Do-Gooders vs. Do-Badders Radical Bleeding Heart image

The Fearful Do-Gooders and Self-Confident Do-Badders

Conservatives hate us because we wish to do good, because we have compassion for the unfortunate. When pure values are considered, the greatest gulf between liberals and conservatives seems to be the one that separates the do-gooders from the do-badders. And the do-gooders feel themselves to be an embattled minority.

Now this is indeed a curious fact. Why should anyone be proud of doing bad? Or ashamed of doing good? Why do Republicans — and conservatives generally — seem to love hurting people? Are they just evil?

The truth is that the difference between Do-Gooders and Do-Badders is not simple. It is not a question of a single value continuum. The essential difference between them is that of world-view. They see the world differently.

Uniters vs. Dividers

Liberals see the world united and conservatives see it divided. Conservatives divide the universe in three related ways:

The Manichean World. First, they divide the objective world into good and evil. They objectify value. They project their values, which are entirely subjective, onto the objective world. The technical term for such people is “Manichean.”

Excluders. Second, their world is split into “us” and “them.” You will not be surprised to learn that the world of “us” coincides with the world of “good” and that of “them” more or less equals the world of “evil.”

Rankers. And third, they rank people. They look down on some people with contempt and look up to others with fawning admiration. They believe in hierarchy. Liberals value equality. They look at both those less fortunate and those more fortunate as equals.

You may have noticed something here: Excluders and rankers are inherently Manichean. They objectify their values, projecting what is inside out. They imagine that their values are really part of the objective world.

But some conservatives actually do make a virtue of doing bad.

[Next: The Love of Doing Evil]

[Back to the Three Gulfs]