Category Archives: Politics

I’m not a politician, and I don’t belong to a party. These are just my attempts to work things out for myself.

Rand vs Gandhi

gandhiThis post is a response to fellow blogger Daedalus Lex. He asks the question, “How does one live a good life?” and provides two mutually exclusive answers. Continue reading

Politics and purity

purityPolitics and purity make strange bedfellows.

Here I’m discussing how the moral foundation of Purity influences our political tendencies. This is the last of the five core moral foundations that I’ve been examining in this series. The others were Caring, Fairness, Loyalty and Authority. Continue reading

Politics and authority

authorityAuthority can be a very good thing. Without it there is crime and lawlessness. There are kids on the street at midnight throwing bricks through windows. Authority is a necessary glue to hold society together.

The psychologist Haidt defines it as:

Authority/Subversion: This foundation was shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. It underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.

But too much authority may be bad for us. History teaches us what authoritarian governments look like. They look like this: Continue reading

Politics and loyalty

loyaltyIn this series of articles, I’m exploring the psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s core moral foundations and in particular how they relate to our political beliefs.

Loyalty is the third moral foundation, and Haidt defines it like this:

Loyalty/Betrayal: This foundation is related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. It underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it’s “one for all, and all for one.“

Tricky definition. On one hand, loyalty is a virtue. Self-sacrifice for the group is as virtuous as it gets. And the opposite (betrayal) is clearly a negative quality.

And yet, self-sacrifice for the group is the attitude of a suicide bomber. It’s what drives young men to kill for their country. It pits “us” against “them.” Is this really a virtue? Continue reading

Politics and fairness

fairnessOK, raise your hand if you believe in fairness. Ha! I tricked you. I haven’t yet defined what fairness means. Continue reading

Politics and caring

caringThis article is part of a series looking at the Moral Foundations Theory of Haidt & Graham  and how our core moral beliefs relate to our political choices.

Today I’m considering the first moral foundation – that of Care. It’s probably what most people think morality means, but in Haidt’s system it’s just one of several factors. Continue reading

Politics & core moral values

moralsDo you know your core moral beliefs? According to the Moral Foundations Theory of Haidt & Graham there are at least five of them, and they can be measured.

These core values determine whether you are fundamentally liberal (left-wing or Democrat) or conservative (right-wing or Republican). You can even take a test to score your values and find out where you sit on the political spectrum. Continue reading

Better than democracy? (Part 2 of 2)

followersOne of the questions I keep returning to on this blog is whether there’s a better alternative to democracy.

Churchill famously said that democracy is the worst form of government apart from all the others that have been tried. But as I explained in Part 1, those others are all part of the same general class of political systems in which one group gets to impose its views on another group, explicitly against the will of those people. Continue reading

Better than democracy? (Part 1 of 2)

Flags-and-crowd_webWhat is democracy? You could say that it’s a system in which everyone gets one vote and all are equal. That sounds good.

Alternatively, you could say that it’s one specific example of a kind of system in which one group gets to impose its views on another group, explicitly against the will of those people.

Doesn’t sound so nice now, does it? Continue reading

Ukraine – are we the bad guys?

prayforukraineAm I the only person experiencing a sense of disconnect watching the people in Crimea happily waving their Russian flags and then hearing the White House and European leaders condemn them and imposing sanctions on Russia for aggression?

Here’s the story as I see it. Continue reading