Oh Wow

Our robed masters at the University of California-Berkeley have deigned to let us know what it is that makes a conservative. The main psychological traits are:

  • Fear and aggression
  • Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
  • Uncertainty avoidance
  • Need for cognitive closure
  • Terror management

    Conservatives, it seems, endorse inequality:

    Concerns with fear and threat, likewise, can be linked to a second key dimension of conservatism – an endorsement of inequality, a view reflected in the Indian caste system, South African apartheid and the conservative, segregationist politics of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-South S.C.).

    And try this one on for size:

    The researchers conceded cases of left-wing ideologues, such as Stalin, Khrushchev or Castro, who, once in power, steadfastly resisted change, allegedly in the name of egalitarianism.

    Yet, they noted that some of these figures might be considered politically conservative in the context of the systems that they defended. The researchers noted that Stalin, for example, was concerned about defending and preserving the existing Soviet system.

    See, as soon as Lefties start doing bad things, they become — conservatives. How convenient.

    But the coup de grace:

    Disparate conservatives share a resistance to change and acceptance of inequality, the authors said. Hitler, Mussolini, and former President Ronald Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form. Talk host Rush Limbaugh can be described the same way. [Emphasis mine.]

    Hitler, Mussolini, Reagan — all cut from the same cloth.

    Words truly fail.

    UPDATE It should be said that Russell Kirk, a fine conservative mind, established as one of the hallmarks of conservatism a belief in “the principle of variety.” This is not the same thing as “an endorsement of inequality,” as these “researchers” have defined it. Rather, it’s a philosophical acknowledgement of the differences between men, in terms of ability, character, and so on. This diversity is good and healthy to a free society — but it does not involve “second-class citizenship” as embodied in the caste system, Apartheid, or Jim Crow. As Kirk says, man should be equal before the judge and God alone. The caste system — that exemplar of conservatism, ahem — violates this principle and is decidedly not conservative.

    UPDATE Here’s some considered criticism. The author also brings up Adorno’s hogwash about the “authoritarian personality” — I had forgotten all about that!