ThoughtStorms Wiki

Context : TheRightWing, LeftAndRight

Quora Answer : Are there political beliefs held by the right that are reasonable-sounding but actually do great damage in real life?

Feb 24, 2014

There are many different kinds of "right-wing" and they believe fundamentally different things, so whatever you point out, there'll be some right-wingers who can honestly say that it doesn't apply to them.

But, I'm a left-winger, and I believe a fundamental part of being left-wing is a moral commitment to egalitarianism.

Now, that term needs to be unpacked. Because, of course, like (pretty much) all left-wingers I recognise we can't have total equality. We can't take out everybody's eyes in solidarity with the congenitally blind, etc. etc. But we can say that everyone's life has equal value and that any attempt to systematically differentiate people on some criteria is an injustice.

And what pretty much all right-wingers have in common is a denial of that position. Or, to put it more starkly, a belief that injustice can be excused.

Now different right-wingers have different kinds of injustice they'll excuse. A traditional conservative may excuse the injustice of women having fewer choices in life than men by the fact that women have a traditional role in the family and that society needs such traditions to maintain its integrity. A Libertarian may excuse the injustice of people suffering the mal-effects of poverty as being the price society has to pay for a free-market which brings much useful productivity to the economy. A supporter of apartheid may believe that blacks can never be allowed to vote because, with so much past oppression, they'd be likely to use any power they gain to seek revenge against an (innocent) new generation of whites.

In other words, all right-wingers are willing to settle. To say, at some point, "the cost of fixing this injustice is too high. It's better to accept it than to keep looking for ways to eliminate it."

That is what I believe is common to every shade of right-winger, from the most extreme to the mildest; the most libertarian to the most authoritarian. And it's the most reasonable sounding but damaging attitude they bring to the world.

Quora Answer : Which is the more complicated: for a right-wing person to understand a left-wing person or for a left-wing person to understand a right-wing person?

Aug 30, 2019

One thing I've tried to remind my leftist friends for a long time is that, traditionally, the right-wing know and understand them much better than they know and understand the right.

That's because many people on the right either were left-wingers who switched over, or went to college and knew a lot of left-wing people there. Or grew up and reacted against left-wing parents. Etc.

Many on the left for many years saw very little of the right, particularly the further right, and were in total happy ignorance of almost anything about how the right think.

In particular, I think, the left failed to grasp the sense of moral purpose of the right. It's easy on the left to assume you are the good guys and the right are motivated only by greed or prejudice or other base emotions.

But of course, many on the right have a world view in which they are righteous crusaders for what they think of as "the good". And against a leftism that they see as either an evil in itself, a perversion of goodness (just because charity is good doesn't mean it's good for you to force me to be charitable), or complicit in allowing evil (we have a crime wave because you people were too soft on the criminals).

The left have real difficulty understanding how someone can feel the moral force of right-wing stances. Whereas the right probably can understand what makes the left feel the moral attraction of helping the poor or the sick or protecting the environment.

I think it's JonathanHaidt who points out that the right tend to have MORE dimensions of moral values they are trying to accommodate. And I guess this leads to a more "sophisticated" moral world, which involves a strong belief that there are trade-offs between multiple virtues and that good things have to be sacrificed for better things. (Equality must give way to freedom. Freedom must give way to loyalty etc.)

Whereas the left have a more minimal set of virtues they think really matter. But are less likely to see moral justification for letting go of them.

Now having said all that, I also think things are changing. One of the effects of the recent surge in right-wing, and even far-right support in the last 10 years, is that more people are becoming aware of the right-wing, the arguments it makes, its world view, and justifications etc. More people are promoting that and embracing that. And that does mean that the left are finally getting to see more of, hear more from, the right. We're starting to see more of the varieties within the right, more of the internal arguments within the right, more of the subtleties and complexities of the right-wing world-view.

That is salutary for the left, but I believe will ultimately help the left. The left just haven't been very good at arguing convincingly against the right, because they've had such a vague notion of what motivates it, or how its arguments convince. Today the left is better informed and better prepared. And can formulate arguments that are more appropriate to specific right-wing world-views. And do so without just throwing up its hands in horror.

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