Moral Depravity of Social Conservatism

It feels good to see Bill Cosby taken down. There are few people more deserving of it. For years, he has been acting self-righteous in judging others. He was the great conservative icon and father figure who was supposed to represent all that is good about the American Dream, a black man who rose up out of poverty. As part of the supposed meritocracy, he took it as his right and obligation to condemn those he left behind in poverty.

His life and popular television show expressed the social conservative values of hard work and family values. He was America’s dad, as the media liked to proclaim. Now he has fallen from grace or rather his true face has been revealed. But this is nothing new, as it follows an old pattern: Catholic priests molesting children and gay-bashing fundy preachers being caught in gay sex, Rudy Giuliani’s philandering and Donald Trump’s everything. These people aren’t aberrations to the norm and exceptions to the rule, aren’t failures of social conservatism (also, keep in mind this conservatism was never limited to the GOP, as Barack Obama no different than Cosby — both Democrats, of course — loved to bash poor blacks because of their supposed laziness and general inferiority; and don’t forget the racist dog whistle politics of our first black president, by which I mean Bill Clinton). Their two-faced morality is the norm and rule. These great men of power and celebrity, these authoritative voices and leaders represent what it meant for conservatives to have won the culture wars, and for a long time conservatives felt high and mighty, though it turned out to have been a temporary and hollow victory.

The moral depravity we’ve seen again and again is what social conservatism has always been about, alpha male authority figures swinging their dicks around (something George Carlin liked to ridicule). Deep down, conservative family values equates to the reactionary authoritarianism of patriarchy. The family, as with the rest of society, is supposed to submit to the wise father figure who knows what’s best for us and no one should be allowed to challenge him or talk back. The morality of the patriarchy was justified by power and privilege, rather than power and privilege being justified by morality. It’s the reason anti-choice activism is motivated by social control, not saving innocent lives considering conservative policies worsen women’s health and the abortion rate. Real world results that hurt actual people are irrelevant. Rich male conservatives, supported by their dick-sucking followers, always knew they were right because they felt righteous — they were in a position to force their views on others and to silence their critics, as they silenced their victims. The blatant hypocrisy of it all rubs salt into the wound.

Donald Trump was elected for the very reason that he embodies everything that the Republican Party has become. His moral depravity isn’t a minor detail overlooked by social conservatives such as evangelicals. It is precisely why they love and worship him. The more he flaunts his immoral egotism, the more his fans go wild. He shows no shame and that is taken as an inspiring example of how pure power will put feminists and liberals back in their place. The difference with Bill Cosby is that he pretended to have been different, using his claim as a moral exemplar to justify his being a moral scold. But now it has been revealed there never was any difference. Cosby and Trump are the same patriarchal archetype, proving right everything feminists have said for generations. This is what it means to make America great again, the patriarchy coming back out of hiding and damn! is it ugly when seen in the glare of open scrutiny.

Many social conservatives have stopped pretending anymore and instead have embraced this moral depravity as a point of pride, in the hope of demonstrating how much influence they still have. Trump defies all social norms of moral behavior and appears untouchable. No one can tell him what to do, just like it was in the good ol’ days when every man was supposedly a king in his own castle. But that arrogance is changing, demonstrated by the taking down of Bill Cosby. In his attacking poor blacks as being morally inferior, it should be noted that it was the rich black guy who was drugging and raping women. It turns out that wealth, ambition, and success aren’t signs from God that you are one of the divine elect. Maybe the same morality that applies to the rest of us also applies to the rich and powerful. Maybe they aren’t above the law, after all. Maybe they aren’t untouchable.

Here is my simple prayer. May Bill Cosby rot in prison and die in shame. And may the likes of Donald Trump be next for the chopping block. As for women and all others who are also rich and powerful assholes in both political parties, whether serving the patriarchy or pretending not to, we will be coming for you soon. Be patient. The moral arc of history is bending back around.

* * *

My criticisms here aren’t a response to mere moral failure. Most of us to varying degrees fail our own stated moral standards. But there is a difference. Not all of us hold ourselves up as morally righteous and superior to our fellow humans. Moral failure is commonplace, although the levels of moral failure seen with the likes of Bill Cosby exist on an entirely different sphere of outright moral depravity. That is the difference that makes a difference. Cosby’s outward righteousness was precisely correlated to his hidden depravity.

Let me share a comparable example, even if only comparable in that it is another celebrity caught up in the #MeToo movement. On far lesser accusations, Louis C.K. was brought down low and deserved it to some extent. But here is what was very much unlike the Cosby case. First, his moral depravity was much less depraved. Second, he immediately admitted to his wrongdoing and then gave a heartfelt apology. And, last but not least, he never held himself up as better than others, if anything doing the opposite in making fun of himself as a pathetic loser.

Humility can go a long way in life. I can be a righteous asshole at times. Even so, I know I’m not morally superior to others. I regularly admit to my own personal failures. All of us are imperfect in varying ways as we are all fallible humans. There is nothing wrong with that. Keeping one’s ego tamped down with humility is probably the best way of avoiding the worst forms of moral depravity. The point isn’t about being morally perfect or necessarily even coming close. The simple truth is that, the higher are the moral standards we hold, the greater will be our falling short. But that is better than lowering one’s standards so far down that they are easy to meet without effort. Or worse still, you could go the route of Trump and have no standards at all by simply embracing depravity as a way of life.

Writing this was a cathartic experience. I really am not in a position to be morally righteous, even as I’m deeply moved by a moral outrage that implicates us all in our societal failure. No one should be following my example, other than maybe in my willingness to be a truth-teller. My few moral strengths are worthy, I suppose. I try my best, which admittedly is limited. Still, I don’t feel better in seeing others brought down low, although I do feel wonderful knowing that justice is occasionally served. Justice can seem so rare that it’s a breath of fresh air when it does happen. For all the problems with the #MeToo movement, it has forced much needed change. And it was the victims that forced that change, which is how it should be.

* * *

Whose Work Counts? Who Gets Counted?

The Secret Lives of Inner-City Black Males
by Ta-Nehisi Coates

How Bill Cosby, Obama and Mega-Preachers Sold Economic Snake Oil to Black America
by Yves Smith

Is Bill Cosby Right or Is the Black Middle Class Out of Touch?
NPR

The Injustice Bill Cosby Won’t See
by Michael E. Dyson

Is the Black Community Ashamed to See Poor African-Americans on TV?
by Nareissa Smith

The untold truth of Bill Cosby
by Phil Archbold

What Bill Cosby Has Taught Us About Sexual Assault and Power
by Emma M.

The long arm of justice reaches Bill Cosby
by Tony Norman

Bill Cosby’s moralizing comes back to haunt him
by Edward McAllister and Jill Serjeant

Cosby’s criticisms of poor blacks come back to haunt him
by dwilson1911

Unmasking Dr. Huxtable
by Debra A. Smith

Bill Cosby was once ‘America’s Dad.’ Now he’s a convicted pariah.
by Daniel Arkin

Bill Cosby: a dark cloud now hangs over ‘America’s Dad’
by Andrew Anthony

Philadelphia Laments Bill Cosby’s Now-Tarnished Image
by Trip Gabriel

Cosby verdict met with conflicting emotions by some blacks
by Errin Haines Whack

Bill Cosby Scandal: Fans Feel Sadness, Not Sympathy
by Brian Lowry

‘The Cosby Show’s’ legacy in South Africa
PRI

Traditional Conservative vs Right-wing: an example

This is a distinction that has fascinated me lately. I first thought about it when I read Henry Fairlie’s description of a traditional conservative in Britain. I realized that his view of a traditional conservative is what many right-wingers would call a ‘liberal’ or even a ‘socialist’.

Here is the example I just noticed (from the comment section of the article, The Future of America’s Working Class by Joel Kotkin):

pablo on Wed, 04/20/2011 – It might be cliche to sound the call of the “rich get richer while the poor get poorer,” or it might be anti-conservative to suggest that there’s a policy agenda that should speak to mobility. But, having spent time in places like Bangladesh, Indonesia, or Mexico, I can attest to the value of social mobility. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the notion of “freedom” to which we vigilantly cling as conservatives is best reflected by social mobility, or “opportunity.” The freedom to take risks and strive for a greater future, the freedom to take risks, fall flat on one’s face, and be able to pick themselves up again. Each of these freedoms is dependent on access to capital, healthcare, and education, and a social net to some degree – making the each of these – capital, health, education, and welfare – fundamentally conservative values, in as much as they support the most conservative value of all – freedom of social mobility.

A traditional conservative will support any social institution (public or private) that promotes and maintains social order and public good. A traditional conservative will emphasize the social/societal (both social responsibility and social benefit) over the isolated individual.

A right-winger, on the other hand, will do the opposite. However, in America, it’s confusing. During good times, many social conservatives will be drawn to right-wing rhetoric in blaming the poor and disenfranchised. But during bad times, many social conservatives begin to join the ranks of the poor and disenfranchised, and all of a sudden they remember the value of traditional conservatism. So, right-wing is the attitude a social conservative has toward other people’s problems and social conservative is the attitude a social conservative has toward their own problems.

The distinction here is the ideology of fiscal conservatism, ideology that too often contradicts the reality of implemented policies. Fiscal conservatives make big promises about a meritocratic society, but they refuse to take responsibility when their promises turn out to be pipe dreams. Of course, those making the promises are rarely the same people who suffer the consequences for their failure.

As another commenter noted:

theodion on Sun, 03/20/2011 – The most essential guarantees employed to justify capitalism are that your young children will have a much better life than you do, and in President Kennedy’s well known words “a rising tide lifts all boats” that means all of us benefits from the accumulation of capital funds. These guarantees ring hollow in a period of time in which the relative situation of the working people of the US is declining and its ruling class is in a position to appropriate a growing share of the nationwide revenue. My conclusion to what has occurred is that the connection among productivity and wages has been damaged.

For decades, promises were made. And it took decades to discover how false those promises were.

Here are some other comments that further the discussion:

 cosmopolitanprovincial on Thu, 06/03/2010 – However, your focus should have been on the government-directed economic policies of the past 30 years rather than wholly blaming the welfare state. When maufacturing started to disappear from this country the govt. line was: “let the factory fail, after all it’s a free market.” Contrast this with the recent multi-billion pound bailout of the banking and financial service sector, which ordinary working people are now going to have to pay back in taxes for the next couple of decades. When a recession affected the bankers and stockbrokers, suddenly the “free market” disappeared and state intervention was the order of the day. This speaks volumes about where govt. priorities lay.

This is a classic case of being anti-welfare only when it affects the poor. Yet when the rich or corporations need welfare, then it is happily dished out to the tune of billions.
 – – – 
John Mountfort on Thu, 06/03/2010 – Absolutely correct. This nonsense of blaming The Welfare State for the problem of the growing underclass is based on a ridiculous assumption that human beings are so plastic in their capacities that they can be expected to respond to every change, however traumatic or rapid… and if they don’t, it’s because of some imaginary failing, like a Welfare State that just sucked the virtue out of them by making life too easy. But out virtues are themselves a product of the most stubborn aspect of human nature: our desire to have things remain the same. One would think conservatives would understand that… but I guess that’s another reason why we have hypocrisy.

cosmopolitanprovincial on Thu, 06/03/2010 – Like someone else pointed out, nearly every northern European country has a much more generous welfare system than Britain but they don’t have the same social problems.

Another point is that Britain is the country which has followed the “American model” more than any other nation in Europe. Sometimes we “go further” than the US: for example, nearly all state schools here are soon going to be under the governance of private organisations, many of them profit-making corporations (some of them from America). Our postal service is also going to be privatised. Other European countries who have not followed this model so slavishly have not experienced the same crime levels or social problems that we in the UK have. Please bear in mind I am not blaming America for this, it is the decisions of UK politicians who are responsible. But the point is, whatever the problems are, it isn’t because there isn’t enough ‘capitalism’ in the UK. We are a very similar economy to the US, often with identical brands and stores available (McD/Subway/KFC etc. in every town in the land).

[ . . . ] Like John, I agree that it is disingenuous to blame the underclass for this crisis: it is not they who decided that their source of jobs was systematically wiped out or that houses would become unaffordable or that the only economy left was based around shopping and drinking. It is a complex issue, based around globalisation (where factory jobs are basically in China or India rather than Britain), and the main focus of the political elites being on the middle-classes.

“I’m a Republican because of social issues.”

The bars had just closed. She was a young attractive woman wearing a dress that accentuated her assets. She was probably a student at the local university with a bright future ahead of her. She was accompanied by a young man, also good looking and sharply dressed. They were having a discussion. As they sat down on a bench in the pedestrian mall, she said, “I’m a Republican because of social issues.”

Behind this young couple, another row of benches had other people on them. The couple didn’t seem to notice they weren’t alone as they were focused on one another. The other benches were all filled with mostly middle aged men. They were scruffy and for certainly they weren’t scantily clad as the young lady. Each of these men was alone on his respective bench, each laying down trying to get some sleep. Some of them probably heard the young lady’s comment, but none replied.

White Nationalist Recruiter Rebuffed At CPAC 2011

Here is a video that gives further support to a theory I’ve had.

The younger generation is more socially ‘liberal’ than past generations. Even younger Republicans are relatively liberal on social issues (which actually started back with GenX Reagan Republicans, personified by the fictional character of Alex P. Keaton from the tv show Family Ties). Other evidence of this shift is Meghan McCain who supports gay marriage.

As far as I can tell, the only reason social conservatism took over the Republican party was because of the Boomer generation. Social conservatism has remained so dominant for so long is because the Boomer generation was the largest generation followed by the extremely small Generation X. Only the new generation of Millennials is larger than the Boomers and so that is why we are only now seeing this shift to any great extent. GenXers, by themselves, couldn’t have much impact on changing social attitudes and GenXers don’t have the same desire to change social attitudes as is seen with the Millennials.

Millennials are the most multi-cultural, multi-racial generation ever to exist in US history. Along with being racially open-minded, they support a broad range of socially liberal positions. The only position they hold that is slightly socially conservative is their being somewhat pro-life, but at the same time they are very pro-sex and they don’t support repealing Roe vs Wade. Millennials are odd in being somewhat more ‘conservative’ in their lifestyles such as being focused on marriage and family. It’s just this lifestyle conservatism is more about personal choice instead of culture war. Millennials are very critical of politicized religion. Also, their conservatism is very much pro-government.

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/a-portrait-of-generation-next/

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2009/11/27/the-new-conservatism-genx-millennials/

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/survey-on-love-sex-kids-gender-roles-reversing/

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/us-demographics-increasing-progressivism/

https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/oreilly-polls-old-vs-young/

Fear Of Terrorists Influences Parents – Study

Here is further evidence of how people become socially conservative when in a social situation that causes fear and stress. I’ve brought this up before because it explains why social conservatives have motivation to fear-monger.

http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture-society/bad-parenting-blame-bin-laden-24985/

As the researchers concede, these experiments aren’t proof that thoughts of terrorism have a uniquely negative effect on parenting. Exposure to images of an attack might simply have increased the parents’ stress level, “which could then translate into harsher and more controlling social interactions with their children.”

But they note previous research has found a link between terror threats and authoritarian political beliefs. The notion that this mindset could slop over into domestic decision-making seems entirely plausible.

Either way, it’s one more example of how fear can inspire behavior one may later regret. So in turbulent times, perhaps it’s wise to avoid reading the newspaper before heading to the nursery. It’s never a beautiful day in Mr. bin Laden’s Neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean you and your children need to live there.

Divide and Conquer

Here is something I never understand.

Every time I hear someone talk about “Real Americans” it’s almost always a Christian conservative (such as Sarah Palin”. Why is this “Divide and Conquer” mentality so appealing to many conservatives? And why does it seem so repulsive to most liberals?

The only answer I’ve found is the research of Bob Altemeyer. He found in the US Right-Wing Authoritarianism correlates to social conservatism and Christian fundamentalism. In communist countries, the bigots tend to be communists. In fascist countries, the xenophobes tend to be fascists. But, in America, this same type of person tends to be a socially conservative Christian. Why?

I understand the power of group mentality especially in terms of fundamentalism, but still I just can’t get my mind around it. There is this obvious conflict between what Jesus did and said and what right-wing Christians too often do and say. Shouldn’t all Christians, even conservatives, be against such bigoted xenophobia and fear-mongering?

Many right-wing Christians will ask: What would Jesus do? But why do so few right-wing Christians ask this question when they walk past the homeless guy sleeping on the cold sidewalk? Why do so few right-wing Christians ask this question when confronted with undocumented immigrants who are trying to escape a country that has become violent because of the US War on Drugs? Why do so few right-wing Christians ask this question when they hear drum-beating and flag-waving propaganda for yet another war?

My problem isn’t that Christians fail to live up to Christ’s example but that so few even try. Still, their not trying doesn’t stop them from being righteous towards the failures of others.

I don’t know what Jesus would do, but I do know that Jesus wouldn’t be a right-wing Christian.

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.



http://economics.gmu.edu/pboettke/workshop/Fall2009/Sumner.pdf

“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.””

http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2009/09/utility_isnt_ev.html

“…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:

http://www.johannorberg.net/?page=displayblog&month=10&year=2007

“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.

http://www.halfsigma.com/2006/06/democrats_may_n.html

NIXON/FORD/CARTER YEARS

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.

REAGAN/BUSH SR. YEARS

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.

CLINTON YEARS

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.

GEORGE W. BUSH YEARS

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.)

CONCLUSION

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:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/12/6/145758/107

“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?

http://anarchismtoday.org/News/article/sid=74.html

“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:

http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html

“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.”

http://www.newsrx.com/newsletters/Managed-Care-Weekly-Digest/2006-03-13/031320063331MH.html

“…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.”

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16680

“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.”

http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm

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

http://ebiquity.umbc.edu/blogger/2009/04/25/conservatism-and-cognitive-ability-are-negatively-correlated/

““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.”

http://spq.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/73/1/33

“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.”

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100224132655.htm

“”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.”

http://people-press.org/report/?pageid=949

“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%).”

http://people-press.org/2009/07/09/section-4-scientists-politics-and-religion/

Feminomics: Red v. Blue Family Paradigms

Feminomics: Red v. Blue Family Paradigms

“Hidden by the statistics on family instability is a big success story. College-educated women are the only group in the country whose marriage rates have increased, and their divorce rates have fallen back to the levels of the mid-sixties — before no-fault divorce or the widespread availability of the pill. At the same time, the Census Bureau reports that highly educated mothers are more likely to work than are their less-educated counterparts. With stagnating incomes for the working class, this upper quarter of families, concentrated in urban areas and the blue states on the coasts, has increased the advantages their children enjoy. Their secret: invest in women as well as men, empower reproductive choice, support companionate relationships, and reap the benefits of family formation by mature parents with a measure of financial security.”

US Conservatism: Through the Looking Glass

I was just thinking about how fiscal conservatism isn’t necessarily all that conservative… depending, as always, on how you define the term.

Social conservatism is conservative because it attempts to conserve traditional culture and attempts to conserve the authority and influence of the institutions that support it. This is where American conservatism goes off the tracks. Our country wasn’t founded on conservative values, but was founded on revolution. The Founding Fathers weren’t conserving traditions. They fought against the traditional style of government and in it’s place instated an entirely new form of government. Essentially, America’s ‘tradition’ was originally in opposition to European tradition, but later on Americans came to identify with their European roots… in defining “Real America” as contrasted to the cultures of African-Americans, Latinos, and non-European immigrants.

This is sense of rootedeness in European tradition is odd considering that US conservatives think of themselves as somehow being the torchbearers of the tradition they inherited from Europe. But Europe is more traditional than the US almost by definition… but, to US conservatives, Europe is the opposite of their notion of tradition. Americans so much loved tradition that we even created entirely new traditions of Christianity. I find it ironic for Mormon Beck to be the defender of tradition.

This issue of confused ideologies came up with the recent IRS building attack by Joe Stack. In his suicide note, he criticized the government in typical fiscal conservative fashion. The confusing part was that he made statements that could be interpreted as praising communism over capitalism. This is strange as US conservatives love to disparage Europe for its socialism. Ignoring Stack’s unclear ideology, some have connected these particular statements to Henry Fairlie who was a European conservative… a very different species. Fairlie moved to the US and was critical of the Republican party because it didn’t seem conservative to him at all. As he saw it, without a stable government, there can be no stable society, no stable culture, no stable tradition.

Idealizing capitalism in place of government didn’t seem like a good answer to Fairlie. Without a strong government to enforce strong regulation, there is nothing traditional about uncontrolled capitalism. In all traditional societies, the market is controlled by government whether national or local. Capitalism itself isn’t even a traditional value. The Catholic church which is the very archetype of Western Tradition has often been critical of capitalism. In the past, religion was allied or even conjoined with government in order to control all facets of society including the markets. This is what US conservatives like to call socialism or communism.

US capitalism is a very unstable system with booms and busts. The markets change quickly and the system encourages risky behavior. The US government, on the other hand, was designed to be very conservative. The power of the govt is divided and change happens very slowly. The US government is more conservative than US capitalism and yet conservatives criticize the former while idealizing the latter. If you look at the history of US capitalism, it has been the single greatest force in destroying traditional communities. Why are conservatives considered fiscally conservative when they support a big military and undermine all programs that directly help US citizens (public schools, assistance programs, etc)? Liberals are considered fiscally liberal, but if you look at the Pew data liberals are the demographic that is the most concerned about balancing the budget.

In the US, the penultimate defenders of “fiscal conservatism” are the libertarians. This just adds to the confusion. Libertarianism was also inherited from Europe where originally it was part and parcel of the workers movement. Even in the US, the early workers movement was against the government that was aligned with the corporations (corporatism) all the while promoting what are now considered socialist ideals of workers rights. Over this past century, though, the protest against government has switched from progressivism to regressivism and the libertarian movement has switched from anti-capitalism to pro-capitalism. Even so, libertarianism and progressivism have never been entirely separated. Any time a truly populist protest movement arises, libertarians and progressives become almost indistinguishable… for example, the Peace movement protesting the Iraq War.

I suppose the connection between libertarian and progressive sentiments had been strained since at least the Civil War. But the separation didn’t become obvious until Republicans took up the Southern Strategy. By using this strategy, conservatives played off of the Southern fear and resentment toward the Federal government. As progressives were finally getting the government to enforce laws that defended the common man, this irritated the class conscious Southern Aristocrats.

I’ve discussed some of this before such as the role the KKK played in the development of conservative ideology. It’s strange how conservatism became what it is today. Glenn Beck has gone so far as even to attack the Christian tradition of social justice. Social conservatism without social justice? Fiscal conservatism without regulation on capitalism? It’s like we’ve fallen through the looking glass.