Monday, January 03, 2005

A Minor Observation

The more I examine conservative thought, the more it seems to be divided against itself.

Consider this: Conservatives generally claim that there are absolute standards for morality, and relativism is a lie. However, they also tend to believe that the pursuit of rational self-interest (Smith), or "selfishness" (Rand), or outright criminality (Mandeville) generates morally desirable outcomes.

Meanwhile, the actions of "do-gooders" (a favorite pejorative against liberal activists) are shabby and shameful because they're secretly inspired by the very same self-interest which, in a different context, is the most reliable force for social good, even (or especially) when it's directed towards evil goals.

Which would seem to imply that moral action is both relative, and shameful as an end in itself.


Ellie Finlay said...

Very astute observation.

Interestingly, I addressed the same topic this morning (if I may shamelessly blogwhore The idea put forth by rightwingers that altrusim is somehow to be despised has bewildered me for some time. The scorn and disdain both for those in need as well as for those who take the responsibility to help are particularly ugly.

NYMary said...

I recently had this argument with a friend who said that he was afraid Kerry's philanthropy had hurt him. But 'better noblesse oblige than "fuck you, prole,"' I answered.

Whatever happened to doing good because it's, you know, good?