Redefining the Center (Evaluating our Terms).

The past few months have been dividing, I think, to anyone involved in politics. Some Trump supporters are growing tired of this political/cultural Stalingrad, and leftists too becoming less interested in the hysteria of their own side; and like Stalingrad there are platoons of debaters on either side, standing behind their forces willing to shoot if their side retreats. In the middle of a conflict where no middle ground seems reachable I think the problem lies in a barely definable center.

If you Google the left-right denominations it will appear similarly to this, starting from the left;

Communism, Socialism, Liberalism, Conservatism, Libertarianism, Fascism,

-and I suppose a more complex system, taking into account the two forms of Liberalism and a far-Liberalism, would be displayed as follows;

Communism, Socialism, Progressivism, Social Liberalism, Conservatism, Classical Liberalism, Libertarianism, Fascism.

For those wondering, even The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics [1] has Classical Liberalism (the belief in freedom of expression/association and the reduction of government to uphold fundamental liberties) under “right wing”, I place it here next to Libertarianism (the belief in very limited government) given the considerable amount of overlapping principles, where Classical Liberalism is almost just a moderate Libertarianism.

So, first, if anyone is unfamiliar with these terms I’m going to briefly describe each one of them, from top-down, starting left (top) to right (bottom);

Communism: seizing the means of production to share amongst the people evenly by a larger government party.
Socialism: use of government to redistribute wealth evenly amongst the people.
Progressivism: the use of government to prohibit non-left leaning values e.g. certain phrases deemed “politically incorrect”, including no-platforming speakers or writers for having a conservative political position.
Social Liberalism: the use of government to enforce left leaning values e.g. affirmative action, diversity quotas, socialized institutions like the NHS and increased welfare.
Conservatism: the use of government to enforce right leaning values e.g. abortion restriction, easing on welfare for fear of a welfare cliff (an economic argument where people stay in poverty as a result of a higher disposable income provided to them by welfare payments).
Classical Liberalism.
Libertarianism.
Fascism: use of state to enforce right leaning values to an authoritarian degree, often religiously motivated.

It is important to note, regarding Fascism, that it’s use as an extreme right wing term comes from its supposed opposition to Socialism, even though they share a lot of similarities, at least in terms of outcome. The term Fascism was invented by Benito Mussolini derived from Fasces meaning “a bundle of rods”, referring to large state which proposes that the majority should never rule, and so holds itself as anti-democracy, in a sense it is similar to advocating a de-facto Monarchy, whereas Socialism/Communism is the use of government to distribute means and control its populous and so often ends up in a similar place, where the government is irremovable by democratic vote.

So, now the basic terms have been defined I would like to add something in to the mix, that being a divide of Conservatism as there is now for Liberalism, one which also takes into account the moderate Conservatism and the extreme Conservatism. This divide will go as follows between the moderate ideologies:

…Progressivism, Social Liberalism, Social Conservatism, Religious Conservatism…

In this divide, Social Conservatism, like Social Liberalism, seeks to use government to enforce right leaning values where Religious Conservatism, like Progressivism, seeks to use government to prohibit non-right leaning values. In this, the Religious Conservative would seek to make abortion illegal for example, whereas the Social Conservative would merely want to put greater restrictions in place.

Do you notice now, however, looking at the spectrum, an inconsistency? Obviously a center currently would be one between Social Liberalism and Social Conservatism, holding positions on either side or moderately one or the other. The inconsistency occurs in the rise and fall of government power as you move from far left to far right. From Communism to Social Liberalism, there is a natural decline in government power as you become more moderate, where the extreme (Communism) is all government. However, on the right, the same cannot be said, government power increases as conservatism becomes less moderate and then all of a sudden you have “limited to no government” with Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism, and then suddenly the extreme (as one up from these two, Fascism), all government.

I would propose the following denomination between the left and right, and to make it even we’ll add two other terms to the mix: far-nationalism, meaning overt pride in one’s state and people, often to the prohibition of foreign cultures in some way, and Constitutional Conservatism, the belief in a reduction of government to constitutional rights.

(From left to right, center divided by ‘//’)

Communism, Socialism, Progressivism, Social Liberalism // Classical Liberalism, Libertarianism, Constitutional Conservatism // Social Conservatism, Religious Conservatism, Far-Nationalism, Fascism.

In this model, the center is defined as Classical Liberal (left-leaning), Libertarian (base center), and Constitutional Conservatism (right-leaning). In this model, then, the right increases naturally in government control, just like the left, as it becomes more extreme but with opposing moral stances. Far-Nationalism, just as Socialism seeks to use government to distribute wealth, seeks to use government to distribute culture. And the center, where I think a lot of people can come together on, is the reduction of government to upholding people’s fundamental freedoms and constitutional rights; freedom of expression, speech, association, religion etc. there will still be disagreements to the extent of that limitation and to what it covers, which is why a separate left/center/right system is in place for this “new center” as well, but I think under these definitions we can find a lot of common ground between the left, who are now realising that large government is only ever good if it’s your guy in charge, and the right who are seeing a backlash from their own side if they dare retreat or question this Conservative counter-revolution, particularly if you’re a non-Trump supporting right-winger (this is coming from a Trump supporter as well).

Do you agree? Disagree? let me know your thoughts on this “new center”, or if you have a different view on the terms I’ve set out. I’ll be posting an article soon on how to tell which political ideology you likely fall into if you’re unsure, so stay tuned for that!

NOTE: Alt-right, and anarcho movements like Anarcho-capitalists or Anarcho-communists are removed from this analysis because I think they represent fringe elements of other ideologies rather than mainstream political leanings, particularly anarcho beliefs since they advocate for the removal of the current system of politics altogether.

[1] McLean, Iain; McMillan, Alistair (2008). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Outcome Fetish: Examining the Left.

I maintain the view that leftism, as defined by social liberalism, progressivism, socialism and communism, are more concerned with outcome than opportunity, where the right doesn’t care much about outcome at all, and would cease to use it as a proof of in-opportunity. For the right, as defined by conservatism, classical liberalism, libertarianism and protectionism, inequality is a part of life so long as no inequity has taken place.

Equality, and Egalitarianism.

I used to see egalitarianism only in terms of base equality of opportunity. It is not a bad thing in my mind that there are rich and there are poor, nor is it a bad thing that some are better off than others; so long as that richness is achieved and that poorness is achieved, and so long as one did not create the other. However, I have recently been told that this belief makes me un-egalitarian. I have been told that an egalitarian speaks in terms of distributive equality, backed up by questions used to define this ideology; “Are all persons of equal moral worth? Is variation in income and wealth just?” My answer is no, and “it depends”. Certainly morality should not be tied to conversations of wealth, not because wealth is immoral, but because it has nothing to do with it; wealth is a means of survival and the acquisition of luxury, am I moral or immoral for owning a television? Am I moral or immoral for starving to death or binge-eating? There is no moral action involved.

I think the left has taken this term hostage, and uses it to justify a redistribution of outcome. And I will explain, in simple terms, why outcome is irrelevant; If I get an A in an exam, and you get a C, has inequity taken place? Is it fair to say that because I have a better upbringing, on discipline and hard work, and because I have a more stable home life, that my A is undeserved, and that too, your lack of these things makes your C undeserved? Should the solution be to give us both Bs? No, because we took the same test, with the same examiner, with the same teacher, and with the same textbook. Or what if we had the same upbringing? Would we both receive As, or is there a disparity in intelligence or enthusiasm or memory?

It is the right that asks these questions, it is the left that assumes if one person received an A, and the other a C, then injustice must have taken place.

Priority.

Prioritarianism, a subset of utilitarianism, is originally defined that “benefiting people matters more the worse off these people are.” A base interpretation of which would imply that anyone in society that is seen as “worse off” should be paid special attention to, although some modern prioritarians have interpreted this as being more about the value of the benefit itself. I would argue that it is exactly the base interpretation the left has adopted (and maybe adopted falsely). It is this argument that is used to justify welfare states and socialised healthcare. Ironically of course both of these hurt the people who are  worst off, but unintentionally (from the welfare cliff to a demand-pull as people who can afford healthcare unnecessarily drain the resources).

On this, the progressive movement falls into identity politics, on “marginalised” people, a term which implies motive when is really only used to mean “minority” characteristics, and they assume that because of these characteristics, whether black, or disabled, or trans, or gay, or Muslim, or women (even though that is not a minority group), these people are worse off in society and therefore must be protected. More moderate, social liberals however fall into a similar trap of collectivism only on an economic level. They use wealth as a measurement of need, if you do not have money, by definition you “need” it, and if you do, by definition, you don’t “need” it (while all the while claiming there is more to life than money). Well that isn’t true for one reason, and it wouldn’t matter if it was for another. First, it depends entirely on what people spend their money on, a rich man may need money to start a business (which may require more than he has, although he would still be considered rich), and needs to make money from that business in order to sustain the investment, to avoid losing money – or perhaps to appeal to the humanitarians reading this, he needs money for a certain cause. Equally, a poor man may not need money if he spends it unnecessarily, also he may not be looking to make money but just to live within his means – this brings us to the reason why it wouldn’t matter either way. It will never be true on a collective level that those who need money should be given it, nor those who don’t need money should be impeded from earning more; this is because for some people earning your money is important (and living within your means), for others the opportunity to have more money can work as an incentive.

Take corporations for example, the corporation tax is designed and morally defended because, as a recent panel on BBC question time discussed, “why should the rich be getting richer?” What is not understood is that repealing or lowering tax on businesses and corporations incentivises them to invest in that country, to do more business in that country, which ultimately trickles down with job opportunities and lower prices (because the supply is easier to meet).

So back to the question of outcome, if outcome is greater across the whole, it doesn’t matter if there is a disparity in outcome individually, especially if no disparity may reduce the outcome across the whole. This is why providing opportunities to everyone, exempt from priority, can greater benefit everyone.

Privilege.

Privilege is one of those words used to invert the prioritarian stance by focussing on those who are “best off”. Again the distinction can be drawn between the progressive identity politics, that being white is a privilege or being male, and the social liberal view on economic privilege. First, to get the former out of the way, any notion that someone is “privileged” because of an arbitrary characteristic is as collectivist, and as bigoted, as saying that someone is a victim because of an arbitrary characteristic, remember the whole “judge people not on the colour of their skin but the content of the character”? It also operates on the assumption that western countries at least are systemically racist and sexist enough (even ran by black or female politicians) that a poor white man in a rust belt state or working in a factory 13 hours a day is more privileged than some of the most powerful people in the world.

On economic privilege, I would argue that money itself is only a privilege if you have been afforded it (by definition), which is why I find it so unusual how many people who claim that rich people are privileged enter the lottery, which, to win, would be the ultimate privilege. But obviously this is more used in relation to what can be done with the money, that money grants privilege rather than is a privilege itself. In which case… so? Everything people want grants a privilege of some sort, otherwise they wouldn’t want it, so if we’re framing things in terms of privilege, anyone who achieves something is afforded the privilege in question and every one who doesn’t, isn’t. That’s how society works, what’s your solution? Allow people the privilege without the achievement? Wouldn’t that eliminate the need for that achievement?

Going back to the earlier analogy, I want to get an A in order for the privilege of a higher chance of getting into university. If I work hard, and achieve it, and you have not, should you be offered an equally high chance as me of getting into that university? If so, why would I bother trying to achieve an A?

Consequentialism.

The finally topic I want to cover on the left’s desire to resolve “outcome” disparity, is the means by which that resolution is achieved. Consequentialism is a philosophy defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as the belief “that whether an act is morally right depends only on the consequences of that act or of something related to that act, such as the motive behind the act.” This view of the ends justifying the means is very dangerous, and something adopted by the left in almost every area of modern leftist policy. It is the politics of morality over rationality.

The more extreme proponents of this view will use it to justify violence in the name of political activism, see UC Berkeley, or warrant the punching of “Nazis” on moral grounds because the action is forgivable by the morality of the actor. Why both of these are dangerous is because anyone can have a different moral opinion, and how often are people referred to as “Nazis” or “white supremacists” unjustly because they’re right wing, or voted for Trump? If the left can make an enemy out of you on moral grounds, even if you’re on their side politically but disagree, it can justify any action to stop you under consequentialism.

Now, think of the two dividing factors I’ve outlined previously, the progressive “identity” line vs. the social liberal “economic” line. Any action, however extreme, which resolves a disparity on race or gender by the progressives will be seen as morally justifiable. And any action which resolves a disparity of income or wealth will be seen by social liberals as morally justifiable. In extreme cases, the former leads to misandry, and anti-white violence (especially if privilege is a defining factor); the latter leads to socialism. In moderate cases however, it would be the use of government policy to affect outcome, which prioritises in favour of the worst off, punishes the privileged, and framed in terms of “equality” to make any refutation of the action or policy comparable to being anti-equality, and therefore immoral (for which action may be taken against you also). This is the recipe for a totalitarian state.

Conclusion.

People say I lack compassion because I’m not a liberal. They say I don’t care about people, that I’m robotic when it comes to how the world should run, and yet I am the only one it seems who would feel bad for a white man who grew up dreaming of success, and maybe holds some more conservative positions, having his money forcibly taken away, refused a job on the grounds of race or gender in the name of “diversity”, told that he only succeeded because of his race or gender or economic upbringing, told he’s privileged and that he should be grateful for all that is being done to him, told that he’s not doing enough to help others, forced into permanent government programs, told that he’s living in a country which benefits him the most, and then called a Nazi for wanting to limit the size of the state.

I think we can find common ground on the protection of people’s rights and freedoms, limiting the size of the state, and wanting truth in the media. But I don’t think any of us can come together until we resolve the dispute between those who want equal opportunity and personal responsibility, and the “morally superior” proprietors of outcome resolution.

Are We Living in an Orwellian Dystopia?

The New York Times recently published an article entitled, “Why ‘1984’ is a 2017 Must Read,” a statement I can whole heartedly agree with, only for different reasons. Now, stepping aside the irony of the New York Times calling anything Orwellian, given they were caught in a WikiLeaks release exchanging emails with John Podesta, they are correct that George Orwell’s novel did predict the current state of the world, only it is, as I would argue, the state of the left not the current Trump administration nor any right-wing upsurge he predicted. I would go one step further and say that the right-wing upsurge is a revolution against what has become the IngSoc (English Socialism).

I can argue this on four points.

1. Doublethink & “Alternative Facts”.

The controversy over Kellyanne Conway’s statement, Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts”, led to a reported boom in sales of the George Orwell classic. The argument is that the notion of “alternative facts” was similar to Orwell’s doublethink – the idea that you could have two conflicting truths exist simultaneously. In the novel, people learn doublethink in order to fit in and is tied to the Big Brother propaganda. In other words, “alternative facts” are given by a government to manipulate people into thinking that both their statements and the facts they’ve been given elsewhere are mutually correct, even though they are contradictory; this leads neither of them to be able to be considered correct over the other. The purpose of doing so, as I interpret it, would be to make it unclear in a person’s mind who is telling the truth, therefore allowing the government to lie and not be held accountable for it.

While I agree that Conway’s wording was stupid, she did not outright say “we present alternative facts” full stop. Rather, I think, in the context of the conversation she was probably implying that the media’s “facts” were not facts at all. Maybe they had alternative information that backed up their own statements. Or maybe she did mean that in which case I won’t defend her for it, but it doesn’t seem likely, actually if you read the transcript it does just sound like a bad phrasing that reporters leaped on. But why? Why would a journalist seek to find any opportunity, however far fetched, to delegitimise the president? Well it’s a simple answer, because they see him as an opponent to their ideology. I mean think about it, imagine how stupid a masterfully manipulative totalitarian administration would have to be to accidentally tell people they’re lying to them, and yet the media is treating this like a full blown scandal.

By its very nature, two contradicting arguments accepted as fact does imply that one of them is false but it does not say which one. It could be either, so who do you believe? The media, or the government? This is an easy question to answer. First, you do not believe the media, who has spent the last year corroborating the Democratic party doctrine and favouring the Obama administration by cult of personality, but you do not believe any government who can use that precedent of trust to tell you anything they want to in future. So who do you believe? Well, that’s just it. To even ask the question is a problem in itself, if you have to rely on a statement of fact to believe that a fact is correct, without evidence, based solely on the reliability of its source, you are setting that same precedent.

2. Big Brother & Thought Crime.

The Big Brother character in Orwell’s book represents a totalitarian state, one that surveils its people, and punishes them for what is considered a thought crime. There are thought police who seek to make sure that everyone believes universally that which is dictated by a big brother government. If I were to put anything in the modern day to this category, barring the advocacy of big governments like the European Union, it would be political correctness.

By its very origin, political correctness (the “I don’t know if I can say that” ideology), was used to silence alternative opinions. According to Kohl, “The term “politically correct” was used disparagingly, to refer to someone whose loyalty overrode compassion, and led to bad politics.”

Now, whether or not you accept Kohl’s analysis, just look at the term itself. A ‘politic’ is an opinion on how the world should be run. To say that someone’s opinion on how the world should be run is not ‘correct’ is to say that they are guilty of wrong think; a thought crime. However, rarely is it used in the modern day to refer to someone’s politics – it may not be politically incorrect to vote for Donald Trump, but both Donald Trump and his supporters are likely politically incorrect, which is a subtle difference. Equally, it is not often used to direct or punish thought (unless you belong to the “objectification” school of Feminism), but to direct or punish the expression of thought, in language. Language policing is not thought policing, that is unless you apply motive. Then you can demonise based on the assumption of thought by association to, or expression of, thought which is seen to be “incorrect”.

Closer still, is the concept of “hate crime”. To punish differently a man who attacks someone else, from a man who attacks someone else based on a protected characteristic, is to make motive the only arbiter. If to commit a crime based on prejudice is worse than that same crime with any other motive, you are punishing the thought of hate, so you are ruling on a thought crime. It also sets a precedent, where motive can be assumed and applied by the ideology of political correctness, for which, given its ever-changing set of rules, anyone at any moment can be culpable. A regular crime today, can be a hate crime tomorrow even if, to you, your motive is the same.

Either way political correctness toes a fine line to Orwell’s thought police.

3. The Ministry of Truth & Plenty.

I published an article last week discussing what I called the Papacy of Experts, tying the concept of “expert opinions” to propaganda and religiosity. From that article I assert that “bishops of the holy see pass down some truth which is known to be had by the holiness of the man who told it to them, as so can an expert pass down his truth, which is known to be had by the intelligence of the man who told it to him.” My point being that facts from institutions whether it’s centered around climate change, psychology, economics or other sciences should not be trusted religiously by the titles of the men who claim them. Anyone labeled a “science denier” for being sceptical about any of these purported facts are being silenced from doing the job of a scientist, which is scepticism, by a threat of social exclusion. This in no small way can be attributed to Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, responsible for revising the truth, in line with the state’s interpretation of events.

In the same vein, the “fake news” witch trials in the mainstream media which primarily targeted conservative websites who disagreed with their liberal narrative, is a perfect example of an attempt to control “truth” as it is perceived and to do so on credibility and overt representation. In other words, in every paper, on every screen, on every website, bleeding its way even to the entertainment industry. We are so much dominated by celebrity and fiction that when Kellyanne Conway used the phrase “alternative facts”, millions of people rushed to purchase a fictional novel, it is also why we watch Schindler’s List in History class to teach us about the holocaust, because education shares too a philosophy and a message. It does not seek to inform, it seeks to instruct. By definition, it seeks to “educate” (give intellectual, moral, and social instruction to…).

4. IngSoc (English Socialism).

Make no mistake, Orwell’s nineteen eighty-four was not a criticism of right wing nationalism, nor really fascism (if fascism is to be believed on the far right), but rather soviet-socialism. It was anti-collectivism; or Oligarchical Collectivism, as described in the book, which “rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it does so in the name of socialism.”

Another passage in the book explains the ideology as follows, “The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close […] in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that.”

Now, from the left at the moment we have the democratic socialists, of Bernie Sanders, who probably do believe that human beings would be free and equal as a result of government power. We have global socialism, of Hillary Clinton and the European Union, probably belonging to the ideology of the Ingsoc, and we have the antifas, or anti fascists, a sub section of protesters, often seen in the modern day sporting socialist flags, seeking to “defeat capitalism” for the sake of humanity; not to mention the Newspeak style shortening of the name. It seems then a bit ironic to label the Trump administration, by most extreme accounts protectionist, patriotic and nationalist, to the Big Brother of nineteen eighty-four, when the labelers represent everything within that ideology.

Ingsoc is formed of moral relativism and collectivism, so too, is the modern left – from identity politics to nihilism and existentialism, the modern left is the perfect representation of Ingsoc.

______

Even such a brief analysis as this, it seems absurd to apply the Orwellian label anywhere else than in an ideology where anyone opposed to the prevailing narrative is “post-truth” (a far more dangerous and subtle form of manipulation than “alternative truth”); where people march in the streets for a global European superstate; where non-liberal voters are called “low information”; where in Nottingham it is a hate crime to be “mysogynistic”; where in Scotland there is an Offensive Behaviours Act; where in Canada, they tried to ban gossiping in public places; where in America Barack Obama used the IRS to target conservatives, preventing them from running against him; where the government can decide how much you should earn, and where the rest of that earning should go; where a candidate can be considered for office who deleted documents so that they cannot be investigated (an Orwellian memory hole); and worse, where people can be so brainwashed as to read a copy of nineteen eighty-four, and believe it to be a book opposed to patriotism, nationalism, and constitutional conservatism.

Although, the only thing a boom in copies sold of nineteen-eighty four proves, is that none of these people have read it yet, so I suppose that makes sense.

The Conservative Mindset.

On Change.

A conservative, by definition, is someone whose political or social views advocate the norm; an aversion to change. Similarly, by definition, liberalism is seen as the “change” ideology, and whilst I think traditionally these definitions may have once been valid, in a modern context they simply don’t make sense.

When a conservative is in power, the liberal seeks to change – in the liberal’s mind of course that change is “progressive” but ideology is left-and-right not forward-and-back, so no one is to say what constitutes a progressive change versus a regressive change. If progressivism is, as so commonly referred to, anything which moves towards equality and social justice, then at least half of the “progressive era” in the late 19th/early 20th century would be considered regressive. It was considered progressive in that time to impose prohibition laws, equally the move toward eugenics, Woodrow Wilson was considered a progressive who advocated the Democratic party’s segregation laws. Are these progressive values? The Republicans opposed much of this as it was contrary to that stated in the constitution. In this sense, they were conserving the principles of the constitution, and yet it would seem a great change away from the status quo.

My point here really is that it would be stupid to see a priest turn away from God and consider it change, then a former priest turn back to God and consider it an aversion to change. It is a shift between views, not directions, and you can see in this past year alone, the conservative uprising against the established order of America, and Europe, which is very much considered “liberal”, and it would be stupid to consider that movement away to be a movement backwards and still consider the established order, an order for “change”.

There’s a subset of liberals who consider themselves “classical liberals” following this definition of liberalism as moving away from rigidity and inequality, who oppose the modern left in its embrace of rigidity and inequality, but I would argue too these are positions on the wrong grounds. If I am a conservative, I am a conservative because of what I believe is best, not because of what I believe is old. If I am a liberal, I am a liberal because of what I believe is best, not because of what I believe is change.

Defining Conservatism.

An article by Gordon S Livingston, in a very partisan way, described conservatism as the “punishment ideology”. Taking his cue from religious background, the conservative in Livingston’s eyes “rewards the good and punishes the wicked, [and] those who have “succeeded” materially are naturally favored over those who have failed. The latter have not made use of their opportunities to better themselves and should not be objects of concern for those more successful. It follows therefore that the poor are simply not taking responsibility for their lives, only seeking “entitlements” when they should be looking for jobs.”

Well if this is true, and conservatism focuses too much on punishment, perhaps liberals focus too much on reward; neither of which are very workable systems. I would also argue, much like “to expect the worst is never to be disappointed”, to assume that poor people are not only seeking entitlements, is to be open to being taken advantage of. Of course, to assume all are is wrong, but how do we know the difference? I think also Livingston is assuming that because many conservatives are religious, it would seem then that conservatism stems from religion, but I think this is an oversimplification. Wouldn’t it be more likely that their values simply lean to being both rather than one enforcing the other?

Livingston also notes a hypocrisy, where conservatives who value less government would be in favour of imposing religious beliefs on people. This is, I believe, one of the fairer points he makes, although ignoring the hypocrisy of liberals who want to end corruption in government being in favour of larger, more corruptible government (and the hypocrisy of wanting freedom to act but allowing any government the power to control), but it is true, there are conservatives who seek to impose religious values on people – so are these people true conservatives? If you believe in the “less government” definition of conservatism, then no, they aren’t. If you believe in Livingston’s “religious” definition of conservatism, then absolutely.

So this is my definition of conservatism, and I would like to hear from people if they disagree, but it is largely informed by own experiences, and I will say that no two conservatives, like no two liberals, are the same but the mindsets and the way they view the world are similar enough to group together in this way. I am a sensitive person, emotional, empathetic and sympathetic to a point of near delusion in some cases. If for example I saw a murderer, who murdered his entire family bar his mother, feel sad because he won’t get to see his mother anymore in jail, I would feel sorry for him. I shouldn’t, but I would. Would that make me a liberal? Following my heart, not my head? Well, no. And here’s why;

I am forced by nature to develop a set of principles whereby this sympathy does not impede. This murderer broke the law, and is morally evil, therefore he must be treated as such, if I cannot override my sympathy then it would be to allow this man to kill again. In the same vein to not allow my principles, following my heart, is to allow people to take advantage of me, and to allow people to use me.

Should one sacrifice themselves for the happiness of others? No, as Ayn Rand would suggest, because if everyone were to do that then nobody would live, let alone be happy. In a Kantian way, if it cannot be universalised then it cannot work as a moral principle – if it was moral to sacrifice yourself for the happiness of others, then it would ensure that the one person who does not do so, and therefore profits from it, is immoral – it is a moral principle which, by definition, favours the happiness of those who do not follow it.

Applying this then, to let my sympathy impede my reason, is to ensure the betterment of a murderer who does not have that sympathy. It is equally flawed as a moral principle, and is therefore an immoral principle. What I’m getting at is that conservatives, and I consider myself conservative in a lot of my views, are people who may not necessarily hold the delusional levels of sympathy I do, but who know that you cannot be human in the face of logic, for it is not human, nor is it logical. Liberals however only believe in being “good” among arbitrary definitions, probably guided by the desire for change, even when no change would actually exist. In this sense I suppose it would give reason as to why new “movements” are being formed out of illogic, the transgender movement for example, to make up for a deepening knowledge that their ideology is the new establishment. These are people born and bred to say “fight the power”, rather than “fight power”.

The conservative conserves, yes, but only their foundation principles, the search for which make some of them vulnerable to religion (which offers up a ready-made set of foundation principles). Do liberals change? Not always, but oh how they’d like to.

(Image of Rebecca Pow, by: Rebeccapow (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Our Modern Day Weathermen.

“I cherished my hate as a badge of moral superiority.”

             Mark Rudd (The Weather Underground).

In 1969, the Weathermen (later referred to as the Weather Underground) took over the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and from then lead an anti-government charge focussed at first on opposition to the Vietnam war, and then attaching itself to the black liberation movement. The WUO became a youth counter-revolution, based on a line from Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues, and claimed responsibility for approximately 25 bombs from 1969 to 1975, although no civilian was seriously injured, except for 3 of their own members who were killed after a bomb went off accidentally at a Greenwich Village townhouse in March 1970. It would seem strange to compare this violent movement to the watered-down Facebook activism of the modern left, however the intentions and some of the rhetoric is hauntingly similar. Does this mean a new Weatherman-style group will form? Probably not, but the group could just as easily have formed today.

The rise of certain political figures like Jeremy Corbyn, or Bernie Sanders in America is testament to a growing opinion from (mostly middle-class) youth; an embrace of socialist ideas. In 4 days from the posting of this article I will be graduating university with an Arts degree, and I can see this undying yearn for revolution still present today in modern campuses. Maybe there’s something about the student brain that lends itself to anti-government or anti-capitalist ideas, or maybe it is a lack of student brain I don’t know, and maybe we’ll save the “why” for a separate topic, but the embracing of communist ideas was something the Weathermen also prided themselves on. In You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows, the WUO manifesto, they state that “the goal is the destruction of US imperialism and the achievement of a classless world: world communism,” and that “imperialism is a predatory international stage of capitalism. Defeating imperialism within the US couldn’t possibly have the content, which it could in a semi-feudal country, of replacing imperialism with capitalism or new democracy; when imperialism is defeated in the US, it will be replaced with socialism- nothing else.” Although perhaps the difference between their manifesto and the unwritten cult of the student-left is that they acknowledge that “any conception of ‘socialist revolution’ simply in terms of the working people of the United States, failing to recognise the full scope of interests of the most oppressed peoples of the world, is a conception of a fight for a particular privileged interest.”

Another comparison that can be made between the modern left and the WUO, is their expression of white guilt, and certainly the affiliation with the Black Panthers and the black liberation movement. In May 1970, the Weathermen issued a declaration of a state of war with the United States after recent retaliatory efforts to the Panther 21 trial; accused of coordinating bombings and rifle attacks on two New York city police stations. After the death of black anti-cop activist Fred Hampton in 1969, the Weathermen first began latching themselves on to the anti-law enforcement movement with the Panthers, taking the assumption (which has been debated over several decades) whether Hampton’s death was justified. Whatever your opinion on that is, there are undeniable similarities with a similar black, anti-cop movement that the modern left has attached themselves on to: Black Lives Matter. However, while the Panthers had arguable motive, BLM often proceeds to attack white people on the streets solely because they’re white (as seen in Charlotte, when a white kid was stripped naked in a car park and beaten by a group of young “activists”). What underpins this collaboration between the wish-they-weren’t-white left and black activism is the notion of a clear cut American two-class system; the oppressors, and the oppressed. It would take only one of the several videos from BLM chanting “what do we want? Dead cops!” to liken them to the rhetoric of the Panthers, the only real argument is whether or not the cases are equally valid. The Weathermen held their own slogans above their heads, the words of which were praised as being above the heads of others, which read that “the streets belong to the people”. As architects of white guilt, the Weather Underground arguably began the notion that white skin is comparable in itself to a form of privilege, a recurring talking point of the regressive left.

Another interesting comparison that can be made is the idea of breaking down personal identity and “traditional” sexuality. Whilst the sexual revolution in the 60s may not have been orchestrated by the Weathermen, they certainly participated in it and I think it was along the same revolutionary track. In a documentary about the Weather Underground by Sam Green in 2002, they quote from an unpublished memoir by Mark Rudd; “it was a moment of extreme sexual experimentation. Group sex, homosexuality, casual sex hookups, were all tried as we attempted to break out of the repression of the past into the revolutionary future… legs, arms, genitals, interlocked with no particular identity attached.” Anyone reading that quote should instantly tell the connection I’m trying to make, from the break down of monogamy or “smash monogamy”, to the modern day Gender fluidity, and hyper-bisexualism.

There is a certain trend among youth, and I think it’s important to identify the external reasons why the young feel so imperatively to break free from what they’re taught. Maybe it’s the way they’re taught, or maybe it’s just a tenet of youth itself, and I certainly feel like it’s healthy to want to challenge the system, but to challenge something for the sake of that challenge rather than the real issues within the system is a facade that I don’t believe is healthy – and I think the modern left probably falls into the latter of those two categories. The WUO maybe had some cause, although their actions can be queried, the modern left seem hellbent to bring those same causes and fight in similar shoes to activists like the WUO, without being able to preach necessity. To be honest, I think more and more people are starting to realise that the true youth revolution of the modern day is a conservative one, and a nationalist one, not a communist revolution like the left may want it to be. Although any revolution breeds extremism, and whether you are right or wrong, “when you feel that you have right on your side, you can do some horrific things.” (Brian Flanagan, member of the WUO.)

(Image by Weather Underground [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Does Liberalism Cause Depression?

As an ex-liberal/socialist, I am in a unique position to judge the differences, and under more conservative beliefs I have seen an improvement in mood, confidence, and most importantly, ambition. Whether this is a psychological difference between the two, or simply just the result of embracing a new ideology, one which is exciting not only because I have seen the truth about what a lot of liberals advocate, but have heard arguments I have never heard before, and increasingly everything I’ve been afraid to say under liberalism is now encouraged. But a question comes from this, is it just a “honeymoon” period, or is there a correlation between liberal values and anxiety, depression, and a lower self-esteem?

In an article by Konrad Marshall, he explains something called the “climate of despair”, a reaction to alarmism, and scaremongering. He talks about a key note speech on climate change, where an environmental scientist, Nicole Thornton, found herself “actually watching grown men cry. They were senior diplomats from small islands, begging larger countries to take action so that their nations would not drown with the rising seas.” He continued to make the case that alarmism in this sense, but it could be allocated to either political stance, leads to uncertainty and to anxiety as a result – “despair,” as instilled by futurist doom sayers. And I suppose it’s true, that on either side of the political pendulum, is a sense of “if things continue as they are, the world will end.” So it would seem obvious then, that either extremes would harbour depressive tendencies, and yet, in a survey by Brack and Zhang, studying Anxiety and Depression Levels by Political and Gender Cohorts, it was found that those who identified as either liberal or moderate reported higher anxiety ratings than those who identified as conservative, by 35.85% for liberals to 24.03% for conservative (moderates were only slightly higher with 25.73%). For depression, liberals reported 34.27% compared to 24.27% for conservative.

One reason why this might be is that typically even alarmist conservative views operate on the principle of “this needs to be done in order to save us,” whether it’s wrong or right, whereas liberals are the opposite. Liberals, at least more recently, identify the problem but fail to offer up certain solutions, for honesty’s sake, perhaps, although sometimes for lack of having one. By and large, however, conservative values are considered to offer less uncertainty, thereby limiting the feeling of anxiety. In a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience this January, it was found that non-invasive brain stimulation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (typically associated with planning, decision making and cognitive flexibility) can increase conservative beliefs. The study was conducted at the University of Sussex, and showed that the “enhanced DLPFC (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) may have resulted in an increased preference for security, certainty, and social dominance; traits which have been proposed as the defining characteristics of a conservative or right-wing ideology.”

The great tragedy, I think, in liberal ideology is in its adherence to the ignorance of self. Modern liberalism certainly has its hooks in what can best be described as Impulse Politics, attempting to propose surface level and temporary solutions for what makes them feel good in the moment, however, why modern liberalism now appears to fail in that regard is that these surface level solutions have not stood the test of time. Where a stance on welfare has served only to create a dependent poor and an exempt rich; where a stance sympathetic to illegal immigration appears only to be in favour of an enslaved foreign population (under paid, out of union, and working dangerous jobs) benefiting the richest in society and hurting the poorest; and a hatred of selective schooling as elitist, and yet ridding the country of grammar schools served only to secure a two-tier system based on equity over ability and eliminating some of the best chances working class children had to move up in the world. These contradictions have split liberalism down the middle, where one side, which we can call the despondent liberals, who have lost interest in politics but still bare a deep hatred for the right wing perspective, and stubborn liberals who insist, without reason or evidence, that there are underlying “structural” flaws in society which doesn’t allow for these principles to work, rather than admitting that the principles themselves are flawed.

But is ignorance bliss? Surely if liberals are unhappy, that is rather a sign of intelligence, than ignorance, but I don’t know if I would claim that liberals are ignorant. In the words of Ronald Reagan, it is that “they know so much that isn’t so.”

What I think is the underlying cause of the “liberal blues” is that its pillars promote the sacrifice of self for the happiness of others. “But do conservatives sacrifice others for the happiness of self?” I suppose it could be argued, although I would maintain that conservatives understand that helping others has a direct correlation with helping the self, and so it is through selfish means that they do not put others down. After all, dogs eating dogs can only result in a food shortage, businesses have an incentive for the public to be happy and well off, for otherwise they would not be able to make money off of them. Liberals however, are far more likely to tear down those who have worked hard, and who have become successful, in order to appease their humanitarian addiction.

But what I think lies in the forefront of a modern, or progressive liberal mind, is the idea that unless you are a minority, then you are damaging to minorities. An innate victim-status, oppression hierarchy at which self pride is only valid if it is not a pride of whiteness, heterosexuality, or masculinity. When you think “black pride,” you think the civil rights movement, you think black history month, but when you think “white pride,” you think the KKK, and neo-Nazis. So I think what could best tie liberalism to the lack of identity, and to depressive tendencies, is the promoted ideal, that a virtuous person is one who is ashamed of who they are, because of sympathy for who they aren’t. Why are more and more people identifying as genders, races, ages, and even species that oppose their biology? What else can this be described as than an elimination of self?

Liberalism is the politics of morality, over reality; equality, over quality; and most importantly, liberalism is the politics of guilt, and I think it is here that some of the data can be explained.