Steve Sailer and Matthew Yglesias wrote a couple of seemingly un-related posts last week that are actually interesting together.
This has become one of my refrains when talking to people in person. If you’re a progressive and you feel that the political system isn’t doing what you want, it’s misguided to look at this as a personal failure of elected officials. It’s, if anything, a personal failure of you and people like you. Justice and equality doesn’t just happen because it’s nice, people need to make it happen. If it’s not happening, then its advocates are failing. . . .
Be personally annoying about your political views when they’re relevant to your interactions in everyday life. I, being a jerk, will absolutely not allow someone to make a remark about the high prices, crowding, and mediocrity of DC bars without subjecting them to a discourse about the DC liquor licensing regime. Lots of people who think they’re not interesting in the DC liquor licensing regime are interested in its consequences. If you are in a car with me and we’re in a rush hour traffic jam, you are damn well going to listen to me talk about congestion pricing.
I am widely considered to be an extremely not nice person because I don’t believe that public intellectual discourse should be hamstrung by those virtues appropriate for an eighth grader approaching her bat mitzvah. I’m not in eighth grade anymore.
Now, in person, as those few of my readers who have met me can attest, I am the perpetual extremely nice eighth grader. But, I don’t really meet with people much in person anymore because it seems like a waste of everybody’s time. I have a goal — helping my fellow citizens understand better how the world works — and I have a talent — demolishing cant. My personal niceness tends to get in the way of my helping my country.
Setting aside the fact that Matt’s first paragraph is pretty fucking creepy – if you pause to think about it – Sailer and Yglesias are saying almost completely opposite things.
In person, Matt says he would be an asshole and Sailer says he’d be a nice guy. When they write, Sailer says he’ll tell the truth even if it hurts your feelings, while Yglesias will be studiously politically correct (almost by definition at this point).
This – more or less – mirrors the my real world experiences with reactionaries and progressives.