/()43’s man-in-the-pub theory of life, the left and the right
Rejoice, readers, in the satisfying knowledge that this is the last article in my series of three; soon there will be no more of this unreadable nonsense. Even better, I only have one ideosynchratic absurdity remaining to be clumsily examined – The Great Shifting of the Personalities. Best of all, there are diagrams! Hooray!
In the 14th to 18th centuries, language historians claim we changed the way we pronounced the so-called “long” vowels. If no-one can remember the 14th century, how do they know? Via some very dubious conjectue, it would seem. Anyway. One of the most interesting aspects of this great shift is the way some vowels seem to “shunt along”, each taking the place of the next. Thus, out used to sound like boot and boot used to sound like boat. It’s also interesting that we developed the printing press before the shift was complete, so that our spelling had to remain the same. We are left with a wierd spelling/pronounciation mismatch.
The Great Personality Shift, on the other hand, is really just a shift in perception – a mass hallucination – that affects a certain segment of society and the way they perceive the personalities of themselves and other people. It also seems to come in the form of a kind-of shunting-along. But for it to work, we must first choose the right personality dimensions and draw a diagram just so.
I will take the political dimensions openness and conscientiousness. I will leave out agreeableness, but I will being in intelligence (IQ). IQ is not strictly a personality measure, but when we assess other people, we assess their intelligence as if it were, and the Great Shift is all about how people assess other people’s personalities.
We have three dimensions to play with, so should our diagram be three-dimensional? A space-filling object that we could hold in our hand? Well, mathematicians can experiment with taking a 3D, 3-axis model and projecting it down, but I’ll just go ahead and describe the 2D model that we need for the Great Shift. It has a vertical line from low intelligence at the bottom to high at the top. Crossing this line at a 60 degree angle is the conscientiousness line, with low at bottom left and high at top right. At 60 degrees to both is the open-mindedness line, with low at bottom-right and high at top left. Here – I’ve drawn it for you (figure 1).
|Figure 1, Perceived Political Personalities|
Notice a few things. What is generally perceived to be desirable is found in the general upward direction. High intelligence is usually a positive, and many people regard at least one of high openness or high conscientiousness to be a “good” thing. Also see that I have contrived the horizontal direction to align with political orientation. Independent of intellegence we get high conscientiousness and low openness on the right, and the opposite on the left. Cute huh?
Arguably it’s the fact that I’m talking about general perception of the personality of others, rather than one’s true internal disposition, that allows me to compact what should be a 3D diagram into 2D like this, and in doing so I embed the assumption that openness combined with conscientiousness seem similar-ish to intellgence when seen in others. Maybe.
Anyhow the left, thanks to their low conscientiousness and high openness, are more than happy to delude themselves that things are different from what they really are. Lacking the social disgust impulses they see in others, and only experiencing a need for equality of outcome, they naturally assume that their own mind is free of “bigotry” that seems to affect so many around them. Moreover, the desire for equality projects into an assumption that all minds are equal at some fundamental level. The left assume that others who act conscientiously are really suffering from socipathy, mental illness or just very “low information”. They therefore see no problem with the use of introspection (examining the self) as a way of understanding the human mind, because they think they make such good specimens.
Introspectionism taken to an excessive level leads to rejection of behaviouralism, the projection of the self onto the world, and solipsism. Wittgenstein said,
“You see a clock. The minute hand and the hour hand are both nailed to the clock face [at] certain [times]. The whole face goes round, but the time remains the same. No? That is solipsism”,
the point being that one’s self-made universe modulates with one’s sense of self to reduce the amount one can discover about oneself, as will as twisting one’s perceptions.
A solipsistic take on personality is likely to push one toward making the most distinctive feature of the mind appear to be the most desirable. But then, to maintain a coherent view of the outside world, in which visibly seperate characteristics must remain seperately categorised, the entire set of dispositions has to shift around, like the rotating clockface.
So, if open-mindedness is the distinctive feature of the left, and intelligence is most desirable, then open-mindedness may shift into being perceived as intelligence. To make room for real intelligence, that must shift into something else (because it’s clear that intelligence and open-mindedness in others are seperate characteristics). So others’ intelligence is seen as something else. It is my thesis that the whole diagram rotates, something like (figure 2).
|Figure 2, The Shift|
This is drawn from the perspective of the person making the shift. So, the inner circle, which is unshifted, is what they perceive, and the outer circle, which I have shifted, is the real personalities of the others they observe. I rotated it by a bit less than a whole “step”, really just to show that this is possible – it doesn’t need to be exactly a whole step. It could be, but it could be less or even maybe more.
Let’s take a look at what we’ve ended up with. The left perceive high openness as being intelligence; they think their big ideas are also smart ideas and will seek intellecual authority for themselves because they think it’s warrented. Average or marginally above average exam results will seem like an unfair judgement to them, and there’s not much chance of seeing any modesty any time soon.
The left see genuinely intelligent people as conscientious. This implies a grudging respect for an apparent ability to get things done, but the left have no time for the insignts offered by the genuinely intelligent and these therefore go to waste. Complex worker-bee occupations are for them, always underneath the big ideas of the open-minded queen-bees.
To the left, real conscientiousness is actually a negative (we’re in the bottom half of the diagram already). It is seen as closed-mindedness, and is cut off, shouted down and shut out. Seen as a personality deficiency, even when a conscientuous person points out past disasters, they are regarded as doing it for the wrong reasons and ignored.
People who are genuinely low in openness are perceived by the left as low in IQ. As before, this can mean their perfectly respectable average intelligence is going to waste.
People who really do have low intelligence (these are the only truly disadvantaged people in modern society by the way) will be regarded as being low in conscientiousness. This can cause them to be disciplined for failing to complete mental tasks they simply aren’t up to. Rather unfair, wouldn’t you say?
Finally, we reach low conscientiousness, which the left actually see as high open-mindedness. This one is a bit crazy. I’m saying that to one who is open-minded enough to be solipsistic about personalities (i.e. socially solipsistic), the slot for perceived intelligence is taken up by his own self-image, so there is a vacancy for perceived open-mindedness and it gets filled by the un-conscientious people. Which is why the left go around finding appallingly reckless, feckless and untrustworthy people – people with no sense of what is socially disgusting and who are happy to live with instant gratification; then the left call these people the “idea guys” and appoint them into important positions. Utterly bonkers, and yet we see it all the time. It explains rampant corruption in creative and charitable sectors, as well as the old saying,
“A’s hire A’s while B’s hire C’s”.
Well, that about wraps it up. I’ve been taken to task for not addressing indoctrination. I generally follow the Orwell/Huxley view on that but I don’t trust Huxley’s suggestion to indoctrinate people with “sensible ideas”. Mainly, the issue is that I haven’t blended this indoctrination model in with the new genetic political personality (GPP) ideas in these articles. I’d say that resorting to libertarianism as a way of providing an alternative indoctrinisable version of moderate-conscientious ideas has not been enormously successful at influencing the mainstream (though it provided some areas of common ground with the left), and the GPP approach, once refined sufficiently, will prove more powerful.
Now go and read Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind” and watch all the Jordan Peterson on YouTube.