Conservative or Liberal: Chess or Dice?

by Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer

In India, there is an ancient game similar to chess, but which involves not only skill, but dice-rolls as well. Both skill and luck play their roles in determining the outcome of the game. What has this to do with the issues of conservatism or liberalism?

A lot.

There are two types of people. We are defined by our locus of control. Some of us believe that we control our own destinies, and others of us believe that our destinies control us.

Of course that is a wild overstatement, but is that really my fault? Yes, it is.

In fact, few if any of us are at either extreme end of the scale. Most of us are somewhere in between. For some of us, our perceived locus of control is internal. We believe that we control our own destiny, at least to a large degree. To us, life is a chess game. For others of us, our perceived locus of control is external. Such people believe that their outcomes in life are mostly beyond their control. To them, life is a roll of the dice.

The question here is not who is right or wrong, but rather, how do we perceive our lot in life? How does that perception affect our outcomes? How does it affect our voting choices?

To be sure, we begin life in circumstances completely beyond our control. That’s the dice-roll part. As we get older, we attempt to take charge of our lives— at least some of us do. That’s the chess part.

In reality, we are playing Indian chess. Some of us focus on the strategy, others of us blame luck if we lose the game. The most successful players will make the best use of their luck by applying their skill. They may not always win, but the player who relies entirely on luck will almost always lose.

Studies (yes, the infamous “studies”) show that liberals tend to look at life more as a game of dice, less as a game of chess. That is why their tendency is to favor bigger government. While they may recognize that hard work, discipline and sensible life choices are important, they place far less emphasis on these than they do on factors beyond their control. In their view, big business is to blame for poverty, crime, and other social ills. As proof, they point to the many hard-working, honest people who live in poverty.

Conservatives recognize that there are major factors beyond our control, but we also recognize that, unless we can somehow take control, there is little point in complaining. We do what we can, and accept what we cannot control. We cannot control the weather. Nor can the government. (Is it not a deep irony that climate is the one thing that liberals think they can control?)

As a (mostly) conservative, the one major factor I have come to recognize as being beyond my control is the fact that so very many people are duped by liberalism. Even so, I won’t give up. This commentary is part of my effort to persuade them to stop blaming luck.

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