Friday, 31 December 2010

Is it intelligent radicalism or compassionate conservatism - or both?

As I was checking my e-mail, I found an interesting finding: that conservatives have a much more emotional brain than liberals. Today’s Age says that recent neurological research gives strong evidence that people’s political views are related to the structure of their brain.

People with very conservative views are shown to have much thinner “anterior cingulates” than people with left-wing views. This suggests very clearly that people who are conservative really are much more emotional than people who are atheistic and big-government. Although my brother says that this means conservatives are much more self-centred and less objective than liberals, one really has to take into account the finding of Arthur Brooks in Who Really Cares if one wishes to show that it is not true that leftists’ calls for radical redistribution of wealth via income caps do not result from an empathy problem.

Many other scientists have argued that intelligence is correlated with atheism and left-wing politics - citing the many European Jews who were unusually intelligent according to all studies and became Marxists during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By this token, people who are right-wing are simply less intelligent than those who are more liberal.

The logical means of doing this - and the only one that I find remotely fair - is as I outline in “Why to Expect Compassionate Conservatism” - that thinking types (the political Left) and feeling types (in general constituting the political Right) work in very different ways that can be complementary (as with many early twentieth-century families) but in many cases are totally opposed. The reasonable thing to do is simply to realise that the political ideals of both thinking and feeling types are a natural result of their personal virtues and vices. For instance, thinking types who find inequality from statistics tend to believe that it is bad and that people should try to remedy it by changing the structure. Feeling types, on the other hand, who see inequality would tend to see it as a personal matter and think that much can be destroyed if radical change is attempted.

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