Sunday, August 31, 2003


Dennis Prager makes a point about Left/Right differences that we often hear: "At the heart of liberalism is the naive belief that people are basically good. As a result of this belief, liberals rarely blame people for the evil they do. Instead, they blame economics, parents, capitalism, racism, and anything else that can let the individual off the hook”

The latest upload of one of my published academic articles here (or here) presents some survey evidence on that claim. It is undoubtedly true that Leftists do usually talk as if we can trust the innate goodness of humankind to make their do-gooder programs work out in practice but do they really believe it? Is a different view of man really basic to who is Leftist and who is Rightist?

Rather surprisingly, my survey showed no relationship at all between a cynical view of man and whether or not you are conservative. People in the community at large who were cynical about human motivations were just as likely to be Leftist as conservative. That does tend to suggest that the “trusting” view of man sometimes expressed by Leftists is just a ploy to help them win arguments -- not something that they really believe. Leftists as well as Rightists realize that man is basically selfish but only conservatives try to take realistic account of that in the policies they frame.


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