This post puts in writing something I have been thinking about for much of the year.
People on the right – in particular those who believe in classical liberalism – are simply nicer people than those on the left. I am talking averages here and would not claim that every liberal is a nicer person than every social democrat.
I think it probably comes from the belief among liberals that people are fundamentally OK and can be trusted to make their own decisions. Social democrats are inclined to believe that people are not very bright and need to be lead – to be told how to spend their money and to live their lives.
Take politicians – who would you rather have dinner with, Gillard or Abbott? No contest really, Abbott is lively, interesting and has a good sense of fun. Or Howard v Keating? Howard is good company – well, not always the life of the party but a good conversationalist – but with Keating you never know when he is likely to explode and spread colourful character assessments around the table. How would you like your dinner guests to be called a “mangy maggots” because they had some reservations about the design of Barangaroo? Entertaining for some perhaps, but not my idea of an enjoyable meal. By the way, I do not think of Howard as a true liberal, but he is more or less sitting towards that end of the spectrum. Unlike Fraser who nowadays is some kind of conservative social democrat. I suspect he has had some bad luck in his life to embitter him so.
On a different level, Rupert Murdoch or Al Gore to come round for pizza? See what I mean? You would not hesitate for one second. Gore would want to bring his slides…
You can see much the same difference among bloggers. Sure, JC does get impatient with those whose arguments are weak and then sometimes does become a bit abusive. But so far as I can see, he only bursts out when sorely provoked. And the rest of us at Catallaxy are (usually) models of reasonableness and all-round nice people.
Among the social democratic blogs there is an air of what you can only call nastiness. Any intruder with a different opinion is jumped on and beaten to the ground. As Deltoid cycles through his three subjects: climate change, DDT and deaths in Iraq he occasionally picks up someone who wants to say “Yes, but…” They never finish the second word before the violence begins. I think he must have DDT on a watch list – just wait a minute, he will probably appear here with his trademark character assassination.
JQ is not as bad. He personally gets a bit snarky at times but generally leaves the rough stuff to his acolytes. And they do get rough. I used to try to inject a slightly different view of the world and have the bruises to prove it. No more. Unless he says something really dopey and then I feel a sense of obligation.
I have remarked already about the split personality between Harry Clarke and his nom de keyboard hc. In his own blog he is thoughtful, insightful and usually worth reading. When, as hc, he appears to comment here and in other blogs he becomes, well, pretty unpleasant, like most social democrat bloggers. Very strange. I am not sure that Harry is a social democrat but as they say, if he walks like a duck…
So, as well as a more accurate view of the world and much better prescriptions of how to (with a very light hand) manage it, we liberals are just nicer people.
I do think the difference comes from our greater respect for our fellow humans’ ability to make decisions for themselves. Some might call this a zombie belief. I would prefer to call it faith in my fellow members of the human race.