My writing about global issues is framed by five concepts:
- Constitutionalism: (an 'ism', a historiosophic ideology (not just a legal framework) which advocates for the unalienable rights of the individual in contrast to other historiosophic ideologies such as Marxism. I will always favor a social contract that is most amenable to policies that are not antagonistic to those unalienable rights. I believe the Founding Fathers of the United States had a greater intuitive understanding of the nature of being a human being than the more intellectually "profound" philosophies of the leaders of the French Revolution or of Karl Marx.
- Grand Strategy: I will always favor policies that give pride of place to Grand Strategic considerations and resources over operational and tactical convenience. Grand strategic considerations are the filter through which ideological principles and policy desires must pass in order to test their practical utility. They should dictate strategy as well as operational and tactical considerations. In this I consider myself a devotee of Basil Liddell Hart – the great British military philosopher.
- Consequentialist Ethics: I believe, ultimately, that the relative morality of any policy must be judged by its positive consequences for society at large without violating the unalienable rights of the individual. This was a position advocated by the great American philosopher William James. It puts him at odds with the deontological ethics of Emmanuel Kant, which puts great stress on the intent of the actors rather than the consequences of their actions, as well as the utilitarian ethics of Bentham ("the greatest good for the greatest number", which very often is used to violate the unalienable rights of the individual – e.g. the misuse of eminent domain). It also rejects the virtue ethics of Aristotle which judges the morality of an action according to the personal virtue of the actor or actors.
- Futurism: Like constitutionalism, it is an 'ism' – an ideology that posits that the future is always more important than the past. We live in the future and cannot live in the past. We have volition over the future – the future is not fate. We have moral and ethical responsibility for the future; we can only have guilt and regret for our moral failings in the past. We can be proud of our past, be inspired by our past, celebrate our past, but free, autonomous human beings should never let the past become a dictator over their lives, actions and policies.
- Tolerance for human failings: I believe the search for perfection is inherently totalitarian and that the constitutionalist project has as its core ambition how to make better societies out of imperfect human beings. In this I agree wholeheartedly with George Orwell who, in critiquing Gandhi wrote: "The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection…sainthood is…a thing that must be avoided… (those who) aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings".
The Founding Fathers, Basil Liddell Hart, William James, a romantic infatuation with the possibilities of the future, George Orwell and an inherent tolerance for human failings. This sounds like a heady mixture but they are, for better or worse, the keys to much of my thought. I am, however, ecumenical by nature and will occasionally use other standards of argumentation, such as old fashioned concepts like logic and imagination (and being a Jew, sometimes sarcasm).
For my global issues criteria click here.