The Culture War’s New Battles

Oct 7 2012 @ 6:14pm

In an interview, Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Religion and Politics, describes the evolution of the culture war.  What he observed during the conventions:

I was mostly struck by how much the culture war has shifted to economic issues. These days it’s fought out over the three moral foundations that everyone values: Care/harm, Fairness/cheating, and Liberty/oppression. … This is a huge shift from the period between 1992 and 2004, when the culture war was fought out mostly between social conservatives, particularly the religious right, and the secular left. It was fought out primarily over the three moral foundations that we call the "binding" foundations, because they bind people together into tight moral communities: Loyalty/betrayal (for example, issues of patriotism and flag protection),  Authority/subversion (for example, respect for parents, and whether parents and teachers can spank children), and Sanctity/degradation (which includes most bioethical issues pitting the sanctity of life against a more harm-based or utilitarian ethos). This older culture war re-emerged briefly with Rick Santorum's turn in the spotlight, but then it faded away. The Republican Party in particular has changed, and the moral arguments made in this Republican convention were very different.