Saturday, 3 March 2007

Collection of Small Tales

I took this very short test here.

And I found out that I am a Centrist:

espouse a "middle ground" regarding government control of the economy and personal behavior. Depending on the issue, they sometimes favor government intervention and sometimes support individual freedom of choice. Centrists pride themselves on keeping an open mind, tend to oppose "political extremes," and emphasize what they describe as "practical" solutions to problems.

I have always thought of myself being a libertarian, so I was tad surprised to get this result. At first it seems to me that being a centrist either means that well, your are schizophrenic or just plain not having any opinion.

But I have always had strong opinions on issues. And then it dawned upon me – I AM a centrist – without really realizing it. I wrote this not too long ago:

The Danger of Seeking a Grand Narrative

I have often been accused of being a believer of a particular school of thought, or an advocate of a certain strand economic ideology. They usually take the following forms:

“Aha, you are just so Keynesian, Elanor”

“Yes, Elanor, you so believe the Market will solve all problems of human civilization”

“Gosh, you are such a nerd!”

While I still can’t find a suitable defense against the third sort of claim, I am often dumbfounded by accusations such as the first two. I normally respond by giving a blank look (or, occasionally and only when it is entirely appropriate, I say “bless your lil’ cotton socks”). Firstly, I have no idea what I have to believe in if I am a Keynesian, or how Market should be defined, or if I have to join a political party if I am supposed to be a Liberal. All I know is that if I am all these at the same time, it means that I am most probably schizophrenic.

Secondly, and more important, I don’t believe in any form of grand narrative that is supposed to provide elegant and complete explanation to any particular issue, event or phenomenon, especially complex ones. Just as how capital liberalisation alone doesn’t explain the miracle of the Asian economies in the 1990s, neither does it, by itself, explain the end of the miracle. Almost all the time, it is the collection of small tales that explains the whole story. The same, of course, applies to our personal lives, but that is for another post.

Any attempt to view any complex issue through the lenses of any single convention based on dogmatic conviction will ultimately reduce our ability to comprehend the issue in its entirety. The danger arises when this is used as a basis to come up with remedies or policies. It is due to this reason why we should always have in mind that short-term interest rate is very blunt policy tool for diverse macro-economic issues, why a free-floating yuan is not a panacea of the global imbalances, why war does not solve terrorism, why hasty privatisation cannot be the sole solution to the efficiency problem of the transition economies in the Europe, or why affirmative action is not the only way we could address economic inequalities.

Are you a centrist too?



Anonymous said...

casually answered, the results show i'm in Centrist category.


Dek Mat said...

Your PERSONAL issues Score is 80%.
Your ECONOMIC issues Score is 90%.

I'm a hot blooded libertarian!