I am disenchanted with both the Left and Right political and cultural movements in our country. I often find myself in contempt of both liberals and conservatives, because they are both extremely ideological, to the point that they become tyrannical, authoritarian, and even repressive.
Yes, this applies to the modern Left too, with its emphasis on free speech, toleration, multi-culturalism, free-thinking, diversity, and whatever buzz words that happen to be the flavor of the month or week. In some ways, the Left is just as repressive as the Right, and both are plagued by cases of extremism.
Take, for example, the issue of the welfare state. Your typical Conservative will tout the virtues of the free market, cutting taxes and government budget, individualism, hard work, and responsibility. Your typical Lefty will argue that the typical Conservative is inhumane, that the state must play a role in helping those in need, that the destitute and the homeless are not to blame because they are victims of unjust social/political/economic institutional arrangements.
But consider this: the reality is far more complicated than this either-or duality. Capitalism does indeed have some significant virtues, such as generating efficiency, economic growth that increase the standard of living, and distributing goods/services according to preference. But of course government can play a role and often should, to ensure some equity, to prevent abuse of the system, etc.
Take, for example religion. The Axis of Atheism (Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens) will argue, in a shrill tone, that God does not exist, that anyone who believes in God must be an unreasonable, intolerant, blood fanatic intent on teaching Creationism in public schools and starting up jihads to blow modernity all the way back to the Stone Age. Then of course you have your evangelicals who argue that the Axis of Atheism are all going to Hell, that homosexuals are sinners, that God hates feminists.
But consider this: religion has been forces of progress and change, that religion has inspired great art, charity, humane acts, and compassion, that some religious thinkers are some of our best thinkers. Similarly, not all atheists, homosexuals, or feminists are out to destroy America, family values, and bring about the Apocalypse and the Anti-Christ. Perhaps, and here one might even gasp, they actually get along with religious people.
Take, for example, free speech. Both sides are filled with hypocrites of the very first order. Fox News has no problem with Bill O’Reilly blatantly abuse his guests, but it has a problem with critics of the war. The Left has no problem with the president of Iran speaking in Columbia but has a problem when it’s the leader of the KKK.
But consider this: if free speech is to mean anything, it means that you cannot simply give free speech to simply those who agree with your own views. That if free speech is to mean anything, it means that Bill O’Reilly, Keith Olbermann, and the Grand Dragon of the KKK have an equal right to speak in a legally approved manner.
Take, for example, the issue of global warming. Your typical Lefty will argue that global warming is real, that it is man-made, that anyone who even remotely raises some legitimate doubt must be crazy or a nutcase. But also take your typical Conservative, who argue that global warming is a hoax, that it is unfair to tax oil companies’ profits.
But consider this: why is no discussion contrary to one’s own opinion allowed? Why isn’t it legitimate to raise questions about global warming?
Take, for example, America’s foreign policy relationship with Israel. I am of course thinking about the shit storm that exploded over Waltz and Mearsheimer’s book. I have read the book, and to be honest, I really don’t understand the whole controversy. It is very academic in content and in tone as far as I can tell. But the orthodoxy says that any skepticism about Israel must be a sign of Holocaust-deniers, anti-semitism, and advocacy to wipe Israel off the map.
My point is this: both the Left and Right engages in acts of hypocrisy so blatant, so glaring in their numbers and scope that I can’t help but be disgusted by them. They both shamelessly and ruthlessly engage in the demonization of the other, creating exaggerated claims to reduce the Other to caricature. Both are more interested in ridiculing each other than to actually debate and reason. What constitutes their “discourse” is nothing than shrieks at and past each other, a refusal to consider all the facts, a shrill dialogue that makes Harpies sound euphonic.
In other words, both the Left and Right are not interested in finding out the truth. After all, they have already reached their own conclusions, and what is a little thing called truth gonna do about it. Both the Left and Right reach their conclusions first and then rationalize them post hoc.
But the reality is, on any given issue that is relevant and pertinent, the truth is far more complicated and nuanced than what either the Left or Right will like you to believe. In fact, any reasonable person who has REALLY explored these debates would realize that there is no single answer, that sometimes both sides can make arguments with merit, that sometimes it might even be possible to reach a consensus based on facts.
This is why I cannot stand our modern Left and Right, because they are both full of shit.