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Monday, June 19, 2006

 

Derbyshire http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YWU3ZmE1NWFkYjA0ZTkyOWMyMjQyYTQyNGFhNjQ1MWY=

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, June 19, 2006 permalink View blog reactions
One of the most intriguing intellects in the political sphere today is John Derbyshire. He self-identifies fiercely as a conservative, and of that crowd is probably the most akin to Buckley of all the crew at National Review. As I mentioned in comment treads earlier, being Purple isn't a mandatory centrism on the issues, by a willingness to assess the issues from a perspective that isn't shaped by your Team (and vilification of the opposing viewpoint as your sole method of persuasion). Derb has his opinions - many of which I disagree with profoundly - and he defends them on their merits, honestly.

For example - on the abortion debate...  

Woman A gets pregnant, finds that her baby would be born with severe mental and physical impairments, but says: "I don't care. It'll be loved however it comes out." Woman B, in the same situation, decides to abort. A Progressive—at any rate a thorough-going one—would force that first woman to abort, in the general interest. I call that a denial of liberty. A right-to-lifer would force the second woman to carry to term. I call that a denial of liberty too. The Progressive would accuse me of making society a wee bit worse by letting the first woman give birth. The right-to-lifer would say that I'm ignoring the rights of the fetus. The Progressive's case seems to me unsound (even, if my understanding of genetics is right, biologically unsound). The right-to-lifers are weighing the theoretical rights of a fetus with the liberty of an actual adult woman to make decisions about her own body and her own future, and to my eyes the balance doesn't tip, or even budge.


The rest of that lengthy Corner post is pretty intriguing as well. I point it out not neccessarily to agree or disagree but to simply highlight and example of Purple thinking - on the right, so pace, Tim :)


Discussion

see truth where ever it is, even if it is in china :) in any case, derb is getting into it in THE CORNER today...as usual.

 

Reality check:

Can anyone name a single American self-describing as "progressive" who would force the first woman to abort?

 

Russell,

I've never heard of one. I read that and thought it was strange as well.

 



Can anyone name a single American self-describing as "progressive" who would force the first woman to abort?


sorry to be flip, but maggie sanger? yes, old school progressive, but nonetheless. i think john's point s that some on the Left aren't totally averse to making arguments for "the greater good." i have seen/heard progressives defend some of china's family planning population control policies in that vain.

 

Okay, Margaret Sanger. I guess that counts.

 

Razib -

Not a flip answer, actually a good one. I'm not clear on Sanger's position on forced abortion, specifically, but she certainly believed in the state intervening to prevent the "unfit" from procreating.

I do recognize that Derbyshire has a reasonable point to make. Here's my problem with his argument, or at least the way he makes it.

Within the universe of reasonable, non-fringe right to life advocates -- people who might actually have some real effect on public policy -- there are many who would, in real life, insist that woman B carry her child to term.

Within the equivalent universe of pro-choice advocates, I can think of not one who would, remotely, insist that Woman A be forced to abort. Not one.

Derbyshire's argument is predicated on a fiction. It makes for a nice, evenly balanced "on the one hand, on the other hand" rhetorical structure, but he's arguing against a point of view that does not really exist within anything like the mainstream.

Assuming Derbyshire actually intends to represent the view of real, live progressives -- the current day counterparts of right to life advocates -- those people are not Margaret Sanger. And, the people he *is* actually talking about are not, remotely, calling for forced abortions.

Derbyshire's argument seems reasonable and even-handed on the surface, but it deposits yet another little rhetorical turd for folks who wish to engage in a conversation about the policy options that actually are on the table to step in. Pardon my coarse analogy.

It's not an argument in good faith. That is my problem with it.

Thanks

 

"Derbyshire's argument seems reasonable and even-handed on the surface, but it deposits yet another little rhetorical turd for folks who wish to engage in a conversation about the policy options that actually are on the table to step in."

but he's not aiming to engage in a conversation with progressives! he's engaging in a conversation with conservatives, so it makes sense that he would unfairly characterize the "left" in the dichotomy. remember, KLo approves the comments :)

 

and more specifically, there is another trend here, and that is for some on the Left to flinch at reproductive rights when it conflicts with other goods. for example, sex-selective abortions.

 

Hey Razib -

"but he's not aiming to engage in a conversation with progressives!"

That's a good point. Noted.

"there is another trend here, and that is for some on the Left to flinch at reproductive rights when it conflicts with other goods. for example, sex-selective abortions."

I don't completely understand what you mean here, but my sense is that you're making a good point. If you wouldn't mind restating this to make your point more explicit I'd be grateful.

An aside: your italicization of the word "rights" touches on an area where I fault the left -- the tendency to frame all matters of policy in terms of constitutionally guaranteed rights. Folks claim "rights" to education, healthcare, etc etc.

When I was on RedState, a guy named DonS made a point more or less to the effect that "liberals look at a need and see a right". I think that observation is apt, and I think that tendency among folks on the left gets in the way of useful dialog. Perhaps a topic for another thread.

Thanks again -

 

russell,

there are those who are staunchly pro-choice who grumble about sex-selection abortions, or abortions with eugenical implications. e.g., what if you could "detect" whether your child had a high likelihood of being homosexual in trimester 2? what if you knew that your child had a high likelihood of developing a disease rendered them deaf?

most abortion rights libertarains shrug at these scenarios because abortion is simply derived from the right to self-ownership for libertarians. the Left on the other hand tends to look at ends, e.g., the reason some support abortion is that it empowers a woman and expands her freedom of choice in the patriarchy. abortion is not just a function of self-ownership, "my body my right," it is a statement of rebellion against reactionary patriarchy. if you have a society where female fetuses are being aborted, then i think many on the Left see it going against the statement they wanted to make, that women have rights, freedoms, choices and dignity. all of a sudden abortion is not seen in such a positive light.

in this sense, the Left and the Right exhibit a commonality, in that ends are just as relevant as means. libertarians on the other hand tend to focus on means and let the ends fall where they may.

in regards to what derb said, and my own attitude, i do tire of liberals engaging in "rights" talk because on a deep level i don't think they always mean it. the emergence of PC thought police on the Left shows that there is a deeply anti-liberal strain which is part of america's non-Right. fundamenally libertarians and the Left share a lot of commonalities when it comes to choice & lifestyle issues, but many libertarians feel that some our most vociferous allies are more intent on "screwing the man" than letting man breath free (so to speak).

 

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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.