When the Left Goes Too Far – Moral Superiority

After hearing Dr. Jordan Peterson talk about how it’s easy to see when people on the right go too far, yet on the left, it’s much harder to draw the line, I started ruminating on where that line is.

What came to mind is the idea that on the right, when people claim racial superiority, we can see that they’ve gone “off the deep end” in terms of useful social dialogue. And that’s perhaps putting it mildly since tribalism (i.e., racial group identity) can lead to atrocities like the Jewish holocaust in the 20th century.

On the far end of the left however, there is what looks to me like a tendency towards moral superiority that is in some ways equivalent to the racial superiority on the right. The equivalency lies in the fact that the radical elements of both ends of the political spectrum tend to be operating from prideful positions that are based on an underlying sense of personal shame.

And then I saw this video where psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the five moral values that form the basis of our political choices, whether we’re left, right, or center.

His conclusion, based on the research he conducted is that those on the left would do well to embrace moral humility. And I believe this is the line that Dr. Peterson has been searching for.

If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between “for” and “against” is the mind’s worst disease.

Sent-ts’an c. 700 C.E.

Interestingly, right as I was posting about this topic on Reddit, Dr. Peterson came out with this article titled When the Left Goes Too Far – The Dangerous Doctrine of Equity.

I think it’s possible that the underlying emotional motivations for what he discusses in that article have to do with the tendency towards moral superiority by those on the left.

What’s the takeaway?

The takeaway is that we’re all better off when we keep an eye out for stances of superiority, whether on the left or the right. These stances are based on an underlying, personal sense of inferiority experienced (often unconsciously) by the people that are driven by those perspectives.

And from Haight’s video, we see the exact dynamics of how superiority tends to play out on the left. So if you find yourself on the left, and particularly if you’re interested in empowering your political party as a whole, that’s something to be aware of – both as it plays out within your internal landscape as well as in the external world.

 

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