As Late Stage Democracy winds down, people are becoming curious about what went wrong, which leads us to wonder what is right. This has set the stage for a clash between pluralism and essentialism, the former representing the Left and the latter, the sane parts of the Right.
Pluralism is a cornerstone of Leftist thinking, including liberalism or an encouragement of permissiveness so that individual choices matter more than social, traditional, cultural, or natural order:
Rather than conjuring some titanic clash between isms, Walzer offers a more parsimonious account of “liberal” as an adjective. Here, what is liberal is not the product of some grand ideology, nor does it necessarily lead to a single set of conclusions (as ideological narratives often do). Instead, it is marked by ambiguity, toleration, pluralism, and an acceptance of openness. That spirit of generosity is not the same as moral relativism: liberals “oppose every kind of bigotry and cruelty.” But it is marked by some acceptance of difference and an openness to correction. For Walzer, the “liberal” is not an ideology but an accent for an ideology; it is “not who we are but how we are who we are — how we enact our ideological commitments.”
Liberalism is a psychology, in other words: the desire for individualism, which requires abolishing rules, mores, structures, and standards so that the individual can live in the moment of his own whims. The liberal wants to relax rules and liberate the individual.
That naturally leads to pluralism, or “agreeing to disagree,” which impedes the process of having a goal. Once there is a goal, individual self-expression becomes limited to that which aids or at least does not impede achievement of the goal.
In this way, liberalism choose quantity over quality. Instead of having a goal and assessing the quality of achieving it, it aims for lots of different options and no real choices, leaving people stranded in a world of self-expression where nothing is rewarded except popularity with the herd.
Pluralism by this nature creates so much chaos that people look toward the foreign as something clear and identifiable in contrast to the murky disorder at home where taking any stance will offend someone and damage social standing.
Consequently, liberalized societies tend to be xenophiles who in the name of pluralism, incorporate the foreign as a form of self-identity:
Out of 26 reviewed studies, only nine found a positive association between psychological distance and climate action. In fact, some studies showed that viewing climate change as impacting distant places and communities made people want to take more action.
Instead of improving what they have, they look to distant examples because those are clear while what they have is confused by having as many goals as there are people. We find it easier to think of distant places because they are simpler in our minds, and this helps us make decisions.
However, at the root, the decision has been avoided because we are no longer looking at how to improve what is around us. Instead we are merely projecting and this leads to neurotic decisions that have symbolic/emotional value but no real world application that ends in a positive fashion.
At some point, one either tends toward the transcendent or toward the individualistic. The transcendent wants to accept the world and make complements to its beauty, while the individualistic seeks to destroy the world in order to liberate the individual to express his intentions as if they were reality.
The transcendent outlook, sometimes called noble, involves accepting the world and ourselves as we are but looking for the power of choice to find the best option. It is a world of trade-offs and imperfections.
Individualists on the other hand are absolutists. They want what they want and they want it to be universal and enforced on everyone so that no dissenters cause the whole scheme to fall apart. Anything in their way, including culture but also reality, must burn for them to be free.
To conceal this impulse, they almost always argue for pluralism, or the idea of having many competing values systems, ways of life, philosophies, and realities in the world. Everyone gets his own reality, and whoever is most popular wins and can force everyone else to obey.
Opposing that are the essentialists. They see life as unchanging even with technology because the fundamental challenge to understand transcendentalism, discipline ourselves, and discover the meaningful remains. To an essentialist, life is biological and reality shapes us even from within.
Almost all public debates break down to pluralists versus essentialists, as does the split between Right (order) and Left (individualism). The pluralists want Enlightentment-style liberation from rules and standards, while the essentialists want the most realistic rules and standards possible.
As Late Stage Democracy winds down into a pile of rubble on the verge of a world war, the division becomes more clear after years of being hidden in subsidiary layers. We either choose reality or our own pretenses.
It has been said before around here, but any conservative who defends individualism is not a conservative but a Leftist who wants slightly lower taxes. Those will force us into theocracy as a replacement for ideology.
We would be better served by admitting our essentialism. Reality is in charge, and most of what we like to think are “social constructs” are attributes of reality, so we can accept those and then do the best that we can with the reality that we find.
Tags: egalitarianism, essentialism, liberalism, pluralism, realism