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  1. #1
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Default Political conservatism, in-group loyalty, and moral integrity of the individual

    "I don't think you understand Cosa Nostra, Cosa Nostra means the boss is your boss!" Neil Dellacroce, the under-boss of the Gambino crime family


    http://blog.ted.com/2008/09/17/the_real_differ/ Jonathan Haidt on the moral differences between liberals and conservativsm

    "A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors." Edmund Burke

    A famous modern social psychologist, Jonathan Haidt argued that the main reason why liberals and conservatives often struggle to find common ground is that their moral lenses are fundamentally different from each other. Liberals tend to base many of their political views on principles of care and fairness, while conservatives tend to base theirs more so on authority, sanctity and loyalty. Haidt's insight plays a cardinal role in explaining the moral foundation of the dispute between the two opposing factions whose worldviews clash in most countries. The specific socio-cultural values of progressives and conservatives tend to differ from country to country, the underlying moral values tend to remain consistently static. The ensuing analysis of how the differences between the moral lenses of progressives and conservatives not only sheds light on the fundamental motivations of representatives of both ideologies, but also leads to significant questions regarding the apparent tragedy of modernity, the desirability of preservation of traditional values and the merits of a hierarchical power-structure that prominently features centralized authority.

    Haidt contended that even the most progressive of nations need conservatives because it is impossible to build a good society without espousing values of authority, sanctity and loyalty. Mostly owing to these values, conservative communities generally have a higher group-cohesion than than liberals. Although their communities often repress the liberty of individuals and undermine the ethic of care more so than the liberal societies tend to, they usually avoid the sense of anomie or social isolation that many members of modern, Westernized and highly individualistic societies incur. Anomie is a term that Emile Durkheim coined referring to the state of mind a socially uprooted person commonly experiences; such a person operates predominantly based on his own moral compass and is generally disinclined to accept social mores, ethical values or moral convictions that other communities endorse. While such resolute autonomy of moral reasoning sounds admirable and even enviable, man is not a solitary animal and Durkheim's studies have shown that isolated individuals are more likely to commit suicide than those who are well-connected. It is rather striking that the suicide rate in Japan increased dramatically after many of the nation's communities transitioned away from being tightly knit to individualistic and Westernized. Another modern sociologist, Dag Leonardsen documents these findings in a provocative book "Crime in Japan: Paradise lost". Another implication of anomie is that suicide is not the only crime that an uprooted individual is more likely to engage in than a well-connected one. In general, people who are benevolent tend to be members of a close-knit community and outsiders typically have a much more difficult time being charitable as consistently as in-group members do. That is one of the main reasons why Church-goers are more likely to donate to charitable causes than members of secular organizations and church-goers are more likely to engage in acts of kindness when they are in the company of similar others than in the company of strangers.

    Jonathan Haidt also noticed that conservatives tend to reason about moral problems from the standpoint of the ethic of community while progressives do so from the perspective of the ethic of autonomy. In other words, the former are more likely to assume that the morally correct judgments are those that are sanctioned by their communities and the latter tend to think that an action's moral integrity is often measured by how well it maximizes the freedoms of the individual. The ideas I have shared with you in the previous paragraph cast doubt on the effectiveness of the ethic of autonomy. When most people need to be in a close-knit community in order to maximize their potential to be benevolent to others, the assertion that the ethic of autonomy serves the public good is rendered dubious, if not altogether implausible. Certainly, we will find a measure of sanctimony, dissimulation, impression-management and even down-right prevarication in conservative communities where many will attempt to portray themselves as more virtuous than they truly are. Nonetheless, their affectations do not annul but the fact that they are more likely to engage in benevolent acts than those who are less well-connected. Remarkably, the ethic of community is not only valuable from the perspective of the public good, it tends to reward the benevolent actor in light of the fact that members of tightly-knit communities are more likely to be happy than those who lack the warmth of close bonds with their communities.


    The dark-side of conservatism, as well know, is that it can be repressive of the rights of individual, and at times even callous. This leaves us with one question, should we celebrate the fact that the ethos of a "small-town" are becoming increasingly less-common in the Westernized milieu of globalization where values of individualism, professional detachment from traditional values and the ethic of autonomy are honored. Or have we lost something that was truly of vital significance? Is the story of modernization a triumph of egalitarian values of social justice over misogyny, xenophobia, ignorance and crypto-fascism or is it, contrary to the expectations of many progressives, yet another manifestation of the timeless theme of "Paradise Lost"? If it was possible, would we better off turning the clock back and reversing the trends of the progressive era that took place in the late 19th century, did the God of the Old Testament truly condemn Adam and Eve to a life of misery by opening their eyes to the depravity they were already surrounded by? Is ignorance truly bliss, can we go so far as to say that evil did not exist before Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit that led to knowledge of the existence of evil? Were the Old Testament philosophers correct in their statement of "he who increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow" (Ecclesiastes 1:18) or were they closer to the truth in a statement far more compatible with our Westernized, progressive sensibilities "a fool's life is worse than death" (Sirach:22)?

    As you may see the philosophical confrontation between the values of liberals and conservatives may be founded on a timeless theme of the book of Genesis that has recurred in the history of most civilizations thereafter. Although there is much to be said in favor of the conservative point of view, I will conclude this note with the observation that in some respects, political liberalism served social justice by opening up the minds of ordinary people to issues such as institutional oppression, political corruption, racism and a host of other injustices that progressives of most countries continue to combat today. The question is, were these moral achievements reached at an acceptable price and if not, what can we do to uphold the values of social justice without losing our sense of community or becoming socially uprooted.
    Last edited by SolitaryWalker; 01-29-2013 at 09:09 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    we had a discussion similar to this in a thread created by @Seymour perhaps he can dig it up. I argued there that is has an interesting overlap with kohlberg's stages of moral development with liberals tending to fall more on the level 1 (less educated) and level 3 scales (more developed) with conservatives seeming to fall more in the conventional and pre-conventional stages
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  3. #3
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluemoon123123 View Post
    Hello everyone, I am new here, so please excuse this long post.
    OK, once in a blue moon.

    But if you are not a socialist when you are young, you have no heart; and if you are not a conservative when you are old, you have no sense.

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    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Oddly, I was never a socialist, but I am certainly very far from being a conservative. I doubt I will ever be one, looks like I don't have a heart or a head.

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    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UniqueMixture View Post
    we had a discussion similar to this in a thread created by @Seymour perhaps he can dig it up. I argued there that is has an interesting overlap with kohlberg's stages of moral development with liberals tending to fall more on the level 1 (less educated) and level 3 scales (more developed) with conservatives seeming to fall more in the conventional and pre-conventional stages
    Interesting take, could please send us a link to Kohlberg's model of moral reasoning? It would help guide this discussion into a context of relevant theories.

  6. #6
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    edit:

    I really enjoyed the TED talk. Now my question is how can punishment be utilized so it does not create an oppressive hierarchical structure? I believe there must be a mechanism that allows those in vulnerable positions to push back and provide negative feedback without being punished so that we create social "loops" that act as "checks and balances" between these different cognitive styles. Also, we must solve the problem of sorting where liberals and conservatives tend to isolate their intake to only reflect their values and choose mates, friends, etc that only agree with them.

    /end edit

    Level 1 (Pre-Conventional)

    1. Obedience and punishment orientation

    (How can I avoid punishment?)

    2. Self-interest orientation

    (What's in it for me?)
    (Paying for a benefit)

    Level 2 (Conventional)

    3. Interpersonal accord and conformity

    (Social norms)
    (The good boy/good girl attitude)

    4. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation

    (Law and order morality)

    Level 3 (Post-Conventional)

    5. Social contract orientation
    6. Universal ethical principles

    (Principled conscience)

    The understanding gained in each stage is retained in later stages, but may be regarded by those in later stages as simplistic, lacking in sufficient attention to detail.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrenc...al_development

    ///


    I don't take them as gospel, but I definitely see a similar progression. In my mind there is a universal morality based on chemistry. Because I view it in this way, I see animals that have sufficient biological complexity to have affect as moral agents as well as inanimate objects which change hormone, ion, and neurotransmitters as indirect agents with which we exist in an ethical (ie affecting relationships amongst beings) gestalt. I am curious what kind of moralities would arise under alternate biochemical conditions such as were we to encounter an organism we would regard as sentient that perhaps used hydrogen sulfide as an alternative solvent in an alternative biochemistry or a machine intelligence using only photons for information transmission.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothe...f_biochemistry

    I think we could guess somewhat at what these alternative ethical systems might look like based on how conflict over shared resources would be resolved.

    Anyhow, because I went off on an inner soliloquy I will also post some articles on conservatism and the brain for your viewing pleasure and let you draw some of your own conclusions:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology...al_orientation

    http://2012election.procon.org/view....ourceID=004818

    ^16 differences in conservative/liberal brains
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  7. #7
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UniqueMixture View Post
    ^16 differences in conservative/liberal brains
    That's a fascinating assortment of the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives. I wonder what the most fundamental of them all is. I'd say that liberals tend to be more open to experience or they score higher on the Openness criterion of the Big Five. Many of the other differences between the people of these two political orientations stem from their differences with respect to that psychological criterion.

  8. #8
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluemoon123123 View Post
    "I don't think you understand Cosa Nostra, Cosa Nostra means the boss is your boss!" Neil Dellacroce, the under-boss of the Gambino crime family


    http://blog.ted.com/2008/09/17/the_real_differ/ Jonathan Haidt on the moral differences between liberals and conservativsm

    "A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors." Edmund Burke

    Hello everyone, I am new here, so please excuse this long post. I tried to be as succinct as possible, but that did not go all that well, so please bear with me and I'd appreciate it if you could read at least half of my post so you could understand the general idea I was driving at.

    A famous modern social psychologist, Jonathan Haidt argued that the main reason why liberals and conservatives often struggle to find common ground is that their moral lenses are fundamentally different from each other. Liberals tend to base many of their political views on principles of care and fairness, while conservatives tend to base theirs more so on authority, sanctity and loyalty.

    Haidt made an argument that even the most progressive societies need conservatives because it is impossible to build a good society without values of authority, sanctity and loyalty. Mostly owing to these values, conservative communities generally have a higher group-cohesion than than liberals. Although their communities often repress the liberty of individuals and undermine the ethic of care more so than the liberal societies tend to, they usually avoid the sense of anomie or social isolation that many members of modern, Westernized and highly individualistic societies incur. Anomie is a term that Emile Durkheim coined referring to the state of mind a socially uprooted person commonly experiences; such a person operates predominantly based on his own moral compass and is generally disinclined to accept social mores, ethical values or moral convictions that other communities endorse. While such resolute autonomy of moral reasoning sounds admirable and even enviable, man is not a solitary animal and Durkheim's studies have shown that isolated individuals are more likely to commit suicide than those who are well-connected. It is rather striking that the suicide rate in Japan increased dramatically after many of the nation's communities transitioned away from being tightly knit to individualistic and Westernized. Another modern sociologist, Dag Leonardsen documents these findings in a provocative book "Crime in Japan: Paradise lost". Another implication of anomie is that suicide is not the only crime that an uprooted individual is more likely to engage in than a well-connected one. In general, people who are benevolent tend to be members of a close-knit community and outsiders generally have a much more difficult time being charitable as consistently as in-group members do. That is one of the main reasons why Church-goers are more likely to donate to charitable causes than members of secular organizations and church-goers are more likely to engage in acts of kindness when they are in the company of similar others than in the company of strangers.

    Jonathan Haidt also noticed that conservatives tend to be reason about moral problems from the standpoint of the ethic of community while progressives do so from the perspective of the ethic of autonomy. In other words, the former are more likely to assume that the morally correct judgments are those that are sanctioned by their communities and the latter tend to think that an action's moral integrity is often measured by how well it maximizes the freedoms of the individual. The ideas I have shared with you in the previous paragraph lead us to doubt how effective the ethic of autonomy truly is when most people need to be in a close-knit community in order to maximize their potential to be benevolent to others. Certainly, we will find a measure of sanctimony, dissimulation, impression management and even down-right prevarication in conservative communities where many will try to pass themselves off as much more virtuous than they truly are, but the fact remains that they are more likely to engage in benevolent acts and to obtain happiness than individuals who are socially uprooted.

    The dark-side of conservatism, as well know, is that it can be repressive of the rights of individual, and at times even callous. This leaves us with one question, should we celebrate the fact that the ethos of a "small-town" are becoming increasingly less-common in the Westernized milieu of globalization where values of individualism, professional detachment from traditional values and the ethic of autonomy. Or have we lost something that was truly of vital significance? Is the story of modernization a triumph of egalitarian values of social justice over misogyny, xenophobia, ignorance and crypto-fascism or is it, contrary to the expectations of many progressives, yet another manifestation of the timeless theme of "Paradise Lost"? If it was possible, would we better off turning the clock back and reversing the trends of the progressive era that took place in the late 19th century, did the God of the Old Testament truly condemn Adam and Eve to a life of misery by opening their eyes of the depravity they were already environed in? Is ignorance truly bliss, can we go so far as to say that evil did not exist before Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit that led to knowledge of the existence of evil? Were the Old Testament philosophers correct in their statement of "he who increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow" (Ecclesiastes 1:18) or were they closer to the truth in a statement far more compatible with our Westernized, progressive sensibilities "a fool's life is worse than death" (Sirach:22)?

    As you may see the philosophical confrontation between the values of liberals and conservatism may be founded on a timeless theme that can be traced as far back as the Old Testament and it has recurred in the history of all civilizations thereafter. Although there is much to be said in favor of the conservative point of view, I will conclude this note with the observation that in some respects, political liberalism served social justice by opening up the minds of ordinary people to issues such as institutional oppression, political corruption, racism and a host of other injustices that progressives of most countries continue to combat today. The question is, were these moral achievements reached at an acceptable price and if not, what can we do to uphold the values of social justice without losing our sense of community or becoming socially uprooted.
    A group is not a community. It is only a division.
    Division is a part. Group-think is apartheid.

    .

  9. #9
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildcat View Post
    A group is not a community. It is only a division.
    Division is a part. Group-think is apartheid.

    .
    Thanks, as far as I understand the concept of a community, it is a group of people who share similar ethos, face similar circumstances and strive to preserve group-cohesion. Meaning, they have many commonalities with respect to their ideological tendencies, their general values cohere well together, they generally inhabit the same geographic region and they strive to live together as harmoniously as possible. Unlike a community, a group is a congregation of people whose connection to each other can be superficial and they are rendered part of the same unit as part of an arbitrary classification. For example, all New Yorkers can be said to be part of a group of "citizens of New York", but residents of a very small town or a village clearly have a community.

    I see that the distinction between a community and a group is blurred in my post, when I use terms such as "liberal" or "conservative", I mostly referred to groups as opposed to communities. However, the social consequences of liberalism taken to its radical extremes (anomie) and that of conservatism (oppression of the disadvantaged) take place in communities. Remarkably, the apparently arbitrary characterization of groups such as liberalism and conservatism have fundamental underlying characteristics: they have many cognitive tendencies that lead the group-members to behave in a specified fashion. E.G, liberals tend to behave consistently with the moral lenses of care and fairness while conservatives with authority, sanctity and loyalty.

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    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    To be fair I havent read your post in enough detail to do it justice and I havent read your primary sources such as the social psychologist but from the beginning I noticed this:-

    A famous modern social psychologist, Jonathan Haidt argued that the main reason why liberals and conservatives often struggle to find common ground is that their moral lenses are fundamentally different from each other. Liberals tend to base many of their political views on principles of care and fairness, while conservatives tend to base theirs more so on authority, sanctity and loyalty.
    Those terms would need to be defined, to be honest I dont seem them as dichotomous, ie care is not the opposite of authority (although care and control could be contrasted).

    Some of the better political (Orwell) and psychological (Fromm) analysis of authority and authoritarianism has been able to demonstrate how differential understandings of words, the distortion of meanings, and the positive association with particular labels can hide a myriad of sins.

    Orwell was obsessed with this idea that the intellectuals were corruptable while the "proles", ie common people, in his novels, journalism, letters and diaries are valourised for unsophisticated "decency". Now he was undoubtably full of contradictions, the guy who has an aversion to dirt goes "tramping" in order to investigate the "natives" of his adopted home england, conservatism seems like it ought to have been his political camp but he wrote a derth of material commending socialism. However a lot of the attention to lies, conscious and unconscious in Orwell is really important material.

    Fromm in The Heart of Man, The Fear of Freedom (AKA Escape from Freedom), Man For Himself but mainly in Fear of Freedom wrote about unconscious drives motivating what appeared to be benevolence but was anything but, so you get "caring sadists" because care can involve control or control can be mistaken for care.

    I think there's all kinds of mistaken political analysis, particularly were partisanship is involved because each side can consider the other the detestable "shadow" and which ever is dominant or predominant actually frames the discussion and provides most of the descriptive detail describing their traits or policies and usually attributing traits or policies to the "other". It makes real dialouge impossible. Most of the time dialogue only gets so far as people exercising their own confirmation bias.

    Reading Daniel Bell's The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism or Robert Nisbet talking about Bell's perspective was interesting to me because Bell described himself as a cultural conservative, political liberal and economic socialist, although that was before so called "neo-conservatism", itself a US centric idea or definition, ie tax and spend conservatism, and Nisbet was writing at a time when any variety of conservatism was still anathema, ie prior to Regan, the christian coalition and tea party, and was only really interested in people considering themselves cultural conservatives as a "door opener" to fiscal conservatism or complete conservatism.

    What was interesting to me about this analysis was its recognition that there could be ideas from all the political ideologies which would appear emanently sensible to any thinking person who wasnt entrenched or engaged in a superficial analysis going as deep as present policies or trends in popular opinions. Andrew Vincent, who wrote a kind of anthology of modern political ideologies, and is one of my favourite authors, using Habermas and other theorists tried to illustrate how most of the political ideologies do not perfect fit with expectations, ie socialists supporting market reforms, selfish liberals, conservatives favouring redistribution of wealth.

    Also, perhaps more importantly, how any why particular concepts become identified with particular ideological labels, when Bell wrote about being culturally conservative he was talking about work ethics, rejecting welfare as "unearned income" but more important as promoting indolence and idle states of mind and being, now upon my first reading I was surprised to consider this "conservative" since ALL the socialist sources I'd grown up with placed an emphasis on this (sometimes ridiculously so, in the sense of you dont work, and often physically work, you dont eat). The total eclipse of socialism began to make sense because a lot of their most popular cultural calling cards had been co-opted by their opposition, the association with socialism was forgotten, socialism itself morphed into something else as its supporters and opposition began to conform to what was said about it.

    Those "cultural calling cards" I realised were more perrenial than I'd thought, they predated and will post date their current vehicles, at which point I was more interested in sociology and surprised to find the extent to which, despite its associations with Marxism, properly understood emerged with conservatism as a philosophical perspective with Burke and others analysis of tradition and innovation.

    The best thinking I've read to date has been around the idea of a "reflective conservatism" which would hope to integrate innovation were it is beneficient and preserve tradition because it works, in theory anyone or any political camp could operate in this manner, although it is likely to be undermined by power struggles, win-lose thinking, impulses to attack, defeat, prevail upon the "other".

    In politics, and public life, which to me is what politics is meant to be about because no one really thinks about whether they are achieveing liberalism, conservatism or socialism "in one household" (I'm just imagining objectivist peranting and what a horror that would be, unless the child can sell something to their parents they arent going to get any nurturing), I think there's a serious lack of sociological wit and proportionality. That's when it is not a phony, showmanship exercise, which I believe it is most of the time as everyone ignores the over riding control exercised by managerialism and capitalism, this is part of the reason for focus upon cultural politics.

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