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This post will be short. It’s just a disconnected observation that may become important at some point in the future. And that observation is what I call The Law of Unlike Lumping:

People of all ideological and philosophical persuasions tend to lump those not of their own views into the same category, regardless of genuine ideological or philosophical differences among those so lumped.

A proper understanding of this law would go far toward helping us understand much political and religious discourse. To give just a few examples:

1. Left-liberals tend to think libertarians are weird conservatives. Why? Because libertarians are not left-liberals, and the most common non-left-liberals that left-liberals deal with are conservatives. So, it “follows” that libertarians are basically conservatives.

2. Libertarians tend to think left-liberals, social conservatives, traditionalists, fascists, and communists are basically the same thing. Why? Because none of them are libertarians. Generally speaking, libertarians identify as “individualists,” and consider all the above persuasions “collectivist.” From the individualist viewpoint, different types of collectivism are not worth distinguishing; valuing the family above the individual or valuing the State above the individual amount to the same thing for them.

3. Protestants tend to think Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox are essentially the same thing. Here we switching from political topics to a religious one, but the law still holds true. Despite the fact that Rome and Constantinople espouse dramatically different sacramentology, ecclesiology, pneumatology, and even have slightly different Bibles, to the Protestant they are both just guys in funny hats with incense.

4. Secularists/unbelievers/atheists tend to view Christians who try to bring their religion into the political sphere as essentially the same as Moslems who do so. Why? Because to the secularist, the fact that Christians and Moslems have entirely different theology and politics is irrelevant. To him, they are both just backwards, unenlightened religious fundamentalists trying to impose their views on him. However, when Christians take this line, I confess I have no explanation for why.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. The Law of Unlike Lumping will probably reappear later on this blog, in analyses of various political and religious viewpoints, and should be kept in mind when debating with those whose core values differ from our own, as either side can easily be guilty of this error if we do not guard ourselves.