Progressive and Conservative are the opposing directions on the Axis of Uncertainty.
The Conservative attitude is: change is for the worse. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.“, …
The Progressive attitude is: change is for the better. “It’s time to start fresh.“, “Change is good.“, …
Both attitudes come from a desire for the best possible outcome, in uncertain situations. To illustrate their core difference, two cases suffice:
The question of whether to give to those in need is ill-posed; it omits an essential parameter: Are resources scarce or plentiful?
When resources are plentiful, the act of charity has a moral circumference that includes giver and recipient, alone. When resources are scarce, charity affects everyone dependent upon those resources. Resources are now scarce.
We live at a point in history when humanity can permanently exhaust the planet’s fish supply, through overconsumption.
When a nation starves, granting it foreign aid, to purchase food at the global market, impacts all who go there to feed, and all who wish to in the future.
When a citizen starves, granting them social support, financed by debt, burdens future generations who service that debt.
In times of scarcity, charity is a choice between strangers, now, or family, in the future.
When someone buys a product they don’t believe in, what do they do? They evangelize it. This is not hypocrisy; this is rational behavior. Selling you on it validates their own purchase, and quells their mental storm of cognitive dissonance.
When someone fails at an endeavor, what do they do? They preach that success would be impossible, or undesirable. This is the same psychological self-defense mechanism.
Tasks that are objectively difficult, generate large bodies of failures. They assure each other that failure was “the right move”, and agglomerate into failure cults.
Failure cultists criticize those who succeeded, as a signal to identify each other. Note the tinge of jealously.
Failure cultists deserve pity, not hatred. They are victims of an upbringing and education by failure cultists before them.
Failure cultists can be saved. Not through logical argument, but through example. Failure cultism exploits a vulnerability in the human reliance on social proof; that is its weakness, too.
Be successful, and vocal when your success is criticized. They don’t hate you, they’ve just given up believing it is possible to be like you. Show them they’re wrong. Rekindle their hope.
Every fat person would become more physically attractive by slimming down.
Being more attractive leads to greater romantic success.
Stigmatizing excessive fatness encourages fat people to reach a more attractive body fat level; it pre-empts others from becoming excessively fat.
Suppressing fat shaming—through widespread “fat acceptance”—removes this social cue. That’s unhelpful.
When someone needs advice, a coward tells them what they want to hear; a true friend tells them what they need to hear.
Debates over flu vaccination devolve into general claims about whether vaccination is safe and effective. These are fruitless.
The fruitful debates are whether each proposed vaccine is safe and effective.
In an ideal world, professionals hold those debates, yielding truth.
In our world, professional scientists are financed by political mechanisms, so they cannot objectively seek truth on political topics like this.
The reasonable person may simultaneously believe that vaccination works, while remaining skeptical of official vaccine recommendations.
These days, equality is publicly assumed to be a moral good. It is not.
Equality is zero-sum. Equality is “I want what you have.” Lust for equality begets conflict.
Equality is a song with one note. Equality is a painting with one color. Equality is heat-death, school uniforms, and totalitarian conformity.
What you want is not equality; what you want is partnership.
Partnership welcomes difference, and uses it to make everyone better-off.
Partnership is civil. Partnership is social. Partnership is negotiation, agreement, and mutual benefit.
Partnership is caring for each other. Partnership is “I’ve got your back.” Partnership is cooperation.
Partnership is variety, in balance.