Today, The Audacious Epigone blogged about the Haidt Morality dimensions questionnaire and the “disgust” dimension. It’s interesting he brought this up because I thought a lot about this after taking the tests years ago. (Tests–http://www.yourmorals.org/explore.php)
My sense is that one’s politics are intimately tied to one’s level and concentration area of disgust. The major thing that popped out to me when I took the Haidt disgust dimension test was my utter lack of disgust outside the “animal reminders” (dead animals, guts, remains). I believe that in my own case, however, that’s not disgust but exclusively fear of being reminded of my own death.
Libertarians lack both sexual “morality” and the “sanctity” aspect of disgust but retain the “fear of taint” type of disgust, which leads to a sense of paranoia among many with that bent. They share the taint dimension with Liberals. Look at the prevalence of fear of Flouride and vaccinations among the Paleolibertarians, for example. The political paranoia about cabals and conspiracies arise out of a sense that the government is “tainted” in the exact same manner, adulterated by occult, disease-like conspiracies, viral in nature and quite often discussed in similar terms as disease. Liberals are overdeveloped in the “fear of taint” dimension and that’s why they are always worried about food and “pollution” and magnets and things like that.
Both Liberals and Libertarians lack the “social hygiene” dimension and sexual morality dimension of disgust. These two aspects are overdeveloped in “Conservatives”. The “sexual morality” dimension explains the visceral conservative reaction to homosexuality and why they can never really rationally explain their inchoate horror at things like gay sex. Because it is based in a visceral disgust for which our liberTINE society has no regard, they have to dance around with words to come up with other justifications for why they hate gays and those explanations fall flat. They tend to reject “conspiracy theories” because that aspect of their cognitive style is already taken up by the first “conspiracy”, God. If you view their odd, baseless belief that same sex marriage “destroys traditional marriage” as based in the “social hygiene” aspect which views society as a body and likens novel social arrangements to invasive, invisible ailments that by nature corrupt the body and must be repelled–it makes a LOT more sense.
Liberals do not perceive society in body/disease terms but in terms of a story that can be written any way they want or a computer that can be programmed and is immune to viruses. Without the disease model of society they are incapable of conceiving of the conservative fear of novel arrangements.
The aspect of morality that is most overdeveloped in Liberals is “Harm” and that’s why they are congenitally incapable of understanding the Conservative opposition to things that are ostensibly “victimless”. Look at the standard Liberal response to any Conservative objection “who is it hurting?” or more to the point “How does it hurt YOU?”. To a Conservative, its hurting “Society”, to the radical individualist Libertarian and Liberal, “Society” as a superorganism either doesnt exist or can be rewritten at will, so no “victimless” social arrangement can do any conceivable harm.
This is why no one can talk to each other across the ideological divides, we are never speaking to each other in the same moral language.