Monday, January 16, 2012

New Conservative Book

I have a reasonably frequent commenter and blogger who has written a book.

I confess I more often find his observations and questions clueless and questionable despite his claims of centrism. In looking at his book via the free link I see one explanation. He watches and listens to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to get historical context! I think that is about as useful as reading Karl Marx to get the thinking of the University of Chicago economists or using the false histories of theocrats to understand the Constitution.

Where to begin... I have to confess my own failures to persuade conservatives after giving them what I thought were very informative books that start from where they are coming from. A case in point is giving my ex-father-in-law Blinded By the Right which is the story of how one of the Republicans biggest propagandists suddenly couldn't do it any more that was also influenced by his coming out as gay. My ex-father-in-law thought he was a mixed-up confused man, ignoring the story I saw of a powerful well-financed group using media propaganda to pursue their economic self interests.

Some of the people I read and listen to most started as hard-core Republicans and left the Party. I find them much more coherent than those who were Marxists when young, both those who moved to the opposite extreme and those who stayed. I think there are habits of thinking that continue to influence you as you get older and I am very interested in those studying the differences in morals of liberals and conservatives where it is clear to me those are still appropriate and convenient terms.

1 comment:

daniel noe said...

I remember seeing Blinded By The Right in stores, but didn't think it was worth getting. What I did buy and read was Not A Conspiracy Theory (How Business Propaganda Hijacks Democracy) by Donald Gutstein. I was a bit disappointed. I thought I was going to get an explanation of how specific propaganda pieces distorted truth, but instead all I got was essentially a list of who's who in neocon and libertarian think tank funding. Gutstein never even tried to make the case that what they were doing was propaganda (rather than setting the record straight) and he strangely ignored all the progressive propaganda I see all the time (though I'm sure progressives merely see this as setting the record straight).

Another book I did not think was worth reading is The Liberal Mind (The Psychological Causes Of Political Madness) by Lyle Rossiter. From what I heard he makes the case that liberals never grow up because they had unmet needs in childhood, or something like that. The thing is, I don't believe this will ever convince liberals they are wrong and will only cement in their minds how crazy conservatives are.

I recently wrote a post (can the media be biased both ways?) that touched upon the phenomenon of two people reading the same article and seeing it confirm their (opposite) points of view.

It seems that everyone of all sides tries to frame the arguments in ways favorable to them. Which frame is the "truthful" one, and which ones are propaganda? One can only go by common sense and apply the same principles of logic they use in everyday life (and were born with) to the world of politics. This is all I do. If there are some elements of the "conservative" message that resonate with me, it is because they tell me what I already believed. Who's blinding whom?

I'm glad that you have become interested in these things. Perhaps we can discuss matters further in the future to learn better where the other is coming from. Professor Haidt's work is a good place to start, but I would warn you that the way he has the five foundations arranged are wholly inaccurate in my experience. has a similar, but I believe more accurate, model of moral foundations (only four in this case).

Good luck.