Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The hypocrisy of the right

Oh, trust me, there's hypocrisy on the left, too -- and, by all means, tell me about it. But AmbivaBlog, drawing on an excellent post at CommonSenseDesk (which itself draws on three other blogs -- such is life in the blogosphere), looks at why "Being (far) right means never having to say you're sorry". It's all worth reading, whatever your political inclinations.

I would add that the hypocrisy of the right is more visible -- and more troubling -- than the hypocrisy on the left in part because at the moment the right is in power and the left is in disarray. Back at Tufts, where in the early-'90s the left was in power (within the limited context of campus politics) and the right was vilified (and yours truly along with it -- how dare I have criticized the orthodoxy of political correctness?), I wrote extensively on the hypocrisy of the left. In such matters, one tends to direct one's attention at the powers that be, not the powers that be not.

Perhaps it's all a matter of context and perspective. Hypocrisy is everywhere.

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  • Definitely interesting posts. The concept of a conservative worldview that divides the world into a strict duality of either moral perfection or chaos calls to mind more revolutionary ideas, often most associated with the left- Lenin and Osama come to mind.

    I think of the old Neil Young line: "It is better to burn out than to fade away." As I was growing up this was a repeated mantra of the hipsters at my school, meant as a kind of manifesto towards living a life full of rich experiences rather than dull mediocrity. Now it seems more appopriate for zealous conservatives, who for all of their faults are second to none in their quest for moral righteousness and willingness to go to extemes in the name of a meaningful life.

    I cannot lie- I find this to be part of their appeal. A world of "live and let live" treads dangerously close to a world of rampant individualism in which in the name of tolerance we close ourselves off from each other.

    This burning passion is part of why I enjoy the blustery declarations of a Bill O'Reilly more than cuttingly snide irony of Jon Stewart. O'Reilly stands for something, Stewart stands for...what exactly? If O'Reilly is on a quest for meaning, Stewart is on a quest to ridicule those who take that quest too seriously. I consider myself a political moderate, but when the chips are down, I'll take conviction over relativism.

    By Blogger N. Lowe, at 12:28 PM  

  • Sorry, I'm incorrect in saying above that Osama comes from the left. He comes from the right.

    By Blogger N. Lowe, at 12:30 PM  

  • Nate,

    That's an interesting point you make. Personally, I have always felt torn in that respect. I'm very suspicious of zealotry whether from the right or the left. On the other hand, I agree with you about the dispiriting aspects of a postmodernist society that values irony over seriousness. And I think post-modernism's ostensible relativism really masks a quite negative judgmental attitude toward tradition and community.

    On the other hand, the effort at enforcing virtue is doomed to failure. The left tries to enforce political virtue, while the right tries to enforce moral virtue. Neither will work because human nature is what it is. I don't like the post-modernist celebration of celebrity self-destruction and utter solipsism, but neither do I like the right's attempt to use the political process to impose its religious view of morality.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:22 PM  

  • Yes, Marc, political virtue vs. moral virtue. I had not thought of the issue in those terms, but they seem to fit. This could explain why I've always voted Democratic when it comes time to punch the ballot, yet in my everyday conversations I lean towards the Republicans. And I also realize, like you, that however unappealing aspects of post-modern relativism and tolerance may be, these faults are perhaps infinitely preferrable to a more rigid, sanctimonious political system that offers one single "virtuous" way of life.

    By Blogger N. Lowe, at 11:32 PM  

  • I'm like you Nate-I'm a Democrat but I often feel very uncomfortable with the type of liberalism that stems from the 1960s. I always looked at the early 1960s (pre-Viet Nam) as sort of a pre-postmodern golden era where you could be liberal without the anger and alienation that it now often entails.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:08 AM  

  • Excellent comments, guys.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 12:02 PM  

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