Morality and Political Views
A Liberal's Outlook On Conservative Values
College campuses try to be open and accepting places. They want to create safe spaces for people to freely share ideas in order to promote progress and to encourage people to learn more about the world. Unfortunately, as a result, campuses are facing a serious dilemma. People who are open to change and progress are almost always politically and socially liberal, which means that the average campus is not going to have moral diversity among students and faculty. When everyone shares the same values, they become a team, but teams tend towards closed-minded thinking, which is definitely not the type of thinking that a college campus wants to endorse. Additionally, with so much moral uniformity at colleges, it is more difficult to foster an intellectual community of people who can learn about diverse philosophies.
This phenomenon obviously exists outside of college campuses. Anyone who is surrounded by likeminded individuals is going to have trouble understanding people with differing opinions. Liberals tend to assume that conservatives are blinded by things like religion and stupidity, but liberals are not the only group of people to make incorrect assumptions. Whether you are a liberal, conservative, democratic, republican, or libertarian, it is comforting to be deluded into thinking other types of people possess inferior morals, but it is definitely possible to step outside of your personal moral confines by taking the time to figure out what philosophies are influencing different people.
According to researchers, several moral drives exist that all humans seem to possess at birth, but each drive can be weighted differently, depending on your experiences. Some of these moral drives even exist in other species. An obvious moral drive is compassion, which is the one that makes us want to for others, especially for the weak and vulnerable. Like most mammals, we have biochemical and neurological pathways in our bodies that make us very good at bonding and caring. These same pathways also trigger a strong negative response towards those that inflict harm. Essentially, humans do not believe it is moral to hurt anyone else. Rather, we want to care for and defend those who have been harmed.
Another obvious moral drive is fairness, which actually might make us unique among other mammal because it is unclear if any other species believes in things like reciprocity, retribution, and justice. However, in humans, we definitely want to punish you if you cause harm, while we are willing to reward you if you prevent harm.
Studies show that the moral drives of compassion and fairness seem to be what liberals care the most about. However, while conservatives do care about compassion and fairness, they also place a high value on a few other moral drives. For example, they care about group loyalty, which is a moral drive that exists across the animal kingdom on a very small scale. In humans, you get relatively large groups of people or tribes. Even though we no longer have ancient tribes, tribe mentality is still something from which we derive deep pleasure, so we make our own tribes. We align ourselves with teams, clubs, social groups, and more in order to give us the feeling that we are part of a tribe. Liberals also have their groups, but conservatives specifically believe that loyalty to your group is an important moral value. Liberals, on the other hand, are more likely to engage in acts of betrayal if they feel they have the moral obligation to do so.
A conservative is also more likely to place a lot of value in respecting authority. Other animals take power through size, strength, and brutality. Humans, on the other hand, can be given power by other humans completely voluntarily. Brutality is definitely one way of receiving power, but acts of love can also get you respect. Conservatives will say that humans have a moral responsibility to maintain the right kind of power balance, while liberals are very interested in changing power dynamics to make everyone equal.
The final conservative value is purity. Purity is often related to suppressing sexuality, especially female sexuality. However, it can also be related to any ideology that allows someone to attain virtue by controlling their body. Sexual urges are not the only desire that you might need to control. This moral drive states that you can be considered virtuous by controlling what you eat, how you exercise, and what you say.
To be clear, liberals can also care about loyalty, respect, and purity. They just tend to care about it much less than conservatives do. Many liberals are more likely to say that there should be some sort of limit to how loyal you are to your tribe, how respectful you are to authority, and how pure you want people to be. After all, too much loyalty, respect, and purity can sometimes lead to authoritarianism, sexism, and xenophobia. However, conservatives will be more concerned about how the lack of loyalty, respect, and purity can lead to social entropy, which is actually a serious concern. In fact, in order to build a successful society, you need much more than just fairness and compassion. You need every single moral tool. You need leaders and you need everyone else to respect those leaders. You need cooperation or tribe mentality to ensure that everyone is working together. You need to encourage people to start trying to achieve nobler or even more divine end in order get them to suppress primal urges that might hinder the construction of your society.
Liberals often fail to see the value in order and structure. Liberals like revolution, change, and progress in order to help anyone left behind by certain social structures or constructs. However, order is difficult to achieve and it is easy to lose. A revolution might be a good temporary fix for the problems inflicted on the most vulnerable members of society, but you need a permanent solution to ensure that the progress is maintained in a way that does not allow chaos to reign. Conservatives have a good moral foundation that is partly designed to be able to put a stop to the chaos.
No specific worldview is necessarily right or wrong. Every type of political and social philosophy is going to bring something else to the table, so no one needs to change their opinions. Everyone must simply try to recognize that everyone else’s beliefs are driven by valid moral philosophies. A society needs the perfect balance between structure and entropy. This balance is going to depend on many factors. At different points in the evolution of our society, different social tactics are going to be necessary, which means that, every now and then, conservatives must acknowledge that three of their moral drives can lead to serious problems when not applied in moderation. However, liberals are also going to need to accept that tribe mentality, social hierarchies, and purity standards might sometimes be for the best. Of course, liberals do not need to start accepting that maintaining sexist or racist traditions will ever be beneficial. However, a liberal might have to accept that the motives behind someone’s politics are perfectly valid motives, even if the way those motives are manifested may not necessarily be ideal.