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Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Not-Knows  

I've been thinking about what I call The Not-Knows: the things you have to not know to be a progressive. I've been able to identify four of them.
  • You have to Not Know anything about history
Or geography, or geopolitics, or any of what used to be called social studies back when it had academic non-PC content. As an alternative, you can know a little history, as long as you believe that what you know forms the template for all of it. So every war is Vietnam; every scandal is Watergate; every downturn in the business cycle is another Depression; every conservative is McCarthy (or Hitler); every dissenter is Thoreau; and every third world nationalist is a combination of Gandhi and Jefferson.
Or you can have a theory of history, as long as you don't allow actual events to discredit any part of it.
  • You have to Not Know anything about economics
Anything whatsoever. Not supply and demand, not the business cycle, not incentives, not consumer choice, not competitive advantage, not risk vs return, not the time value of money, not business development or capital formation or rates of return; not anything. At all.
  • You have to Not Know anything about human nature
Obviously, not knowing history helps here.
  • And it's not mandatory, but it really helps to Not Know anything about yourself
Especially your own motivations, or capacity for dishonesty, or selfishness, or folly, or unkindness, or violence. That way you can project all these failings onto the other guy, over there, and blame every policy failure on your opponents' bad motives.

Unfortunately, this is ignorance that must be jealously guarded. Once you start to allow facts to undermine any of your unsupported assumptions, it can all collapse overnight.

posted by Kelly | 12:14 AM link