That's an excellent rant. One of the things I love about GRR Martin is that he seems to get this right. In Song of Ice and Fire, the characters tend to be loyal to the people they know, their friends, families, and sometimes "the right thing", but you almost always do not feel it's an arbitrary loyalty (as when the hero must convince someone to reject X and come to the hero's side), but you really feel "yes, that's what I'D do". And the conflict comes when these, mostly naturally, come into direct conflict. People are traitors not for implausibly implacable adherence to obscure abstract principles, but because they want X, and you want them to get X.