Post No.: 0206
There is generally a false dichotomy between politically ‘rightwing’ and ‘leftwing’ people. There are a lot of different schools of philosophy and they don’t fit neatly along one single linear dimension. For instance, libertarianism has some strong conservative views and some strong liberal views so it’s not really in the middle (it’s fiscally conservative whilst individual-rights liberal). Utilitarianism, and Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum’s capability approach to justice, present different forms of distributive justice, and Rawlsian liberalism isn’t exactly egalitarianism. ‘Centralists’ come in many flavours depending on each individual issue. Individuals even disagree about things within their own party affiliations and any person can potentially change sides or stances over time too. And even if a strict dichotomy were true – both/all major sides care about civilisation but only differ on the ideals and proposed answers on how civilisation should operate. Woof.
Just about no one thinks they’re fundamentally evil – we may do bad things but still be able to justify them under the circumstances and maintain a belief that we’re not bad people. Even Adolf Hitler sought a better human civilisation but his ‘solution’ was eugenics – he actually thought that it’d be evil not to cleanse the human race of what the Nazis considered as ‘inferior’ peoples. Some less ‘far-right’ but still considered ‘rightwing’ people may tamp that approach down yet still go as far as believing that ‘tough love’ (e.g. no welfare state) is the best thing for the human race, and they believe that it’d be evil not to let the ‘weak’ or unfortunate die off or improve on their own accord to leave only the ‘strong’ or fortunate to inherit the future.
Some will argue that it’s fairer to redistribute wealth in society from the more fortunate to the less fortunate, whilst others will argue that it’s not about denying other people a share of one’s possessions (via taxation) per se but about keeping what one ought to keep to oneself, and that’s the proper conception of fairness. But some will counter-argue that these are logically the same things because it’s like saying, “I don’t want others to starve but I just don’t want to give them any of my food” or, “We don’t want to wreck the planet but we should just have the freedom to do whatever we want.” But some will counter-counter-argue this by saying that taxation is a theft and restricting what people can do is force or coercion and these are, as principles, wrong in and of themselves. And so forth…
So virtually everyone believes that they believe in the moral or correct thing, whether capitalists, socialists, communists, democrats or whomever – even terrorists (whether for political and/or religious reasons) because, after all, one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter or fighter of some other cause. One person’s whistleblower is another person’s spy too. (An exception to truly believing that one believes in the moral or correct thing might be selfish dictators who only really care about power to serve their own dynasties rather than their entire populations, but these people ought to be quickly overthrown from within these countries; although this may not be easy due to an oppressed and thus weakened population that is at least partially exposed to the propaganda that their leader and government is pushing, of the vision that it’s all for the benefit of the population and country to have a hard-line leader.)
A lot of fictional antagonists in movies or books seem to want to destroy the world for no reason other than for the sake of destroying the world ‘out of madness’ – but this does not reflect reality or non-fiction. It’s just lazy writing! Few in reality want chaos – just their own conception of utopia. And arguably the chaos stems from the aggressive disagreements between groups rather than the inherent virtues of any major school of thought (i.e. it’d arguably work if everyone truly believed in and supported the same ideas, whatever those ideas were).
People’s political leanings are partly down to nature and partly down to nurture. Although there is a false dichotomy between ‘rightwing’ or conservative and ‘leftwing’ or liberal people, there are some generalisations that need to be understood as being generalisations (i.e. there are many exceptions to these tendencies). Please also note that the following relates more to North American conceptions of conservatism and liberalism too…
Openness to experiences is correlated with leftwing, progressive liberalism, while being closed is correlated with rightwing, traditional conservatism (‘conservative’ is indeed an appropriate term for conservatives – people who are politically more conservative tend to be conservative in other ways too e.g. being more cautious about eating rare or raw food, or being more cautious about unknown people from outgroups). Liberal people tend to be higher educated and trust more in scientific findings, are less reliant on intuitive feelings and are less religious (although many still consider themselves ‘spiritual’). Both care about doing no harm to others and being fair, although how each side defines ‘fairness’ or ‘justice’, for instance, will generally differ.
Conservative people care more about ingroup loyalty (e.g. patriotism or nationalism (which are notably different but relate to having pride in one’s national identity) as opposed to diversity, but maybe the more precise difference is that conservatives believe in group loyalty within a smaller and more exclusive group while liberals believe in group loyalty across a wider and more inclusive group e.g. all human beings wherever they come from). Conservative people also care more about respecting authority and obedience rather than questioning authority, and respecting notions of ‘purity’ or ‘sanctity’ (e.g. rejecting abortion or homosexuality, but although conservatives may care more about suppressing carnality, recreational drug use or swearing, for instance, liberals tend to care more about what food they put into their body, for instance, hence the particular pursuit of ‘higher, purer or nobler’ ends just differs – liberal people desire more freedom regarding what they do to their own bodies but this doesn’t mean they don’t care about their own bodies).
Liberal people speak socially for the vulnerable and oppressed, want more equality and are more likely to start a revolution over it, while conservative people desire order and are more resistant to change, even if upholding traditions and institutions bears some cost for the vulnerable and oppressed (order is hard to achieve and so easy to lose so conservative views and some restraints on liberties have their value, but although not all change is necessarily good, good progression requires change). Liberal people care more about the greater good, while conservatives care more about following principles of right or wrong regardless of their consequences. Again, these are only very broad trends and most people come somewhere inbetween the extremes or have a mix of liberal and conservative views depending on the issue in question.
So both conservative and liberal people need to be more open to, or at least need to better understand, each other’s views – both sides have their merits and have something to contribute, and really each need each other to balance change versus stability and to prevent any extreme or ‘far’ positions or outcomes either way, which are the real dangers. The healthiest state is frequently balanced in ‘yin and yang’. All natural ecosystems and bodily systems seek a balanced homeostasis to be optimal and healthy too. This doesn’t mean change isn’t possible or isn’t sometimes fine or good – it’s just risky if it’s too fast (e.g. decompression sickness or the bends if depressurisation is not completed slowly after deep sea diving, or trying to lose weight too fast even though losing weight would be a healthy goal for an obese person). In many Asian cultures, yin and yang aren’t enemies and don’t hate each other – they’re necessary and work together, like night and day.
Basically everyone thinks they’re right and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong, thus it’s naïve to charge in with the fuzzy attitude of ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’! Everyone has a reason(s) for their beliefs, for being and for what they’re doing, so we need to step out of this self-righteousness and cultivate more moral humility. To even hope to change other people’s minds, we need to first understand human moral psychology.
In my own furry conclusion – an ‘either you’re for us or against us’ mentality is a hindrance to progress. A clear ‘them versus us’ or ‘good versus evil’ demarcation is false, and such language and attitudes are arguably not representative or helpful when people need to look for reasoned arguments, common grounds and ways to coexist.
Woof! Fluffystealthkitten and I generally hold nuanced political positions and we are punished for it because rather than all sides listening, relatively few listen. But we’re not going to change just to seek popularity amongst the typically oversimplistic and divisive political discourse found on social media.