The folks over at Unherd have a number of articles on open versus closed led by Peter Franklin’s The Deeper Meaning Of Open And Closed. Many other folks have made our point that leftist claim to be more open minded but really aren’t. We are sure that Jonah Goldberg has plowed this ground but we are not willing to spend the time to find it. Peter starts off:
Following Brexit, Trump and the formation of a populist government in Italy, there would seem to be an open-and-shut case for open-and-closed.
Then he follows up with the obvious. Open and closed terminology is a brush to try and discredit the right:
At least the terminology of left-and-right sounds neutral to modern ears.1 The language of open-and-closed, by contrast, is one-sided in the impressions it conveys – and is intended to convey.
Yup. The problem is that it isn’t representative or even useful. Folks that have a consistent world view have effective ways to focus. In the current terminology, they have closed minds. The most obvious example of folks with a consistent worldview would be academics.
If you ask a physicist about perpetual motion they will immediately dismiss the idea because it is contrary to the laws of physics. Well, at least Newtonian physics as we are not up to date on our physics. The point is that academics, like other experts, have a framework for identifying interesting questions. They have a closed mind towards others.
Another example would be the opening lead of a king against a three no-trump contract in bridge. A novice declarer might win the first trick with his ace but a more expert declarer is unlikely to win that first trick. Here we have a slight difference between the (expert) physicist and the bridge expert. The bridge expert is open to a couple of alternatives, the most likely concern is if a change of suits on the second lead would cause problems. It is highly likely but not certain that the expert will quickly decide to refuse the first trick. If the dummy has two small cards in that suit and the declarer has the ace plus two small cards then the decision to duck approaches certainty.
What is true in our political environment is that folks on the left are open to one set of things and folks on the right are open to another set of things. It is because they often have a set of principles that they use to think about problems.
Sidebar: Yes there are folks that are unprincipled generally. Jonah Goldberg writes about principles and bigots at NRO. Yes there are difficult political decisions that test an individual’s principles. We think that untested candidates are in vogue because they have not had to make those difficult decisions. It is not our preference but that is what we see. End Sidebar.
Although there are many ways to slice and dice each wing, those sets don’t have much overlap. For example, consider Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as Charles Cooke does at NRO. To the left, her hyphenated name and ethnicity are enticing. Her socialism is exciting. Her behavior can be used to castigate The Donald. To the right, to overstate it slightly, socialist is another word for a fool. Her behavior that Charlie describes buttresses that initial take. Neither side has claim to being the open side or the closed side. When they have principles they are different and that is part of what causes our disagreements. The other part is lack of principles.