Just read, please:
[...] There is a received view of mind, absorbed into popular culture and similar to that of the philosopher René Descartes, that I refer to as "Enlightenment reason". It goes like this: reason is conscious, disembodied, dispassionate, literal (it fits the world directly), logical (it leads from facts to correct conclusions), universal and serves self-interest.
This is widely taken as defining "rationality". I surveyed results from neuroscience and the cognitive sciences that contradict all these supposed properties.
Reason is mostly unconscious and physical - it uses the brain. It requires emotion and uses frames, metaphors and melodramatic narratives. It also varies depending on world view and is used at least as much in the service of empathy as self-interest.
This is real reason, how people really think, and it requires a new account of rationality that calls for a New Enlightenment.
Each of these results is crucial for understanding politics. Conservatives, using marketing techniques taken from psychology, have marketed their big ideas effectively: the nature of national security, government, the market, taxes, responsibility, family values, religion, and so on.
Progressives have failed to build institutions (such as think tanks) to get their big ideas out in public honestly. An awareness of brain mechanisms could help map effective communication.
The Political Mind [The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain] is an exercise in the democratisation of knowledge. It opens up the cognitive science of politics for all to see. Journalists, policy-makers, most economists, and even many academics are stuck on the old view of reason, which leads them to fall prey to effective political marketing, mostly from the conservative side.
Cognitive Science and Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley
From issue 2663 of New Scientist magazine, 02 July 2008, page 20
Now. Marry that to below. And trust, Gnow, grok, take heart, mateys: WE CAN FIX THIS.
Fantastic misgovernment is not an accident, nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society. This movement is friendly to industry not just by force of campaign contributions but by conviction; it believes in entrepreneurship not merely in commerce but in politics; and the inevitable results of its ascendance are, first, the capture of the state by business and, second, what follows from that: incompetence, graft, and all the other wretched flotsam that we've come to expect from Washington.
The correct diagnosis is the "bad apple" thesis turned upside down. There are plenty of good conservative individuals, honorable folks who would never participate in the sort of corruption we have watched unfold over the past few years. Hang around with grassroots conservative voters in Kansas, and in the main you will find them to be honest, hardworking people.
But put conservatism in charge of the state, and it behaves very differently. Now the "values" that rightist politicians eulogize on the stump disappear, and in their place we can discern an entirely different set of priorities-priorities that reveal more about the unchanging historical essence of American conservatism than do its fleeting campaigns against gay marriage or secular humanism.
The conservatism that speaks to us through its actions in Washington is institutionally opposed to those baseline good intentions we learned about in elementary school: Its leaders laugh off the idea of the public interest as airy-fairy nonsense; they caution against bringing topnotch talent into government service; they declare war on public workers. They have made a cult of outsourcing and privatizing, they have wrecked established federal operations because they disagree with them, and they have deliberately piled up an Everest of debt in order to force the government into crisis. The ruination they have wrought has been thorough; it has been a professional job. Repairing it will require years of political action. ~Thomas Frank, in the August 2008 edition of Harper's, excerpted from The WRECKING CREW, How a gang of right-wing can men destroyed Washington and made a killing
Harpers, SEE ALSO: Angola; Apartheid; Career as Angolan guerrilla leader; Career as superspy; Career as U.S. president; Career in conservative politics; Career in politics; Conservatism; Williamson, Craig; Entrepreneurship; Norquist, Grover Glenn; Guerrilla warfare; Iran-Contra Affair, 1985-1990; Iran Hostage Crisis, 1979-1981; Abramoff, Jack; Kemp, Jack; Savimbi, Jonas Malheiro; 1981-1989; North, Oliver; Pictorial works; Political corruption; Reed, Ralph; Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ); Reagan, Ronald; South Africa
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