Category Archive 'Political Theory'
24 Apr 2018
Battle of Poitiers.
Nulle Terre Sans Seigneur brings to our attention an interesting French political theorist who essentially visualized as the alternative to Absolutism the same sort of Noble Republic that once existed in Poland-Lithuania functioning, potentially with elective monarchy and all, on French soil. Fascinating reading.
By the time of early modernity, there were various ideas of which organ of the French constitution played a special role. The peerage had its strongest defender in the Duc de Saint-Simon. The absolutists and their insistence on monarchical supremacy were the orthodox school of thought. The Estates-General (defunct as of 1614 during the time Boulainvilliers was writing) and the parlements also had a few radical defenders of theirs, but they were not as influential â€” Claude de Seysselâ€™s Renaissance-era idea of a â€œbalanced monarchyâ€ having fallen out of favor, though the parlementaires did have their brief ascendancy during the Fronde.
[Henri, comte de] Boulainvilliers [1658-1722], in contrast, maintained a feudal theory of aristocratic anti-absolutism that the noblesse dâ€™epee (sword nobility), originating from Frankish leudes, were the rightful representatives of the French nation, and though externally differentiated from commoners, were initially internally equal, as with the Polish szlachta. The pre-existing Gallican magnates, as survivors of the Roman magistracy, were entirely distinct from the French nation and its military character. The purpose of drawing this boundary was not to make an ethnic claim to sovereignty, but to underline the crucial link between war and the state. The â€œequality in inequalityâ€ of the pioneer French nobility and the right to judgment by peers which they had was eventually botched when the king, only a military chieftain at first, unduly extended his influence beyond the boundaries of the royal patrimony, and soiled the solidaristic maennerbund of the nobility by his creation of a peerage, the use of ennoblements to elevate free commoners (never more than emancipated serfs in Boulainvilliersâ€™ view) into a courtier robe nobility, and other extra-constitutional measures. …
Now the more tempered defenders of royal absolutism did not deny that private justice was legitimate, but insisted that in this capacity they were acting only as royal justices and not as free magnates. One problem with this was its reliance on a modern, national conception of the nature of sovereignty. One moderate apologist of the French nobility, G.A. La Roque, in his â€œTraite de la noblesseâ€ of 1678, pointed out that the tributary nature of a prince does not destroy his sovereignty, since there were many examples of kings themselves being vassals of greater lords or feudatories of some sort, while still exercising royal prerogative and displaying their own royal heraldry. Sicily and Ireland (as the Lordship of Ireland), for instance, were once papal fiefs, and acknowledged as such by the vassals invested with them. This implies that kings themselves are simply great magnates, undermining Filmerite assumptions of monarchical supremacy. This is not to say that reciprocal bonds and dues do not apply. …
The Salic law was simply the tribal law of the Salian Franks, and could not be used to justify hereditary succession as an essential component of the crown. Actually, merits of hereditary monarchy aside, ideas of elective kingship still flourished around the beginning of the Capetian dynasty, as the historian Charles-Petit Dutaillis documented in The Feudal Monarchy in France and England from the Tenth to the Thirteenth Century (1936):
The Archbishop of Rheims â€œchose the kingâ€ in accordance with the agreement previously arrived at by the great men of the kingdom before anointing and crowning him, and the subjects who thronged the cathedral, greater and lesser nobility alike, gave their consent by acclamation. Theoretically the unanimous choice of the whole kingdom was necessary for the election but, in fact, once the will of those who were of decisive importance was made clear, the approbation of others was merely a matter of form. Nevertheless the conventions of the chancery attached considerable importance to it ; the first year of the reign only began on the day of consecration and this rule, closely related to the theory of election, was to last for two centuries.
In fact, then, this Capetian kingship whose supernatural character we have been illustrating was, at the same time, elective. To the modern mind that may present a strange contradiction but contemporaries found no cause for surprise. The very fact that the kingship was so closely comparable to the priesthood justified its non-hereditary character. How could churchmen deny the divine nature of an institution because it was elective? Even bishops and popes were appointed by election. The monk Richer attributes to the Archbishop Adalberon a speech to the nobles in 987 which does not exactly represent the ideas of Adalberon but it is quite in accordance with the principles of the Church. â€œThe kingdom,â€ he says, â€has never made its choice by hereditary right. No one should be advanced to the throne who is not outstanding for intelligence and sobriety as well as for a noble physique strengthened by the true faith and capable of great souled justice.â€ The best man must reign and, we may add, he must be chosen by the â€œbestâ€ men.
This was the theory of the Church without modification or limitation. Once he had been elected by a universal acclamation, which, in fact, represented the assent of a few individuals, and consecrated, he became king by the Grace of God commanding the implicit obedience of all.
Contemporaries like David Hume actually regarded Boulainvilliers to be a republican. This is an interesting question. Certainly, he envisioned the monarchy in voluntaristic and contractual terms. The Frankish warrior aristocracy was the source of power, and he thought that the noble freemen had the right to bind themselves to lords other than the reigning king if the latter did violence to their property. Royal succession was simply one of many private rights. Thereâ€™s definitely a nativist element to the whole picture, and one could almost draw a parallel between his noble ideology of resistance to latter-day democratic nationalist conflicts with the ruling authorities of composite dynastic states. But what makes him separate is his insistence on the essential role of class divisions in a society. This is anathema not only to the democrats, but to many of the absolutists who want merely a neat bifurcation between sovereigns and subjects, but care little for the natural inequalities in subjects except insofar as they serve the reasons of state. If he seems progressive in some respects, he outflanks his opponents from the right in other, more crucial ways.
Robert Heinlen’s concept of linking full, voting citizenship to military service (Starship Troopers 1959) is the essence of the same idea.
Boulainvilliers, in 17th century France, arguing for the implementation of the same political practices and philosophy operating immemorially in Poland, I would argue, demonstrates the existence, and subconscious cultural survival of a universal preliterate European political culture based on a hierarchical society with full civic participation and personal freedom based on military service and the skilled use of arms, featuring the fundamental equality of the warrior (noble, knightly) class, along with limited powers of monarchy and its potentially elective character. Compare the Greek warriors in The Iliad.
21 Feb 2013
Sarah O. Conly kayaks when she isn’t busy planning to run your life.
Sarah Conly recently had a full-year sabbatical, which she spent vacationing at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and in Oaxaca, Mexico. When not engaged in tourism or dining out, Ms. Conly busied herself with writing the next big leftist book.
Her opus, titled Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism is intended to reject explicitly the famous thesis of John Stewart Mills’ On Liberty:
That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant . . . Over himself, over his body and mind, the individual is sovereign.
Sarah Conly went to Princeton, did her graduate work at Cornell, and teaches Philosophy at Bowdoin. Professor Conly consequently believes that she knows better than you do. She believes that your personal freedom, your right to make your own decisions in areas affecting only yourself is “overrated.” The notion that you are entitled to liberty and autonomy, you see, is based, according to Ms. Conly on grossly exaggerated estimates of your personal competence and rationality.
Ms. Conly can prove that you are an idiot using evidence from psychology and behavioral economics which she concludes demonstrates that most of you out there –the people who don’t get fellowships to St. Andrews or write books while vacationing in Oaxaca– are clueless dolts afflicted with “present bias” and unrealistic optimism. There you have it. Social science proves that you are unworthy and unfit, and that you need the guidance of superior and more enlightened beings, like Sarah O. Conly, to keep you from playing with matches or cutting yourself with sharp objects.
In the Conlyian state, application of coercive force by government is not only desirable, but obligatory, anytime it can be established by the sophistry, calculations, or economic analysis of people like herself that the benefits justify the costs.
How is coercive paternalistic intervention justified? Conly offers four supposed tests: (1) the personal liberty being banned must be genuinely destructive of peopleâ€™s self-defined long-term ends. (2) The coercive measures must be successful. (3) Their benefits must exceed their costs. (4) The coercive measures under contemplation must be more effective than non-coercive alternatives.
I’m working from Cass Sunstein’s New York Review of Books review, and I do not have Professor Conly’s actual text on-hand. (I’m certainly not going to pay $95 for it either.) But, even without her complete argument in view, it seems obvious to me that her criteria are intrinsically open-ended.
In the case of Number 1, the proposed coercer will always have to usurp the privilege of reading the coercees’ minds and defining those long-term ends. In reality, long-term ends vary, some people would perversely reject long-term ends in favor of short-term ends, and long-term ends may, sometimes, conflict. I think I know that Professor Conly would be disposed, for example, to ban private gun ownership… for all our own good. But owning lots of guns is, in my view, very decidedly part of my long-term ends, and I would reject Professor Conly’s perspective that private ownership of guns is so dangerous that it must inevitably be inimical to my long-term goals of personal survival and public safety. She and I are bound to disagree on item one.
In the case of 2, libertarians like myself would argue that most forms of paternalistic coercion will inevitably prove unsuccessful. Look at Alcohol Prohibition. Look at Drug Prohibition. Look at Immigration Prohibition.
With regard to Number 3, we are bound again to disagree on costs, because it is perfectly obvious that some of us consider the violation of personal autonomy, the elimination of liberties, and coercion generally to represent prohibitive costs per se.
In the case of Number 4, coercion is inevitably always going to be more effective than persuasion. If the Gestapo practices a firm policy of taking anyone caught smoking out, standing him up against a wall, and shooting him, it will definitely do a more effective job of discouraging smoking than any number of public service advertisements about health hazards.
Frankly, philosophically speaking, I think Profesor Conly’s four criteria deserve to fall directly into the departmental waste container labeled: “meaningless, trivial, or simply false.”
I have an equally negative view of her use of “social science” studies, aka bullsh*t, to refute John Stuart Mill. Anybody can prove anything with social science studies.
Professor Conly’s philosophy features also the notable defect that behavioral economics and psychology apply to you and me, the intended victims of her paternalist regime, but not to her and the other Platonic Guardians drafting the regulations.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? If man in general is too incompetent and irrational to manage his own life, he is certainly also too incompentent and irrational, too biased and selfish in perspective, too vainglorious and self-important to dictate to others how to live.
29 Mar 2012
Vladislav Inozemtsev, in the American Interest, argues that democracy has gotten far too democratic, and that over-extended democracy is inevitably going to prove to be democracy’s own worst enemy. He’s perfectly right.
It was therefore no coincidence that democracy developed in national contexts defined by, as noted already, a demos comfortable in its social skin. It is even the case, to take an obviously unsettling example, that American democracy might not have developed as it did had it not been for slavery and acute racial prejudice. Only by separating out of the democratic process those considered at the time not to be a part of the demos could American democracy unfold. That is the other side, so to speak, of the Jacksonian-era expansion of the franchise. …
[E]ven universal secondary education can no longer reliably produce a responsible citizen. Liberal democracy born in the Republic of Letters has to survive in the Empire of Television, where information flows in one direction and need not involve direct response. The civic dialogue that was once the very foundation of democratic decision-making has become a one-way process of convincing voters. The political dialogue of liberal democracies is not just degraded, as is widely acknowledged; it is qualitatively different.
Moreover, as the capacity of citizens to grasp policy issues has eroded from one side, the percentage of citizens expected to grasp them has risen from the other. In Western countries today there is far more inequality within electorates than ever, simply because, as was not the case during the 19th century, everyone above age 18 can vote. …
Democracy was the optimal form of government when voters were capable of making rational choices through an understanding of what was at stake, when they were ready to bear the responsibility for the consequences of their choices, and when the right to vote was understood to be a privilege, or the result of a struggle still remembered. Nowadays it is difficult to shake the impression that democratic societies are rapidly turning into ochlocracies, where the vast majority of citizens, seeing their rights as given and their responsibilities not at all, are easily addled by propaganda, distracted by spectacle and either unable or unwilling to invest the time and energy required to be a responsible democratic actor.
Read the whole thing.
Hat tip to Claire Berlinski.
29 Nov 2011
Yuval Levin, in National Review, explains why the American left seems to be contradicting itself so frequently these days, as it rhetorically swings back and forth between appeals to Populism and demands for conceding ever more power to unelected elite experts.
The difference[s] between.. two kinds of liberalism â€” constitutionalism grounded in humility about human nature and progressivism grounded in utopian expectations â€” is a crucial fault line of our politics, and has divided the friends of liberty since at least the French Revolution. It speaks to two kinds of views about just what liberal politics is.
One view, which has always been the less common one, holds that liberal institutions were the product of countless generations of political and cultural evolution in the West, which by the time of the Enlightenment, and especially in Britain, had begun to arrive at political forms that pointed toward some timeless principles in which our common life must be grounded, that accounted for the complexities of society, and that allowed for a workable balance between freedom and effective government given the constraints of human nature. Liberalism, in this view, involves the preservation and gradual improvement of those forms because they allow us both to grasp the proper principles of politics and to govern ourselves well.
The other, and more common, view argues that liberal institutions were the result of a discovery of new political principles in the Enlightenment â€” principles that pointed toward new ideals and institutions, and toward an ideal society. Liberalism, in this view, is the pursuit of that ideal society. Thus one view understands liberalism as an accomplishment to be preserved and enhanced, while another sees it as a discovery that points beyond the existing arrangements of society. One holds that the prudent forms of liberal institutions are what matter most, while the other holds that the utopian goals of liberal politics are paramount. One is conservative while the other is progressive.
The principles that the progressive form of liberalism thought it had discovered were much like those that more conservative liberals believed society had arrived at through long experience: principles of natural rights that define the proper ends and bounds of government. Thus for a time, progressive and conservative liberals in America â€” such as Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine on one hand and James Madison and Alexander Hamilton on the other â€” seemed to be advancing roughly the same general vision of government. But when those principles failed to yield the ideal society (and when industrialism seemed to put that ideal farther off than ever), the more progressive or radical liberals abandoned these principles in favor of their utopian ambitions. At that point, progressive and conservative American liberals parted ways â€” the former drawn to post-liberal philosophies of utopian ends (often translated from German) while the latter continued to defend the restraining mechanisms of classical-liberal institutions and the skeptical worldview that underlies them.
That division is evident in many of our most profound debates today, and especially in the debate between the Left and the Right about the Constitution. This debate, and not a choice between technocracy and populism, defines the present moment in our politics. Thus the Leftâ€™s simultaneous support for government by expert panel and for the unkempt carpers occupying Wall Street is not a contradiction â€” it is a coherent error. And the Rightâ€™s response should be coherent too. It should be, as for the most part it has been, an unabashed defense of our constitutional system, gridlock and all.
Read the whole thing.
24 Oct 2011
Tumak and Loana (Raquel Welch) in “One Million Years B.C.” (1966)
Dagny, said last week:
“The social contract exists so that everyone doesn’t have to squat in the dust holding a spear to protect his woman and his meat all day every day. It does not exist so that the government can take your spear, your meat, and your woman because it knows better what to do with them.”
Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.
22 Jul 2011
Daniel Greenfield has an excellent, must-read editorial on the real meaning of the raising-the-debt-ceiling debate and “social justice” as a form of addiction.
The debt ceiling debate is less about spending than it is about the purpose of government. Under the impact of an economic recession, the train of the Great Society is approaching the edge of the New Frontier. Both sides are still trying to work out a New Deal, but another cuts and spending formula is not the solution. What we need is a serious and earnest discussion about why we are compulsively spending money.
A cocaine addict who runs out of money doesn’t have a spending problem, he has a drug problem. Telling him to cut back on how much money he spends on cocaine, or to shop around for cheaper cocaine isn’t the solution. It’s not about how much he’s spending, but about why. The problem isn’t in the math, it’s in the mindset.
Our cocaine is social justice. Like most junkies who are willing to sell anything and everything to keep the supply coming, Obama’s position in the budget debate is take everything– especially the military, but leave the social justice and the big government that administers it on the table. And also like most junkies, he has an endless supply of self-righteous speeches denouncing the people who just want him to stop.
In the rush of words, he postures, conflates compromise with confrontation, threatens and urges everyone to work together. There is no consistent message, only egotistical aggression and defensive need. Strip away the verbiage and you come away with a chorus of, “Mine, My Way, Mine”.
With all addictions, it is important to look for the root cause. The psychological weakness that allows the chemical rush to take over and become the defining principle of life. In this case it is a basic split over the purpose of government.
Be sure to read the whole thing.
Hat tip to the Barrister.
09 Jun 2011
Charles Francis Adams, Jr. (center) with other officers of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, 1864
The loquacious yet always gnomic Mencius Moldbug today served up a series of summer reading recommendations apparently intended to put the reader in a Mid-19th Century frame of mind.
Moldbug’s enticing reading list features political thought, travel accounts of Antebellum America, and some selections sympathetic to the perspective of the Confederacy.
I immediately perused (former Union officer) Charles Francis Adams Jr.’s 1902 defense of Robert E. Lee, Shall Cromwell Have a Statue? with much enjoyment.
Readers would be well-advised to try reading some (or all) of Moldbug’s selections.
Hat tip to Tim of Angle.
30 Nov 2010
Over time, David B. Hart finds his personal political philosophy converging with the Anarcho-Monarchism of J.R.R. Tolkien.
If one were to devise a political system from scratch, knowing something of history and a great deal about human nature, the sort of person that one would chiefly want, if possible, to exclude from power would be the sort of person who most desires it, and who is most willing to make a great effort to acquire it. By all means, drag a reluctant Cincinnatus from his fields when the Volscians are at the gates, but then permit him to retreat again to his arable exile when the crisis has passed; for Godâ€™s sake, though, never surrender the fasces to anyone who eagerly reaches out his hand to take them.
Yet our system obliges us to elevate to office precisely those persons who have the ego-besotted effrontery to ask us to do so; it is rather like being compelled to cede the steering wheel to the drunkard in the back seat loudly proclaiming that he knows how to get us there in half the time. More to the point, since our perpetual electoral cycle is now largely a matter of product recognition, advertising, and marketing strategies, we must be content often to vote for persons willing to lie to us with some regularity or, if not that, at least to speak to us evasively and insincerely. In a better, purer worldâ€”the world that cannot beâ€”ambition would be an absolute disqualification for political authority.
One can at least sympathize, then, with Tolkienâ€™s view of monarchy. There is, after all, something degrading about deferring to a politician, or going through the silly charade of pretending that â€œpublic serviceâ€ is a particularly honorable occupation, or being forced to choose which band of brigands, mediocrities, wealthy lawyers, and (God spare us) idealists will control our destinies for the next few years.
But a kingâ€”a king without any real power, that isâ€”is such an ennoblingly arbitrary, such a tender and organically human institution. It is easy to give our loyalty to someone whose only claim on it is an accident of heredity, because then it is a free gesture of spontaneous affection that requires no element of self-deception, and that does not involve the humiliation of having to ask to be ruled.
The ideal king would be rather like the king in chess: the most useless piece on the board, which occupies its square simply to prevent any other piece from doing so, but which is somehow still the whole game. There is something positively sacramental about its strategic impotence. And there is something blessedly gallant about giving oneâ€™s wholehearted allegiance to some poor inbred ditherer whose chief passions are Dresden china and the history of fly-fishing, but who nonetheless, quite ex opere operato, is also the bearer of the dignity of the nation, the anointed embodiment of the genius gentisâ€”a kind of totem or, better, mascot.
Hat tip to Bird Dog.
21 Mar 2010
In 1989, the future Rep. Alcee Hastings (D – 23FL) became the sixth federal judge in American history to be impeached and removed from office. He was found guilty of bribery and corruption, having accepted $150,000 to arrange a favorable sentence.
Hastings was subsequently nonetheless elected to the House of Representatives from a safe seat representing a “minority-majority” racially-gerrymandered district in 1992. Hastings was in line to succeed to the Chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee when democrats regained the majority in 2006 and Nancy Pelosi expressed the intention of passing over Jane Harman (D – 36CA), but Hastings’ dishonorable past was just little too much. Hastings is now chairman of the Legislative/Budget Process sub-committee of the House Rules Committee, where he gets to “just make stuff up.”
04 Jan 2010
Clodion, Montesquieu, MusÃ©e du Louvre, Paris
Paul Rahe, who has written a book on Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La BrÃ¨de et de Montesquieu, posts on Montesquieu’s valuable observations on the changes marking the transition into Modernity in politics, religion, and war.
Montesquieu was the first to recognize that, at the end of the seventeenth century, a profound and arguably permanent transformation had taken place in European politics. He saw that commerce had replaced war as the force dominant in international relations; that a well-ordered Carthage could now defeat Rome on the field of the sword; and that, in the wake of the Glorious Revolution, Great Britain â€“ with its separation of powers, its policy of religious toleration, its devotion to industry and trade, and its empire over the sea â€“ had come to occupy a pre-eminence that no existing continental power could hope to challenge. That European monarchy â€“ with its hereditary aristocracy, its ethos of honor, its suspicion of trade, and its appetite for conquest, empire, and glory â€“ could not be sustained in an age in which money had become the sinews of war: this he also knew.
In Montesquieuâ€™s opinion, two successive revolutions, neither likely to be reversed, provided this transformation in politics with its underpinning. The first of these took place in the sphere of religion. Montesquieu was persuaded that Machiavelli was correct in supposing that, when Christianity supplanted paganism, it made classical republicanism obsolete.
When the virtue of the ancients was â€œin full force,â€ Montesquieu writes in The Spirit of Laws, â€œthey did things that we no longer see & which astonish our little souls.â€ If his contemporaries are unable to rise to the same level, it is, he suggests, because the â€œeducationâ€ given the ancients â€œnever suffered contradictionâ€ while â€œwe receive three educations differentâ€ from and even â€œcontraryâ€ to one another: â€œthat of our fathers, that of our schoolmasters, that of the world. What we are told in the last overthrows the ideas imparted by the first two.â€ In short, there is now â€œa contrast between the engagementsâ€ which arise â€œfrom religionâ€ and â€œthoseâ€ which arise â€œfrom the worldâ€ that â€œthe ancients knew nothing of.â€ This is why the moderns possess such â€œlittle souls.â€
Read the whole thing.
14 Dec 2009
A question in the form of a parable by the late Robert Nozick.
Consider the following sequence of cases, which we shall call the Tale of the Slave, and imagine it is about you.
Hat tip to William Laffer.
01 May 2009
Jonathan Haidt (Y ’85) is a Social Psychologist at UVA who focusses on the moral foundations of politics. He has made, what the left perceives as a breakthrough discovery: liberals and conservatives place emphasis on different moral values.
More interestingly, Haidt’s research finds that conservatives understand liberals much better than vice versa.
Jonathan Haidt is hardly a road-rage kind of guy, but he does get irritated by self-righteous bumper stickers. The soft-spoken psychologist is acutely annoyed by certain smug slogans that adorn the cars of fellow liberals: “Support our troops: Bring them home” and “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”
“No conservative reads those bumper stickers and thinks, ‘Hmmâ€”so liberals are patriotic!'” he says, in a sarcastic tone of voice that jarringly contrasts with his usual subdued sincerity. “We liberals are universalists and humanists; it’s not part of our morality to highly value nations. So to claim dissent is patrioticâ€”or that we’re supporting the troops, when in fact we’re opposing the warâ€”is disingenuous. …
The University of Virginia scholar views such slogans as clumsy attempts to insist we all share the same values. In his view, these catch phrases are not only insincereâ€”they’re also fundamentally wrong. Liberals and conservatives, he insists, inhabit different moral universes. There is some overlap in belief systems, but huge differences in emphasis.
In a creative attempt to move beyond red-state/blue-state clichÃ©s, Haidt has created a framework that codifies mankind’s multiplicity of moralities. His outline is simultaneously startling and reassuringâ€”startling in its stark depiction of our differences, and reassuring in that it brings welcome clarity to an arena where murkiness of motivation often breeds contention.
He views the demonization that has marred American political debate in recent decades as a massive failure in moral imagination. We assume everyone’s ethical compass points in the same direction and label those whose views don’t align with our sense of right and wrong as either misguided or evil. In fact, he argues, there are multiple due norths.
“I think of liberals as colorblind,” he says in a hushed tone that conveys the quiet intensity of a low-key crusader. “We have finely tuned sensors for harm and injustice but are blind to other moral dimensions. …
Haidt is best known as the author of The Happiness Hypothesis, a lively look at recent research into the sources of lasting contentment. But his central focusâ€”and the subject of his next book, scheduled to be published in fall 2010â€”is the intersection of psychology and morality. His research examines the wellsprings of ethical beliefs and why they differ across classes and cultures.
Last September, in a widely circulated Internet essay titled Why People Vote Republican, Haidt chastised Democrats who believe blue-collar workers have been duped into voting against their economic interests. In fact, he asserted forcefully, traditionalists are driven to the GOP by moral impulses liberals don’t share (which is fine) or understand (which is not).
To some, this dynamic is deeply depressing. “The educated moral relativism worldview is fundamentally incompatible with the way 50 percent of America thinks, and stereotypes about out-of-touch elitist coastal Democrats are basically correct,” sighed the snarky Web site Gawker.com as it summarized his studies.
Hat tip to the News Junkie.
I think Haidt’s five foundational moral impulses are far from accurate.
Speaking as a conservative, I think liberal’s notions of fairness/reciprocity are both different from ours and are fundamentally inaccurate, constantly asserting exaggerated and unreciprocated claims to supposititious rights.
Example: liberals believe the US is obliged to award humane treatment in accordance with Geneva Convention standards to unlawful combatants who do not abide by that Convention.
Haidt overlooks the conservative “foundational moral impulses” pertaining to individual liberty, the right of the individual human being to think and act freely within his own private sphere, as well as those pertaining to the rights of society, the right of the people to preserve their own institutions and identity. Conservatives believe that change should be organic and voluntary. Liberals believe in the forcible imposition of their own superior moral insights.
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