Liberal Pragmatism, Conservative Dogmatism

This post was inspired by the first two quotes below the videos. The view expressed is one I’ve often considered. There is a distinction between conservatives and liberals which demonstrates a different way of looking at ideology. In my past writings, I tended to analyze this distinction in terms of psychology (and, fundamentally, psychology is a liberal view):

Morality, Politics, and Psychology
Fox and Hedgehog, Apollo and Dionysus
Psychology and Parapsychology, Politics and Place
Developmental Differences: Preliminary Thoughts
MBTI: INFPs & INTPs, Global Chatter & Theory
Psychology of Politics, Development of Society
Political Charts: Ideology & Psychology
Politics, Personality, and Character

In this post, I want to merely emphasize the difference. And, by doing so, I’m arguing for the practical worth of the liberal mindset and of liberal policies.

“I don’t mean to suggest that conservatives are irrational, or that there is no merit to the (Burkean) conservative suspicion of radical change. If a reform that promises greater aggregate well-being conflicts with religious beliefs and/or tradition (say gay marriage), liberals will be more likely to embrace the reform than conservatives.  Liberals tend to focus more on the practical effects of providing clean needles to drug addicts, or condoms to high school students, whereas conservatives focus more on the “message that society would be sending.””

“…I can’t think of any real world policy disputes facing Congress, now or in the past, where liberals did not take what they saw as the roughly utilitarian position.  And I can see lots of cases where conservatives, dogmatic libertarians, or econ-nuts took non-utilitarian positions.”

Here is one example:

“The other story was about bans on abortion, which leads to dangerous procedures that kill 67,000 women every year. Latin America has the most restrictive abortion laws and it also has the highest abortion rate, 31 per 1,000 women age 15-44. Africa and Asia also has a lot of restrictions and there the rate is 29. Western Europe, with the most liberal laws, had the lowest rate – just 12 per 1,000 women.”

I could add many other examples and data. For example, here are factors that tend to have strong correlation:

  • liberalism
  • atheism
  • homosexuality
  • higher education
  • high IQ
  • academic professions
  • scientific professions
  • low teen pregnancy rate
  • low abortion rate
  • low divorce rate
  • high monagamy rates (among men)
  • low imprisonment rate
  • low crime rate
  • low homicide rate
  • low poverty rate
  • low illiteracy rate
  • higher income

Of course, some of that correlation is just situtational. If conservatives don’t like atheists and homosexuals, then atheists and homosexuals are less likely to self-identify as conservatives. If conserves make anti-intellectual arguments, then people who are intelligent and well educated will find conservative arguments unappealing and unconvincing. However, the situation of the conservative movement excluding these people is very significant. The situation wasn’t always this way.

During Reagan’s administration, intelligent people were actually attracted to the Republican party and it was the only time since the data was recorded when Republicans had an average IQ higher than Democrats.


The 1970s were bad years for Republicans. Only 22.2% of respondents identified as Republican compared to 41.9% as Democratic. Although they were bad years for winning elections, they were good years for the Republican Party’s IQ. As respondents move into the more intellectually capable bracket, their likelihood to identify as Republican increases significantly.


The Reagan Revolution vastly increased the number of respondents who identified as Republican. This is the only time span in the analysis in which high IQ respondents are more likely to be Republican than Democratic. However, Reagan was even more successful attracting average IQ Americans to the Republican party, so overall the average IQ of the Republican Party decreased slightly.


Even though Clinton was in the White House, the Democratic Party continued to lose support. 34.9% of respondents identified as Democratic compared to 37.6% in the Reagan/Bush Sr. years and 41.9% in the 1970s.

But even though the Republicans gained overall compared to Democrats, among those in the high IQ bracket the story was the opposite; Republicans lost high IQ respondents to the Democrats. Once again, the average IQ of the Republican Party decreased compared to the previous period.


Unfortunately, there are only 1,419 respondents in this analysis, so the results aren’t as reliable. Nevertheless, we see a huge drop in the percent of high IQ respondents who identify as Republican and an even bigger increase in the percent of high IQ respondents who identify as Democratic.

At the same time, average IQ respondents flocked to the Republican Party, and now a greater percent of this bracket identifies as Republican than identifies as Democratic. (It should be noted that this is not the first time this occurs for a single year. It also happened in 1989, 1991, and 1993.)


Once upon a time, the Democratic Party was the party of the less intelligent and the Republican Party was the party of the more intelligent.

But today, the Democratic Party is the party of both the less intelligent and the more intelligent while the Republican Party is the party of the middle.

To an extent, liberalism as a psychological trait (FFM openness, MBTI intution, Hartmann’s thin boundary type) makes one more likely to have academic intelligence and success, but liberalism as a psychological trait isn’t identical to liberalism as a political ideology. So, it would seem that the Reagan’s Republican party was attractive to the liberal-minded. This makes sense when you consider that Reagan was very liberal on many social issues: as president, he had the first openly gay couple sleep over at the White House and he fought against gay discrimination; as governor, he signed into law before Roe vs Wade the most liberal abortion statute at that time.

As for abortion, I find it strange that many conservatives promote illegalizing abortions even though it means people will still take dangerous risks to get abortions. It doesn’t seem to matter that this would increase injuries and deaths of many women. Liberals didn’t invent abortion. Women have been getting (or giving themselves) abortions for as long as humans have been around. Even indigenous people are aware of plants that act as abortifacents and use them for that purpose. Furthermore, the data shows abortions are more prevalent in countries where it is illegal.

This reminds me of the rates of pregnancy and STDs among teens. In states where abstinence only is taught, they have the highest rates of teen pregnancy and STDs. Also, these conservative states tend to have higher abortion rates (partly because of poverty but also because the high teen pregnancy rate). Also, these states have a negative perception of women’s clinics and family planning clinics because of their association with the abortion issue. And, so, women in conservative states get less quality health care which leads to high rates of low birth weight and high rates of infant mortality.

As one person concluded:

“When Red States get their social problems under control, and things such as teen pregnancy down to nationwide lows, then they can try and foist their solutions on the rest of the country.

But as things currently stand, on this issue (as well as others like divorce), the Red States have no ground to stand on. Those crazy New Englad liberals are running circles around them in this tangible measure of their residents’ “values”.”

– – –

The rhetoric of conservativism is that of pragmatic realism, of sticking with what works. The idea of tradition is that it worked in the past and so it will work now, but I haven’t seen any clear evidence for their argument that it worked better in the past. The world didn’t used to be a better place for most people. Just because upper class white males used to in certain ways have life easier in the past doesn’t mean the rest of us want to return to the good ol’ days.

This all relates to moral issues. Beyond the ideological rhetoric, there is no evidence that people used to be more moral. Why do conservatives assume rates of moral beharior and societal health were higher in the past? The data shows the young generation has higher rates of certain moral behaviors than previous generations. Anyways, it isn’t fair or valid to compare the present to the past because many basic factors have changed.

For example, age of sexual maturity has been getting younger. Indigenous people sexually mature around age 18 and there typically was little passage of time between the beginnings of sexual desire and marriage. You desired, you had sex, you were married. A very simple system. With agricultural diet, sexual maturity came a few years earlier and that remained about the same up until around the middle of the 1900s when hormones began to be used in cattle. The increased hormone intake led to the most recent generations (GenX and GenY) sexually maturing even ealier (early teens or even several years younger). At the same time, college has become a requirement to get a good job and support a family and so the average age of marriage has shifted to the late 20s or early 30s. What this means is that the young generation now typically has two decades between the beginnings of sexual desire and marriage.

How can the morality developed in an agricultural society apply to the reality of modern industrialization? The older generations don’t understand because they didn’t experience the hormone-induced early sexual maturity and they didn’t experience a difficult economy that forced them to delay marriage. It’s easy for them to talk about abstinence. The reality, however, is abstinence only programs have been proven to fail. Why should we promote programs that result in high rates of pregnancy and STDs among teens? It isn’t pragmatic to consider ideology as more important than reality. I’d argue it isn’t even moral and certainly isn’t compassionate. What is the point of morality, of religious dogma that doesn’t actually help people to live better lives?

I do think there are values within the conservative tradition which can be applied pragmatically. However, ever since the religious right took over the GOP, the culture wars has blinded mainstream conservatives from looking objectively at the facts. And now with Fox News the rhetoric on the right has been amped up even further. How can reasonable discussion happen under these conditions?

Furthermore, these pragmatic conservatives love to promote the military. They want government to shrink and the military to grow. If this were followed to the inevitable conclusion, eventually a military leader would take over the country. Ignoring that, people who identify as fiscal conservatives often support the military which is the largest part of Federal spending.

Beginning with Reagan, Republican presidents have increased spending and increased the deficit. Liberals, according to Pew, are the demographic most interested in balancing the budget and decreasing the deficit. The result of Reagonomics is that the rich have become richer and the poor poorer. The top 1% owns more wealth than the bottom 95% which is the highest wealth disparity in the developed world. Reagonomics destroyed the middle class. The problem is further complicated because seemingly reasonable ‘progressive’ politicians don’t challenge the rightwing rhetoric. So far, Obama has continued most of the policies of the Bush administration (bailouts for the rich, Gitmo, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq).

Conservatives like to make anti-intellectual arguments against the so-called intellectual elite. Yes, liberals are more well educated and have higher IQs. Yes, academics and scientists tend to be liberals. Yes, reporters who study and analyze the details of politics are liberals. From my perspective, that isn’t an insult towards and criticism of liberalism. If liberals are the intellectual elite, does that mean conservatives are the anti-intellectual populists? No. Even though liberals have the highest rates of education, the Democrat party includes those in our society with the lowest rates of education. Most of the poor (especially the poorest of the poor such as the below-the-poverty-line working class) vote Democrat.

Anyways, my point is: How is an intelligent discussion to be had between liberals and conservatives when a vastly disproportionate number of the most intelligent people identify as liberals? How can a reasonable person (including reasonable conservatives) respond when the most vocal conservatives rant about just getting rid of the government? Like many liberals and progressives, I agree with some of the Tea Party complaints of Obama and I understand the libertarian critcism of the government… but, beyond the radicalism, where are the pragmatic solutions? The government isn’t going away and so there is no point in fantasizing about it. I look at the policies promoted by Ron Paul, by the Tea Party, by Fox News and by Republican. What seems obvious to me is that most likely these policies would benefit the wealthy upper class and big business. That is a practical solution for one small segment of society, but what about all the other Americans who would like a small sliver of the American pie?

“Noam Chomsky: “Dismantling of big government” sounds like a nice phrase. What does it mean? Does it mean that corporations go out of existence, because there will no longer be any guarantee of limited liability? Does it mean that all health, safety, workers rights, etc., go out the window because they were instituted by public pressures implemented through government, the only component of the governing system that is at least to some extent accountable to the public (corporations are unaccountable, apart from generally weak regulatory apparatus)? Does it mean that the economy should collapse, because basic R&D is typically publicly funded? like what we’re now using, computers and the internet? Should we eliminate roads, schools, public transportation, environmental regulation? Does it mean that we should be ruled by private tyrannies with no accountability to the general public, while all democratic forms are tossed out the window? Quite a few questions arise.”

For further data and sources, see these previous posts:
Imagine If All Atheists Left America
Moral Decline in US?

Data comparing religiosity with atheism and conservatism with liberalism:

“Although the late twentieth century STD epidemic has been curtailed in all prosperous democracies (Aral and Holmes; Panchaud et al.), rates of adolescent gonorrhea infection remain six to three hundred times higher in the U.S. than in less theistic, pro-evolution secular developed democracies (Figure 6). At all ages levels are higher in the U.S., albeit by less dramatic amounts. The U.S. also suffers from uniquely high adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, which are starting to rise again as the microbe’s resistance increases (Figure 7). The two main curable STDs have been nearly eliminated in strongly secular Scandinavia. Increasing adolescent abortion rates show positive correlation with increasing belief and worship of a creator, and negative correlation with increasing non-theism and acceptance of evolution; again rates are uniquely high in the U.S. (Figure 8). Claims that secular cultures aggravate abortion rates (John Paul II) are therefore contradicted by the quantitative data. Early adolescent pregnancy and birth have dropped in the developed democracies (Abma et al.; Singh and Darroch), but rates are two to dozens of times higher in the U.S. where the decline has been more modest (Figure 9). Broad correlations between decreasing theism and increasing pregnancy and birth are present, with Austria and especially Ireland being partial exceptions.”

“…researchers computed a Child Health Index that ranked each state in the U.S. according to five routine indicators of physical health in children: percentage of low-birth-weight infants, infant mortality rate, child death rate, teen death rate, and teen birth rates… 8 of the 10 states with the poorest child health outcomes in the nation… are in… the Deep South. Living in the Deep South proved to be the best predictor of poor child health outcomes, more so than any other factor commonly used to describe health differences among groups of children, including poverty, parents’ employment status, or single-parent households.”

“Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption, the study finds.”

“Divorce rates among conservative Christians were significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics experience.”

““Conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated”. How’s that for a provocative opening sentence in an academic paper! Lazar Stankova of the National Institute of Education in Singapore reports this finding in a paper published earlier this year in the Elsevier journalIntelligence.

Lazar Stankova, Conservatism and cognitive ability, Intelligence, v37, n3, pp. 294-304, May-June 2009.

I’ve only scanned the paper, but it looks like a serious study. Here’s the abstract:

“Conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated. The evidence is based on 1254 community college students and 1600 foreign students seeking entry to United States’ universities. At the individual level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with SAT, Vocabulary, and Analogy test scores. At the national level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with measures of education (e.g., gross enrollment at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels) and performance on mathematics and reading assessments from the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) project. They also correlate with components of the Failed States Index and several other measures of economic and political development of nations. Conservatism scores have higher correlations with economic and political measures than estimated IQ scores.”

“The analyses of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Study 1) and the General Social Surveys (Study 2) show that adolescent and adult intelligence significantly increases adult liberalism, atheism, and mens (but not womens) value on sexual exclusivity.”

“”General intelligence, the ability to think and reason, endowed our ancestors with advantages in solving evolutionarily novel problems for which they did not have innate solutions,” says Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science.  “As a result, more intelligent people are more likely to recognize and understand such novel entities and situations than less intelligent people, and some of these entities and situations are preferences, values, and lifestyles.”

An earlier study by Kanazawa found that more intelligent individuals were more nocturnal, waking up and staying up later than less intelligent individuals.  Because our ancestors lacked artificial light, they tended to wake up shortly before dawn and go to sleep shortly after dusk.  Being nocturnal is evolutionarily novel.

In the current study, Kanazawa argues that humans are evolutionarily designed to be conservative, caring mostly about their family and friends, and being liberal, caring about an indefinite number of genetically unrelated strangers they never meet or interact with, is evolutionarily novel.  So more intelligent children may be more likely to grow up to be liberals.

Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) support Kanazawa’s hypothesis.  Young adults who subjectively identify themselves as “very liberal” have an average IQ of 106 during adolescence while those who identify themselves as “very conservative” have an average IQ of 95 during adolescence.

Similarly, religion is a byproduct of humans’ tendency to perceive agency and intention as causes of events, to see “the hands of God” at work behind otherwise natural phenomena.  “Humans are evolutionarily designed to be paranoid, and they believe in God because they are paranoid,” says Kanazawa.  This innate bias toward paranoia served humans well when self-preservation and protection of their families and clans depended on extreme vigilance to all potential dangers.  “So, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to go against their natural evolutionary tendency to believe in God, and they become atheists.”

Young adults who identify themselves as “not at all religious” have an average IQ of 103 during adolescence, while those who identify themselves as “very religious” have an average IQ of 97 during adolescence.

In addition, humans have always been mildly polygynous in evolutionary history.  Men in polygynous marriages were not expected to be sexually exclusive to one mate, whereas men in monogamous marriages were.  In sharp contrast, whether they are in a monogamous or polygynous marriage, women were always expected to be sexually exclusive to one mate.  So being sexually exclusive is evolutionarily novel for men, but not for women.  And the theory predicts that more intelligent men are more likely to value sexual exclusivity than less intelligent men, but general intelligence makes no difference for women’s value on sexual exclusivity.  Kanazawa’s analysis of Add Health data supports these sex-specific predictions as well.”

“Most (62%) identify themselves as liberal… most highly educated group (49% have a college degree or more)… Liberals are second only to Enterprisers in following news about government and public affairs most of the time (60%). Liberals’ use of the internet to get news is the highest among all groups (37%).”

36 thoughts on “Liberal Pragmatism, Conservative Dogmatism

  1. Fantastic article. Very good point on abortions- people were doing them since before they were legal- and with coat hangers. It caused a lot of problems but didn’t stop people from having sex. And think of all the unwanted babies out there that would grow up corrupting society. Not saying it is something that should be used in place of birth control, but it just is not rational to make it illegal.

    • I just read through it again and edited a few mistakes. I sometimes get lazy about editing blogs.

      I spent a lot of time doing the research. The reason I write posts like this is because I get in discussions with conservatives fairly often. Some of the research for this post came from earlier research I’ve done and written about, but I also was just involved in some Youtube debates with conservatives. I used the abortion example because I was arguing with a rightwinger who was defending the assassination of Dr. Tiller. I’m sometimes shocked by how many rightwingers I meet who think violence is a morally justified response when faced with those who have different views.

      I’m a GenXer. A major reason my generation is so small is because contraception and abortion was available. The other result of this was that kids of my generation mostly were wanted. The specific results of this can be seen in the rates of child abuse having decreased during that time. I haven’t looked at the data, but it’s likely that another result is that there was a decrease in children born with major genetic diseases and disabilities which if true would translate into a major decrease in medical costs.

      I agree that abortion sholdn’t be used in place of birth control. But my sense is that most pro-choicers think that prevention is optimal which would relate to why liberals are in favor of sex education. The data that I have seen shows most Americans are against illegalizing abortion, but think it should be limited to only those who really need it. Anyways, in a world that is overpopulated, why would we want to illegalize abortion and discourage use of contraception?

    • The most fascinating piece of data in this post is about the ages of sexual maturity. I didn’t go into detail about it, but there are a few sources I’m familiar with.

      It’s been a while since I’ve looked at it, but I think the Weston A. Price foundation has info about the age of sexual maturity of hunter-gatherer tribes. It’s quite likely that Paul Shepard talks about it in one of his books. The most recent data I came across was from Dr. Leonard Sax. It was from Dr. Sax that I learned about the influence of hormones (from food and estrogen-like chemicals in plastics). His work is very interesting.

      What annoys me about conservatives is that they like to talk about morality in the abstract. They tend to ignore all of the scientific data. The reason they like to keep morality on the level of ideology is because it’s hard to be righteously superior when considering the complexity of the problems we face today.

      This is, of course, magnified for the religious right since Christian morals are eternally true no matter how much the fallen human race changes. To them, the science is simply irrelevant.

  2. Thank you for sharing all this with me. I am the generation right after you, making me a generation Y-er. Hormones are very peculiar, especially considering how little they are understood by even top researchers.

    As far as conservatives stating things in the abstract, while I have to agree with you on social issues I entirely disagree on fiscal issues. In that realm, I think that liberals are the opposite and typically only state things in the abstract- when facts are provided I often find that all variables are not included. This is why I personally tend to understand those with more of a libertarian mind set better- fiscal conservatives and social liberals. I always find myself agreeing with liberals on social issues- they seem to understand the steps that need to be taken, but conservatives on social issues because it seems many liberals don’t seem to understand fiscal issues as well- which is why my generation and my sons will not have things like social security available to them.

    • I’d like libertarians if more of them were socially liberal, but libertarianism attracts many from the far right of the religious spectrum (Evangelists, Mormons, etc). For example, Ron Paul is extremely conservative on social issues, but he is definitely a true fiscal conservative which ameliorates his strong social conservatism.

      The type of libertarian I prefer is Noam Chomsky. He is what I consider both a true liberal and a true libertarian (not merely freedom from but also freedom towards). So, I personally don’t see any inherent separation between fiscal conservatism and social liberalism.

      As for conservatives in general, I don’t get the sense that they have any more practical knowledge about fiscal issues than liberals. Ever since Reagan, Republicans have been expanding the power of the government and increasing the deficit. Republicans use fiscal conservatism as rhetoric, but few of them have a record of fiscal conservatism. Ron Paul is one of those few exceptions.

      I don’t know what answers liberals have, but I do know their priorities. According to Pew, Liberals are the demographic most concerned about balancing the budget and decreasing the deficit. But many Liberals (as it’s defined by Pew) are independents.

      I’m curious why you blame the draining of social security on liberals. Are you saying that all of the Republicans fought against this but were overpowered by big government Democrats? I hadn’t heard of that. You’d have to offer me some evidence for this claim.

  3. Waaaiiit…libertarianism attracting religious people?? That is news to me! Some of the things they are for such as legal prostitution and legalizing all drugs is too liberal for me- and I am an atheist! I would be surprised to see many evangelists and mormons as libertarians.

    I do like Ron Paul. I am surprised liberals are most concerned with budget when they spend so much. That said… I do agree with them on some issues. I agree with social programs- for me it is about who should be running them and I believe we can develop a system that works and so they are still private- so the country profits as a whole and not just the government. Public programs are a joke- I would encourage government incentives for more private programs so they are run better and we have more businesses as opposed to the money just fattening government pockets.

    I blame the draining of social security on the liberals because of how liberal they are with their spending. They spent that money before we even had it. I don’t think a lot of fiscal liberals are actually concerned with the people who really need help in our country- the elderly and the poor. From the bills that are being passed they seem to vote based on what is going to help them and not the country as a whole or the people who can’t pick themselves up.

    Remember though, I am not entirely conservative, liberal, libertarian, green party, etc…I actually like a lot of aspects from each party. I encourage independent voting- voting based on what YOU think is right. I tend to go against liberals often because of some of the cheap shots they are always taking in attacking conservatives, when the issues at hand are not always being discussed. Both parties seem to just follow a crowd, often forming clans and attacking each other and I think independent individualism would at least get some peoples gears working before they do so.

  4. Ron Paul has become the voice of libertarianism and he is a social conservative Christian. I don’t how far rightwing his Christian views go. His libertarian views, however, lead him to desire separation of church and state. I don’t know that he fears religion’s influence on politics as he fears the government’s influence on religion. He doesn’t want to force his religious beliefs on the whole country, but my sense is that he wouldn’t mind being able to force his religious beliefs on the community he lives.

    It’s the reminiscing about early America and small agricultural towns where churches were the center of communities. The religious libertarians fantasize about re-creating early Christian America. They believe that, by getting rid of or disempowering the state, religion will naturally take center stage again and dominate our culture.

    Even many religious right libertarians are for legalizing drugs and prostitution on the federal level. It’s not that they don’t want to stop drugs and prostitution, but that they mistrust the federal government in general. Also, if states and cities had more power to decide their own laws, socially conservative religious communities could enforce laws that are more harsh towards drugs and prostitution than is now seen in federal laws.

    It’s hard to know what Ron Paul’s utopian vision of society would look like. He often seems circumspect about his personal beliefs. He mostly focuses on what he is against rather than what he is for. Whether or not Ron Paul is a far right fundamentalist, it’s obvious why many far right fundamentalists would be attracted to his political views. However, I don’t think these far right fundamentalist libertarians are large in numbers. Even the Tea Party (according to a poll) supports Neocons like Bush twice as much as they support Ron Paul.

    That said, many libertarians are atheists or liberal Christians or simply socially liberal in general. It’s my understanding that socially liberal libertarians used to have more of a voice in the libertarian movement. Ayn Rand’s Objectivism which often gets conflated with libertarianism was highly critical of the politicized religious right. Then again, many conservatives a half century ago were very suspicious of the religious right. It took Reagan to popularize the connection between Christianity and patriotism.

    According to Noam Chomsky, libertarianism originated in Europe as a socialist workers movement. So, what libertarianism has become seems almost the opposite of what it started out as. I guess the link is that both versions see the government as serving the interests of the wealthy and powerful.

    Anyways, I clearly differentiate libertarianism from neoconservatism. The Republican party has been ruled by neocons for the last half century. Fiscal conservatism has been a part of the ideology of the conservative movement, and for this reason the neocons in power use libertarian rhetoric to in order to get the average conservative to vote Republican. However, if you look at actual track records, all Republican presidents since Reagan have massively increased the size of the government and the size of the deficit.

    What neocons love more than anything is a big military because military spending supports the Military-Industrial Complex. Military spending is how tax money is siphoned off into the private sector through government contracts. Democrats have tended to be less overtly supportive of military spending and they’ve tended to not leave behind as much deficit, but Democrats have essentially become ruled by neocons as well (or the related group of neoliberals who are also hawkish on foreigh policy).

    The real libertarians are critical of both the Republican party and the Democrat party. But libertarians have been largely taken over by conservatives in recent decades and so libertarians like Ron Paul still align themselves with the Republican party. Even though I like the criticisms of the conservative libertarians, I don’t trust their solutions.

    The conservative libertarians reminisce about an earlier America. Originally, the US started out as an agricultural society which promoted small towns and the center of such communities was the church. The early small towns were indpendent by necessity because the pioneers who moved West towards farm country were isolated. This created a tradition of people taking care of themselves and their neighbors. It was the churches who operated the schools, who housed the orphans, who helped the poor, and who fed the hungry.

    The Civil War was ultimately between the agriculturalists and the industrialists. Industrialization was becoming the new economic engine. Also, with improved technology, industrialization was even altering agriculture. Small family farms became increasingly unprofitable as largescale factory farming became more profitable.

    There were two results of this.

    First, power and wealth became more concentrated which led to both big business and big government. The average person no longer was able to support themselves by living off the land. People were forced to move to cities in order to seek work. This began the crumbling of traditional agricultural communities (which were being fondly remembered in the 1950s when modern conservatism was forming it’s new vision). The new working class was impoverished and disenfranchised from the political process. Democracy worked well in small farming communities, but democracy doesn’t work so well an industrial economy.

    Second, this upset the system of social programs that had worked fairly well for the first century of American history. Working conditions were so brutal that debilitaring injuries and death became common. Instead of going to school, children were put to work in factories. Unemployment and poverty were rampant. Most importantly, there was no way for the working class person in the city to have a direct impact on government in the way the working class farmer was able to do. So, the working class organized. In response, big business and big government came down hard on the early workers unions. In their fight for democratic values, many working class people were imprisoned, tortured and killed.

    Eventually, this led the federal government to make laws regulating the relationship between the ownership class and the working class. Also, unions worked out deals directly with business owners and corporate management. Out of this came child labor laws, work safety laws, disability and unemployment compensation, medicare, medicaid, social security, pensions, etc.

    However imperfectly, the workers unions were simply trying to regain the democratic values they had known (or their forefathers had known) when living in small farming communities. Also, there were the freed slaves and immigrants who were trying to fight for their own freedoms and rights (sometimes even against the working class whites).

  5. My point being that the liberal values about public social programs comes from the working class and not the wealthy elites. It originally was the wealthy elites who were against public social programs. The working class had to fight for them. There was a long period of time between industrialization and unionization, and during that period the conditions of the working class was brutal and anti-democratic.

    Could there be privatized social programs in large industrialized cities? Maybe and maybe not. I tend to think that a mix of public and private services are necessary.

    For example, I’m a strong proponent of public education despite some of its weaknesses. I think it’s good that both private and public schools exist, and I do think that public schools should be supported by the taxes of everyone whether or not one has children in public schools. Public schools create an educated workforce and a well informed citizenry. Prior to tax-payed public schools, there were private schools (mostly religious) that did educate the public to an extent, but it was hit or miss. Prior to mandatory public education, many children received no education at all or only rudimentary education.

    From what I can tell, private schools on average aren’t a better system than public schools. Public schools are required to teach all children even if they’re severely low IQ or have major learning disabilities, but private schools aren’t required to teach these kids. So, private schools tend to select the most intellectually advanced students and this is particularly true for expensive private schools.

    Right now, many conservatives are trying to dismantle and undermine the public school system. I think this is a very bad idea. Modern America became great because of our public education system, and also because of government funded universities.

  6. You seem to misunderstand the demographic labelled ‘liberal’.

    Not all liberals are Democrats. In fact, only about half of liberals are Democrat with the other half being Independent, but the Pew data I’ve looked at doesn’t show who the Independent liberals usually vote for. Personally, I’ve voted for Nader, but have never voted for a Democrat.

    Furthermore, not all Democrats are liberals. Conservative Democrats (which I suppose are equivalent to Blue Dog Democrats) represent about a third of the Democrat party. Neoliberals, who are the Democrat equivalent of Neocons, are largely opposite of liberals. Neoliberals and liberals may agree on some general views about domestic policy, but they entirely disagree about foreign policy. Both Neocons and Neoliberals are hawkish on foreign policy, but both libertarians and liberals want to decrease military spending.

    More importantly, liberals want to balance the budget and reduce the deficit more than any other US demographic. This the specific point on which to distinguish between liberals and Democrats. Both Republicans and Democrats support big government. The difference is that Republicans only support big government when Republicans are in power, but Democrats support big government even when Democrats aren’t in power. Liberals agree with Democrats in having more trust in the government in general. Also, Democrats seem in line with liberal views on reducing the deficit when you consider that the most recent Democrat president was the only recent president to leave a surplus instead of a deficit.

    I’m not claiming that Democrats (as distinguished from liberals) actually are fiscally conservative, but anyone who thinks Republicans are fiscally conservative is severely misinformed. Just because Republican politicians like to use fiscal conservative rhetoric doesn’t actually make them fiscally conservative. Real libertarians have little power within the Republican party. Libertarians are the most severe critics of the Reagan and Bush legacy… just as liberals are the most severe critics of the Democrat legacy (e.g., Noam Chomsky).

    Bush tried to privatize social security. If he had accomplished this, the economic downturn that began under his watch would’ve destroyed social security. Also, I have seen no evidence that Republicans are any less responsible for the draining of social security. Both parties were spending “liberally”.

    Ignore the ideological rhetoric and spin. Ignore the political grandstanding and hype. Just look at the actual data and the actual record. Neocons are no friend of fiscal conservatives.

    Liberals are fiscal conservatives in terms of the budget and deficit. They differ from libertarians in that they believe only government can solve the problems within government. The libertarian suggestion of severely reducing both taxes and government would lead to an increase in the deficit and a collapse of the economic system. Ron Paul admits this is the case, but he thinks we need to have a collapse in order to start with a clean slate.

    Liberals, instead, prefer less dramatic measures. What liberals want to do is reduce spending on what is unnecessary (such as the military) and increase taxes. It’s just a fact that the deficit can only be decreased by increasing taxes. This isn’t liberals just wanting other people pay for the government because liberals are the second wealthiest demographic in the US (second only to the Enterprisers, i.e., Neocons).

    Liberals and Democrats in general do like to spend money on social programs, but the social programs liberals and Democrats like are a drop in the bucket compared to military spending. Also, medicare and medicaid are defended by Republicans even though they are the most expensive social programs. Even considering medicare and medicaid, all social programs combined are minute compared to the spending on military, alphabet agencies, and coporate bailouts. And remember the bailouts began with Bush. Obama inherited the economic downturn that began during Bush’s administration. Obama could’ve chosen not to do bailouts like Bush did, but you hardly can blame this kind of fiscal liberalism solely on Democrats.

  7. “I tend to go against liberals often because of some of the cheap shots they are always taking in attacking conservatives, when the issues at hand are not always being discussed.”

    If you genuinely believe that, then you must be reading some very biased media. First off, as I’ve pointed out your understanding of ‘liberal’ is entirely skewed. Secondly, it’s conservatives who have been the most extreme in rhetoric this past year. That said, both parties take cheap shots at each other. Partisan bickering is how mainstream politics works.

    Specifically about liberals not discussing issues at hand, I can recommend many intelligent liberals who constantly discuss the issues at hand and do so in great detail. Besides Noam Chomsky, there was Howard Zinn (recently died) who like Chomsky was the very archetype of the respectful intellectual who doesn’t take cheap shots. Also, there is Cenk Uygur (a progressive who formerly was a Republican) and there is Jim Wallis (a progressive Christian leader who sought bipartisanship with Bush and who is a friend of Obama). I’m sure I could name others if you’d like.

    “Both parties seem to just follow a crowd, often forming clans and attacking each other and I think independent individualism would at least get some peoples gears working before they do so.”

    That I can agree with entirely. The two party system has failed in guaranteeing a democratic process that actually is representative of the people.

    A major problem that I see, as a liberal, is that corporations have too much power over politics. Corporations spend billions of dollars lobbying politicians. When politicians leave Washington they have corporate lobbying jobs waiting for them that pay more than they made as politicians. and ex-politiicians only get these sweet lobbying jobs if they served corporate interests while in office (a delayed form of bribery).

    Almost the entire media has come under the ownership of a few international corporations. The Republican speechwriter for Bush, David Frum, recently lost his job at a conservative think tank for stating that the GOP now works for Fox News rather than the other way around. That is interesting as Fox News is owned by News Corp which is an international corporation whose founder (Rupert Murdoch) is an Australian.

    Interestingly, Murdoch who seems like a Neocon identifies himself as a libertarian and he even was on the board of directors of the libertarian Cato Institute. The problem with the libertarian think tanks is that they’re funded by corporations. So, the libertarianism they represent isn’t what I’d consider real libertarianism. Corporations want government to be disempoewerd and want regulations to be decreased. There idea of libertarianism is to have unbridled capitalist power. Just look at Murdoch’s ruthless business practices. News Corp seems to be trying to gain a monopoly on global media.

  8. I am actually reading a Rand book now.

    I agree the republicans lately have spent as much as the dems, but that is not what the party is supposed to be about. I have some respect for them as they used to be- Lincoln was the best president IMO. Now, the wars certainly got us in debt but Obama spent more in the first couple months than Bush did in all his eight years in office. In fact, Obama has spent more than all presidents that ever ran our country COMBINED. Liberals are known for being liberal- with spending especially. At least Obama put the money towards OUR country, unlike Bush… but some of the bills are just downright stupid. Still, I would rather have him in office than Bush right now. He is charismatic, cares about international relations and works hard. But keep in mind, we are still at war…

    I do agree that the small community run idea would just not work in big cities- and those areas need more funding on a public level. As far as private vs public schooling goes…you can say that about colleges but with primary education private schools almost ALWAYS beat out their public counterparts. I have seen it first hand, in all regions of the country. Of course, there are good and bad wherever you go but in general… More private organizations mean more US businesses, and less money that ends up in politicians pockets.

    All in all, I think that both sides need to come together and STOP arguing… they need to focus more on working together and less on belittling each other. If the conservatives take over the senate you will have the same type of gov as when clinton was in office- great diplomatic ideas put forward with regulated spending. That is ideal, IMO.

    • We haven’t seen a fiscally conservative president in a long time. Reagan popularized fiscal conservatism in terms of rhetoric, but he increased the size of the government and the deficit. I think you have to go back two or three decades before Reagan to find a presidential administration that honestly left a real surplus. The main problem with the deficit is that our taxes just pay for the interest of the debt while the deficit itself keeps increasing. This is a death spiral where every president is forced to spend more and more. Our entire society is running ever faster to try to stay in the same place.

      The corporate bailouts become necessary because our whole economy will collapse if large corporations go under, but why has our entire government become dependent on and beholden to large corporations? Why were corporations ever allowed to become so large and powerful? Why don’t we dismantle all of these massive & nearly monopolistic corporations? How can free markets exist, how can democracy function when the powerful elite who are a tiny percentage of the world’s population owns almost all the wealth, all the land, all the media, and all the corporatiosn? Why does our government and economy mostly only benefit the rich who get richer by siphoning off money through tax cuts, tax loopholes, government grants and bailouts while the rest of us remain poor and the deficit grows? Why do some of the wealthiest corporations in the US pay no taxes at all?

      I like Obama more or less. I didn’t vote for him and I sometimes criticize him, but the one thing he has going for him is that he isn’t Bush. I’m proud that Obama got the Nobel Peace prize for not being Bush. I lean towards the Democrat party just because the rhetoric can be inspiring when spoken by someone like Obama who is a good speaker. A president should be inspiring if nothing else. I know that some conservatives felt Bush’s Christian patriotism was inspiring, but personally I didn’t find it inspiring at all. It scared me shitless, matter of fact. I don’t want a president who thinks God speaks to him, who thinks he is on a mission from God. NO THANKS!

    • Private schools have always been better because rich people can afford to send their children to private schools. If public schools got as much money as private schools get, they’d be much better. Private schools have more money and so pay their teachers more which means the best teachers work in private schools.

      After desegregation, all the affluent white kids were sent to private schools which caused private schools to have even more money. Also, it meant the poor minority kids became concentrated in public schools which was what it was like before desegregation.

      So, if you sent all the poor minorities to private schools and limited the funding of private schools to be equal to public schools, guess what would happen? The private schools would be just as bad as the public schools.

      I think it’s good that private schools exist. I just think that public schools should also exist and get more funding. I think poor minorities should be given grants to go to any private school they want to go to. The private schools should also be forced to educate the low IQ and learning disabled kids that presently the public school system is forced to take care of. When public schools are on equal footing with private schools, then we can fairly compare which system is better. As it is, public schools trying to compete with private schools is like a mom and pop store trying to compete with Walmart.

      Still, I could see the potential for privatizing school all together. If every poor person was free to go to any private school of his choosing and the government paid for it, then private schools might be able to function in place of public schools. Just as long as poor kids get as good of education as rich kids, I don’t care how it’s accomplished. But if poor kids are prejudiced against and so get worse education, then I’m against it.

      Democracy can only exist if even the poorest of the poor get quality educations. It’s time to end the age of wealthy elites ruling society while the poor remain forever poor.

    • What do you think of Rand? Which book are you reading?

      I read her in college. I read a couple of her novels first and then started reading some of her philosophy. I must admit I was turned off by it. She was pretty extreme in her ideology. She stated that you shouldn’t make your children share their toys when their friends visit. She believed in self-interest and property as ideals to be held above all else. Any hint of selflessness was seen by her as the enemy of capitalism and freedom.

      She was also a militant atheist. I suspect she’d have very harsh words for Ron Paul who is a conservative Christian libertarian. She considered religion as one of the greatest threats. I think she saw it as a threat because religion teaches one to be selfless and to submit to authority. To her, every person should be their own authority and so religion was the enemy of democracy. She predicted how the religious right would destroy the Republican party. Bush was the inevitable result of Reagan. Even now, the Republican party clings to it’s religious right base.

  9. Hah you are right on Bush being a bit scary in terms of his religious patriotism.

    I am reading the fountainhead. I have only read atlass shrugged, but my Dad is a big Rand advocate so I grew up with that sort of philosophy- and I have to admit I respect it more than my Mothers religious philosophy. This is because it is less superficial, tell it like it is. Especially the virtue of selfishness, because it is true that everyone does everything for themselves. Even humanitarian stances, it all boils down to doing it to make yourself feel like a better person and like you are contributing. I am not sure I believe there is such a thing as someone doing something for truly selfless purposes, ever. Even religious do-gooders would drop their religion if they found out it wouldn’t get them into heaven- they do things out of fear. I want to one day open some sort of soup kitchen for the homeless or travel the world to feed starving children. Still, I am willing to admit it is because it would satisfy my own empathy and the pain I feel knowing that children are starving out there… and I feel good helping others. It all boils down to being selfish, though.

    As far as Rand goes- I have never read the ‘not sharing toys with other children’ and personally wouldn’t follow that, but that is every parents right to choose whether or not to. If they are not liked because of it they reap what they sow. Her philosophy is flawed, although it holds a lot that a LOT of people can learn from. Especially today her philosophy would have so many holes in it when everything is done on a bigger scale. There needs to be some sort of government to keep things civilized. I am aware that she was for militia governing- a little far out there IMO (okay VERY far out) and that type of philosophy would not work unless everybody followed and believed it. Then you have the cases of mentally ill and disabled people… it is flawed on so many levels.

    Still, I have a lot of respect for her work- she isn’t the type to bullshit anything and like I said is for the cold hard truth. However, compassion is something especially children need to be raised with. It is her novels I have more respect for than anything because her mesage was so clear through such creative writing. She was very persuasive , I wouldn’t want to get into a disagreement with her. 😉 Was not aware she is an atheist but not surprised. Still, it takes a lot of guts to do what she did especially in those days.

    • I’ve never understood the objectivist morality of rational self-interest. I’m more of a student of human nature than of politics. I’ve read quite a bit about the research and theory of psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc. The evidence just doesn’t add up to humans being primarily selfish. We are a social species. Civilization wouldn’t exist if humans weren’t first and foremost social animals.

      Yes, a sense of self is part of the survival of the species, but people sacrifice their own self-interest and even their own lives all of the time for the sake of others. The problem with the self-interest ideal is that for a normal (i.e., psychologically healthy) person is that the human sense of self inherently includes other people. Someone who felt entirely disconnected from others and isolated in an entirely distinct sense of self would be psychopathic.

      The idea of the isolated individual is a modern invention. For most of human history and evolution, humans never thought of themselves as isolated. Various factors (such as industrialization) has created a lifestyle that allows us to think of ourselves as wholly independent, but this sense is false. It’s obvious how interdependent we all are.

      The other component of objectivist morality is that of the first part of rational self-interest. Humans are capable of rationality, but rationality isn’t the primary motivation of human behavior. I can offer some titles book that discuss the psychology of non-rational behavior.

      I don’t mean any insult, but this ideal of rational self-interest is dangerously naive. By naive, I mean it’s false in over-simplifying the complexity of human psychology and human society. By dangerous, the real world results fall short of the idealized vision.

      Deregulation came about because of this idea that what is good for one person will be good for all people because we hypothetically all share the same capacity for reason. The idea is that people become wealthy and powerful because they use reason and so it’s assumed they will make wise decisions. Sadly, this hasn’t been proven true.

      The recent mine accident that killed a bunch of people happened after the company had been fined for problems for years and refused to fix the problems. The recent oil accident happened because the company didn’t use a safety mechanism because of costs even though non-US companies use it. Both of those came about because regulation was loosened and so there was little incentive for the companies to care about safety.

      Rationally, why don’t powerful people care about the safety and lives of those who are less powerful? Rationally, why don’t powerful people care about whether whole ecosystems are destroyed in their attempt to save money in the shortterm? From a larger perspective, these behaviors aren’t rational. The ideal of rational self-interest doesn’t lead to rational choices or rather it only leads to a very narrow rationality that excludes human relationships, local communities, natural ecosystems, largescale impacts and longterm results.

      Another example is the recent financial scandals. A few individuals profitted at the cost of the entire world’s economy. That certainly isn’t rational for society. It’s questionable if it’s even rational for the individual because in the long run these individuals are destroying the economy on which they built and sustain their own wealth.

      What promoters of rational self-interest forget is that moral behavior always comes about by considering the impact on other people and by considering the impact other people have in return. We are all interconnected. Our very human nature is based in this interconnectedness. To create a system that discourages basic human nature is to encourage sociopathic behavior.

      It’s not that people do things for selfless reasons. It’s just that the idea of an isolated self is false right from the start. Any behavior based on the fantasy of the isolated self will lead to destructive results. The self includes family, friends, neighbors, communities, religion, culture, nationality, and an infinite number of other factors. To do something for someone else isn’t selfless if you empathetically include that person in your extended sense of ‘self’.

  10. We are a social species. But we are social for ourselves. Because we wouldn’t feel good if we weren’t, we would be lonely, we wouldn’t have fun, we wouldn’t love and be loved…I could go on and on. Hell, even our genetics our selfish. Have you ever read the ‘Selfish Gene’? And yes, civilization exists because we are selfishly social. They are not opposites. We want to reproduce. We astarted out social because we HAD to be, not because we wanted. To survive, to gratify our sexual urges, to eat, to trade, etc. etc. Now, we are going a humanitarian way that is different than our genetics originally took us. But this is not a bad thing, this is what makes us intelligent creatures.

    Someone who feels entirely disconnected from others has an anti-social personality disorder, but not psychopathic. Big difference. And if you have read Rand I think you will notice a lot of her characters were anti-social. It is not an admirable way to be, no. But what I like about it is that she isn’t giving these people labels, they can live and thrive just as well and they can do things for themselves. There is such thing as being too selfish, but there is also such a thing as being too Dependant.

    Don’t get me wrong- I respect Rand but I think she was kind of evil. 😉 I wouldn’t bend over backwards for her, but I would for people I would never see a return from. And yes, there is much that is not rational in her books. You said “rationality isn’t the primary motivation of human behavior” this is true, and it is going that way. And we are going to evolve into that because that is how we are behaving, IMO. You should read my blog on divergent thinking.

    “The recent oil accident happened because the company didn’t use a safety mechanism because of costs even though non-US companies use it. ” I understand safety regulations- believe me, I am all for them. It is extra taxes I am not for. I never liked robin hood much. Look, I run a business that helps people. And from a business owners perspective, I would be able to grow and thrive much more (which would benefit others as well) if taxes were lower. So I can really understand both ends here.

    Basic human nature, IMO, is violent, irrational to todays civilized nature, and very corrupt. We have veered away from that though, to a civilized nature.

    • “We astarted out social because we HAD to be, not because we wanted.”

      Environmental constraints forced our genetics to evolve towards social behavior. It’s not a matter of like or dislike. Instincts are mostly unconscious and most social behavior is unconscious. We are inherently, fundamentally a social species… whether we personally ‘like’ it or not. We’ve survived as a species because our genetics predispose us towards social behavior. Species survival has little to do with our personal preferences and enjoyments. Pleasure is one of the instincts that helps us survive and maintains social cohesion, but it’s just one of many means towards the collective survival of the species.

      There are plenty of species who live in isolation and only socialize in order to mate thus passing on their genetics. We aren’t one of those species.

      The sense of a clearly independent individual self was something that arose with civilization. It then became a more strong element of our culture with the Enlightenment and Industrialization. But indigenous people have much more of a group mentality because hunter-gatherer lifestyle requires more direct cooperation for survival.

      I haven’t read the Selfish Gene, but I’m familiar with the theory. I don’t know how many scientists agree with that theory. Competition is one way genetics are passed on and cooperation is another way genetics are passed on. Technically, a gene doesn’t have a mind and so calling it selfish is just a metaphor.

      Anyways, if you see humans as being primarily selfish, that is fine. I think the evidence supports my position, but I’m sure you think the evidence supports your position. I suppose we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that issue. 🙂

      Yes, there is a difference between anti-social and psychopathic. By using the term psychopathic, I think I was just meaning a severe disconnection from reality and one aspect of reality is social. But honestly I don’t remember exactly the context of my thought when I was writing my comment. I’m pretty sure I didn’t mean anti-social. An anti-social person probably wouldn’t be very successful in most careers, especially any management, leadership or political position.

      BTW I came across a quote of Rand yesterday which I liked.

      “There’s no way to rule innocent men.
      The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals.
      Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them.
      One declares so many things to be a crime
      that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”

      I do think our country has a serious problem. One in two hundred citizens are in prison. That is a higher percentage than in all other major countries. The Tough on Crime policy is seriously messed up.

      Divergent thinking? Sure. I’ll check it out.

      We don’t seem to be disagreeing to any major degree. I too think there should be a balance between corporations being regulated and citizens being taxed. I honestly couldn’t tell you where that balance should be, but obviously the less tax the better. I would add, though, that regulation doesn’t always cost money. Sometimes taxation saves money. For example, a lot of money would’ve been saved if the oil companies had been more heavily regulated.

  11. No we aren’t really disagreeing completely. I don’t think you entirely understand my definition of selfish. The word perhaps doesn’t mean the same thing to me as it does to you. I think we both agree on more regulation, and less taxes. I don’t look at being selfish as doing something primarily for pleasure. I look at being being a good person as being selfish. It is just human ‘selfish’ nature- something we have to do to feel good about ourselves. Now, of course, someone like a sociopath does not need to be a good person to feel good about themselves and this is where it gets scary. Do people like that have a natural place in society??? Some say yes, in roles in law enforcement or as soldiers. I believe these needs for these types of roles are dwindling as human nature is becoming more compassionate with evolution. I hope so, anyway. You did say an anti-social type of person wouldn’t be very successful in roles like leadership or politics.

    “A study published in New Scientist magazine has found that there are far more sub-criminal psychopaths – self-serving, narcissistic schemers who display a stunning lack of empathy, but are not criminally inclined – at large in the population than had previously been thought. And many of them end up in managerial positions.”

    As you can see this is not AT ALL true. In fact, they are usually more likely to end up in these types of roles. The thing is, these types of roles usually include characteristics that require socio/psychopathic characteristics. This may interest you: But it doesn’t necessary make them criminals if they aren’t obeying the laws. And the government is here to regulate them, the empathetical compassionate people to make sure that they are regulated.

    • Thanks for the further explanation. Yeah, your definition of ‘selfishness’ isn’t in conflict with my own. I think we were just emphasizing different aspects.

      I can’t say I know the psychiatric meaning of anti-social. I’m familiar with the general meanings of sociopathic and psychopathic, but I never associated anti-social with sociopathic. It’s not really any important, anyways.

      I had heard that socio-psychopathic people are disproportionately found in leadership positions. Such people like having power and they’re good at gaining power. Being able to play a role is necessary for most leadership positions and sociopaths see all of life as the playing of different roles.

      I’m not sure this directly relates, but I remember another type of person who tends towards leadership positions (specifically in hierarchical organizations). A study apparently found most leaders had thick boundaries. One characteristic of thick boundary types is someone who feels more disconnection from others and less empathy. They like rules and roles. A thin boundary person is more creative types who are prone to schizophrenia and synaesthesia.

      It makes me wonder if there has been research about the possible correlation between psycho-sociopathic behavior and thick boundary types.

  12. I think there would be. But again, these pathological behaviors have to do with people who don’t have functioning amydalas. That is the part of the brain that feels empathy and fear. It perhaps may not be such a bad thing to lack- don’t throw an egg at me but sometimes I wish my amygdala functioned less. Don’t you ever wish your feelings didn’t work as well, or you didn’t have fear (I DO- I have a huge fear of heights that a lacking amygdala would overcome) at least I think that is how it works anyway. I know everytime I watch the news, selfish as it sounds I wish I had a lacking amygdala because I want to cry when I see some of the stuff that goes on in the world. Psychopaths have an upper hand in the world, in business and more. And that is probably why so many CEO’s love reading Ayn Rand, it helps so in the business world.

    • I fully understand the desire to feel less acutely or to even not feel at all. I’m an overly sensitive guy which is rather sucky with depression and all. If I experience too much negativity in the media, I feel like curling up in a ball and wimpering like a little child. The state of being indifferent to the world is hard for me to imagine.

      I truly think only sociopaths are fit to live in modern society. We live in a world ruled by sociopaths and they’ve made the world in their image.

  13. PS you motivated me to post an article I wrote a couple months ago on sociopathy and religion on my blog- I am VERY curious as to whether you would consider THAT one enough to make me a ‘strong atheist’…

  14. I think you are right in a sense, but not so much in the midwest. That is why I moved my son out here. I grew up in a sociopathic society (Los Angeles), and I don’t want my son to grow up in the same. However, sometimes I wonder if perhaps it is better to raise children in that to prep them for the real world- and sometimes I find myself glad I was raised out there. With the internet and texting- lack of personal relations, society is certainly not becoming more personable. And yet, society is becoming more compassionate for their fellow man. Where it is going, an interesting thing to ponder.

    • Ahh… you’re a fellow midwesterner. I live in Iowa myself. I’d agree that people with tendencies towards sociopathic behavior and wish to fulfil those tendencies by seeking power are less likely to live in the midwest. I live in a small college town which probably wouldn’t be attractive to many sociopaths… not that I particularly know what is attractive to sociopaths.

      It would be interesting to see which areas of the country and which cities have the highest concentrations of sociopaths or the highest rates of sociopathic behavior. The midwest would probably be low, but I wonder about Mormon country and the Bible Belt. I’m willing to bet that the Catholic church with it’s hierarchical power structure is more attractive to those with sociopathic behavior. I’m also willing to bet that sociopaths are very successful in theocratic countries… or any hierarchical and oppressive society.

      So, what kind of society, culture or political system do you think would be the leas hospitable to sociopathic behavior?

      I find it interesting that you chose to raise your sone away from the sociopathic society that you grew up in. I don’t have any children, but if I did I’d want to raise them in the midwest. But I grew up and have spent most of my life in the midwest. I like the midwest. There is less overt class consciousness here. A town like Los Angeles would probably drive me to suicide. The easygoing moderate attitude of midwesterners helps keep me sane.

  15. I am, but I don’t know if I want to stay here. It is a GREAT place to raise a family and I love that aspect, but I am a city girl and three years later I still can’t go to the grocery store without feeling like I am knocking everyone over. The pace of life is much slower than I am used to, and I can’t make up my mind whether I like it. Also, I don’t know if this is good preparation for my son for the real world- because it isn’t always going to be this way. On top of that I am a businesswoman at heart and the city speaks to me in that manner. But still I have developed a love for the country so I am torn.

    The north I think would have a lower rate of sociopathy than the south. I don’t know why. I just get that feeling, I don’t have much substance for it other than my travels. Perhaps it has to do with the weather and more time to self reflect in the winter. I truly feel sociopathy is more of a learned and cultural trait. Now that said, I also feel the west is more sociopathic than the east and the further west you go the more sociopathic. I also feel that religion perhaps ENCOURAGES sociopathy for telling you to write off your guilt instead of reflecting, particularity Catholicism. That is why I would personally choose Buddhism if I had to pick a religion.

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