Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ideological Divides III – Morals and Personality

This is the third instalment of the Ideological Divides series; click here to read the first instalment and here to read the second …

If we take a look at the different moral values of those of the left Vs the right, it ought to be no surprise that we often face deadlock over not merely politics per-se but economic policy measures resulting from them. Consider the statements below:

  • Of all virtues, compassion is the most significant
  • If we allow the lazy and/or unsuccessful to fail and suffer the consequences of their poor decisions and inactions, tough love will compel corrective action.

Leftists obviously endorse the compassion statement but it may surprise that so do conservatives, the real difference is a matter of degree as the latter endorse both statements equally though more mildly.

The term Karma is normally associated with spirituality and a key concept in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Taoism and yet, however inadvertently, it plays a role in the psychology of the archetypal conservative in terms of ones reaping the fruits (good and bad) of their actions. It is worth noting that karma is not a law of the universe or physical world, though traditionalists, aka the conservative classes, sometimes come off sounding as if they believe it is - such is their conviction.

This explains why they are lukewarm about assisting the unsuccessful - not to be confused with the less fortunate – via the welfare state, or unsuccessful nations (Greece) via loans, and companies via industry assistance and/or outright bailouts.

Political behaviour is strongly motivated by people's underlying psychological needs and through this deep motivator’s determine one's political preferences.  A University of Toronto study concluded that:
“… While everybody has the same motivational architecture, the relative strength of the underlying systems varies from one person to the next. If concerns for order and equality are relatively balanced, the individual is likely to be politically moderate or restrained, as either grows stronger than the other, political preferences move further to either left or right of the spectrum…”
The study also links values to biological and genetic heritage factors.
“This means you have to take a deeper view of political and morality in terms of where these motives are coming from as political preferences do not emerge from a simple rational consideration of the issues”
I believe that a basic understanding of why we differ can benefit the arbitrations of our parliaments and society in general through greater empathy.  

As I concluded in the first instalment of this series, all ideological divides assist a nation to flourish and the abovementioned study suggests this to be true.
“There are costs and benefits to each political profile and both appear critical to maintaining an effective balance in society”  
In the next instalment of this series, I will look deeper into how biology can exert an influence on political beliefs and behaviours ahead of the last posting that will ask the most pertinent of questions, progressives, leftists (Liberals) or Conservatives - who is right, what is truth?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ideological Divides II – Personality and Values

This post serves as an extension of my June 11, 2015 post, ideological divides.

These days we can make somewhat precise predictions about people's values in relation to politics through various unconnected things such as how they dress, where they live, the cars they own, how much orderliness there is in their lives and even, music and book preferences. Given that, our two main parties have well entrenched publically espoused values – through party platforms – they make for good targets for whatever political personality types.

Interestingly, our political parties have shaped their own values that in turn, influence peoples lifestyle elements by creating diverging facts resulting in different beliefs about history (stolen generation real or not?), science and notably economics. How you ask? By way of example, the previous Labor government’s school curriculum over- emphasises the themes, Environment, Colonialism, Social history, Anti-modernism, Class and Minority groups and Multiculturalism while under-emphasising, Religion, Western Civilisation, Political History, and Economic growth and Technology.  We also have no mention of the three pillars of Western Civilisation, instead replaced by what conservatives would refer to as, the three pillars of political correctness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia and Sustainability. Moreover, on the question of economic growth and technology one would think that the entrepreneurial spirit of the era would warrant a mention in the curriculum, but the word “entrepreneur” appears nowhere more exactly, when the curriculum refers to wealth it only refers to the distribution of wealth, never the creation of wealth.

Let us now look at the interpretation of economics in terms of beliefs and values as associated with ideology. A centre-right Liberal party supporter or politician would have very different views to an ALP or Greens advocate about some contemporary economic issues of the day. Will abolishing the minimum wage increase unemployment or decrease it? Will it stimulate the economy or depress it? How is it best to deal with economic recessions, via stimulus or austerity? What about tightening the eligibility criteria or completely cutting unemployment benefits (dole), will it propel individuals to find employment or set them up for the scrap heap?

Given the differing personality types and personal values of LNP, ALP and Greens supporters it is nigh impossible to obtain an accurate and impartial answer to questions about ideological righteousness associated with economic policies since all participants are both consciously and unconsciously seeking arguments answers and facts, that are consistent with their personal values. Individuals begin their personal deliberations about what is right/wrong or true and then seek out supporting evidence that in all cases is available. Hence, one can always find documented academic (even peer reviewed) documentation and opinion pieces arguing that removing the minimum wage will spur economic activity and increase employment just as one can find same for the opposing argument.

Asking what is truth or who is right becomes almost superfluous but not entirely so, for we should never stop asking … questioning. In terms of politics and ideology, human values, knowledge, convictions and even creeds are relative, elastic and ever so fluid …

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ideological Divides

Something struck me about the following lines that were on a flyer that landed in my letterbox some time ago:
“As a long standing member of the ALP, I appreciate the role councils play in providing quality services to the community”
One could also envision the words, “The Greens” in place of ALP, but could you envision LNP in place of ALP, I dare say no. The innocuous lines imply that only the ALP establishment, in addition to others to the left of it, and their members and representatives can recognise, appreciate and deliver quality services to the community- the latter being an integral word in the language and semantics of the left.

This conception is akin to an unwritten attribute of the progressive classes. Nonetheless, it belies the truth about the importance placed on community care by their ideological opposites. Fact is, those on the right also place importance on "community" they, like progressives and those of the left, have entirely similar moral foundations and act on their passions with the same vigour and conviction of righteousness however, they have different moral philosophies - defending, and recommending their concept/s of right and wrong conduct.

As a result of factors associated with the disciplines of Anthropology, Psychology and related cultural factors, individuals that engage in the political, either as active or passive participants, formulate passions from which they hypothesis, derive and construct partisan suppositions.

Accordingly, our (people's) political divides result in wide gaps of opinion about political parties, there policies and, party leaders alike.

However, what of the legitimacy of each, who is right, who is wrong?

As an appendage to the question I, being an active right leaning participant have come to accept as true, that the insights of all sides, the left and right, otherwise said, Liberals Conservatives, Progressives and even Libertarians, play a role for a nation to flourish. Not that this answers the legitimacy question I posed.

Once again, who is right, what is your view?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

You're no idiot, rather you're un-engaged ...

Did you know? The ancient Greeks had a word for a person not interested, or un-engaged in public affairs eg. Politics - Idiot...

As an adjunct, I'm of the opinion that the Greeks were harsh to label the un-engaged (in politics) as idiots. They are not idiots per-se, they are simply un-engaged, nothing more nothing less.

What dismays me however, is when I inadvertently stumble upon conversations with "unengaged" types (those that absorb only media headlines without questioning) and they espouse an understanding of whatever the political discourse, with arguments littered with inaccuracies and untruths.

Still, even then they are NOT idiots, rather they are once again, unengaged. The role of those like myself (the engaged) is to enhance understanding without bias or judgement.

I have no issue with those that disagree as long as there difference is based on accurate information. Sadly, the unengaged are most often victims of groupthink. They fail to question, "headlines". 

This is the challenge for the "engaged".

My advice to all, whatever they're existing convictions is to question... Never stop questioning....

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Accepting Political Differences

Today I was accused of being critical and judgemental of those whose ideology and politics are different to mine. The conversation was born of my previous post on this blog, ADS - Abbott Derangement Syndrome with the accuser lecturing me about my, “criticism” of George Megalogenis. Criticism I thought, really.

I can understand why I was lectured however my post was not meant to be critical of him of even those whom I may think suffer from the so-called syndrome I wrote about.

We are all different and sometimes it is our very differences that make the world we know, turn, for better or worse.

In my years, I have had many conversations with people from all walks about politics. In earlier days I was stubborn adopting an, I am right you are wrong approach. These days I actually listen to those who disagree in a genuine attempt to understand why they believe as they do. In dealing with people from all lifestyles and I have come to recognize that what affects how they think and where they stand on issues including politics, life and just as importantly, how I think, has much to do with particularized and individualistic life events, worldview, beliefs and emotions, measure of knowledge, cultural factors and background  and, so very much more …

In dealing with those who are my political opposites, I remind myself to let go of ego related emotions. This does not mean I acquiesce with ease, on the contrary, if I feel I must extend understanding, I attempt to achieve this while extending respect and utilizing diffusing language like.

  • “I appreciate what you are saying, how can we address this and gain both from the discussion, have you considered” 
  • “Were you aware that…”
  • “I don’t mean to lecture or suggest I am right, let me explain what I mean ..." 
  • “Do you think it would be better if …?”

By all means be authoritative, know your subject, provide quantifiable facts, but remember to listen, really listen! Active as opposed to passive listening is key to a successful exchange. Listening allows you to get inside the other person and I assure you, it is always appreciated, and while you may still come away with differences, all parties will be better for the exchange … Try it and watch what happens ...

This post may come across as a cop out of sorts, it is far from that. George Megalogenis has his own opinion/s and he promoted but one in his tweet last Saturday, nothing wrong with that. I feel certain that I would enjoy a discussion with him about why he feels the way he does on the matter he tweeted about and who knows, we might both come away having learned something.