February 24, 2017
[Feinberg and Willer's] suggestions rest on a vulgarized version of the New York University scholar Jonathan Haidt’s “moral foundations theory,” in which certain values — care and fairness for those on the left; loyalty, authority and purity for the right — are held to be intrinsic and foundational. Some people are just predisposed to value loyalty and purity over fairness, and eventually grow into reactionary blowhards; we don’t know why, it just happens. As any good historical materialist knows, this is not the case. For someone to hold “respect for authority” in great esteem, there must first be an authority to respect. Before you can value fairness, there must be scarcity, unequal distribution and all the conditions that make unfairness possible. These values are the epiphenomena of a particular form of society. Conservative values don’t just emerge spontaneously from the individual; they’re an ideological support structure that props up theft and bloodshed and avarice. ...
In the United Kingdom, the Labour Party has been playing Feinberg’s and Willer’s game for decades now. Faced with the first sparks of a rising racist nativism, the ostensible party of the left adopted a policy of appeasement, trying to conjure up the failing spectre of “progressive patriotism,” abandoning its tatty, shop-worn emphasis on solidarity and socialism for a lot of gruff nonsense about British values. It didn’t work. Instead, the sudden omnipresence of these ideas just helped the reactionary right grow even stronger, until it consumed the entire country.