Thursday, 23 May 2013

The secular Right's recurrent choice between being good-and-ineffectual, or evil-and-strong

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The world view of the secular Right is as fundamentally despair-inducing as any secular world view - and offers the disadvantage of being on the Right and therefore likely to make the adherent subject to multi-level discrimination from micro-social interactions up to spectacular international heresy-hunts.

So why do people do it?

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One good reason is honesty: the admirable (but existentially quixotic - because existentially pointless, from a secular perspective) personal desire to tell the truth about some things which are subject to systematic and mandatory lying.

So, why are the secular Right honest? Given that the secular Right world view is utilitarian and they personally are likely to suffer for their honesty?

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It is an interesting and important question. From my own experience, and the many years when I was on the secular Right and took hits for it, I can say that I was honest because I couldn't help it.

In a sense, I would have been happier to be on the Left, and indeed had periods when I ostensibly was on the Left - made considerable efforts to become a real Lefty-intellectual or man-of-the-people; but I just couldn't make it stick for more than short periods - and would return to the Eeyore-like gloom of the secular Right - and, like Eeyore, to take pleasure from pungently-expressed satire, sarcasm, and pessimism.

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The goal of all this?

Nothing much more profound than love of decency, comfort, good order, minimization of suffering, beauty, kindness... stuff like that. Not terribly different from what the Left says it wants, but what it never can get because it lies about everything.

Yet, the secular Right can't get it either because these things do not motivate sufficiently strongly. They just don't.

When the chips are down, the comfort seeker will minimize discomfort; the decency-valuer will try to restore the least worst likelihood as soon as possible -  intransigent resistance or restoration is beyond him.

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No, the 'decent' secular Right is in a state of chronic motivation-deficit.

The secular Right therefore only makes things happen when it embraces negative emotions, when it embraces evil.

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Examples:

At a national level, patriotism is good, but is a relatively weak motivation - whereas classic Nationalism (late 19th-early 20th century style) is bad, but can (for a few decades) be a very powerful motivation.

Patriotism based on love of country or culture is good but relatively feeble; Nationalism based on hatred of a specific group is evil but (for a while) may be extremely powerful.

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At a personal level, the desire for decency and good manners are good but weak motivations - whereas the desire personally to seek worldly power, pleasure, prestige in a wholly selfish manner untrammeled by traditional constraints such as decency, good manners, kindness etc... well that is both evil and also may in some instances be very effective (at least, for a while).

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So the secular Right as a political movement and at the individual level always has this choice between being good (albeit a limited good) but weakly motivated and largely ineffectual - or else, in seeking increased motivation, to move towards enhanced power and effectiveness, to become evil: to embrace selfishness and hatred, and to call them good.

(That is to say to propagate moral inversion - just as we see on the politically correct Left.)

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And, since the secular Right is indeed secular, it intrinsically lacks the necessary powerful motivational resources to reject evil when tempted by evil.

The strongest and most effective on the secular Right will (like Nietzsche and many since) celebrate evil by boasting of strength, To say:

Yes I am evil, but look! - I am strong! Be like me: feel the power of motivation: embrace hatred - it works!

Meanwhile, the good people on the secular Right stand-by shaking their heads and wringing their hands...

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So it is not that the secular Right are necessarily bad people - of course they are not! Many are good (in a limited fashion - but better than most).

But, if or when their evil co-conspirators unleash the forces of hatred - when quiet and wholesome love of X is inverted into hatred of Y - then what motivating and encouraging alternative can the decent secular Right offer from their meaningless, purposeless and alienated universe?

What use is Eeyore against a pack of cackling hyenas?

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8 comments:

  1. "I was honest because I couldn't help it."

    To the extent this applies to the secular right, it seems this is also what keeps them from something like Christianity. They think it's a bunch of nonsense, and so even if they think their life (or society in general) might be better if they were practicing Christians, they simply won't .. until it seems like Christianity of some form involves a plausible, - indeed more plausible than the secular right's - set of beliefs (as well as meeting various other objections they might have to it).

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  2. @ajb. That is some of it. Also one becomes addicted to the motivations one has, sex, drink, self indulgence, cruelty, hatred, despising, daydreams of prestige or comfort... and cannot give them up for a religion which is a leap in the dark in terms of what it may provide as a substitute.

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  3. Yes, I think AJB is right. The rejection of both liberalism and Christianity comes from the same underlying unwillingness to embrace a belief out of expediency without believing that its doctrines are actually true.

    I'm not at all sure that addiction to sin is the main issue. Many of the secular right are pretty tough guys who would be quite capable of giving up sex, drink, etc. if they thought they had a good reason to do so. (I exclude Roissy and those in his orbit, who are not really right-wing in any meaningful sense.)

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  4. "and would return to the Eeyore-like gloom of the secular Right - and, like Eeyore, to take pleasure from pungently-expressed satire, sarcasm, and pessimism"

    This is so descriptive of so many of my friends on the right - a brilliant observation. The gloating of the left is almost as bad in their eyes as the evil they unleash and so they retreat to cower and complain amongst themselves.

    Unfortunately the secular-right here in the U.S. is just dismissed as inconsequential, but the religious right is portrayed as evil, mean and intolerant. With all the might of the media which is so one sided the low-information citizen walks away convinced the up is down and good is evil.

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  5. @WmJas - the sin (or thing) which you 'need' to give up may be single, invisible to others, apparently trivial (think of the examples in CS Lewis's The Great Divorce). For example, I would genuinely find it very difficult (absurdly difficult) to give up coffee if I were to become a Mormon. I'm not saying that would stand in my way of joining the LDS church if I really wanted to; but, well, at least I don't think it would...

    ;-)

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  6. Many of the secular right are pretty tough guys who would be quite capable of giving up sex, drink, etc. if they thought they had a good reason to do so.

    I think Bruce already addressed this in the sentence

    and cannot give them up for a religion which is a leap in the dark in terms of what it may provide as a substitute.

    The simple fact of the matter is that when you try to build anything new and worth building you will probably fail and end up worse then you started.

    My ancestors fought with and eventually gained Irish independence with Collins. Do you know how many Irish rebellions completely failed before that? Both in recent memory and for centuries of history. All of those people probably said, "I'll gladly die for Irish independence." Well, they died and didn't even get it. And when the Collins rebellion was going on they had every reason to believe that wouldn't succeed either.

    Saying, "I'd totally act like X if the system was such that acting like X was rewarded," is such a limp wristed endorsement of X its laughable. You'll never get X that way.

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  7. You could, if you were a purist, call me Secular.
    And you could quite accurately call me Right.
    Yet I am that most bewildering of characters:
    Both Good, and Strong.

    As a result, very few people like me.
    I'd make a good Millwall supporter:
    "I don't care" :)

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  8. Yet I am that most bewildering of characters: Both Good, and Strong.

    And humble, to boot!

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