Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Time Horizons And Politics...Again

Miss Self-Important writes:
Well, this is an incentive to write a good dissertation.

To save you the time right now, the link is to a David Brooks column about Yuval Levin's disseration -- "The Great Law of Change" -- which Brooks calls "superb." (Incidentally, Mr. Levin, if you happen to stumble across this, I'd appreciate it if you could email a copy to the address listed to the right.)

Anyway, FLG thinks he mentioned this before, but Yuval Levin came to the class he took with Prof. Deneen to talk about Imagining the Future: Science and American Democracy It was readily apparent that Yuval Levin is way smarter than FLG.

But then FLG reads this in the David Brooks column:
As Levin shows, Paine believed that societies exist in an “eternal now.” That something has existed for ages tells us nothing about its value. The past is dead and the living should use their powers of analysis to sweep away existing arrangements when necessary, and begin the world anew. He even suggested that laws should expire after 30 years so each new generation could begin again.


Burke, a participant in the British Enlightenment, had a different vision of change. He believed that each generation is a small part of a long chain of history. We serve as trustees for the wisdom of the ages and are obliged to pass it down, a little improved, to our descendents. That wisdom fills the gaps in our own reason, as age-old institutions implicitly contain more wisdom than any individual could have.

This sounds an awful lot like FLG's theory that the fundamental difference between political persuasions is the individual's time horizon, or discount rate if you prefer. And, in point of fact, FLG did get much of this theory from reading Burke. As you can see, however, where FLG gets merely a small inkling of an idea, apparently Levin had already had this thought years ago and developed it fully into a superb disseration. That's something FLG simply doesn't have the intellectual capacity to do. Anyway, FLG will see if he can rustle up a copy of the thing and read it.


RP Johnson said...

If you do find a copy of "The Great Law of Change", be sure and tell us about where to get it. I would think that this will be published someday, but why wait? Incidentally, can't you buy copies of PhD dissertations from some center at the Univ. of Michigan?

Miss Self-Important said...

They're also free on ProQuest.

FLG said...


Good point on ProQuest. It doesn't seem to be up yet though. Bummer. Maybe he'll email it to me.

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