I Hate Your Politics

I hate your politics.

No, I don’t know what they are. And no, I probably don’t know who you are, either. Really, those two points are immaterial (no offense). As it turns out about, about 46% of you are liberal, 46% of you are conservative, and the rest of you just want your guns, drugs and brothels (here in the US, we call them folks “libertarians”).

Each of you carries baggage from your political affiliation, and all of that baggage has a punky smell to it, like one of your larger species of rodent crawled in and expired in your folded underwear. Listening to any of you yammer on about the geopolitical situation is enough to make one want to melt down one’s dental fillings with a beeswax candle and then jam an ice pick into the freshly-exposed nerve, just to have something else to think about. It’s not so much that politics brings out the worst in people than it is that the worst in people goes looking for something to do, and that usually ends up being politics. It’s either that or setting fires in trashcans.

In the spirit of fairness, and of completeness, let me go down the list and tell you what I hate about each major branch of political thinking.

Liberals: The stupidest and weakest members of the political triumvirate, they allowed conservatives to turn their name into a slur against them, exposing them as the political equivalent of the kid who lets the school bully pummel him with his own fists (Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself). Liberals champion the poor and the weak but do it in such condescendingly bureaucratic ways that the po’ illedumacated Cleti would rather eat their own shotguns than associate with the likes of them. Famously humorless and dour, probably because for a really good liberal, everything is political, and you just can’t joke about things like that.

Defensive and peevish even when they’re right. Under the impression that people in politics should play fair, which is probably why they get screwed as often as they do (nb: 2000 Presidential election). Feel guilty about the freedoms their political positions allow them, which is frankly idiotic. Liberals are politically able to have all sorts of freaky mammal sex but typically don’t; good liberal foreplay is a permission slip and three layers of impermeable barriers. The only vaguely liberal person we know of who seemed to enjoy sex in the last 30 years is Clinton, and look what he got out of it.

Fractious and have no sense of loyalty; will publicly tear out the intestines of those closest to them at the most politically inopportune times. The attention spans of poultry; easily distracted from large, useful goals by pointless minutiae. Not only can’t see the forest for the trees, can’t see the trees for the pine needles. Deserve every bad thing that happens to them because they just can’t get their act together. Too bad those they presume to stand for get royally screwed as well.

Conservatives: Self-hating moral relativists, unless you can convince me that an intellectual class that publicly praises family values but privately engages in sodomy, coke and trophy wives is more aptly described in some other way. Not every conservative is an old wealthy white man on his third wife, but nearly every conservative aspires to be so, which is a real waste of money, youth, race and women. Genuinely fear and hate those who are not “with” them — the sort of people who would rather shit on a freshly-baked cherry pie than share it with someone not of their own tribe.

Conservatives believe in a government by the oligarchy, for the oligarchy, which is why the conservative idea of an excellent leader is Ronald Reagan, i.e., genial, brain-damaged and amenable to manipulation by his more mentally composed underlings. Under the impression they own the copyright on Jesus and get testy when other political factions point out that technically Christ is in the public domain. Conservatives don’t actually bother to spend time with people who are not conservative, and thus become confused and irritable when people disagree with them; fundamentally can’t see how that’s even possible, which shows an almost charming intellectual naiveté. Less interested in explaining their point of view than nuking you and everything you stand for into blackened cinders before your evil worldview catches on like a virus. Conservatives have no volume control on their hate and yet were shocked as Hell when Rush Limbaugh went deaf.

Conservatives clueless enough to think that having Condi Rice and Andrew Sullivan on the team somehow counts as diversity. Pen their “thinkers” like veal in think tanks rather than let them interact with people who might oppose their views. Loathe women who are not willing to have their opinions as safely shellacked as their hair. Let their sons get caught with a dime bag and see how many are really for “zero-tolerance.” Let a swarthy day laborer impregnate their daughters and find out how many of them are really pro-life.

Libertarians: Never got over the fact they weren’t the illegitimate children of Robert Heinlein and Ayn Rand; currently punishing the rest of us for it. Unusually smug for a political philosophy that’s never gotten anyone elected for anything above the local water board. All for legalized drugs and prostitution but probably wouldn’t want their kids blowing strangers for crack; all for slashing taxes for nearly every social service but don’t seem to understand why most people aren’t at all keen to trade in even the minimal safety net the US provides for 55-gallon barrels of beans and rice, a crossbow and a first-aid kit in the basement. Blissfully clueless that Libertarianism is just great as long as it doesn’t actually involve real live humans.

Libertarians blog with a frequency that makes one wonder if they’re actually employed somewhere or if they have loved ones who miss them. Libertarian blogs even more snide than conservative blogs, if that’s possible. Socially slow — will assume other people actually want to talk about legalizing hemp and the benefits of a polyamorous ethos when all these other folks really want is to drink beer and play Grand Theft Auto 3. Libertarianism the official political system of science fiction authors, which explains why science fiction is in such a rut these days. Libertarians often polyamorous (and hope you are too) but also somewhat out of shape, which takes a lot of the fun out of it.

Easily offended; Libertarians most likely to respond to this column. The author will attempt to engage subtle wit but will actually come across as a geeky whiner (Conservatives, more schooled in the art of poisonous replies, may actually achieve wit; liberals will reply that they don’t find any of this humorous at all). Libertarians secretly worried that ultimately someone will figure out the whole of their political philosophy boils down to “Get Off My Property.” News flash: This is not really a big secret to the rest of us.

I’m guessing you thought I was way off on your political philosophy but right on the button about the other two. Just think about that for a while.

148 thoughts on “I Hate Your Politics

  1. Banter.

    Jenna and I were talking about the blog this morning. She thinks that I cover the stuff I choose to talk about pretty well (perhaps *too* well — I seem long-winded even to myself); but she wants to know why I’m not posting more about current events …

  2. Hi John,

    Found you via the Writing Tips for Non-Writers Who Don’t Want to Work at Writing.
    You certainly do have a way with words. You have an uncanny ability to rip with authority. I believe these tips will help my writing improve and that’s better than continuing to make the same mistakes over and over again.

    I started off in business with basically horrible writing skills, but an ability to speak and tell a story. I’ve gotten better over the years, but not from what I learned in school. I got better from writing and needing to write to make sales proposals and business communications. Your tips make a lot of sense for me, and I will recommend them to anyone I know who needs help with their writing – especially the tip about speaking what you write.

    Regarding this politically charged post, I can’t believe that no one has engaged into an intellectual wrestling match with you; on any of your points. Just in case you’re wondering, you don’t have a fighter here. Basically, I agree with everything you wrote. Does agreement make me a realist, a cynic, or simply an Independent?

    I’m just wondering how you would characterize a mild Ralph Nader 2000 supporter? I did not paint my car or anything like that; just a bumper sticker. I still like Nader because he seems to be ready and willing to change politics as usual. People characterize him as crazy, or a liberal, or as a spoiler for Democrats, but I admire what he has done and has tried to do for this country. Too bad more people in this country did not follow him, because I can’t imagine how things would be worse with him vs. the current disaster of a President. Do you think there would there be less corruption, cleaner air, more accountability and less war? Would we be safer as a nation? Look what Nader did with the auto industry. I don’t think he’d leave us any more vulnerable than the puppet GW and his Daddy and Dick have. I guess we’re just going to keep on electing morons until we can’t elect anymore. Maybe we’re already at that point.

    Gee, I had no idea I had all these political thoughts until I started writing a comment to your post. I’ll have to send Nader some money now.

    Again, thanks for your contributions to those of us who should have listened better in our writing courses. This is a writing sample. If you could, I’d love to get your critique about any writing flaws or bad grammar tendencies, either in a comment or by email to sturcotte at backbonemedia dot com.

  3. I am libertarian and you got only one right…

    …the one about the libertarians.

    p.s. amazon still hasn’t delivered your book yet and I blame you for it.

  4. Stephen Turcotte:

    “I can’t believe that no one has engaged into an intellectual wrestling match with you; on any of your points.”

    They did when it first came out, but I wasn’t using this particular blogging software then and didn’t have the ability to log comments. So it all happened in e-mail. The piece has since been put into the new software but is so far back in the time stream (four years ago now), that most people don’t see it.

    Joshua: I accept all blame, naturally. It’s all my fault. Everything is.

  5. I know funny liberals and sometimes I am one. They’re just not funny about politics: bad enough to have walking jokes running the country, without making jokes about it.

  6. There _are_ funny liberals, considerate conservatives, and compassionate libertarians, but you have to admit that they’re the exception, not the rule.
    I go to Pomona college, and while it’s nice that people don’t say things like “that’s so gay” here, the stifling liberalism can get overwhelming. There’s this assumption that everyone shares the same politics, and as long as someone is “on your side,” you shouldn’t question their reasoning.

  7. I’m not sure how I found this page but I enjoied the read.I sometimes wonder if there is no such thing as a majority only those who manipulate the best. I wish there were a party called “Other” or the “None of the Above” Party. One thing I am sureofis that a 3rd party can not now really elect a president. Best we can hope for at this time is enough, Congressional Representatives or Senators to sway thebalance and gain power. Ido findit really sad though that I,as a moderate, am being made to feel like a left wing racical by a bunch of theives on an eight year looting frenzy on the people of the US. Nice blog

    Paul

  8. hey guys,

    the only thing which is very necessary in here is that we need good leaders. that good leaders can be and only be sort out from the political parties and let us be a good and responsible citizens in this entire populace by choosing those people who are capable in running down the office.

  9. Hi, John,

    I was cleaning up dead links on my “political views” page (www.sff.net/people/geoffrey.landis/politics.html, if you care), noticed that my link to “I Hate Your Politics” had gone 404, and googled around until I found where it moved to. I’m amazed to see that, five years later, you’re still getting recently-dated comments! Yow!
    Still a great opinion piece, and still funny as hell.

  10. Found your article from a comment on the Volokh website. Hilarious! And all true. I profess to be a cynic. I’d like to be a libertarian, but as you said above …
    By the way, The Android’s Dream made me laugh out loud several times as I read it. That’s unusual. Thank you.

  11. As a Libertarian I’m flattered. We’ve not had this much consideration in years! Just to be included in a political party discussion is a coup. Now get off my lawn!

  12. Pretty funny stuff. There are a lot of anal-retentive P.C. liberals out there, but what about all the funny people in Hollywood? Larry Flynt is a left-winger, by God.

  13. With the state of the world as it is right now, I don’t think it’s very productive to be publishing this kind of “humor,” especially not when the bandwidth required to do so could be much more efficiently used by NOA and SETI. Also, if we all come together and work at it in good faith and with a bipartisan spirit, I think we can make great headway in developing a package of regulation and incentive programs that could significantly reduce the fecal ppm in cherry pie by the year 2018.

  14. Jenniebee:

    I don’t give a damn whether you think it’s productive or not.

    Also, please look at the date on which it was originally published, which is on the thing. Your complaint is about seven years too late.

  15. John:

    Of that I have no doubts.

    Still, your response was funny in the context of the “taxonomy” you ably laid out (as a liberal, I enjoy the pretards and hoistings and all that, it makes my huffy response to the one about the black lesbian feel less priggish).

    This, to me, was the tell: “I think we can make great headway in developing a package of regulation and incentive programs that could significantly reduce the fecal ppm in cherry pie by the year 2018.”

    And I also think the Bush years helped liberals find their irreverence again. Near fatal amounts of bullshit may have helped.

  16. Liberal here, and, other than the part about sex, I thought you were right on about us. And the other two for that matter.

  17. Notice how many liberals say “You got me, I admit it” as a way of showing they are NOT partial, biased, unaware, etc., and therefore not REALLY part of the description. This is the liberal dream– I’m beyond all description, I’m just “me.” This is why liberals turn on each other so viciously– the worst thing in the world is thought to be part of an oppressive, unthinking herd. What happens? They get shellacked by an even more oppressive, unthinking herd. Until someone smart says, “Wait, this makes no fucking sense…” and starts to organize on the basis of the other liberal dream– to be part of something greater than anything else on earth. Et voila…

  18. The program to reduce the shit in cherry pie by 2018 was, I thought a pretty significant tell. Just in case you missed the priggish “wouldn’t this bandwidth be better used by SETI” – I mean, who would say that seriously? Seriously?

  19. Salma:

    Or maybe it’s simply because many liberals have a capacity for objectivity — the ability to see themselves as others might see them — and the good humor to say, “you got me.”

    Isn’t being “part of an oppressive, unthinking herd” among the worst things in the world? I’m really sorry for you if you honestly don’t think so.

    And as for getting “shellacked,” you apparently need it spelled out that the left of center won in November and is in charge right now.

    Sum: you didn’t make much fucking sense here.

  20. Yup, linked at Cole’s Corner. Don’t know why I missed this the first time around – the Heinlein/Rand cocktail is exactly what I drank. It’s kind of creepy to realize that this happened to other people too. Where are y’all? Keep your hands where I can see them…

  21. Thanks, Salam. I think being defeated by Bush was worse than winning with a less-than-perfectly progressive Gore. I know, I know, it’s crazy, but it’s how I feel. So yes, being part of one relatively unthinking herd is better than losing to a worse one. As for the last two elections, um, think about ’08 and read the last couple sentences of my post. Slowly, and rest on the word “organize” for a second or two. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised…

  22. Salma: I take it I misinterpreted your original comment, for which I apologize. I’m still not completely clear on your point, but I’m willing to concede it’s possibly me being dense today.

  23. That’s not funny!!!!!! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my regularly scheduled Wednesday afternoon circular firing squad.

  24. Salma von Hayek: some of the themes in your original response remind me of David Brin’s “Dogma of Otherness”. Can’t find a legit link, but it’s worth a read. I don’t take it as gospel truth, but it does have some interesting perspectives.

  25. The fact that, seven years later, this is still hilarious is either wonderful or should cause us all to despair for humanity. I’m honestly not sure which.

  26. Actually, I think you hit the nail a little too close to the head for my tribe, as it were, which, when you figure out which tribe that is, will probably make perfect sense. LOL

    Better still is that you said the thing we’ve been saying to ourselves for ages and may i say it has led to better “tribal counciling,” which may explain the recent election outcomes.

    Here’s to a continuously good game of “beat the interviewer” by coming up with the ace answer for “What’s your biggest weakness and how have you overcome it?”

    Can’t believe how many years it took for this to come across my desk. Found via links on Twitter.

  27. Truth is eternal, which is why your comments are still valid and funny. Let me try to elucidate another interpretation of the three groups:

    Liberals believe that life is not a zero-sum game.

    Conservatives believe that it is

    Libertarians don’t want to play.

    I’m a socialist – which is another label that ought to be de-demonised in America.

    Here in Europe I like to think that I am a libertarian, but then it (the name) doesn’t carry the same connotations on this side of the pond as it does on yours.

    Alan,
    Aalborg
    Denmark

    keep up the good work, and thank god for stumbleupon.

  28. Liberal, libertarian, conservative – they’re all highly movable feasts. You should perhaps have prefixed them with ‘American’. I found it funny nonetheless, which I guess takes me out of the liberal camp. Additional to the libertarian one would be, “Stop spending my own money to tell me what to do!”

  29. gt, i think you might have misunderstood, if you took this entry as political apathy. peek around the rest of the site and you’ll see what i mean. :)

  30. TBogg, bless his heart, suggested we come and read this. Lord above, it’s maybe the funniest thing I’ve read all week. I suppose in your spectrum I’m a Liberal, and I’ve never read a more accurate description of the breed. Thanks for making my day!

  31. Additional to the libertarian one would be, “Stop spending my own money to tell me what to do!”

    No, it wouldn’t, as that’s reasonably self-complimentary.

  32. These are some cuttingly delicious descriptions of the three political philosophies in modern America, no doubt. Any honest liberal, or conservative, or libertarian, can recognize the truth in them. Dishonest ones will fall out of their chairs laughing at one or two of these, then launch into a pages-long refutation of the last one — which just happens to be their philosophy, and which is off-limits for lampooning.

    I’d like to suggest a fourth political philosophy: Disaffection.

    For those of us who have grown tired of seeing Liberals and Conservatives in Washington D.C. consistently pawn away their spines and their values, thus betraying their stated positions and ideology when it’s politically convenient. Because in the end, you know these people only believe in ONE thing: that it’s more important to stay in office than to actually stand for something.

  33. Conservatives will invite you to lunch; lecture you on profligate spending and personal responsibility; eat steak and lobster; excuse themselves to the restroom, and then disappear leaving you the tab.

    I hope Obama brought his Diner’s Club card.

  34. Liquid Daddy,

    That’s a good one.

    Here’s mine.

    A liberal is someone who bitches endlessly at the office about how everyone ought to be taking public transit to work, and how we’re making Global Warming worse through all the needless impulse and single-occupancy driving. Then at the end of the day while you go catch the bus home, the liberal goes down the parking garage and drives away in their VW turbo bug. Alone, behind the wheel.

  35. I’m shocked, shocked I say, that the liberal v conservative potshots in the comments aren’t as witty as the equal opportunity bashing of the post.

    Nobody could have predicted that.

  36. I must take issue with the humorless liberal thing: We have Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Wanda Sykes… (ad infinitum.)

    Conservatives have Ben Stein.

    We win.

    (OK, so the libertarians have Penn and Teller, I’ll give them a point for that one.)

  37. #17, P J O’Rourke calls himself a libertarian. The only true blue Republican funny guy I can think of (except for Ann Coulter) is the late Lewis Grizzard. Everyone else who is funny is either a democrat or a libertarian (objectivist libertarians are, however, completely humorless).

    I have no idea why this should be the case.

  38. Even though I’m a liberal, I agree with the liberal section 100%. I get frustrated at many of my dour, humorless fellow liberals who are so fucking P.C. about each and every single issue. Also, the fact that Democrats and liberals cave like papier mache to Republicans despite the fact that the Dems have easily won the last two elections drives me nuts.

    Your sections on conservatives and libertarians made me laugh out loud because I know many of both and they fit the stereotype to a tee.

  39. Conservatives have more than just Ben Stein.

    But I’d not expect a liberal to know this.

    True! They also have Joe the Plumber and Bobby Jindal. Also, the boys at Big Hollywood are a laff riot.

    Democrats and liberals cave like papier mache to Republicans

    And in between sips of my vanilla latte (made with 100 percent fair trade coffee and soy milk using only free-range soys), I note that the term is, in fact, papier-mâché.

  40. Will there be an updated 2009 version of this post? Or do you still hate politics for the same reasons as you did seven years ago?

  41. And people say the intertubes are an ephemeral medium. I think people say that, anyway. Very glad this floated back to the top.

  42. I think you’re pretty much dead on about all three, Mr. S. Some thoughts:

    Liberals: My designation for sure, but the traits you ascribe are the ones that annoy the shit out of me, particularly the need to be “fair” and “better than” our enemies/adversaries/opponents when they’re kicking you in the nuts and you don’t even want to shove them away before they get in another. If I see these traits amongst too many of my ideological brethren, yet don’t possess them myself, would you say I should still be lumped in with your assessment?

    Conservatives: “the sort of people who would rather shit on a freshly-baked cherry pie than share it with someone not of their own tribe.” Poetry. I feel damned good that at least one person who writes that well gets paid.

    Libertarians: “secretly worried that ultimately someone will figure out the whole of their political philosophy boils down to “Get Off My Property.” Since brevity is the soul of wit, wouldn’t a more effective reduction be, simply, “Fuck Off!”?

  43. A citizen asked me, with rue,
    “Now, what is a voter to do?
    For Moe is a knave
    and Larry’s not brave
    and Curly has hardly a clue!”

  44. Hey Sub-Odeon – you’re not anywhere near as funny as the rest of ‘em. Maybe it would help if you realized that, while they are taking potshots at the cons, they aren’t being needlessly mean like you are.

    Try dialing it back one or two notches and try again. I know there’s a sense of humor there under the dried low-hanging fruit you call a heart.

    As for you, Scalzi. I am a Liberal, and that was not funny at all. Well, except for the stuff about the other guys. That was hilarious.

  45. You rated a link from Tbogg on this one, and rightly so.

    It’s not so much that politics brings out the worst in people than it is that the worst in people goes looking for something to do, and that usually ends up being politics. It’s either that or setting fires in trashcans.

    That sounds like a line one of Rogers’ writers would’ve penned for an ep of ‘Leverage.’

  46. oh, gods, now i don’t know *what* i am!

    i mean, yes, after 32 years of life i STILL resent that Heinlein isn’t my daddy (although, to be fair, *my* dad tries really hard to be Heinlein. really, he does. its actually sometimes creepy… *G*)

    butbutbutbut – i CAN’T be a libertairian! i refuse!

    (in my political science classes, i identify myself as a “rational anarchist”. this is not actually funny anymore, and constantly garners me invitations to do stupid things like blow up the public library. the public library which i use CONSTANTLY. kids today don’t what *anarchy* really is!)

    :D

  47. Yeah, I must have been high. I love this blog and I don’t know what came over me. Certainly, this isn’t an example of political apathy.

  48. Great column. Anybody who lets ideological blinders keep them from at least considering another point of view is cheating themselves and deserves some ridicule.

  49. Funniest damned thing I’ve read all day… had me in stitches…

    My views are very simple:
    Politics comes from two root words –
    Poly – meaning “MANY”
    and
    TICKS – meaning “BLOOD SUCKING VERMIN”…
    so basically, I wash my hands of the whole mess of parties and allegiances… and I simply vote for the guy I think will do the least amount of damage… which, admittedly, is one hell of a challenge today…

    Thanks again for the insight, laughter and general disdain for the system… enjoyed the hell out of it…

    J (goteeman)

  50. Laughed out loud at the liberal and conservative ones. Although I am a libertarian, I got a few chuckles out of the libertarian one as well.

    But I feel that you’re minimizing our contributions to America’s political scene: that one guy we got elected was the chairman of a local water board, not just a mere member. And it was a very prestigious local water board at that. ;)

  51. John,

    Well done. I pulled a muscle laughing. I stumbled on this column today because Megan McArdle linked to your blog comment for today (June 24, 2009), which led me to your autobiography, which led me to Wikipedia, which led me to this column.

    Thank god for the internets.

    Tim in Portland

  52. I don’t know how many times I’ve read this, but it’s still awesome. So here’s a democrat/republican joke:

    How do you tell the difference between a democrat and a republican? Find a man drowning 50 feet off shore. The democrat will throw him 50 feet of rope, promptly drop his own end and go looking for someone else to help. A republican will throw out 25 feet of rope and yell “Swim for it!”

  53. The Democratic Party wants to turn the government into your Mom.

    The Republican Party wants to turn the government into your Dad.

    The Libertarian Party wants to turn the government into your crazy Uncle Lou. :D

  54. One more observation about Liberals vs. Conservatives:

    Hypocrisy is a “head-shot” to a Liberal’s political career, but it seems to have no effect on Conservatives. Conservatives are able to have it both ways I suppose because of the moral relativism you describe, whereas Liberals will stone each other to death (or, if no one throws stones, they will slit their own wrists) as soon as the right kind of hypocrisy is exposed, no matter how insignificant.

  55. @Shawn: a great example is Jon Edwards vs. Newt Gingrich. Or John McCain. Or any of those closeted foot-tapping Republicans.

    @despicable: as a red-blooded Marxist myself, I have to admit that our tribe has some of the Liberal traits (sense of humor, f’rex).

    @John Scalzi: I read this aloud to my girlfriend. We laughed a lot. Thank you for reposting this! :)

  56. One thing you failed to mention, but illustrated perfectly…no one every thinks of any other p.o.v. but these three.
    Alas poor Moderate! I knew him well, Horatio…

  57. I’m a liberal and I’m terribly offended at what you wrote. blah blah blah classism blah blah patriarchy blah blah the dominant paradigm.

    Actually, I thought it was quite funny and on-point. I think I was expecting to get angry when you asserted we were the stupidest, but most of what you said was right-on and hilarious.

    @Emmanuel: In my personal experience, most “moderates” I’ve met are either liberals, conservatives, or libertarians who just don’t want to admit it. They seem to think that “not choosing a side” makes them superior even though their opinions indicate they have clearly chosen one but just like to think they haven’t because they don’t use the label. Either that, or they simply don’t care about politics, or they’re big fans of the false compromise fallacy.

  58. That is probably the best thing I have ever read in my life. It’s way too true, way too honest and let everyone else that doesn’t think so sit back and cry about it.

    I’ll laugh about it when I’m 80 sitting on my porch in a rocking chair drinking lemonade telling kids crazy stories they will never fully comprehend.

  59. I wouldn’t say it’s dead on for each, but there are many truths in that there article. Now if only we’d all stop putting ourselves in categories and just talk to each other. Less, I’m a Dem so I think this, and your Reb view is wrong.. and more.

    Person 1: I’m a person, I think this would work because of x experiences here, and y experience there in my past, what do you think, opposition?
    Person 2: Well, I’ve had the opposite happen to me , I would do it in vastly different ways than you. However, wanna meet in the middle? Chances are we both aren’t 100% correct.

  60. Can I get a signed copy of this? Pretty please? I’d like to show this to everyone – especially the obnoxious liberal pansies I seem to have politically affiliated myself with. Just ‘cos I’m a liberal doesn’t mean I don’t want to send half my own political party to Pluto.

    P.S: I wish I voted for Hillary.

  61. I consider myself a leftist/feminist and hang out on a few feminist websites. What you said about liberals perfectly describes a huge portion of the people on these sites. It probably described me until a few months ago when I found myself on the wrong side of some people with those attitudes, and started questioning them.

    And no, I’m not just talking about the extremists. Contrary to the view some have of us, the Dworkinites and separatists are quite few and far between in most feminist circles. That does not mean that you still don’t have a lot of people who apparently never figured out how to separate ideals from reality, or the difference between general principles and hard-and-fast rules.

    I would like to show this page to those people, but it would likely have little effect, since in their eyes you and I and everyone who disagrees with them is blinded by privilege to the point of not having a single valid thing to say on any subject.

  62. I’ve been reading Whatever forever and just ran across this now. Beautifully precise on all points. If you don’t want to update it, it’d still be cool to relink it as a classic post. If I missed it, others did too.

  63. The “fractious and no sense of loyalty” thing about liberals is so true.
    Seriously, I’ve about had it with how feminist/liberal websites are always way more likely to attack a show/book/movie which is clearly liberal (e.g. Glee) if makes some un-P.C. joke, than they are to attack media which is not even remotely liberal for the same thing. This is the reason that I’m not a fundamentalist religious person. I don’t like having “rules.” I thought liberalism is supposed to be about having less rules to follow, not more.

  64. Last sentence was great, but kinda ruined my intent to leave a witty reply. I am neither of the three, but see much truth in the first two… and yep, you guessed it; if I was one of the three I would be the latter!

    A common self deprecating libertarian joke:
    HER: “Honey, it is 3am, come to bed!”
    HIM: “I can’t, there are still people on the Internet that are wrong.”

  65. @John Scalzi

    Good Ra, man, how do have time to respond to posts from 2002? Congrats on YOUR election to SFWA President, BTW.

    On topic:

    As the fabled Progressive-Conservative-Libertarian I am triply offended.

    *hangs head*

    Those poor, poor Liberals with their spinal atrophy and Ritalin dependencies…free survival shelters for everyone…get out of my underground bunker!…Not funny at all…

    Why would anyone WANT to be any of these things? What’s with the desire for parties and labels? I would consider a political affiliation a grave misunderstanding at best and a blatant insult at worst (it might even offend me if I could be offended).

    These aren’t philosophies so much as they’re secular religions.

    “Here’s the good book of Liberalism/Conservatism/Libertarianism/Progressivism/Tea-Partyism/Socialism. You need never exercise reason again. Have a problem in your society? Just look up the solution your chosen collective espouses and you’ll never have to think for yourself!”

    Also, these labels mean myriad different things to as many people, so not only are they whole cloth, their nebulous too. Far, far better, IMHO, to take a position of issues individually than to stake out a stance on the entirety of neighborly relations.

    > Libertarianism the official political system of science fiction authors,

    LMAO

    > which explains why science fiction is in such a rut these days.

    Can’t agree with that. Seems to me were in something of an SF renaissance that began sometime before the turn of the century and you, Mr. Scalzi, are among the renaissance men and women. Of course, this entry is dated 2002, so maybe the renaissance wasn’t in full swing then, but I noticed plenty of authors breaking new ground on the shelves as far back as ’99.

    @Rich

    I am not a libertarian or a member of or adherent to the Libertarian Party. I support some anti-trust laws (preferably not ones written by lobbyists for the industries being regulated) a basic safety net that kicks abuser to the curb, defense of natural commons like air and water supplies, and a few other things antithetical to mainstream libertarian philosophy. Nevertheless, I’d like to point out that there is a difference between libertarianism and the Libertarian Party in America. The ideas that form the basis for libertarian thought – which the likes of Glenn Beck wouldn’t recognize if they beaned him over the head – were around long before Robert A. Heinlein or Ayn Rand (who are about as incompatible philosophically as two thinkers can be), and it’s tradition goes as far beyond “Get Off My Property” as socialism (which was also around long before Karl Marx) goes beyond “Das Kapital”.

    There is even a branch of libertarian thought that holds that real property rightly belongs to the community as a common resource and the holder can only ever really lease it; the idea being that legitimate private property can only be the fruit of one’s labors and so, since no land-owner made the Earth, they can only fully own the improvements they make to the land. The upshot is that the community, through the force of the State, has a just right not to let land owners ruin the land by, say for instance, blowing the tops of mountains or spilling half the pre-Cambrian era into the Gulf of Mexico.

    @joeyness

    > personally, I think that libertarians are just conservatives out of power.

    Tea Partiers are conservatives out of power and realizing they stomached Neoconservatism for eight years, towed the party line as the Republicans preached small government while expanding it six ways from Sunday to shove their legislated morality ineffectively down the nation’s collective throat, and generally kept their qualms to themselves for the “greater good” while taking it in the family values – and it got them jack all that they were after and a heaping mess to boot. Now they don’t know what they are (because Sky Daddy and Earth Mommy forbid we not have a hypocritical label for every tent), so when the pundits like Beck talk about themselves as being libertarians, all the far-right Moral Majority jokers who agree with everything Beck and company say suddenly think they are libertarians. Conservatives are about as libertarian as Obama is a secret Muslim socialist.

    Actual libertarianism tends to be socially hyper-liberal and fiscally ultra-conservative, neither of which describes Republican conservatives.

    @Alan

    Kudos to your comment. That’s why I eschew labels; they mean different things even here in the States depending on which subculture you’re discussing them with.

    I would disagree with the implication that socialism is demonized in America (though it certainly was just a few decades ago). I would say it’s widely demonized among the mainstream political Right the same way libertarianism is widely demonized among the Left, which is to say in each case mainly by those who have only a passing familiarity with it. I think both are unrealistic ideologies, but there is still plenty to learn from them and their history, both intellectual and practical (or impractical as the case may be).

    @gtkarber

    > Political apathy always bothers me greatly.

    Life too short to be bothered greatly. Freewill is a double-edged bowie knife. But in the immortal words of those sage sirens “living it up is a state of mind” :) I won’t mention which sirens as I don’t need to lower the plummeting opinion of me any further.

    People will either evolve or some other species (probably on some other planet) will eventually inherit the cosmos. I’d like us to prove ourselves worthy, but time alone will tell. Better to have a flawed world than no world at all, and on that score we are definitely beating the odds. But then I’m a damn dirty hopefulist.

    @Sub-Odeon

    > I’d like to suggest a fourth political philosophy: Disaffection.

    Not to nitpick, but isn’t that an apolitical philosophy.

    > For those of us who have grown tired of seeing Liberals and Conservatives in Washington D.C. consistently pawn away their spines and their values, thus betraying their stated positions and ideology when it’s politically convenient. Because in the end, you know these people only believe in ONE thing: that it’s more important to stay in office than to actually stand for something.

    I don’t think it’s that simple. “Absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely,” as the saying goes. But I imagine that for all the self-serving cretins in office (and there are surely many on all sides of the aisle) there are well-intentioned politicians that end up surrendering to the system where nothing gets done until it’s been squeezed and contorted into a parody of itself.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4zwCMf8dsc&feature=player_embedded

    And if it is the slimiest of snake pit that stay in the halls of power the longest, we have only ourselves to blame for getting behind the nicest smile and whoever airs the most commercials instead of doing actual research on the candidates we‘re voting for. We take democracy for granted as a nation and complain ad nauseam about the weasels we elect, while no small portion of the world would love to have so free and accountable a system of governance as we. Give some folks an apple and they make apple pie; others chew enthusiastically while criticizing everything about it.

    @goteeman

    > My views are very simple:
    > Politics comes from two root words –
    > Poly – meaning “MANY”
    > and
    > TICKS – meaning “BLOOD SUCKING VERMIN”…

    I want your dictionary.

    @Les-R

    > The Libertarian Party wants to turn the government into your crazy Uncle Lou. :D

    Stop! You’re making the Libertarians sound like fun.

    @ Shawn

    > Hypocrisy is a “head-shot” to a Liberal’s political career, but it seems to have no effect on Conservatives. Conservatives are able to have it both ways I suppose because of the moral relativism you describe, whereas Liberals will stone each other to death (or, if no one throws stones, they will slit their own wrists) as soon as the right kind of hypocrisy is exposed, no matter how insignificant.

    Perhaps that’s what separates insincere puritans from zealous true believers.

    @Erda

    > In my personal experience, most “moderates” I’ve met are either liberals, conservatives, or libertarians who just don’t want to admit it. They seem to think that “not choosing a side” makes them superior even though their opinions indicate they have clearly chosen one but just like to think they haven’t because they don’t use the label. Either that, or they simply don’t care about politics, or they’re big fans of the false compromise fallacy.

    I don’t consider myself a moderate since I am quite passionate on an issue by issue basis. But every time hear someone talking about “choosing sides” I get the impression they look at politics like a football match and see the highest goal as winning arguments and elections instead of solving problems. However, I realize that impression is not necessarily always correct. I don’t purport to read you mind. Just putting my buck.fifty in.

    Maybe some moderates are just individuals who think it wiser to consider each issue from all sides before marching off to fight to the death on its behalf.

    @Elizabeth

    > I would like to show this page to those people, but it would likely have little effect, since in their eyes you and I and everyone who disagrees with them is blinded by privilege to the point of not having a single valid thing to say on any subject.

    Isn’t that the first rule of dogma? Deny the validity of the opposition so you don’t have to answer their doubts? This, I think, is a problem in every political circle; not just the liberal, leftist and/or feminist camps. But riffing on what you said, self-righteous puritans are merely the most irritating minority. The majority of any group can and should call them out and, like any bully, their true lack of courage will quickly become apparent once they realize their compatriots have not been cowed into silent obedience. Sometimes revolutionaries need a swift kick in the pants when they stop behaving like revolutionaries and start behaving like tyrants. Just a thought.

    > I thought liberalism is supposed to be about having less rules to follow, not more.

    Perhaps the confusion is conflating liberalism with Liberalism – one being a long and multifaceted history of debate, and the other being the zeitgeist of the Left in a particular place and present time.

    @Shpard

    > A common self deprecating libertarian joke:
    > HER: “Honey, it is 3am, come to bed!”
    > HIM: “I can’t, there are still people on the Internet that are wrong.”

    Someone’s gotta feed the trolls :)

    In related humor, here’s a gem of an excerpt off a live journal blog by a fellow goes by hradzka:

    “The various types of ideological fiction also differ in how they treat the loyal opposition — by which I mean, the people who disagree but are nominally on the same team. In conservative ideological fiction, the loyal opposition is steamrolled; they’re there, but are defeated or ignored by Our Heroes, who are of course Faithful and Right (pretty much any Tom Clancy novel; 24). In liberal ideological fiction, the loyal opposition is defeated and becomes the subject of public opprobium, while Our Heroes are admired for being Faithful and Right (as in TRANSMETROPOLITAN, say, or my beloved BABYLON 5, or to a lesser degree in SERENITY, or half of John Grisham’s novels, or… incidentally, could I just request that if any of my liberal friends decide to write a political intrigue, would you please not foist yet another goddamned haircut of Watergate or Murrow vs. McCarthy on the world? BECAUSE I HAVE FUCKING SEEN IT). In Libertarian ideological fiction, there generally *is* no loyal opposition; Our Heroes are Faithful and Right and those who disagree with them are either misinformed (and over the course of the novel are educated to become Faithful and Right) or outright evil. (Also, Libertarian authors are, for the most part, constitutionally incapable of lecturing an audience on merely one political question; they want to convince you on all of them, and all at once.)”

  66. So you are a statist and unhappy that the two sides where you actually fit in suck. Good to know your hate is not wasted in this rant. As a libertarian your anger and frustration sustain me. How is that for a whiny geeky response?

  67. I’m a libertarian and nearly split my sides laughing about all 3 descriptions. I don’t do illegal drugs, don’t own a gun and oddly enough, have no interest in brothels. Does this mean I’m not a libertarian? ;)

    Love this kind of stuff. I posted it on my Facebook page. Will I be crucified? Nah, the one without a sense of humor defriended me already.

  68. No, you got us liberals right except for one thing: liberals aren’t “humorless.” The only decent political comedy is liberal. Name a decent conservative or libertarian comic! Not Dennis Miller — I said “decent.” And don’t bring up that crazy fat girl who also used to be on SNL — she doesn’t make the cut either, sorry.

  69. Yeah, I’m with EgyptSteve. You were spot on about everything except the humor thing. Liberals are more susceptible to self-doubt and enjoy advocating for the underdog’s position, which makes them better at (good) comedy than conservatives.

    Conservatives can’t self-deprecate and enjoy ridiculing from a position of power, which gives you shitty, fratboyish jokes. But if you turn the tables on them and ridicule them back? They become victim-playing whiners faster than the most stereotypical liberal.

    The only decent libertarian humor I can think of is South Park, but they sort of waver back and forth politically. Generally, libertarians view themselves as morally and intellectually superior to everyone around them, and thus are way too self-serious to be truly funny. You might get a decent nerdy pun out of them every now and then.

    Otherwise, great post.

  70. Egypt Steve:

    “The only decent political comedy is liberal.”

    i.e., what I think is funny is generally funny, and what I don’t think is funny isn’t? Yes, well.

  71. “Perhaps the confusion is conflating liberalism with Liberalism – one being a long and multifaceted history of debate, and the other being the zeitgeist of the Left in a particular place and present time.”

    Thanks, I know what words mean. And I would have to disagree that classical liberalism (which I assume is what you mean by your vague first definition) is truer to the concept than the beliefs of modern-day liberals. Screwing over poor people is not my idea of “freedom.”

    Taking your definition at face value, I still don’t think that left-wing liberalism is anti-freedom or about “rules to follow.” My point is that the belief in freedom for everyone should make lives better, but some self-righteous people on the left use it to start a holier-than-thou pissing contest. Which you see in every political movement, but it’s particularly unfortunate in a movement that is supposed to be about equality and diversity. It’s more understandable on the right, where the message really is that some people are better than others.

  72. “Maybe some moderates are just individuals who think it wiser to consider each issue from all sides before marching off to fight to the death on its behalf.”

    Why do you assume that people on the left and right can’t also feel this way? Just because I have a strong opinion one way or another doesn’t mean it didn’t take a lot of questioning and inquiry, including looking carefully at both sides, for me to get there. You can carefully examine both sides and still come to the conclusion that the best place is where you started – or the other side – rather than somewhere in the middle.

    An open, inquiring mind is a virtue, but moderation is not, because the two do not automatically go hand-in-hand. The “moderate” opinion is not necessarily the best one, and in fact, the belief that it always is is considered a logical fallacy: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/middle-ground.html I’d have to agree with Erda that some of the most ignorant, non-thoughtful people I know are moderates, because they buy into this fallacious thinking, assuming that the middle opinion is automatically the best. But it isn’t. If one person says 2+2=4 and the other says 2+2=8, the answer is not in the middle. It is 4. Same with a debate about, say, evolution. One person obviously has the facts on his/her side, the other person doesn’t. Assuming the answer lies in the middle, rather than recognizing this gap in knowledge between the two sides, shows your ignorance, not your thoughtfulness.

    Which is not to say I don’t think you’re a thoughtful person or that other moderates can’t be thoughtful. But it’s not because they’re moderates. They may have taken a long, drawn-out process of inquiry and examining all sides to get to where they are, but that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of moderates are moderates because they just ASSUME the middle position is always the best one and never really examine it. Likewise, the fact that some liberals or conservatives just believe what their parents or peers think without question doesn’t mean that there aren’t other people with those positions who come to them through careful inquiry and examination of all sides of issues.

  73. This liberal thinks you were right on about all three and that it was hilarious. Wait.. does that mean I think you weren’t right about my political philosophy? Shit. So confused now.

    [But really, spot on for all three, well done.]

  74. Hey, I’m a liberal and I have a great sense of humor!

    Trig Palin walks into a bar–but it doesn’t hurt, because he had his helmet on.

  75. Very funny and more relevent than ever. I’m tempted to write a lil essay of my own on self satisfaction of another group however, The Whatevers. Ha.
    The thing is no one is trully one thing or another. Labels and self identification with them dehumanize people and make them forget what things we hold in common and also the irreplaceable individual that each one of us is. Things might have to reach a boiling point for us to evolve but I hope it comes before that.

  76. I found that to be one of the funniest description of political parties to date! You got them all and I hope they get pissed!. Let me say this, Liberals are wrond about almost everything! Conservatives are wrong about almost everything! Lierbtarians are wrong about almost everything! One of my sfavorite quotes about politicians is from a fictional one, the National Security Advisor in The Hunt For Red October where he says, and I may be parphrasing here, “Jack, I’m a politician which, by definition, means I’m a liar. When I’m not kissing babies I’m stealing their lollipops.” I think this could be turned into the dictionary description of a politician.

  77. The descriptions of the three major political identities in the U.S. was right on. However, it was somewhat of a surface examination of the characteristics of people who claim membership with each of the three groups. In fact, what is called Conservatism today has nothing to do with traditional Conservative definitions and values. This is equally true about what is called Liberalism and what passes for Libertarianism. Examining the beliefs of adherents of these three labels really tells us about people – but not the underlying philosophies behind the formation of Conservative, Liberal, and Libertarian world views. And you don’t even touch on a number of other political identities.

    To take Libertarianism as an example, at the highest level, it breaks down to what political scientists call Right Libertarianism (of the Ron Paul and Cato Institute variety) and Left Libertarianism, which covers several very different political philosophies.

    Right Liberalism is sometimes termed by its adherents – as well as the Cato Institute – as “anarcho-capitalism.” Under this system, the individual is said to be ‘freed’ from a government shrunk into insignificance and existing only to protect the country from foreign invasion and to protect the wealth of the elite and the ability for them to grow that wealth. The governing force that replaces the lost democratic form of government is a totally unrestricted, unregulated and unpoliced capitalist laissez-faire “free market” system. This sect has tied itself very closely to Ayn Rand’s >i>”Objectivism, a philosophy which is focused entirely on an extreme form of individuality, where the only goal of any person is to seek what he or she sees and best for themselves. It elevates greed and ego to the only values that count, and considers money to be the primary measure of the success of their efforts. It is so extreme that, if your brother needs a kidney transplant and you are the only 6-point match, you should refuse, because you are depriving yourself of a kidney that might prove to be a lifesaver for you in the future, giving up a personal advantage solely for your brother’s advantage. The same negative view is applied to even giving your brother some of your money to help pay for his medical bills – a help to him, but, in Objectivist terms (greed, selfishness, ego, and money) a naive loss to you.

    It is not a question of whether today’s Libertarian is for or against legalizing drugs or prostitution, or for or against any given regulation or government function, but that it is a view of society that is so toxic that it will inevitably create a vacuum of personal sovereignty and unity that will simply be displaced by an oligarchical dictatorship of the wealthy elite and corporate powers.

    Left Libertarianism can be divided into three antithetical sub-headings. The first is anarcho-socialism in the sense of a democratic socialism, where a sovereign people decide as a society to fund a democratic government not just to do for them as a society what they cannot or will not do for themselves, but to extend this people’s sovereignty from social to economic grounds. The idea is putting the ordinary people in a position to control the manufacture and distribution of goods and services – through their elected government representatives – instead of leaving this to a cold and uncaring profit-only-driven “free market” under which they have no control and which has no accountability to its “customers,” or, as we are all pigeonholed in Capitalist societies, mere “consumers” of the products and services the corporations choose to sell us at the prices they collude to set.

    The second Left Libertarianism is often called “anarcho-syndicalism” and is based on trade unions and working people replacing many of the functions of our corrupted and non-responsive government. It stresses not so much a national agency (an elected government) acting as a surrogate and enactor of the peoples’ sovereignty, but of localized implementations where the workers in a factory or other company share in the ownership and decision-making of the company, rather than be mere serfs to a professional managerial and executive class whose goals are often in conflict with what is best for the workers and the customers in general. This has been implemented innumerable times in the U.S., when companies in danger of failure are, instead, bought out by their employees and turned around successfully. One example that comes to mind is a cab company in Madison, Wisconsin. It was on the verge of bankruptcy and its owners had already announced it would cease business when the drivers and other employees decided to pool their money, with the help of their trade unions, and buy the company. As an employee-owned company, every worker felt a commitment to make its services the best possible, instead of harboring the old resentment against the executive elite who controlled all the decision-making and siphoned off most of the profits of their employees’ labor. Before long, this “people’s” cab company not only became successful, but now is the premier cab company in Madison and outperforms all of the older-model companies.

    In the same state, the pro football team, the SuperBowl champion Green Bay Packers, are not owned, in the usual way, by a group of obscenely wealthy elites. They sell shares in the team, and, at last count, have over 120,000 citizen-owners instead. A classic anarcho-syndicalist success.

    Today, many of the best domestic software developers have tired of being exploited over the last decade as corporate salaries and independent contract wages being cut by the corporations – often by as much as two-thirds – and being forced to bid their worth down to meet the costs of hundreds of thousands of temporary workers on three-year H-1b visas, who send most of their wages home (primarily, to India) as companies like AT&T, Verizon, Microsoft, all of the banks and financial houses, Amtrak and hundreds of other corporate entities not only teach the temps how to create American-style business software (knowledge that they will take home to make their off-shore companies better equipped to lure American jobs and projects to their own country), but get paid by our corporate elite in the process. The result is that American commercial/corporate software development has priced itself out of the range of the small minority of the most highly-skilled developers, the only ones truly capable of mastering the complexities of modern highly-distributed enterprise software. Few of our most capable software writers will entertain working for grossly substandard wages on teams filled with mid-level coders who simply lack the multitude of skills and rare aptitudes to t contribute quality work in the almost impossibly complex projects in today’s business software world.

    Many have left the field, have gone abroad, have retired early, have turned to writing open-source code, or have gone to the West Coast to form small entrepreneurial companies. These companies typically have about five or six employees – all equally skilled programmers – and have a totally flat management structure. There are no managers or executives. All members of the company hold equal shares of ownership. They typically work designing and coding software four and a half days a week and meet around a conference table on Friday afternoon to discuss as equals the business details and goals of the company. Conservative “free-market” industry newsletters and magazines on the West Coast are hailing this new trend in terms like “entrepreneurial innovation.” However, with my education and degrees in Political Science before I went into consulting software development, I recognize a Socialist communal organization – a perfect anarcho-syndicalist model – when I see it. It is ironic that the best quality software, both open-source and commercial packages, is not being produced under the free-market corporate umbrella, but by small employee-owned or volunteer-staffed independent entities with no Capitalist or market elements in their structures.

    The third Left Libertarian form is the one Conservatives always refer to when they raise the epithet Americans have been conditioned to dread – Socialism. This is not really a Libertarian philosophy or even a Socialist philosophy, though it masquerades as such and is the example used by Conservatives and Right Libertarians to ‘discredit’ Socialism as a failure and an evil. It is comprised of an authoritarian or totalitarian government that arrogates unto itself the power to decide “what the people want” and to act for them, when, in fact, the people have NO sovereignty and no input into decisions made by an elite that believes it knows better than the people what they want and need. This model, referred to by many as State Socialism or State NeoCapitalism is the caricature of a peoples’ Socialism that we have seen fail in Russia, China, Cuba, and many other countries. It is no more Socialism than our system is a true Jeffersonian “virtual” Town Hall Democracy.

    And the article hasn’t even touched on the Radical political philosophies, which differ from Democrats and Republicans, in that they believe that mere twiddling of the parameters of our current system to the left or right will provide us with a dramatically improved society. Instead, they feel that it is time to cast off centurys-old economic “truisms” of all sides and begin to consider radically different 21st Century economic and political models for a 21st Century world.

  78. I was directed to this by a link in another post. The best writing holds up over time, and the most amazing thing to me is that this is even more true in 2011 than it was when you wrote it in 2002.

    It’s almost as if every political person in the country read this and thought, “That is the template we should be using!”

  79. @Elizabeth

    > Thanks, I know what words mean.

    Never meant to imply otherwise. Sorry if it came across as such.

    > And I would have to disagree that classical liberalism (which I assume is what you mean by your vague first definition) is truer to the concept than the beliefs of modern-day liberals.

    I agree. And I wasn’t referring to classical liberalism specifically, but rather to the fact that liberalism is a big umbrella. Even modern-day liberals aren’t drones. If I was vague it was because I perceive liberalism as a living, breathing ecosystem of diverse ideas and perspectives.

    > Why do you assume that people on the left and right can’t also feel this way?

    I don’t. I’m quite certain there are plenty of moderate liberals and moderate conservatives. But not everything is as clear cut as arithmetic and evolution. Many political controversies are over differing goals, both among groups and subgroups and even individuals (where the liberties of one person end and another begin; how to manage limited commons; how to interact with political externalities). But it strikes me as absurd to take the view that there are only two (or even three) prepackaged absolute hermetically sealed political stances – that you’re either with us on everything or you’re our enemy – or that only the people on the absolute furthest extremes of the Right/Left spectrum can hold valid opinions. To assume that all of one’s opponents are necessarily evil or stupid seems wholly unconstructive. And to assume that any dissent within one’s own ranks is a sign of treason is insidious, IMHO.

    Note that I’m in no way saying this was what you or Erda believe. I was replying to Erda’s assessment that all moderates are simply trying to rise above the rest by not choosing sides, when in fact I expect quite a few moderates choose sides on a regular basis after thoughtful consideration. I don’t doubt that, as you said, a lot of moderates are moderates because they just ASSUME the middle position is always the best one and never really examine it. But I do doubt that everyone who isn’t a liberal or conservative hardliner is therefore delusional.

    I hope I rendered no offense. If I did, it was not intentional. Thank you for replying back. I’m glad I decided to check back and see if the thread was still growing.

    This blog if full of awesome people! I’m glad I read John Scalzi’s novels so I came looking for it.

  80. So you hate my politics. Fine, but WTF are you gonna do about it? Me, I hate all politics, period, and I hate yours too. I hate all politicians. I hate all bureaucrats. I hate all special interests. I hate politicians choosing their voters. I hate the obvious corruption of all American politics. I hate all political parties. I hate the smirky political commentators on TV and in the press.
    I hate the libertarian party too. But, I’m still a libertarian, because that’s the only intellectually and emotionally respectable option left. Libertarians suck, but they suck a lot less than the state-promoting, self-interested besserwissers of the other two persuasions. So get out of my life already! And, I don’t care if you hate me. It’s mutual! I’ll stick with drinking beer and reading blogs.

  81. As an independent who leans towards freedom, I think this is all fairly accurate. What I hate about partisans is the absolute smug self-satisfaction. Liberals consider their position as fundamental, & only barbarians would even think to question it. Conservatives think they’ve done a long of thinking & have concluded that their way is the right way. Libertarians are usually smarter than everybody else, but reach the fallacious conclusion that smarter = better.

    Since the closest of these to me is libertarian, I will say that the “get off my lawn” thing is somewhat tiresome. Some folks take it so far so as to think that the default libertarian position is “I am an island”, when, for me at least, nothing could be further from the truth. One of my favorite essays is the pencil essay. It’s an argument for fiscal non-intervention, but it makes a powerful argument that no man is an island and that voluntary transactions are the most productive transactions in the world. My bleeding heart libertarian side says “if this is true for productive transactions, why can’t it be true for personal transactions – including charity?”

  82. I’m thinking the author is way off on all of them… I’m going to go way out on a limb and say the author is a liberal or had a liberal upbringing. The clue is that the author describes them as “champions of the poor” (which they are not, but they believe they are) and has nothing even remotely as positive to say about the other groups. In fact liberals simply want to leverage the “useful idiots” though bribery and conservatives simply want to leverage the “useful idiots” though religion, as both have been effective throughout time immemorial. In the real world, liberals and conservatives are the same, they just tell different lies while they both do the same thing. As for libertarians, therein lies the second clue, in that the author has the typical statist misunderstanding that libertarianism means social isolation…

  83. LOVE John Scalzi the author. Probably my favorite “new” SF author. If this passes as Scalzi political commentary…..errrr…… not so wild about it. Scalzi is normally not trite, boring, and clueless in his writing.

    Not that it’s such a bad thing. Just keep the SF coming :)

  84. Such a common store-typical myth perpetuated by someone who has likely never met a real libertarian. The whole article/rant is poorly written. My time is too valuable to even waste on elaborating all the details you’ve got wrong.

  85. “I’m guessing you thought I was way off on your political philosophy but right on the button about the other two. Just think about that for a while.”

    Nah I’m just gonna notice that you left the worst and whiniest class of political opinion, centrism, out of your list entirely.

  86. Moderates nowadays are Conservatives who gave up on being hateful sadists, or got kicked out of the clubhouse because they weren’t being sadistic enough.
    Also, congrats on the Hugo win for Redshirts. I heard the announcement and thought to myself, gee that name’s familiar, didn’t he write something about ideological factions a few years back…?

  87. The funniest thing to me is that liberals and conservatives actually believe THEIR political leaders are different than the other guys’ political leaders. Newsflash!! Regardless of their stated political beliefs, nearly all politicians are the same: if they seek high political office, they are interested only in power and wealth. Nothing else matters. As for libertarian politicians–if there ever are any that win high office–they’ll be exactly the same.

    The people least likely to exercise power for the good of all are the people who seek it.

  88. I’m in a non-radical in favor of a social democracy. So that makes me a liberal by default. I’m not exactly thrilled to be called a communist or a coward.

    Libertarians think more and but aren’t smarter for the effort. They tend to be the sort of smug nerd that think they’re still going to make it big on Bitcoin, worship the almighty Invisible Hand and thinks the state is pretty much always evil and incompetent (but have trouble defining what a “state” actually is). They also talk a lot about the free market, like it’s some unicorn in the glade they’ve gotta approach . . . just . . . right . . .

    No, I don’t hate right-leaning American libertarians. Why do you ask?

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