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September 15, 2003 by AK

Trivia

Blogger’s built-in spell check, whose existence I discovered fifteen minutes ago, does not recognize the word “blogger”. That’s funny, or, as people who can’t spell that word are fond of saying, hilarious. But there are worlds of things that make one giggle, from a near-stranger’s fingers tickling one’s ribs to opera decorations in Grand Met — no, just the Met; Grand Met makes whisky. I, for one, am amused, to the point of tittering, at reports of Americans “boycotting” French goods. That is, not buying French wine. I know most are doing it in good faith, so there is no reason for irony. Besides, it is good for their budgets: most won’t be able to tell the difference between French and Moldovan wines, and the price gap is amazing. (I hope our Moldovan friends grasp at this opportunity.) They won’t go as far as to stop driving Nissans — and not only out of ignorance (Nissan is controlled by Renault). Amid the sincere righteous indignation, only a minority are “boycotting” with spite; those types would break windows of French restaurants if allowed, with war bloggers watching in a pre-orgasmic trance.

But let’s look behind this un-Rawlsian veil of ignorance. Perfidy-schmerfidy… O, sancta simplicitas! Politics — don’t tell those naive souls — politics is not a morality show: it is a-moral. A policy can be right or wrong; it can even be declared moral a posteriori, but moral judgments seldom substitute for political wisdom. Policies should be principled, for without a set of postulates, a politician cannot evaluate policy proposals. The set can include moral stipulations, but I cannot imagine one consisting of them exclusively. A moralistic politician is always pathetic, both when speaking and after having acted. A politician pretending to be moralistic only seems pathetic. What France has been doing is just politics, so take it easy. Don’t let Paul Masson manipulate you.

But should people be disillusioned? Isn’t cynicism corrosive for civil society? Isn’t sincere sentiment based on false assumptions somehow healthier than realistic negativism? Don’t expect me to answer.


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