Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What explains the ideology we choose?

Arnold Kling writing at his new blog (I join many others in welcoming his return to blogging) calls to task those of us who uncharitably describe our ideological opponents in this excellent post. This opened my eyes a bit to my own uncharitable attitudes.

But that wasn't the thing I liked most about the post. The highlight was his characterization of what drives ideologies. I recently was sketching out my own theory as to what the essence of political and ideological beliefs are. Here is my theory:

Most people from all political positions base their beliefs primarily out of a desire to mitigate if not eliminate their fears.

  • Progressives fear free market outcomes from three respects:
    1. Perceived inefficiencies (too many cereals, three gas stations at one intersection, streams of failed businesses, et al.)
    2. Perceived uncertainties (again failing businesses, uncertain future investment & retirement values, fluctuating prices, job losses or changes, et al.)
    3. Perceived inequalities (different pay scales, different growth rates of income, consumption, wealth, etc., varying levels of quality/quantity for goods and services, et al.)
  • Conservatives fear disorder from three respects:
    1. Perceived indulgences (gluttony, sexuality, et al.)
    2. Perceived freeloading (unnecessary welfare, shirking of duty, et al.)
    3. Perceived radicalism (morality without God, challenge to authority, breaking of protocol or decorum, et al.)
  • Libertarians fear corrupt control from three respects:
    1. Perceived economic restraint (property rights violations, reordering of economic outcomes, reversals of earned fortunes, et al.)
    2. Perceived intolerance (personal life decisions like who to marry, methods to find pleasure from drugs to sex to music to travel to thoughts, et al.)
    3. Perceived association prohibitions (where and with whom to live, to work, to trade, et al.)

Maybe I've been reading Kling so long that we are mind melding, or perhaps great minds independently think alike. I look forward to the essay he says in the post is forthcoming on this topic.

P.S. Another way of looking at these three groups might be that progressives worry about who wasn't invited to the party, conservatives worry there will be a party, and libertarians worry the progressives and conservatives are going to ruin the party, TOGA! TOGA! Yes, this is probably uncharitable.