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June 16, 2011

Comments

Nick

Well you've persuaded me of a few things over the years. Perhaps, discussions can be more productive once people realise and recognise how their personal characteristics are going to impact on their political views.

Jimmy Hill

How do we explain people who have significantly altered their political views?

Hayek, for example, was a Fabian Socialist as a younger man. John Gray was an advocate of the New Right in the 80s, he certainly isn't now.

A controversial view would be that perhaps only very few people are cut out for truly engaging in politics, whilst the rest of us just assert our prejudices.

Paolo

"A controversial view would be that perhaps only very few people are cut out for truly engaging in politics, whilst the rest of us just assert our prejudices."

Maybe, I guess though that apart from openness to experience people that recover from abuse are most of all healthily disillusioned, deep in tune with the fallacies of human nature, thus less likely to buy into tendentious political ideologies....

By the way, the choice of the word "prejudices" is quite unfortunate given the context.

Jimmy Hill

"By the way, the choice of the word "prejudices" is quite unfortunate given the context."

I'm sorry, I don't quite follow.

Bruce

"A controversial view would be that perhaps only very few people are cut out for truly engaging in politics, whilst the rest of us just assert our prejudices."

I thought it was considered quite common for personal politics to change over time. As in "If you're not a liberal when you're 20, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative when you're 40, you have no head."

Paolo

@ Jimmy Hill, let me explain than.

That views of the world such as those ingrained by child abuses are prejudices is an unfortunate use of a term that has a negative connotation. From the Cambridge online dictionary: "prejudice: an unfair and unreasonable opinion or feeling, especially when formed without enough thought or knowledge".

Mercy

Jumping straight to "people's minds won't be changed by discussing politics" leaves you with roughly the same strategy as thinking that people are rational free thinkers who can be persuaded to adopt any belief if you just give them enough evidence.

Rather we should use this to work out what opinions people can be talked out of, and cut our losses when discussing gay rights with authoritarians, or nuclear power with hippies, or what have you.

Then again, if I was going to point to a commentator with a nack for honing in on areas where people are susceptible to persuasion you'd be high up on the shortlist. So maybe you've got a more naunced take then you are letting on...

BT

Jonathan Haidt has good ideas on the moral psychology behind left and right wing political/social values.

Check out his talk at TED online.

Jimmy Hill

@Paolo

I can see why you could see it that way, no offence was meant.

However, I think prejudice is a reasonably accurate way to describe how people form their political opinions.

If being abused as a child does influence one's political opinions towards a left wing view (because they are keen to support the underdog, for example) then these people will support various left-wing policies, increased redistribution etc.

If the only reason they support these policies is their sympathy for the underdog then I think it would be reasonable to say that the basis for their views is one of prejudice, i.e. without enough thought or knowledge.

This isn't to pick on the victims of abuse, I suspect that everyone bases their views on some prejudice or another. As beings with only a limited capacity for understanding a very complex world we have little choice.

Yo Gabba Gabba

It also "could" be because conservatives are less apt to characterize harsh words and a spanking as "abuse". That word (in the left's moral universe) renders one a victim, an aspirational status, entitled to all sorts of moral authority and extras. Of course they'd call themselves abused for all sorts of things we'd not call "abuse."

Getting smacked around and yelled at is not abuse and it cheapens the truly abused, dilutes the prevention & care of them.

Or, I "could" be totally wrong.

Robs

Maybe we could try increasing the levels of abuse in schools, and see if we get a generation of glorious left wing revolutionaries?

Paolo Siciliani

I see the level of the debate has nosedived by now. Guess this is what happens when people with "conservative" views hide behind a nickname.

chris y

Maybe we could try increasing the levels of abuse in schools, and see if we get a generation of glorious left wing revolutionaries?

Certainly true that the generation of the soixante-huitards in all countries had a less "child centred" experience at school than "kids today". But then so did all previous generations.

BenSix

Also interesting...

"Reasoning is generally seen as a means to improve knowledge and make better decisions. However, much evidence shows that reasoning often leads to epistemic distortions and poor decisions. This suggests that the function of reasoning should be rethought. Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative. It is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade."

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1698090

paulilc

A lot of lefties give the impression that their politics is a form of therapy...

thomas

Mill had something similar to say on this subject about stupidity and conservatives.

However I've got to take issue with you on the definition of the political spectrum, since I find it hard to accept popular opinion is not by definition culturally biased to a restricted range of viewpoints. For example this country is noted for its strong consensus - which only really becomes apparent when abroad.

But there's only so much philosphical qualification and wheedling redefinition which can be done before all terms become entirely meaningless - what is considered 'left' in one part of the world will almost always be considered 'right' in another.

As such the terms left and right-wing are entirely relativistic and subject to massive amounts of interpretation (and/or pre-formed conclusions), so it's only a fool who asserts them without acknowledging the context.

Meanwhile the more precise philosophic perspective implies it's own subtly different and often overlapping manners... so, libertarian means a personal choice, whereas authoritarian means imposed from on high (ie via dynastic relationships, nepotism etc); liberal means a free and open choice, whereas social reflects the group interest, democratic means the general interest and so on and so forth.

Different approaches can be explained by the psychological emphasis we each place on our individual responses, depending on our individual value frameworks, which themself are subject to influence by our reception to experience of risk and reward as we grow and develop.

Yet once you get beyond the broad brushstrokes and identify directly and completely with an ideological stance that's when you start to get into trouble.

Thus the political complex cannot be a singular event hypothesis, but must be an ongoing process - to my mind, the view that anyone can maintain a totally fixed political perspective over any period of time is the extreme conservative view and massively ill-considered.

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