Louis CK On His Political Philosophy and the Value of Curiosity

Because I’ve written so much about the unifying approach to politics Louis CK has been taking on Louie this year, I made sure to ask him about it when I got the chance yesterday. His answer was in striking context to the very, very funny pontificating by Russell Brand that followed, sample lines of which included, “I think we are passing the time, as human beings, where we look to these people to lead us”; the observation that Mitt Romney sees other billionaires as “Dickensian street urchins, eating gruel with fingerless gloves”; the declarations that “I like metaphorical systems for understanding mortality. Death is confusion; that “Until there is a fundamental spiritual revolution, I don’t care what color, red or blue or black or white, the pigment on their skin or the color on their flags”; and the insistence “the only legitimate distinction in global politics and society is rich or poor.”

CK said the driving force in his political humor was curiosity rather than expertise:

I don’t have any political opinions, I just am very curious. And it’s very interesting to listen to what people say. What’s the best way to run a country and the world? Those are really profound questions. I don’t have the confidence to say that I know one way or another. Some things I think are very conservative, or very liberal. I think when someone falls into one category for everything, I’m very suspicious. It doesn’t make sense to me that you’d have the same solution to every issue. I just like listening. I try to take people who are way far away from what I think or understand and put a representative of them on my show. I like to try to learn form them. When we did the show with the Christian anti-masturbating lady, it would have been easy to have a stupid Christian anti-masturbating lady…it was more fun to have her be really eloquent and see if I could learn from someone who never masturbates. There really is a very blissful, beautiful idea behind that. I f I could stop, I would be very happy. When I went to Afghanistan with the USO, I’m a pacifist, and I’m really against any violence, and I think there’s zero reason to ever do it. I learned so much from being around those folks, and I feel like I was enriched by it…This is what I saw, here, you guys can make your own opinions. I think it’s better to illuminate shit and learn about it than to opinionate about it…I’m a little dumb. I sleep too much, and I did a lot of drugs when I was a kid. I can’t handle the responsibility of having a political opinion.

I think, as was often the case, that CK is being a bit self-deprecating here. He obviously has some politicized opinions, even if they’re not partisan ones, or specific policy proposals he backs in his humor. This is, after all, a guy who told me after the session that he tries never to connect his love for his daughters to their physical appearance so they won’t think they’re only loved for their looks, which is kind of remarkable and wonderful. And this might be a point in and of itself—that the best way to get us past the worst of our partisan gridlock is not to hold up bipartisanship as a fetish, but to encourage genuine curiosity and idiosyncrasy in our political thinking again.