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Author Topic: Right and left...heart and head?
Apemantus
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Babbler # 1845

posted 25 November 2001 11:18 AM      Profile for Apemantus        Edit/Delete Post
First off, may I say what an excellent community this looks - I have searched for GOOD discussion groups and this one seems to steer as clear as possible, considering that we are all humans, from descending into name-calling and all the things that ruin discussions and make a community become less than it could be.

Prompted by Johnny Haggis' post I was thinking how often it does seem to me (a leftwinger here in the UK) that the left and right are a bizarre mixture of the head and heart. Let me try to explain, though apologies in advance if I fail, I can but do my best.

At this current time of international crisis (as we in the West see it, I wonder how different it really is, both for us and for the Middle East, than what has gone before), arguments seem to range from appealing to the intellectual mind and to the human heart. For instance, the patriotism expected of people is a direct appeal to their hearts, to what makes them 'feel' Canadian, British, American, yet the argument put forward for bombing was a supposedly logical one of 'it is the only way to stop Bin Laden and his cohorts.' Yet, combining the two obscures the issue. We don't know that bombing was the only logical answer because not much discussion looked properly at the alternatives, perhaps because they were considered no alternative by the more emotional people (i.e. those who advocate that the only response terrorists understand is violence because they (the advocators) only understand violence - in itself making sense of terrorist actions as speaking in the only language both sides understand perhaps?)

Sorry, I fear I am rambling. My point was that whilst some 'emotional' critics in the press criticise the 'intellectual liberal elites', and do it in a way that bizarrely implies people are dumb to be clever, the same could be said of the left, whose response to bombing is in part an emotional one ('don't hurt those innocent women and children') supported by intellectual arguments about the true state of the world.

I wonder whether what is happening throws both the head and the heart so into confusion that both sides use both to explain and justify their actions and thoughts. Which of the head or heart will win, I wonder? Both perhaps?

These thoughts also occurred to me because people accuse liberals of being handwringing emotional people whilst the right are more hardhearted, yet this ignores the way the right also appeal to the heart and the left use the intellectual approach of what policies will work in their view.

This thinking is hurting my head, now, so over to you...thoughts please.


From: Brighton, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 518

posted 25 November 2001 02:13 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The left in America and Europe has historically been associated with reason and logical thinking, and the right with the irrational.

That is a broad statement, but, I think, true.

The left arose from a desire to critique all existing societies from the point of view of reason; from a desire to "ecrasez l'infame" of traditional, faithbased authority, whether it be the church, or the divine right of kings.

Movements such as romanticism and Freudianism did have left-wing adherents, but were much more easily absorbed into conservative thought.

And nationalism is a direct appeal to sentiment and tradition; the nazi slogan : "Think with your blood" is merely the outermost term on the spectrum, and excludes those of different experience and biology.

A very interesting writer on this topic is Alan Sokal, a physicist at NYU. His webpage
has a million articles about this topic, but reading one or two carefully will provide the gist. A typical quote:


"Too many academics, secure in their ivory towers and insulated from the real-world consequences of the ideas they espouse, seem blind to the fact that non-rationality has historically been among the most powerful weapons in the ideological arsenals of oppressors. The hypersubjectivity that characterizes postmodernism is a perfect case in point: far from being a legacy of leftist iconoclasm, as some of its advocates so disingenuously claim, it in fact ... plays perfectly into the anti-rationalist -- really, anti-thinking -- bias that currently infects "mainstream" U.S. culture."


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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Babbler # 490

posted 25 November 2001 03:29 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
The left in America and Europe has historically been associated with reason and logical thinking, and the right with the irrational.

I agree as well. This lack of understanding of the powerful driving forces behind right-wing ideology and the success it has had among people is the chief thing that ties our hands on the left. We expect people to rationally understand that the tax system favors the rich, but instead we find that people just mindlessly hollar that they're overtaxed without even busting out a calculator to check over some pay stubs.

This is why I believe if anything is to be accomplished, the left must cut this ground out from under the right. It is possible, in my view, to be a populist AND a leftist at the same time, and to effectively combine rhetoric and fact.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
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Babbler # 1402

posted 25 November 2001 07:09 PM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
But what is to be done with religion?
It's certainly not rational; it does tend to favour the entrenched power-structure, and yet it appeals to the basic need of people for a sense of community and basic values.
Is it possible for progressive socialist thought to fill this need?

From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
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posted 29 November 2001 01:34 AM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
What, no takers?
I guess i'll have to make up a new rational, socialist religion myself.

From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
PanzerLeader
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posted 29 November 2001 11:44 AM      Profile for PanzerLeader   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
If the left is so logical, than why does it fail in North America and is being thrown out in Europe, like the Danes just did.
From: Ottawa, Ontario | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Markbo
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Babbler # 124

posted 29 November 2001 11:54 AM      Profile for Markbo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I always thought that the right was associated with the rational and the left with emotion.

It all goes back to that quote, If your a conservative at 20 you have no heart if you are a liberal at 40 you have no brain.


From: Windsor | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Apemantus
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Babbler # 1845

posted 29 November 2001 06:00 PM      Profile for Apemantus        Edit/Delete Post
My whole point simply made:

quote:
I always thought that the right was associated with the rational and the left with emotion

Exactly, now read my comment at the start of his thread and make a comment. That was also the impression I used to have until I thought about it, and realised we are both a mishmash of both but the right like to make out the left are emotional as if it makes them more sensible when they actually appeal as much to emotion as the left do!

And as for the supremacy or otherwise of the left, Gordon Brown (Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK) has been introducing anti-poverty policies and has just mooted tax rises to pay for health care, which have generally had a good reception, so I wouldn't count the left out yet!!!


From: Brighton, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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Babbler # 490

posted 29 November 2001 08:40 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
I always thought that the right was associated with the rational and the left with emotion.

Not necessarily. Social conservatives tend to be prone to emotional and half-baked rhetoric in pressing their cases, just as the economic logic of fiscal conservatives is sometimes... shall we say, needing of a little once-over.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Markbo
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posted 01 December 2001 12:09 PM      Profile for Markbo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Its not that it was my opinion its just I have always heard that association. I agree that it is an unfounded stereotype. But I think it is historical unfounded stereotype not this:

quote:
The left in America and Europe has historically been associated with reason and logical thinking, and the right with the irrational.

I never have heard it associated that way.


From: Windsor | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
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posted 01 December 2001 12:22 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Markbo:

An easily available work that takes this position is George L. Mosse's work on the rise of European racism. But there are literally thousands of books on this.

If you think about who values tradition, whether or not it is reasonable, who values the nuclear family and its structures of authority, who gives precedence to religion, you will generally be led in the direction of Stockwell Day.

Of course, the far right, the Nazis and their brethren, are explicitly anti-reason, which they found of less value than "blood and soil".


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Apemantus
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Babbler # 1845

posted 01 December 2001 02:17 PM      Profile for Apemantus        Edit/Delete Post
Surely both sides think they are the rational ones with thought rather than emotion governing their views, though both accept that things like patriotism (for the right) and say humanitarian issues (for the left) have an emotional element to them.

It just makes me laugh because the common complaint of bleeding heart liberals is made by people who expect hearts to bleed for the mother nation, whilst the left characterise Bush et al as bumbling idiots inciting emotional imagery to justify a war, yet they are against that war at least in part due to emotional reasons.

One wonders whether the debate could be helped if both sides just debated the actual arguments rather than the nature of their opponent's character, but then seeing as politics is something people feel strongly about, that is a wish too far, I suspect...


From: Brighton, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
nonsuch
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posted 01 December 2001 05:03 PM      Profile for nonsuch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
You're never going to find humans (or any other animal more advanced than, say, a lobster) that doesn't function with both emotion and intellect, in some kind of mix.
Without emotion, we'd eat our young; without reason, we couldn't find other food. We all simply have to deal with both in ourselves, in one another, in our social systems and in our world.

From: coming and going | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged

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