The metaphysical election

Suskind quotes a senior Bushite: since we’re an empire now, we no longer have to base our actions on reality.

Having gotten a good start with Bartlett (see previous post), Suskind really rolls up his sleeves and gets to work.

He reports on a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush, held for the purpose of giving Suskind a hard time about a piece on Karen Hughes:

The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Aha! That’s the problem. That’s why people like me so hate and fear GWB and his minions. We’re part of the “reality-based community.” My half-joking speculation about Bushite post-modernism turns out to have a real basis: they think they can create their own reality. And they think that’s so because “we’re an empire now.”

There we have it. It’s not just imperialists vs. anti-imperialists. It’s believers in reality vs. those who think they can just make it up as they go along.

Could the stakes possibly be higher? How often do we have a metaphysical choice to make on Election Day?

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: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com