Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Are conservatives less "open"?

I guess I should note the latest echo of an old refrain -- a paper by John Jost titled "The End of the End of Ideology". I reproduce the abstract below:

"The "end of ideology" was declared by social scientists in the aftermath of World War II. They argued that: (a) ordinary citizens' political attitudes lack the kind of stability, consistency, and constraint that ideology requires; (b) ideological constructs such as liberalism and conservatism lack motivational potency and behavioral significance; (c) there are no major differences in content (or substance) between liberal and conservative points of view; and (d) there are few important differences in psychological processes (or styles) that underlie liberal versus conservative orientations. The end-of-ideologists were so influential that researchers ignored the topic of ideology for many years. However, current political realities, recent data from the National Election Studies, and results from an emerging psychological paradigm provide strong grounds for returning to the study of ideology. The liberalism-conservatism distinction remains a pervasive and parsimonious means of organizing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (for both laypersons and social scientists). Studies reveal that there are indeed meaningful political and psychological differences that covary with ideological self-placement. Situational variables-including system threat and mortality salience -and dispositional variables- including openness and conscientiousness- affect the degree to which an individual is drawn to liberal vs. conservative leaders, parties, and opinions. A psychological analysis is also useful for understanding the political divide between "red states" and "blue states."

The last few sentences above reflect the familiar claim (going back to at least 1950) from Leftist psychologists that conservatives are in some sense psychologically inferior or disabled. I have been rebutting such tripe for over 30 years so I cannot work up enough enthusiasm to go to the library and look up the full article but it seems from the abstract to be just another rehash of an earlier collaborative article by Jost that I have already demolished here. Jost and his colleagues don't even know what a conservative is so there is NO chance of their findings having any real-world significance.

Dr Helen has however given us an extract from the latest article by Jost in which the claim is made that Leftists are more "Open" in various ways. I wonder has Jost taken account of the findings of Van Hiel? Van Hiel is a Leftist psychologist but he works unusually hard to get data from real-world Leftists and Rightists -- as distinct from the usual practice of handing out a bunch of questionnaires to your students. And, as I point out here, Van Hiel actually found in one study that it was conservatives who were more open and in another study found that openness was not politically polarized.

As Dr Helen also points out, that real-world data can be pesky stuff!



A former British Communist reflects on the Hungarian revolution:

As I walked back from the podium to my seat in the audience, screams of `Trotskyist!' hit me from all sides. Communist Party comrades who had been my friends hurled abuse at me, their faces screwed up with hatred. By the time I got back to my seat I was shouting back, telling them that, like the AVO (Hungarian secret policemen) who were then swinging on lamp posts as a result of people's anger, their time on the end of a rope was nearing. I would not recommend this as a way to win political arguments.

The scene was the old Liverpool Stadium in 1956; the Liverpool District Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain had organised a meeting to discuss the Hungarian uprising. In my intervention I had called for the Soviet troops to get out of Hungary, and demanded we pledge our full support for the Hungarian workers and students in their attempt to replace Stalinism. On returning to my seat I heard a member of the District Committee describe me from the platform as a Trotskyist provocateur. The shepherd had spoken and the witless sheep responded as the followers of Stalin, myself included, had always done in the past. The magic word was Trotsky, the revolutionary bogeyman of Stalinism.

More here



Leftist blogger MYDD is organizing a Googlebombing campaign against GOP candidates in the upcoming election: "The utilization of Google Adwords and simultaneous, widespread embedded hyperlinks in order to drive as many voters as possible toward the most damning, non-partisan article written on the Republican candidate in seventy key US Senate and House races. The campaign will run from Tuesday, October 24th until Tuesday, November 7th. [Can an article can be both damning and non-partisan? Dubious logic there.]

In memoriam: "Ideas shape the world. Last week a very important promoter of ideas, Ralph Harris, died at the age of 81. The liberal economic ideas that he popularised in the 1960s and 1970s became the basis of the Conservative reforms of the 1980s, and have remained the accepted basis of the Blair administration. No other British propagandist of ideas in the second half of the 20th century had anything like the same influence on national policy. Lord Harris of High Cross taught Margaret Thatcher. He converted a whole generation of politicians and journalists to the free-market ideas in which he believed; he converted most economists as well. [I knew Ralph Harris myself]

Would most of the "young people" mentioned in this report be black or Muslim? "Britain is becoming a nation increasingly afraid of its young people and this trend is causing problems for children as they grow up, according to a report released overnight. Britons are far less likely than their European counterparts to stop young people committing antisocial behaviour, because of fears of reprisals, being attacked, or verbal abuse, the study by the Institute of Policy Research (IPPR) found.... The IPPR said that 1.5 million Britons now thought about moving away from the area they lived in because of "young people hanging around". It said 1.7 million people avoided going out after dark because of their worries about antisocial behaviour which the vast majority blamed on a "lack of discipline".

Will this survive appeal? " A Detroit woman says a judge forced her to choose between her small-claims case and her religious conviction. Devout Muslim Ginnnah Muhammad was contesting a charge of more than $2,700 from a rental-car company to repair a vehicle after it was broken into. Hamtramck district Judge Paul Paruk told her she needed to remove a head veil that covered everything but her eyes so he could judge her truthfulness. The 42-year-old kept the veil on and the case was dismissed. Paruk says many Muslims who have appeared before him wearing the veil do not consider it a religious symbol. Dawud Walid is the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He says the judge violated Muhammad's civil rights.



"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." -- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch)

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