Archive for May, 2010

Objectivism vs. Neutralism: The Crux of Today’s Socio-Political Divide

May 1, 2010

In paraphrasing the libertarian economist and philosopher Thomas Sowell, conservative comedian Evan Sayet has observed that the fundamental difference between conservative and liberal thinking is that conservatives are objective and liberals are neutral (1). I find this to be a fascinating and revelatory way of breaking down the emotional underpinnings of the ideological spectrum. These insights have helped me to clarify many of the philosophical stalemates which I’ve experienced in my personal conflicts of the past.

When one is objective, they are able to establish values of right and wrong based on the level of achievement that a given party reaches from a common set of criteria: this team won with strategy A while the other team lost with strategy B; therefore, strategy A can rightfully be declared the better of the two strategies.

When one is neutral, however, no standard of right and wrong can be defined because doing so makes you guilty of the politically incorrect act of discrimination. Strategy A is therefore prohibited because it made things unfair for those who lacked the ingenuity to employ it. Yet neutralists have been the biggest bullies in the realm of debate, precisely because of their blindness to standards of right and wrong. We as conservative objectivists will declare tactfulness and linear dialogue – with acknowledgement to the tangible truths of a given situation – to be the embodiment of civility. Liberal neutralists will tell us that our definition of civility is simply our ‘opinion’, and that it’s their right to be belligerent, disingenuous and selectively aware (read: dishonest) if they so please; for standards of right and wrong are mere opinions, and everyone’s entitled to their own. According to the neutralists, wrongfulness in the broader sense is only committed by those who actually attempt to establish an objective definition of right and wrong.

This is where liberal logic really falls on dangerous ground, for when no acts of behavior can be deemed as wrong, nothing can be declared a crime. Any act of violence from one group cannot be judged as wrong from anyone outside that group. Leftists might mourn the victims of 9/11, yet they find it wrong to judge the actions of the Taliban in any way, for the Taliban has its own definition of right and wrong. There’s nothing neutral, however, in the Islamofascist wish to decimate the West, as exhibited on 9/11. Neutralism thus becomes a self-defeating premise when its indiscriminateness takes no exception towards those who seek to discriminate against our very right to exist. In noting the Islamofascist wish to establish global sharia law, Lebanese American author and activist Brigitte Gabriel has stated that “political correctness is the disease that is killing the West; it is the apathy by which Muslims are killing us one-by-one… people have to develop a backbone to stand up and identify the enemy” (2).

Indeed, political correctness has dominated the American social discourse under the pretext of liberal neutralism. Radicals seeking to reshape the American way of governance will allude to imperfections within capitalism to argue the comparative merits of socialism: capitalism allows for a competitive meritocracy which ultimately benefits the lucky few, while socialism forcibly redistributes wealth at the expense of private ownership and personal freedom. Conservative objectivists, however, will not base their conclusions on how the two systems look in theory; conservatives will examine the outcomes of their respective implementations throughout the world. Capitalism has generated wealth, prosperity and a higher standard of living for its determined citizens, attracting immigrants by the millions who wish to reap its many opportunities; whereas socialism has inflicted poverty, despair and genocide upon every population its enslaved, spurring mass deflections from its binding tyranny. Therefore capitalism emerges – from the perspective of objective outcomes as opposed to neutral theory – as the system of freedom, liberty and justice for all, and thus the objectively better system of human governance.

In the realm of metropolitan discourse, liberal neutralism has been a convenient tool for preempting contrasting viewpoints and imposing liberal unanimity. In observing the modern liberal, Evan Sayet summarized their mindset in the following passage from his enlightening 2007 lecture before the Heritage Foundation:

If no one ever thought they were right, what would we disagree about? If we didn’t disagree then surely we wouldn’t fight. If we didn’t fight then we wouldn’t go to war. Without war there’d be no poverty; without poverty there’d be no crime; without crime there’d be no injustice. It’s a utopian vision, and all that’s required to usher in this utopia is the rejection of all facts, reason, evidence, logic, truth, morality and decency – all the tools that you and I use in our attempts to be better people – to make the world more right; by siding with right, by recognizing what is right and moving towards it (3).

Rationalism is thus discarded for the sake of neutrality. But where would these comfy liberal neutralists be today if it wasn’t for the objective rationalism of the many generations which preceded them? If our Western allies hadn’t decided that we were right and the Germans were wrong, would we not be living today under a global Nazi regime? If we didn’t deem certain physical transgressions – theft, rape, abduction, assault, torture, terrorism and murder – to be objectively wrong, then what sort of safety, security or stability would we have to function as a civilization? And if we didn’t establish a ‘better’ of two outcomes as the basis for reward, then how would we have developed the competitive sportsmanship in all the fields that have made this great nation thrive as a whole?

No, it’s not as though liberals actually carry their logic of neutralism to such nihilistic extremes. But when one examines the linear conclusion of neutralism, the entire fabric of liberalism comes undone, which ultimately proves conservatism to be the more solvent, rational and objectively right path to follow. Thus, liberals can go on clinging to their hollow, meaningless and much-vaunted mantra of political correctness, for conservatism embodies the logic that ensures the civil cohesion which guarantees both liberals and conservatives this freedom of mind: objective correctness.