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There were frequent invocations of solidarity, but this is different from the team-vs.-team tribalism of the loyalty foundation. Rather, liberal solidarity aims to erase boundaries between people and groups, to create harmony, not competition. Compared to conservatives, liberals tend to be universalists, internationalists:
Of course, this solidarity is pursued as an effort to unite “the 99 percent” against “the 1 percent”; OWS protesters are perfectly capable of drawing lines between people. Nonetheless, the psychological dynamic here is exactly what Boehm described as a reaction to oppression by an alpha male. It is very different from the dynamic that emerges from intergroup competition (think of gang warfare, or the most extreme sports rivalries) e.g., distinctive symbols, clothing, and heroes, plus an intense focus on expelling outsiders and punishing traitors to the group. None of that was in evidence at OWS.
Liberals tend to be wary of authority. I saw no signs suggesting respect for authority, order, or tradition.
The moral foundation of sanctity is based on the psychology of disgust and spirituality. It’s the idea that there’s a vertical dimension from God at the top and animalistic carnality at the bottom. When conservative Christians condemn drug use and wanton sexuality, when they say that the body is a temple and life begins at conception, these appeals rest on the psychology of sanctity. Liberals tend to make less use of sanctity; they tend toward materialism (not in the sense of “consumerism” but in the philosophical sense of saying that nothing is divine, nothing is off-limits to human ingenuity and intervention). This cryptic sign would never be seen at a right-wing rally:
However, there was one clear invocation of sanctity and sacredness, a sign declaring a spot to be a “community sacred space”:
In short, the moral foundations of OWS are consistent with the moral foundations of the left more generally: fairness, care, and concerns about oppression. The difference is that fairness is cranked up from the second position in which we normally find it (behind care) to the number one motivation. This makes sense given that the protests are a response to the perceived cheating, law-breaking, and greed of the major financial firms.
Many pundits have commented on the fact that OWS has no specific list of demands, but the protesters' basic message is quite clear: Rein in the influence of big business, which has cheated and manipulated its way to great wealth (in part by buying legislation) while leaving a trail of oppressed and impoverished victims in its wake.
Will this message catch on with the rest of the country, much of which also values the loyalty, authority, and sanctity foundations? If OWS engages in acts of violence, flag desecration, destruction of private property, or anything else that makes them seem subversive or anti-American, then I think most Americans will quickly reject them. Furthermore, if the protesters continue to focus on the gross inequality of outcomes in America, they will get nowhere. There is no equality foundation. Fairness means proportionality, and if Americans generally think that the rich got rich by working harder or by providing goods and services that were valued in a free market, then they won’t be angry, and they won’t support redistributionist policies. But if the OWS protesters can better articulate their case that the “1 percent” got its riches by cheating, rather than by providing something valuable, or that the 1 percent abuses its power and oppresses the 99 percent, then Occupy Wall Street will find itself standing on a very secure pair of moral foundations.
Jonathan Haidt is a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, and is a visiting professor of business ethics at the NYU-Stern School of Business.