Old conservatives went from "is" to an acceptance of a world of indulgence laced with shame. Modern liberals, following science, go from "is" to passive acceptance, laced with guilt (you're right about that)."Reflex trumped reason" even if reason would defend the actions themselves as ideal.
Neoliberals, as modern liberals, lose the guilt.
Brad DeLong: "For those humans who live in the city and are not really rich, rubber tomatoes provide a welcome and tasty and affordable simulacrum of the tomato-eating experience."
After hurricane Katrina Tyler Cowen proposed letting swaths of New Orleans rebuilt as shantytowns, to foster a cultural rebirth, on the model of the corrupt and violent but vibrant New Orleans of 100 years ago. As another example he cited Kingston Jamaica, and the birth of Reggae. Interestingly enough he didn't mention the South Bronx and Hip Hop. There's no accounting for taste.
Robert Reich goes from "is" to "ought".
Tony Judt argues against nature.
The woman who talked down killer last week in London was asked why she approached him. Her response was immediate and regarding the question itself, incredulous. "Better me than a child".
The woman has a strong and ingrained sense of moral responsibility. If she'd been more objective and less knee-jerk she might have realized that over the course of her career she would be able to instill that sense of responsibility in perhaps as much as 20% of her students, but that the odds of any children in the vicinity of the killer growing up to become like her meant that it would be better for society in the long run if she did not get involved. But science lost out to morality. Reflex trumped reason.
"Scientific" and "disinterested" reason has shown that disinterested reason is in fact impossible in any engagements with the world. That's your point, right? We search for laws to govern our inevitably shallow self-interested behavior. And in our passivity we become even shallower. Delong attacks Alex Cockburn and William Safire in extremes of high dudgeon, but eulogizes Jeanne Kirkpatrick, closer to a war criminal than either of the others, as an old family friend. Power corrupts. He can't even conceive of himself as a jackass.
"To the pure, all things are pure." From science to Saint Paul, from arrogance to stupidity. Technocracy expands and democracy fades.
"Tony Judt argues against nature." I shouldn't have to telegraph the irony.
Liberal idealism ends in perversity.