Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Larison We Can Believe In!

Daniel Larison and I are often at odds, but his takedown of Nate Silver is splendid:
Naturally, [Silver] is going to set up his own position as the rational one and the one he is attacking as implicitly irrational. That . . . is typical of the technocratic, anti-populist side in any debate to frame disagreements with their critics as a battle between reason and passion. You can find this with David Brooks' description of anti-TARP Congressmen as "nihilists" (even though their skepticism and advocacy for alternatives were entirely warranted and correct) or any of the usual pro-war and pro-immigration advocates that seek to impute malicious intent or hatred to their opponents. This is a method used for dismissing, rather than engaging, and for treating opposing arguments as inherently unworthy of attention or serious consideration. Technocratic types prefer practicing this politics of contempt, because it automatically rules out serious objections to certain policies as automatically invalid and invests them or people like them with a certain unchallengeable authority. They tend to make respect for expertise into a debilitating inability to question experts’ assumptions and biases. [Emphasis added.]
You'll find the same type of how-dare-you-question-the-expert-consensus arguments made by global warming alarmists, among others. Big hat-tip to Donald Douglas who, while even more politically/ideologically at odds with Larison, nevertheless can't deny the nail-on-the-head accuracy of Larison's description of the "technocratic" style in debate.

BTW, I am perfectly willing to admit that my politics are not always rational. Individual self-interest and "little platoon" loyalty are not the sort of things that can be articulated as universal ideological principles. What steams my vegetables is when the elite try to pretend that their self-serving politics is rational and principled, and backed by expert consensus, while the politics of the truck driver in Tulsa is just know-nothing populism.

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