Whig Out! — I do

Whig Out! — I do believe I’m a whig. As my researches into the self-deceptive grounds of ideological commitment continues, I find ideological identification less and less appealing. The thing about “isms” is that while they may accurately account for most of one’s views, avowed identification with an “ism” communicates an emotive commitment to an intellectual/political identity, and not simply agreement with a set of propositions. This is distasteful if your first allegience is to the truth, and you would be willing to give up any proposition whatsoever (and any identity based on its truth) in the face of countervailing evidence. That’s why I want to call myself a “whig,” since it captures the core of my political views, but does not convey solidarity with a living political/intellectual lifestyle, as “libertarian” might.

Here’s Ken Binmore, in his absolutely fascinating and funny Game Theory and The Social Contract, Vol 2: Just Playing, on whigs:

… we whigs are for economic and political freedom, thrift, self-help, and equality of opportunity. Our enemies are either the advocates of big-spending government intent on creating a lickspittle citizenry, or else the corrupt backers of arbitrary government and ancient privelege.

Of course, if too many other people start calling themselves whigs, and turn it into an identity, I’ll toss it out. But for now, whiggery rules!

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center