Responding to Misha’s post… I got too long, random and incoherent to actually leave this as a comment. So I’m just posting it on my own blog:
Actually most people I know who call themselves liberals are more interested in solving problems instead of the specific means of the solution; individualism, collectivism are each tools in the arsenal. I do agree with you to watch out for people who implement solutions and abandon metrics to see if it actually solves problems more effectively (or at all), or even worse, are proud of the numbers going south because it raises the consequences of "bad" personal behavior.
Since conservatives seem more dogmatic about how one solves problems (to use your definition) they tend to assume their opposition must be defined by solving problems the other way, collectivism. Every time they see other side use any form of collectivism, it just confirms their assumption. Of course they also seem to suffer from a giant blind spot when it comes to moral collectivism, in which case individual choice of behavior is no longer sufficient, and they back government coercion. To which I see the heart of the essay responding to. Those people aren’t real conservatives then.
This brings up one of my open ended questions that I’ve been pondering the world with since high school. Can you can judge a political ideology by it’s ideas alone, or if you have to evaluate it in the frame of how people have actually implemented them and the results. Of course this is a false dichotomy, you can’t evaluate pure ideas regarding human behavior and social patterns, and no idea is ever purely implemented. (Asmoiv wrote an entire science fiction series on the existence of a general purpose scientific method of human behavior, it remains science fiction). This is a reminder to me that while you can try to define a movement all you like in terms of nice pat definitions, it is really the pragmatic behaviors of it’s self proclaimed followers that we must judge it by. Misha falls into this trap by defining the intellectually pure movement he wishes instead of the movement it is. He fights against labels that are not really there to be descriptive, but rather mealy serve as a commonly agreed upon label, which at best is aspirational and more typically ironic.
There is also some non-sequiturs that seem to claim that because he, personally, wasn’t convinced of a given governmental policy, it is therefore a delusional radical collectivist thing, instead of a policy adopted by the system of government we all implicitly and sometimes explicitly consent to live under. I also have to remind myself of that fact every now and then during this current administration.
In the end I see almost zero practical value in Misha’s exercise. The reality is that either side will say whatever it takes to sound appealing to some measured off groups of constituents backed by some semblance of an intellectual fig leaf (mostly formed in demonizing the other group and pseudo-science). This continues until the internal contradictions of the coalition can no longer be overlooked by it members, causing the group to implode until a new form emerges.
I believe you need to simply hop on a bus that you think it heading in the right direction without wrapping your identity up with in the vehicle you are riding on that day.