The Secular Right November 26, 2008

The Secular Right

Here’s an interesting new blog — one for atheists who are right-wing, center-right, and libertarian:

We believe that conservative principles and policies need not be grounded in a specific set of supernatural claims. Rather, conservatism serves the ends of “Human Flourishing,” what the Greeks termed Eudaimonia. Secular conservatism takes the empirical world for what it is, and accepts that the making of it the best that it can be is only possible through our faculties of reason.

John Derbyshire is one of the contributors (writing under the name “Bradlaugh”)

(via South Texian)

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  • Shane

    I considered myself to be leaning towards libertarianism, but am probably more of a “libertarian socialist” if anything coherent can be gleaned from such a concept.

    But I hate the whole left-right continuum. A whole bunch of arbitrary ideas grouped together that probably appeal to same set of human cognitive biases–I know there was a paper a while ago that claimed you could predict left vs. right politics based on a person’s brain structure. Either side taken to its extreme is fascism, and using a “center” compromise is no guarantee to having rational or consistent policies.

    The problem really requires more than a single varying dimension. Sure, you can collapse any system down with respect to a single arbitrary criteria, but I think the stupid that burns rampant in modern politics is testament to the fact that it doesn’t really work.

    It’s like that “Fear/Love” line in Donnie Darko, and the scene with the cards is probably roughly analogous to my opinion on the whole political “spectrum”. Which really gets into my whole opinion about voting (it’s such a noisy channel of information exchange that I don’t even see it’s value–even though I do regularly vote: pissing in the ocean is better than not pissing at all. It’s almost definitely more useful to send letters–since so few people bother to do it, your letter to your duly elected representative is assumed to represent potentially thousands of citizens who didn’t bother. I have a few problems with the modern “democratic” system–but then I have a problem with lots of things. That’s just the kind of guy I am.)

  • Miko

    I considered myself to be leaning towards libertarianism, but am probably more of a “libertarian socialist” if anything coherent can be gleaned from such a concept.

    Depends on how one defines “socialist.” As David Boaz suggests in Libertarianism: A Primer, a fairly good definition of what the word SHOULD mean is “one who prefers acting through society instead of through the state,” in which case all libertarians are socialists (although of course almost all Socialists wouldn’t be). Or, if you’re suggesting that large corporations become like quasi-states, I can see an argument for using a minimal state to ensure, say, privacy protection, as long as you restrict it to prevention of aggression. And both Milton Friedman and Charles Murray have suggested some variant on a negative income tax, which while less desirable (in my analysis as well as Murray’s; don’t know about Friedman) than a pure libertarian system would preserve most of the important benefits while being more realistic politically. The way I see it, libertarianism is about tolerance for different beliefs so long as you don’t try to force them on other people (with the exception of preventing them from forcing their beliefs on you/others). Personally, I’ve got five or six adjectives I can throw on to ‘libertarian.’ As long as you don’t think it’s proper to force your beliefs on people who disagree, “libertarian socialist” is indeed a coherent position.

    But I hate the whole left-right continuum. A whole bunch of arbitrary ideas grouped together that probably appeal to same set of human cognitive biases

    Left-right has always confused me, especially since they tend to shift over time. Currently, I think it actually is possible to define them in a non-arbitrary way:

    Left: Believes in placing secular non-political group identity over individual identity. Thus, you get a lot of talk about “group rights” and oppression, as well as attempts to force people into group labels, mandatory “sensitivity training,” and legislation against non-religious hate speech, in favor of racial and gender based “affirmative action,” and class warfare between the rich and poor.

    Right: Believes in placing religious and national identity over individual identity. Thus, you get Ten Commandment monuments, blasphemy laws, public moral standards, and wars/imperialism inspired by “national-greatness” (which, other than the cowardice of the Democrats is the only reason we didn’t leave Iraq years ago).

    Libertarian: Rejects forced group identity in favor of primacy of the individual (although individuals are free to voluntarily label themselves, as long as they don’t expect special privileges from those who don’t care about the label). Thus, you get support for free speech, opposition to victimless crimes (including possession of most anything), support for open immigration, and opposition to (almost) all wars.

    Populist: Group politics on all levels: religious, national, racial, gender, etc. A wise cadre of leaders decides what’s best and everyone toes the line or else.

    Important to note is that the last two are completely distinct from left and right. In my experience, self-identified right-libertarians are more often actually Republicans that are looking for a chicer word.

  • I’m not meant for that group, but good for them. I hope it works out for them.

  • Loren Petrich

    I have done a lot of analysis of political-quiz scores, and I have noticed that there is a sizable demographic of atheist/agnostic/nonreligious right-libertarians. They are sometimes vehemently pro-capitalist, but they are usually socially moderate to liberal, unlike members of the Religious Right with similar economic opinions.

  • I have long felt religious right / irreligious left talk is hopelessly inadequate. I’m evangelical left of centre, so I don’t fit that continuum. I have come across many nationalistic capitalistic atheists, and they don’t fit on that continuum either. The one-dimentional continuum is irrational.

  • Hemant – thanks for letting folks know about the secular right blog.

    As a secular right winger myself, I enjoyed reading some of the articles.

  • stogoe

    Feh. They’ll be first up against the wall during the Republican’s Night of Long Knives. You shouldn’t have outed Derbyshire like that. You probably sealed his death warrant.

  • js5

    It’s hard for me to believe that atheists could be left-wing. Simply replacing a supernatural deity with an exalted head-of-state makes no sense.

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