Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Black and White World?

Conservatives often bristle at being accused of simplistic, black and white thinking, but rarely do they have the audacity to revel in those accolades the way Burt Prelutsky does. This simply has to be seen to be believed:

"Those on the left regard themselves as the moral, as well as intellectual, superiors of those on the right because they claim to see shades of gray whereas conservatives see only black and white. The problem is that most things are black and white, and the inability to realize that doesn’t suggest clearer vision, but only lack of courage and conviction."

Now one would think someone who made such an audacious claim would start on safe ground, say mathematics, or fundamental logic, where one can indeed find much that is black and white. Surely someone making the claim that most things are black and white would stay away from value judgements, since they are the clearest example of things that are decidedly NOT black and white. But not Prelutsky, who leads with his chin thusly:

"So, while those on the right are convinced that capitalism, for instance, is better than communism and socialism, and have no problem saying as much, liberals go around parroting sound bites."

Better? "Better" is inherently subjective, because the standards of comparison are arbitrarily determined. A might be better than B, and B better than C, but only according to certain standards. This is not a black and white statement. Further, when one says capitalism is better than socialism, the question begging to be asked is "better at what?" and "by what measure?". The socialist nations of Europe have superior medical care and mass transit systems than does the capitalist nation of the US. Our socialist highway system works better than capitalist ones did. There are many such examples. Either Prelutsky is ignoring these facts, or simply chooses, subjectively, to ignore them. Where is Prelutsky's proof that capitalism is better than socialism? If it is black and white as he claims, then such a proof should be forthcoming. Of course, it isn't, because in typical 21st century conservative fashion, Prelutsky pretends to be dealing with facts when he is really just making shit up. That he does little but weave straw about what mythical "liberals" supposedly think instead solidifies this point.

The world is NOT black and white, and if Prelutsky is right and conservatives see it this way, it explains why they have so many failures in the political and social spheres. "Either you are with us, or you are against us" is childish, unproductive foreign policy. Parts of the Bible are true, and some parts aren't. Capitalism is superior to socialism in some spheres, but not in others. It is a complicated world, and if the conservatives like Prelutsky can't handle that simple fact, then they need to get the hell out of the driver's seat and let someone who understands the nuances of the real world (as opposed to the simplistic version in Prelutsky's head) take over.


Peter L. Winkler said...

Prelutsky is a once prolific TV screenwriter who was on a segment of 60 Minutes a few years ago with some other older TV writers, complaining about how ageism in the industry ended his career. He also mentioned a bankruptcy.

A few years ago, he reinvented himself as yet another right wing camp follower. I wonder if he always thought that way or if it's a career move out of desperation.

ScienceAvenger said...

I've often wondered the same thing. Given the market for anyone with any celebrity status who chooses to write book after book of the same nonsense, it would seem hard to resist.