Saturday, July 16, 2005

With age, wisdom?

In the comments section of my recent post about the direction of political change, neuroconservative asked:

I wonder what you (and the other neos here) think your younger self would have made of your older self? More broadly, how do you imagine that thinking liberals encode the fact that neo-cons exist but neo-libs don't? This is hard for me to answer, since I have always been conservative.

Interesting question, I think. My guess is that my younger self would have ascribed it to a phenomenon I’d always heard about—that of people in general growing more conservative as they grow older. As a young person, I probably would not have thought much about why such a thing might occur. I probably would have thought it to be some sort of natural phenomenon, like getting wrinkles or gray hair or sagginess or all those other signs of fusty old age that of course were never, never, ever going to happen to me.

The fact that one might actually grow wiser with age, or might increase one's store of information about history and human nature and what it all means, would probably have been a somewhat alien concept to me at the time. Sad, but true.


At 7:18 PM, July 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But then, I am a neo con Liberal. I don't think that my way of viewing the world has changed at all. I review the writings of Woodrow Wilson, of John F. Kennedy, of Lyndon Johnson and FDR. I find a recurring theme throughout all of these writings...peace is good, but war is needed...people in the world deserve democracy, deserve freedom, and this is IMHO a Liberal value. The non-Liberal value is to think that those OTHER people are not worthy of democracy, that we cannnot "realistically" change them, and so we must choose amongst dictators if we are to do business with the world. When Communism was the greates threat, that may have been the only option, but now...we have other options. I consider this "Liberal" thinking...and not conservative in the traditional sense of that word.

However, it is quite difficult to get a neocon to define domestic positions, and that is where I cannot say that I would fit in amongst conservatives.

I've always wanted to email neo-neo con and ask the question:

How do you reconcile your foreign policy thinking, with liberal thinking on social and economic issues?

At 7:18 PM, July 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh...that was Emmunah

At 6:59 AM, July 17, 2005, Blogger Troy Stephens said...

There's potential for confusion here, since "neoliberal" has an existing meaning -- but I gather in this context neuroconservative was offering "neo-lib" as a description of someone in the process of tentatively changing from conservative to liberal. (?) Also, I thought "neocon" was more a designation of a particular branch of conservatism and its philosophy, rather than a label for someone who is either in the process of converting to (neo)conservatism or at least momentarily allied with (neo)conservatives out of a shared position on some issues. An appropriate designation for either of the latter would I guess be, er, "neo-neocon"? (Curse the tangled web of awkward terminology!)

I part ways with neocons on many domestic issues myself, having in my own move away from the left come to consider myself to be more "libertarian" ... but then again, I (respectfully) disagree with the set of libertarians who have opposed the Iraq war on libertarian principles, so in that sense maybe I am really more of a "neo-neocon"?

At 12:54 PM, July 17, 2005, Blogger Tom Grey said...

As a Libertarian Paternalist / conservative, the issue about young idealism socialist heart vs. older, realistic conservative is also about children.

They need help and protection, in ways young adults don't.

The act of praying, like any action taken repeatedly, is certain to change one. If open to becoming more spiritual, it will be a way to meditate on eternity, or on God, or on how to behave better.

Or on mercy, that personal quality which most easily allows the wronged individual to live and let live -- while still supporting law and justice in society, the punishment of criminals.

A "Just War" is needed to stop injustice by unjust rulers. Such rulers, AFTER they are overthrown, should be given "mercy" in the minds of their victims, and victim survivors (spouse, child, parent) so as to allow that victim to live more joyously, with less bitterness. Prayer helps.

At 1:09 AM, July 20, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too find the original question an interesting one. As a 28 year-old neocon, I would answer it this way:

With a desire for wisdom, comes wisdom. The only thing age has to do with it is that the older one gets, the more likely they are to develop a desire for wisdom.

Freakonomics puts forth an interesting study of school choice that backs up this idea. One chapter details how a student who simply desires a better school will outperform his peers that do not desire a better school, regardless of whether or not the school district grants them the choice.

It follows that a person who seeks wisdom will find it.

Now, to tie this all back to the neocons...

Those who appreciate wisdom should appreciate the neocon viewpoint, as it is the result of a coordinated effort to understand the world after the fall of communism.


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