Monday, September 27, 2010

Time Horizons: Populism Edition

Lisa Kramer over at LOG links to this article, by William Hogeland, on the tension between liberalism and populism. Unsurprisingly, FLG turns to his theory of time horizons and finds that everybody is missing the big picture. Hogeland tries to say one focuses on the future while the other focuses on the past, a distinction that many have tried to make, but is ultimately wrong. It's not past versus future. It's present versus past and future.

First, Hogeland asks probably the key question of our political era: "Why, liberals wonder, don’t populists vote their economic interest?" Well, FLG and his time horizons theory says that liberals focus on the present so much as to largely ignore the past and especially the future, are actually asking this question, but don't know it: "Why, liberals wonder, don’t populists vote their [short-term] economic interest?"

Second, again using FLG's time horizon's theory, and something else becomes more clear -- conspiracy theories. Liberal history rests largely material, economic explanations, which is probably most exemplified in Marxist history. As FLG has said before, this is a static analysis of each point in history rather than a continuous one that allows for change. When in point of fact most of the wealthy people today aren't, as far as FLG can tell, directly descended from the Robber Barons. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, may have come from the middle or upper-middle class, but certainly weren't super-rich. Populists, in contrast, focus on millennium long conspiracies with aliens and the pope (and let's be honest we know who is really at the bottom of all these -- the Jews). Now, these are completely nuts. But they also represent a longer term way of thinking about the world. It's poorly done, but it's not present oriented.

Anyway, almost as if Lisa was trying to prove my point, writes this at the end:
Overall, I’m not sure if [the tension between liberalism and populism] matters. So what if liberals and populists don’t think much of each other? Wilson might’ve thought Bryan was a radical rube, but it was during the Wilson administration that many of Bryan’s hardest fought battles were won (progressive income tax, prohibition, women’s suffrage, direct election of Senators, etc…). In historical terms, it matters little that the two men had reason to distrust each other. Maybe liberals and populists should give up on trying to understand each other and just settle for forming the sort of tense coalition on the Left that has marked the “three-legged stool” of the Republican tent for the last four decades.

Do you see how this is present oriented? Short-term focused? Who cares if the two parties have completely different orientations? As long as we can work on things together NOW, then we can ignore the long run differences. Spoken like the epitome of a liberal according to FLG's time horizon theory.


Withywindle said...

So anti-Semitism is really the socialism of the long-term-horizoned?

FLG said...

Not exactly.

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