Monday, June 11, 2012

Libertarianism, chaos/order, and Muppets

So within the same week, I came across a blog post declaring that "Judge Kozinski doesn't have an ideology so much a Dungeons and Dragons alignment: Chaotic Neutral" and also Dahlia Lithwick's much-linked to "Chaos Theory: A Unified Theory of Muppet Types." Clearly it is time to offer up some deep thoughts on alignment, libertarianism, and Muppets. In no particular order:

1. I am most definitely a Chaos muppet. Caveat: if I am doing paid work, involved in a volunteer cause that I care deeply about, or a student, I can temporarily channel an inner Order muppet and keep things from falling apart. I therefore suspect that at least some of my friends from such settings will be tempted to (falsely) categorize me as an Order muppet, but they would be wrong. Second caveat: if I am in a large group dominated by Chaos muppets who cannot pick a restaurant, etc. for the life of them, I will step forward and announce that we are having Indian at 6:30 unless somebody has principled objections. This is not so much because I am an Order muppet as because I have the kind of metabolism/temperament that requires food at regular and rapid intervals so as not to go insane, and because I am about twenty-eight years too old to carry around a plastic bag of Cheerios to deal with this problem.  I do not usually find myself in large social groups of Order muppets because they drive me crazy. Curiously, this  makes me the opposite of Lithwick -- i.e. I have a core of Chaos muppet encased in a veneer of Order. This may or may not indicate something deep about our respective very different judicial philosophies.

2. If Lithwick's alignments were amended to reflect the D&D system so that Order/Chaos/Neutral were options, I might well be a Neutral muppet.

3.  I think most libertarians are also Chaos muppets. This is probably why Non Curat Lex sees such tendencies in Alex Kozinski, who is of course famously libertarian. I am not sure that I would say that Kozinski lacks an ideology so much as an alignment; I haven't read enough Koz opinions. I will say that I have met some social conservatives who are not so much guided by a cogent abstract system of principles as by a strong inner sense of Order muppetry. All of this may or may not portend something deep about the future of right-fusionism.

Liberals and progressives are a trickier case. I think Lithwick is right that there are probably more Chaos muppet liberals than Chaos muppet conservatives. But adherents of these ideologies' ease with government planning of the economy sits ill with the Chaos alignment. It is in large part because I'm allergic to central planning that I find modern liberalism and progressivism off-putting.

4. Hannah from HBO's Girls is a Chaos muppet. Marnie is an Order muppet. This can led to tension, as it did in last night's episode. Hanna Rosin is wrong, however, that these differences alone make their friendship unpersuasive. As Lithwick says, groups of friends need the yin and yang of rival strains of Muppet. It's therefore in my view inevitable that they will reconcile and the friendship will continue -- and not merely to keep Alison Williams (the actress who plays Marnie) on the air.

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