Why Don’t Liberals Preach?

Liberals who have amounted to something in life through advanced study, hard work, deferral of   gratification, self-control, accepting responsibility for their actions and the rest of the old-fashioned virtues are often strangely  hesitant to preach these conservative virtues to those most in need of them.

That’s because people who preach anything, including any sort of virtues, to others are condescending, stupid, annoying fools. (Unless they are preachers by profession, of course.)

And what has worked for them they do not think will work for others.

That’s because they have the intelligence to realize that people are different and different things work for these different people. “I’m so wonderful, let’s all be me” is a very infantile position.

Their attitude is curiously condescending.  If we conservatives used ‘racist’ as loosely and irresponsibly as they do, we might even tag their attitude ‘racist.’

If everybody who is not exactly like you belongs to a different race, then sure enough. According to this logic, there are 7 billion races in this world.

Signed: a Liberal who has amounted to a lot of things.

30 thoughts on “Why Don’t Liberals Preach?

  1. He doesn’t even get the title of his own post right; really, based on what he’s saying, it should be called “Preach What You Practice.”

    Also, what about those of those conservatives who attain massive life success explicitly through factors which were completely beyond their control (for example, people who just happen to be born to millionaire governors of Michigan)? Should they become liberals? Should we really formulate our opinions of everyone else based exclusively on what happens to us? It seems a very…neurotypical attitude, come to think of it.


    1. “Should we really formulate our opinions of everyone else based exclusively on what happens to us? It seems a very…neurotypical attitude, come to think of it.”

      – Good catch! 🙂


  2. I would have thought it was the human default to accept responsibility for one’s actions. After all, when any series of events comes to an end, what do you have left but the combination of your actions and the way the environment has responded to them?


      1. True. I’ve never been able to parse it and I have spoken to American conservatives and tried to see where the logic they use might have any practical meaning. I concluded it was just rhetoric and that they didn’t understand it themselves.


        1. “As I understand it, “accept responsibility for your actions” is mostly just code for “if something bad happens to you, I assume that it’s your fault.”

          – Also known as “magical thinking.”


  3. “…I assume it’s your fault,” yes, that is what they mean.

    The original post is SO full of errors, or let us say, I have a lot of questions about it. Why is being relatively responsible and living in a somewhat sober way, “Right”? What is “Left” living, then? What about Gandhi…?


    1. I thought it was a clumsy pun. Living right / “Right.”

      But yeah, the entire thing is very childish. I have nothing against a Conservative worldview but it has to be consistent, coherent and at least a bit less superficial.


      1. I have learned to avoid conservatives as if my life depended on it. I had a horrible time with them — a horrible, prolonged time. Because I was brought up in an extremely right wing, militarized, “fight for Christianity and Civilization” culture, I bore many of the tropes of this culture in my language, although I didn’t have more than a superficial understanding of them. Rather worse than that, I have tended to dismiss a lot of bigotry, including sexist bigotry, as being just so much hot air and letting off steam. Consequently, conservatives thought I was one of them, when in actual fact I never have been. The American conservative perspective was something entirely alien to me until I encountered it on the Internet.

        After much engagement and interactions with conservatives, I have found they have no substance to their thought. It’s all metaphysics — that is, postulating essential natures into things, thinking in terms of opposites and maintaining a Just World Hypothesis. It’s crazy, and they will turn on you if you express skepticism or doubt.

        I had a few turn on me after I’d spent significant years listening to them and engaging with them, and had concluded from this, that there was nothing to their ideas but metaphysics. Their attack on my character was exceedingly vicious, which also points to them not having good characters themselves.


  4. Charles Murray’s recent book Coming Apart makes these arguments. It is a fun book precisely because he turns the usual assumptions about our cultural wars on their heads, painting a picture of elite liberals, who are really quite conservative in their values and poor conservatives who are actually quite liberal.

    I think there is preaching and then there is “preaching.” 🙂

    People should be open about what they believe and why they believe it. The democratic system relies on this sort of citizen activism. People should feel free to try to convert me to big government. That being said one needs to draw a line at trying to actually shove your ideas down other people’s throats. Make your case to other people, but respect the fact that they are likely not going to agree with you. This does not mean that there is either anything wrong with your argument or with the other person.


    1. I only saw excerpts from Murray’s bizarre outpourings but they sounded so completely outlandish that I didn’t feel like wasting time on the entire thing. He reminded me of this beautiful quote that “The US is the best place in the world to peddle complete public lunacy.” 🙂

      On a serious note, sharing ideas is wonderful. But preaching one’s lifestyle, way of being and values is an act of idiocy.


      1. I do not see a clear line. Any value or lifestyle, if it is going to be anything more than a random decision, must be based on philosophical principles. For example is tolerance a value or an idea? I believe in the principles of tolerance and these principles affect my lifestyle in that you will not find me trying to beat people up or pass laws against them just because they are not like me.


        1. “Any value or lifestyle, if it is going to be anything more than a random decision, must be based on philosophical principles.”

          – To give an example, I live a deeply monogamous heterosexual lifestyle. I don’t see it as based on any philosophical principles. These preferences are outside of my control.

          The problem I have with the OP is this annoying didactic position that you need to stand over people droning like a crazed parrot, “be hard-working like me, be hard-working like me.” This is stupid and insulting. Yet the unintelligent author thinks there is something wrong with people who don’t do this.


          1. Do you accept the economic principle that people are better off living in a social environment? Do you and your husband make use of the principle of specializiation in your relationship? These ideas are critical for marriage, but they are also the foundation for Adam Smith.


              1. For example if one of you like doing a certain chore around the house or are simply better at it than that person does it. This idea as profound implications for economics and how we choose to organize society. For one thing it means that a consistant person will support free trade and open immigration.


    2. I actually do preach sometimes, having lived in the South all this time I can sound quite evangelical. And I think part of “America”‘s problem is that only conservatives are willing to expound their views.

      But I don’t think the post’s apparent definitions of liberal and conservative values makes a great deal of sense. I do liberal and lefty things daily, such as act to preserve abortion rights, etc. Virtually everything I do, including conserve gasoline, is part of a liberal-left agenda.


      1. “I actually do preach sometimes, having lived in the South all this time I can sound quite evangelical. ”

        – I also often miss a pulpit, to be honest. 🙂 But I do see a humongous difference between sharing ideas and – to give an example – approaching our adjuncts and telling them that they don’t have a tenure-track job because they are less hard-working and self-reliant than I am. This would be a very disgusting thing to do because it isn’t based on any idea, just on a diseased desire to make myself feel better at the expense of others.


  5. Part of being liberal is a “live and let live” attitude. Liberals rarely preach about what people should do with their lives; the only time liberals get really preachy is when people start doing things to other people’s lives, like not letting them vote, or forcing them to move from where they are living, exploiting their labout, or bombing them from a dizzy height.


    1. Yes, there are also people who inherit millions and then dedicate their lives to spending those millions. But I think they are definitely less worthy than folks who spend their lives working.

      I’ve met a few of such spoiled rich brats. There was nothing cute or endearing about them.


  6. LIberals are perfectly willing to preach vegetarianism, reclycing, or antihomophobia, or any number of things from animal rights to local eating. The only thing they won’t preach is that poverty is the fault of poor people. Conservatives of a certain stripe will only preach that.


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