Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pragmatism is the Vessel of Propaganda, Thankfully Obama is an Idealogue

Jonah Goldberg writes a nice column mocking Obama's pragmatic above-the-fray arrogance.  He also elucidates the virtues of ideology.

The philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote in 1909 that if everyone becomes a pragmatist, then "ironclads and Maxim guns must be the ultimate arbiters of metaphysical truth." Russell's point was that there's nothing within pragmatism to delineate the proper and just limits of pragmatism. We must look outside pragmatism for that.

Our values, customs, traditions and principles provide the insulation against the corrosive acid of undiluted pragmatism. When you bundle these things together, it's often called an ideology, and there's no reason to apologize for having one.

Also recall from an old post of mine on propaganda:

...the educated, and especially the intellectual, are most susceptible to propaganda. Once you realize that people with little education tend to just follow what their parents and community tell them, you realize that only the educated are truly open to new ideas, many of which are poorly supported.

A President must be a jack-of-all-trades.  His biases will lead him to listen to "experts" with those biases.  A pragmatic mind is one that is most easily shaped by the limited voices he hears, and thus is the most susceptable to propaganda.  However, this President appears to be unwavering in his ideas, agenda set in stone, unshaped by public opinion.  Ironically, as Goldberg points out, the President's claims of pragmatism are just the self-delusioned arrogance of a blatant ideologue.

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