Sunday, November 2, 2008

Recovering Materialist Politics

After a recent argument with a couple of friends over why I wasn't voting for Obama (or anyone else), I started thinking about my political philosophy, and the fact that it hadn't been updated to reflect what I've learned in the past few years. The first concept that comes to mind is the Taoist idea that people who are living right don't need laws. An obvious corollary is that if everyone is living right, laws become irrelevant. I'm sure there are other applicable ideas, and if you happen to think of any, please leave a comment.

Now, why am I not voting for Obama? The same reason I didn't vote for Clinton or either of the Bushes. I won't vote for anyone unless I know their philosophy and agree with it. The "lesser of two evils" or "at least it's a step in the right direction" will happen just as well without my help. At least 30 percent of the population will think it's the wrong direction anyway.

Thinking about the argument raised an important question: how do we deal with others who we think have suboptimal beliefs or behaviors? This seems to me to be the central question in politics. A possible answer is the use of force, and if you're in favor of laws against "victimless crimes" or mandatory anything, this is your answer. Another answer is that we leave them alone and insulate ourselves from the results or their beliefs or actions as best we can; this is the Libertarian philosophy in a nutshell. A third answer is the use of persuasion. Can you think of any others? Again, please leave comments.

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