by Jeff Wilfahrt
Jul 8, 2015, 1:00 PM

There’s a reason the left cannot reason with the right

There exists a lot of research into the biological linkage to ideology. It won’t be of much interest to the right to read at least one scholarly article on the subject. But there is cause for the left leaning progressive mind to pursue it… because it is in our nature to do so.

The right operates on threat level. It is their biological imperative to resist change because it threatens their sense of order in the world. Studies show the right amygdala is pronounced in such cases.

For the left a threat activates thought. For them it is the search for additional information, for conflict resolution. In effect they want to think things through, not just react. The left uses the frontal cortex, the reasoning center.

But let the authors of the linked article make the case in their own words.

“The left–right (or liberal–conservative) dimension long before the French Revolution, when ‘‘left’’ and ‘‘right’’ became potent ideological labels, Christian symbolism associated the right (through handedness and other metaphors) with ‘‘liking for or acceptance of social and religious hierarchies’’ and the left with the ‘‘equalization of conditions through the challenge of God and prince’’ (LaPonce 1981, p. 135). Remarkably, this fundamental distinction, when applied to the political sphere, has retained impressive (but by no means perfect) stability for over two centuries (Bobbio 1996; Jost 2006, 2009). LaPonce (1981) noted that, if one removes references to the monarchy, the ideological language of the French Revolution provides an apt description of contemporary politics in Europe and North America: ‘‘Attachment to one’s privileges and to the hierarchical order is on the right; the desire to bring order down is on the left. The existing hierarchical structure, whether it be that of politics or that of the church, promotes security on the right, but oppresses on the left’’ (p. 51).”

Our polemics it would seem exist in our biology.

Below is an exchange between blood brothers, products of a common household, common ancestry and yet ideologically divided.



Again, the linked piece above offers an explanation of how these brothers approach things.

“Specifically, death anxiety, system instability, fear of threat and loss, dogmatism, intolerance of ambiguity, and personal needs for order, structure, and closure were all positively associated with conservatism (or negatively associated with liberalism). Conversely, openness to new experiences, cognitive complexity, tolerance of uncertainty, and self-esteem were all positively associated with liberalism (or negatively associated with conservatism). Subsequent research has also demonstrated that liberals exhibit stronger implicit as well as explicit preferences for social change and equality when compared with conservatives (e.g., Jost et al. 2004a, 2008; Nosek et al. 2009).”

Given the research it would be prudent for the progressive NOT to attempt reason with the right wing. To them that itself is a threat. It is more effective to ameliorate their sense of threat and/or impending loss.

As a spin on an old maxim, the trick is not to getting the horse to water, but getting it to drink.

Therefore there is no reason for the left to attempt reason with the right. They are not wired like us and thank the universe we are not wired like them. Should all this make sense to you then you’re probably of liberal/progressive mind. If it scares you then there is no argument that will persuade.

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