Ideologues are the true moderates

Modern American discourse puts a primacy on compromise. This is measured, not by any sort of real rationality, but simply in an absurdist numbers game where conciliatory parties from all sides of the debate are balanced against each other. This faux “unity” becomes the standard of merit for social and political action.

Those who oppose are labelled impediments to progress and looked on with disdain. For they stand against basic civility, and the development of the agreeing majority, or so the hackneyed narrative usually goes.

In fact, staunch ideological libertarians and conservatives, whose perfectly civil dissent is often branded with pejoratives such “hardline” or “obstructionist” are the model of true balance.

It is they who are guided by the Stoic’s golden rule- treat others as you would wished to be treated.

This is because, most fundamentally, right-wing ideology is rooted in an interpretation of natural law guided by individualism. This recognizes that any right which the the individual wishes to exercise must be universally respected in his fellow, without exception. Failure to do so not only betrays ignorance of human nature but also undermines the individual’s relationship with others upon whom he may later depend.

Since each individual has only the lens of personal experience through which to interpret social interaction, it is his own ego which is his gauge for analyzing right and wrong actions. The rational individualist lives first and foremost by the first law of nature- preservation of the sovereign self- but also recognizes that the codified laws of society, with its promises of equal and impartial justice, create a balance between men which protects that sovereignty. Long-term self-interest mandates that the pursuance of individual betterment not alienate one’s neighbors who may one day be imperative to survival. Each person is held in check by fear of righteous vengeance sought by the party they have wronged with the help of the state. This fear is aided by the reflexivity of rights, for each man can imagine that the anger he would feel should someone injure him is mirrored by his neighbors who value the same rights. Thus, society is held in check by fear of uprising from the people should it wrong them.

Truly, the individualist embodies the golden rule; his epistemology demands that his actions be guided by self-love. There is proportionality in the individualist perspective which grounds the individual’s love of self but understands that self-interest does not exist in a vacuum. It is affected by the pursuit of meritorious action.

This latter idea is lost on those who preach compromise as the highest moral good and imbue “the middle ground” with an aura of religious sanctity. In promoting the idea, they graft into it a degree of virtue which is greater than the parts of which it is comprised. Logically, this is of impossible. Worse, it promotes a paradox which advances the good of the entire polity but repudiates the dissenting few. This emphasizes the body, not the mind or the spirit, and casts dissent as illegitimate, thus subverting the individual for whom it purports to fight.


Originally published at The Politics of Discretion.

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