Criticism and self-criticism

Eugene Volokh has a characteristically clear-minded post on one of the characteristic differences between left and right (in this case, I think, a difference that carries over from liberalism and conservatism in their traditional forms). It’s a matter of overdoing, or underdoing, the natural human preference for that which is one’s own: self, family, party, country. Liberals, in their fear of chauvinism, can fall into the error of being biased against their own countries, just as conservatives can take patriotism to the excess of chauvinism.

One extension of Eugene’s point: this explains why liberals notoriously form circular firing squads. Criticizing your own side, aberrant for conservatives, is a norm for liberals. It also helps explain the liberal overrepresentation among academics: the academic norm of disagreement is congruent with the liberal norm of self-criticism.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

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