Oops, it’s Brooks again — this time with a squitchy-good communitarian column

OK, I promise to try not to overuse "squitchy." Or at least, not to misuse it. I've coined a new use with my "squitchy good" thing, whereas Melville meant something else by it. (I actually use it correctly, as Melville intended, in a comment on this post).

Where was I? Oh, yes… A few days ago, Cindi shared with me a laugh at herself. Somehow, she had gotten the impression that I had chosen a George Will column for the next day's op-ed page, and when she read her proof, started into it without noticing whose picture was on it. And she thought, "Wow, I can't believe Will wrote this! This is really a departure for him!" That was because it was written by David Brooks. (OK, so maybe that's not much of a laugh to you — too esoteric. Think of how, in "Amadeus," all those people at the party laughed at Mozart playing "in the style of" various other composers. Not very funny unless you lived and breathed that music, his comical mugging aside. So to us, seeing a "Will" column "in the style of Brooks" is a real knee-slapper. It takes all kinds.)

Anyway, I had just grabbed a bunch of columns off the wire — a George Will, a Trudy Rubin, a Bob Herbert, a Cal Thomas and a David Brooks — and then called them up again in quick succession to read further and try to pick one.

Well, I was doing this in a hurry the way I have to do everything these days, and I THOUGHT I had clicked on the Herbert column, and as I read it I was amazed. It wasn't his usual partisan rant that turns me off in the first paragraph. It was really different. It was really thoughtful. And best of all for me, it was really communitarian — overtly and obviously so. Hey, I was going to enjoy running the first Herbert column I had run in a while.

I got all the way to the bottom before realizing I had NOT clicked on the Herbert column, but on … yes, another David Brooks, which happened to be right next to it the Herbert. A slip of the mouse. Oh, well — hey, maybe the Herbert column would be good, too. But here's how it started:

What’s up with the Republicans? Have they no sense that their policies
have sent the country hurtling down the road to ruin? Are they so
divorced from reality that in their delusionary state they honestly
believe we need more of their tax cuts for the rich and their other
forms of plutocratic irresponsibility, the very things that got us to
this deplorable state?

Yes, another flat, two-dimensional partisan rant, nothing original, nothing to appeal to an UnPartisan. Hey, if I wanted that kind of nonsense, I could run the Cal Thomas piece, which said in part:

   The president has commendably met with Republican congressional leaders during the early stages of his push for an economic “stimulus'' plan, but now comes the hard part. There remain two distinct and possibly irreconcilable differences between traditional Republicans and traditional Democrats. Republicans once believed and encouraged doing for one's self and approaching government — if at all — as a last resort. Democrats see government as a first resource and people as an expanding pool of victims who are incapable of independently bettering their lives (and if they do, they are to be taxed to subsidize those who don't).

Unfortunately, you can too often summarize Thomas by saying "Republicans good, Democrats bad." And you can definitely summarize Herbert by the opposite.

So guess what I'm picking for tomorrow?

Now, before you accuse me of picking it because I agree with it, think: Seriously, I pick columns every day, and when was the last time I even had the opportunity to choose one that was so overtly communitarian? Like, practically never. No, the reason to pick this one is going by the same standard that I try to apply every single day: It says something that might help people think thoughts they haven't thought before. The communitarian thing on this one is just a bonus for me, this one day.

And yeah, I always lean toward the columns that are NOT all about "Republicans good, Democrats bad," or the opposite. You can read that junk anywhere; I'm looking for something that goes beyond that.

30 thoughts on “Oops, it’s Brooks again — this time with a squitchy-good communitarian column

  1. Brad Warthen

    Of course, before I follow that link, I’ll point out that we all do Internet journalism…
    The problem for newspapers isn’t the Internet per se. We can publish our stuff there even more easily than we can in print — far easier. Less infrastructure required.
    The problem with the Internet is that the revenue doesn’t follow. Customers won’t pay as much for a Web ad as they will for a print ad. Consequently, you can’t bring in enough revenue online to pay for reporters and editors and photographers and the like.
    In other words, the journalism isn’t the problem so much as it’s the business model. If you’re Craiglist and you don’t have a newsroom to support, you can make money. If you’re trying to provide the service that newspapers provide, you can’t.

  2. bud

    Communitarian sounds an awful lot Communism. Whew this is getting scarier by the moment. I sure hope this doesn’t catch on. What Brad is proposing is nothing short of allowing government to decide what is good and what is bad for individuals. All you have to do is say this is for the good of the community and whola it’s ok for the government to interfere. Never mind that the whole wire-tapping fiasco was based on the utterly nonsensical notion that Americans would be slaughterd by the the millions if we don’t give up our precious freedoms. Or we simply must allow the government to ban plants that can alleviate serious medical symptoms simply because some government beauracrat is afraid a college kid might get high on the stuff. This type of thinking must be addressed head on. Just because it’s called communitarinism instead of fascism doesn’t change what it is. It’s simply a process to deny personal freedom to folks because someone thinks it may benefit society as a whole. I find it repulsive, dangerous and downright un-American. Is that what the unparty stands for – UnAmerican? Sure sounds like it to me.

  3. Brad Warthen

    Actually, bud, what it’s about is self-government. It’s about people coming together in their communities — from New England town-hall-type meetings to our elected representatives gathering in Congress — to decide the rules that we will all live under. It “caught on,” as you say, a long time ago.
    Unfortunately, some people feel threatened by that, because when you sit down with other people to work things out, or send people to represent you in similar discussions in a republic, you might not end up (in fact, you probably WON’T end up) with everybody agreeing to do exactly what YOU want, without any compromise or consideration of other people’s views. Most of us understand as we grow and have children and try to raise them that we’re going to have to have some kinds of rules, and find ways to do something things together that we can’t do on our own (such as, say, build highways). What we have in this country is the best system yet devised for working that stuff out, with all its flaws.
    And speaking for myself, I’m very glad we’ve come up with these ways of dealing with these questions, even though I’m not always happy with the answers we work out…
    But to say it again, bud, it caught on long ago. And it’s pretty special. De Tocqueville thought so, anyway.

  4. Brad Warthen

    Getting back to Jason’s link above. OK, I followed it. And while the writer makes some legitimate points, he seems only to half-understand his subject. In making his argument, he ignores rather huge facts that are staring him in the face. For instance, read this passage:

        In general, I don’t think anyone will dispute that print journalism has an advantage over Internet journalism, by one or two orders of magnitude, in the number of personnel engaged in shoe-leather reporting. Nobody will dispute that the vast majority of content that appears in online journalistic venues comes from reporters working in traditional print media.
        These facts are not in dispute. The problem is with the conclusions people like Mr. Turner draw from them, which manage to miss the fundamental significance of network organization.

        The revolutionary significance of Internet journalism lies not in how it generates content, but in the use it makes of existing content.

    Right, I think as I read it — and where do you think “existing content” comes from? Newspapers, with people expending shoe leather. For a moment, I was wondering how he was missing that glaring fact, but then I got to this part, and realized he simply didn’t know something that was fundamental:

        Even worse for Mr. Turner’s position, a major part of the content he includes in his newspaper is not generated internally at all, but from reporters working for other organizations. A considerable portion of the state, national and international news that appears in The Morning News is generated by the Associated Press. The phrase “hoist by his own petard” comes to mind.

    Uh… where do you think The Associated Press gets most of what it moves on the wire? From newspapers. Outside of its big offices in New York and Washington, which it could not possibly maintain without the revenue it collects from newspapers (so say goodbye to newspapers, and The Associated Press doesn’t exist), most of what moves on the wire is picked up from “member newspapers,” which include pretty much every paper in the country. For instance, here in Columbia, the AP maintains a small office, with a handful of very good people such as Jim Davenport covering the State House. But most of what the S.C. AP office moves comes from The State and other papers.

    I was once intimately familiar with the process since, when I was working at The Jackson (Tenn.) Sun early in my career, I was also stringing for AP. What did that consist of? Calling Les Seago in their Memphis office and telling him what we had coming out in that afternoon’s paper, and (in those pre-e-mail days) reading it to him. It was not unlike being a spy — Les, acting as my case officer, had recruited me as an intelligence source, sent me a stipend, and wined and dined me whenever I was in town, just as case officers look after their agents — except that my paper didn’t mind. They knew I was giving away our intel.

    Nowadays, it’s probably more of a daily data dump. Not my department, so I don’t know how it works exactly. I DO know that dating back to my own latter days in the newsroom, there was always a tension between our contractual obligation to share with AP — something they insisted upon — and our competitive desire to make sure other papers didn’t have what we had before we had run it (whereas AP was trying to serve all “members” equally). But I digress…

    Anyway, glancing at what the AP has moved in South Carolina since midnight, I see three stories from The State (which, being in Columbia, is going to overlap more with what the AP folks do),  three from the Florence paper, five from Hilton Head, nine from Aiken, eight from Myrtle Beach, and six from Rock Hill. Just to give you an example.

    Anyway, that’s the way it works, boys and girls…

  5. Jason F. McBrayer

    Brad, I agree with you about the value of the actual reporters who are working for newspapers (and whose work feeds into the AP); but so does Kevin Carson (who I linked to). What he’s criticizing is the idea that their editors actually add any value to that; he makes the case that bloggers are doing the work that editors ought to be doing (but aren’t). The fact that editors are inside of some arbitrary institutional line with the reporters while bloggers are outside doesn’t make the editors useful-by-association.
    So I think he does get what you’re saying, but I think you’re sidestepping his main point.

  6. Jason F. McBrayer

    Actually, bud, what it’s about is self-government. It’s about people coming together in their communities — from New England town-hall-type meetings to our elected representatives gathering in Congress — to decide the rules that we will all live under. It “caught on,” as you say, a long time ago.
    There’s a big difference between New England style direct democracy and large-scale representative democracy. The latter is subject to very serious conflicts of interest which don’t occur in the former. I’d be careful about conflating the two.

  7. Campaign for Liberty Presses On!!!

    All of this is a bit heady. Really.
    And knee-slapping humor apparently comes in a variety of flavors. Brad and Cindi are finding unexpected humor in a place that makes MY eyes glaze over…I am almost comatose NOW.
    Bud, you yearn for liberty, freedom…if only you weren’t so brand-specific with your democracy!!!
    Ron Paul could truly be worth an “R” vote. He is all about PROTECTING OUR LIBERTY. He is NOT a fruitcake. Nor am I. That’s the general consensus, depending on whom you let in or out of your consensus…

  8. Brad Warthen

    Well, Jason, I guess I just went right past that point because it made even less sense than the point about the AP — you can’t put out a newspaper without editors any more than the AP would exist without newspapers. With all due respect to Edna Buchanan (who famously had only three rules of reporting: “Never trust an editor, never trust an editor, never trust
    an editor”), I must disagree with the point, now that you raise it.

    MAJOR DISCLAIMER: I have been an editor most of my life. I spent only two years as a reporter before becoming an editor. I was an editor supervising reporters (and, for a brief interlude, the copy desk) for the next 14 years — from 1980 to 1994, when I left the newsroom and moved to the editorial board. On the editorial board, I’m a hybrid — a writer/editor. Now, that said, I’ve always been a writer-oriented editor, which is less common than you might think. I look around newsrooms, and I have generally thought (starting in about 1985, when I went to the Wichita paper) that there are too many editors and not enough people beating the bushes. But here’s the thing: You do need editors, and somebody’s going to be the editor, and along about 1980, looking around at the alternatives, I decided it should be me — that I could do way more good for the newspaper’s readers by supervising and editing ALL of that paper’s local news copy than I could writing three or four stories a day. Make no mistake — a bad editor can be a waste of the space he takes up; he can royally f— up your copy, to use some technical newspaper language. I figured the paper needed a good editor, and I thought I could be it. I was probably that paper’s best news writer (this is not really bragging as much as it sounds like; it was a small paper), and by editing other people I was able to improve their copy.

    I also discovered something else — I was better at deciding what a reporter should do to nail a story when it was the reporter who had to do it and not me. When you’re supervising yourself (and I’ve had the experience of being a prima donna writer and having a weak editor who let me do what I wanted), it’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ve got more than I need to explain what’s happening; I don’t need to talk to THAT jerk again or get my hands on THAT document.” As editor, I supervised the reporting process itself and made people do some pretty damned unpleasant things in pursuit of a story (ask Cindi sometimes; she worked for me as a reporter).

    In other words, it’s not about just shuffling copy.

    Another thing I did that was very unusual among my peers was that I went out into the field whenever I could, to get a feel for what was really going on — and because I had trouble staying away from the action.

    Looking back on my news days, and all the roles I played and saw others play, and looking at what worked and didn’t work, I believe that the critical, pivotal person in a newsroom — the one who makes it work, who sees that the news truly does get covered fully and order is brought out of the chaos — is the archetypal city editor. The Lou Grant type, to put it in popular culture terms. Or to cite “The Front Page,” as much as you need a great reporter like a Hildy Johnson, you need a great editor like Walter Burns driving him (or her, in the Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell version, which was the best).

    When a newspaper’s getting the job done, it’s generally because of good assigning editors. When it isn’t, it’s often a result of a lack of the same. One of the worst things that can happen — and I’ve seen it happen a number of times — is for editors OTHER than the ones who work in close partnership with the reporters to be in the driver’s seat, deciding what will be reported as well as what will appear in the paper. The driving dynamic in a good newsroom is the one between a reporter and his/her immediate supervising editor, when that’s a relationship that clicks. That means the news is driven by what the reporter is out there seeing, rather than what somebody dreams up in an editors’ meeting. The latter situation is what I mean when I look at some newsrooms and see too many editors.

    One more cultural reference: Did you ever see “The Paper,” directed by Ron Howard? Of every evocation of newspapers I’ve ever seen, I identified with that one the most. And I identified with the Michael Keaton character. He was the central character — which means, of course, he was the assigning editor. That character’s most frantic moments — when he’s dealing with several people standing around his desk, and one or two different people on the phone, and yelling across the newsroom at somebody else, all the time thoroughly jacked up on Coca-Cola — reminded me so much of my best days as a news editor that it was eerie. And you’ll notice that a big part of his job, aside from directing and driving his reporters, is keeping editors OVER him from screwing it all up. Very realistic. Funny thing about that movie — I wanted everyone to see it; I loved it. I had a senior editor over me at the time who HATED it because it didn’t present the kind of sanitized, J-school, Disneyfied P.R. picture of newspapering that was the way HE wanted to present our trade to the public. Sure, it had some extreme stuff in it — stuff you’d get fired for, such as having a fistfight with the managing editor in the pressroom, at the very least — but it captured the FEEL of 24 hours in the life of a newspaper.

    Anyway, I’ve wandered on more than I meant to…

  9. Birch Barlow

    I am almost comatose NOW.
    And yet you end your next sentence with three exclamation points.
    You appear to be an odd individual.

  10. Lee Muller

    Communitarian sounds an awful lot Communism because both of them have no place for private property.
    Under communism, all property belongs to the State, which can decide to let the peasants maybe have a garden, or pick up a pair of shoes once a year.
    Under communitarianism, the property is held in common. No one owns it. Everyone uses it. Of course, greed and abuse quickly take hold, so rules have to be made, rulers selected, and enforcers deputized. Robert Owen and the Amana settlements in this country are examples of this – and it evolved into a sort of local communism, like a kibbutz. Then it failed, and broke up.

  11. p.m.

    Way back up yonder, Brad linked a couple of columns by David Brooks, and I read the first one. I found it to be the same inspecific fawning sans foundation that so much of the mainstream media has lavished on Obama: Behold! The watershed of our travails since the ’60s is Barack Obama.
    The unspoken implication: Obama is our savior.
    For what it’s worth, I’ve never read a George Will column I liked as little as that first Brooks piece, which seemed like coffee-table history for dummies.
    I tried to read the second Brooks column, too, but to do so, I had to join the New York Times website, and in order to do so, I had to relax some of my browser settings, so I declined. Honest to goodness, I don’t trust the NYT much. However partisan Brad thinks Cal Thomas and Bob Herbert are, the NYT seems that biased to the left to me by pure design, if more subtly.
    Meanwhile, or at least lately, specifically, Obama took a major step toward allowing California and other states to target greenhouse gases through more stringent auto emission standards, when on Monday he directed the EPA to review whether California and more than a dozen states should be allowed to impose tougher auto emission standards on carmakers to fight greenhouse gas emissions.
    Here’s a quick review of why that’s a terrible idea: Those states would thus be setting emissions standards for the entire United States, because Detroit won’t set up separate production lines for each state.
    California shouldn’t be able to write South Carolina law or national law, but that’s what would happen, in effect, if states could set their own emissions standards. Whichever state sets the most stringent standard would effectively write the law for everybody.
    That’s just plain wrong. And President Obama, as smart as he’s supposed to be, should be able to see that without wasting time and money on an EPA study.
    If so, that means his request for the study is just political posturing. The same old same old, recycled for green consumption. Window dressing with a green tint.
    A pose for his admirers.

  12. p.m.

    Now that I’ve read the second Brooks column online in The State, I can enthusiastically say it’s a lot better than the first one.
    But how “overtly communitarian” is a column emphasizing that individualism and institutionalism are most effective when they work together?
    Dictionary.com leads me to believe that “communitarian” refers to a member of a communist community, the advocate of such a community or a member of a small cooperative or collectivist community.
    You tell me it’s the institution.
    Well, you know
    You better free your mind instead

  13. p.m.

    Oh, joy, I did italic. I hope I’m not just being bold when I say there’s some chance I’ll be computer literate before the long nuclear winter.

  14. Lee Muller

    The federal government has no authority to dictate mileage standards for automobiles.
    No state has the right to create unique laws which intefere with interstate commerce.
    The President has no authority to order bureaucrats to set any standards. That is a Congressional authority, requiring detailed legislation.
    American cars do not need to get higher fuel mileage. GM already has more high MPG vehicles in its product line than Toyota and Honda combined.
    The American customers like what is being offered now. Sales of Honda, Toyota and Nissan have fallen more than sales of American vehicles. Hybrid vehicles cannot be given away. Most hybrid vehicles by Honda and Toyota have been cancelled, removed from the product line.
    Obama is an ideologue, appealing to the ignorance, bigotry, and class envy of his ideological base.

  15. bud

    Yeah, bud, that would be terrible if Shakespeare were criminalized. But it ain’t gonna happen.
    This point needs additional comment because it reveals so much, not just about Brad but many folks in elite power groups. By stating his particular form of entertainment, i.e. Shakespeare, will not be criminalized Brad implies that the folks in power now or in the forseeable future will continue to allow his “opinion” over what is suitable entertainment to hold sway. He feels no threat from an intrusive government. That feeling of insulation allows his arrogant worldview to dominate his thought process to the point where he simply cannot even allow for the possibility that other folks have legitimate entertainment ideals different from his own.
    Even worse, this arrogant attitude spills over into the realm of health care as well. Brad is never threatened by an intrusive government that will deny him medicine that alleviates his allergy symptoms. So like the entertainment venue he’s free to allow and even support an intrusive government that will deny others treatments that would alleviate their symptoms.
    This is nothing more than arrogance in it’s most extreme form. The idea that a person can justify government oppression so long as one’s own sacred cow is left alone is both shocking and dangerous. When this particular worldview is further justified so long as a democratically elected group of leaders deems the oppression “OK” then we’re on the path to a serious abrogation of our freedoms. After all slavery, denial of women’s suffrage, Jim Crow, blue laws, prohibition and many, many other oppressive laws were at one time justified by the democratically elected process.
    Until Brad and others can escape the safety of their own intollerant world view all of us are in danger of losing some freedom that we hold dear. It’s sad that in the 21st century the editorial page editor can continue with this narrow-minded intolerance. In an educated nation it would seem this thinking would have long disappeared from mainstream thought. Yet here it is with all its ugliness. And it’s out in the open for all to see.

  16. marconi

    Much as I like to read about someone extemporizing on classical literature, why in the world aren’t you using this blog to ding-dong on the state legislature to get something done about this horrible economy your in.
    To quote Abraham Lincoln regarding George McClellan’s non-use of the Army of the Potomac. “If you won’t use this blog, let Cindy Scoppe borrow it for awhile”

  17. Brad Warthen

    p.m. raises the point, “But how “overtly communitarian” is a column emphasizing that
    individualism and institutionalism are most effective when they work

    I’m glad you asked. VERY overtly communitarian. Communitarians — modern ones, the only ones I’ve read — seek not to undermine rights, but to put responsibility (to OTHERS as well as to oneself) on a par with them. As Amitai Etzione, who’s sort of the guru of the school of thought, wrote:

    … we hold that the rights of individuals cannot long be preserved without a communitarian perspective.

    A communitarian perspective recognizes both individual human dignity and the social dimension of human existence…

    A communitarian perspective does not dictate particular policies; rather it mandates attention to what is often ignored in contemporary policy debates: the social side of human nature; the responsibilities that must be borne by citizens, individually and collectively, in a regime of rights; the fragile ecology of families and their supporting communities; the ripple effects and long-term consequences of present decisions.

    Basically, as I wrote somewhere else on this blog or another one — when one hears about communitarians (which is seldom) one hears more about the “responsibilities” part. Why? Because everybody else, libertarians especially are doing a great job talking up the rights. The different thing that communitarians bring to the table is the responsibilities part.

    And what got me on this communitarian kick? Obama did, in his inaugural address.

    I hope that helps…

  18. Birch Barlow

    I had never heard the term “communitarian” before reading this blog, so naturally I have a lot of (honest) questions.
    What are these specific responsibilities that should be provided?
    – national security?
    – economic security?
    – health care?
    – a job?
    – a bed?
    – an education?
    – a good upbringing for children?
    Who or what determines these responsibilities?
    – the majoriy of voters?
    – our representatives?
    – or have they been endowed by our creator?
    If these go into law, how can we guarantee that we will have the ability to meet these responisbilities in the future
    – in the face of a growing population?
    – in the face of a sagging economy?
    – in the face of growing threats to our national security?

  19. Lee Muller

    David Brooks is not a communitarian, does not subscribe to its views, and did not write a column promoting communitarianism.
    David Brooks wrote a column about the value of social institutions, and how our society is discarding them. Though he was non-specific, examples of such institutions which are valuable in shaping character and conforming behavior in a good way to common purpose, would include the military, corporations, the Boy Scouts, the Church, and hopefully, schools.
    In another thread on this blog site, I answered a silly post about Proudhon being a libertarian. He as an authentic communitarian, a socialist who believed in the deportation or extermination of all Jews from Europe. That is typical of the intolerance which characterizes all socialists and progressives (post-liberals).

  20. Lee Muller

    The problem for news businesses with the Internet is that part-time amateurs who are more interested in the truth and details of current events can post articles in their spare time, which are better than the so-called “news and opinion” of the so-called “professionals”.
    The contrast has been enough, just since Bill Clinton’s first term, that talk radio and the Internet news revealed how lazy, biased, and complicit the big media corporations are, how much news they try to keep from their customers, and how dishonest and slanted their stories really are.
    Instead of reforming their business, the old news media has hunkered down, and partnered with their political allies to attempt censorship on the Internet and talk radio.

  21. p.m.

    And, bud, if Lee actually believed that, your concurrence would bring the total of Americans who think that to two.
    Fortunately, I think you’re alone on this one.
    Here’s hoping events in Orangeburg haven’t cramped your style.
    Meanwhile, I’d love to see Brad differentiate between small-scale communism and modern communitarianism, with an eye to how institutionalism differs.
    Is communitarianism analogous to being a company man, or is it merely being a company man?
    Is it Mr. Spock’s Vulcan philosophy — the good of the many outweighs the good of the few — or do individual rights take precedence?

  22. Lee Muller

    Sure, bud. That’s why 86% of the editors, producers, and reporters are registered Democrats. They just shilled for Obama to balance their right-wing bias, right?

  23. Lee Muller

    “Communitarianism” is just a nice-sounding word for Brad.
    Like “un-Party”, it has no real meaning to him, because he has no details of it formulated in his mind.

  24. Rich

    Communitarianism is complete political nonsense. It places the community above the individual and denies the fundamental truth that individuals form communities in a free society, not the other way around!
    It doesn’t surprise me that Brad would be sympathetic to this sort of view. I was raised in the same Catholic tradition of community in which he is currently immersed and I utterly rejected it. Communities impose values and inform identities, but in a free society they do so informally, which means that people are free to be heterodox. And it is heterodoxy that keeps the community interesting, productive, and vibrant. Once you map out what a community is and what it is supposed to do and where it supposed to go, you no longer have a free society. You have a monastery.
    I can respect the monastic tradition as a refuge from medieval chaos in the wake of the Roman Empire’s slow and agonizing collapse into barbarism and anarchy, but I cannot consider it an optimal model for human society.
    As a left libertarian, I view government as a social compact for whatever ends are consistent with the community’s concepts of justice, freedom, the good life, and prosperity, provided that the emphasis remains upon the individual in society rather than the individual as a member of society.
    This would be why I have absolutely no problem with socialist intervention into the economy, provided it serves the interests of the majority as they define those interests, and provided that those interests recognize the individual as the basis for society, not society as the basis for forming individual character.
    In a communitarian society, I might have to make an ideological commitment to group the remain in good standing.
    No state should ever require any ideological commitment further than that enunciated by the founding fathers who established a government of the people, by the people, and for the people with complete religious and ideological neutrality.
    In other posts, I have advocated a minimalist constitution for S.C. that would simply provide for the common weal efficiently and cost effectively.
    This cannot happen if we enshrine in our constitution any kind of religious or ideological beliefs about the meaning of human existence and how we should behave to appease some mythical creator.
    The constitution and the state must be based upon a social compact designed to maintain good order, further prosperity, and protect people from the rapacity and depredations of the stronger members of society.


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