The grim truth about politics is that it’s a translation of a translation. People set out ideas about how we should rule ourselves, and then to make them palatable to the masses, we dumb them down and turn them into the mechanics of a football game.
Conservatives are at the disadvantage here because conservatism is not political, but a choice of way of life. It is not something you can write down as an ideology, rage about at the polls, vote and then consider yourself done. It is a way of looking at life that pervades everything you do, and it’s organic because it is based on your inner moral compass.
Politics obscures this truth. It does so because in order to mobilize a mass to do anything, you need to provoke them with fears and pander to them with promises not about what will happen, but about what they want to happen. The disconnect between cause and effect is complete because cause/effect is more complex than symbol and group.
The result is that our politics neatly hides complex truths under simple cheerleading:
Individual moral decisions are more important than state policy. The liberal wants you to believe that every person is equal, thus we are all blank slates, and we only act in certain ways because we are “forced” to by our circumstances. This is self-serving apologism that seeks to let liberals off the hook for their own bad behavior. The truth is that a society is defined by the behavior of its individuals. If they are all oriented toward healthy and constructive behavior, society thrives. The more of them aren’t, the less it thrives. Social institutions have almost nothing to do with this, except that by making excuses for people, they encourage them to not struggle to make moral decisions.
Individual incompetence is the enemy of human civilization. We are taught by media to blame government, bankers, kings, popes, etc. but the main enemy of humankind is its own bungling. Most people get most things wrong most of the time. When put in committees or worse, companies or social organizations, the bungling is hidden by the group and it intensifies. The reason we have strong governments or corrupt bankers is that most people, being incompetent, create a need for strong and deceptive leadership to ensure society’s basic functions continue.
There is no conflict between religious and secular thinking. All thinking is done by individuals. A smart individual will come up with a reality-based interpretation of religion or non-religion. A dumb individual will turn anything, even the most sciency science, into a type of primitive mysticism based on superstition. Religion and secularism describe the same world, which if it is the work of an omnipotent God, reflects His order. Thus we’re running in circles describing the same thing using slightly different language, where if we apply intelligence to the situation, we arrive at the same answers regardless of which road we take.
Evil is not a demon below, but commonplace narcissism and refusal to think about the consequences of our errors in reality. Evil is in fact the most common and least interesting thing in the human world. It occurs when we deny reality in favor of our own wishful thinking. In doing so, we create consequences that are destructive for others, either as individuals or as a group. Most evil is accepted as “normal” and so people give it a pass and grow increasingly resentful for reasons they cannot articulate. Very rarely is evil deliberate, meaning aware that it is evil. It is usually people being opportunistic and taking what they want, in denial of any consequences, because this is the easiest path for them at the time.
Most people can be wrong and in fact, most people are wrong at any given point in history. We are told there is strength in numbers and wisdom in crowds. The truth is that crowds follow trends because when a new idea comes about, every person in the herd is afraid of being left behind in case this new idea really is powerful, so without proof of its veracity they adopt it and use their new-found status to beat up anyone who hasn’t adopted it. Thus ideas spread like diseases, and usually they are wrong, because in all but a few cases the people dreaming them up aren’t thinking about reality, but how they want to see themselves. These ideas are thus limited to the short-term human individual viewpoint in terms of feelings, judgments and desires.
In the translation into politics, these truths got lost. It then became profitable for them to stay lost, and so we got liberalism. The more we orient politics toward simple and clear truths like these, the quicker we can do away with the pretense and pandering that makes modern politics turn away from any real issue as soon as it is stated.