Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Anatomy of Compromise

It’s supposed to be a virtue to compromise.

Most of the time people say this, they don’t mean compromise: they often just mean recognising what’s most important, and not losing it to what’s least important. 

Compromise isn’t always wrong though. “A compromise is an adjustment of conflicting claims by mutual concessions. This means that both parties to a compromise have some valid claim and some value to offer each other. And this means that both parties agree upon some fundamental principle which serves as a base for their deal.”1

Simple enough.

But so often compromise sacrifices the higher value to the lesser. It comes down to the parties’ fundamental principles:

The three rules listed below are by no means exhaustive; they are merely the first leads to the understanding of a vast subject.

  1. In any conflict between two men (or two groups) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent one who wins.

  2. In any collaboration between two men (or two groups) who hold different basic principles, it is the more evil or irrational one who wins.

  3. When opposite basic principles are clearly and openly defined, it works to the advantage of the rational side; when they are not clearly defined, but are hidden or evaded, it works to the advantage of the irrational side.2

Allow me to demonstrate with a cat, an elephant, and Gareth Morgan:


1. Ayn Rand, “Doesn’t Life Require Compromise?” published in The Virtue of Selfishness
2. Ayn Rand, “The Anatomy of Compromise,” in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

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