Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Political Psychology

Last year a stir was caused by some Berkeley researchers who claimed to describe the psychological underpinnings of conservative thought. It included some doozies such as
Conservatives don't feel the need to jump through complex, intellectual hoops in order to understand or justify some of their positions
Which is in some sense true, because by contrast, Leftists (which I will describe, and differentiate from Liberals, in subsequent posts) have to resort to "complex" reasoning to deal with the cognitive dissonance of their contradictory, incoherent fantasies.

Another howler was this casual observation:
Hitler, Mussolini, and former President Ronald Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form.
It just rolls off the tongue doesn't it; you know, Hitler, Mussolini, Reagan...birds of a feather. I'm reminded of the old Sesame Street song, "One of these things is not like the others; one of these things just isn't the same!"

These researchers make a huge mistake in asserting Hitler and Mussolini were right-wing anyway! I'll leave going into the details later, but all you ever wanted to know is right here. Suffice to say, any authoritarian striving for some "idealized" utopia is by definition a Leftist; whether that place once lay in the past or is only dimly seen in the future is immaterial. It is a mental confusion to assume Leftist = Liberal or Rightist = Conservative. More on that later.

Another famous work on the psychology of the Left versus the Right is by yet another lefty Berkeley professor, George Lakoff. In it, he describes the "family model", in which Liberals are the "Nurturing Parent", but Conservatives are the "Strict Father".

This laughable bit of simplification is actually very revealing about the Left, in that they use a "Parent" cognitive model for government at all! In Psychological Transactional Analysis Theory (popularized in the famous "I'm OK, You're OK" and "Games People Play"), everyone has inside them a Child, a Parent, and an Adult -- and in interacting with others, we choose to adopt one of those roles while casting others in (possibly) another; and the most "healthy" relationships among adults are carried out psychologically as Adult-Adult.

Thus, in Lakoff's view of politics, Transactional Analysis shows he's placing "the People" in the role of "Child", and government in the role of "Parent". This is clearly Authoritarian! It is in fact a hallmark of Leftism to be authoritarian, as it seeks to impose a totalitarian Utopia. Whether that parent is "nurturing" or "strict"; "maternal" or "paternal"; isn't really the issue with Rightists. The Liberal-Left Socialist "Nanny State", as they call it in Britain, is just as stifling an anathema to a Rightist as a Conservative-Left theocracy or autocratic military dictatorship.

The Rightist view of government in Transactional Analysis would be Adult-Adult, in which We The People, acting as mature beings, delegate authority to a co-equal -- the government -- according to Constitutionally limited powers, to serve only the necessary functions that individuals cannot accomplish alone.

I once was interested in taking a course in the History of Revolutions as an undergrad at Princeton, but was amazed and dismayed when I discovered the syllabus didn't cover the American Revolution, which I considered the most important, most lasting, most truly revolutionary Revolution of all! How to explain this?

It turns out, the American Revolution is the only one that doesn't fit into the Marxist/Leftist model of revolutions! That's because it was neither initiated nor hijacked by leftist totalitarian utopians -- for whom any amount of atrocity or mass murder is justified to radically transform society to usher in their Heaven on Earth. Instead, it was a uniquely Liberal-Rightist revolution, for which we must be eternally grateful.


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