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Being the Good Guys
It’s better to be earnest than cool.
I recently wrote an essay for my Substack on being genuine. The essay was my defense of earnestness in a culture that prefers irony. I think my argument has a natural appeal for many right-wingers. Conservatives especially should avoid the temptation to be overly ironic towards life—that is, while it is fine and good to be ironic at times, we have to take some things seriously. Conservatism is uncool, and it doesn’t need to be cool.
In the essay, I write about the importance of trying to do the right thing. Left-wingers have the luxury of not believing in evil, or at least of not believing in the temptation each of us is born with. Conservatives don’t have that luxury. We know that human nature isn’t totally benign, and we know that we need to be on our guard. It’s important to try hard to be good because if you don’t try hard to be good, you might do bad.
Later in the essay, I also get into the limits of earnestness. I drew on Thomas Sowell—the constrained (conservative) worldview understands that sincerity (commitment, caring, earnestness, etc.) and effort won’t transcend the limitations of the world. The unconstrained vision believes that such sincerity (just caring enough) is vital for realizing utopia. My argument is that we should be sincere for its own sake and should work hard for its own sake, but not because those things will inevitably lead us to great things in the world. This leads us into process vs. outcomes.
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