Rizzo defends “reasonable” ideology contra Obama’s assertion of centrism and pragmatism as the antidote to zealots. Jeffrey Friedman takes issue with this, though agreeing at an “abstract level.” Others weigh in, including my Critical Review Alumni pal Bogdan Enache of Romania.

Jeffrey Friedman has written much about ideology, mostly negative. He’s got an axe to grind with libertarians, and I don’t disagree (at a certain abstract level), but seeing him go round and round with the types of libertarians for whom his charge of Rothbardian dogma doesn’t apply makes me wonder if he is largely acting out of a “familiarity breeds contempt” inspired confrontational style combined with his affinity for political and social science as a whole, as opposed to merely economics and the narrow slough of libertarian thinkers. (He directs his wrath particularly at the Mises Institute, which I can say from experience really is a hotbed of an echo chamber of a choir if I’ve ever witnessed one – but their resurrection of Old Right voices is something I appreciate.)

I’d defend a “reasonable” ideology as well (who wouldn’t defend “reasonable”?). Although ideologues are prone to the dogma Friedman has discussed at length, they are also undeniably more knowledgeable than your lay citizen. Ideologues may be prone to a perceptual blindness that limits their ability to “reasonably” absorb all pertinent data, but at least they’ve got data.

And “Centrism” is an ideology too. If it’s no more than an attitudinal disposition that believes that whatever is “best,” by default, must be the split difference between two opposing sides, I suppose it doesn’t qualify. But there’s no way Obama is acting out of that kind of ignorance of history and political thought. He is no more anti-ideological than many in the Progressive movement, self described pragmatists who consciously and meticulously crafted, in the words of Philip Converse, “a configuration of ideas and attitudes in which the elements are bound together by some form of constraint or functional interdependence.” In other words, an ideology.

Btw, you can see videos from the 2008 APSA Critical Review seminar here.