View Poll Results: Idealism or Pragmatism?

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  • Idealism

    3 20.00%
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Thread: Pragmatism or Idealism: Which is More Important?

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    Pragmatism or Idealism: Which is More Important?

    Keeping in mind that the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, which is the more important value in terms of your political beliefs?

    Do you focus on the ideal situation and strive to make that a reality as much as you can? Or do you favor pragmatism and think that each situation should be taken into account on it's own merits? Are there inherent Truths that should be followed or is the world too complex for these ideals to be considered as a basis for thoughts/actions?

    This is meant to be as objective as possible; please excuse any perceived bias in the above if you find any.

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    Re: Pragmatism or Idealism: Which is More Important?

    Ultimately you have to look at the results your positions bring about. That can be difficult because we live in a world with many constantly shifting variables, so its not always easy to say "we did X and it brought about Y change". But that said, I do believe that any ideology if taken too blindly and dogmatically will end up doing more harm than good.

    On the flip side I'm leery of politicians that don't have any discernable political philosophy or core ideology. They tend to be the worst kind of pandering politicians who simply bow to the whims of the masses to get elected. I feel more comfortable with someone who has a purpose beyond getting elected.

    As for my own ideology, I'm a libertarian. I was a conservative originally, but I grew to embrace libertarianism as I began to be troubled by what I felt was hypocrisy in constantly clamoring for "small government" on fiscal matters, but embracing big government solutions to social issues. I admire the consistancy of libertarianism and I also began to realize that same arguments used by conservatives against big government in economic and fiscal matters also apply to most social issues. Government is too big and blunt to effectively manage the day to day lives of millions of individuals who often have different outlooks, goals, and purposes. And many of these attempts to manage people, while well intentioned, have negative side affects - often without even addressing the problem they were enacted to address. Take the drug war. Drugs are bad for you. I don't question that at all, but studies have shown that drug laws have little to no effect on user rates and prohibition creates all sorts of problems like creating a black market that funds powerful criminal cartels and makes users less likely to seek treatment.

    But that said, I do recognize that libertarianism has its short comings. For example, I support anti-trust laws. Libertarians embrace the free market, and I believe competitive free market gives us many desireable outcomes, but allowing monopolies to form and thrive distorts the free market and gives us a distorted outcome.

    So to answer the question its a balancing act. I probably lean a little bit towards ideology over pragmatism, but I happen to deeply believe that if you let people make their own choices AND suffer the consequences of those choices, things tend to work themselves out for the most part. Good choices are rewarded and bad choices are discourages. And I place a high value on personal freedom and I'm willing to sacrifice small increases in safety or the public good to allow people to make their own choices and keep government in a small box (because I believe its in the nature of government and those in government to seek to expand its power and control).
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    Re: Pragmatism or Idealism: Which is More Important?

    Quote Originally Posted by RadicalModerate View Post
    Keeping in mind that the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, which is the more important value in terms of your political beliefs?

    Do you focus on the ideal situation and strive to make that a reality as much as you can? Or do you favor pragmatism and think that each situation should be taken into account on it's own merits? Are there inherent Truths that should be followed or is the world too complex for these ideals to be considered as a basis for thoughts/actions

    This is meant to be as objective as possible; please excuse any perceived bias in the above if you find any.
    If one has ideals and is in a position to implement them, they will always find compromise necessary and to accomplish part of your ideals by being pragmatic and accepting compromise works best. So pragmitism is extremely important, but ideals are more heartwarming. Cold, calculating practicality says pragmitism is a necessity.

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    Re: Pragmatism or Idealism: Which is More Important?

    sometimes our idealism doesnt serve our aims and we may need to act pragmatically,this life doesnt consist of only black and white..one may have to be pragmatist in order to reach his idealistic purposes...
    Last edited by Medusa; 01-14-12 at 04:55 PM.

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    Re: Pragmatism or Idealism: Which is More Important?

    I don't view the two as mutually exclusive. There are pragmatic steps one can take to bring society closer to one's ideal.

    For instance:

    Liberalism in international relations - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    Re: Pragmatism or Idealism: Which is More Important?

    In a sense, I think they are parts of the same process. You need a lofty, idealistic goal to know what to strive for. Be it peace, prosperity, or anything worth having, you need to aim really high if you want to make any kind of lasting change in the world. On the other hand, things are not that simple, and pragmatic compromise is often needed to make even a part of that dream come true.

    If we strive for nothing and simply accept the world as it is, then we will accomplish nothing. But if we cannot accept small steps of progress, then we still won't accomplish anything.
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    Re: Pragmatism or Idealism: Which is More Important?

    It depends on the office. For a House seat, idealism is fine. Congressional leaders should be a little more pragmatic than the rank and file. A President needs an amount of pragmatism, because he has to realize that just because he got elected, he's not going to get his way all the time.

    Overall, a mix of both is good, but how much of each depends on the office.


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    Re: Pragmatism or Idealism: Which is More Important?

    Prag is superior to ideal. It's like ideal + real.

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    Re: Pragmatism or Idealism: Which is More Important?

    I see idealism as a reach for a utopian society. Those don't exist obviously. They cannot as a Utopian society in itself would not be ideal. It would be anarachy or total government control depending on whose utopia we end up talking about. A push for idealistic goals, rather than the pragmatic goals, ends with us having such "wonderful" organizations like the UN or League of Nations.

    I will say though, that you should still HAVE idealistic "goals." As James Madison said, "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition." I feel this holds true not only for the three branches, but for stopping a total push to one side that leaves us with a Robspierre in power (after all it was the counteracting ambition that removed his head).

    Some "ideals" I would say are not unachievable and are easily enforceable, like the Bill of Rights. These are also pragmatic though. They at least keep the government answering to the people (sort of).
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    Re: Pragmatism or Idealism: Which is More Important?

    Quote Originally Posted by ecofarm View Post
    Prag is superior to ideal. It's like ideal + real.
    I agree, idealism is the privilege of youth. For those who have lived long enough, that privilege becomes stupidity. Idealism and pragmatism are mutually exclusive. Dreams, being what they are, die.

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