Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Do People Want To Be Governed?

Boris Johnson, mayor of London and self-described libertarian thinks maybe they do. From NY Magazine:

Bloomberg is another of Johnson’s heroes, and he keeps saying that he can’t understand why he isn’t running for president. Even after the soda ban? “I think he had a great success with the smoking-campaign thing. Philosophically, I’m against it. But in practice, I might be in favor of it. I think one of the mysteries of politics is: ‘There’s a reciprocal pleasure in governing and being governed,’ as Dr. Johnson put it. Which is disappointing for a libertarian anarcho-Tory like me. People really do need and want to be governed. And I think Mike Bloomberg is sort of on to that. The question is where do you draw the line.” His answer? “Obesity is a new problem. It’s a problem of affluence and acrasia, moral weakness. You know, it’s associated with debt—there’s a strong connection between the fattest societies and the most indebted societies. Or the most emotionally incontinent societies and the most improvident and the weakest wills.” He pauses. “I’m not sure if that’s totally true, actually, but there’s an argument in there somewhere.” Bloomberg blurbed his book.

First off, Johnson gets bonus points for using akrasia, I had to look that one up. Why can't America have politicians who use five-dollar words like that? I'd blame the downfall of the classical education, except I don't actually believe in a classical education, oh well, I'll blame it anyway.

I am, of course, totally against regulating sugar, as a minarchist libertarian. BUT, I'm also a minarchist because I don't see anarcho-capitalism as a realistic goal. So an ancap like Richard Nikoley considers me to be half-assing the thing. My feeling on the subject, let's move to minarchism and take it from there.

[Note: this all leads to an long rambling post about why I don't buy the first principles arguments of philosophy and politics (as opposed to science), even though I use them all the time, that I've yet to write]

I guess what I like most about these quotes from Boris Johnson is his willingness to openly state that he has conflicted views about things like taxing soda. I like people who are conflicted because they are open to new ideas and not stuck in a dogmatic rut.

Does this mean I'm in favor of hypocrisy or the cognitive dissonance that most people on the left or right mindlessly incorporate into their world views? Example, I believe that a woman has a right to do whatever she wants with her body (abortion), unless that whatever involves taking illegal drugs or taking money in exchange for sex. But the people who engage in this sort of thinking almost never suffer from cognitive dissonance or are aware of their hypocrisy. I prefer people who are willing to admit internal conflicts and acknowledge the nuances of the real world.

Put into the context of diet (is this a political blog or what?) What is the optimal diet? Fuck if I know. I really have no idea. The more I read the less sure I am. I'm not sure if the carb-insulin hypothesis is valid, if food reward is valid (or useful), what are healthy carbs, etc.

What I do have are a bunch of weighted hypotheses juggling for position in my optimal health paradigm. I'm pretty sure that high intensity exercise such as pumping iron or running sprints give a person a metabolic advantage that assists weight loss and general health. I'm pretty sure that processed carbs ought to be avoided. I'm pretty sure that n-6 vegetable oils ought to be avoided. Etc.

Most people are drawn to follow people who seem sure of themselves and their world view. This might be the biggest inherent problem with human politics (including corporate politics, I've been there). Does this mean I am a fan of the wishy-washy navel gazing wimp? Not at all. I have strong opinions and I'm obviously quite willing to express them. But I am also willing to admit. like Boris Johnson, that I hold conflicting views and that, at the age of 46, I haven't got reality all sorted out and wrapped up in a bow.

1 comment:

  1. I like Boris and he was born in the US so maybe he will run for potus. It is certain that people wish to be governed to some extent. Trouble is that many want to be ruled like a baby wants to be tightly swaddled. In fact, I think that desire has been encoded in our brains by evolution. It works fine in an environment that is similar to the one in which we aquired it (small tribes), not so well in a modern one (large political bodies). Of course we also have developed a counter balancing desire to be free so that we can change things to improve our tribes future. It seems that modern, i.e., post agricultural, governments restrict the latter desire in favor of the former thus infantalizing us. Humans need to be free in order to thrive. Thanks for your work. I enjoy reading it.