Mike’s Prattle


Moyers and Company

Posted by Mike on February 9, 2012


I’d like to recommend readers of either side of the political spectrum to check out the Moyers & Company episode “How do Conservatives and Liberals see the World?” It’s my opinion that the politics of the country are as polarized as they’ve ever been and I’m completely weary of the propaganda coming from either side of the spectrum and am always looking to understand things outside of this box and this was about as close to anything like this I’ve seen on television.

In fact this interview Moyers had with psychologist Jonathan Haidt almost seemed like he was talking to a hermeticist. I can’t remember specific quotes too well, but at one point Haidt made the point that truth can’t be reached through reason, which is one of those statements that ought to have many skeptics in a major uproar, but that hermeticists understand implicitly.

I’m not sure that you could put the conservative party and liberal party on either side of the tree of life, but I do think conservative tendencies tend to be severe and liberal tendencies tend to be merciful. But of course the lesson of this is that of the middle pillar and of balance. I don’t think I’ve ever met a hermeticist that’s a political conservative but I’m not sure any of them quite qualify as a Maddow/Olbermann-esque liberal either. I’m at the point where most of this stuff reeks of obvious propoganda and I don’t like it from either side. Hermeticists break away from groupthink not embrace it.

Haidt brought up Manichaeanism which I tend to find one of the biggest issues because this is really the state of Christian fundamentalism today. If you’re not walking the party line (of good) then the only other choice is that you’re evil. Haidt made the point that this is a lot of what drives Republicanism today and it’s often what I experience with fundamentalist republicans who can’t at all accept someone outside their box as being good, because if they don’t believe in Jesus, the flag and apple pie then they must believe in communes and world states and the rise of the Antichrist.

But I think the main point Haidt makes is that liberals generally try to seek new experiences while conservatives tend to stick to what they already know. I like that Haidt didn’t attach value judgements to these things though, that is he wasn’t trying to say this makes liberals superior to conservatives, only that they’re different ways of viewing things. How he compared the tea party’s use of the flag (untouched and sacralized) to Occupy Wall Street’s use of the flag (usually altered in some fashion as liberals don’t sacralize the flag) was particularly fascinating.

Haidt hopes to be instrumental in translating the language of one viewpoint to the other and I think it’s an honorable if not very realistic mission entirely due to the Manichaenism he brought up earlier. With Ivy league schools cast as elitists due to such Manichaenism (another good example is the way everything becomes the “liberal media”), it’s hard to imagine conservatives taking him seriously. Even though he says the results of the study actually moved him in a more conservative direction.


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