Jul 112012

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt recently published research that has been taken to indicate that conservatives hold six key values while liberals hold only three. Naturally, some commentators have had a great time with this one. Haidt followed this up with a new book: “The Righteous Mind.”

This was all based on the results of a “Moral Foundations questionnaire” completed by 2,212 participants. In the end, both liberals and conservatives are seen to relate positively to the concepts of Fairness, Liberty and Caring for the weak.

This is all good and commendable, as far as it goes. However, I made a point of finding and viewing all of the Republican primary debates and heard something else. I was left with serious doubts about the consequences of many proposed policies… and the callous audience reactions to them. The virtues of Fairness and Caring for the weak seemed to be missing in action. Individual Liberties received a lot of emphasis but issues of civil Liberties were neglected. The overall take-away seemed to be: “If the weak can’t take care of themselves then that’s their own misfortune.”

In Haidt’s research, conservatives related positively to three additional values more than liberals did: Sanctity, Loyalty, and Respect for authority. However, nobody seemed to notice that all three relate to those things needed to bind tribes, religions, and authoritarian governments together in the face of a common enemy.

Liberals have characteristically moved beyond “because tradition or our leader says so” as guidance for thought. Liberals want to be personally convinced, rather than bow to superior force or status. Although this independent streak can make them awkward and unruly members of a team or bureaucracy, it makes them ideally suited for participatory Democracy.

It need not be a bad thing to leave some values and virtues behind. For instance, you just don’t hear anybody recommending “fealty” anymore. Fealty is the submission that a member of a lower social class owes to his master or king. Vows of chastity, obedience, poverty and silence are not so popular anymore either. Neither is the penance of self-flagellation or the piety of sacrificing children by fire.

If you have been following my earlier discussion of developmental stages, you can see why most liberals are able to look at these “missing” values and say, “been there, done that, moved on, but still have friends that…”

Finally, others, such as Integral Theorist Jeff Salzman, have pointed out that Haidt’s research simply omitted some values that are part of the “language of liberalism” that many conservatives have yet to fully embrace. These three additional values are Empathy, Pluralism, and Social Justice.

My point is this: Please think critically the next time someone tells you that another group doesn’t have values just because their values are not exactly the same as his.

© 2012, David Satterlee

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Mar 082012

This is the core thing that divides liberals and conservatives:
Are we “all in this together” or are you “on your own?”

An inspiring and thought-provoking speech. An oldie but a goodie.
“A tale of two cities, not just a shining city on a hill.”
”Social Darwinism = Survival of the strongest”
Republicans believe that, ”The strong will inherit the earth” – “The lucky vs. the left out, the royalty vs. the rabble.”
Family values are great, but Democrats believe that, as a nation, America should behave like a united family.

This is a small hit-and-run posting. Background and supporting arguments are made in other articles on http://SocioDynamics.org

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Feb 262012

It was getting late on a cold Iowa afternoon when I stopped for a hitchhiker. After putting his three heavy bags into the back, settling in, and thanking me, he told a story about a conservative town down the road that had confiscated his 3-year companion dog and refused to release it without a $100 ransom that he couldn’t afford. He asked me why I had picked him up. I said, “Well, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about politics recently and about the differences between liberals and conservatives. I’ve become absolutely certain that we’re all in this together and it really bothers me when people take the attitude that as long as they get theirs, everybody else can go to heck.” He replied, “Yeah, I figured you were a good guy when I saw your Obama bumper sticker.”

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