The Toolitzers

by Henry on May 9, 2012

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a publicist at Penguin Books:

In 2008, columnist Jonah Goldberg triggered a firestorm of controversy with his first book, LIBERAL FASCISM, a #1 New York Times bestseller. Now, he’s about to unleash another bold, funny, and thoughtful argument in his new book, THE TYRANNY OF CLICHÉS: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas (Sentinel, May 1). … Please let me know if you’d like a copy of THE TYRANNY OF CLICHÉS.

I responded by saying that I was grateful for the offer, but that I’d rather slice my eyeballs open with a rusty can-opener. I also gave them permission to use this quote as a back-cover blurb if they liked. They never got back to me (I thought it was at least as good as Brad Thor’s “In the P.C. prison yard of accepted political thought, Jonah Goldberg has just shivved progressivism,” but I’m probably just biased). Now, fate has given me (and Penguin Books) a second chance.

On the dust jacket of his new book, “The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas,” best-selling conservative author and commentator Jonah Goldberg is described as having “twice been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.” In fact, as Goldberg acknowledged on Tuesday, he has never been a Pulitzer nominee, but merely one of thousands of entrants. … His publisher, Penguin Group (USA), said the error was unintentional and it would remove the Pulitzer word from his book jacket when it’s time for the first reprint, “just like any other innocent mistake brought to our attention.”

It’s time to fill that gap on the back cover of the first reprint. So let me simultaneously (a) announce the creation of the Toolitzer Prizes, with myself as sole judge and executive chairman of the nominating committee, and (b) nominate The Tyranny of Cliches, and (retroactively), Liberal Fascism for the award, so that our Jonah will have two new nominations to take the place of the old ones. Should the necessary conditions of the competition be fulfilled (see below), the prize will be awarded to the book with the most serious, thoughtful, argument that has never before been made in such detail or with such care. Of course, deciding this would actually require me to read the books: hence the nomination process will have two steps.

If readers want to simply nominate books, they may do so by simply leaving a comment to this post, describing the book, and making a brief statement about its merits for the award. Books so nominated will have full and explicit permission to describe themselves as Toolitzer nominees in publicity materials, on the author’s website and so on, regardless of whether an actual award is made in the calendar year 2012.

If readers actually want an award to be made, they will need to both nominate a book and provide evidence of having made a minimum $500 donation in honor of the award to an organization which, in the opinion of the executive chairman, exemplifies the ideals of Liberal Fascism (examples might include The Baffler, Planned Parenthood, The American Prospect etc). Should readers so do, the sole judge will undertake to read the nominated book (as long as it is under 600 pages), and write a detailed blogpost evaluating its worthiness for the award (the sole judge quietly and selfishly hopes that no-one actually takes this second step, but will take his lumps if someone does).

{ 77 comments }

1

Kieran Healy 05.09.12 at 1:55 pm

It was just the Pulitzer Peace Prize, which doesn’t count because anyone can be nominated and it was added later by the Bank of Sweden.

2

Tim Worstall 05.09.12 at 2:13 pm

“If readers want to simply nominate books, they may do so by simply leaving a comment to this post,”

Chasing Rainbows.

“describing the book”

The solution to climate change is a globalised market economy plus a carbon tax.

“and making a brief statement about its merits for the award. “

It’s by Tim Worstall. Nominated by acclamation I think?

3

bexley 05.09.12 at 2:42 pm

Of course, deciding this would actually require me to read the books

Simply get Naomi Schaefer Riley to judge the prize. She’d only need to read the titles. I hear she looking for a new gig these days.

4

mark f 05.09.12 at 2:47 pm

I nominate Goldberg’s response to this post, as soon as it comes out.

5

nick s 05.09.12 at 3:02 pm

Ah, publishers.

An Irish novelist friend of mine just found out that the back cover of her last two books contained review quotables attributed to ‘The Irish Times (UK)’ and ‘The Irish Independent (UK)’, which I think is worthy of a Pulitzer Peace Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

6

Neville Morley 05.09.12 at 3:04 pm

A limit of 600 pages? What a lamentable capitulation to the decay of proper scholarship in recent centuries.

7

Anderson 05.09.12 at 3:17 pm

Apparently this isn’t Goldberg’s first time pretending to be a Pulitzer nominee, either.

When Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism” came out in January 2008, his employer National Review Online announced that Tribune Media Services, which carries Goldberg’s opinion columns, had “nominated” Goldberg for a Pulitzer in commentary.

8

JP Stormcrow 05.09.12 at 3:24 pm

Reminds me of the Nobel-nominated doctor from the Schiavo case.

9

bert 05.09.12 at 3:41 pm

Similarly:
Bill O’Reilly didn’t win a Peabody Award.
He richly deserves a Needledick Award however.

10

Substance McGravitas 05.09.12 at 3:41 pm

Jonah got a great review from the New York Journal of Books so there.

11

Adam Roberts 05.09.12 at 3:55 pm

“THE TYRANNY OF CLICHÉS” I’m disappointed Goldberg didn’t go with the title Fib-eral Lashism: How the Left uses the lash on its members to force them to tell fibs.

12

Jonathan 05.09.12 at 3:56 pm

13

Kenny Easwaran 05.09.12 at 4:07 pm

#12 – that abbreviated title in the Amazon link does wonders for the book! I had assumed that “watermelons” was going to be some sort of racist code word, but seeing as it’s from the UK I’m not 100% sure – maybe the author really just likes this metaphor of “beneath their cloak of green lurks a heart of red.”?

14

Ahistoricality 05.09.12 at 4:16 pm

It wouldn’t be hard to write a responding book, taking conservative platitudes and pointing out their logical and factual errors. Wouldn’t even have to play the reductio card, at least not as absurdly as Goldberg apparently does. Call it Cliches Of Tyranny….

15

Alex 05.09.12 at 4:40 pm

“Fiberals”: that’s my line.

16

JP Stormcrow 05.09.12 at 5:02 pm

Jonah got a great review from the New York Journal of Books so there.

That review’s pretty precious itself (shockingly).

Let’s say you are especially annoyed by Bob in HR who goes on constantly about how diversity makes us stronger. You would immediately turn to Mr. Goldberg’s Chapter 7, Diversity, that begins with an admiring quote from Thomas Sowell, reigning dean of black conservatives, “The next time someone tells you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in the sociology department.”

Oh, snap.

> … You quickly leaf past the author’s hilarious likening of Barbra Streisand to Bluto in Animal House before reaching the core of his argument

17

Substance McGravitas 05.09.12 at 5:17 pm

I encourage a visit to the New York Journal of Books “News” page.

18

Tehanu 05.09.12 at 5:25 pm

…Goldberg triggered a firestorm of controversy derision…”

Fixed that for them.

19

tomslee 05.09.12 at 5:41 pm

JP Stormcrow #8. I’ve always wondered what “Nobel nominated” means because I don’t know of any open nomination process. Can I Nobel-nominate you, for example? Inquiring minds actually want to know if the phrase means anything.

20

Anderson 05.09.12 at 5:44 pm

“how many Republicans there are in the sociology department”

As compared to how many Republicans major in sociology? A discipline which by its very name betrays its worship of the unwashed masses Atlas shrugged off

21

JP Stormcrow 05.09.12 at 5:57 pm

Nobel-nominated

It does seem to have a precise meaning per the Nobel website:

In the month of September, the respective Nobel Committees send invitations to thousands of qualified individuals to submit names of candidates for the following year. Around 200-300 names are submitted since the same candidate can be nominated by several persons. The names of the nominees cannot be revealed until 50 years later.

Who can actually nominate seems to vary by prize per the page, but I suspect if you were allowed to nominate me you’d already know it. I do appreciate the thought, however.

22

nick s 05.09.12 at 6:02 pm

tomslee: the website listing for each Nobel lists those qualified to nominate — here’s the entry forthe Peace Prize. Lots of room for symbolic nominations, and there’s no shortlist, so it’s not comparable to “Academy Award Nominee”.

23

Soru 05.09.12 at 6:05 pm

‘considered for nomination for the Nobel prize’, then.

24

P O'Neill 05.09.12 at 6:50 pm

The National Review book writer is the Jew of Factchecking Fascism.

25

tomslee 05.09.12 at 7:20 pm

The fact that “The names of the nominees cannot be revealed until 50 years later” does call into question the use of “Nobel nominated” on book jackets (I’m sure I’ve seen them). But in the case of Wikileaks it does seem appropriate that the name was revealed early.

26

Colin Danby 05.09.12 at 7:41 pm

I hereby nominate JP Stormcrow for *all* the Nobels. We may be too late for 2012, but I’m hoping for a sweep in 2013.

27

Norwegian Guy 05.09.12 at 10:10 pm

Those who make the nominations can make them public, if they so wish. It’s the Nobel Committee that keeps it secret for 50 year. Sadly, as an associate professor I’m not sure Henry Farrell can nominate Jonah Goldberg for the Nobel Peace Prize himself, but there are plenty of Crooked Timberites who could honor his outstanding efforts for world peace, by giving conservatives a bad name.

As for the Toolitzer Prize, I’ll have to nominate Bruce Bawer’s The New Quislings: How the International Left Used the Oslo Massacre to Silence Debate About Islam. In this recent screed, American expat Bawer builds on Goldberg’s thesis to show that not only are liberals fascists, the socialist (center)-left are Islamonazi traitors too!

28

Sev 05.10.12 at 2:20 am

29

christian_h 05.10.12 at 2:57 am

Please, Norwegian Guy, tell me you made that book up!

30

JP Stormcrow 05.10.12 at 3:02 am

Thanks, Colin. And yeah, 2012 is going to be a tough year to sweep what with Madagascar 3 due to come out.

31

JP Stormcrow 05.10.12 at 3:22 am

Goodbye, Good Men: How Liberals Brought Corruption Into the Catholic Church, Michael S. Rose, 2002, 0-89526-144-8, hardcover, $27.95, “For anyone who has asked how pedophiles or predatory homosexual priests could possibly have been tolerated—here is the answer, in the most explosive book on the Catholic Church in a generation.”

32

Dave Maier 05.10.12 at 3:24 am

Sorry, christian_h, that will not be possible. According to the reviews there, a) Bawer is often cited in Breivik’s manifesto, and b) his critics pointed this out with possibly unseemly glee, such that c) this is his bilious response. But this is the first I’ve heard of that – I’m just telling you what it says there.

33

between4walls 05.10.12 at 3:58 am

Bawer is the one who wrote an op-ed (see below) in the WSJ right after the massacre about how the real tragedy is now no one will listen to his screeds about Muslims. (I’m paraphrasing, he didn’t come right out and say it, but it was bad enough that my mother literally gasped in shock while reading it.) I didn’t think he could sink lower, but…Quislings?!

Given that there’s still a publisher on the planet willing to put their name to this disgusting tract, he can’t really claim to have been silenced, either.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903999904576465801154130960.html

34

P O'Neill 05.10.12 at 6:49 am

Before this book even comes out, it’s clear it should be a nominee. Jonah’s fellow NRer Stanley Kurtz:

This is what I’ve been up to these past months, as I’ve been working on a book about Obama that will appear in early August. Among other things, my book will show that the differences between ways of criticizing Obama aren’t as clearly drawn as they now appear to be.

There are many aspects of Obama’s current policies that the public knows little or nothing about, and seemingly familiar things that are still poorly understood. When you put the total picture together, the links between Obama’s present and past can be drawn much more convincingly than many now imagine. At any rate, that is what I’ll be arguing in August.

I believe that many of the things I’ve dug up, along with the dots I’ve connected about Obama’s transformative ambitions–past and present alike–will be genuinely disturbing to voters far beyond the Republican base, including moderates and independents. Sweeping judgements about how best to criticize Obama are premature.

35

Jim Rose 05.10.12 at 12:46 pm

“how many Republicans there are in the sociology department”

the department with the highest average D:R ratio is sociology, at 44:1.

the study using voter-registration records for tenure-track faculty at 11 California universities by Christopher F. Cardiff and Daniel B. Klein found an average Democrat:Republican ratio of 5:1, ranging from 9:1 at Berkeley to 1:1 at Pepperdine. The humanities average 10:1, while business schools are at only 1.3:1.

see http://www.criticalreview.com/2004/pdfs/cardiff_klein.pdf

36

Dave 05.10.12 at 2:00 pm

in fairness to Jonah, it was probably one of those years they just weren’t giving out Pulitzers

37

praisegod barebones 05.10.12 at 3:25 pm

Jim Rose @ 34

Yeah, but it’s probably just a ‘pipeline problem’. If you can just increase the number of Republicans studying sociology at undergraduate level, the problem at faculty level will sort itself out in fifteen to twenty yeats time.

38

Tim Wilkinson 05.10.12 at 7:44 pm

From Substance’s metalinked ‘fun review’ in the ‘New York Journal of Books’:

The usual reasons to read Jonah Goldberg are either because you love him or hate him. With his latest book, a potential third reason emerges: To insure that you are the first in your carpool, chatroom, or coffee klatch to fire his latest barrage of un-PC commentary at unsuspecting do-gooders.

cf a recent long-winded comment on the Economist thread:

The Sun basically operates by providing ready-made opinions for people to pick up at lunchtime and repeat to each other down the pub so they can all seem knowledgeable. These opinions have to be delievered as ‘fit memes’: simple, cohering with various prejudices including some which it has previously promoted, and generally sounding hard-headed and commonsensical

So, as well as openly offering party-line talking points (as in JPS’s quote @16), the ‘NYJB’ adopts the Sun’s agnotogenic strategy. It takes contempt for consumers to another level, though, actually telling the berks what is being done to them. They are told quite clearly that they are being fed opinions to repeat (and thus reinforce), and that they are expected to do so not on the basis either of having assessed them or wanting to prmulgate them for partisan purposes, but solely to shore up their egos and fulfil their need for predigested conversation which will help them in the competition to sound clever or witty.

Some of the more psychically violent advertisers like to do this kind of thing too, no doubt sniggering to each other in true nihilistic Jonatton Yeah? style about just how blatantly the morons can be manipulated. With a generous lashing of post-modern irony to forestall anything so gauche as scruples. (Of course the one thing that tends not to be amenable to the ironic/nihilistic stance, or not all the way down, is profit.)

—–

Praisegod Barebones – Don’t be so sure: Yeats’ Time “always plays with loaded dice”.

In any case, since when is (secret) voting intention, party allegiance or political philosophy/ideology regarded as a suitable focus for concern about diversity? What other opinions does Goldberg think would have to be addressed, if anything at all is to be, by diversity concerns?

39

Tim Wilkinson 05.10.12 at 8:10 pm

For when the previous comment gets out of moderation, and in case anyone is in the slightest bit interested: in They are told quite clearly that they are being fed opinions to repeat (and thus reinforce), the parenthetical (and thus reinforce) falls outside the scope of They are told quite clearly that. Phew, one less obscure ambiguity on the internet.

40

rf 05.10.12 at 8:19 pm

I don’t get it, why would progressivism be in the ‘PC prison yard’? Surely it should be ‘Jonah Goldberg has just shivved the warden (progressivism)’
I’m not sure Brad Thor thought his blurb through

Also, is it just me, or is anyone else beginning to find Jonah Goldberg irresistibly sexy?

41

dr ngo 05.10.12 at 8:53 pm

It’s just you.

42

Jim Rose 05.11.12 at 12:30 am

praisegod barebones,
F. A. Hayek offered a partial explanation for academic political bias in his essay “The Intellectuals and Socialism” based on the opportunities available to people of varying talents.

Intelligent people who favour the market tend to find opportunities for professional and financial success in the business or professional world.

Those who are highly intelligent but ill-disposed toward the market are more likely to choose an academic career

The critical attitude of the intellectual arises, says Schumpeter, “no less from the intellectual’s situation as an onlooker — in most cases also as an outsider — than from the fact that his main chance of asserting himself lies in his actual or potential nuisance value.

The old quote is the difference between economics and sociology is economics is about how people choose and sociology is about how people have no choice

43

chris 05.11.12 at 1:47 am

The old quote is the difference between economics and sociology is economics is about how people choose and sociology is about how people have no choice

This seems like it might not be entirely a joke. Does locus-of-control perception have a known correlation with political attitudes? Certainly ISTM that if you deny the existence of societal structures that constrain people’s lives, you’d be less inclined to try to reform them… possibly even going so far as the “they wouldn’t be poor if they had made better choices” sort of economic Calvinism.

44

Jim Rose 05.11.12 at 3:14 am

the quote is serious and dates from 1960. his name is something like Dewsbury or druesbury

45

Jim Rose 05.11.12 at 3:19 am

Duesenberry’s (1960: 223) aphorism is that ‘Economics is all about how people make choices; sociology is all about why they don’t have any choices to make’,

see Duesenberry, J. 1960. “Comment on ‘An Economic Analysis of Fertility.’” In Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries . Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

46

Dr. Free-Ride 05.11.12 at 4:16 am

I’d like to nominate Ted Nugent’s God, Guns & Rock’N’Roll.

The merits of the book include the rousing reviews it has spawned on Amazon, which include the precis: “Nuge believes that we have the right to pursue happiness. And he does. Stalks it, pops it with a broadhead, tracks it, and consumes all of it, all the way down to sucking the marrow from the bones.”

and sage advice like: “If you don’t see the need for America to return to the foundation in which it was created, please move your overheated carcass to Europe. Don’t make this Great Country into another euro liberal stench pot.”

Also, the author is not pictured on the dust jacket in a loincloth, which is a plus.

47

Jim Rose 05.11.12 at 4:38 am

it is just too comforting to think that those you disagree with a ignorant or steeped in moral turpitude, preferably both.

Friedman argued that people agree on most social objectives, but they differ often on the predicted outcomes of different policies and institutions.

This leads us onto Robert and Zeckhauser‘s taxonomy of disagreement:

Positive disagreements can be over questions of:
1. Scope: what elements of the world one is trying to understand
2. Model: what mechanisms explain the behaviour of the world
3. Estimate: what estimates of the model’s parameters are thought to obtain in particular contexts

Values disagreements can be over questions of:
1. Standing: who counts
2. Criteria: what counts
3. Weights: how much different individuals and criteria count

Any positive analysis tends to include elements of scope, model, and estimation, though often these elements intertwine; they frequently feature in an implicit or undifferentiated manner.

Likewise, normative analysis will also include elements of standing, criteria, and weights, whether or not these distinctions are recognized.

the origins of political disagreement is a broad church indeed.

48

GeoX 05.11.12 at 5:39 am

Friedman argued that people agree on most social objectives

That might be true in a universe in which right-wingers were not generally crazy, stupid, and/or evil, but…

49

Niall McAuley 05.11.12 at 8:13 am

I have no follow-up, I just like saying “Euro Liberal Stench Pot”.

50

Data Tutashkhia 05.11.12 at 8:51 am

I just like saying “Euro Liberal Stench Pot”

As Windom Earle said:
These evil sorcerers, dugpas, they call them, cultivate evil for the sake of evil and nothing else. They express themselves in darkness for darkness, without leavening motive. This ardent purity has allowed them to access a secret place of great power, where the cultivation of evil proceeds in exponential fashion. And with it, the furtherance of evil’s resulting power. These are not fairy tales, or myths. This place of power is tangible, and as such, can be found, entered, and perhaps, utilized in some fashion. The dugpas have many names for it, but chief among them is the Black Lodge… But you don’t believe me, do you? You think I’m mad. Overworked. Go away.

51

Niall McAuley 05.11.12 at 9:25 am

R. Data Tutashkia writes: This place of power is tangible, and as such, can be found, entered, and perhaps, utilized in some fashion.

Montrose? Dáil Eireann? Anglo Irish Bank HQ?

52

Data Tutashkhia 05.11.12 at 9:52 am

Menie, Aberdeenshire.

53

NomadUK 05.11.12 at 11:10 am

it is just too comforting to think that those you disagree with a[re] ignorant or steeped in moral turpitude, preferably both.

The problem is that they usually are, which makes it so very difficult to think of them otherwise.

54

Jim Rose 05.11.12 at 1:45 pm

NomadUK,
take care not to change your views too much. If you do, you will take up views that you in the past thought to be ignorant or steeped in moral turpitude, preferably both.

55

Uncle Kvetch 05.11.12 at 2:34 pm

Jonah Goldberg is both ignorant and steeped in moral turpitude, so I don’t really understand what the issue is.

56

Dave Maier 05.11.12 at 2:39 pm

As you may recall, some of us were keen on Ross Douthat as the up-and-coming wanker of the future, and here he has a new book for us so that we may see how he weighs up, so to speak, against the Pantload. Rod Dreher says it’s “nothing short of prophetic”! Some other guy over there deploys the Chesterton thing about believing in anything! Check it out!

57

Dave Maier 05.11.12 at 2:40 pm

Insert the phrase “steeped in moral turpitude” into my previous comment, somewhere.

58

Emily 05.11.12 at 3:03 pm

To follow Tim Worstal in a way, I’ll nominate (1) the Garnaut Climate Change Review 2011, by economist Ross Garnaut.

I’ve only read part of it (guilty, your Honour) but it seems to be an economist’s justification for a sovereign Australian market economic response to climate change.

(2) The Commonwealth of Australia’s Clean Energy Future Act 2012

Fault: Andrew Charlton, former economic advisor to Prime Minister Rudd, wrote a Quarterly Essay titled Progress or the Planet. In this he pointed out Treasury’s modellingnshowing Australia’s emissions would increase by 2020 with the Act (carbon tax to market trading) and that in end user terms in Europe emissions made under their trading system resulted in a nearly 50 percent increase in GHG emissions.

If you take hardship into account, I should be able to provide evidence of a $100 payment to Students of Sustainability by 4th July.

59

Emily 05.11.12 at 3:05 pm

Sorry, *Worstall*

60

Eli 05.11.12 at 4:31 pm

@#34 & #36 – Yes, but the ratio of Republican undergraduates who are willing to objectively study sociology to those who don’t need no stinking social statistics to tell them what they already know is 1:44.

61

Emily 05.11.12 at 6:32 pm

Eli – aren’t both positions true – there is socio or cultural structures, and personal/group agency – allowing for temporal and other contingencies?

62

Tim Wilkinson 05.11.12 at 7:54 pm

people agree on most social objectives

This is baldly false even at the level of rhetoric, even at the most general and indeterminate level of platitude: pretty much anything more contentful than ‘good is good’ is contested. When a properly critical stance is taken to ideological statements, it’s ver clear that even stated (or strategically unrepudiated) social objectives are often being paid only lip service.

Positions involving economic welfare, distributive justice are obviously not agreed at any level, but even terms currently bearing extremely ‘thick’ normative, and vanishingly thin descriptive, content are apt to be rejected when the speaker gets a bit carried away. Liberty (security takes precedence in this new age); Democracy (these people are not ready for it); Human Rights (rights have to be earned); even possibly, that thickest of political concepts, Justice (terrorists don’t deserve justice), though that one is apt to be qualified with a token ‘so-called’ or at least ‘obsession with’.

Indeed, there is a fairly recent trend for people – people, in fact, exactly like Goldberg – to ‘say the unsayable’, or shake off the ‘Tyranny’ (consensus) of ‘Cliché’ (platitude). This is done partly under the quasi-ironic cover of columnist’s licence and the need to be ‘arresting’ and ‘bold’ (cf. Hitchens, C.), but actually relies on the infantilised attitude of consumers, who do not clearly distinguish entertainment from analysis. The saying of it establishes the sayability of it, and monkey say, monkey do.

—–

Also, this:
Intelligent people who favour the market tend to find opportunities for professional and financial success in the business or professional world. Those who are highly intelligent but ill-disposed toward the market are more likely to choose an academic career

Or just as well say: people who seek self-enrichment tend to find opportunities for financial success in business. Those who are intelligent but not greedy are more likely to put their intellect to good use in the academy.

63

Blue Meanie 05.11.12 at 10:36 pm

On the other hand, the apparent dearth of Republicans in the Sociology Deptarments is more than counterbalanced by their overwhelming dominance in the Sociopathy Departments.

64

Consumatopia 05.11.12 at 11:54 pm

Intelligent people who favour the market tend to find opportunities for professional and financial success in the business or professional world.

Those who are highly intelligent but ill-disposed toward the market are more likely to choose an academic career

If this is the cause of bias, the obvious solution would be to pay academics a lot more money.

However, it seems like this thinking would also apply to other institutions that one might think attract people who are uncomfortable with markets. In particular, the military and the clergy. I doubt that those have the same D/R ratios as academia.

65

Jim Rose 05.12.12 at 12:21 am

In a world where most people are very ignorant of politics and through the Hayekian division of knowledge, they gnorant of most things.

In such a world, everyone is ignorant, which is not much of a basis to persuade voters to your side if your well-honed debating strategy is no more than pointing how they do not measure up in whatever area of knowledge you happen to be a specialist.

In any case, lections vote parties out rather than vote parties in, as Schumpeter argues. Voting is mainly retrospective rather than prospective.

Schumpeter disputed that democracy was a process by which the electorate identified the common good, and that politicians carried this out:
• The people’s ignorance and superficiality meant that they were manipulated by politicians who set the agenda.
• Democracy is the mechanism for competition between leaders.
• Although periodic votes legitimise governments and keep them accountable, the policy program is very much seen as their own and not that of the people, and the participatory role for individuals is usually severely limited.

Schumpeter’s theory of democratic participation is voters have the ability to replace political leaders through periodic elections. Citizens do have sufficient knowledge and sophistication to vote out leaders who are performing poorly or contrary to the electoral majority’s wishes.

The incoming party has to pass some minimum standards and that is all, but can have their wings clipped quickly, as Rudd and Gillard proved, if they do not pass muster.

66

Jim Rose 05.12.12 at 12:27 am

Tim, how much of political disagrement is driven by different predictions of how competing political systems and particular policies work?

67

Consumatopia 05.12.12 at 3:47 am

In such a world, everyone is ignorant, which is not much of a basis to persuade voters to your side if your well-honed debating strategy is no more than pointing how they do not measure up in whatever area of knowledge you happen to be a specialist.

I don’t think anyone claims otherwise. It’s just that you can’t assume in a two-party system that both parties are equally ethical or intelligent at any given moment, or that a partisan imbalance in an institution necessarily represents improper bias.

Schumpeter’s theory of democratic participation is voters have the ability to replace political leaders through periodic elections.

Our system prevents voters from replacing all of their leaders simultaneously. Checks and balances mean that voters are stuck figuring out, for example, whether Obama or the GOP House is responsible for performance they deem unsatisfactory in the current moment.

The “are you better off now than four years ago” question might determine which way the median voter swings, but I don’t think it’s a large part of a person’s decision to affiliate themselves with one party and become a partisan. Issues like gays, abortion, global warming, or Obamacare have little to do with 2012 national performance, but give me someone’s stance on those issues and I’ll have a pretty good guess which side they’re on.

68

Jim Rose 05.12.12 at 4:47 am

a nice case against the notion of the ignorance and moral turpitude of your opponents see http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/11/we_are_live_at_.html for an obitury by De Long for Friedman which was as good as any written saying:

“His wits were smart, his perceptions acute, his arguments strong, his reasoning powers clear, coherent, and terrifyingly quick.

You tangled with him at your peril. And you left not necessarily convinced, but well aware of the weak points in your own argument”
AND
“Milton Friedman’s thought is, I believe, best seen as the fusion of two strongly American currents: libertarianism and pragmatism.

Friedman was a pragmatic libertarian. He believed that–as an empirical matter–giving individuals freedom and letting them coordinate their actions by buying and selling on markets would produce the best results.

It was not that he thought this was natural law–that markets always worked best. It was, rather, that he believed that places where markets failed were atypical; that where markets did fail there were almost always enormous profit opportunities from entrepreneurial redesign of institutions; that the market system would create now opportunities for trade that would route around market failures; and that government failure was pervasive–that any expansion of government beyond the classical liberal state would be highly likely to cause more trouble than it could solve.

For right-of-center American libertarian economists, Milton Friedman was a powerful leader. For left-of-center American liberal economists, Milton Friedman was an enlightened adversary. We are all the stronger for his work. We will miss him.”

69

Consumatopia 05.12.12 at 5:52 am

a nice case against the notion of the ignorance and moral turpitude of your opponents

It wasn’t a case against the general notion, it was a celebration of one particular opponent, holding positions not entirely compatible with the current GOP, for whom this notion was not correct–an occurrence sufficiently atypical to be worthy of celebration.

70

John Quiggin 05.12.12 at 6:09 am

Regarding Jim Rose, DNFTT is applicable (he’s one of my personal trolls, who’s followed me here to CT).

71

Dave 05.12.12 at 12:17 pm

I was perusing the Amazon lists to see if/when Jonathan Sperber’s biography of Marx was out, when I came across another book, Karl Marx Prince of Darkness—which, I have to admit, is a great title. From what I could surmise from a peek at the intro, it turns out that Marx was an opium addict who wanted to/maybe did sleep with his daughter, but that this information has been suppressed by a mixture of some kind of conspiracy of careful editing, as well as by an inability to wade through all 50 volumes of the collected works, where the clues to this behaviour are revealed. Could I ask that you read this book for me?

72

praisegod barebones 05.12.12 at 3:58 pm

In the light of JQs 70, I’m not particularly surprised that Jim Rose didn’t spot the satirical intent of my ‘pipeline problem’ remark at 42; but I’m a bit disappointed that Tim Wilkinson and Eli Rabbett took it seriously enough to argue against.

73

Jim Rose 05.13.12 at 12:45 am

Tim, on your remark that “people who seek self-enrichment tend to find opportunities for financial success in business. Those who are intelligent but not greedy are more likely to put their intellect to good use in the academy”, academics do complain about their salaries, teaching loads, and threats to academic tenure. They join unions that seek more for them.

Nozick argued that intellectuals were bitter that the skills so rewarded while going through school and university with top grades were less well rewarded in the job market.

Intellectuals feel they are the most valuable people, the ones with the highest merit, and that society should reward people in accordance with their value and merit. In the market, the greatest rewards did not go to the verbally brightest.

The market rewards those who best satisfy the perceived market-expressed demands of others, and how much it so distributes in income depends on how much is demanded and how great the alternative supply is.

Unsuccessful businessmen and workers do not have the same animus against the capitalist system as the intellectuals. Only the sense of unrecognized superiority, of entitlement betrayed, produces that animus of intellectuals.

For Nozick, the intellectual wants the whole of society to be a school writ large, to be like the environment where he did so well, and was so well appreciated with the esteemed teacher as the central planner.

For Schumpeter, in the intellectual’s main chance of asserting himself lies in his actual or potential nuisance value. Richard Posner’s recent book on public intellectuals and the woeful inaccuracy of their predictions is relevent in this regard.

74

herr doktor bimler 05.13.12 at 10:26 pm

a firestorm of controversy
This phrase returns 666,000 Googlehits. Does it qualify as a cliche?

75

JGabriel 05.14.12 at 1:41 pm

I hereby nominate Ayn Rand for the 1943 Toolitzer, for The Fountainhead, and also for the 1957 Toolitzer, for Atlas Shrugged.

These asshole training manuals for the riche, both ancien and nouveau, have thoroughly replaced any ameliorating tradition of noblesse oblige in the conservative elite with the greed of Midas and a Neroesque lust for cruelty.

For this reason, no history of the Toolitzer can be complete without them.

.

76

Tim Wilkinson 05.14.12 at 5:59 pm

praisegod barebones @72 – I don’t think a rather tenuous Yeats reference (gag?) in response to a typo counts as argument or as taking it seriously. Other arguments were against Goldberg and (apparently) Friedman – admittedly you might well be disappointed that I wasted time on those too. To deflate you further (and apologies for feeding, but I was directly addressed):

Jim Rose: NB ‘might as well say’ – cf. the third law of psychobabble, developed in response to the rampant bullshit talked about Consp Thys (a pet subject of mine).

For every bit of bull there is an equal and opposite bit of shit. It’s a good positive test for superficially appealing crap in general: if a more or less diametrically opposed version appears at least as plausible (in the instant case, it’s more so, I’d say, not that anything rests on that), then you are talking bollocks.

The same goes for Nozick’s passive-aggressive speculation in that magazine article too. (Nozick on politics is another pet subject.) As so often with this kind of talking point (cf two-step of terrific triviality, correctio/metanoia, the ‘bottom drawer’) the caveats and tone of tentative conjecture are actually just false modesty and calculatedly forgettable, so people – like you – recite such drivel as authoritative assertion. (Not that Nozick – or Friedman, etc., etc. – is any kind of authority on social psychology in any case.)

77

Slocum 05.15.12 at 10:26 am

“Animal House”? Really? By far inferior to “Caddyshack.”

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