Thursday, December 08, 2005


Bad Judgment as an Ideology

A while back at Eschaton, in a discussion of whether supporters of the Iraq war display(ed) bad ideology or rather more accurately bad judgment, I raised the point that, in many cases, part of the problem is that there is an ideology of bad judgment on the right.

To clarify this point a bit:

The right has, for quite some time, has frowned upon the very notion of good judgment. The modern reactionary movement views humans as inherently evil. To them, the notion that a forest of human laws or even God's laws can keep the devil at bay is inherently flawed, as the humans producing the laws and enforcing the laws via a due process shepherded by humans are all inherently enslaved to the devil anyway. Only strict adherence to traditional mores, developed not by individual humans but over a collective history and under a class hierarchy, can keep the masses under control and hence keep the devil away. Similarly, the idea that one should attempt to engage in good judgment is discredited as they feel that no human judgment can be good -- the only fair and just judgment is that of the marketplace, which is guided by the invisible hand of God. Thus, the right finds the idea that we should make decisions based on good judgment or frown upon bad judgment to be hubristic, even as we liberals often find the attitudes of the right to be hubristic, but rather, since we are condemned to judge situations badly, we might as well revel in this state to which we are condemned.

Many pro-war "9/11 caused me to crap my pants even if I was safe in the 'burbs" liberals also converted to the idea that good judgment is bad: they misunderstood how it was that the terrorists attacks ended up happening, and developed the mindset that the time involved in making decisions about war, etc., based on good judgment was too much, and the delays entailed by actually waiting for a well-thought out decision to be made on matters of war could place us in danger.

Thus, a lot support for the war, both among liberals and reactionaries did not merely come from bad judgment but rather from a mindset in which good judgment is considered strategically and possibly morally wrong.

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