Friday, March 23, 2012

More on Intent...

...per [link] and [link].

The problem with fitting people onto any number of dimensional axes is that their position is a derivative function of something else.  In the authoritarian-libertarian spectrum, for example, there are multiple reasons one could be at any given position in that axis, reasons which are predictive of divergences from the "party line" at that point in the axes.

As an axis, intent circumvents the libertarian two-axis politicality; somebody for whom intent is primary generally falls heavily into both the "liberal" and "authoritarian" spectrums, because the value of conservativism depends upon accepting existing solutions without (necessarily) questioning the reason those solutions were put in place.  When you question intent, you question the system which exists, with a mess of divergent intentions which sums up to something that (in any sustained system) works.

The converse is not true, however; lack of focus on intent doesn't lead necessarily into either libertarianism or conservativism.

The product of axiomatic axes is a skewed distribution.  As a product of intent, I expect a cluster of individuals in the liberal-authoritarian section of the two-axis liberty-versus-agency conservative-versus-progressive graph.

I expect another cluster in the liberty side of the graph, as a result of focus on liberty; some conservative values are important (those which promote liberty), but some progressivism is also necessary, to eliminate those conservative values which oppose liberty.  This group is largely uninteresting to me, however.

The conservative cluster is a product of those who promote Order as the primary value; those who oppose disruptions as disruptions, and thus are inherently anti-progressive.  Such individuals may value intent, but not as a primary value - otherwise they would have to question the intentions of the system as it exists.  Intentions are therefore a secondary value, which is why such individuals generally accept the form of capitalism that exists today, resisting changes either to promote liberty or to promote some other value.  Such individuals are sometimes referred to as reactionary, but only from the perspective of those pushing another value in place of values which exist, because the only actions such individuals apparently engage in is to oppose changes - in short, they react to changes.  Promoting change is antithetical to their purpose, and so they are a political sleeping giant, stirring only when disturbed.  They are perhaps the strongest force in politics, but are easily defeated by concerted and targeted efforts.

Conservative interests are by definition neither authoritarian nor libertarian, defending merely the institutions which are in place.  They can be authoritarian, or libertarian, but only in the temporal sense - if the institutions are generally libertarian, conservatives are generally libertarian.  In the US, conservatives fall broadly across both, as a result of divisive interests.

The progressive cluster is the least well-defined, being defined solely by their desire to institute change.  It's a highly contentious group, as a result, which fights itself more frequently than any other group; in the US, there is a loose alliance of this cluster, represented cohesively only by "Political Correctness," which is in effect a code of rules among progressives intended to reduce infighting among the different goals represented.  Progressives are the most easily disrupted group as a result of the fact that most are limited-issue, aiming only at a small set of changes they desire, and also thus the most centrist on an individual basis, even though their alliance results in a very extreme consensus position.

The current alliance of progressives in the US has resulted in a siege mentality; individual progressives are judged by the consensus position they implicitly support, and many if not most feel mischaracterized as a result.  The rules which permit their alliance also forbid them from criticizing their allies, which makes it difficult for them to respond to accusations of extremism, more.  Argumentative tactics from this group thus come off as extremely aggressive, as they have little recourse in most situations except to criticize their opposition as strongly as possible.  Self-policing within the group results in staunch policing of outside positions as well - hence the "Outbreak of reasoned discourse" concept in the right.

Their alliance requires a minority position to succeed, however; while a member outside the alliance in a position of power is an enemy to unite against, one of their own in a position of power is a liability.  Obama, for example, is a potent disappointment to most of them, which causes their alliance to fragment.  This can be seen in the presidential elections of the last forty years; a conservative president will always follow a progressive one, and vice versa.  They unite against a conservative, and fragment behind a progressive.


  1. Well enough said that you stopped a started-post of mine to make me think some more.

  2. Rereading it, I don't know that it's well-said. There are two points I could express considerably easier:

    Any set of axes could be chosen; "liberty" is a value chosen by us libertarians, but isn't necessarily meaningful to other groups. I suspect the libertarian preference for "conservative" versus "progressive" as the second axis is the result of the progressive coalition more than usefulness for us in describing other individuals or groups.

    And second, coalition (I think you'd prefer "tribal," but that word has connotations I prefer avoiding) politics can result in individuals whose political positions can't be usefully graphed as a single point.