Archive for December 3rd, 2008

Political styles

Ideologies and political movements don’t just have substantive beliefs, they have styles as well.

Conservatism and the cultural left both engage in identity politics. When a dispute is about not just what we should do, but who we are, things – and language – get heated. Conservatives and the cultural left often use stories to make their case. Stories have dramas and excitement not so easily found in a logical argument. It is not coincidence that many conservative intellectuals are historians.

Classical liberals and social democrats tend to be far more cool and analytical in the way they present themselves. They are better at detaching themselves from issues. They will often use statistics rather than stories to make their case. They are more likely to be economists or philosophers than historians.

Left-wing academics have their own style in a particular form of bad writing. Take this passage from the Smith and Marden article on think-tanks:
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