If I recall correctly from my political science 101 class, there are three main motivating conflicting needs/priorities a country can have, that people can prize. Those needs are community, safety, and freedom.
They contrast in that to raise up any one of them, for the most part, you must sacrifice one of the others. Take safety. To become more safe, from criminals, terrorists, or foreign armies, we must sacrifice some freedom. We have to allow someone to make and enforce laws over us. We give up the freedom to push our cars to 200mph on the highway, so that we can all be safer from harm. We allow police officers to have the authority to arrest us for speeding or smoking pot or fighting in public, so that when someone breaks into our home, harasses us, or otherwise tries to do us harm, we can call on them to keep us safe.
Some people think achieving safety is the most important goal of politics.
Others prize community. Community is concerned with making things better economically and socially for the people around us. Think welfare and anti-discrimination laws. We give up the freedom to be able to fire anyone for anything we choose, so that we can protect people from being fired over unfair things like race, sexuality, or gender. We give power to the state in the form of taxes to help feed the hungry, house the poor, and provide various aid to the economically disprivileged in the country.
The last option a person has when deciding their political priorities is freedom. Everyone likes freedom, right? Who would want less of that? However, with more freedom, we have to give up community and safety. To hold the right to live as we please above all else, we have to deal with having less protection from the state (Think of the Patriot Act or any other law that impinges on freedom, but is done in the name of safety). We have to have a weaker safety net and less protections for the disprivileged in our country.
Liberals tend to prize the community priority; libertarians and anarchists the freedom one; conservatives some mix of safety or freedom, depending on their particular subcategory. That’s somewhat simplistic perhaps but not totally inaccurate.
What is the point of me bringing all this up? Well, I was reading yet another insulting article on Missouri politics on the Huffington Post website (I seriously have yet to ever read an article from their on anything to do with my state that does not seem biased and incredibly ignorant.). Specifically, it was on the campaign to make Missouri a right-to-work state.
This comment by one Jay Daterman stuck out to me: “Hard working taxpayers should be for unions not against them. How stupid can people to fall for that right to work is good baloney?”
And it seemed to me to be a perfect example of my problem with politics and the way people treat people who disagree with them politically. There is no evidence that any one of these priorities is superior to one another. None. It is simply about what each individual finds important. There is nothing wrong with thinking that taking care of your community is worth giving up a little freedom or safety; likewise, there is nothing wrong with thinking that a nation’s foremost priority should be keeping its citizens safe. There is nothing evil or stupid in thinking that freedom to be as one is, is more important than community support or safety.
And that is what Jay is saying is stupid. He is saying it’s stupid to prize freedom (freedom to not be a member of a union) over community (working together to keep wages decent and protections in place). You may or may not agree that freedom is more important than community. But how can anyone honestly think another person is stupid for having different priorities?
And people wonder why I’m a misanthrope. I’m really not going to say much more on this topic, because this essentially covers all the political bullshit. All of the “He doesn’t support welfare! He’s heartless and eviiiiiiiiiil!” from the left and all the “It’s my money and I earned it, and all you damned lazy hippies just want a hand-out” from the right.
It’s one reason why it’s very difficult to be politically active as a nihilist. The majority of politics are made so much about what is right, what is the morally correct thing to do, rather than any true weighing of costs and benefits, of what a nation’s priorities should be. Instead it’s turned into a moral crusade. Almost everyone on any side is absolutely convinced of their moral rightness. It’s incredibly repulsive to a nihilist like myself, to see such moral universalism everywhere. To keep your mind so closed off… to so completely lack the ability to empathize and see your political opposite’s true motivations and priorities…
I suppose since there is no meaning to be had in anything, it’s really irrelevant whether one wanders through life convinced of one’s own moral superiority, or is open to the idea that there is no such thing as moral superiority.