Saturday, 16 March 2019

Heteroconceptuality and the political left

Heterochromia is, I learn, where a person has eyes of different colours. This kind of thing is common in nature. We talk about people who do not identify with either of the common genders (male or female) and we pride ourselves in being able to recognise the validity of their various realities. Difference is as common as its opposite, homogeneity. In fact, when it comes down to looking at the details, people are usually different one from another. Except when it comes to politics.

Here, people are less tolerant. If you want people to go along with you you have to adopt the position, on whichever issue is under discussion, of one of the major political parties. If, for convenience's sake, you are largely in favour of progressive policies but if you also think that some conservative policies have merit, then you will find yourself without a home. There is no place for heterodox opinion in the public sphere, you have to be either on the side of the people you are talking with or against them. All or nothing.

This kind of thinking appears to me to be a tyrannical constraint on intellectual freedom. It is also logically fallacious, for as long as we have existed people have been taking exception to ideas, or to the ways society implements them, that are accepted as routine. If you belong to a community you are hardly likely to stop being a human being simply in order that you can continue to live in harmony with your fellows. But that is what the political left asks you to do. If you want to get along with the crowd you have to lobotomise yourself. You have tor remove the faculty in your brain that enables you to make distinctions between things, to separate the wheat from the chaff. You are not allowed to disagree because to do so is to threaten the coherence of the group.

Artists and individual thinkers have faced this kind of problem for as long as society has existed. Language is innate and we have been telling each other stories in order to create community, without which we cannot survive, for as long as communities have existed, which is as long as we have been a distinct species. The thing that is different now is that orthodoxy does not belong, as it did in the past, or at least until very recently, purely to the conservative side of politics. Nowadays there is a very strong and very vocal progressive orthodoxy that is every bit as crushing for the spirit of the individual as its counterpart.

I’ve stopped telling people how I intend to vote in elections. People respond in unseemly ways, very often, when confronted by this sort of information if they personally have a different preference among the available choices. But I find as I get older that no single party can answer all the questions I have about the world. For some issues I find the Labor Party is the most satisfying but for other issues the Liberal Party does a better job in my mind of rationalising the world. I even agree with the Greens on several important matters, but if you want to know more about all of these things you’ll have to follow me on Facebook.

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