• Apollodorus
    531
    The “loony Left” and the psychology of Socialism/Leftism

    I’m currently reading a book on the differences between the way people at opposite ends of the political spectrum see things. Also, looking at the comments on the “Democracy vs Socialism” thread, I can’t help wondering what it is that makes us so different.

    Why is “the Left” called “loony”? Why is “left” considered as somehow “not right”? And what makes us so defensive when discussing opposite views? Why do we sometimes simultaneously reserve the right to be different while also expecting others to be like us? Is it always just different political views or are there more fundamental psychological differences that make those views appealing to us in the first place?
  • StreetlightX
    6.9k
    And what makes us so defensive when discussing opposite views?Apollodorus

    Why is “the Left” called “loony”?Apollodorus

    :chin:

    Just one of those mysteries I guess.
  • Apollodorus
    531
    Well, from a cursory observation, I think that views tend to crystallize in two opposite categories: one oriented towards "change" ("left") and the other oriented towards "conservation or preservation" ("right"). Does this suggest some deeper psychological differences between "left" and "right" or is there some alternative explanation?
  • Isaac
    4.3k
    I think views tend to crystallize in two opposite categories: one oriented towards "change" ("left") and the other oriented towards "conservation or preservation" ("right").Apollodorus

    Which political wing most supports environmental conservation?

    'Conservation' is just a gloss for the right. It's about individual's rights to take from common resources, but that doesn't sell well.

    The differing psychologies might be an interesting topic, but political slogans are not psychology.
  • Tom Storm
    967
    Down here we also have the expression, the lunar right. Both sides sling shit at each other.
  • Cuthbert
    227
    There is the loony left and there is also the gibbering swivel-eyed right. The main reason for this is that it's easier to call people names than to listen to them and answer their arguments. My mother used to parody the position by saying "I think the whole world is mad apart from me and thee. And I'm not so sure about thee."
  • Tom Storm
    967
    "I think the whole world is mad apart from me and thee. And I'm not so sure about thee."Cuthbert

    My old boss used to say this too.

    The issue with political positions is that most people assume theirs is rational or common sense and the other side is evil or barking.
  • Isaac
    4.3k
    The main reason for this is that it's easier to call people names than to listen to them and answer their arguments.Cuthbert

    That might be true, but do you think it actually matters? Are there situations in which you think either side remain unaware of the arguments of the other, despite the mudslinging. It seems unlikely to me that if one were to ask a right wing political science graduate or economist what the arguments of their left wing counterparts are, they would be unable to answer. Most are quite conversant with the arguments of the other.
  • frank
    7k
    Why is “the Left” called “loony”?Apollodorus

    This was a hook used by Thatcherites. It was meant to help shift attitudes toward acceptance of privatization and the abandonment of protection for labor.
  • StreetlightX
    6.9k
    This was a hook used by Thatcherites. It was meant to help shift attitudes toward acceptance of privatization and the abandonment of protection for labor.frank

    Not to mention alliteration appeals to the lizard brain in us. A lowest common denominator thing. In place of, I dunno, substance.
  • Apollodorus
    531
    I do agree that political slogans are not psychology but they may point to deeper psychological factors. After all, everything we do is rooted in our individual psychology. Psychology is what makes us different individuals. And let's not forget that the left has its own labels for the right.

    However, the way "left-handedness" is perceived seems to have deeper cultural and historical roots that seem to suggest a more fundamental difference to "right-handedness". It used to be regarded as some sort of "handicap" but nowadays some associate it with "better verbal skills" and the like.

    At last, the benefits of being left-handed are confirmed - The Guardian
  • Isaac
    4.3k
    I do agree that political slogans are not psychology but they may point to deeper psychological factors.Apollodorus

    They may, but it seems likely, given their purpose, that the psychology they point to is more that of the closest socially acceptable narrative, rather than the underlying motives. That's why I gave the example of wildlife conservation. Rarely do we see the right wing get agitated over the extinction of a species of invertebrate. Why not? If the underlying psychology were one of preservation, of not making rapid change for fear of unpredictable consequences, then wildlife conservation should be top of the agenda. But it isn't, because wildlife conservation interferes with the individual's ability to commandeer communal resources from things like surrounding ecosystems.

    As I said, I think the underlying psychology is interesting, but we'd need to isolate some behavioural commitments from each side which give us a flavour of their beliefs and motives, rather than use the labels they apply to themselves in the public arena.
  • deleteduserax
    51
    about psychological differences, i guess the left today is like the teenager who wants to save the world but cannot take the garbage outside. What happens when the teenager rebels? they demand revolution, they just do not accept responsibility and say its actual state is somebody else's fault, feels like a victim. So for many the promises of the left are very appealing. They say don't worry it's not you, the problem is not that you won't be responsible and consequently grow up, it's the system and you are a victim. No wonder why the inexperienced youth is the most attracted.
  • frank
    7k
    Not to mention alliteration appeals to the lizard brain in us. A lowest common denominator thing. In place of, I dunno, substance.StreetlightX

    That too.
  • Isaac
    4.3k


    By the way, if anyone is interested in the state of research on this, Darren Schreiber has published a retrospective, only a few years out of date

    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/politics-and-the-life-sciences/article/abs/neuropolitics-twenty-years-later/51C39AA6539B1979FEA6D36C44E216BF
  • Apollodorus
    531


    I don't disagree with any of that. However, the point the book seems to be making is that both the Left and the Right tend to describe each other in psychological terms, perhaps the Left more so.

    "Leftist social scientists sought to show that conservative values are psychologically abnormal" p. 5

    "Even the conservative Right [as opposed to the far Right] is generally described in psychological terms as 'regressive' and 'repressive'" p. 7

    The term "right" seems to be acquiring a similar connotation to the way "left" was used in the past.

    In any case, psychological analysis including "psychohistory" (I didn't know such a thing existed) seems to be increasingly applied to these issues. What is the explanation for this development? Despite all the talk of "unity", is society really becoming more and more pollarized?

    Obviously, I've only just started reading the book but I must say it's very interesting and thought-provoking so far.

    Oh, thanks for the link!
  • Apollodorus
    531
    i guess the left today is like the teenager who wants to save the world but cannot take the garbage outside. What happens when the teenager rebels?Alexandros

    That's a very good point actually. It reminds me of the article "Marx, Revolution and the Legacy of Utopian Socialism: A Critical Outline" on wordpress. It describes how Marx who seemed to have an adaptability issue rebelled first against his father, then against religion, then against philosophy and eventually developed a "critique of everything". So, psychology does seem to have something to do with the idea of "change at all costs".

    If so, then the author is correct. It looks like his thesis is endorsed by Prof Kevin MacDonald of the Department of Psychology, California State University, and others.
  • Isaac
    4.3k
    the point the book seems to be making is that both the Left and the Right tend to describe each other in psychological terms, perhaps the Left more so.Apollodorus

    I'm not sure I'd describe it as 'the point' of the book, but I wouldn't deny that there's been a growth in interest, and perhaps leaning more toward psychologising right, rather than left wing views.

    I think the trend (small though it is), is partly about the way psychology is practiced. The interest is partly in getting behind the surface-level analysis, so one is less likely to get hits from "left wing voters vote for social policy because they care about social policy" than "right wing voters vote for less regulation because they're greedy". I'm exaggerating, of course, but the point is individual gain (at the expense of others), is a motive, yet not a socially acceptable one, so there's more deception and therefore more to discover.

    You may disapprove even of that narrative, but ask yourself how many classic folk heroes would have voted for Thatcher. Robin Hood? Aragorn? King Arthur? Can you see any as poster boys for Thatcherism? The cultural moral narrative is simply not in favour of the kind of individual gain right wing politics strives to support, hence the deception, hence the interest of psychologists.

    I think there'll be more interest in left wing politics now we have social media creating viral causes and strong polemical groups, and the move of the left wing away from economic equality toward identity politics. There's now a greater incentive to be deceptive about motives with left wing activism too (not that there wasn't before, but more so).

    Oh, thanks for the link!Apollodorus

    No problem. If you want any more resources just ask, I've got tons.
  • Apollodorus
    531


    Am I right in assuming that you've read the book then?

    I'm not sure the "poster boy for Thatcherism" analogy is quite as simple as that. If we look at the UK experience, left-of-center parties aren't currently doing very well and the Queen/Royal Family is still enjoying popular support - though the opposite may be the case in the USA.

    You sound like a well-read kind of person. Could it be that deep down we're all conservatives but at the same time we wish to introduce changes we hope will be of benefit to us personally but that ultimately may turn out to achieve the opposite? This seems to be suggested by the Russian and other revolutions where the old social order is overthrown only for a new one to be imposed that is potentially even more repressive than the original one.
  • Tzeentch
    1k
    Looney is the word I'd use for those who would seek to impose their moral views on others through state coercion.

    Trying to do good by doing evil is one of those terrible paradoxes that typify the worst parts of human history.
  • Ying
    289
    And what makes us so defensive when discussing opposite views?Apollodorus

    I'm guessing cognitive dissonance in some (or most) cases.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance
  • ssu
    4k
    Why is “the Left” called “loony”?Apollodorus

    I think that both political sides have their own share of what could be referred as "loony".

    You can find their actions well documented by the media supporting the opposite side.
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    The term "right" seems to be acquiring a similar connotation to the way "left" was used in the past.Apollodorus

    It seems as though you have not been at this very long.
  • frank
    7k
    do agree that political slogans are not psychology but they may point to deeper psychological factors. After all, everything we do is rooted in our individual psychology. Psychology is what makes us different individuals. And let's not forget that the left has its own labels for the right.

    However, the way "left-handedness" is perceived seems to have deeper cultural and historical roots that seem to suggest a more fundamental difference to "right-handedness". It used to be regarded as some sort of "handicap" but nowadays some associate it with "better verbal skills" and the like.
    Apollodorus

    Politics, whether state or office, is about controlling the superficial, the appearance, the common sense narrative.

    At base, it's the mechanics of primate socialization. The top monkey is the hub, emanating order (apparently it's a female among bononos, so don't get Petersoneque about it).

    There's no need for conflict as long as that hub is working. When it breaks down (maybe due to stagflation?) then the monsters come out to play.
  • ssu
    4k
    Stagflation? ? ?
  • frank
    7k
    Stagflation? ? ?ssu

    I'm all into the shift from post WW2 embedded liberalism to 80s neoliberalism. 70s stagflation was a critical ingredient.

    Hope you're doing well. Springtime in Finland?
  • ssu
    4k
    I'm all into the shift from post WW2 embedded liberalism to 80s neoliberalism. 70s stagflation was a critical ingredient.frank
    Lol. :lol:

    Yes, inflation is coming. And the correct term would be stagflation.

    What's the worst that could happen?

    That we all will be millionaires. The few billionaires now quadrillionaires then.

    And then the monsters come out to play.

    Springtime in Finland?frank
    Springtime in Finland.
    200310_57.jpg
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.7k


    Calling "the left" or Liberalism loony or something along those lines is an old tactic of those of "the right" (I won't say "Conservatives" as I think they've gone into hiding, and rightly so, though they indulged in this tactic as well). They perceive themselves as hard-headed realists, and those of the left as utopian at best. That self-perception is laughable now, of course. Mr. Bolton seems something of a loon himself.
  • frank
    7k
    It looks a tad greyish.
  • T Clark
    5.1k
    Why is “the Left” called “loony”? Why is “left” considered as somehow “not right”?Apollodorus

    I'll speak for the US. Different political parties have always insulted each other. It's bad rhetoric, although I guess it works sometimes. There has always been political conflict, but the parties and branches of government generally kept things moving. Passed legislation, kept the government open, avoided impeachment if possible. In the last 30 years I've watched things change dramatically. You've heard about it - polarization. Fox News, MSNBC. Everything is a fight to the death now. Why, I'll talk about that more below.

    In that kind of a situation, things move toward the extremes - conflicts and parties. Every argument, dollar spent, and bill is a matter of life or death, not because the contents are particularly important, but because the goal has become winning, hurting the other party, as opposed to governing. When I was young, there were liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. Both parties had the so called "big tent," although the Democrat's tent was always bigger. As Will Rogers said, "I'm not a member of any organized political party, I'm a Democrat." In the early 70s, the Republican vice president, Nelson Rockefeller, was a liberal Republican.

    I think you might find pretty wide agreement with what I've laid out before. I wanted to get that out of the way before I got to the controversial part. Why did it happen - it's the Republican's fault. I won't go into my reasons for saying that. I'll let this article from 2012 speak for me. It was taken from a well-known book by Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/lets-just-say-it-the-republicans-are-the-problem/2012/04/27/gIQAxCVUlT_story.html
  • Fooloso4
    1.5k
    "conservation or preservation" ("right").Apollodorus

    Since Trump is now the face of conservatism in the US let's look at what he intends to conserve or preserve. Certainly not traditional conservatism. Not the environment. And not diplomatic relations with our allies. Not what is derisively referred to as the administrative state.

    He is obsequious to the religious right and promotes the interests of his cronies in gas, oil, and coal. The only thing it is evident that he preserves is his own self-interest. And the rest of the Republican Party, which considers itself equivalent to conservatism falls in line lock-step to preserve their own interests.
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