider positive impact, but that's not the objective and that situation doesn't encompass even most "selfish" acts). It also counts strangers as effectively equal to loved ones."

Not exactly. Mill's utilitarianism is the conjunction of consequentialism and hedonism, the pursuit of pleasure. But you could have ultilitarianism as the conjunction of consequentialism and egoism, the pursuit of my individual pleasure. However, it might give me greatest pleasure to perform acts that maximize overall happiness.

Blode0322:

"Indeed. Utilitarianism is a solid framework for public policy, probably the only really tried-and-true successful framework. But as a guide to personal action it is unworkable."

We have hardly any public policy that actually stems for real utilitarian theory. And we wouldn't want it; utilitarianism advocates rights violations. It does, however, work very well for guiding personal action. I simply ask what is the best action I can perform, and it's that action which maximizes overall pleasure.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

Seconding Blode, is the paleocon consensus that WWII was a war the US shouldn't have been involved in?

It is definitely the majority view of the Paleolibertarians like Rockwell and Raimondo.

As far as the Paleoconservatives - as distinct from the paleolibs - are concerned, Buchanan argues isolationism would have worked against Hitler in The Unnecessary War, and his book got a broadly favorable reception from Takimag and other paleo writers, though some paleos dissented.

There certainly is no paleocon consensus in favor of WWII - or any other US military campaign after the 18th Century.

If the paleocons were not always in favor of isolationism, I'd be more inclined to listen to their arguments.

But the paleocon foreign policy platform is very consistently dogmatic and inflexible isolationism no matter what the circumstances, despite the fact isolationism should strive to maximize flexibility.

Paleocons have isolationism confused with a moral principle.

Isolationism is not a moral principle, it is a strategy.

Strategies like isolationism should be flexible enough to change under differing circumstances because the geopolitical environment can switch without any warning.

The moral principle guiding US policy should always be national self interest, and not any particular foreign policy strategy. The strategy should serve the national interest rather than the national interest serving the strategy.

The James Baker/George F. Kennan/Realist school of foreign policy is much more sophisticated and applicable in an imperfect world than isolationism.

The realist school views each foreign policy situation as unique and observes policy under the rubric of cold national self interest.

That is the correct way to view foreign policy, and not through ideological dogma.

The Undiscovered Jew said...

despite the fact isolationism should strive to maximize flexibility

I meant

despite the fact ***Foreign Policy*** should strive to maximize flexibility.

Blode0322 said...

We have hardly any public policy that actually stems for real utilitarian theory. And we wouldn't want it; utilitarianism advocates rights violations. - Lover of Wisdom

"Hardly any" sounds like there are some exceptions. What do you have in mind?

As far as rights violations, well, I figured the utilitarians thought happiness would be maximized if we limit our actions by assigning rights. Like with free speech they're saying, "If we silence that bastard, next we'll be silencing everyone!" ... they are somewhat deontological. But I regard the two as compatible.

Rights violations ... it seems like all systems must limit rights. If I have the absolute right to live next door to you, you lack the right to live away from me. What a utilitarian believes is a matter of what their psychological/ sociological views are, I suppose.

It does, however, work very well for guiding personal action. I simply ask what is the best action I can perform, and it's that action which maximizes overall pleasure.

But ... maximizing? 98% of the time, I just look at the list of actions which don't cause anyone major harm (anything beyond having to wait behind me a the supermarket line), and pick the one that makes me the happiest. Even when I'm trying to make someone else happy, I'm really trying to make myself happy, since I get a surge of pride when I am selfless, implying that I am never in fact selfless!

So, yeah, my personal ethics aren't particularly sophisticated. I'm a nice guy though. :)

Blode0322 said...

That struck me as absurd, and indeed Gregory Cochran comes in at the end to show that it is.

And apparently I needed you to read all the way to the end of the article for me! I missed that one. Weren't we talking about "lazy people who were told they were smart as a kid" on one of these threads? :)

Indeed, Cochran's reasoning sounds valid, and Malloy's original point was difficult to believe. Still, I wonder if Malloy's point about the chihuahua and the wolves stands...? Probably not.

So I guess my point about Malloy pounding on Taylor a little too hard is reinforced; Malloy has zero factual corrections for Taylor, only Humean shoulds. Still a good article.