Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Liberals Discover They May Be Human

We begin with a liberal hypothesis of why conservatives "are the way they are":
The way I saw it, this slavish obedience to authority and tradition on the part of conservatives was the true source of the culture war between liberals and conservatives over foreign war, abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control, and racial inequality. They way I saw it, conservatives clung to old, near-sighted ways of thinking and fell in line with the dictates of the "man in charge." If only conservatives would think for themselves -- like liberals do -- the war would be over and we could get on with life, governance, and progress. Or so I thought.
Liberals do a lot of studies trying to prove that conservatives are somehow "inferior" -- not able to understand the facts, not able to question authority, fearful, etc. The list is long. When you are CERTAIN that you are right and in fact superior, but know that you are an extremely nice and caring person, then there MUST be some explanation for why the people you hate are so bad!!

The conservative view is really that BOTH (and all) sides are made up of inferior humans, and understanding that -- especially in relation to God, is the beginning of wisdom, a pearl of far greater price than intelligence, knowledge, or any other human characteristic like beauty or charisma.

Perhaps we have the merest inking of the beginning of liberal wisdom (oxymoron?) here:
If the two sides equally support obedience to their own authorities, how had I come to believe that conservatives are the ones that favor obedience to authority? We wondered if the asymmetry lay not in attitudes toward obedience, but in the nature of authority. Perhaps authorities tend to be conservative, and people know it.

This is what we found in a subsequent study. Americans completed a survey in which they named authorities (e.g., police officer) then indicated whether they suspected the authority figure was liberal, moderate, or conservative. People perceived authorities to be conservative. Bosses tend to vote Republican -- or at least most people suspect they do. My suspicion is that the stereotype is accurate: authorities really tend to be conservative.

I wonder if this is because conservatives are especially good at or motivated to gain positions of authority. Or perhaps gaining authority over others changes our ideology, making the boss conservative. 
We see that being wrong about the "conservatives can't think for themselves and are slaves to authority" stereotype didn't make the author any less confident in liberal stereotypes, and quickly ready to jump to the "authorities really tend to be conservative" view.

A short reading of Hayek "The Fatal Conceit" would clue her in that the smarter and better educated one is the greater their tendency to believe that "man is the measure of all things", "man is infinitely perfectible", "humans create human systems like capitalism, socialism, etc through reason", etc. In other words, the more likely they are to be "liberal" -- so the real world is the opposite of her stereotype. But, as in her original stereotype, that has never given an intelligent liberal a moments pause in being less certain of their next stereotype!

Humans are superb creators of all manner of stereotypes, narratives, models and myths to make "sense" of an infinite, complex and significantly unpredictable universe. "In general" (like all human rules, NOT 100%), the smarter you are, the greater your tendency to hubris and narcissism, with RELIGION, especially Christianity, being the great wild card transcendent model in history.

When super intelligent people have faith in an infinitely more intelligent God, especially if that God has died for them, it tends to engender some level of HUMILITY. Again, they are still human, so it is at best imperfect, but it adds another level that needs to be checked before "I'm SURE that I understand it all THIS time"!

She has mostly figured out that conservatives are likely not sub-human, but she has still not figured out that "Ideas Have Consequences" (another excellent book) ... the models we choose (or choose us), our "World View", has a profound effect on all we do, and when groups select an inferior World View, especially nation sized groups, the results are almost always disastrous.

Modern Western civilization was largely built because for a brief time (200 years), the majority of leaders were God believing to at least the Deist level, and generally Christians -- so they had a lot more understanding of the transcendent concept of wisdom, therefore taking a much more humble and reasonable view of what was possible and thus succeeding!

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