There are two kinds of people in this world…

December 1, 2015 § 6 Comments

… those who separate people into two kinds, and those who don’t.

In this post I am going to talk about one kind of people made up of two kinds of people, which gives rise to a third kind.  They all end up hating each other even though they all have fundamentally the same loyalties.

The first kind of people are conservatives.  Conservatives have what I will call a conservative disposition. A conservative disposition is a tendency to love and respect one’s own people, culture, and traditions, without insisting on thinking things through too much.  Most people are born with at least some degree of conservative disposition.  It takes certain environmental influences to purge the conservative disposition out of a person, and in any case nobody can think everything through from first principles so even people who philosophize for a living cannot escape from accepting some amount of received wisdom on faith in many areas of their lives.

The second kind of people are liberals.  Liberals are people who have reasonably firm loyalties to the political philosophy of liberalism, at least to enough of an extent that they will affirm liberal slogans by default.

Because it is rationally incoherent liberalism is unstable.  Situated in actual reality this means that as things ‘progress’, as liberalism revolutionizes social institutions and alters its own context, new generations of liberals end up despising older generations of liberals, rejecting them as illiberal or inauthentically liberal.  We tend to call the newer generations of liberals ‘leftists’ or ‘progressives’ and the older generation ‘liberals’.

So we end up with ‘classical’ liberals and ‘modern’ liberals.  Naturally people with more of a conservative disposition will admire their ‘classical’ liberal ancestors as the congenital source of their liberal ‘tradition’.  The fact that these ‘classical’ liberals rejected their own ancestors and traditions creates too much cognitive dissonance to think about — and as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, the conservative disposition recognizes that life is too short to be able to think everything through to first principles anyway.

And that is how you end up with a society in which everyone is strongly loyal to liberalism, and yet still despise each other and see each other as tyrants.

§ 6 Responses to There are two kinds of people in this world…

  • Bruce says:

    Right or wrong, here’s how I’ve come to see the contemporary scene.
    The two tendencies of thought in modern people are individual autonomy (liberalism) and equality/victimology (leftism). Both tendencies are present in almost all contemporary people, but emphasis varies from person to person (where they are on the liberal-leftist spectrum). The ones we call Republicans are closer to pure liberalism, the ones we call Democrats are closer to pure leftism.
    Liberalism and leftism are related but two distinct tendencies of thought.

  • Zippy says:

    Freedom/autonomy and equality are two modes of the same idea. You can’t have one without the other, and embracing one necessarily implies embracing the other, just as picking up a coin entails picking up both sides of the coin even if you happen to be looking at Heads.

    There is no essential difference between liberalism and leftism: they are different baskets of unprincipled exceptions overlaid on top of the same basic commitment to the political philosophy I call liberalism.

    Failure to recognize this keeps ‘conservatives’ locked in the mind trap. They naturally, as conservatives, feel loyalty to their ancestors and the thoughts of their ancestors — classical liberals. And because conservatism entails a certain acceptance of how things are without thinking them all the way through, they never accept that their revered classical liberal ancestors and the hated leftists/progressives just are the same sort of thing.

    As a result, the function of conservatism in society is to preserve and protect liberalism from its own excesses. Conservatives are the abused enablers of progressives and always will be, mopping up the vomit and excrement after the drunken binges to make sure that they can continue.

    The only way to put an end to the self abuse is to fully realize and accept the truth: that liberalism and leftism just are the same thing. The conservative disposition screams against this; but it is necessary.

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