Last hope for the left

Prospect Magazine

Last hope for the left

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The liberal, secular world view may hold sway over western elites, but it is struggling to answer the conservative challenge

Elite colleges produce WEIRD people: Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic


The Righteous Mind
by Jonathan Haidt (Allen Lane, £20)

Together
by Richard Sennett (Allen Lane, £25)

A few years ago I was at a 60th birthday party for a well-known Labour MP. Many of the leading thinkers of the British centre-left were there and at one point the conversation turned to the infamous Gordon Brown slogan “British jobs for British workers,” from a speech he had given a few days before at the Labour conference.

The people around me entered a bidding war to express their outrage at Brown’s slogan which was finally triumphantly closed by one who declared, to general approval, that it was “racism, pure and simple.”

I remember thinking afterwards how odd the conversation would have sounded to most other people in this country. Gordon Brown’s phrase may have been clumsy and cynical but he didn’t actually say British jobs for white British workers.

In most other places in the world today, and indeed probably in Britain itself until about 25 years ago, such a statement about a job preference for national citizens would have seemed so banal as to be hardly worth uttering. Now the language of liberal universalism has ruled it beyond the pale.

My fellow partygoers were all too representative of a part of liberal, educated Britain. Shami Chakrabarti, of the human rights group Liberty, has argued: “In the modern world of transnational and multinational power we must decide if we are all ‘people’ or all ‘foreigners’ now.”

Oliver Kamm, the centrist commentator, said to me recently that it was morally wrong to discriminate on grounds of nationality, ruling out the “fellow citizen favouritism” that most people think that the modern nation state is based on.

And according to George Monbiot, a leading figure of the liberal left, “Internationalism… tells us that someone living in Kinshasa is of no less worth than someone living in Kensington… Patriotism, if it means anything, tells us we should favour the interests of British people [before the Congolese]. How do you reconcile this choice with liberalism? How… do you distinguish it from racism?”

It is not only people on the left who think like this. On a recent BBC Radio 4 Moral Maze programme about development aid, the former Tory cabinet minister and born-again liberal Michael Portillo had this to say: “It is quite old fashioned to think about national borders, and rather nationalistic to say we must help people who are only moderately poor because they happen to be in the UK rather than helping people who are desperately poor because they happen to be a long way away.”

All of the above are, in the formulation of a group of North American cultural psychologists, WEIRD—they are from a sub-culture that is Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic. They are, as we have seen, universalists, suspicious of strong national loyalties. They also tend to be individualists committed to autonomy and self-realisation. Balancing that they are usually deeply concerned with social justice and unfairness and also suspicious of appeals to religion or to human nature to justify any departure from equal treatment—differences between men and women, for example, are regarded as cultural not biological.

This is what one might call the secular liberal baby boomer worldview and it is in many ways an attractive and coherent one. It is also for historical reasons, to do with empire, unusually ingrained in the British cultural and political elite, the default position in much of the education system (especially higher education) and the public services more generally, plus significant parts of the media.

The Daily Mail is dedicated to a Kulturkampf against it precisely because it is so powerful. In the neat slogan about British politics since about 1975, “the right won the economic argument, the left won the cultural argument.” But is the left now losing the cultural argument too? Or, to put it another way, is the WEIRD elite coming up against some of the boundaries of everyday morality?

Most traditional societies are “sociocentric,” meaning they place the needs of groups and institutions first. Today most rich societies are “individualistic,” making society a servant of the individual. Yet even in these countries significant traces of our more sociocentric and “groupist” past are to be found in peoples’ instincts and moral intuitions. This has been the message of countless works of popular science since the renewed interest in Darwin (including from the late conservative social scientist James Q Wilson). Humans are not “blank slates” and only partially respond to a WEIRD worldview, we are still also group-based primates and our moral psychology has been shaped by deep evolutionary forces.

And the problem for liberals is that conservatives understand this better than they do. As one conservative friend put it, “it has taken modern science to remind liberals what our grandparents knew.” Ed Miliband’s difficulty is not so much that he is weird but that he is WEIRD. Yet help is at hand in the shape of a truly seminal book—out of that remarkable Amerian popular-science-meets-political-speculation stable—called The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt.

Like Steven Pinker, Haidt is a liberal who wants his political tribe to understand humans better. His main insight is simple but powerful: liberals understand only two main moral dimensions, whereas conservatives understand all five. (Over the course of the book he decides to add a sixth, liberty/oppression, but for simplicity’s sake I am sticking to his original five.)

Liberals care about harm and suffering (appealing to our capacities for sympathy and nurturing) and fairness and injustice. All human cultures care about these two things but they also care about three other things: loyalty to the in-group, authority and the sacred.

As Haidt puts it: “It’s as though conservatives can hear five octaves of music, but liberals respond to just two, within which they have become particularly discerning.” This does not mean that liberals are necessarily wrong but it does mean that they have more trouble understanding conservatives than vice versa.

The sacred is especially difficult for liberals to understand. This isn’t necessarily about religion but about the idea that humans have a nobler, more spiritual side and that life has a higher purpose than pleasure or profit. If your only moral concepts are suffering and injustice then it is hard to understand reservations about everything from swearing in public to gay marriage—after all, who is harmed?

Haidt and his colleagues have not just plucked these moral senses from the air. He explains the evolutionary roots of the different senses from a close reading of the literature but has also then tested them in internet surveys and face to face interviews in many different places around the world.

Morality “binds and blinds,” which is why it has made it possible for human beings, alone in the animal kingdom, to produce large co-operative groups, tribes and nations beyond the glue of kinship. Haidt’s central metaphor is that we are 90 per cent chimp and 10 per cent bee—we are driven by the “selfish gene” but, under special circumstances, we also have the ability to become like cells in a larger body, or like bees in a hive, working for the good of the group. These experiences are often among the most cherished of our lives.

One of my most politically liberal friends read this book and declared his world view to be transformed. Not that he was no longer a liberal but now “he couldn’t be so rude about the other side, because I understand where they’re coming from.” This will be music to Haidt’s ears as the book was written partly as an antidote to the more polarised American politics of the past 20 years, marked by the arrival of Bill Clinton and the liberal baby boomers onto the political stage.

The American culture wars began earlier, back in the 1960s, with young liberals angry at the suffering in Vietnam and the injustice still experienced by African-Americans. But when some of them adopted a style that was anti-American, anti-authority and anti-puritanical, conservatives saw their most sacred values desecrated and they counter-attacked.

Some conflicts are unavoidable and Haidt is not suggesting that liberals should stop being liberal—rather, that they will be more successful if instead of telling conservatives that their moral intuitions are wrong, they seek to shift them in a liberal direction by accommodating, as far as possible, their anxieties.

For example, if you want to improve integration and racial justice in a mixed area, you do not just preach the importance of tolerance but you promote a common in-group identity. As Haidt puts it: “You can make people care less about race by drowning race differences in a sea of similarities, shared goals and mutual interdependencies.”

If America’s culture wars are past their bloodiest, Europe’s may be just beginning as left versus right continues to lose its old salience (even in the face of a crisis of capitalism). Consider the switch in attitudes in once-liberal Holland, the fall-off in support for welfare in Britain (see the March issue of Prospect) and the continuing blue collar drift away from most of Europe’s WEIRD-led centre-left parties.

The thinking behind The Righteous Mind may be the last hope for European liberalism. Indeed this book should be the scientific manual for the movement that I have called post-liberalism (see Prospect October 2011)—those from centre-left and centre-right, including Blue Labour and Red Toryism, who argue that both economic and cultural liberalisms have “overshot” in the past generation to the particular detriment of the bottom half of society.

Post-liberalism, like the promised land of a post-racial politics, does not seek to refight old battles but to move on from victories won. Its concern is not to repeal equality laws, or reject the market economy, but rather to consider where the social glue comes from in a fragmented society. To that end, it acknowledges authority and the sacred as well as suffering and injustice. It recognises the virtues of particular loyalties—including nations—rather than viewing them as prejudices. And it seeks to apply these ideas to the economic as well as the social sphere.

Much of this goes against the grain of an increasingly WEIRD and legalistic politics in Britain. The problem for the left has not so much been “rights without responsibilities” as rights without the relationships that help sustain them. If we are to be entangled in one another’s lives, for example as funders or recipients of social security, it helps to identify ourselves as part of a group. Meanwhile the right remains attached to its own form of abstract universalism, more concerned with the procedures of the market than what kind of society they have helped create. Some of the notions of loyalty, civility and respect that conservatives are so comfortable with in politics need to be reintroduced into the economic sphere.

Richard Sennett would agree with that. He is another liberal American thinker with a big book out on human co-operation. But he writes in the English manner: essayistic and oblique and vastly more elegant than Haidt’s sometimes repetitive lecture-room style. Yet after Haidt’s thrilling adventure in ideas, Sennett seems to have little new to say.

He circles the subject tentatively—there is a nice subplot on the joys of diffidence—approaching it through music, science, history and so on. But to say that co-operation is a skill and that we should try to become good listeners does not get us very far, indeed it hardly begins to fulfil the dust-jacket claim that he will teach us how to live together in morally diverse societies.

What does Sennett have to say to the elderly white residents of the Pollards Hill Estate in Merton in southwest London, where I visited the other day, many of whom feel discomforted by the big inflow of west Africans who now make up more than a third of the estate? Recommending that they listen more skilfully might get a dusty response.

Sennett is one of the great essayists of the social sciences and this book enjoyably rehearses many of his favourite themes, but coming after his work on craftsmanship and before a book on cities, it feels like the least grounded book in his trilogy on work. He is, by his own description, an old-fashioned man of the left but through his work on class and the world of work someone who is also, perhaps, a link to a Blue Labour/Red Tory concern with the losers in the meritocratic race.

So, is the future post-liberal? The WEIRD liberalism of the baby boomer generation was perhaps condemned to a dogmatic universalism as a result of emerging in the shadow of two world wars, the Holocaust and the anti-colonial and civil rights struggles. There was a lot to react against and it is perhaps understandable that in eagerly embracing the moral equality of all humans, some boomers slipped into a carelessness towards national borders and identities and a rigidity towards many forms of equality. The next generation of politics need not make the same mistake.

Response: What Haidt gets wrong, by Alex Worsnip

  1. March 22, 2012

    BenSix

    Interesting essay, Mr Goodhart. I was intrigued to note that even the authors of a book on “where and how diversity works” concluded that “you really have to make people proud of who they are”.

  2. March 22, 2012

    RichJS

    I’d really like to read Haidt’s book, and I’d say I’m open to the thesis. However I found the following statement baffling:

    “The sacred is especially difficult for liberals to understand. This isn’t necessarily about religion but about the idea that humans have a nobler, more spiritual side and that life has a higher purpose than pleasure or profit.”

    I would strongly contest this. I also find the statement a bit baffling, since it seems to be conservatives that want profit-making and wealth to be the elite principles of our society. The difference is that for liberals, humanistic values and ideas like equality and social justice, and a world view in which individuals build respect, empathy and communication with other based on our common humanity, and that should trump nationalistic and local identities, especially if they are prejudicial. I fully agree that we have to capture a sense of stronger community, but this will have to be in the context and frame of such values rather than against them – as your idea of post-liberalism seems to hint at.

  3. March 22, 2012

    RichJS

    Sorry, an editing error there. I meant to say that those humanistic values constitute the sacred for liberals.

  4. March 24, 2012

    Simon

    I rather thought the liberal elite was only too happy to see the kind of manic free-marketeering it imputes to so-called conservatives, provided this meant that it could ride the waters atop its turbulence, sipping Shiraz in a glass-bottomed boat with the delegation from China.

    http://www.fabians.org.uk/

  5. March 24, 2012

    Weird global citizen

    First, I thought the author’s attempt to link social liberalism to the WEIRD acronym a little bizarre seeing as he seemed to be talking about the liberal/conservative divide amongst western industrialised rich democracies. His thesis seemed to be that tertiary education stops people being nationalist or having gender roles so only the ‘E’ was at all relevant. I’m not sure he meant to imply that conservatives are less educated either so I assume he means a particular kind of education. 

    Secondly it seemed to me that the real intention of the essay was to challenge, in a round about way, the idea that we should be “suspicious of appeals to religion or to human nature to justify any departure from equal treatment”. The irony of this is that ‘equality for all’ is a sacred belief amongst the left as much as the sanctity of heterosexual marriage is for the conservatives he was describing. Similarly I think the left just thinks that authority derives from solidarity with the marginalised and disadvantaged rather than from a utilitarian appeal to a particular monoculture. It isn’t that liberals don’t understand the sacred or authority in human nature they just have different conceptions of what they should look like. 

    All that remains then to discuss is the part of human nature described as loyalty to the in-crowd. It would be easy at this point to characature the author’s argument as ‘consevatives are willing to appeal to the base insider/outsider part of human nature (that often leads to racism, xenophobia, misogyny etc) and that is why they are popular’ but I don’t think that is what he means (at least I hope not). He seems to be saying that we are better off having a strong nationalist identity in order to unite the different groups within a country as all part of the same in-crowd. 

    To this i would say that ‘loyalty to insiders’ can equally be expressed as fear of outsiders and while that is part of human nature, I don’t think it  cannot be overcome by culture and I don’t think it is a good basis for public policy. Where you were born,  geographically and sociologically, continues to have far to much influence over health, well being, status and achievement. The history of humanity has been a story of finding mutually benifical outcomes between competing insider groups. Cooperation trumped insider loyalty to allow competing families to form into tribes and competing tribes to form into cities and clans. Competing cities and clans were often united by religion and formed into nation states and then these nation states were able to embrace immigration and multiculturalism. Why can’t cooperation and mutual good trump the worst of our human nature again for us to become global citizens? 

  6. March 24, 2012

    Paul Dove

    @RichJS

    “…for liberals, humanistic values and ideas like equality and social justice, and a world view in which individuals build respect, empathy and communication with other based on our common humanity should trump nationalistic and local identities”.

    If people have entrenched religious or ethnic identities you can’t just steam in and tell them that these should play second fiddle to the Guardian reader values of secular liberal humanism. And what you describe as ‘common humanity’ may not be considered as such by other groups.

    I agree with you though that Goodhart is very unclear about the notion of the ‘sacred’.

  7. March 24, 2012

    John Ellis

    Just because a book has been written and Goodhart always harps on about immigration doesn’t make the liberal goals any less relevant or indeed important.

    In the US the right has a monopoly on ‘hate’, which Goodhart doesn’ mention: the capacity for the American right to attack anything on the left is never matched by liberals. So, forget the five morals that the right is so good at and look at the sixth (or seventh) that the right is guilty of and liberals do not comprehend.

  8. March 25, 2012

    Valerie

    John Ellis; You MUST be joking or willfully blind to suggest that the Right in America is preaching “hate” politics. In fact, you must be a doctrinaire Leftist to suggest such an absurdity. Dear God man, open your eyes and ears.

    • January 13, 2013

      Barriereef

      My thoughts exactly! What planet,Ellis ,are you living on! The left uses violent mob tactics! Wisconsin,OWS,more!

  9. March 25, 2012

    Scott

    Codswallop!

    “loyalty to the in-group, authority and the sacred”. Give me a break.

    More Unions, more government and more Gaea.

    Methinks Jonathan Haidt is projecting.

    Nothing complicated with core conservative values. It’s simple, get government out of my face and trust your fellow man.

  10. March 25, 2012

    Peter from Oz

    I cannot help but notice that this essay persists with the error that liberals are individualists. Liberalism is the movement of the collectivist, the sort of person who sees the individual as part of a group. hence, the liberal fallacious belief that all members of a group can only think one way, or that diversity of skin colour means divesrsity of thought.

  11. March 26, 2012

    Ned Smith

    There is no hope for the “Left” or the “Right” in the 21st century. They are anachronisms from a bygone age, like wrist watches and the Royals

  12. March 26, 2012

    Nelson

    “In the US the right has a monopoly on ‘hate’”

    I would disagree with this point very strongly. The right does not have a monopoly on hate.

    You only have to look to attacks on Sarah Palin’s baby Trig and the certain liberal commentators suggestions that his down sydrome was due to inbreeding.

    Or the parties in the street that are planned for when Thatcher dies.

    Or at the branding of Rick Santorum and his wife as “weird” if not “sicko” for taking home his stillborn baby to be introduced to his family (which infact is recommended by midwives and doctors to provide closure for the family).

    These hatefilled slimings suggest to me that the right does not have a monopoly on hate.

  13. March 26, 2012

    Gerald Barnes

    One size fits all seems to be the logic of equalitarians. Yet this overlooks different aptitudes and abilities among individuals. In Britain there is a centuries-old snobbery against skilled manual work. Germany two centuries ago recognized the value of skilled labour and started setting up an apprentice education system to certify those who learned industrial skills to the highest standards. Such workers are well rewarded. It is time to review the assumption that people in pinstriped suits are automatically more valuable than engineers, tradespeople, industrial designers and others. Brain surgeons and heart transplanters fall outside this snobbery of social non-esteem, mainly because they spend so many years doing study and internship.

    The Left (by which is meant liberals and social democrats)are losing out on culture debates because so much leftist and liberal discourse is about equality and not human nature. Economistic thinking also tends to overlook nonmaterial (spiritual?) concerns. This has affected discourse about aesthetics, about faith schools, about the effects of ethnic traditions on child rearing and educational achievement. I don’t think the role of mass media journalists and editors as cultural and political players, rather than as impartial reporters and commentators, is brought into the equation when considering the discourse between Left and Right in western societies. Centrist politicians on the right and the left (an oxymoron, I know) are continually in dread of the judgement of the mass media and will modify their views on a range of cultural and social issues in efforts to avoid being publicly downrated.

  14. March 28, 2012

    td

    What you have to remember is that the left’s main goal is the destruction and eradication of Western/white culture by any means. Anything else is secondary to them. That’s why they support extremist religious groups who advocate the murder of gays, Jews, apostates etc, despite ostensibly having a “human rights” agenda. You couldn’t make it up really. Now that England is in its death throes there is only one option: emigrate.

  15. March 30, 2012

    Simon

    Peter from Oz says:
    “I cannot help but notice that this essay persists with the error that liberals are individualists. Liberalism is the movement of the collectivist”

    The sort of liberals the author lists in his piece actually strike me as being very individualistic in their way, albeit the individualism of competition carried out by throwing noisy public poses of moral perfection that avow quasi-socialist politics from which these advocates have made themselves a handy opt-out trap-door.

  16. March 30, 2012

    RichJS

    @ Paul Dove

    That’s a very fair point, and its the crux of the confrontation in many ways. My main point was that the liberal idea of the sacred is different, but those values, however differently constructed, can still be powerfully connected to an ideal in the dimension of the sacred or spiritual in many people’s lives.

    Of course biting off such great generalities is always goin to throw up these co tradictions – broad spectrums on the table here

  17. March 30, 2012

    Jake Gillespie

    Sadly, my Generation X died with Kurt Cobain – or at least the Boomers pronounced us dead. Then it was Y and Z? Creatively condescending bunch…
    At any rate, I’d replace the E with “Entitled”. Governments and their bureaucracies have proven over and over again that those in power only seek to retain and extend that power, by any means necessary. So when McCain and Obama both agreed to the Baby Boomer Bailout – the ruse of any “left” or “right” was exposed. They can talk endlessly about any so-called differences – but their actions speak MUCH louder.
    Any “believers” are just blissfully ignorant, thanks to whatever connections that led them to feel “protected” enough to blather on about a single-minded collective that rules us all – the greed of government and its supporting corporations.
    The only “intellectual” solution is to act independently of it all – in my case, that action was to leave a comfortable well-paying job in NYC to actively support the growth of small businesses. I hope it pans out. If not, at least I’ve liberated myself.

  18. March 30, 2012

    Libertarian

    RichJS, you are a true IDIOT and another fine example of a brainwashed 2 dimensional WEIRD. Please don’t speak further, your nonsense has given me quite a headache.

  19. March 30, 2012

    Enxyme

    Oh dear god! Why didn’t you make everyone jump out the box at the same time? Duh!? Some are still inside while others are already out. Liberals can’t care less about those left inside, for their hatred towards the drivers inside are much stronger than what they wish to preach.

  20. April 2, 2012

    BlackSaint

    Our government refuses to fulfill the most basic, primary task and duty of any government of any kind, anywhere in the world, and that is to protect its citizens and the Nation from invasion and enforce its Laws.

    Our Government, past & present, Republican & Democrat, have allowed the invasion of 20 to 30 million criminals and uneducated parasites which is the largest invasion of any Nation, at any time, by any means & in direct violation of Article IV Section IV of our Constitution.

    This refusal to abide by our Constitution or enforce our Immigration Laws should be classified as Treason & as grounds for impeachment & trials for Treason!

    Not only have they allowed the invasion, they force American tax payers to pay Billions on Billions of dollars to provide Welfare, Prison cells, Educate the invaders numerous children, and free medical care, at the same time the invading horde break numerous laws and massive document fraud, & are destroying our schools, hospitals, communities, culture and standard of living while Robbing, Raping, Killing & Assaulting American Citizens at an rate the terrorist can only dream about.

    Statements in Mexico from both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary something needs to be done. “Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers, and civilians,” Hillary whined.

    But no whines, concern or care that their refusal to stop the Massive Invasion of Illegal Aliens pouring across our borders or enforce our immigration laws that causes an estimated 25 Americans deaths per day and 10,s of thousands victims of Assault, Robberies, Rapes, Identify thief, and other assorted crimes committed by the invading horde of Illegal Aliens from our Southern border on American citizens each year!

    It is a telling indictment & shows their Empathy & Compassion of our Politicians & their priorities are not for the American citizens when they express more concern over Mexicans deaths mostly connected to the Drug trade, than the murders, havoc & crimes of Illegal Aliens against American Citizens!

    Most of our Politicians in Wash. DC are wading knee deep in innocent American blood and suffering because they put Self Interest ahead of the welfare of American Citizens & the future of this Nation!

    The Democrats view the invading horde of Criminals and Uneducated third world rejects as Undocumented Welfare Democrats & the Republicans as Undocumented Slave labor for their Pay Masters in the Chamber of Commerce & Businesses!

    The Citizens of this Nation of all races that have sacrificed with blood, sweat & tears for over 200 years & obeyed the Laws of the land, paid the taxes, and fought the wars & built this Nation are now letting Corrupt/Treasonous politicians turn this Nation into the United States of Mexico without a shot being fired, to serve their demented, nefarious goals!

  21. April 6, 2012

    Charlie

    Most upper middle class leftwing/liberal types ignore the economic argument. For most working class and lower middle class people immigration means reduced increases in salary and increased housing costs. If upper middle class left wingers and liberals were replaced by Indians and Chinese, then they would consider economic patriotism. The reality is that the UK could probably recruit far better educated yet cheaper upper middle class left wingers and liberals from India and China. Outsourcing the Guardian,the BBC,most of the state education and university systems and much of the legal system to Bangalore and Shanghai would probably provide a better quality service at a cheaper price.

    • November 20, 2012

      jixiang

      Are you kidding? No Asian country can produce educational or media services which can compete with Western ones on our cultural terms.

  22. April 6, 2012

    Laban Tall

    But liberals also care strongly about loyalty to the in-group – expressed in its worst form, as hatred of the out-group. You need to read the Guardian comments, where conservatives with both big and small C are routinely demonised as evil and subhuman. When Mrs Thatcher dies we’ll see this in full effect.

    I was reading a left London blogger last year, and two posts struck me. The first was a reasoned discussion of what to do about hateful commenters on blog posts – the kind of thing we can all relate to. The second, soon after, was a discussion of, not the morality, but the utility of murdering “fascists” – which obviously from the post and comments included BNP members. No cognitive dissonance among the commenters (mostly the same people on the two posts) at all. Plenty of loyalty to the in-group – in its most extreme form – on the Left.

  23. April 9, 2012

    davkk

    “it has taken modern science to remind liberals what our grandparents knew.”
    In otherwords tradition which also wisely tells that “charity begins at home” with particular people. Then also it is not enough to want to do good, one has know what is good. For example to be concerned for starving children in Africa is great, but to support abortion at the same time undermines that “universal love”. Liberalism is in love with universal fairness, etc but denies univeral moral norms.

  24. April 22, 2012

    Alyson

    This article is written from the perspective of the far right which says it is okay to make huge profits off the backs of workers in countries which do not have health and safety labour laws. The Lib Dems are the good guys in the UK coalition This aricle is trying to vilify community values in favour of the free market. That makes it much harder to raise social capital in the face of lawful greed.

    Globalism is attractive to the rich, who are happy to let their own communities lose out in the interests of their small minority of successful global economic interests.

    Liberal values have the lower octaves of building solid foundations for the Tory high fliers to sing their individualistic successes from. Labour voters have the collective and community at their heart, sustaining the workers in their daily grind.

    For Britain to be the morally good place it has been ideologically since the 2 world wars it needs to see itself as a model society, leading the world in democratic values. Cricket and footbal spring to mind as team-work examples.

    The way forward is to open up the tax loophole of charitable giving to include funding social infra-structure, making donations rather than investments, and sharing in benefits for everyone instead of looking for exclusive gain. Perhaps this needs to be the new mantra for Labour. Or perhaps Vince Cable can stop the pound of flesh from being taxed from too close to the country’s beating heart, and can get this new means of breaking the stagnant stranglehold of the higher octaves on the full orchestral diversity of multi-cultural Britain.

    Britain is no longer a class war of bosses and workers but of share-holders and the out of work. The idea of robbing pensioners not only of their nest egg that they have paid into all their working lives, not only of the feathering that they have worked so hard to put in place for retirement but also of the nests they call home, that they have built up, in personal property and private goods is mean in the extreme.

    The small band of very rich people are keeping fluid finance out of Britain because profits are higher elsewhere. To claim this is in favour of the poor in other countries is a half truth and a diversion from the responsibilities we have towards our own communities.

  25. May 21, 2012

    Brian H

    John Ellis

    Just because a book has been written and Goodhart always harps on about immigration doesn’t make the liberal goals any less relevant or indeed important.

    In the US the right has a monopoly on ‘hate’, which Goodhart doesn’ mention: the capacity for the American right to attack anything on the left is never matched by liberals. So, forget the five morals that the right is so good at and look at the sixth (or seventh) that the right is guilty of and liberals do not comprehend.

    Illustrating precisely the contra-factual nature of the liberal view of conservatives. In fact, if you film Tea Party gatherings, e.g., they are polite and friendly (and they spontaneously police the grounds before and after using them, leaving them cleaner than when they came), while leftist rallies are virulent, filthy, and often include such amusements as car-burning and window-smashing (with subsequent “liberation” of shop goods). As for the grounds, bring BIG dump trucks and backhoes, and be prepared for numerous deposits of human faeces.

    Being so “caring”, you see, is carte blanche for any and every kind of excess. And Ellis-like delusion.

  26. August 1, 2012

    Last

    “Liberals care about harm and suffering (appealing to our capacities for sympathy and nurturing) and fairness and injustice. All human cultures care about these two things but they also care about three other things: loyalty to the in-group, authority and the sacred.”

    This is too simplistic. There are many, ‘liberals who care about loyalty, authority and even the sacred. There are also many, many conservatives who are totally lacking in sympathy, fairness and justice.

    So I would say this book is nonsense!

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