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The Ideal and the Real? Or: Doctors got there first

[ by Charles Cameron — together with a hypothesis about sanctity and insanity ]

SPEC Ideal and Real

Either way, I don’t really find the idea of attacking hospitals appealing.



  • Alex Tabarrok, The Atlantic, The Case for Getting Rid of Borders — Completely
  • Tim Craig et al, Washington Post, By evening, a hospital. By morning, a war zone
  • Médecins Sans Frontières
  • Hypothesis:

    When the pent up energy of the ideal releases into the real, the impact is somewhat analogous to that of thunder and lightning: the shock-wave gets the human conductor of the discharge labelled “insane” while the flash of illumination gets the same person acclaimed as “a saint”.

    One significant differences is that here the shock-wave almost always precedes the flash of light — which can take quite a while to become generally visible..

    4 Responses to “The Ideal and the Real? Or: Doctors got there first”

    1. Dave Schuler Says:

      Hmm. For something completely lacking in a “defensible moral framework” it’s remarkably common. I don’t believe any country in the world accepts a universal right of immigration. It’s not one of the rights listed in the very expansive Universal Declaration of Human Rights (emigration is; immigration is not).
      Quite to the contrary most recognize rights of self-determination and freedom of association both of which would point against abolishing borders. I think that Dr. Tabarrok is confusing ends and means.
      Your hypothesis puts me in mind of a wisecrack of Sam Clemens’s: “Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.” Another DoubleQuote?

    2. Charles Cameron Says:

      Another DoubleQuote, yes — thanks, Dave.
      I think the operative word is “defensible” and that Tabarrok is setting that bar in the “ideal” rather than the “real” — hence (in part) the absence of governments that implement the idea.
      At one point it was presumably ideal to think that free people and slaves should have equal rights, and here he’s suggesting that foreigners and “people born in the right place at the right time” should also have them.
      Maybe that is an ideal, and arguably the contrary, universally accepted by governments as it is, lacks a “defensible moral framework” as he puts it — but my god, the bloodshed when the anti-slavery ideal burst into reality was considerable (NB typical Brit understatement 🙂
      I also suspect Tabarrok may be writing to provoke discussion rather than to initiate the reform he appears to propose, but that discussion would in my view really focus on the Westphalian state, which seems to be something of a double-edged sword, promoting an enormously valuable mutual tolerance among people in respect of their religious beliefs, but simultaneously erecting a conceptual structure that may be reaching its sell-by date..
      The other consideration I have here has to do with the idea that any equality driven ideal runs the risk of totalitarian application, an effect which we ndo well to avoid!.
      All of which is my own way of inviting further discussion, raising questions rather than answering them.

    3. Zen Says:

      The idea that free people and slaves should gave equal rights was a noble sentiment, until one realizes the lack of qualification in that statement implied that you could also reach equality by reducing the rights of free people to zero. This is essentially is your concern with the totalitarian outcome and it is a valid concern when one looks at the 20th century. Solzhenitsyn recalled in the Gulag a zek ( prisoner) who was given solitary for stating the truth that under Stalin, the USSR “…was one big camp”. We could say the same for North Korea today.
      Unlimited free movement for the whole earth, right now, is a lot like equality under Stalin, a weapon of the ruling elite to pull down those who have something down to the level of nothing, not raise the latter up. Why would anyone give their loyalty to a regime that openly intends to displace its own people with a crowd of foreigners?

    4. larrydunbar Says:

      “Unlimited free movement for the whole earth, right now, is a lot like equality under Stalin, a weapon of the ruling elite to pull down those who have something down to the level of nothing, not raise the latter up.”
      Sure, we all watched Doctor Zhivago, and that observance was unbearable, but you have to contrast that with the “jihad” that the Mongols represented, as the Russian people felt both. In other words, if equality under Stalin and genocide under the Mongols rule was expressed as a venn diagram, one needs to orient towards the sweet spot in the middle.
      Any ideas as to what that, the sweet-spot, would look like? And doesn’t the ruling elite in America have all the resources, human and otherwise?
      I think, with this power, they have caught the Millennials, and those are a large resource, coming from an echo of the Baby Boomers.
      We are heading into a intern economy and it is the Millennials that are becoming the interns of the economy.
      Are your kids coming on board?

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