Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Goldberg On Obama's "Pragmatism"

Jonah Goldberg reinforces his growing credentials as a younger Thomas Sowell. He writes and thinks clearly, but pulls no punches, always calling a silly spade a spade without lapsing into caricature or exaggeration.
Obama himself insists that he's guided by nothing other than a cool-headed pragmatism. Indeed, Obama has a grating habit of describing any position not his own as "ideological," as if his is the only sober, practical understanding of the problems we face. Just days before he was inaugurated, he gave a speech in Baltimore in which he proclaimed, "What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives -- from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry -- an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels."

So ideologues -- i.e. millions of Americans who disagree with his policies on principle -- belong in a list along with bigots and dim bulbs. At home, this attitude has allowed him to dismiss opponents of socialized medicine and the government takeover of various industries as "ideologues," and critics of trillions in debt-fueled spending as small-minded cranks.
Hence, according to the Obama administration, it's foolishly ideological to resist the United Nation's accommodation of tyrants and fanatics, while it is "pragmatic" to placate human rights abusers. It is ideological to show disdain for Venezuela's would-be dictator Hugo Chavez; it is "pragmatic" to stamp as "democratic" his effort to overthrow term limits. It is ideological to sustain sanctions against Burma and Sudan; it's pragmatic to revisit them, even if it disheartens human rights activists across the ideological spectrum. American exceptionalism is ideological, while seeing America as just another nation is realistic.
What Goldberg doesn't point out is that this attack against "ideology" is just one more tool in the toolkit for Progressives - by nature subjectivists and statists - to disarm any thinking person and to insulate their views from criticism.

Unfortunately, their tactic is working too well, since most Americans do not recoil in horror - as they should - from the label "pragmatist." They do this because they view it as synonymous with "practical," and that because Progressive education in public schools for the past 100 years has totally muddied the issue, as Dewey intended. They need to learn that Pragmatism is the most impractical, and not coincidentally most immoral, philosophy around.

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