Author: Vladimir Zark
The American public has always had a problem with true freethinking. This comes about from the saturation of media and the constant falsehoods being peddled day after day, but is directly influenced by the American’s reluctance to question their environment, to take the news media with a grain of salt, to second-guess themselves. The source of all of this is ideology. In this piece, I’ll ask you to consider for yourself what the politics of today really are, and in turn encourage you to think for yourself as a political agent.
This word ‘ideology’ is key, since no other word is as perfect at encapsulating the great disease that prevents the American, or any other person, for that matter, from truly taking in their world as an impartial series of necessary events. Instead, we are obsessed with the divisions of left and right, black and white, gay and straight, as though these delineations bring us any closer to objective truth. Every ideology presupposes the truth before any compelling evidence is available – that is to say that it is, by definition, taking a biased and partisan view of things. This is the problem with ideology.
In the context of politics, this has bred a rather sharp hatred and misunderstanding between the two ends of the political spectrum. The ideology of the Left, supposedly promoting equality and tolerance and diversity, has come into conflict with the ideology of the Right, supposedly promoting liberty, self-reliance, and nationalism. One must not assume that I’m completely on the fence, since a neutral stance is, in our current day, an impossibility. The problem with ideology is not that it is wrong to be more partial to one side than the other – instead, the problem arises because one side completely swallows the other, completely overshadows its arguments, even completely forgets about its existence. I’ll try to illustrate this in practice.
The Left of today is incredibly condescending and chauvinistic to the Right, disrespecting it at every given turn – the result is the dissolution and decline of respectable news networks like CNN and MSNBC. Having spoken to both moderate liberals and even communists, I know very well that the Left treats conservatism with a detached sort of disdain, an almost indignant feeling of disbelief: “How can they have elected Trump? How can they be against public healthcare? How can they care more about the economy than the well-being of the people?” These are stereotypical questions, but they compose much of the Left’s argument against the Right. The Left’s very basis seems to be centered on the mere implausibility of the Right, rather than any substantive argument against its core claims or beliefs. The Left is moralistic and self-righteous, and its people are quite like religious zealots – they are always trying to convert you to the cult of ‘rationality’ and ‘scientific inquiry’ and ‘equality’, as though the Left has patented these terms. We must deconstruct why and how the Left has become the ringleader of these terms in the first place. Of course, there was a time when true liberalism – we could say classical liberalism – was truly for an objective and scientific standard, and cared about equal rights. This was probably in the mid 70’s and 80’s, now 30-40 years ago. The Left was meritocratic, individualistic, and perhaps truly tolerant – although even then, having read some serious justice egalitarian theory, I could say that the Left was overly idealistic. They treat the words ‘equality’ and ‘liberty’ as sacred, and believe that some completely economically and socially impractical theories can achieve prosperity – their blind utopianism and socialism is quite worrisome.
But that was the Left of the past, which could be called the moderate Right of today. The Left of today suffers from the postmodern problem of “nowhere to go, nothing to do”. You can scream equality at an equal country for 20 years and nothing will change. This is not limited to the Left of the U.S., given that the other egalitarian nations, such as Sweden, Germany, Canada, Australia, etc., face the same issue. The civil rights movement of the past mutated into Black Lives Matter. The feminism of the past mutated into today’s feminism. Perhaps you have other opinions about these movements, and will either defend them or vilify them – I am not interested in decrying anything, only explaining why and how. With the advent of this postmodern Leftism, we also have the seemingly inevitable deconstruction of traditionalism and family values as well as religious and spiritual ideas of the Self. Here, we head into the most important tension between Left and Right – the movement forward versus the preservation. The Left is hell-bent on destroying the past. It hates the past, with its racism and inequality and colonialism. It sees the dominating race for much of history, white European men, as the great sinners of our time. It is very willing to attack and degrade these people. But, in expressing its distaste for these people, the Left shows how much it dislikes America and its origins, how the Protestant settlers came from a state of war and made prosperity from nothing. Ask a liberal of today if he would be willing to settle on a plot of land and make a civilization out of it: he will be disgusted, since his entire existential framework is centered on metropolis and ‘modernity’. I will not say that the past was good, or even necessary, but I will most definitely say that the past was how it was for a reason, and we’ve made great strides as Americans. We must try to love our country.
In regards to this point of ‘loving our country’, I’d only like to say that a national identity and secure borders ensure the ‘reality’ of a nation, and shape one of the great gambits of the conservative framework. This comes with the implication that ‘outsiders’ are often treated differently than native-born citizens – though perhaps justifiably, since assimilation shapes much of what it means to coexist with other people in a nation, assuming their language, ideals, and understandings. The Left is so obsessed with deconstruction, indeed, that it forgets this premise. A freethinker would not find it acceptable that his nation is being torn apart by foreign migrants, such as in the few glaring examples as Germany and Sweden. In my opinion, a true freethinker would question why anyone would want thousands and thousands more of these people, when their own citizens aren’t even able to find work. Perhaps a freethinker will also care about the well-being of those migrants, but he will never, if he has any sense of dignity and self-respect, sacrifice his own country for them, unless he is a nihilist with no sense of duty. You might pardon me if I’m being too opinionated here, but I find that we must set some reasonable grounds for what constitutes the freethinker’s obligation, especially if our interest is in political liberation. But a freethinker thinks what he wants.
Mind you, every side of the political spectrum is comprehensive and self-certain. One cannot truly call themselves a liberal, libertarian, conservative, anarchist, fascist, etc., without accepting every basic premise of the ideology. We must be mindful of where we are and why, and we should not let ourselves be distracted by our self-affirming views and beliefs. I started my political quest as a mild liberal a few years ago, and now I’m essentially a Right-leaning libertarian. Nothing much in my nature has changed, but I have simply chosen the most rational position for my own sake. I think that some people cannot be liberals, while others cannot be conservatives. Such is the reality of politics. I can only try to tell a story and hope that you listen. And so:
Modern leftism, which resembles Leninist and Stalinist and Maoist Marxism, focuses on the dissolution of an individual identity for the sake of the collective: it functions as a hive mind, ratting out all the bigots and racists and dissenters, quite like the Soviet Union functioned. Alas, people cannot go to jail for speech in the U.S., or the Left would really lose its mind – although, in countries like the U.K., there are cases of people going to jail for ‘hate speech’. This collectivist thinking is in direct contrast to conservatism and libertarianism, since those two are much more focused on the individual and his capacity to thrive as a self-reliant agent in a difficult, but rewarding free market economy. The grand issue of the Left is that it is not catered to the majority, nor does it serve any purpose to the working-class member of the U.S. or any other country: it is for the elite of the world, the high-class bourgeoisie liberals that Marx was in fact so cautious about. The Left is surprisingly powerful, as well, having influenced the educational institutions and culture for a fair number of decades – hence you see a saturation of such values in philosophy, sociology, political science, and even English departments, but you also notice, if you’re brought up in parts of New York City or California, that your values are contained, as if in a bubble. You will find scarcely any conservatives in my area, with the exception of those who are working hard to survive – that is to say, on pure anecdotal terms, that those who identify as ‘liberal’ as opposed to ‘conservative’, in my experience, are reasonably financially comfortable and have no need to work, while the so-called ‘conservatives’ are motivated by a self-reliance narrative.
Conservatism and Libertarianism I will conflate with one category of the political spectrum, conceding my own point that I believe them to be very similar – I group them on the opposite end from modern liberalism, or progressivism. The main difference, which absolutely must be highlighted, lies in the amount of openness to ‘government power’ in effecting policy and social change. As opposed to the Left, which will throw policies such as ‘affirmative action’ and ‘universal healthcare’ at its taxpayers, the Right and the Libertarians have no interest in the unconditional process of helping others at the expense of innocent working-class people. Furthermore, the Left will always be obsessed with the use of state power to effect its decisions, since liberals and progressives alone can do nothing meaningful to effect change. The problem is obviously not that there is something wrong with helping people – the problem lies in the question of coercion, and how much state power is valid for the attainment of any political goal. The beauty of Founding Father-esque conservatism and libertarianism is that it is the duty of individuals, and only individuals, to work towards the attainment of any necessary political goal – for only then is it truly democratic and just. A policy enacted by a government is always dubious, always subject to question, since a government cannot be trusted with the just governance of its people (see Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience). I am trying to be impartial in my description of these political positions, but I am in favor of liberty and individuality, and hope that you can understand what it means to be a freethinker.
There are, of course, some obvious problems with conservatives and libertarians alike: take for instance the obsessive religiosity of the evangelicals, and how it overshadows any reasonable discourse, or the stubborn libertarians who think that absolutely ALL taxation is theft, and will consider no dissent or disagreement. This only shows the obvious fault of ideology and how a partisan view of any problem will make it difficult to solve. Conservatives and libertarians are often viewed as unreasonably immoral because of their obsessive individualism, and much of the Left’s arguably cheap talking points revolve around ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ rhetoric. The great weakness of the Right is in its general obsession with nationalism and identity, showcasing the same mistake that the Left makes on many occasions – only instead of diverse identities, the Right encourages a singular and ruthlessly uniform identity, whether it be ‘American’ or any other country of origin. I believe that nationalism is an asset, a tool that can better our relationship to one another through a unifying banner and voice – I think, however, that separatism based on borders is questionable and arbitrary. In order to facilitate true political understanding and prosperity, the partisan views must be discarded, or at least reformed, to welcome the best of all sides, because only in this way can we heal the divide that’s sharpened by these ideological lines.
For you see, the argument for political liberation, which has been built up in my description of these movements, lies in dissolving the boundaries of Left and Right. There is absolutely no need whatsoever to be trapped in the Liberal or Conservative matrix. The only important and relevant factor to further understanding is objective truth. Partisans will call me a fool and perhaps a sort of sellout for suggesting the unity of Left and Right, and some will say that I’m just a great fence-sitter with no position of my own – I say, however, that we must integrate the individual ethic of conservatives and the collectivist ethic of liberals. There will always be unreasonable people on both sides: either you have the moralizers who want to impose their ‘moral superiority’ on the other side, or you have the heartless businesspeople that are doing anything in their power to get a quick dollar. These are extremes, radical versions of the ideology proposed, and they should not be indulged. What is a freethinker, really? It is a person who is not a slave of himself or his surroundings, who is not bound by the labels, who can make his own conclusions. You may watch Fox News and CNN simultaneously, and form your own understanding, and not face the stigma of joining one side or the other. Both sides are terribly flawed. At this present day and age, I would think that it’s harder to be on the side of the Left, but even being on the Right is no dignity.
We must find ourselves. We are temperamentally guided towards a worldview, and perhaps it is closer or farther away from what’s true. Those who are convinced that they’re right about the world have a lot to learn. At times, a liberal position seems entirely plausible, and at other times you would find that only a conservative position makes sense. It’s contextually shaped, and you are generally born an idealist, slowly maturing into a realist. Thus, you face these political evolutions as time progresses. I am a ‘realistic idealist’. I believe that in the material reality of things, being on the Right is rational and necessary, but I am also convinced that the Left has good ideas about how to structure a society, at least in theory. There are flaws with both views, since they must presuppose a lot of half-truths and even outright lies in order for their position to hold firm. Liberalism becomes conflated with secular atheism, and suddenly it declares itself the intellectual juggernaut; Conservatism becomes conflated with faith, and suddenly it declares itself the loving and giving belief system. These are generalizations, falsehoods, and they don’t reflect a damn thing. We cannot lie to ourselves forever. For any sort of freethinking and political liberation to truly take place, we must give up on Left and Right in the traditional sense. Madison warned us about factions, and we must heed the call. Let us embrace the political as freely as our hearts could.