Disaggregate Ideology

Imagine you’re living in Germany in the 1930’s. You’re still you with your current ethics and beliefs. The Nazi’s ideology includes a number of claims/beliefs.

  • Jews should be killed
  • Aggressive wars of expansion are necessary
  • Dissent should be criminalized
  • 1 + 1 = 2

Does disagreeing with the first three statements mean you should also disagree with the fourth? If you’re optimizing for truth, the answer seems to be no. You should judge independent beliefs independently. Yet in reality most people tend to group otherwise unrelated claims based on which political faction or ideology happens to have claimed them first. This is bad. In theory it could be useful. If you don’t have time to examine every belief/claim, assigning higher truth value to claims from groups you trust seems resonable. In practice most of the time I’ve seen people do this it’s effectively blinded them to ideas outside of the mainstream and served to help them perpetuate their existing beliefs. In my experience it also has a darker side. If bad groups ideas can be dismissed, it’s all too easy to think a group is bad, dismiss/apply higher standards it’s claims, think it’s bad because you don’t belive it’s claims etc…

A few examples of tribes/ideologies that I instinctively dislike but agree with certain claims of:

  • Modern feminism says gender norms are bad. I agree.
  • White Nationalists say white people are oppressed/victims of systemic racism. To some extent, I agree.
  • Islamists say the west is corrupt and decadent. 23% of American children live in single mother households. To an extent, I agree.
  • Communists say that heavy capital has disproportionate power. I agree.
  • A flavor of the libertarian right says welfare is bad because it goes to underserving people. To some extent I agree.

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