I wish I’d known the Book of Revelation when I was writing rants against political moderates.

From Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, p. 1202:


The church at Laodicea is bitterly condemned, not for being outspokenly opposed to the doctrines favored by John, but for being neutral. John apparently prefers an honest enemy to a doubtful friend:

Revelation 3:15. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

Revelation 3:16. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

"Laodicean" has therefore entered the English language as a word meaning "indifferent" or "neutral."


But perhaps I’m conflating two importantly distinct concepts. I’m not opposed to indifference, certainly not to neutrality; and I positively endorse agnosticism.

PericlesOne of the many things I dislike about the imperialist warmonger Pericles is his description of the Athenian obligation to engage in politics:

we do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say that he has no business here at all.

The Periclean ethic, bad as it already was twenty-five centuries ago, has now plunged us past "I have a right to my opinion, whether or not it’s rational or informed" to the nadir of "You have an obligation to hold an opinion, no matter how irrational or ill informed. Now go out and vote!"

Sure, if you insist that every ignorant moron play his part in pushing everyone else around, then there is a certain strategic sense in promoting political moderation. But couldn’t we promote reason and principle (combined, in fact, with a prudent restraint on topics beyond one’s ken) instead?

Let people mind their own business. Let people stop minding each other’s business. Those who insist on meddling, those who eschew principles as "extreme" and see moderation as noble, those who seem congenitally incapable of distinguishing practical compromise from compromise of principle, I will spew these out of my mouth.


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