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Experience breeds ideology

Look outside yourself to see the world for what it is



There are significant logical flaws cloaked in words that masquerade as "logical" in John Donegan's opinion piece ("Political pragmatism," Sept. 24).

First, one's ideology, or raison d'etre, whether one is conscious of it or not, is the driving force for all of human beings' activity. Namely, it is the need to survive. The first sentence, "No matter how wedded we may be to our ideology, there are times when it should yield to pragmatic concerns," is fundamentally flawed. What is pragmatic is what works under the current circumstances. What is pragmatic today may not have been pragmatic in the past nor in the future. Ideology, or our point of view on an issue—what ought to be, what ought not to be—is affected by our understanding of what is "pragmatic" or "not pragmatic." That evaluation is based on an individual's experience. One's experience is a combination of one's will and choice, but also how one is treated by one's external environment: laws, people, community, etc.

We, or Donegan, would like to think that people are completely free to do as they please, and to take responsibility for the repercussions of their actions. Yes, to an extent, that logic upholds, but when the laws, external factors such as authority figures, and the system bar one from doing what they want, a logical person cannot say that person is able to exercise free will.

I do not want to blame or judge Donegan or other conservatives and libertarians for their lack of logic to politics, but I must uphold the view that he and other conservatives and libertarians attack. Donegan says, "In my idealized libertarian world all adults are free to live their lives as they choose, providing that it doesn't hurt others. In return, they all must endure the consequences of their foolish choices." Does this idealized libertarian world apply to all adults? Does it apply equally to George Floyd and Donald Trump? Are Donald Trump or any of the Big Bank CEOs who were caught in fiscal fraud paying for their crimes? Is Derek Chauvin "enduring the consequences" for murdering George Floyd?

When justice is on the side of a privileged sector, which in the United States of America is white and male, the ideal libertarian world that Donegan envisions is not valid. I will bet dollars that Donegan is white and male and thus has the luxury of idealizing his utopian world as a government-free, do-as-I-please world.

Donegan doesn't realize that what he hears as scary music foreboding something horrible about to happen, is something that others don't even have the luxury of hearing, because they cannot afford a television, speakers, or don't have the time to watch a scary movie because they have to work to pay rent or pay hospital bills for their kids.

We have to look outside of our personal lives and see that the world is bigger than that. It holds a lot more dilemmas and complexities than Donegan and many libertarians, conservatives, and supporters of Trump realize. Δ

Stephanie Lee from Los Osos took the time to respond to John Donegan. What are you going to do with your opinion? Send a letter to letters@newtimesslo.com.

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