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SelfishRandroid

Seeking advice: Friends with opposing political and philosophical values

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Something I've struggled with since becoming an Objectivist is that I am totally at odds with the culture at large, including many of my formerly close friends. I've found myself pulling away from years-long friendships because I find their political and philosophical views to be appalling. I live in an extremely liberal, "progressive" part of the United States, and the majority of people I know are pro-Socialism or even pro-Communism.  

I can, to some degree, tolerate mixed premises or unarticulated, uncritical acceptance of some of society's edicts, but I can't stand people who are active proponents of what I consider to be evil. My friends are educated exponents of these ideas, having graduated from prestigious universities, so it's difficult for me to enjoy their company when our values are so at odds. I'm finding myself growing increasingly friendless as I discard friendships with people with strongly leftist, collectivistic ideas. Unfortunately, those are the overwhelming majority of people I seem to be surrounded with.    

I'm curious as to how many of you have friends with very different political and philosophical views than your own, and how you make those relationships "work," so to speak? I don't want to compromise on my values, but is there some way I can be more accepting of my friends' virtues despite their unpalatable convictions? Or am I doing the right—albeit painful—thing by ending these relationships?

Any advice or personal anecdotes on this topic would be welcome. Thanks!

 

 

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1 hour ago, SelfishRandroid said:

Something I've struggled with since becoming an Objectivist is that I am totally at odds with the culture at large, including many of my formerly close friends. I've found myself pulling away from years-long friendships because I find their political and philosophical views to be appalling. I live in an extremely liberal, "progressive" part of the United States, and the majority of people I know are pro-Socialism or even pro-Communism.  

I can, to some degree, tolerate mixed premises or unarticulated, uncritical acceptance of some of society's edicts, but I can't stand people who are active proponents of what I consider to be evil. My friends are educated exponents of these ideas, having graduated from prestigious universities, so it's difficult for me to enjoy their company when our values are so at odds. I'm finding myself growing increasingly friendless as I discard friendships with people with strongly leftist, collectivistic ideas. Unfortunately, those are the overwhelming majority of people I seem to be surrounded with.    

I'm curious as to how many of you have friends with very different political and philosophical views than your own, and how you make those relationships "work," so to speak? I don't want to compromise on my values, but is there some way I can be more accepting of my friends' virtues despite their unpalatable convictions? Or am I doing the right—albeit painful—thing by ending these relationships?

Any advice or personal anecdotes on this topic would be welcome. Thanks!

 

 

Friendships are based on something.  When it is clear that any particular friendship you have is not based on commonly held political beliefs you must focus on what is the basis of that friendship, on why in particular you actually want to be friends with that person.  Perhaps it is humor, or a common hobby, maybe its a shared passion in something, food, travel, sports.  Unlike social media, the fake media, or twitter, life is actually about 90% non-political or certainly it can and probably should be.  Stick to that ... don't get political... now don't imply you agree but deflect... "Let's not get all political.... I'm trying to catch a fish here."

That said, if any of your left leaning friends are primarily political, and what they love most is discussing politics, you and your friend will soon find out whether friendship can be based primarily on disagreement... on the other hand you might both learn how to have a proper civil debate in the process.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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5 hours ago, SelfishRandroid said:

Something I've struggled with since becoming an Objectivist is that I am totally at odds with the culture at large, including many of my formerly close friends. I've found myself pulling away from years-long friendships because I find their political and philosophical views to be appalling. I live in an extremely liberal, "progressive" part of the United States, and the majority of people I know are pro-Socialism or even pro-Communism.  

I can, to some degree, tolerate mixed premises or unarticulated, uncritical acceptance of some of society's edicts, but I can't stand people who are active proponents of what I consider to be evil. My friends are educated exponents of these ideas, having graduated from prestigious universities, so it's difficult for me to enjoy their company when our values are so at odds. I'm finding myself growing increasingly friendless as I discard friendships with people with strongly leftist, collectivistic ideas. Unfortunately, those are the overwhelming majority of people I seem to be surrounded with.    

I'm curious as to how many of you have friends with very different political and philosophical views than your own, and how you make those relationships "work," so to speak? I don't want to compromise on my values, but is there some way I can be more accepting of my friends' virtues despite their unpalatable convictions? Or am I doing the right—albeit painful—thing by ending these relationships?

Any advice or personal anecdotes on this topic would be welcome. Thanks!

Paraphrasing a quote here, Rand saw herself as primarily a proponent, not of capitalism, but egoism... and not primarily egoism, but reason. I approach my friendships and other relations the same sort of way: I seek people who are fundamentally reasonable. Your mileage may vary, but I've found people who demonstrate varying degrees of reason in every walk of life, and subscribing to most every sort of view -- at the very least, nominally. At the same time, I have met people whose stated beliefs I judge as correct, yet they are not very reasonable in their dealings, in their lives -- and they don't make for great friends.

This fundamental orientation to reason can show up in many ways, from hobbies and activities, to career pursuits and romantic involvements, discussions/arguments and so forth. The more reasonable they are, in this basic sense, the more apt we are to get along... even where and when we disagree. The people who are less fundamentally reasonable, though we may agree on everything else (howsoever superficially), the smallest disagreement could wind up being an unmanageable obstacle.

Consequently, I've maintained friends among Christians, Hindus, Atheists, Buddhists, and politically on the left, right and in the "middle." The more zealous socialists I've known can be trying, at times, and not least because -- to the extent they adhere to their own professed beliefs -- they often feel required not to be friends with someone who believes as I do. Yet even with one or two of these, I have found that I can identify sufficiently with their virtues to overcome other deficits (like intelligence and taking ideas seriously).

My closest friend in the world (apart from my wife) is a Methodist. He's sincere in his religious beliefs, but not very dogmatic. We made peace about our diverging views very long ago, and though we still argue them from time to time in one form or another, we understand that our bonds are based on fundamental things that, perhaps, aren't completely captured or expressed in our stated philosophies. We do not fear disagreement.

Edited by DonAthos

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Given your description of the milieu, we are probably neighbors. There was one guy who I agreed with on numerous political topics so we were friends, but he felt that he had to bolt and left the state (politics and real-estate cash-in). 99% of the time, I avoid political talk with friends, unless I can steer the conversation to an area that can be rationally discussed, which is a matter that is as much about their level of ideological commitment to emotion as a tool of cognition as it is about the topic of conversation. Maybe I have a better quality of friends (they probably think so), but I don’t know any irrational ideological extremists (there are plenty of them in the area, I just don’t interact with them). I am on occasion faced with a provocative statement from a friend, which presents me with one of three main choices. One is to engage the friend with a counter-question or statement aimed at identifying an underlying premise that I know is wrong. An example might be anything of the form “We don’t want X”, which frames moral and political questions as the codification of personal emotion. The response might be, “I disagree, I do want X”. A semi-rational person would then pause and examine the reasons for this feeling, and might only respond “But it’s not right”, which leads to the obvious follow-up “Why isn’t it right?”, or maybe “The opposite of X is what’s right, don’t you agree?”. Obviously, you have to decide at what point you’re threatening the relationship. In a few cases, I have essentially had to post no-trespassing signs by saying that I don’t see sufficient common ground for civil discussion of the topic.

My solution is that friendships are not entirely based on shared political values, and you should not get enraged at disagreement over politics any more than you should get enraged about religion or music.

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Implicit in any relationship is a mutually shared philosophy which makes it possible to enjoy/appreciate the value(s) on which the relationship is built. If you both love fishing, you at least agree that life is worth living, that an enjoyable way to do that is to sit and fish, and that we should be allowed to fish. Philosophically, not much else really matters, at least with regard to your fishing excursions.

 

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Anecdotally, over time I find myself more flabbergasted than mad at majorly flawed beliefs, and just annoyed at the prospect of explaining my basic held premises again.

People do change their minds, and people mess up. I don't have patience for longtime True Believers, but in general I wouldn't think twice about being friends with someone who has ideas counter to my own, as long as we held some shared values.

Edited by JASKN

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I dropped a friend because he was irrationally sympathetic to Antifa. Now I hear he's crazy about BLM, so I'm glad I bailed. You need to be careful picking your friends these days.

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9 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

I dropped a friend because he was irrationally sympathetic to Antifa. Now I hear he's crazy about BLM, so I'm glad I bailed. You need to be careful picking your friends these days.

Why would this be a criteria for dropping a friend?

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5 hours ago, JASKN said:

Why would this be a criteria for dropping a friend?

I only have so much time for friends. I prefer to spend that time with people who have no sympathy for violent commies.

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20 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

I only have so much time for friends. I prefer to spend that time with people who have no sympathy for violent commies.

I prefer not to associate with people who don’t agree with me. I am willing to do so when those people have some superior value for me. I prefer to not deal with any form of irrational behavior, but I don’t live by myself in an isolated cabin in the woods. What value system tells you how much time you have for friends (as opposed to anything else), and what specific value do you apply in sorting your acquaintances into a friend / non-friend grouping. E.g. is it “any form of irrationality”, “violent communism”, “communism”, “violent”? And why would it be rational to shun a person who you know has irrational beliefs. Is it something completely different, namely the “in-your-face” nature of SJW’s.

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3 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

I prefer not to associate with people who don’t agree with me.

In general I value honest criticism. It helps me see flaws or weaknesses in my own ideas, arguments or actions even. So I actually seek associates who share core values like honesty and logic and science, but who disagree on certain subjects.

3 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

What value system tells you how much time you have for friends (as opposed to anything else), and what specific value do you apply in sorting your acquaintances into a friend / non-friend grouping. E.g. is it “any form of irrationality”, “violent communism”, “communism”, “violent”?

I know what I want to accomplish and try to budget my time to achieve those goals before I die. I won't go into specifics, but generally they are writing projects of an intellectual nature. Hanging out with family and friends is a lower priority for me right now, though I set aside time for important functions and relations.

Broadly speaking, a "friend" is a close, personal associate with whom I share mutual respect and concern. A "non-friend" might be someone I don't know or someone I don't respect or care about. I typically lose respect or concern for people when it's clear that they are not honest or reasonable. Usually I catch them in ridiculous lies and obvious and stubborn evasions of the facts. I might still pay attention to them as a psychological study, but they aren't friends.

Then there are people who are outright enemies or potentially dangerous threats. Anyone who sympathizes with Antifa falls into that latter category. They are in the process of being radicalized against individual rights. And I don't want to be near them when they go bonkers.

4 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

And why would it be rational to shun a person who you know has irrational beliefs. Is it something completely different, namely the “in-your-face” nature of SJW’s.

If it's extreme irrationality, then they are probably dangerous, from sheer stupidity, desperation, or maybe malice. You literally put your own life in danger being around very irrational people. They make dumb and life-threatening decisions. If the irrationality is contained or limited to a particular subject, then being friends depends on whether that subject is important to you.

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