5.05.2008

Fairness, idealism and other atrocities

P.J. O'Rourke, resident of the small town of Peterborough (where I went to school), in southwest New Hampshire, has written a column giving "commencement advice you're unlikely to hear elsewhere." He has five "political" messages:
1) Go make money! "There's nothing the matter with honest moneymaking. Wealth is not a pizza, where if I have too many slices you have to eat the Domino's box."

2) Don't be an idealist! Don't chain yourself to a redwood tree. Make your contribution by getting rich and doing something worthwhile with your money.

3) Get politically uninvolved! "All politics stink. Even democracy stinks. Imagine if our clothes were selected by the majority of shoppers, which would be teenage girls. I'd be standing here with my bellybutton exposed."

4) Forget about fairness! "I am here to advocate for unfairness. I've got a 10-year-old at home. She's always saying, "That's not fair." When she says this, I say, "Honey, you're cute. That's not fair. Your family is pretty well off. That's not fair. You were born in America. That's not fair. Darling, you had better pray to God that things don't start getting fair for you."

5) Be a religious extremist! " So, avoid politics if you can. But if you absolutely cannot resist, read the Bible for political advice...The Bible is very clear about one thing: Using politics to create fairness is a sin...Observe the Tenth Commandment...If you want a mule, if you want a pot roast, if you want a cleaning lady, don't whine about what the people across the street have. Get rich and get your own."

2 comments:

Ol' Blue said...

I like the idea of getting politically uninvolved. I think of modern liberalism, which is, in some ways, the politicization of everyday life; what food I eat, what kind of car I drive, how big my lawn is, even the books I read and the music I listen to, are political acts. I work and live with political libertarians. I think many of them are libertarians because of an intuitive desire to depoliticize life. (see Civics Geeks "Pretentious Precepts")
I often wonder what, "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," means. I don't think it means government should redistribute wealth. I wonder if P.J. is missing something here.

Zachary said...

Yep. Politics isn't the first thing nor is it the only thing. The great WFB was purported to only talk about politics when he was paid to do so. Literature, theology, ethics, and philosophy in general can in some ways be more fulfilling, especially when compared to so-called "pedestrian politics", i.e. following polls

But I'm not sure it's possible to depoliticize entirely. Everything we do, in some sense, has social consequences, and thus a political component.

Sounds like a utopian attempt of a different strain.