Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Connections and Consistency

One obvious question that arises from the TNL post is “Why should the progressive player seek an interior solution?” For that matter, “Why should the conservative player seek an exterior solution?” Neither of these questions was directly addressed in the post. However, the personality-political affiliation study does give a hint to the answer to these questions. Remember, it is a remarkable fact that there is a measurable personality difference between liberals and conservatives.

We found that the primary intrinsic information-processing distinction between self-described progressives/liberals and conservatives was that liberals “feel” while conservatives “think”. Both terms should be understood in the context of the study. They tell us how about the mode of decision-making of the individual based on information presented by the environment. The distinction is not a product of the moral status of the decision maker, but the mode of decision does have moral implications. Since the vast majority of individuals consider themselves to be “good” in a moral sense irregardless of political affiliation, the distinction must be a function of how we judge the imperatives of good action in relation to the environment.

The conservative makes decision based on discrete, measurable actions on his environment. Rationalism is a method of organizing the environment in a logically consistent method such that the environmental entropy is reduced. That entropy which cannot be reduced is treated in such a way that it does not enter the moral calculus. Thus, the misfortunes of Job were a test of fidelity while other randomness is ascribed to either the unavoidable byproduct of physical laws of creation or the consequences of other’s actions for which a collective moral consequence is assumed. There is moral order in the environment of the conservative because the conservative believes that he acts on the environment for a moral purpose. Internal feelings of happiness or guilt are a consequence of this measurable action. Feeling follows thinking.

The moral viewpoint of the progressive is not primarily a function of his perceived action on the environment. His judgement of good and bad action is more directly a result of his internal harmony, i.e. "feeling". The conflict which arises from discordant forces is to be minimized for the maximization of the good of the liberal -- conflict is inherently bad. Thus progressives do not seek to interact at odds with the environment; they seek consensus. This is by definition the search for an interior solution as the social/economic model is defined. The external environment is rationalized to come into agreement with internal needs and desires. Thinking follows feeling.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Human Transactions

We transact with others on a continuum of trust and power. On one end of the spectrum, what we receive from the transaction cannot be differentiated from a gift. On the other end, it is a product of force and power applied to another. One relationship relies on human intuition to be profitable; the other is a product of brute calculation. As individuals in a generic situation we chose to transact on that basis that we expect to yield the more favorable result. That decision is a product of our personality and experience. When transacting with other humans with whom we have no prior experience, we proceed according to a characteristic bias. This same bias is also projected on anthropomorphized institutions such as government and corporations.

The continuum of interaction is directly correspondent to the feeling/thinking axis of decision making that differentiates liberals and conservatives. Conservatives tend to view government as best suited to taking a limited, contractual relationship with the governed. Meanwhile, liberals seek a paternalistic government that “feels their pain”. So, our approach to politics is again an extension of our personalities. We should be aware of the bias that we bring to our deliberations of problems that we wish to objectify; the best solution applies uniformly to the mass of society and not to ourselves alone.