Thursday, 14 October 2010

'Empathetic and Kind'

How to explain this?
The federal Conservatives have extended their lead over the Liberals, with a near seven-point advantage over their rivals, a new EKOS poll suggests.

According to the latest results from EKOS, released exclusively to CBC News, 34.4 per cent of respondents said they would vote for the Tories if an election were held today — up from 33.1 per cent two weeks ago.

The Liberals received 27.8 per cent support, down from 29.9 per cent.

The New Democrats received 15.8 per cent support, up more than two percentage points from two weeks ago, according to EKOS.

Meanwhile, support for the Green Party remained roughly the same at 10.4 per cent while support for the Bloc Québécois dropped slightly to 9.3 per cent, the new poll suggests.

George Monbiot offers some insights.
So here we are, forming an orderly queue at the slaughterhouse gate. The punishment of the poor for the errors of the rich, the abandonment of universalism, the dismantling of the shelter the state provides: apart from a few small protests, none of this has yet brought us out fighting.

The acceptance of policies which counteract our interests is the pervasive mystery of the 21st Century. In the United States, blue-collar workers angrily demand that they be left without healthcare, and insist that millionaires should pay less tax. In the UK we appear ready to abandon the social progress for which our ancestors risked their lives with barely a mutter of protest. What has happened to us?

Citing a report from Common Cause, written by WWF's Tom Crompton, Monbiot explores the values shift we seem to be undergoing.

It involves intrinsic and extrinsic values.
Our social identity is shaped by values which psychologists classify as either extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic values concern status and self-advancement. People with a strong set of extrinsic values fixate on how others see them. They cherish financial success, image and fame. Intrinsic values concern relationships with friends, family and community, and self-acceptance. Those who have a strong set of intrinsic values are not dependent on praise or rewards from other people. They have beliefs which transcend their self-interest.

The media, advertisers, and right-wing pols understand these values and are very good at exploiting them. And they seem to be successful at effecting a shift in values.

Progressives seem to be completely hopeless at it. Monbiot says we've tried to adapt to the shift instead of confronting it. He proposes a remedy:
So we must lead this shift ourselves. People with strong intrinsic values must cease to be embarrassed by them. We should argue for the policies we want not on the grounds of expediency but on the grounds that they are empathetic and kind; and against others on the grounds that they are selfish and cruel. In asserting our values we become the change we want to see.

2 comments:

Beijing York said...

Timely piece, fern.

We've had more than a decade of centrist/leftish politicians being embarrassed by intrinsic values.

Layton is afraid to address workers and relegated them to the status of kitchen table during the last election.

Ignatieff accused Harper of failing on the foreign policy front, took a quiet dump, before reiterating that the LPC will not criticize its glorious ally Israel.

The Mound of Sound said...

It's the social equivalent of Icarus. It will end the same way.

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