A blog by Patrick Crozier

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May 08, 2004

What I want from a political philosophy

I spend a lot of time talking about libertarianism, applying libertarian principles and generally turning out libertarian propaganda of varying quality, the assumption being that libertarianism is best. But is it? And if it is how would I know? What am I measuring it against? What, in other words, do I want from a political philosophy? What do I want it to deliver?

I should point out that this is very a personal question. And this is a very personal answer. This is what I want. It will differ in degrees small and large from what every other person wants. But nevertheless it is, I think, a worthwhile exercise.

So here’s the list:

Prosperity. In all its forms. It’s not just Mars Bars but things like clean air and clean water, culture etc.

Sustainability. The ideal system should not be doomed to collapse under the weight of its own internal contradictions.

Peace. A political system is pretty useless if it cannot defend itself from its enemies both internal and external

Freedom. Freedom is an end in itself as well as being, I think, a means to an end.

Equality. I don’t want to see people denied healthcare or an education because they are poor. Mind you I am not going to demand perfection in this area: partly because it contradicts the effort and reward item.

Effort being matched by reward. Assuming that that effort’s towards something sensible. Not jazz or opera etc.

Progress. The idea that things will get better.

Social mobility. Is it possible to rise from the bottom to the top?

Clear rules. Knowing what you can and can’t do and what the likely consequences are if you break the rules.

Variety. Having lots of things to do. Lots of interesting places to go on your hols.

OK, that’s the wish list. But what if I can’t have all of that? What if I have to compromise? If the choice is between, say, freedom and equality which should win through? I suppose I would have to say that if there were one factor above all others it would be sustainability. After that peace and after that prosperity.

[It occurs to me that this exercise is not unrelated to Rawls’s idea of the Veil of Ignorance .]


Sunday Drive Around the Blogosphere
Patrick Crozier outlines what he wants from a political philosophy. Always Low Prices has lots of Wal-Mart talk. Robert Prather celebrates his two-year blogiversary. Charles Hueter comments on an outrageous tobacco industry ruling. Jonathan at Radical ...
Catallarchy.net on May 24, 2004


Equality is one with which I have always struggled, and likely always will. There just will never be equality of opportunity, and I'm not convinced that this is a very bad thing. I don't mean that kids going hungry or their parents having to hawk their possessions to buy them milk is a good thing, exactly, but that life is supposed to include some struggle, and that such struggles make us stronger. I think many rewards can come out of inequality of opportunity.

Jazz is pretty grim, though, yes.

Posted by Jackie D on May 10, 2004

If you go back to when Jazz still had a soul (i.e. Swing/Big Band era), its pretty fun stuff.

But the formless, wandering crap that passes for "jazz" these days is indeed grim.

Posted by Brian Doss on May 24, 2004