Around the web

1. Interview with Hitler’s sculptor; his work is being shown again in Germany.

2. The state fair.

3. How conservatives differ from liberals, and why the former win elections.

4. New work on the Nazi economy.

5. Photos of the Mideast before WWII.

Comments

The conservative-liberal paper strikes me as just an academic dressing up of tired old conservative talking oints. On what ethical basis is blind loyalty to one's group, or maintaining sexual "purity", or automatic deference to superiors, better than helping the disadvantaged and ameliorating injustices? To argue that all five are the basis for a sound system of morality, merely because most societies adopt them, seems to me to be the equivalent of arguing for the divine right of kings merely because that too was once the historical norm.

Ingroup loyalty and deference to superiors have led to war, bloodshed, and genocide throughout history. To contemplate them as the basis for morality is disgusting, indeed, immoral.

Ingroup loyalty, deference to superiors, and sexual "purity" all contribute to survival of the "selfish gene". As such they can be considered the genetically caused “morality", so it is not surprising that it has strong political appeal. The idea that liberals don't understand it is wrong, it is that liberals don't like it, or at least don't consider it appropriate to use govermental power to enforce it.

I think the paper misses the point altogether. Liberals and conservatives differ over what constitutes 'justice'. To put it simply, liberals think that it is unjust for people to have to live with the consequences of their own actions, while conservatives generally think that unequal outcomes may be just if they're the result of individual choices.

When I was reading the book Hungry Ghosts by Jasper Becker, in the chapter that discussed China forming communes, I was struck by the response of the people. People considered it deeply, fundamentally unfair that everyone got the same amount of food even if one person worked very hard while another did nothing. Liberals think that such people don't care about 'justice'. They overlook the fact that people react strongly to situations where outcomes are totally disconnected from effort precisely because they care about what they consider to be 'justice'.

"The idea that liberals don't understand it is wrong"

Well I think you're wrong. It's not a universal truth, but my experience teaches me that generally people who identify as strongly liberal often have trouble understanding why the people in question act the way that they do.

Actually, I think liberals think that it is unjust for people to have to live with the consequences of OTHER's actions. That is, their level playing field looks much different than the conservatives'. Equal effort can result in different outcomes, depending on starting points and to a distressing degree (to the liberal), luck. And is that justice?

I think (some) conservatives only want a level playing field if it means they don't have to sacrifice anything in the name of fairness, or, worse, expand the competition they face.

And I think liberals get that people are self-interested. It's not a tough concept for anyone that's ever had siblings.

BillWallace- Liberals not only understand this “morality† but practice it. Most live in neighborhoods with people like themselves, follow their leaders, want there wives to be faithful, their daughters pure, and would be disappointed to find out their child is gay. This accounts for the much talked about liberal hypocrisy. They do, from time to time, feel guilty about their choices, and sometimes even allow their principles to effect their behavior, but mostly they just advocate abstract positions on public policy promoting their vision of a better world.

Theres a lot of silly claims about what liberals believe. I think the primary differences between liberals and conservatives are A) How much they value equality (not fairness or justice) as a good, B) How much of there morality is dictated by religion, C) The threshold for military involvement. I think many people who are liberal underestimate the costs of achieving greater equality, the costs to efficiency and the costs to freedom. However, I think many conservatives underestimate the value of equality for its own sake.

B) Liberal people are much less religious on average and many conservatives public decisions are very informed by doctrinal theology. For every liberal who is disappointed that there child is gay there is an anti-abortion conservative that has an abortion or has there child have an abortion. (Just like your statement about liberals was made up mine is made up but since there are more abortions than gays I bet it is true). Liberalism and conservatism are both sufficiently abstract that they are not actually meant to be lived by.

C) The general trend is obvious of liberals being comparatively more pacifist (though in few cases actually pacifist) but much of military support or lack there of is just following the rumbles at the top of the pyramid. The right was strongly opposed to the actions in Kossovo for example.

I liked the conservatives/liberals paper, but I thought the idea that there are only really two kinds of people in the world undermined the work a bit. For example:

a. Libertarians tend to be very focused on Harm and Reciprocity, and I think of Hayek's work as being largely about teaching us that we shouldn't casually toss aside working institutions. (But none of the big five properties in the paper quite tracks to conservatism about institutions--Hierarchy and Ingroup each capture some of it.)

b. Environmentalists are extremely concerned with Purity as a motive. It's different from the kind of Purity that opposes gay marriage, but it's definitely there.

c. Among more liberal (or at least Democratic) groups, blacks have a lot of Ingroup motive, which comes out as some seriously nasty things being said about black conservatives at times.

d. A major force in American liberalism seems to me to be the notion of focusing Harm and Reciprocity concerns on identifiable groups rather than on individuals. Thus you get conversations about Affirmative Action policies, in which both sides are talking about Harm and Reciprocity, but talking past each other because they can't agree on the level at which these moral principles should apply.

Cross-posted from Tacitus

You all know the punchline already, of course, but I'd be interested to see the results anyway. Feel free to e-mail me the result at bkg207@stern.nyu.edu. I'll post a copy of the total results once I have them.

"When you decide whether something is right or wrong, to what extent are the following considerations relevant to your thinking?" (rank 1 to 6, 1=not relevant at all, 6=always relevant and extremely important)

1 - The benefits from the activity accrued unevenly to the participants

2 - Whether or not someone was harmed

3 - The activity involved makes you feel physically queasy

4 - Whether or not the people involved were of the same rank

5 - Whether or not someone did something disgusting

6 - The activity increased or decreased our unity

7 - Whether or not someone acted unfairly

8 - The person acting was cruel

9 - How close you were to the people affected

10 - The activity was frowned upon by authority

11 - The person acting was compassionate

12 - Whether or not someone betrayed his or her group

13 - Whether or not the actor was duty-bound

14 - The activity involved was base or vulgar

15 - Whether or not everybody involved got a fair share

16 - Please rank yourself on a scale of 1 to 7
(1=extremely "conservative", 7=extremely "liberal")

17- The Political Compass, which I suspect might provide interesting additional results.

My response to Tacitus's poll

1 - The benefits from the activity accrued unevenly to the participants
2

2 - Whether or not someone was harmed
6

3 - The activity involved makes you feel physically queasy
2

4 - Whether or not the people involved were of the same rank
1

5 - Whether or not someone did something disgusting
2

6 - The activity increased or decreased our unity
2

7 - Whether or not someone acted unfairly
4

8 - The person acting was cruel
5

9 - How close you were to the people affected
2

10 - The activity was frowned upon by authority
1

11 - The person acting was compassionate
3

12 - Whether or not someone betrayed his or her group
2

13 - Whether or not the actor was duty-bound
2

14 - The activity involved was base or vulgar
2

15 - Whether or not everybody involved got a fair share
3

16 - Please rank yourself on a scale of 1 to 7

7 (very liberal)

Political Compass says I'm 1 unit to the economic right and 5 units towards social libertarianism.

Thanks, Michael.

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