April 12, 2016

What’s more important in politics: Purity or pragmatism?

Lauren SouthernArchive

Those of us who are politically active have to admit that we will never get a perfect "unicorn" candidate who agrees with us on every policy point. We always have to compromise a bit.

However, how much should we as voters -- and politicians as policy makers -- compromise to win elections?

Purity and pragmatism both have their advantages: one approach lets us stay true to our original ideas, while the latter approach gets things done.

Is there a proper middle ground? Or is pragmatism the reason our society keeps getting more liberal?

In tonight's episode, I discuss this question with Trump-supporting "Radical Agenda" host Christopher Cantwell and anarcho-libertarian YouTuber, That Guy T.


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commented 2016-05-02 17:35:24 -0400
Bill Elder : Political systems, modern or classical, are not all based on lies. Most are errant good intentions, a few actually work sometimes, and only a few again are the ones based upon lies. Coincidentally enough it is those particular ones who are subject to the most purism when leaders cling to failing ideologies at the expense of the lives and livelihoods of their own people. This is also why these governments never really last too long as that human pragmatism you are slamming begins to fight back, and some sort of coup usually begins to correct things or to at least attempt to find an urgent better way to do things. 2 good examples of this are the Renaissance, and the American Revolution.

You see our ‘purism’ should come from human instinct and nothing more. This is also where our greed and racism lie. Within our instincts. There is enough there to immediately justify why pragmatism trumps purism. Clinging onto a purist model utopia, and forcing populations to adhere to a standard will always result in failure. Why? An assumption based upon the fact they always have throughout history. No ideology or culture has withstood the test of time untouched or unchanged, and modelling a government in this way is historically foolish in a ‘house on the sand’ kind of way. The idea of democracy was to have an ever changing government at a minimum of every 4 years to prevent this and the associated bloody coups involved. Human instinct leads us astray enough as it is, and we don’t need anymore ridiculous laws to mix in with and/or favour any of the various religions we already have. I see some of both the liberals and conservatives prone to their own respective errant senses of purism and both have the same thing in common. Wanting to make more laws.

Designing our laws around human instinct rather than ideology, which can always be debated and ever changed over time, is a far more reliable way to do things. Consider one of Orwell’s final quotes from that double book review I posted earlier :

“Capitalism leads to dole queues, the scramble for markets, and war. Collectivism leads to concentration camps, leader worship, and war. There is no way out of this unless a planned economy can somehow be combined with the freedom of the intellect, which can only happen if the concept of right and wrong is restored to politics.”

What he is getting at is the same thing I am getting at with pragmatism. A set of laws which actually reach our politicians to check our instincts towards greed, racism, etc. This will in effect restore right and wrong in politics, and therefore allow our political system to efficiently steer us clear of warfare, famine, division, etc. Never to eliminate them, but to minimize them wherever possible. Purism based upon our instinct, but secondary to rational pragmatism to keep us able to adapt.
commented 2016-04-25 11:58:11 -0400
Just a few more random thoughts on this debate about “purity” in political governing systems.

All modern political systems are based in lies and ideological fraud, whether they are the harsh obvious ones of dictatorships or the big candy-coated lies of intrusive socialism – but they are predicated on a lie.

When you lie this big to maintain a system you have only two options when you are found out by the people; double and triple down on the lie, or admit the deceit and do damage control (either apologise and pay restitution or go full tyrant and suppress dissent).

It is up to the individual to decide if the lie is merits the effort to ignore it or whether the lie is covering to much damage and remove the liars before they are forced to become despots. This has been the endless political “cycle” for millennia – except for a short periods in history when enlightened culturati led a political/judicial/civil renaissance and altruistic statesmanship prevailed of self-serving political governing systems – you can count these periods on one hand and they almost invariably ascended after a popular revolt.

The names of the leaders are familiar – Solon’s and Pericles’ Athenian democracy, Appius and The Roman Republic, the Magna Carta, Coke, Blackstone, Locke, Pain and the codified rights of common men, Franklin and Jefferson and the US Declaration and republic of common men – but these are all behind us and the short periods of plebian empowerment they left have been eclipsed by new technocratic forms of despotism and population control. We are ready for another political cycle.
commented 2016-04-24 22:10:03 -0400
“Purity” and politics are two mutually exclusive concepts.
Politics is the art of manipulation of masses and garnering wealth and power where neither is merited – this by definition is “impure” motive. Politics is the essence of selfish pragmatism – and situational morality.

This is why I have always maintained that we as a culture have out grown politics and politicians – all they do is set social groups against each other for political benefit. We need Statesmen and statesmanship not politicians and politics – these are diametrically polar opposites in purpose. Politicians work for a small elite political cartels, statesmen work for the good of the people and the nation. – this is a moral and ethical imperative if we are to develop as a culture.
commented 2016-04-24 09:18:48 -0400
I am stealing the word ‘pragmire’…. err I mean appropriating it. I can because I am white and the media says so…
commented 2016-04-23 00:45:08 -0400
Why not support proportional representative? You can vote your values and then insist that politicians also strive for some pragmatism.
commented 2016-04-20 23:21:36 -0400
Conservitives and libertarians are stuck together in the pragmire resistance of the commies , they will vote the same way

Man am I ever going to be disappointed if what I seen on this site today, DARYL HERMAN , are you really a troll ???
commented 2016-04-20 18:24:38 -0400
Pragmatism is an excuse to throw away Integrity and sell out to get elected.

Pragmatism is also an excuse to not do the unpleasant action of fighting back against the usual accusations of bigotry made by those who used such terms in an arrogant, hateful and insensitive manner as anyone who uses bigoted terms,

Unpleasant action because those who make such bigotry accusations are also bullies and it is not a pleasant thing to do in having to fight back against a bully
commented 2016-04-18 11:52:49 -0400
Pragmatism is the playground of CINOs. It is for this reason that pragmatism in any form is a red flag for a closet social among the Conservatives, of which there are many. Rona Ambrose, in particular, is a perfect example of such a character.
commented 2016-04-14 11:53:33 -0400
Agreed, Paul Muccullough, “Libertarians & Conservatives have a common enemy – socialists. When socialists win, everyone loses.”
Which is more important, purity or pragmatism?, I wish I could decide. I’d like to stay a purist, but I would also like my vote to be effective. Having said that, as we have seen, the pragmatic approach often backfires.
commented 2016-04-14 07:44:10 -0400
Great show!
commented 2016-04-13 18:07:55 -0400
JAYMEE MACMASTER : … and you have to start reading more books than that bible of yours, and a few documentaries wouldn’t hurt either…
commented 2016-04-13 16:57:43 -0400
MARY SMITH, you got to stop reading the invisible text between my lines.
commented 2016-04-13 15:31:22 -0400
SEAN PENSON commented 17 hours ago
Promise anything to get elected, tarnish your enemies, and do ANYTHING, ethical or not, to stay in power. Do everything to discredit and demonise your opponents
Taken directly from the liberal playbook
commented 2016-04-13 14:01:37 -0400
Libertarians & Conservatives have a common enemy – socialists. When socialists win, everyone loses. As far as the Democrat candidates are concerned we see a decrepit career criminal or a mummified communist. I’d take Cruz or Trump over either of those choices.
commented 2016-04-13 13:24:18 -0400

When we were purists, under the Catholic Theocracy, we were no better than radical Islam. Corrupt to the core, slavery, serfdom, and oppression and war everywhere.

When we became pragmatic, we started the Renaissance…
commented 2016-04-13 08:59:27 -0400
The question – and our responses – point to an acceptance of a situation that should not be.

Purity and pragmatism were never meant to be mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact, when framed this way, purity means honesty and pragmatism is just another word for dishonesty. So let’s call it what it is.
commented 2016-04-13 08:32:13 -0400
Jay said, “A troll like Daryl Herman does not deserve a response.”

Typical socialist troll has reality completely flipped 180 degrees. No, Jay, you are the troll. Daryl Herman is not.

I think I might know the problem with lefties/socialists, they have connected to battery to the wrong poles in their head and everything runs in reverse. Just a theory.
commented 2016-04-13 08:27:45 -0400
Whether to stick to one’s principles and vote for the party you know will never have enough votes to take office, or to compromise and vote with the party that reflects as closely as possible your own convictions has always been a difficult decision.

I guess it would depend upon how far a person is willing to bend and on what issues. Even a vote for a party that will help it to keep out a far worse party is a vote better than one cast to the wind.
commented 2016-04-13 07:33:14 -0400
It’s neither. Kickback to those who financed your campaign is how it works.

The masses are clueless to this reality or when told, don’t believe it.

The media party is controlled by a handful of people. This is how the media party does it.

The problem is that Canadians are stupid/gullible and believe the media party – and now we have a camp counselor who is faking the role that PM Stephen Harper was doing just fine with.

PM Harper – the economist.

Bernie Trudeau – the offspring of the village whore an closet homo and an expert snow boarder and camp counselor. Hope you die like your brother Trudeau.
commented 2016-04-13 01:32:25 -0400
By Lauren’s definitions the Federal NDP, having passed the LEAP manifesto and kicking out Mulcaire, have chosen a purist platform over Mulcaire’s common sense stance. In my opinion their thinking is in 4 years Trudeau will have brainwashed Canadians into hating themselves for having any social or economic conservative beliefs obviating the need for the NDP to be pragmatic with their policy.

Was Hitler a purist or a pragmatist. His main agenda was his racist policies but to get elected he cloaked those policies with economic reform (blaming the Jews for a failing economy). The policy of economic reform (make Germany great again *) resonated with the German voter so much so that they were able to ignore his horrific racist policies.
  • I do not believe Trump is a racist.
commented 2016-04-13 00:31:53 -0400
A troll like Daryl Herman does not deserve a response. Drive him or her nuts by ignoring the comments.
commented 2016-04-13 00:10:51 -0400
I’ve personally actually never thought of the whole pragmatism/purist thing. Then again, this is my first time hearing about it. The way my views have been are generally conservative, but until I learned of libertarianism, I wasn’t sure as to what some of my views would be considered as—mainly just some of my social views.

Thanks for the great shows and for shedding light on this topic! I learn more each day about my own political beliefs from you folks at TheRebel.media and hope to continue doing so!
commented 2016-04-12 22:58:18 -0400
Re Sean Penson: How about none of us respond to any of “Sean Penson’s” comments. Ever! Nothing drives one of these trolls more nuts than being ignored. Thanks…………..
commented 2016-04-12 22:54:43 -0400
Daryl Herman says “Ya, ya we really know how you Leotards work.”

Why do you say “we”? Can’t you speak for yourself? Trolls like you are a waste of time.
commented 2016-04-12 22:39:08 -0400
Pragmatism and liberal are two things I never thought I would hear together. I haven’t seen the video though.
commented 2016-04-12 22:33:35 -0400
@ Sean Penson commented 17 mins ago
Promise anything to get elected, tarnish your enemies, >>

Ya, ya we really do know how you Libtards work. Now go and manage all your aliases. We also do know you are one of those low-info types who are confounded when you really do see truth. I do know you to be a real chicken-shit because you still have not completed my invitation to you to come for coffee. Ya, you know it – it is not Lieberal Cool-Aid.
commented 2016-04-12 22:24:28 -0400
Sean Penson : That would be precisely what F A Hayek was warning about in his book, and precisely how Hitler was able to get and hold power. Orwell left out Stalin, but his rule was similar, as was Pol Pot’s, Idi Amin’s, etc…

Think about that next time you hear Trudeau when he can’t shut up about the big bad CPC or Stephen Harper when he’s cornered. Junior’s tendencies towards megalomania are pretty obvious. He is already a narcissist and well on that path…
commented 2016-04-12 22:07:42 -0400
Promise anything to get elected, tarnish your enemies, and do ANYTHING, ethical or not, to stay in power. Do everything to discredit and demonise your opponents
commented 2016-04-12 21:58:47 -0400
Make change from within or stand outside shouting into the wind. Your choice libertarian.
commented 2016-04-12 21:26:05 -0400
Read this review by George Orwell on 2 books; The Road to Serfdom, and Mirrors of the Past : (sorry it’s a fair bit)

Taken together, these two books give grounds for dismay. The first of them is an eloquent defence of laissez-faire capitalism, the other is an even more vehement denunciation of it. They cover to some extent the same ground, they frequently quote the same authorities, and they even start out with the same premise, since each of them assumes that Western civilization depends on the sanctity of the individual. Yet each writer is convinced that the other’s policy leads directly to slavery, and the alarming thing is that they may both be right.

Of the two, Professor Hayek’s book is perhaps the more valuable, because the views it puts forward are less fashionable at the moment than those of Mr Zilliacus. Shortly, Professor Hayek’s thesis is that Socialism inevitably leads to despotism, and that in Germany the Nazis were able to succeed because the Socialists had already done most of their work for them, especially the intellectual work of weakening the desire for liberty. By bringing the whole of life under the control of the State, Socialism necessarily gives power to an inner ring of bureaucrats, who in almost every case will be men who want power for its own sake and will stick at nothing in order to retain it. Britain, he says, is now going the same road as Germany, with the left-wing intelligentsia in the van and the Tory Party a good second. The only salvation lies in returning to an unplanned economy, free competition, and emphasis on liberty rather than on security.In the negative part of Professor Hayek’s thesis there is a great deal of truth. It cannot be said too often – at any rate, it is not being said nearly often enough – that collectivism is not inherently democratic, but, on the contrary, gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the Spanish Inquisitors never dreamed of.

Professor Hayek is also probably right in saying that in this country the intellectuals are more totalitarian-minded than the common people. But he does not see, or will not admit, that a return to ‘free’ competition means for the great mass of people a tyranny probably worse, because more irresponsible, than that of the State. The trouble with competitions is that somebody wins them. Professor Hayek denies that free capitalism necessarily leads to monopoly, but in practice that is where it has led, and since the vast majority of people would far rather have State regimentation than slumps and unemployment, the drift towards collectivism is bound to continue if popular opinion has any say in the matter.

Mr Zilliacus’s able and well-documented attack on imperialism and power politics consists largely of an exposure of the events leading up to the two world wars. Unfortunately the enthusiasm with which he debunks the war of 1914 makes one wonder on what grounds he is supporting this one. After retelling the sordid story of the secret treaties and commercial rivalries which led up to 1914, he concludes that our declared war aims were lies and that ‘we declared war on Germany because if she won her war against France and Russia she would become master of all Europe, and strong enough to help herself to British colonies’. Why else did we go to war this time? It seems that it was equally wicked to oppose Germany in the decade before 1914 and to appease her in the nineteen-thirties, and that we ought to have made a compromise peace in 1917, whereas it would be treachery to make one now. It was even wicked, in 1915, to agree to Germany being partitioned and Poland being regarded as ‘an internal affair of Russia’: so do the same actions change their moral colour with the passage of time.

The thing Mr Zilliacus leaves out of account is that wars have results, irrespective of the motives of those who precipitate them. No one can question the dirtiness of international politics from 1870 onwards: it does not follow that it would have been a good thing to allow the German army to rule Europe. It is just possible that some rather sordid transactions are going on behind the scenes now, and that current propaganda ‘against Nazism’ (cf. ‘against Prussian militarism’) will look pretty thin in 1970, but Europe will certainly be a better place if Hitler and his followers are removed from it.Between them these two books sum up our present predicament. Capitalism leads to dole queues, the scramble for markets, and war. Collectivism leads to concentration camps, leader worship, and war. There is no way out of this unless a planned economy can somehow be combined with the freedom of the intellect, which can only happen if the concept of right and wrong is restored to politics.

Both of these writers are aware of this, more or less; but since they can show no practicable way of bringing it about the combined effect of their books is a depressing one.

This should answer your question.

Pragmatism! This was the core founding principle of both the Renaissance, and the American Revolution as well way before Orwell was born.