Political Science and the Brain


I just finished a book by three political science professors, John R. Hibbing, Kevin B. Smith and John R. Alford, called Predisposed, Liberals, Conservatives and the Biology of Political Differences. First I will start with their talk about City College of New York.  Yes, a conservative’s nightmare, the alma mater of my father Marvin Charton and myself. The first time I went up to that Harlem campus was Spring, 1975, to see the place I was going to attend.  I started to cross Convent Avenue, when a brick flew by my nose. I grew up hanging around a college campus, (Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York.  I wasn’t accustomed to being greeted by flying bricks there). I found later, I’d walked smack through the middle of a faceoff between rival group with the police trying to keep them separate.  I think of that moment, when I watch John Cleese in Life of Brian leading the stoning.  “All right.  Who threw that?”    (The cops stopped me from retaliation). I remember going home to my father and saying in horror, “Dad, they have Communists and Socialists there!”  He burst out laughing.  I heard his stories about getting snide comments, because he was in ROTC and wearing his uniform.  Where else could you have a college, where Conservatives were few and far between (in the 1930’s, supporting F.D.R would still make you a capitalist pig in Alcove One of Shepard Hall).  My childhood dentist Dr. Max Geshwind, took me to task for going to City College, telling me it was full of Commies. There was a student strike in the Spring of 1976, when I was ending my freshman year.  The Conservatives on campus then were the Moonies.  (Members of the Unification Church).  The ultimate anti-Communist.  I remember one day when this poor young woman was sitting in front of Shepard Hall.  The Communists and Moonies were trying to convert her at the same time.  Finally, she just looked up at them and cried, “Please shut up, all of you!”  Yes, some of us were trying to go to class and learn something.  Where else though, could you have arguments between Maoists and Stalinists?  If we could figure out the political biology back then, what would have this told us?  You had a college of people tinkering with ideas, that in practice become conservative and ossified. I was a Political Science major, but Mom and Dad were trained as Chemists.  Now, I am fascinated by the brain, genetics, and how they can affect politics. The authors are right, there’s no such thing as a Conservative or Liberal gene.  (Or to paraphrase comedian Tom Lehrer, None of which the news has come to Harvard; and there are many many others, but they haven’t been discovered).  Scientists can measure though how different people react to different stimuli.  That can be amusing, as long as veins aren’t bulging during it and no strokes and or heart attacks are involved. I’ve written some essays for American thought, I call Hamiltonian vs. Jeffersonian.  I have to wonder how brain activity and dna may change that. We will learn more as time goes on.  We’ve seen how Liberals can be wealthy and Conservatives poor.   The issues will also vary from country to country.  In China, for example, Conservatives may mean hard core party members, Liberals, business types. The authors were right about Groucho Marx being a better student of politics than Karl Marx.  Karl Marx thought strictly in terms of economics driving people.  Then there was political psychology.  Still not thinking about how the body works. Maybe we can divide things more into Conservatives and Tinkerers rather than Liberals.  Conservatives want to do just that, conserve.  Also, it seems the main driving force for Conservatives is fear, and disgust, rather than power.  We have to keep our military strong to prevent them, from doing whatever.  See, the driving force is fear of what’s unknown. Tinkerers on the other hand, like to work with the system, make changes and experiment.  They want to adventure and try different things.  Something that scares Conservatives. There will be more as the Science in Political becomes more, well, Scientific.

About tucsonmike

I am originally from Brooklyn, New York and now live in Tucson, Arizona. I have discovered a passion for writing. I have five books out now, with a sixth on the way. Take a look @ my book list: The Search for Livingstone An Affair of the Heart The Search for Otzi Griffith Justice in Space. Moriarty The Life and Times of a Criminal Genius Available now on Smashwords - Amazon and Barnes and Noble As to not bore my public with just "Buy my book," I am also interested in baseball, the outdoors, art, architecture, technology, the human mind and DNA. I learned Ashkenazi Jews, of which I am one, have to lowest rate of Alzheimer's in the world. Therefore, I treat my brain as a muscle needing a workout. I enjoy good food, flirtation, beautiful women (I am happily married for thirty years), so just flirting ;) I was considered autistic when I was young, trying to figure out if I have a mild form of Aspergers and learning from that. That is for future posts. You can also see I love history. Enjoy my sarcastic silly look at the world, and making History more interesting than a textbook.
This entry was posted in A Sarcastic Look at Life, A Silly Look at The World, dna, Hamiltonian vs. Jeffersonian, History Made Fun, How Monty Python Ruined My Life, Marvin Charton, Philosophy, Profiling, Reading History Like a Novel, Uncategorized, United States and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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