Thursday, August 24, 2006

Genes and politics

Digby says this, in reference to this:
But where's the guarantee that Republican embryo becomes Republican voter? There are three kids in my wingnut family and only one is a chip off the old block, and he's pretty apathetic. The rightwing politics in my family were what turned my brother and me into raving liberals. I think that happens fairly often --- the old preacher's kid syndrome. It's certainly possible that a lot of conservatives come from liberal families as well --- I just haven't come across a lot of them. I do know quite few people who have been influenced by their spouses to change political directions, though.
And then Helmut says this:

Me too. Raised in an odd family of scientists and teachers that acted like hippies in my apparently blinkered memory, traveling the world and absorbing all possible experiences, but eventually settling in Texas and becoming members of the hardcore 25% wingers. I'm the only left-leaner in the family.

Nurture, not nature, especially when it comes to questions of value. Nature provides the vessel and particular biological inclinations - how those variables are instantiated is a cultural question. I don't know why people insist on having discussions about normative judgments as genetically encoded. Nature and culture are not so easily distinguishable as a philosophical matter anyway. As a practical, experiential issue, should it matter at all?


MT said...

Your political inclinations regarding child physical and/or sexual abuse are liable to be influenced by nurture, and I think it's highly pertinent. A lot of issues of allegiance might be classified as nurture. You or your dad was management (vs. labor) or a cop (vs. robber) or a member of a group discriminated against by the majority (vs. a member of the majority). Political predisposition among the vulgar masses as we traditionally talk about it is all nurture and no nature. That's because traditionally we act as if we're all brain dead and we talk about "character" instead of policy or demography or pertinent statistics. Class politics is nuture politics. "Consciousness raising" is rare by definition, but I think the term implies coming to reflect for the first time on your nurtured predispositions. So I think there's plenty of application for the distinction between nature and nurture with regard to politics. I see that it's a problem when you get into the politics of sex and race, where choosing where to draw the distinction can be tantamount to picking a political side.

helmut said...

The discussion didn't take that route, though. I'd agree with all this. It's why we're writing in English to each other as well. The route the discussion took was the biological one . I think that's basically nonsense, and can only be dangerous when it comes to politics.