Monday, November 30, 2015

Jonathan Haidt on Hate

For conservatives the liberal psychology professor Jonathan Haidt is an impossibility. A liberal and a psychologist who wrote a book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion in which he found, to his surprise, that conservatives are not just racists, sexists, and homophobes, but people.

Deciding that humans have a "righteous mind" that is set up to make moral distinctions and judgements Haidt constructed a matrix of moral axes: care/harm, liberty/oppression, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation. Then he applied the matrix to the belief system of American liberals, libertarians, and conservatives. He found that liberals defined themselves mainly on the care/harm axis, moderately on the liberty/oppression axis and somewhat on the fairness/cheating axis. Libertarians were really big on liberty/oppression, so-so on fairness/cheating. Conservatives, on the other hand, were pretty well balanced on all six axes.

Wow. Like wow. Since then, Jonathan Haidt has developed a strange new respect for conservatives. For if conservative moral minds were balanced across the six axes, that kinda tells you something about the balanced nature of conservatism.

Recently he went to give a speech at a prestigious private school (probably Lakeside School in Seattle) and ran slam-bang into the modern snowflake fascist culture during the Q&A after his speech. The little snowflake teenage girls at that august institution had fully ingested the present culture that we have been seeing all across America's elite universities this fall.
But then the discussion began, and it was the most unremittingly hostile questioning I’ve ever had. I don’t mind when people ask hard or critical questions, but I was surprised that I had misread the audience so thoroughly. My talk had little to do with gender, but the second question was “So you think rape is OK?”
 But it was just the girls asking questions and snapping their fingers. The boys said nothing at all, except at the end when they gave him a standing ovation. What was going on? Haidt found out in a smaller breakout session.
[Haidt:] When there is a class discussion about gender issues, do you feel free to speak up and say what you are thinking? Or do you feel that you are walking on eggshells and you must heavily censor yourself? Just the girls in the class, raise your hand if you feel you can speak up? [about 70% said they feel free, vs about 10% who said eggshells ]. Now just the boys? [about 80% said eggshells, nobody said they feel free].
And so on, with race and politics. Same thing. There was only one boy who was Republican and also dared to speak out on political issues. At the end of the discussion, Haidt told them it was high time for the school to make "viewpoint diversity a priority." (Hey Jonathan, why do you think that Bill Gates turned out a conventional liberal?)

Golly. Who would have thunk it in America?

It shows, I think, the fundamental error at the heart of liberalism. When you bring moral issues into politics, it means that all moral issues become grist for the political mill. Moral issues become political issues. And politics always comes down to a fight: my way or the highway.

This is why in America the Founders proposed a separation between Church and State. In America you can -- or you could -- choose your own moral community, and if you don't like one you can choose another. But we are all more or less stuck with the state we have, so when we bring moral issues into politics then we inevitably find that we must fight to the death over it.

You can tell from the outbreak of snowflake fascists at the nation's universities (and apparently at its prestigious private high schools) this fall that liberals really don't understand this. They don't understand that when they go on a PC rampage that they are telling us all "my way or the highway." They don't understand that they are creating enemies all across America because most people don't want to be made to care about racism, sexism, and climate change, and not allowed to have a dissenting position. You see everyone, especially including liberals, hates it when somebody is playing the morality card on them.

It all takes me back to the last Great Awakening of liberal hysteria in the 1960s. Average Americans started to hate it almost immediately, and so elected Richard Nixon twice over. But it really wasn't until the B-movie actor won the presidency by two landslides that liberals got the message and pretended, for a couple of elections, that they were "New Democrats."

Now, egged on by George Soros' money and Barack Obama's crazed faith in community organizing, they are back in full liberal Puritanical fever, complete with witch-hunts for the fabled right-wing extremist unicorn, and the rest of America hates it.

I think that liberals are going to get a terrible shock in November 2016. Just like those boys at that private high schools, about half of America is forced to button its lip at work, at school, and elsewhere wherever ruling-class liberals make the rules. And that half of America hates it.

But here's the good news. Just like back in the 1970s it will take a few election cycles before liberals realize what has happened. After all, nobody they know voted for Trump/Cruz/Rubio, whoever.  Maybe, in the interregnum, before liberals come to their senses, we can fix the economy, and roll back a bit of the liberal bossy-boots state.


  1. Morality deal solely with actions. Because there are two types of actions are two types of morality. Objective morality deals with actions between two or more individuals. Subjective morality deals with actions that effect only an individual. Objective morality belongs in the realm of politics. When discussing morality you must distinguish between the two.

    1. Sorry for responding so late, however, I don't think there are any actions that only affect an individual and no one else. (Even eating involves health care costs and our global food industry.) So, it is always a matter of finding the degree to which an action will be allowed to affect others.