From an email response:
I don’t think liberty is a particularly desirable goal, because liberty is a negative state (“freedom from x,y,z”) not a positive, creative, abstract goal. I think that’s the critique most are avoiding; American conservatives love liberty because they intend it to mean, libertarian-style, freedom from parasites; in actuality, it’s a poor argument since liberty will soon be extended to those parasites and infrastructure/socialized cost will doom them.
The first step in learning logical argument is to separate what sounds good from what makes the structural changes you need.
Many things sound good. Hell, Communism sounds best, if you ask me: everyone has what they need, and no class war. Heck, Consumerism sounds just as good. Buy whatever you want, be happy, be obligated to nothing but yourself. A philosopher might say that if you look 300 steps down the line, they’re the same thing.
But then you have to look at the secondary impacts and consequences of your action, and its impacts 299 other steps down the line. When you do x today, what will happen when others respond to it? How will others re-interpret it in simpler ways, as they do with any philosophy?
Prozak’s law of decay: any ideology will be measured by history not by its most articulate and complex statement, but by the simplified form of it passed from one person to another in conversation.
There are lots of things that sound good, until you realize that they don’t address the actual problem. Why don’t people address the actual problem? Because that requires real re-ordering, and we don’t trust each other. We know irrational people will cause trouble, and that there are liars who will claim to do the right thing and then rip us off. But that’s a secondary reason. The real reason is that it rocks the boat, and that might disrupt what we have already, especially those small greedy pleasures that make our inner monkey glow.