The Great Divide


I THINK IT was last week that I was sitting on a Metropolitan Line train reading a copy of the London Evening Standard (glad it’s a free sheet now, it’s certainly not worth good money) and a remark by Baroness Lane-Fox caught my eye. Those of you with good memories may recall the noble lady as plain Martha Lane-Fox who had something to do with the “dot com boom” at the beginning of the millennium. Speaking about the possibility of Brexit she said: “I have spent my entire working life trying to break down barriers between countries, the idea that we would erect more of them is baffling in a world that is becoming more connected.”

The word that stood out for me was “baffling”. It baffles me that anyone should be baffled by the need to maintain the border controls which protect the identity and interests of the natives, and no thanks are due to Martha for her — no doubt very effective — work in dismantling those controls. It is very telling that she sees them as “barriers” (bad) rather than “controls” (good). It was even more telling when she went on to say that erecting “barriers” would stop us filling the million hi-tech jobs which will need to be filled by 2020; surely she cannot really be suggesting that we need to import a million immigrants in four years for hi-tech industries alone, can she?

A clue as to why Martha and I baffle each other, or would do if she had any notion that I exist, is to be found in Jonathan Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind, published in 2012. Haidt is a New York social psychologist (someone has to be) who postulated that the moral universe for liberals is driven by compassion, the desire to fight oppression and, to some extent, by fairness. Conservatives are driven in part by the same drivers but also by loyalty, authority, and sanctity. So the Left has three “taste buds” as Haidt calls them, but the Right has six. This means that the Right can appreciate compassion and fairness, but the Left struggles with concepts such as patriotism and religion which can only be appreciated if you have the “taste bud” for sanctity, which the Left lacks.

It may be worth mentioning in passing that the quality of “fairness” means different things to the Left and to the Right; to the Left it means equality, to the Right it means proportionality — that you get what you deserve — and so the meaning which a person gives to the word “fairness” will tell you how he or she is likely to think on pretty much everything.

So now we can see why Martha is baffled; she lacks the necessary moral quality to appreciate patriotism. I also suspect that this lies at the root of the Left’s furious incomprehension at the way we think — to them it’s all just “Hate” when really it is we who have the more extensive and sensitive moral compass! Who would have thought it?

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Source: Western Spring

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3 May, 2016 8:34 pm

A pleasant article, with an interesting concept proposed.