The Pointlessness of Caring About Hypocrisy

From every corner of the political heatmap, I have heard the same thing for four decades:

“How can you agree with X if you also believe Y. How can you do Z if you tell people P?”

“You’re a hypocrite!”

But here’s the thing. What if the concept of Hypocrisy, and value of not being a hypocrite, was based on an overvaluation of what it means to be logically consistant?

Sure, from an argumentive perspective logical consistancy makes sense. Being perfectly logically pure is a strong position to bargain from. But what if, and this is just an “if” for sure, the best world we can build won’t come through argument and debate?

What if the idea of the dialectic, that truth will emerge from opposing viewpoints, is just a beautiful but dangerously pernicious concept?

History and the history of technology is littered with the carcases of beautiful ideas that proved worthless and deadly. Hobbes’ Leviathan, the idea a king was necessary as head of a body politic. Authoritarian Communism. That to fly we must build machines that flap like birds. That only belief in a deity provides a life of worth or meaning. The idea that all our problems would be solved if we just had a businessman as President. Etc, etc, etc.

I believe that every time the cry of Hypocrisy emerges from the left or right, the discussion has become an ad hominem attack. To take one small instance: the “left” often vocalizes that it is hypocritical to be against abortion by advocating for “life” while not also advocating for protecting children themselves with better social programs. The “right” claims the left is being hypocritical because they profess to care about children but won’t protect the life of unborn children.

A game of differing definitions and unhelpful attacks. There is no truth to be derived here.

Abortion is a complicated issue that intersects with belief in the soul, and is in fact orthogonal to how people should be treated by society once born.

And nobody has ever convinced a pro-life person to be pro-choice by calling them a hypocrite, or vice versa. These statements are just ways to feel superior to your opponents. Pointless, in terms of finding truth or enacting meaningful change.

In contrast: The singular most liberal and open-minded person I know is pro-life. They believe strongly abortion should not be used as birth control, not that it wouldn’t be important to have as a lawful procedure when needed. You can believe something is wrong but also should be legal, and still be a good person. This is a person who also wants to see a living wage experimented with, so yeah, pretty far left. But like all real humans, complicated.

It’s not as simple as the catch phrases of pro-life/choice. Those are marketing terms that do not in any way encapsulate the agony of abortion, or the agony of having a child that cannot be supported properly.

But this is just one example of how Hypocrisy fails as both an argumentive device, and as a way to move forward on our complicated social and moral issues. Trying to plot a perfectly linguistically logically consistant path into the better world of our future is like trying to do surgery with a hammer. Wrong tools, wrong games.

Next time you hear a cry of Hypocrisy, I hope you pause and ask yourself one thing: “So what?

The world I want to make will have space for sinners and hypocrites. As long as at the center there is one thing, and one thing only: the human being as Singleton.

From there, with AI as our protection and tool, we can potentially grow beyond using language and laws alone to solve our dilemmas. Have patience, soon we will have tools the likes of which have not been imagined, that will turn the device in your pocket into a platform for a better Us.

(Painting above from Reddit, not sure of artist.)

One comment

  1. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

    ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

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