All humans have a moral compass, but there appears to be one major difference between the left and the right: leftists lack a conscience.
At first glance that seems like a preposterous and self-contradictory claim. How can people have a moral compass but lack a conscience?
A moral compass is directed outward. It enables you to make judgments of other people and society, according to your values and ethics, and it points out the direction that society should take.
By contrast, your conscience is directed inward, towards your moral compass. It questions and judges your own actions, values, and motivations. Could it be that you are unconsciously guided by deeply resentful and malevolent intentions? Your conscience – if you have it – is the one that asks that question.
Conservatives, especially those belonging to the Christian tradition, have well-developed concepts of conscience. Indeed, they are central tenets in the Gospels. From the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells those who so easily judge others (Matthew 7:5):
“You hypocrite! First, remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
The concept of conscience was so important to the teachings of Jesus that the same moral lesson appears in a separate account of the Gospel (John 8:7):
“He that is without sin among you let him cast the first stone.”
In other words, make sure you have your own house in order before you tell others how to run their lives. It is not hard to show that hypocrisy is rampant on the left. The feminist Harvey Weinstein comes to mind as a recent example.
However, conscience is a tenant that leftists not only fail to live by but outright reject as nonsense. In the philosophical history of the left, this dates to the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who rejected the concept of Original Sin. Rousseau claimed that humans are born good and that the influence of society is what creates evil.
Rousseau had strong opinions on child education, while at the same time he fathered multiple children out of wedlock which he abandoned to awful orphanages. That should have been a clue to the intellectually honest that there was something wrong about his philosophy, but leftists liked what they heard and embraced the idea that one does not need a conscience.
Then came Karl Marx who had strong opinions about the plight of the working class. However, in his personal life, he had an unpaid female servant – what in practice amounted to a slave –with whom he had sexual relations.When she got pregnant, he kicked her out and did not pay for the child. That hasn’t stopped the left from admiring him as a great moral thinker though.
In fact, leftists view themselves as the conscience of society, the moral watchers of the world. But as the Roman poet Juvenal said: “who will watch the watchers?” Leftists will answer “no-one” because they are perfect; they are born good, and therefore anything they feel must emanate from a good place.
Conservatives don’t believe this for a second. They believe that the potential for evil lies in all people, and therefore checks and balances need to be in place. That is why they are so distrustful of government, and why they believe that a constitution which greatly limits the power of government is necessary. It is the political equivalent of conscience.
Of course, if you confront a leftist with the claim that he has no conscience, he will scoff at you with moral supremacy. He will fail to see the irony of the fact that this is precisely how you would expect someone without a conscience to respond.