Friday, May 18, 2012
HT Phoenix Preacher: Jonathan Haidt on Social Conservatives, New Atheists and Civility at Christian Post
The link is buried so deep into this week's Linkathon I want to plug for the article by posting it as a stand alone entry here. A few years ago I think I read some of what Haidt was discussing about three verses six measures of ethics and that it was becoming more apparent to him that liberals focus on three while social conservatives focus on six. The challenge is not that liberals and conservatives don't share any common values, Haidt began proposing, it was that conservatives had some additional values liberals don't share that seemed to stymie the possibility for dialogue. Haidt was, by his own account (and my reading at the time) more liberal than he says he is now.
Anyway, it's a fascinating interview and worth reading. This part is just a sample, and an interesting one in which Haidt explains why he thinks Democrats and Republicans have made a mistake of ramping identity politics. He also makes what is (to me) an unsurprising distinction between conservative intellectuals and the Republican Party. You may not agree but it's an atheist talking about conservative and liberal politics and religion. Should any of us expect to agree on everything?
Haidt: First, let me distinguish between Republicans and conservatives. As I say in the book, I think conservatives have a more correct view of human nature than do liberals. But, as I also say, I'm praising conservative intellectuals, not the Republican Party. The Republican Party is now going through a moralistic fervor akin to that which gripped the Democrats in the 70s and 80s when they were into identity politics. I think the Republican Party has circled around a few issues, especially taxes, which are in some ways counter to conservative values and bad for the country.
I think Republicans need to take income inequality more seriously. Not because I favor equality of outcomes. I do not. I think the right is correct to stress merit and earned rewards, not handouts and forced equality. But I think what Republicans are blind to is that power corrupts. Especially in a democracy in which money buys access. I think the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are correct that crony capitalism is a huge problem for our country and I think the Republicans are not sensitive enough to that.