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Three lofty words, I suppose.

According to a fellow named Jonathan Haidt, current darling of the conservative and libertarian crowd, these are the watchwords of conservatism.

You aren't allowed to quibble with the word "loyalty". Either you are or you aren't ... loyal. No mixed loyalties allowed. It smacks of treachery, ugh, disloyalty.

Um, authority. It seems that it might be allowable to:

Question Authority!
Often attributed to that acid freak Timothy Leary, "Think for yourself and question authority".

But, given the current rightward turn of things maybe not.

Then, there is holy sanctity. One may think of Ric Santorum. One may not. It depends.

But, the three words. They make me think of Penn State and the Roman Catholic Church.

Loyalty. Loyalty to football. Loyalty to the team. Loyalty to the coach. Loyalty to Penn State.

Why the hell why?

Same thing for the rising hierarchies of the Roman Catholic Church and its doctrines, from lowly unquestioning parishioner and child to the Pope himself.

And the churchly authority. And the authority of the coach become Godlike, and his acolytes.

The word sanctity rings rather hollow. Sometimes it stinks.

I do not like those three words: loyalty ... authority ... sanctity.

They do not ring my chimes.

Better I like caring, like for others, fairness and freedom or liberty, the supposed values of the Occupy forces. Jonathan Haidt ... and colleagues ... found much to tsk, tsk about that:

My colleagues and I found that political liberals tend to rely primarily on the moral foundation of care/harm, followed by fairness/cheating and liberty/oppression. They are very concerned about victims of oppression, but they rarely make moral appeals based on loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, or sanctity/degradation. Social conservatives, in contrast, use all six foundations. They are less concerned than liberals about harm but much more concerned about the moral foundations that bind groups and nations together, i.e., loyalty (patriotism), authority (law and order, traditional families), and sanctity (the Bible, God, the flag as a sacred object). Libertarians, true to their name, value liberty more than anyone else, and they value it far more than any other foundation.
Maybe we need a new way of defining things.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Obedience Silence Superstition (3+ / 0-)

    "We don't need someone who can think. We need someone with enough digits to hold a pen." ~ Grover Norquist

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 03:28:05 PM PDT

  •  Wealth Authority War (0+ / 0-)
    •  The diarist missed the boat on Haidt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jillwklausen, nilsdavis

      From the article that she linked, she may not have even read that through until the end. In the last paragraph of the article, Jonathan Haidt wrote:

      But if the OWS protesters can better articulate their case that “the 1 percent” got its riches by cheating, rather than by providing something valuable, or that “the 1 percent” abuses its power and oppresses “the 99 percent,” then Occupy Wall Street will find itself standing on a very secure pair of moral foundations.
      Otherwise, I think the diary is a strong critique of the moral values of conservatives -- it just doesn't work well as a critique of the psychologist who researched just what those moral values are.

      Our cause: a More Perfect Union.

      by Roby NJ on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 07:44:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Professor Haidt is not the enemy (4+ / 0-)

    His book, "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion" presents his unbiased nonpartisan psychological research into the different moral value systems of conservatives and progressives (among other groups).

    His important finding is that progressives rely on a different, and more narrow set of moral values to appraise and judge the world. The fact that he points out how conservatives also value honoring authority, loyalty, and sanctity has nothing to do with his politics. He's not saying one group's value system is better or worse than the other's, just describing how they are different. It's actually very valuable and useful information for political communication -- as he intended it to be.

    Haidt has no political agenda and cannot control whether narrow-minded partisan groups misinterpret and trumpet his findings for their own political purposes.

    Haidt's work is in fact very popular in progressive messaging groups -- it helps to shape and target effective ways of framing progressive ideas to moderates and persuadable conservatives.

    Your beef is with whatever conservative outlet you found that was trumpeting his work for their political purpose.

    Disclosure: Jonathan Haidt and I are both professors at NYU Stern School of Business. He self identifies as a moderate. Please read his book if you're interested in learning more -- very solid thorough research.

    Our cause: a More Perfect Union

    by Roby NJ on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 04:43:01 PM PDT

    •  Hope I paraphrased what I heard him (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roby NJ, jillwklausen, nilsdavis

      explain about his shift in perspective on Chris Hayes' show fairly accurately. Started the comment before yours was posted and finally got back to it.

      As much as I have heard and read (articles) of his work, he is clearly projecting some much needed light on a bigger picture than Lakoff ever got close to.  Which focused our messaging too narrowly. Westen did much better (which I attribute to psych versus linguistics). Still a lot of murkiness.

      I think one of his key elucidations is the concept that our values are embedded in code words, which trigger the millisecond evaluation for fight or flight response. That is truly the path to values voters' frontal lobes in a lower state of anxiety or panic. Once we get the rest of the message right.

      My thanks to Dr Haidt for his dedication and pursuit of truth. Looking forward to getting Righteous Mind as soon as time and library availability allow.

      "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

      by Ginny in CO on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 06:42:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't know (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Karen Hedwig Backman

      His claim that conservatives fire on all cylinders while Liberals miss on half of them kinda betrays something, if not partisanship. It seems to me that his defining of categories tends to lean the survey towards the Conservative side, instead of non-partisan, non-agenda they're just different which you claim.

      •  Dems have been talking about our poor (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roby NJ, nilsdavis

        messaging for some time. The inability to identify and articulate our values. Haidt's research has essentially verified what we told ourselves and been told by Lakoff, Westen and many others.

        Scientists are not infallible and a few are downright dishonest. I think the fact that liberal minds are usually more open and therefore less willing to adhere to very rigid concepts ends up making us look under analysis of political position statements like we have a more narrow set of values.

        The frequent conservative accusation is that we will believe in anything. Marriage equality will lead to marrying animals and toasters?  Social sciences are much more difficult to find solid conclusions than hard  physical science. Often you have to narrow the questions (aka hypotheses) down a lot and take that into account when applying the information.

        I am very pleased to know conservatives are also finding value in Haidt's work. As unlikely as it seems, with all we have learned about communication and as tired as many on both sides are getting with the lack of sincere discussion, every new understanding of how our minds handle beliefs and new information gets us closer to not talking past, or yelling over, each other.

        "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

        by Ginny in CO on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 07:14:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's not what he says (4+ / 0-)

        Xulon -- Really best to read him directly. Liberals have fewer moral value categories than conservatives according to his research, but are not less "moral." It may be more accurate to conclude from his research that liberal moral systems are more focused and intensely felt; conservative values are diffused.

        Our cause: a More Perfect Union

        by Roby NJ on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 07:45:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Another way to look at the moral dimensions (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roby NJ

          The moral dimensions that liberals use for making many political decisions look like they align a little more with classical logic (in the sense of syllogisms). In contrast, conservatives also use some that are more obviously considered fallacies in classical logic, like "arguing from authority" (corresponds to group loyalty and appeal to authority).

          But the fact is that all logic depends on axioms that are taken as true - liberals take as true that fairness and prevention of harm are the only valid moral obligations in politics. While conservatives take as true - in addition - that the more group-oriented and spiritual dimensions of group loyalty, respect for authority, and purity or sanctity are also moral obligations.

          Note that liberals tend to have a great affinity with purity and sanctity in other areas of our lives - think of our attitudes toward food and the environment. Those partly stem from fairness and prevention of harm, but they also arise from a sense of disgust (the flipside of purity) at pollution, at feedlots, at the destruction of habitat, and from a love of the pristine, the natural, and the untrammeled.

      •  More is not better. (3+ / 0-)

        Better to read his book directly  Haidt is not saying that a broader set of moral values makes someone more moral. It may be just as accurate to conclude from his research that liberal moral values are more focused and intensely felt; and conservatives' are diffuse and arbitrary.  Highly recommend reading it.

        Our cause: a More Perfect Union

        by Roby NJ on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 07:57:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  We have needed to find a better way to (4+ / 0-)

    define and talk about our values, for decades. Jill M?s Winning Words project is centered on that.

    One of the ones we have a hard time with is honesty/dishonesty. Deception might work better there.

    The Republicans have run liberty (freedom) and life into the stratosphere.

    I would really like Dems to take over Pursuit of Happiness/misery and general welfare/corporate welfare.

    In other discussions on the PSU issue, I have added idolatry to pride, loyalty, etc. It strikes me as akin to sanctity when the institution is not a church.

    Bob Altemeyer, whose 40 year career focused on identifying the differences in conservative and liberal thinking, identified loyalty, authority and righteousness as conservative's highest values.

    Haidt's book is The Righteous Mind. Part of Haidt's status with the conservatives may be that he had been fairly liberal. He decided to back into as centrist as possible, and feels he broke out of some of his binders on the Democratic party, that he is making more objective and constructive observations of both sides and is going to stay in that perspective for however long it works for his productivity.

    The other side of question authority is question your own convictions - which are often derived from questioned authority. The biggest problem in many flame wars and slap downs are folks who refuse to recognize the value of questioning convictions. We tend to have a problem understanding that if both sides can adjust their perspective on an issue by even a few degrees, we may be close enough for a consensus. Some of that may be accepting that if we can't have it all, what parts are the least damaging.

    "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

    by Ginny in CO on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 06:14:53 PM PDT

  •  Messaging (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roby NJ

    Messaging is important in a society like today's.  There are many words that are "good" or "bad" depending on how they have been used.

    But as to the narrowed focus on a moral set, I find it refreshing to hear that we liberals are less focussed on Authority and Patriotism.  I see this part of the conservative mindset a little less than evolved frankly. In a world composed of shades of grey, they insist on black and white - it makes life easier and requires less of us.  To my mind, this contradicts the message of Christ Himself. Not to put too religious a spin on things.  But it seems to me that the whole point of Christ was to narrow down the law to its meaning as opposed to the many faceted legalize it had become.  No narrative of turning to authority, but rather live by love.  I realize this is simplistic to a degree, but I cant help but see the conservative way as a projection of the Pharisees.  

    As for patriotism, isnt that just another code word for everyone else is wrong and I am right? Europeans are bad, the Chinese are bad. No I wont bother looking because it just isnt necessary.  

    No, as I see it this is simply saying what we all know to be true.  There are those of us who are comfortable with not being sure, and those that insist on being right all the time.  So to be right, they appeal to authorities outside of themselves, they cling to patriotic fervor to comfort their own sense of inadequacies.  Their arguments are "because I said so."

    I for one and proud that I have a narrowed moral set.  As was said before...

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    Never be sure of yourself, it is a sign of weakness — Dr. Who

    •  Yeah, Morality is not a competition (3+ / 0-)

      I like the set of moral values progressives have, and don't feel as interested in the extra moral values associated with conservatives. I don't care that they have more moral dimensions.

      Knowing what drives them helps me understand conservative messaging as well as shape effective messages at moderates.

      Our cause: a More Perfect Union.

      by Roby NJ on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 10:19:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just my thoughts ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jillwklausen, nilsdavis, Roby NJ

    Professor Haidt is simply pointing things out and republicans are running with them. As usual. Take it up with them. Or the ineffective dems/progressives who are ignoring valuable messaging opportunities. Not Haidt.

    And yes, republicans do it (messaging) better. They have more money, more think tanks, and more people on the job. Let's get with the program and get better at it. We FINALLY have a few good messages/frames. We need to run with them i.e. Welfare for the Wealthy, War on Women, Profitization.

  •  I don't understand this diary. ??? What is it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elizabethawilke, Roby NJ, nilsdavis

    you're trying to say, exactly? What are you objecting to? Your post was almost incoherent, I'm afraid.

    Haidt's work has been invaluable to us at The Winning Words Project because it forces us to think like a conservative would if they read our posts. It's not easy for a progressive mind to actually do, but if we want to win conservative-thinking centrists, we HAVE to understand how they perceive words and formulate moral opinions about things.

    So if you have a complaint about what Haidt is telling us about understanding conservative brains and you want to dismiss him and keep doing what we've been doing, my only question to you would be, how's that been workin' out for us so far?

    Stop the party of Gut & Spend policies that gut our Earned Benefits programs like Social Security and Medicare and spends on tax breaks for the wealthy elite.

    by jillwklausen on Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 10:56:30 PM PDT

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