A libertarian changes his mind

I found this article by David Frum fascinating. It’s about how and why he has begun to move away from his original libertarian views. I’m fascinated by this because it’s so rare to see a political type openly (and apparently genuinely) discussing how their views changed. (It’s quite common for positions to change– but usually the people in question try to pretend it didn’t happen.) For me, it’s important to read this as an optimistic reminder that– despite appearances– people’s views aren’t forever fixed: there is some hope of changing the minds of those (we take take to be) wrong. It’s also, to be honest, a salutary reminder that our political opponents are (at least sometimes) people who think, and who care, and who revise their views in light of these things. It’s far too easy to forget that at times.

4 thoughts on “A libertarian changes his mind

  1. Reminds me of something I believe was said by Hilary Putnam:

    “I make no secret of changing my mind on one or two important issues….I’ve never thought it a virtue to adopt a position and try to get famous as a person who defends that position, like a purveyor of a brand name, like you’re selling cornflakes.”

    (Okay, so possibly there are some positions Putnam might have been better off sticking with…)

  2. I agree that it is wonderful to see someone admit that the old way of thinking just failed to fit the facts.

    At the same time, I cannot understand how the neo-liberal beliefs can possibly support all of the current republican actions. So I’m still going around mutteriing “bad faith,” “selling out,” and other phrases which indicate a lack of respect for them.

    E.g., the idea that a job is the best welfare obviously cannot be true of every age category. So what’s with cutting program for the elderly and the very young? Your family takes care of you, or you can go jump off a bridge? If you exhaust your financial resources in an exceptionally difficult economy, then you and your family can go jump?

  3. Personally, I’m not inclined to regard libertarians as “our” opponents. Setting that aside, I’m a bit concerned by the thought that we might only recognize the humanity and intellect of people who disagree with us once they have changed their minds and now agree with us. I want to leave open the possibility that plenty of people who fully continue to disagree with us are also people who think and care and revise their views in light of evidence – and that this, in fact, may be why they disagree with us.

  4. This bothers me, too. Why do many people believe it’s important to never change your position on anything? I would much prefer that leaders, political and otherwise, consistently evaluate the information available and alter their positions accordingly. But this seems to be the minority position.

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