April 14, 2003


A friend of Brothers Judd blog, T. Crown, recently noted that conservatives are traditionally pessimistic, yet American conservatives, especially Reagan conservatives, are full of optimism. T. Crown wonders if this optimism is justified.
Posted by Paul Jaminet at April 14, 2003 4:52 PM

Thanks for introducing me to this fellow

Crown, who really thinks. I'm going to have

to spend some time on his blog.

However, I don't see why these changes

are specificially conservative.

I think I agree with almost all of what he

says here, except the part about being

well-informed. As a man in the informing

business, I am pessimistic about the

desire of people to be informed in the

first place. I am not persuaded Joe Sixpack

(who I write for) is better informed today

than when I started, back in the days of

hot type.

The ratio between public information and

public disinformation has not changed, as

far as I can tell.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 14, 2003 5:17 PM

pj: Good analysis (unfreedom is a pretty inelegant term though) but I think your last point is really only applicable to a thin section of the populace even in the US.

And like Harry said the bulk of the public don't mind remaining ignorant. Lots of workers simply prefer being given direction rather than engaging their brains.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at April 14, 2003 7:03 PM

Of course the reason to be pessimistic is because America is the only liberal democracy for which any of this is true. Europe and Japan, despite riding in our wake, are experiencing no such steady high rate of growth and are, in fact, on the verge of tipping into long term decline.

Posted by: oj at April 14, 2003 7:22 PM

I agree, a good-looking blog.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at April 14, 2003 7:53 PM

Another thing is that people judge their success in relative terms.

The average Syrian probably doesn't give much thought to how much living in a dictatorship is costing him if all his fellow Syrians are dirt poor too.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at April 14, 2003 9:33 PM

oj - The low rate of growth in Europe and Japan is their penalty for forsaking freedom for the welfare state (or, in Japan, for corrupt one-party rule).

Ali - I think the cultural trend is steadily spreading to a larger part of the population. If the 1820-1870 change (Industrial Revolution) took 50 years before its shape was completely clear, this one may take as long (1980-2030?).

Re your point of agreement with Harry, my experience is that even ignoramuses want to shape decisions.

As for the Syrians, maybe they'll notice the Iraqis getting rich.

Posted by: pj at April 14, 2003 10:04 PM

PJ -- Conservatives are not materialists (or at least not necessarily). A conservative is entirely capable of believing that we grow richer and richer as we descend into Hell; in fact, he would probably argue that there is a causal relationship.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 15, 2003 12:12 PM

I'm not a materialist but neither am I an anti-materialist. Material goods are not the most important things in life, but they are good, and material considerations do influence even saints. And God did promise to reward his followers with good things - milk and honey, for instance.

I think my proposition -- that as societies descent into Hell, they become poor -- is well-supported by history. Your suggestion -- that as societies become rich, they descend into Hell -- strikes me as dubious.

Money can corrupt but poverty often corrupts as well. St Paul held that it is the "love of money" which is the root of evil: and, generally speaking, the poor love money more than the rich.

Posted by: pj at April 15, 2003 3:48 PM