Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cultural values

If... your country has a public health system that ensures that everyone who needs treatment receives it, without payment, it helps instill the belief that it is normal to care for strangers, and abnormal and wrong to neglect them. If you live in a country where people are left to die, this embeds the idea that you have no responsibility towards the poor and weak. The existence of these traits is supported by a vast body of experimental and observational research, of which Labour and the US Democrats appear determined to know nothing. 
We are not born with our core values: they are strongly shaped by our social environment. These values can be placed on a spectrum between extrinsic and intrinsic. People towards the intrinsic end have high levels of self-acceptance, strong bonds of intimacy and a powerful desire to help others.People at the other end are drawn to external signifiers, such as fame, financial success and attractiveness. They seek praise and rewards from others. 
...These clusters exist in opposition to each other: as one set of values strengthens, the other weakens
As extrinsic values are strongly associated with conservative politics, it's in the interests of conservative parties and conservative media to cultivate these values. .... 
Margaret Thatcher's political genius arose from her instinctive understanding of these traits, long before they were described by psychologists and cognitive linguists: "Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul." But Labour and the US Democrats no longer have objects, only methods. Their political philosophy is simply stated: if at first you don't succeed, flinch, flinch and flinch again. They seem to believe that if they simply fall into line with prevailing values, people will vote for them by default. But those values and baselines keep shifting, and what seemed intolerable before becomes unremarkable today. Instead of challenging the new values, these parties adjusting. This is why they always look like their opponents, with a five-year lag.

1 comment:

JCF said...

Why is the Right so forthright about speaking of the "morality" of their positions, but the Left isn't?

Even if the Left is mostly secular (of course, I have mixed feelings about that!), it still shouldn't be so hard to craft a Left-wing ETHIC of "Do Unto Others" by which we can call out Rightwing IMMORALITY for What It Is.