Given that I grew up in Dublin its probably no surprise that I was brought up a Catholic. I would say both by temperament and upbringing I am very much on the left. My maternal grandmother was closely involved with Countess Markievicz and did much good work in the Dublin slums in the earliest part of the 20th century and one of my aunts is a Franciscan Nun and considered one of the founding mothers of Malaysia. I’ve always found it difficult to reconcile being Christian to being right wing. Whereas I am very disappointed with the current crop of politicians, I’m pleased that with the current Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury we have good leaders with a strong moral compass.
In the The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding.
Haidt’s six moral foundations are:
- the sense of needing to provide care and protect from harm.
- the sense of what is just and fair.
- the sense of loyalty and willingness to sacrifice for a group.
- the sense of obedience or respect for authority.
- the sense of needing to preserve purity or sanctity.
- the sense of liberty/oppression.
Haidt finds that liberals tend to strongly emphasize the first two moral intuitions (harm and fairness) in their responses to situations and events, but are much weaker on emphasizing the next three (group loyalty, respect for authority, and purity or sanctity). By contrast, Haidt finds that conservatives more than liberals respond to all five moral intuitions. On the sixth liberals and conservatives alike care about being free from tyranny, from unjust exertions of power, but they seem to apply this impulse differently. Liberals use it to stand up for the poor, the weak; conservatives use it to support the “don’t tread on me” mentality.
Its an interesting thesis. Currently the Tories are very much using number three in their appeal to patriotism and what seems to be an attempt to drum up the Falkland’s War spirit, but this time with the EU as the external enemy. It doesn’t work with me I have seen the destructive effect of “the sense of loyalty and willingness to sacrifice for a group” on my own island.
Possibly you see some of these traits in yourself?