Appearance & Eudaimonia: Humanity’s Twin Realities

Those who have watched my YouTube channel will probably have noticed that “meta-values” are one of my main philosophical interests. Meta-values as described by Dennis Prager are the metaphysical concepts that lie at the heart of the way people view the world. Generally speaking, they can be summed up in a single word; “truth,” “pleasure,” or “love.” These words represent some of the building blocks of reality or platonic forms in the most fundamental sense. As a Platonist myself I tend to believe most things can be boiled down to their relation to the forms, although as I am Catholic I view the forms as pure ideas in the mind of God — but enough of the metaphysical rambling, we are here to talk about politics.

There is method to my abstractions though, as I believe after years of observation and study I have at last boiled down the fundamental meta-values that separate Left and Right. I should add that I work in the field of public opinion, and reading hundreds of pages of focus group transcripts in regard to a variety of topics is a core part of my job, so I have some experience in teasing out the core themes of how people think.

At any rate I think I have at last cracked the core code of the meta-values that separate Liberals and Conservatives. I say Liberals and Conservatives because that’s where the majority of most societies lie on the political spectrum, we can talk about mass reactions or communist revolutions but ultimately the majority of people, I feel, have one of two meta-values

Liberal Meta-Value: Appearance

Let’s begin with the Left as they are more complicated. For a long time I wondered what lay at the heart of the modern Left and what they ultimately valued. Was it equality? Pleasure? Self-abasement? Then it hits me — from The Right Stuff of all places — one of the hosts of  “The Daily Shoah” said, “Liberals base their entire worldview on what they see in movies and television.” As I heard those words they struck me like a bolt of thunder and suddenly it all made sense.

The chief meta-value for the Left is “appearance.” Appearance in the sense of what on the surface is the most romantic, makes the best story or advances the best narrative. There is a general indifference to truth and an extreme valuing of style over substance. It is a bit complicated so we will explore this through examples.

Let’s look at the election of 2012 where we had Romney vs. Obama. Think what you will about Mormonism, virtually everybody who knew Romney described him as a wonderful human being, charitable, compassionate and always a good neighbor. People described him paying for the education of the daughter of a friend who died in an accident — and perhaps most notably when the daughter of a friend went missing, he ordered all the employees of the company he worked for to comb New York city to find her. They found her in a drug-induced stupor wasting away in someone’s basement. Had Romney not taken these measures the doctors said she would have died. It was mentioned at the yearly board meeting as the greatest accomplishment of the company.

However, despite this, and Romney being praised by his wife and family, he was crucified in the media. Romney to the Left was like Gordon Geko from Wallstreet, he was like Mr. Porter in It’s a Wonderful Life, he was the big evil capitalist villain out of some Hollywood movie because he was rich and made his money in business; the man himself was irrelevant, he fit a preconceived narrative well enough and beyond that the Left wasn’t interested.

Lets take Obama on the other hand, a man who as far as we can tell had never really contributed anything notable to society prior to becoming president. We know very little about his past with the exception of him being the member of the “Chun Gang” (a club who smoked marijuana), being raised by a member of the Communist Party of America, idealizing a polygamous father who killed someone in a drunk driving accident, and being friends with a host of shady people including Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright. In other words, Obama would not be able to pass an F.B.I. background check given all the people he associated with.

At the same time though, Joe Biden described Obama by saying, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” He continued, “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” Notice how he doesn’t really describe anything about Obama himself, just the optics of the situation and the predictable reference to a form of media as being the justification for Obama’s presidency.

Obama running for president to the Left was like some movie from the civil rights era where the evil, racist white people beat up on the well-groomed, high-I.Q. black kid, only to be proven wrong and come to worship this magic Negro. That’s how they viewed Obama. Just think about it for a minute in this context, and I think it should be pretty obvious that this is like some movie; the black underdog against the evil, rich, white capitalist. Was this the reality? It didn’t matter — reality is what it looks like on the surface, no need to dig deeper.

This brings us to the matter of Black Lives Matter, and specifically Christopher Dorner. For those of you who don’t know, Dorner was a psycho ex-cop who went on a shooting rampage in 2013, killing a number of people before police cornered and killed him. The media praised him. One commentator going so far as to call him a “super hero,” and that he was “just like Django.” Dorner was portrayed as a Denzel Washington-esque hero in some suspense movie, taking down a corrupt police establishment that was bent on destroying him out of irrational racism. The fact that Dorner’s first victims were another black man and a half-black half-Chinese girl who had no connection to his dispute with the police department was irrelevant, all that mattered was the narrative and framing it solely based on appearances.

Notice this is the case with all “dindus” (a pejorative for an obviously guilty black male killed by police based on the Ebonics, “he dindu nuthin”). The fact that most dindus are in the middle of committing an often violent crime such as shooting at police or robbing grocery stores is irrelevant. They probably saw a movie sometime where a white cop framed a black kid — and that takes precedence. Notice also the tendency of news channels to lighten the skin tone of the police or other people who shoot the blacks and to refer to them as “white” even if they obviously aren’t. Also notice the tendency of them to use pictures of black kids when they are much younger and more innocent-looking, as this makes it resemble a movie more so. I could go on and on explaining any number of Left-winged positions on issues using this heuristic but I think you get the picture.

Now, some people might blame Hollywood, and to a certain extent this is fair enough; there is, as Michael Savage put it, “a sewerpipe” coming out of Hollywood — but there has always been literature or plays that people have become obsessed with, be it the “Sorrows of Young Wurther” or Lord Byron’s writings. This point of view is something fundamental and burning down Hollywood won’t solve it. That all being said, let us move onto Conservative perceptions of reality.

Conservative Meta-Value: Virtue

Conservatives view reality through what is traditionally known as “virtue ethics,” which is one of the major schools of moral thought along with consequentialism, deontology, etc. Virtue ethics has a long pedigree stretching back to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, but was also championed by numerous Christian and Enlightenment scholars. The basic principle of virtue ethics is a de-emphasis on the moral rightness of a particular action, and instead focussing on evaluating how virtuous the individual committing the act is as a way to judge more rectitude. I found a good description that is better than anything I can come up with.

In the first book of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle warns us that the study of ethics is imprecise. Virtue ethicists have challenged consequentialist and deontological theories because they fail to accommodate this insight. Both deontological and consequentialist type of theories rely on one rule or principle that is expected to apply to all situations. Because their principles are inflexible, they cannot accommodate the complexity of all the moral situations that we are likely to encounter.

We are constantly faced with moral problems. For example: Should I tell my friend the truth about her lying boyfriend? Should I cheat in my exams? Should I have an abortion? Should I save the drowning baby? Should we separate the Siamese twins? Should I join the fuel protests? All these problems are different and it seems unlikely that we will find the solution to all of them by applying the same rule. If the problems are varied, we should not expect to find their solution in one rigid and inflexible rule that does not admit exception. If the nature of the thing we are studying is diverse and changing, then the answer cannot be any good if it is inflexible and unyielding. The answer to “how should I live?” cannot be found in one rule. At best, for virtue ethics, there can be rules of thumb — rules that are true for the most part, but may not always be the appropriate response.

(source)

This leads us to Eudaimonia:

Eudaimonism (or Eudaemonism or Eudaimonia) is a moral philosophy that defines right action as that which leads to the “well-being” of the individual, thus holding “well-being” as having essential value. It makes up part of the system of virtue ethics propounded by the ancient Greek philosophers, in which a lifetime of practising the virtues (arête) in one’s everyday activities, subject to the exercise of practical wisdom (phronesis) to resolve any conflicts or dilemmas which might arise, will allow the individual to flourish and live the good life (eudaimonia).

(source)

So how does this apply to Conservatives? Well, let’s look at how Conservatives talk about politicians. Conservatives who support Donald Trump (or any politician) tend to point to his virtuous characteristics as the reason they support him, and provide examples of things he has said or done to reinforce this. Some examples of this would be:

  • Donald Trump raised a number of beautiful and well-adjusted children. This speaks a great deal for his ability to lead and bring out the potential in other people. Being a good father is virtuous and shows him to be a worthy leader.
  • Donald Trump works extremely hard and works long hours. A commitment to getting things done right, hard work and pride in your work are virtuous traits and show him to be a worthy leader.
  • Donald Trump clearly loves America. Patriotism is a virtuous trait (especially for a president) and so it’s a reason to support him.

Inversely, Conservatives hate politicians using the same heuristics, the big example being Hillary Clinton. Some examples are:

  • Hillary refused to support Americans at Benghazi, and later lied about it even to the mothers of the murdered Americans to avoid political embarrassment. This shows her to be vain, dishonest and frankly sociopathic in her desire for power. Ergo, this action shows that she is lacking in virtue, thus she should be nowhere near power.
  • There are dozens of recent suspicious deaths of political opponents linked to the Clintons, none which were justifiable homicides (i.e. self-defense). The fact that the vast majority of people and politicians who have had suspicious deaths were linked to them and that fact that Hillary is probably complicit in some of them shows Hillary to, once again, be lacking in fundamental virtue and human decency. Thus, again, she should be nowhere near power.
  • There have been many accounts of cruel and needlessly rude behavior, such as repeatedly telling secret service agents who wished her a good morning to “go fuck themselves.” This shows a lack of the most basic empathy and ability to relate to others.

I think most of this is pretty obvious. Just think about the way Conservatives judge politicians, public figures and people in their lives. Generally-speaking, they will attempt to judge based on actions, words, and appearance if said person is a “good” person and whether or not they are trustworthy.

Conclusion

So what can be drawn from my theory of appearance vs. eudaimonia? Essentially, that the Left and Right share mutually exclusive, different worldviews. Hillary Clinton could literally gun down people on television and many of her supporters would excuse or ignore it. If you look at how the Left defends and celebrates men like Che Guevara, a mass murdering sadist who took sexual pleasure from performing executions himself; Mao Zedong, the greatest mass murderer in human history; and the A.N.C. in South Africa, it’s quite clear that this defense is based on the appearance of the situation rather than substance. Che is a handsome young revolutionary, he is like Antonio Banderas in The Mask of Zorro and anything that contradicts that doesn’t matter. Likewise, Mao was a man of the people and his propaganda posters said he supported them, so he did. This mutual inability to understand one another on the part of Liberals and Conservatives is gradually undermining the stability of society, and is part of the reason that democracy will not last. Already we can see increasingly frustrated and disillusioned Conservatives watching as one grossly immoral leader after another is canonized by the Left. Eventually, I believe this will lead to violence as a system cannot survive being controlled by people with a fundamentally different view of reality.

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Argent

Hey I am Argent Templar some randy in my early to mid 20's from Ontario, Canada. I am a recent convert to Catholicism (2014) of the conserva-trad variety. My politics can be described as Far Right. I cover a wide range of topics including video games, movies, politics, history, philosophy and religion.

5 thoughts on “Appearance & Eudaimonia: Humanity’s Twin Realities

  1. This is some great and very insightful stuff. The analysis additionally helps explain the conspicuous preponderance of virtue-signaling and hypocrisy on the Left. When Leftists adopt moral positions, they tend to do it explicitly for show, as a matter of keeping up appearances for whatever utility in terms of social capital they can milk it for. Rightists who get bewildered when Leftists don’t practice what they preach miss the point, since they evaluate it from the point of view of their own meta-values. For the Rightist, not practicing what you preach is a personal failure; it is a contemptible sign of weakness, corruption, lack of character, and so on. But the Leftist *never had any intention of putting what he says into practice in the first place*- since for him, virtue is an affectation, a pose, indeed, a fashion statement.

    Any thoughts on what accounts for the differences in meta-values between the two groups?

  2. Good stuff, though I’m slightly disappointed there weren’t a few more examples beyond Trump versus Clinton — the French Revolutionaries of the eighteenth century versus the Reactionaries/Monarchists, for example? Could this dualism even apply to them? I think your thesis holds weight particularly in the information age or post-WWII, but I’m sceptical about before the current epoch. It’s something worth exploring at a latter date, perhaps.

    1. Its a criticism people often have of me, but in general I just try to avoid writting a book whenever I do an article. Its to a large degree a relic of my university years and reading boring long winded article after long winded article.

      I will probably address this more at a later date though. As for the pre WW-ll era? You I would say it probably holds true, but especially back then you probably had people who valued appearance over virtue in greater numbers then at present.

  3. Good, insightful article. It’s very useful to have such a nutshell understanding of such things. And it’s neat to have my own thoughts on this bolstered so articulately.

    For me the superficiality and moral confusion of the progressive liberal was beautifully summed up in a diversity training session l had the misfortune to attend. In discussing ‘hate crime’ the rotund, lady facilitator (the etymology is nicely congruent) said, ‘perception is everything’. This was in reference to the ‘victim’s’ perception of whether or not someone had acted hatefully towards them, but it sounded more like an Anlinskyesque rule of thumb that can be extrapolated to how liberals operate in society in general. It matters not whether something is true or not, only if it serves the Liberal narrative.

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