We’ve mooted this issue before in the course of some heated exchanges on the old “Commonsense Political Thought” blog.
So, it’s not a new question, but it remains one worth considering on its own: Are political progressives, those human biological expressions we term modern liberals, in some way radically unsuited for life in the system of political liberty once bequeathed to us by our ancestors? Are they, modern liberals, in some ways and on average congenitally defective, or maybe “just fundamentally different” with regard to the possession of the (“lower case”) kind of self-governance and self-reliance capacity which presumptively (according to our Founders’ theories) makes participation in Self Government in a (“Upper Case”) political sense, a workable proposition?
Are modern-liberal hedonic utilitarianism and values nihilism even, say, the mere result of biological dispositions or attributes, rather than intellectually arrived at conclusions?
Perhaps, as Hoagie suggested the other day, while he was exasperatedly engaging in a bit of unapologetic invective, modern liberals really are, in a statistically meaningful sense, a distinct sub-population within this polity: a politically co-existing but distinguishable population of humans who have certain kinds of distinct behavioral or psychological or even morphological traits (or deficits) which make life in a constitutional polity – a limited republic – very unpleasant, un-meaningful, and even frightening for them.
The answer is probably unfolding before our very eyes.
“Men who are strong are more likely to take a right-wing stance, while weaker men support the welfare state, researchers claim.” Daily Mail | UPDATED: 19:39 EST, 16 May 2013
Given Their Manifest Natures, that is to say the somatic, the morphological and psychological manifestation that constitutes “them”, perhaps a classically liberal constitutional polity suitable for self-directing individuals just doesn’t fit with what they are capable of or able to appreciate in life.
The Depressive and Anxious Liberal
Perhaps the most revealing difference is the enhanced tendency that Liberals have for depressive and anxious disorders. We stumbled onto this phenomenon in our Spring 2005 survey, and filled in some of the details in our Summer 2005 survey.
Liberals report higher rates of major depression, mild depression, bipolar disorder, agoraphobia, OCD, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and general anxiety. This is true for both males and females. Liberals also report higher stress levels and lower confidence levels (both soon to be reported).
Liberals are also much more likely to use anxiolytics and antidepressents. Liberals report more difficulty in maintaining attention during conversations. Liberals on average spend more time in “negative” emotional states. By “negative”, we mean mental states that seem to be contrary to their own self-interest. They also report lower rates of involvement in pair-bond relationships. Neuropolitics.org Ezine February 2006
Now we might take this too far, and certainly racists in the past have. They did so by imagining for example, that they could discern an invariable and universal gene link between somatic expressions and character traits which manifest as morally evaluable behavior.
But that seems to me to be a rather different proposition than to notice that, say, feminized males and masculinized females for instance, tend to identify as political progressives; whereas conservatives are more strongly sexually dimorphic.
Multiple research disciplines have found evidence that our male ancestors used physical aggression to compete for status. The evidence shows how this competition led to the evolution of numerous physical and psychological sex differences. Sell and team’s review highlights the sheer number of physical and mental features that show evidence of special design for physical aggression in men, compared to women. These features include abilities to dissipate heat, perceive and respond rapidly to threats, estimate the trajectory of thrown objects, resist blunt-force trauma and accurately intercept objects.
While fighting ability was undoubtedly essential when man was a hunter-gatherer, how important and influential is it today? According to Sell and colleagues’ work, man’s fighting ability is still a major influence on his attitudes and behavioral responses. Springer Select New York / Heidelberg, 10 April 2012 in “Why are action stars more likely to be Republican?”
Just how that actually works itself out in detail, is another matter.
For example, whether people who are marginalized or who feel marginalized for whatever reason tend to be more politically “liberal” on what are pretty obvious socially motivating grounds, or, whether the physical phenomenon or trait itself is what prompts a “liberal” social attitude, is a question I don’t pretend to have an answer to.
Maybe it is a mixture of both … first, congenitally divergent interests among people who find themselves associating in a political arrangement with strongly divergent others, and second, a particular strategy for jockeying for place, and status, and for the distribution of economic spoils, within that polity.
But the difference seems to researchers to be as plain as the nose on your face:
” … when it comes to female politicians, perhaps you can judge a book by its cover, suggest two UCLA researchers who looked at facial features and political stances in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Female politicians with stereotypically feminine facial features are more likely to be Republican than Democrat, and the correlation increases the more conservative the lawmaker’s voting record,” said lead author Colleen M. Carpinella, a UCLA graduate student in psychology.
The researchers also found the opposite to be true: Female politicians with less stereotypically feminine facial features were more likely to be Democrats, and the more liberal their voting record, the greater the distance the politician’s appearance strayed from stereotypical gender norms.
In fact, the relationship is so strong that politically uninformed undergraduates were able to determine the political affiliation of the representatives with an overall accuracy rate that exceeded chance, and the accuracy of those predications increased in direct relation to the lawmaker’s proximity to feminine norms. Science Daily
September 27, 2012
Nonetheless, whatever the details, I think we see an interesting phenomenon developing in the United States, as the progressive programmatic invariably passes beyond the achievement of transactional dominance in the public realm, and relentlessly seeks to percolate all the way down to every last private relation and interpersonal transaction.
Who, or whatever these people are, it does not appear they are prepared to recognize any limits.
Now, yes, admittedly, this totalizing impulse on the part of leftism is historically well-known. It even follows from an explicit tenet of Marxist theory: base and superstructure, which rejects the realms of civil society and political society as legitimately distinct from each other – viewing such a distinction as creating a disjunction or a break in the life of the whole man.
It – classical political theory – does this they [Marx] claim[s] by formally granting man the status of a political peer or “citizen” wherein he is entitled to experience the impartial operation of the public law and to participate in public affairs, but nonetheless remains liable to the contempt of and exclusion from others within the private realm. This possibility results from allowing those potentially excluding others [through the concepts of the private family and property, and through other forms of private relations] a socially unregulated access to the material world, and to “selfishly” benefit from their “unearned personal powers”; which, in the end, gives these persons an opportunity to advantage and distance themselves from those whom they may view as unappealing or unworthy of self-sacrificial solidarity, for whatever reason or reasons.
Thus man’s nature, is itself a problem to be socially addressed through social, and other, engineering. Eventually, you may wind up with this:
“So that just as. to assure elimination of economic classes requires the revolt of the underclass (the proletariat) and, in a -temporary dictatorship, their seizure of the means of production, so to assure the elimination of sexual classes requires the revolt of the underclass (women) and the seizure of control of reproduction: not only the full restoration to women of ownership of their own bodies, but also their (temporary) seizure of control of human fertility – the new population biology as well as all the social institutions of child-bearing and child-rearing. And just as the end goal of socialist revolution was not only the elimination of the economic class privilege but of the economic class distinction itself, so the end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally. (A reversion to an unobstructed pansexuality Freud’s ‘polymorphous perversity’ – would probably supersede hetero/homo/bi-sexuality.) The reproduction of the species by one sex for the benefit of both would be replaced by (at least the option of) artificial reproduction: children would born to both sexes equally, or independently of. either, however one chooses to look at it; the dependence of the child on the mother (and vice versa) would give way to a greatly shortened dependence on a small group of others in general, and any remaining inferiority to adults in physical strength would be compensated for culturally. The division of labour would be ended by the elimination of labour altogether (through cybernetics). The tyranny of the biological family would be broken.” Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex, http://www.marxists.org/subject/women/authors/firestone-shulamith/dialectic-sex.htm
With then, the quote above, we have obviously passed beyond the simple question of whether “modern liberals, [are] in some way unsuited for life in the system of political liberty” to one of whether they are inevitably aiming toward another kind existence altogether. At which point the question of a shared polity becomes perhaps, the least of the questions requiring our attention.
But even the original question seems unlikely to survive as a “moral” question, if the research continues toward the conclusions which it at present seems pointing.
Ironically, the issue may have been most recently framed along these lines by political progressives themselves when they announced that “The personal is the political”
Yes, well, ideology and revolutionary rhetoric aside, we may be on the verge of finding out just how personal the political really is.