"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."

                --Archilochus

Glenn Reynolds:
"Heh."

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."




I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem



Friday, February 08, 2008

What's So Great About Unity?

So asks Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy (warning - original post may contain shameless law professor self-promotion):
One of Barack Obama's major campaign themes is the promise that he will "unite" America. Obama is an incredibly skillfull campaigner, so I must assume that he wouldn't be pushing this trope unless there were good reason to believe that it works. Of course, Obama is far from the only politician to promise unity. Remember when George W. Bush promised that he would be a "uniter, not a divider"? That was a fairly successful campaign theme too.

This emphasis on unity for its own sake seems misplaced. After all, unity is really valuable only if we are united in doing the right thing. Being united in doing the wrong thing is surely worse than being divided, if only because division reduces the likelihood of the harmful policies being enacted. And even if the policies proposed by the would-be "uniter" really are beneficial, it's not clear why broad unity in support of them is preferable to just having enough votes to get them passed.

[snip]

Despite its vacuousness, unity rhetoric seems to be popular. Popular enough that both conservative and liberal politicians routinely resort to it. Popular enough that a brilliant candidate like Obama has made it a centerpiece of his campaign. Popular enough that nationalists, socialists, fascists, and communists have all made effective use of it. Remember "One People, One Fuehrer, One Reich"? No, I am not saying that Obama (or Bush) is like the Nazis and Communists. Far from it. However, the Nazi and communist examples do dramatically illustrate how unity doesn't have any intrinsic value. The achievement of national unity made these regimes even worse than they would have been otherwise, not better.
Full post HERE.

Labels: , ,

Comments on "What's So Great About Unity?"

 

Anonymous Barry Goldwater said ... (2:17 PM) : 

"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

 

post a comment