Multiculturalism

Clay Shirky clay@shirky.com
Sun, 21 Oct 2001 18:52:38 -0400 (EDT)


> > Its is a no-op in situations where the individuals have maximum
> > choice.
> 
> I don't follow this. Is there such a thing as "maximum choice"? And, if
> there were, why would it give the above statement meaning?

If you believe that free markets produce more prosperity than any
other way of organizing an economic system (call this the Smith
thesis) because such a system has the most accurate information about
how and where to allocate resources (the Hayek thesis), and if you
believe that that prosperity includes fuzzy characteristics like
liberty and well-being (the Sen thesis), you would want to give
individuals the maximum amount of choice, to produce the most
prosperity, broadly defined.

You would concern yourself with removing barriers to individual
liberty, in other words, rather than trying to educate people into
behaving this way or that way.

Thus, in an imaginary world in which anyone could do anything from
anywhere, with cost being the only variable, the output would be as
close as possible to ideal. This world will never happen, but any
system that increases the amount of individual freedom will produce
more prosperity for its adherents than a system that reduces freedom.

The problem with the Soviet Union, in other words, was not that people
weren't acting in their self-interest, but that the range of
descisions they could make was severely constrained. 

> > Would you advocate providing separate buses?
> 
> I would advocate a vote :)

A vote! A *vote*! Almighty G-D demands that men and women exist in
separate spheres, and you want to put the matter to a vote? 

This does not sound like the prefered solution of someone whose
concern is to protect culture. This sounds like someone who is willing
to say that religious beliefs are secondary to the aggregate sum of
individual descisions. 

The very idea of voting is corrosive of cultural norms, since it
assumes they are not set in stone, and should be changed when people
change their minds.

-clay