Wednesday, September 03, 2003


I had a big day yesterday. Instapundit linked to my post on Harvard and I also had an article about Leftist authoritarianism come out in an Australian online magazine called Online Opinion. And only a week ago I had an article on fraudulent Leftist psychology in Front Page. I guess I should rest on my laurels for a while now.

The Harvard post generated a bit of correspondence so I have posted the more interesting emails here -- together with my (brief) replies.



The best article on Leftism that I have ever read is by George Irbe. Irbe says pretty much what I say about the nature of Leftism but says it with greater brevity and clarity. Irbe’s name for Leftists is “Coercive Utopians” and he diagnoses their dismal motivations most persuasively. I liked this epigram: “One will usually discover that behind the Robin Hood image hides just a plain hood.” I like his article so much that I have copied it to one of my sites so that it will remain available even if it gets taken down at its original source.

Judging by the surname of the author and his mention of his personal experience of Leftist savagery, I surmise that he moved to Canada as a refugee from Communist Hungary. So he has seen unrestrained Leftism close-up and has had strong incentives to get his thoughts on Leftism clear.

He is strongly of the view that Leftism is an inborn tendency but seems unaware that there is now good evidence from the twin studies by Nick Martin and others confirming that. Martin’s work is mainly published in obscure and highly technical academic journals (that even I find a bit challenging to follow in detail) rather than being available online but one early summary that IS available online is particularly fascinating. Martin found that your politics in your youth are mainly the product of the social influences around you (school and college indoctrination, for instance) but as you get older your genetically inherited political tendencies come to the fore.

Martin’s most striking finding, however, is his 1999 finding (reference below) showing that conservatism/Leftism is even more hereditary that how tall you are.

His 1986 article showed that heredity is a particularly strong influence (around 50% of the variance) in women. Presumably because women tend to take less interest in the details of politics, their political reactions are much more likely to be purely instinctive.

Martin, N. & Jardine, R. (1986) Eysenck's contribution to behaviour genetics. In: S & C. Modgil (Eds.) Hans Eysenck: Consensus and controversy. Lewes, E. Sussex: Falmer
Eaves, L.J., Martin, N.G., Meyer, J.M. & Corey, L.A. (1999) Biological and cultural inheritance of stature and attitudes. In: Cloninger, C.R., Personality and psychopathology. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press.


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