5.4.05

WHY POLITICS DIVIDES. Eccentricity discovers in a listserv what comes bundled under the label "Republican."
A man who is staunchly Republican said he didn't favor any more of his freedom being taken away by the government placing more restrictions on companies like WalMart.
Listservs being listservs, somebody else chimes in.
She went on to point out that the people who are most in favor of protecting the rights and freedoms of corporations are the same people who want to intrude into our bedrooms and take away our most personal rights of privacy. She remarked that if they can make the separation and decide that they want to have government interfere in daily activities while protecting WalMart and other companies from government interference in their activities, then she felt it was correct to do the same thing in reverse.
I'll leave the parsing of the balance of the post to more staunchly libertarian readers, or to political theorists. Note, first, the Fallacy of Insufficient Alternatives at work. We get two bundles: sexual privacy (and no more drinking age?) and extensive control of corporations, or extensive control of personal behavior and general laissez-faire. You mean I can't get freedom of interaction (or not?) and freedom of contract (or not?), nobody's offering that bundle? Oh, that's my second point, it's called majority building. The majority coalition is at the moment a fractious alliance of what the main press calls social conservatives with economic libertarians. But Wal-Mart as a company to free from government interference? Isn't that the company voluntarily censoring magazines (who needs the Decency Patrol?) and crowding out independent artists (a more effective defunding than abolishing the National Endowments?)

Looks like Wal-Mart is doing some of the work for the social conservatives. And consider some of the praise coming the late Pope's way: although some years ago the North American bishops came up with an indictment of "rapacious capitalism" (my words, not the Church's) later echoed in some of the Pope's statements on the materialism and hedonism that came after Communism, those statements have been seized by the social conservatives as welcome criticisms of a pop culture that gives us the various Jackson siblings, MTV's Spring Break, and reality TV.

Politics, however, involves coalition building, and at the moment there is no attempt by any major party to coalesce either the advocates of more control of corporations in a way acceptable to religious as well as secular critics, or to coalesce the advocates of greater freedom of association and of contract.

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