(This is a sequel to the previous post)
– Ideas matter. One of the lines of thought which heavily influenced my outlook was that a society is ultimately just an aggregate of individuals – individuals who have free-will – and hence the strength of that society stands or falls on the actions of the individual. We change society by first changing ourselves. While it’s true that feedback from the social and material level of things influences us and constrains the choices we can make, change has to be bottom-up rather than top-down. Or to put it in less individualistic terms, it requires actual communities based around a certain ideal to form and to work towards bringing it about.
– Hence so much political thought in general is just absolutely odious and corrosive, since it shifts the discussion away from ethics and personal responsibility. A lot of leftist thought is particularly bad because it tends to reduce the individual to a cipher.
– The article notes that, conservatives “rarely mention hyperconsumerism or advertising or a rigidifying class structure—the byproducts of advanced capitalism.” Well, I’ll agree that the current consumerist mentality is largely a by-product of the success of capitalism, and needs to be resisted in some fashion. But you can only resist something like consumerism with some sort of positive set of personal values and principles, and the only values typically on offer from a leftist perspective are things like fairness and egalitarianism. The current wisdom tends to be along the lines that the objectivity of the good tends to be limited to political arrangements, and beyond that it’s subjective. And if one’s subjective good generates bad consequences, it becomes a matter of objective justice to make the arrangements that spare you from those consequences, which would encroach on the freedom of your subjectivity. Hence the solution usually boils down to government intervention. The progressivist mentality tends to attack the sort of values and traditions which would give people the resilience they need, and really just makes it more easy for people to be victimized and defined by the forces they claim to descry. We can talk about class in more detail some other time.
– The overall drift of the article is that the right evaluates things according to whether they are traditional/religious/agree with their personal preferences, etc. while the left, because it isn’t attached to any sort of traditionalism, is better equipped for the disinterested pursuit of the truth. It would be more correct to say that the right is principally interested in conserving things while the left is interested in changing things. While one of these options might turn out to be more truth preserving, truth per-se is not immediately the modus operandi on either side. Or to put it another way: if you think your pursuit of the truth is disinterested, you’re just blind to your own prejudices and interests and hence are even more suspect. Once our cards are on the table we can be more objective in seeing whether our desires are pointing us in the right direction or not.