Arrogance, ‘Left’ and ‘Right’

Photo by Adrià Tormo on Unsplash

One thing that every single politically engaged American can agree on is the utter arrogance of people on ‘the other side’. I agree that all people on both sides politically do exhibit arrogance—but of two different kinds.

People on the ‘left’ are intellectually arrogant. They are absolutely convinced of the correctness of their analyses of society and its problems. Mitigating those problems is another matter, but politically they absolutely demand that the ‘social problems’ they identify be recognized as problems and that society as a unit undertake measures to mitigate them.

People on the ‘right’ are spiritually arrogant. I don’t mean necessarily that they are arrogant about their religious beliefs (though they certainly can be). I mean that they are convinced of their rightness in a way that is extra-rational; they base their politics on an internal sensibility that cannot be rationally explained: they might use one trope or another to try to illustrate it, but in the end they ‘just know’ that they are right. That there are others — much less as many as there are — that share that sensibility reinforces in their minds the rightness of it.

All that has definite implications for our political process. People on the political left are ideological analytically but tend to be pragmatic in their politics: they are generally willing to take the Popperian approach of trying one thing then another. People on the political right are not really intrinsically ideological, but they express their politics through an ideological commitment because that is as close as they can come in the political process to expressing externally what they ‘know’ to be ‘true’ extra-rationally.

The political result is stalemate. ‘Righties’ are intransigent because they view compromise in the political process as compromising their very sense of themselves as human beings. ‘Lefties’ are open to compromise in policies, but equally rigid in their commitment to a need for ‘social policies’. Since the ‘left’ seeks to implement such policies and the ‘right’ merely wants to forestall their implementation, our political stalemate is an ongoing victory for that ‘side’.

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Stephen Yearwood

unaffiliated, non-ideological, unpaid: M.A. in political economy (where philosophy and economics intersect) with a focus in money/distributive justice