Ideology Versus Practicality

I’ve touched on this topic in the past, but I recently watched an interview on the Rubin Report that refocused my attention on the idea of how what we believe in isn’t always possible in the purest form. We all have ideas of what an ideal world would look like, and would be quite excited if it could somehow come to pass, but reality requires that even the best of ideas is tempered by the parts of life we can’t control. Utopia is a great concept, but is ultimately impossible.

For myself, I believe in maximum freedom with minimum interference from others. The perfect version of society from my point of view would be one where I can do what I want when I want however I want as long as what I’m doing isn’t causing harm to anyone else. My life is my responsibility and no one has any right to dictate anything to me. You do your thing; I do my thing. It should be that simple.

Unfortunately this concept is subject to exactly what I stated in the beginning. If every person agreed with this philosophy, it would work out just fine, but with billions of people on this little rock it becomes far more complicated. This is especially true because different environments breed different ideologies, many of which conflict with each other. Conflict can be resolved in one of two ways: compromise or force.

Most people are averse to the risks associated with the force option. In a situation like that, one side or the other ends up getting everything they want, but if you’re on the losing side then you’re stuck with whatever the result happens to be. It’s an all or nothing solution that, although the rewards can be quite high, the risk rises up to match it. Like all forms of gambling, most people tend to back away when the stakes are high enough.

That leaves us with compromise, which is the basis of how any functioning society really works. We have to let go of some of our particular viewpoints to reach an agreement with those around us to find a peaceful way to coexist. When both sides are willing to make small sacrifices for the greater good to gain a mutually beneficial outcome, we see the rise of great nations such as the United States.

Of course, when we become entitled to our own point of view and we lose the ability to make those small sacrifices to keep the peace, then we start to see the kind of fracturing that we have witnessed over the last several decades. As we continue to grow more and more intolerant of people with differing opinions and stick to the strictest form of our own ideology, we begin to drive a wedge between us and those on the other side. As the chasm grows, the shift from compromise to force becomes more and more likely.

The funny thing is that sometimes jumping to force straight away can be the most peaceful solution available. For too long the more conservative minded in our country have been willing to make compromises in the wrong areas while the other side gladly takes the mile we never intended to give. Had we stuck to our guns on the important issues and not allowed them to be eroded, we might have a better position from which to negotiate. Unfortunately, our own philosophy may have caused us to shoot ourselves in the foot.

You see, modern conservatism is very much about freedom and everyone being able to do their own thing. Where this runs aground is when we start to realize that the other side willingly groups together to consolidate their strength. Because of this, though our numbers are equivalent to theirs, we tend to be more fractured because we dislike the idea of being ruled by others. We go our own way, and when the prey is separated from the pack we become easy pickings.

As contrary to our nature as it might be, the only effective way forward is to meet fire with fire by compromising on some of our ways so that we can be effective where it counts most. Libertarians and Republicans and conservative minded independents have to forego our natural tendency to do our own thing and band together to fight what we see as the evil ideologies that exist today. Failure to do so will result in a world that doesn’t resemble anything we believed it could be.

In the end, ideologies are great concepts, but must be tempered by reality. We will never have anything in the perfect way we always imagined and we must be willing to settle for what is good enough. It may not be pleasant to hear, but necessity will always dictate our course of action. If we ignore those dictates, then we have only ourselves to blame when the walls come tumbling down.

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