Commenter cynn sneers:

Your childish assumption is that we on the left can’t think or intuit for ourselves. That is is a costly misapprehension.

Well, yes. A goodish chunk of what I’m trying to do here — besides attract enough readers to make the tip jar a viable income supplement — is to explain that to my fellows in enough detail to help them avoid paying those costs. You should pay attention as well. You might learn something.

Cowboy asks:

…do you think there are two “camps” (for lack of a better word) in the Progressive Community…

Well, yes and no. Remember Rule #1: It ain’t that simple!

What there is, is a spread. It can’t be called a continuum because it’s composed of individuals, so a complete analysis would depend more on quantum concepts than classical ones, but there are so many dimensions to the problem that you have to drill down pretty deep before you have to deal with individuals rather than statistics. Just as in physics, some of the individual interactions (“quantum effects”) are contradictory or counterintuitive to the overall statistical (“classical”) analysis, and where the transition occurs from one set of rules to the other isn’t at all clear and sometimes seems to change. What makes the problem really intractable is that we aren’t dealing with neutrons here; these are people, prepared to stick their oar in the water and row vigorously at the drop of a proposition.

What happens in these discussions (and it always happens, if the discussion goes on long enough) is that one party starts out discussing overall conditions, taking the “classical” approach if you will, and the other gets uncomfortable with that and starts insisting that the individual or “quantum” effects are controlling — or the other way ’round. If you know about that sort of thing, it ought to remind you of the arguments between Einstein and Bohr (and their various allies) at the beginning of the last century, although Albert and Nels didn’t often get quite as raucous as these arguments do.

The “right” tends to approach the problem from the “classical” side, talking about policies and proposals that lead to secret police, death camps and/or committees, and damage to the general welfare and overall prosperity. Somebody from the “left”, like cynn, is then sure to chime in, to the effect that her interlocutors are absof*inglutely insane, that she doesn’t want any of that crap, that all she wants is to make sure that the children are fed, and you guys are positively wicked and evil for trying to prevent that — the individual or “quantum” approach. Somewhat less often, the “right” starts from the quantum approach, talking about individual rights and opportunities and stuff like “property” and “free speech”, and the “left” starts its rebuttal from F=Ma and works down, talking about the good of the people and the overall health of societies that do or don’t work as a team. Once in a while we get into lively discussions where both are approaching the problem from the same level, but they tend not to last long, because if you stay at the quantum level the “left” tends to come out ahead, and the classical approach tends to confirm the “right”, so one or the other participant is sure to introduce the other domain in self-defense.

And just as in physics, both parties are “right” in the sense of “correct”. Both parties are also wrong — and either can prove that by introducing arguments from the other domain of analysis. If we’re going to settle this, we’re going to have to start figuring out where one domain begins and the other ends, and confine our analysis to the proper domain. Otherwise we just go ’round and ’round, and nobody gets the brass ring.

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