POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
FAITH, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
—Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
Phyl, a very insightful Canadian blogger, has two entries taking apart the fundamentalism of modern politics, in all its different varieties: political, patriotic, and economic. She uses Ayn Rand as a starting point, giving Rand credit for her focus on human reason, but showing how she blew it in assigning the role of the anti-intellectuals to the Left. My one quibble is that I think she gives Rand a little bit too much credit; the things that she got right about the value of human reason had been said before and better by other people, and all the rest is babble.
But quibbles about the choice of political philosopher aside, Phyl’s piece is important because it very intelligently and neatly says something that we need to remember: the struggle that we face today is not one of East vs. West, or Jews/Christians vs. Muslims, but of fundamentalism against the legacies of the Enlightenment. That’s why it’s so important to get Bush out of office: because the people backing him have too much in common with those who flew two planes into the World Trade Center. Because modern politics is a string of fundamentalist policies, made of nothing but spit and fairydust, and we’re supposed to stand by and deny the obvious, even when it defies all reason. I don’t like Kerry, and as soon as we get him into office, I’ll be preparing a sharp tongue for him, but if I can say nothing else for him, it’s that he seems reasonable.