liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

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JamesR
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liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by JamesR » Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:33 pm

I just wanted to vent a bit about people & their politics.

The Left are intolerant?

I was chatting with some internet friends and they're fairly liberal, so it came up that they're basically of the mind of "hard NO" against having any friends that voted trump, and to a lesser extent, people that even "like" Jordan Peterson or Ayn Rand, that kind of thing.

There's definitely a paradox of tolerance happening - where people become intolerant of intolerance. Which lately I've been noticing is probably a tendency on the left side.

They are unable to be highly liberal and still calmly evaluate Jordan Peterson's "work" and take the ideas that make sense and ignore the ideas that don't. They evaluate Trump strictly at face value and don't consider other models/levels such as the persuasion model espoused by Scott Adams.

There seems to be a strong tendency to immediately tar & feather anyone slightly associated with negative things like 'alt right' etc, there's zero room for grey. It's strictly black and white. Apparently this is because they think language/concepts are powerful, and they think they need to aggressively prevent toxic ideas from spreading.


The Right are short-sighted?

On the other hand, conservatives & libertarians are probably operating on models closer to tribal/individualistic "Us vs Them" or some sort of anti-empathetic notion of Darwinism. (In short, they're likely assholes or defensive).

They tend to favour idealized models of economics & human behaviour that support their own selfish thinking, and fail to compensate with empiricism/reality. They ignore the global for the local, the long term for the short term, society for the tribe/individual.

(Sorry, this part needs a bit more work.. suggestions on issues with "The Right" appreciated)


Why not be a Moderate?

I'm rather frustrated with people that can't hold multiple thoughts & ideologies in their head. That can't hold opposing thoughts in their head. Why the bleeding hell not?

How hard is it to hold both sides, to agree with both the left & the right simultaneously, to accept the best of both and reject the worst?

At the very least, how about having the open-ness of a scientist? To realize how little you actually know in the grand scheme of things. To have some freaking humility and accept there's going to be good ideas from all sides and there's going to be some mistakes on all sides?


Sorry for venting folks.

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by BRUTE » Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:21 am

welcome to libertarianism. liberals are wrong about economics, conservatives are wrong about religion and drugs. why not be right about everything?

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by JamesR » Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:04 am

BRUTE wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:21 am
welcome to libertarianism. liberals are wrong about economics, conservatives are wrong about religion and drugs. why not be right about everything?
I was grouping libertarians into 'the right' also in this case. Actually I'm rather annoyed about the libertarians in this forum. They're not liberal enough. (I am a liberal libertarian).

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by BRUTE » Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:36 am

then that part does indeed need more work - grouping the two groups together does not make much sense to brute.

what kind of things does JamesR think the libertarians in this forum are not liberal enough about?

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by tonyedgecombe » Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:07 am

BRUTE wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:21 am
welcome to libertarianism. liberals are wrong about economics, conservatives are wrong about religion and drugs. why not be right about everything?
Actually I suspect both sides are wrong about economics.

I do wonder how many people outside of the bubble of politics really identify as left or right. In the UK most people I know are thoroughly sick of politics and want nothing to do with it. I know it grates on me every time I see it on this forum, I left for a while because of it and may do again if it keeps coming up.

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by The Old Man » Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:19 am

The "Right" is Nazi. The Left is Antifa. The Moderates? There is no place for people in the middle in this world of ours. The Libertarians? They are of no consequence in this world, so can be hated by everyone.

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by JamesR » Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:52 am

The Old Man wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:19 am
The "Right" is Nazi. The Left is Antifa. The Moderates? There is no place for people in the middle in this world of ours. The Libertarians? They are of no consequence in this world, so can be hated by everyone.
:lol:

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by vexed87 » Fri Nov 02, 2018 6:33 am

It has come up here many times before, the left-right model is too simplistic, it doesn't incorporate the authoritarian/libertarian axis. I personally identify as a socialist anarchist, but am quite close to the x axis, so not too far from the moderate side of the left right debate.

I think compromise is a sign of maturity, and many who get caught up in their ideology and see the 'other side' as wrong, evil, deplorable or stupid are the equivalent of a toddler tantruming about not getting their way.

Leopold Kohr, Author of Breakdown of Nations eloquently stated "Wherever something is wrong, something is too big." As a socialist anarchist, I would agree with that! :roll:

Still, I think part of the failure to see things from the perspective of others is a direct result of the breakdown of the individual's ability to participate in a meaningful way within their own community. Many have retreated to their favourite echo chambers, and dare not step out or interact with or attempt to understand the perspective or values of others, you see this play out in the comments sections of many a news article.

The problem with our super massive democratic society is that votes essentially count for nothing these days. At least here in the UK, many are not fairly represented in central government. Nor is the central government well placed to address the needs of many different and varied localities. Local government is for the most part powerless to effect meaningful change on the lives of smaller communities for many reasons, the main being that the power to make big decisions is in the hands of central government. Devolving real power back to regional centres, IMO, would do much to engage people in politics, and engage them in community, so that they may once again practice the skill of compromise for the sake of shared mutual interest and getting shit done. Of course, none of this is conducive to our high-tech, energy intensive lifestyles, so the show must go on. I don't expect things to change, until they cannot go on any longer.

Of course, it is also in many people's self-interest to poke the fabled hornet's nest, divide and conquer!

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Fri Nov 02, 2018 8:53 am

It is in the interests of the rich and powerful to have the masses distracted by culture wars so that they can extract the accumulated wealth of a crumbling Western civilization unhindered.

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by prognastat » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:14 am

I still remember talking to people on the left during the Obama years and complaining about how the religious right were saying Obama was literally the devil/antichrist/evil and people agreeing with me that those people really should be able to see that though they may disagree with how Obama wants to run the country that he isn't innately evil(no more than any other politician at least) and that he probably just tries to do what he believes to be the right thing for the country.

Now many of those same people that agreed with me when it related to conservatives are the ones that feel Trump is literally Hitler(pretty much the devil, different word same concept) and if you don't completely agree with that sentiment then you are literally a Nazi. The more things change the more they stay the same...

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by Tyler9000 » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:31 am

Another option is that politics as we know it today is all bullshit designed to help people self-sort into easily controlled tribes, and the increasing polarization is simply an indicator that the conditioning is working like a charm. Personally, I'd prefer that people reject political affiliation altogether rather than stake out a moderate view between two increasingly stupid strawman extremes. Are you an Antifa-clad far-left Communist, a white supremacist far-right Nazi, or a "moderate" blend of the two? :roll:

If you really want to heal your mind poisoned by the toxic political culture, try something truly radical like turning off the TV, immediately ceasing all consumption of political websites, rejecting all party platforms, and simply thinking for yourself. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, if you can't do that then you have an addiction and should probably consider some sort of rehab.

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by JamesR » Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:44 am

Tyler9000 wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:31 am
Personally, I'd prefer that people reject political affiliation altogether
Yeah that's a good idea too. It can be hard to avoid hearing about left/right/politics even when on a strict information diet, avoid news, etc. Just by virtue of communities occasionally getting into that I suppose. And I apologize for starting a thread on this very subject and perpetuating this nonsense. :shock:

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by C40 » Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:50 am

I agree totally. I'd long been annoyed by many aspects of politics - but it had been the politicians and the media mostly. Now, I'm annoyed by many people as well.

My dad is a classic example. He's about 60 years old and has been listening to conservative AM radio many hours every day for the last 30+ years. He's incapable of having a reasonable conversation relating to politics or religion unless the other person agrees with him at least 80%. When I ask him middle of the road, apolitical, honest questions, his natural response is to think I'm challenging him and conservatives and he jumps into combative 'red team' statements.

Like recently when I tried to have a discussion about the subject of 'what level of suspicion of some nasty behavior should make senators vote no on a justice nomination for a candidate aligned with their party?', he couldn't share any opinion generated in his own mind until over 30 minutes into the conversation after I reassured him numerous times that I don't have a liberal opinion on the subject and that I wasn't challenging him. And in this case, he basically immediately contradicted his stance on the subject.

But I don't bother pointing out his gaps in thinking much any more because he isn't able to think critically about his opinions. He's told me in the past, when I tried, that he prefers intentional ignorance. (For example, when I asked him why he believes Christianity is correct and every single other religion ever invented is false? and what are the chances that he happened to be born into the only religion out of thousands that is correct? - his reply was "I don't want to think about that").

For those of us who either consider ourselves moderates, or who just want to be able to have good conversations on the politicized subjects, there are techniques that help in doing so.

I'll describe a couple here. One is to converse in a way that suggests or allows people to think that you are on their side (or, at the very least, neutral and simply curious). The other is to use humor and make only observational statements with no call or suggestion for change/action.

Personally, I have gotten better over the years at conversationally 'taking things by their smooth handle', and speaking to a person in a way that they can assume I am on their side. Or, at the least, assuring them in some way that I am quite neutral on the subject and am asking honest curious questions, not challenges from the 'other team'. I have some personal examples of times when I did not do that - like in that one thread here, I think the one called 'White supremacy run amok' - about what happened in Charlottesville, when a few forum members who I actually agreed with probably 99% got super mad at me for disagreeing on just one word ("terrorist").

It is a special pleasure speaking with friends and acquaintances who can entertain conversation and questions about potential minefield subjects without getting combative and defensive - and who don't take personal offence from my own observations, opinions, and questions. (Like a friend who I was talking to the other day. He asked what he should do to check out a new city he was visiting. I suggested he walk around, go to parks, libraries, nice coffee shops, the city center, etc. (for him, anything but going somewhere to have a drink). He said "I knew you would say 'the library'! I started asking about how much he reads, when was the last book he read, how many has he read since college (basically zero), and when I said that it seems he peaked mentally in college and has been stagnant or even regressing since then, he was able to accept and entertain that without any negative response (and he said he actually peaked mentally earlier than college). I said it in a tone that of "isn't it funny that..." and also "I accept you as you are".. and NOT "you need to change". With him, I've learned over the years that the way to bring up ways he can improve is to state the observation in a humorous tone and without any call for action. This is another 'taking things by the smooth handle' technique. Jerry Seinfeld is a master of this. He can walk up to a stranger and make jokes about their religion, their clothes, how they are old and about to die, and they laugh and agree with him. Delivery, tone, and body language are incredibly important.
Last edited by C40 on Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by prognastat » Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:16 pm

@C40

I've had similar struggles with my in-laws. They're your pretty conventional older conservatives. In their mind I'm not a conservative and therefore I'm a leftist.

They started a debate(this is kind framing on my part) about gun laws/reform and it took 30 minutes of me trying to convince them that though some people on the left do want to ban/restrict all guns that though I don't agree with complete freedom on the ownership of arms that I definitely am also not on the restriction/banning side of the argument and rather would like owning a gun to be more like owning a car with some written and practical tests to confirm someone is familiar with gun safety/ownership and is also capable in handing a gun and that this could be performed by someone who can assess whether you seem of sound mind. If they believe you aren't I don't believe you should be prevented outright, but that you should get assessed by an actual professional who could approve your license anyway. However I couldn't argue this point for almost half an hour because that's how long they spent arguing against this ghost leftist that they though was what I believed. Once I'd clarified for the umpteenth time that wasn't my position and explaining what I believed and it finally clicked the debate immediately ended because they didn't have anything to argue against. This is annoying as there is no fun in the 30 minutes of simply trying to convince someone to actually listen to what you actually believe rather than arguing against what they believe you believe and once you get past this you can actually have a productive/interesting discussion on the topic(which I might actually enjoy), but that never materialised.

Even when you aren't on the complete opposite side most people will cast you on that side which is why I've had difficulties having productive discussions with both those on the left and right. Nuance is something people conveniently like to overlook and tribalistic thinking only makes this worse. The two party system definitely doesn't help this.

I'd say I'm a moderate not in the sense that I believe usually the truth is somewhere in the middle, but more so in that sometimes those on the left might be right on a topic and sometimes those on the right. Also this can change as surrounding factors might change leading to something that was originally the right course of action becoming the wrong course of action.

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by jacob » Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:45 pm

JamesR wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:33 pm
I'm rather frustrated with people that can't hold multiple thoughts & ideologies in their head. That can't hold opposing thoughts in their head. Why the bleeding hell not?
That would be the majority of people then. The simplest answer is that they can't because they've never had to. The majority of humans will for evolutionary reasons perceive the world first in relation to themselves and their own beliefs (your typical teenager, but also the 15% of adult who never psychologically matured out of their teenage years); then evolve and see the world in relation to their tribe which covers everything from their spouse, family, vocation, hobby, sports team, political affiliation. You'll notice this effect in the predominant "what do you do for a living?" lead as if that information would explain almost everything there is to know about the person.

Well, for the majority of people, not only does that explain who they are to other people; it also explains other people as far as the person is capable of perceiving them.

Add: See C40's two posts above for examples of this.

According to positive disintegration theory, the way to see beyond this is by experiencing a large change. Typically by being taken out of one's environment (like going to college, starting a new career, moving city<->country) or having the environment taken out of you (e.g. loss of faith, a health scare, bullying, political abuse). This presents another possible framework to see things in. Two things can happen at this point. One can simply switch to the new framework but experience it at the same level as before. For example, one can become disillusioned with Republicans and instead become a Democrat or vice versa. In this case, this is like converting one's way of thinking from metric to imperial units. Basically, one leaves one tribe and joins another, but still thinks tribally ... looking from inside the tribe and out into the world.

It is, however, also possible to step outside the tribal frame and see the tribes. (Plato's Cave should come to mind.) There's a big difference between e.g. being disillusioned with the "Trumpian GOP" tribe and join the "Moderate tribe" or pine for a "Real Conversative" tribe... and realizing that these are tribes and adopting the perspective of a tribe-less person. Once this happens mentally, it's impossible to "unsee" what one has seen. In Plato's Cave, it's impossible to forget one's chains once one has seen them.

A person like this can hold multiple (at least 2) possibly contradictory ideologies in their head. They will not necessarily be able to resolve the contradiction within their own heads so to speak. Voting, for such a person, typically becomes a ranking exercise where some things are sacrificed for others. Terms like "I'm a liberal" on this but "I'm a conservative" on that, and this is more important to me than that, so I therefore vote this... is characteristic of this level.

Taken all together, this describes 95-99% of all voters.

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by jacob » Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:19 pm

To elaborate/provide a quick rule of thumb ...

The first group I describe---the majority---choose their politics based on their party. This group treats politics like sportsball and them define themselves in terms of which team they are fan off and equally importantly by which team they're against. Talking to them is not much different than hearing a bunch of rote-learned battle songs on a stadium. They know what to sing and when to sing it but they've never really given much thought to the lyrics. These fight-songs, slogans, etc. are provided courtesy of AM talk radio, the meme-lairs, opinion-eds, blogs, via google in order to find support for those memes if they need to rephrase it in their own words (just like high school).

Party is something they are, e.g. "I'm an Independent".

The second group I describe choose their party based on their politics. This group treats politics as a kind of negotiation within themselves and votes accordingly based on trade-offs. Their politics might very well be based on their personal circumstances but it might also be based on a third ideology (such as e.g. religion(*) or something that's not represented in the two-party system (e.g. libertarian or green) and which one vote is more compatible, etc. They will be able to correctly state the position of whatever they disagree with even if they can't do it in a neutral fashion.

Party is something they have, e.g. "I voted for X because...".

(*) The same comments I make about politics also applies to religion.

I did not describe the next group of the remaining 1-5% of people. Chances are you don't run into them on a regular basis.

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by ThisDinosaur » Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:54 pm

Image
Liberal vs conservative ideology is determined mainly by how much relative weight you put on fairness vs in group purity and cohesion. And on how optimistic or pessimistic you are regarding unintended consequences to implementing novel ideas.

This is very much biology. If you are young and genetically predisposed to risk taking, you will likely be liberal/progressive. If you are mature and genetically cautious, you will probably be conservative.

There is also a neuroplastic worldly wisdom effect. If you've been doing innovative things for decades and it's mostly worked out, you'll be in favor of progress / progressives. If you've had mostly negative experiences from bucking received wisdom, you will favor conserving the status quo/not rocking the boat.

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by jacob » Fri Nov 02, 2018 4:20 pm

WRT, Haidt, also see Greene's moral tribes which explains liberalism as a pluralistic democracy where you expressly have to "forbid" values such as "authority", "ingroup" and "purity" so that everybody can live peacefully together. It's not that liberals (at least at the higher level (I'll call them 4 after Kegan) I described above) don't see these channels. It's that within the liberal [=pluralistic democracy] framework, they're bad ideas. A corollary to that is that "the only thing liberals don't tolerate is intolerance". This is not a bug, that is, hypocrisy, it's an innate feature. However, at the lower levels (2-3) this translates into political correctness, etc. which is essentially prioritizing the means over the ends.

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by prognastat » Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:13 pm

I would question though whether Purity is truly that much lower for Liberals rather than conservatives, to me it seem that they simply look for purity in a different way. Not in the someone looks like me, grew up in the same place etc, but instead have taken this drive and applied more of it to the political/moral realm. The inability to even tolerate people believing differently or holding different morals and often even displaying disgust towards such people. Not that it doesn't exist among conservatives, it just seems that Liberals have shifted more in that direction rather than actually shifting away from purity altogether.

Also wouldn't having a universally agreed upon authority actually be more beneficial to a pluralistic democracy?

Finally I would argue that the left has been reinforcing their in-group vs out-group dynamic in their politics more and more. Again just not so much based on outward appearance(unless you're white, male, straight etc) and more so based on your politics.

I'm just trying to look at it from a different perspective though as I probably fall much closer to the Liberal side as far as my moral foundations go as personally I struggle with authority and purity definitely isn't high up on my list and I've never been much for groups. However I have definitely begun to see that there are also some massive problems on the left that for the longest time were kept in check.
Last edited by prognastat on Fri Nov 02, 2018 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: liberal vs conservative, left vs right... vs moderate

Post by jacob » Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:47 pm

I'd also like to highlight the tendency to see extremists on "their side" as being representative of "their ideology" in contrast with extremists on "our side" which are excused as crazy loner individuals who don't really represent "our ideology". You see the same in sportsball. Fans are much more forgiving of violations committed by their own team and vice versa.

This is also the case for non-extremists. In terms of Wheaton levels, there's a tendency to classify "their side" at a lower level(*) than it actually is on average along with a a similar tendency to classify "our side" at a higher level(**) than it actually is on average. This is because we tend to see people from "their side" but know people from "our side".

(*) "Their people are often ignorant of basic facts if not total assholes."
(**) "While not perfect, our people are at least on the right side of history."

There's almost always a personal bias to correct for.

Incidentally, I don't want at all to suggest that the balance is found somewhere in the middle. It's even more important to look out for false equivalence.

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