Posts Tagged ‘racism’

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The Difference Between a Liberal and a Conservative

September 20th, 2010
Of all the political theories used to understand our complex political system, one of the most useful is “Social Dominance Theory” (SDT) developed by Sidanius and Pratto. This is a sociological theory that seek to make sense of social hierarchies and how they are formed and maintained. To understand social hierarchies is to understand discrimination, oppression,  stereotypes, inequality, racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, nationalism, and the like. In short, SDT provides a framework for understanding power and group inequality.
Sidanius and Pratto’s 1999 book, Social Dominance, exhibits high scholarly standards, and is considered a classic sociological text. For anyone who wants to understand human systems, including political-economic social systems, this is an excellent read. There work is particularly relevant for understanding the difference between conservatives and liberals. Essentially, a political conservative is someone who accepts group inequality—that is, when a small group of elites dominates the majority (the subordinate group). A liberal is someone who seeks more egalitarian social organization, with equal opportunity for all groups. SDT identifies the attitudes associated with conservative/liberal views by measuring a group’s “social dominance orientation.”
“Social dominance orientation” is the degree to which individuals desire and support group-based hierarchy and domination of “inferior” groups by “superior” groups. Individuals have varying degrees of social dominance orientation. Political conservatism, authoritarianism, racism, sexism, lack of empathy, acceptance inequality, patriotism, and the presence of oppressive and discriminatory behavior is strongly correlated with social dominance orientation. » Read more: The Difference Between a Liberal and a Conservative
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The Resurgence of Hate Groups

May 18th, 2010

The amazing American historian-activist, Howard Zinn passed away earlier this year. His seminal masterpiece, “A People’s History of the United States” is a classic that should be required reading for every U.S. citizen. Zinn frequently praised dissent as a patriotic act of civil disobedience and an effective method for achieving social justice. He once said, “Some think that dissent is unpatriotic. I would argue that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. In fact, if patriotism means being true to the principles for which your country is supposed to stand, then certainly the right to dissent is one of those principles. And if we’re exercising that right to dissent, it’s a patriotic act.”

He praised liberal dissenters such as peace movement activist, Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in the war in Iraq. His writings and speeches are full of stories of unsung heroes of American progress. Yet, one wonders what he might say about the emerging Tea Party Movement. Would this kind of dissent also be considered patriotic? Even though it is much smaller than other protest movements of recent years–such as anti-war, environmental, anti-free trade, immigration–it has gained much more media attention. But why? Why are major media outlets polling Tea Party members? Why is it being seen as a major political force that both parties must reckon with, when most of it’s supporters are Republicans or at least conservative Independents?

» Read more: The Resurgence of Hate Groups