Re: Anti-Capitalism

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sun Apr 22 2001 - 01:16:54 MDT

Chris Rasch writes,

> I often wonder however, if I had been born in an
> intellectual Jewish household in Brooklyn of 1900,
> instead of a Mormon household in rural Idaho in the
> 1970's, would I now be an ardent Marxist, instead
> of an anarchocapitalist?

You've raised the enormously interesting meta-question
of how it is we obtain our political beliefs, which
has fascinated me since I was a kid. I note that you
are anti-leftist. So is Thomas Sowell, who wrote "A
Conflict of Visions". So far, in my experience, it
has been non-liberals who have raised this question.

Yet some of the very open and bright people here who
have just owned up to be left-leaning, or at least
liberal, such as Damien Broderick and Anders Sandberg
will hardly shy away from such a question, and will
undoubtedly contribute in an objective fashion. What
is so extremely regrettable, is that many other bright
people on the left openly denounce objectivity; all
such inquiries, to them, are simply power plays.

You are absolutely right that initial upbringing is often
the greatest determiner. I think that what happens is
that as each of us acquires an initial view of the world,
we begin to selectively incorporate new data into it. Soon,
it becomes actually much more difficult to even **remember**
data that conflicts with it. And this process
accelerates and hardens.

At least for most people! The most interesting data has
to come from conversions. I know of one outstanding
conversion: David Horowitz, who in the 1960s and 1970s
was a leading American leftist, went completely the other
way and seems like is now attempting to single-handedly
undo everything that his generation did in the sixties.
(There may be examples from the other side of the political
spectrum---but naturally, I wouldn't **remember** them :-)

By the way, remarks such as the flippant one I just made
are important; they keep the fires of objectivity burning.

On other conversions: I think that it was Jean Pierre Revel
who first said "Anyone who is not a socialist by twenty has
no heart; but anyone who is still a socialist by age forty
has no head." Historical correction appreciated! Yes, people
do tend to become more conservative with age. Whether it is
that they simply run out of energy to pursue their youthful
ideals, or they come to realize that their youthful ideals
were non-productive and dangerous, I don't know---objectively
speaking. (Though guess which I'd bet on!) Now Thomas
Sowell has his explanations of the "constrained vs. the
unconstrained visions", which seem to hold water. But
then, of course, I am doubtlessly biased.

Then there is the geographical factor: people in English
speaking countries besides America, who in my own private
evaluation are totally up to speed on everything else, don't
fathom Hayek and Von Mieses and sound to me clueless on
economic issues. In other words, were they living in America,
they'd probably be agreeing with me, and if I were living in,
say, Australia, then I'd be agreeing with them.

What I am dying to know about: are there any personality
correlations with political beliefs? If they exist, they
have to be mild, but I am slowly coming to think that they
do exist.

Lee Corbin

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