No, Stoic Philosophy Is Not Specifically Right-Wing

You Don’t Need to Be a Conservative to Be a Stoic

Patrick Karsh
3 min readMay 18, 2024
These men did not even watch The Apprentice

Stoic philosophy, which originated in ancient Greece and was later adopted by Roman thinkers, has often been misunderstood and misrepresented in modern political discourse. While some contemporary commentators might associate Stoicism with right-wing ideologies due to its emphasis on personal responsibility and self-control, Stoicism itself is not inherently aligned with any specific political ideology. This article explores why Stoic philosophy transcends modern political labels and cannot be accurately categorized as right-wing.

Origins and Core Principles of Stoicism

Stoicism was founded in the early 3rd century BCE by Zeno of Citium. The philosophy emphasizes living in harmony with nature and reason, focusing on personal virtue, wisdom, and inner peace. Key Stoic principles include:

Virtue as the Highest Good: Stoics believe that the development of personal virtue — comprising wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance — is the most important aspect of life.

Control and Acceptance: Stoics distinguish between what is within our control (our own thoughts and actions) and what is not (external events and other people’s actions). They advocate accepting what we cannot change and focusing on our own responses.

Universal Brotherhood: Stoicism promotes the idea of cosmopolitanism, the belief that all humans are part of a single, universal community, transcending political and social boundaries.

Stoicism and Modern Political Misconceptions

Modern political discourse often misinterprets Stoicism, associating it with right-wing ideologies due to its emphasis on self-reliance and personal responsibility. However, these associations are superficial and overlook the broader, more nuanced context of Stoic teachings.

Personal Responsibility and Political Neutrality

While Stoicism does emphasize personal responsibility, this focus is not inherently political. The Stoic idea of personal responsibility is about cultivating internal virtues and managing one’s own reactions to external circumstances. It is not a commentary on social policies or political systems. Stoics believe that inner freedom and tranquility come from self-mastery, regardless of the external political environment.

Universal Brotherhood and Social Equity

Stoicism’s principle of cosmopolitanism underscores a sense of universal brotherhood and equality. Stoics view all humans as fundamentally equal, bound by shared rationality and humanity. This principle runs counter to the exclusivity and hierarchical structures often associated with right-wing ideologies. Instead, it promotes a vision of global citizenship and mutual respect.

Historical Stoics and Political Engagement

Prominent Stoics such as Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus were involved in various capacities within the political frameworks of their time, yet their writings focus on personal ethics and philosophy rather than political doctrine. Marcus Aurelius, as a Roman emperor, used Stoic principles to guide his personal conduct, emphasizing duty and virtue rather than promoting a specific political agenda.

The Apolitical Nature of Stoicism

Stoic philosophy is inherently apolitical because it centers on individual ethical development rather than societal structures or political systems. It provides a framework for personal conduct that can be applied within any political context without endorsing or opposing specific ideologies.

Ethical Guidance Over Political Doctrine: Stoicism offers principles for individual behavior, focusing on how to live a virtuous life. It does not prescribe specific political or economic systems.

Inner Peace and External Circumstances: The Stoic pursuit of inner peace through acceptance and self-control is independent of external political conditions. This detachment from externalities underscores its apolitical stance.

Applicability Across Political Spectrums: Stoic teachings can be embraced by individuals of various political beliefs. Its focus on personal virtue, resilience, and universal human dignity resonates broadly, transcending political divisions.


Stoic philosophy, with its roots in ancient ethical teachings, is not specifically right-wing or aligned with any modern political ideology. Its emphasis on personal virtue, universal brotherhood, and inner tranquility positions it as a timeless guide for individual conduct rather than a political manifesto. By understanding the core principles of Stoicism, we can appreciate its profound and enduring relevance, free from the constraints of contemporary political labels.



Patrick Karsh

NYC-based Ruby on Rails and Javascript Engineer leveraging AI to explore Engineering.