Monday, April 30, 2018

Kaus on Galston

William Galston: opposed to various kinds of populism, supposedly old-fashioned, "tribal," borderline racist and anti-progress or whatever. He paints broadly, partly about developments in Europe, but clearly much of this is intended to be anti-Trump. (Isn't Brexit turning out to be a perfectly rational vote for people in the UK, i.e. you don't need to be any kind of old-fashioned fool to support it?) Toward the end he grudgingly admits it is rational to control immigration, and question whether trade agreements are really good for one's own country. Thanks very much Professor.

Kaus points out the logical mush, more or less in the middle or heart of the piece:

We must have pluralism "cherishing particular identities" of an "irreducibly diverse" citizenry.
But no"identity politics" or "tribalism"!
Got it?
It's a fine line Prof. Galston would have us walk. Requires deft touch! ...


@kausmickey
9h9 hours ago
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In other words, if you don't want any "form of identity politics," maybe you shouldn't make "cherishing particular identities" of an "irreducibly diverse" citizenry one of your principles.

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You have a constitutional democracy. It protects freedom of speech, of association, of religion. There's an equal protection clause. What does the concept of "pluralism" add to this? I confess I've never understood that.

See Galston here:

Populism is the enemy of pluralism, and thus of modern democracy. Imposing the assumption of uniformity on the reality of diversity not only distorts the facts but also elevates the characteristics of some social groups over those of others. To the extent that this occurs, populism becomes a threat to democracy, which, as Müller puts it, “requires pluralism and the recognition that we need to find fair terms of living together as free, equal, but also irreducibly diverse citizens.”[10] Whatever may have been possible in classical republics, no form of identity politics can serve as the basis for modern democracy, which stands or falls with the protection of pluralism.

Liberals are anti-tribal, cherishing particular identities while subordinating them to broader conceptions of civic and even human solidarity.

What if one tried this? Trump is anti-tribal, cherishing particular identities unless they express themselves in a way that threatens the common good, having nothing against human solidarity except that it is more or less bullshit, and encouraging all Americans to get behind efforts to put America first.

Galston seems to think the one group from whom one need not hear very much is some kind of majority (or at least a big enough group to win the Electoral College), probably somewhat dominated by white males who are somehow losers in the modern world. Enough has been heard from them in the past--indeed, more than enough. Now it is time to hear from people from whom little or nothing has been heard in the past--even minute groups of people, identified as some kind of group. Why do new small groups deserve or need more than the Constitution allows them? Why does some hated so-called majority (which itself is diverse in various ways) deserve or need less than the favoured groups of the moment? One answer seems to be that groups that might seem small in a Western country tody are actually part of huge global groups: all the people of colour, or all the people who have been exploited by Western countries and capitalism, or all the people with non-Western religions, or something. The First Nations came from Asia; they will feel more at home here if a lot of Asians come here. There is some kind of deep agreement among all Asians, or all people who are somehow non-Western. Open borders will make our society more just, and if we are able to learn from different people (groups), more wise. Galston's opposition between populism based on identity (bad) and pluralism based on identity (good) doesn't work; he doesn't present a real opposition between some dedication to the common good, and a lack of such dedication. The one thing that might make his argument work is open borders as the key to a new and better society. Are progressives really going to be so welcoming to all kinds of different groups, let us say with many different religious and other practices? What if new groups are not very progressive? What if they are more hostile to constitutional restraints than even (horrors) Trump supporters supposedly are?

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