Discover more from From the New World
Against Moral Clarity
How free thinkers gladly chain themselves
Independent media has recently picked up a term from legacy media: Moral Clarity. People typically describe themselves with this term, and it can be a bit unclear to everyone else what they actually mean. Let me give a (hopefully) fair definition.
Moral clarity consists of three parts:
A strong emotion connection or identification with a belief
Confidence that your position is overwhelmingly popular in your ingroup
A willingness or desire to signal this belief publicly
Now let me give a very unfair definition of another term, total propaganda victory, which is used to describe a group of other people, but completely coincidentally consists of three parts:
A strong emotional connection or identification with your propaganda
The belief that this position is so strong that everyone who disagrees is part of an outgroup
A social pressure to express and share this propaganda publicly
This realization in and of itself should be enough to convince anyone never to describe themselves with this term again. If you aren’t convinced, here is some more thorough argument.
A well established psychological result is confirmation bias, which skews judgement of quality of evidence towards one’s prior beliefs. Emotionally salient topics, like the ones inspiring moral clarity, are particularly biasing. Identifying with or feeling self-righteous for a belief is an impairment, more deranging than alcohol for many. To expect another person to make correct judgements under the influence is naïve. To expect yourself to do so is narcissism.
Social desirability bias is the same effect but based on an ingroup, such as friends, family, or coworkers. People express opinions that are skewed towards their group, even if they do not believe them. A belief that determines group loyalty simply cannot be tested within the group.
The best argument against moral clarity might simply be asking why one would desire it, let alone confess to having it. The answer is a feeling of self-righteousness and confidence that is itself an expression of one of these two biases. People want to be biased. People want impaired judgement. People want conformity in impairment, so that they are surrounded by like-minded drunkards.
What is the alternative? How else does one gain the confidence or legitimacy to act? The alternative is trust in competence, not conformity. Unfortunately, competence is difficult to prove and impossible to prove for an establishment that is, well, wholly incompetent. Hence the necessity to resort to total propaganda victory for legitimacy. There is a reason that competence is difficult to prove. It’s because the actual task at hand is even harder. As hard as proving competence in managing economic consequences of a war in Ukraine is, actually managing them is orders of magnitude harder. Whoops, we let the incompetent donkeys make terrible decisions off of their total propaganda victory. We probably shouldn’t have done that. We should’ve waited until they proved their competence. Of course, they never would have done that, because they are incompetent. But we could have avoided some of the problems we have now, or even be a step closer towards picking competent managers instead.