Occupy Wall Street

The Moral Foundations of Occupy Wall Street

An illustrated guide to the signs at Zuccotti Park


From a rational perspective, joining a protest rally is like voting—a complete waste of time. The odds that your voice or your protest sign will make a difference are no better than the odds that your vote will change an election. And yet, people do join protests and people do vote. They do these things not to advance their rational self-interest, but to express moral passions and moral identities.

In Lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park, home base of the Occupy Wall Street movement, a noisy, festive crowd of hundreds was doing just that when I stopped by on October 8. In an attempt to make sense of the goals and motivations of the protesters there, I brought along a small camera, and Moral Foundations Theory—a theory I developed with Jesse Graham, Ravi Iyer, and Sena Koleva (all at the University of Southern California), Pete Ditto (University of California at Irvine), and Craig Joseph (who was then at the University of Chicago).

This theory, which is based on ideas from the anthropologist Richard Shweder, outlines six clusters of moral concerns—care/harm, fairness/cheating, liberty/oppression, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation—upon which, we argue, all political cultures and movements base their moral appeals.

You can think about the foundations as being like the taste receptors on the tongue: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savory. Each political culture, like each culinary culture, creates its own unique cuisine using some combination of these tastes, including elements that lack immediate appeal on their own, such as bitterness. Similarly each political movement bases its claims on a particular configuration of moral foundations. It would be awfully hard to rally people to your cause without making any reference to harm, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority, or sanctity.

My colleagues and I found that political liberals tend to rely primarily on the moral foundation of care/harm, followed by fairness/cheating and liberty/oppression. They're very concerned about victims of oppression, but they rarely make moral appeals based on loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, or sanctity/degradation. Social conservatives, in contrast, use all six foundations. They are less concerned than liberals about harm, but much more concerned about the moral foundations that bind groups and nations together, i.e., loyalty (patriotism), authority (law and order, traditional families), and sanctity (the Bible, God, the flag as a sacred object). Libertarians, true to their name, value liberty more than anyone else, and they value it far more than any other foundation. (You can read our complete research findings at www.MoralFoundations.org and you can take our surveys at www.YourMorals.org.)

So what's the mix of moral foundations at Occupy Wall Street (OWS)? In my visit to Zuccotti Park, it was clear that the main moral foundation of OWS is fairness, followed by care and liberty. Loyalty, authority, and sanctity, by contrast, are very little in evidence.


The psychological meaning of fairness is proportionality. Human beings have been engaging in cooperative enterprises for hundreds of thousands of years, and we're now vigilant for signs that anyone is taking out more than they're putting in. We really hate cheaters, slackers, and exploiters. By far the most common message I saw at OWS was that the rich ("the 1 percent") got rich by taking without giving. They cheated and exploited their way to the top. As if that wasn't bad enough, we the taxpayers then had to bail them out after they crashed the economy, and so now they really owe us for saving their necks. It's high time that they started giving back, paying what they owe.

As a point of comparison, a similar look at signs found at the Tea Party rallies (based on a systematic study done by Reason Foundation Polling Director Emily Ekins) suggests that protesters there are also chiefly concerned with fairness. The key to understanding Tea Partiers' morality, though, is that they want to restore the law of karma. They want laziness and cheating to be punished, and they see liberalism and liberal government as an assault on that project. The liberal fairness of OWS diverges from conservative and libertarian fairness in that liberals often think that equality of outcomes is evidence of fairness.

When everyone's contribution is the same, then the proportional outcome is equality. But in a free market system, where some work harder or are more talented or lucky, it will always be the case that some people make a greater contribution than others, and therefore end up taking home a larger share of the pie. Fairness as proportionality guarantees that outcomes will not be equal. This, I believe, is one of the main reasons why modern leftists (but not classical liberals) are often hostile to capitalism itself, as were some at the OWS protest.


Another unique feature of liberal fairness is that it is often blended with concerns about care for the downtrodden and oppressed, and this brings us to the next foundation:


The second-most common moral foundation on display at OWS was care. My colleagues and I find that liberals score higher than conservatives and libertarians on all measures of compassion and empathy. Liberals are more "soft hearted," and this was evident in many signs:  


The moral foundation of liberty was barely evident at OWS in the use of positive terms such as "liberty" and "freedom," though they have have renamed Zuccotti Square "Liberty Square." Occupy Wall Street is not a rally to "get government off our backs," it's a rally to get government to increase regulation of Wall Street and big business. The only sign of direct appeals to liberty that I saw in my visit was this ironic use of a favored Tea Party slogan to protect and care for vulnerable flowers:

Instead, there was a strong emphasis at OWS on the evils of the opposite of liberty, namely oppression. There was a pervasive sense (or hope) that the masses of the weak and downtrodden (the 99 percent) were beginning to unite to throw off the yoke of oppressors (the 1 percent).

This is a process that the anthropologist Chris Boehm has observed in egalitarian societies. When one man tries to act like a leader or overlord, the other men unite into a "reverse dominance hierarchy" to take him down, as illustrated on this protester's sweatshirt showing the unified 99 percent about to crush the 1 percent:


The remaining three foundations, which tend to be used more by conservatives than by liberals, were not much in evidence. There were a few American flags scattered about, but the only direct expression of patriotism that I saw was this rather ambivalent sign, which would have not been very welcome at a Tea Party rally:

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.

NEXT: Attn, NYC Area Reasonoids: Matt Welch, Nick Gillespie Keynote Students for Liberty Conference, Sat. 10/22

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  1. Will this message catch on with the rest of the country, much of which also values the loyalty, authority, and sanctity foundations?


  2. I saw no signs suggesting respect for authority, order, or tradition.

    How is a giant fist crushing a guy NOT related to authority and order?

    1. I think he’s making a distinction between respect for authority and respect my authority.

      1. I can’t respect authority,but I respect authoritah.

        1. Indeed. Especially when beaten about the head instead of the shins since it puts one down faster. I hate it when Cartman has authoritah.

    2. How is a giant fist crushing a guy NOT related to authority and order?

      I think it’s more about mob violence.

    3. “I saw no signs suggesting respect for authority, order, or tradition.” Because fuck liberty when you have authority, order, and tradition.

  3. “My colleagues and I find that liberals score higher than conservatives and libertarians on all measures of compassion and empathy. Liberals are more “soft hearted””

    I represent that remark. I have the heart of a child. I keep it in a jar on my desk.

    1. How do you keep yourself from eating it. They’re so yummy.

    2. liberals score higher than conservatives and libertarians on all measures of compassion and empathy

      Oh, sure… on paper.

      The Soviets probably had far more socially ‘compassionate’ and ’empathetic’ rhetorical characteristics. They were always bloviating about repairing the injustices suffered by the proletariat.

      It was just that this generally involved starving people to death, or shooting them in the back of the head in a dingy basement.

      Eggs, omelettes.

        1. Drum Circle, Gulag.

          1. Drum Circle Gulag

            Shitty Band, Good Name

      1. Well, compassion gets way easier when you don’t even stop to check if there are unseen people affected.

        1. Or forcing someone else to fund your compassion.

      2. The scoring is based on lip service, not sincerity.

      3. liberals score higher than conservatives and libertarians on all measures of compassion and empathy

        maybe they do in word but hardly in deed. Every empirical bit of data compiled suggests that conservative folk are far more giving to charity, including one done by Kristoff at the NY Times. Google “conservatives more charitable than liberals” and there is a host of info to that effect.

        The quote above accurately sums up the difference between liberals and the rest of us: liberalism is all about feelings, about intentions, and talking about doing things; conservatism is about actually doing them.

    3. That’s some bullshit. I’m actually a softie in real life, and I’ve done volunteer work and made plenty of charitable donations over the years. I even feel sorry for stupid people who get in trouble, provided that they aren’t stupid and evil.

      And all that changes my economics and politics not a whit. We’re all better off with more freedom, less government, and freer markets.

      1. I believe the studies show conservatives volunteer and give to charity much more than liberals.

        You don’t understand Pro, it doesn’t count unless you are doing it with someone else’s money.

        1. And making a big deal about it.

          1. I guess I should’ve read the comment below.

        2. Do you tithe on net or gross?

      2. I think it’s not that conservative minded people don’t give more, they just don’t run out and brag to everyone and their brother about how charitable they are. You know, smug factor and all.

        1. I guess that could cover libertarian minded people as well but I know they like to speak for themselves.

          1. Libertarian dont brag for a different reason…lists and all

        2. Seeking praise kind of defeats the purpose. It changes the focus to you in what it supposed to be a selfless act.

          1. That’s my attitude. Except to make the point here, I don’t much talk about my charitable activities, except with my wife.

            1. There’s a local guy who runs a huge furniture store who donates a lot to charity. Well done him, rah rah. But it always bugs me because I get the idea he’s doing it to be seen to be doing it, so everybody thinks he’s a great guy and will buy more furniture from him.

                1. I forget his real last name, but he’s universally known in this town as Mattress Mac.

                2. He makes a lot of contributions without fanfare, too. From my time a large Denver non-profit, it seems he’s a decent enough guy, but still a good enough business man not to miss a chance at free publicity.

                3. In my perfect world, Jake Jabs would be mauled to death by one of his tigers mid-sales pitch on live TV.

              1. He fails to understand the Importance of Not Being Seen.

                1. I await his eventual explosion, unless he hides behind the Larch.

                  1. Jim Mcingvail, the Gallery Furniture guy. He’s generally a good guy, and as far as I know, his marketing is more concentrated on “Save you Money!!!” than on social conscience. The publicity he gets for charity might just be coincidental. He’s also fought with some group of assholes who unilaterally levied taxes on all the businesses on Houston’s north side, so as far as I’m concerned he can be forgiven for exploiting his charity work.

                    1. I went to school with his neice and rode on their party bus. True story.

              2. “it always bugs me because I get the idea he’s doing it to be seen to be doing it”

                No worse than doing it because it makes me feel good to help other people. Or because I want other people to be better off. All actions are selfish. Even if you sacrifice yourself to help someone else, you’re doing so with the belief that it is the right thing for you to do.

                1. … and much better than the professional charity collectors who get donations from Joe Average, then pass on 12 cents on the dollar to the ‘beneficiaries’, while the rest goes to ‘expenses’, including fat remunerations for the people running the ‘charity’.

          2. I’m sorry, but as long as something is “selfless” it will probably be in short supply. I have no problem with someone absolutely wallowing in self-adulation for an act of personal generosity. If I could afford to build a wing for a children’s hospital, I might just toss in an extra bit and get a statue of myself to boot.

            The key here is the generosity, the cost, is from oneself. What I can’t stand about the lubrulz is all the noise they make patting themselves on the back for stealing from others and handing it out like Halloween candy.

        3. Except John. But he’s probably not talking about himself.

        4. You guys are amazingly judgemental for “libertarians”.
          The only reason conservatives “give more to charity” is due to the fact that church/temple/mosque is considered “charity”…take that away, and you’ll find near zero…and that they are just paying their b.s. penance for their conservative hypocrite guilt factors…cause they have “hard” hearts. This is why so many Republican Male bible thumpers end up in motels with boys on crack binges….right after tithe-ing

  4. So if I piss on the “sacred” community space can I get an NEA grant.

    1. Well, after all, the sign immediately above declares that nothing is sacred, so I don’t see why not.

      1. It read no thing, not nothing. But evidently like the folks above and below this comment, you just don’t understand abstraction, and thus most of contemporary art…which is pretty much freedom incarnate, so you are false libertarians…

    2. If you video tape it, you may be able to graduate with an M.F.A from a small Midwestern liberal arts college.

  5. This article is too long to read. But, I am assuming that it confirms my belief that the OWSers are psychopaths.

    1. But charming psychopaths, like Ted Bundy.

    2. But charming psychopaths, like Ted Bundy.

    3. quit blaming the victims per ron paul

      1. Victims of what? The education system?

        1. victims of libtoidz-supported oligarchy

          1. ^hey spoofer – go ask ron paul whom i quoted. quit blaming the victims like cain.

            1. itz not nice to make fun of us victims of dain bramage

              1. Every thread, this comes up. Look, the OWS’ers are right about the problem, they’re just too dumb to collectively see that the “solutions” they propose are more of the problem. They are victims of government.

    4. Its actually quite short. Short paragraphs and a lot of pictures of unintentionally hilarious signs.

      1. It’s even shorter if you just look at the pictures

    5. No, just that they are more libertarian than you supposed Libertarians…

  6. Equality Now, Liberty Later

    “Because I’m completely ignorant of history!”

    1. “Later”

      I suspect the liberty comes sometime after the guillotine has delivered equality.

    2. Ummm…How about…because once we’ll freely equal then we’ll all be equally free to enjoy our freedom equally and equally free to be equally restrained from being unequally free?

      1. Gonna be real hard to gambol merrily and freely about in this paradise.

    3. Equality of condition and equality of rights (a.k.a. Liberty) cannot exist together.

  7. I’m really hoping 2012 will be a repeat of 1972 when the rest of America finally had enough with the protesters and Nixon carried 49 states in the election. It would be such a kick in the ass for these OWS idiots. Hopefully, the GOP will run someone better than Nixon, though.

    1. They are preparing for riots at the Democratic Convention. All of these clowns are going to show up at Charlotte expecting to be the face of the party. When Obama and the professional politicals tell them to go away, there will be trouble.

      When I read the article about Charlotte and preparing for riots, all I could think was 1968 with Hillary playing the role of Hubert Humphrey.

      1. Nah. Hillary is Nixon.

        1. I love your handle. I think we should all adopt it. Everyone should become “Beloved Commenter (insert normal handle here)”.

          1. WE ARE THE BELOVED %!

            1. Reverend Moon, if we did that and people say your name, visitors to the site would think it was for some kind of religious cult. I like it.

              1. It is like the name of that crazy homeless preacher on the street corner.

          2. You, and only you, are “beloved.”

          3. Now all I have to do is find an interseting link to get hat-tipped.

          4. I concure Beloved commentor John.

          5. I’m in.

          6. Whatevs.

        2. She has his jowls. Could he be her real father?

          1. you know it to be true.

          2. I was thinking it was more likely to be Baron Harkonen.

            1. That would make her Jessica. Sorry, she’s no Bene Gesserit.

              1. No, but she is a witch!

                Ba-dump ching!

    2. Well, at least Nixon promised to end the Vietnam War and did it (although it took him six years). That’s better than Obama.

      1. Four years. It was over by the spring of 73, four years after he was inaugurated in the winter of 69

        1. details, details.

          1. We got out in 1973. The war ended in 1975. Badly.

            1. Aren’t the Vietnamese into free markets now? You know, competing with us and kicking our asses with properly-priced labor?

              1. Yes, I suppose they are. But a whole lot of people were slaughtered at the end of the war. We should have either stayed out, or just rained missles on Hanoi until they quit.

    3. The Nixon scenario is most likely Romney.

  8. If liberals are supposedly so “wary of authority” why is it they always seem to want bigger government, more programs, and more regulations? Get real, Liberals LOVE authority, as long as they’re in charge.

    1. Exactly.

      And they justify it in their minds as a benign authority imposed by kind, well-meaning people who have noble goals and who are only trying to make people and society better.

      It’s a kinder, gentler boot to the face.

      1. Yeah. More like a fuzzy bunny slipper to the face?

        1. nice legs. yours?

          1. Good god, no! Just Google image search randomness. Here’s the original source. And there is another photo there to get your ankle on! Perv.

      2. Yeah, just like ending slavery is a “big government program”

    2. Not everyone exists in this government vs. no government fantasy world.

      1. “Not everyone exists in this government vs. no government fantasy world.”

        And those of us who remember Nazism, Communism, the KKK, the Spanish Inquisition and so forth aren’t swayed by the idiotic, “But governments are made up of people!” excuse Lefties like to wheel out (but only when they’re in charge).

        1. You’ve been in a lot of places.

      2. Not yet, but once we figure out how to make nonexistant people pay taxes then we’ll suck them in too.

        1. Nobody has any realistic cause to bitch about taxes right now considering they are the lowest in most people’s lifetimes.

          1. translation: you’re only gettin raped 4 days a week instead of 6, so settle down

            1. And we’ll ignore the distribution of the rapings. All that matters is the sum total…

          2. Who’s bitching about high taxes??? Nonexistant people are free to make all the money they want and don’t pay one single penny in taxes. As you so often whine about, I just want to take from them what I consider be their fair share in return for all the services at their disposal.

  9. “The key to understanding Tea Partiers’ morality, though, is that they want to restore the law of karma.”

    This isn’t karma, it’s just the old adage “what goes around comes around”. This is what Americans mean 99% of the time they use the word “karma”. But calling it “karma” gives it more power because of the religious/mystical connotations.

    1. Oh for god’s sakes quit being such a pedantic nicompoop. Besides, if we start diluting the notion of karma through overuse, it will also dilute the power of that word.

      1. Why use nonsensical religious mumbo jumbo when there are plenty of non-babytalk words that could better get the point across?

        1. Why do you feel the need to call it nonsensical religous mumbo jumbo and get your panties in a twist? Who gives a fuck what its called anyways.

  10. “…a theory I developed with Jesse Graham, Ravi Iyer, and Sena Koleva (all at the University of Southern California), Pete Ditto (University of California at Irvine), and Craig Joseph (who was then at the University of Chicago).”
    per the wingnutz, just another pack o marxists

    1. i havez no point i just post nonsense

    2. Re: Triple Asshole,

      I’m sorry, I wasn’t pay attention – did you moo something?

  11. The Assassin-in-Chief is bragging about bringing his brand of justice to Libya.

    I feel so proud!



    1. Morons of the highest order

    2. Theft from whom??

  13. Besides Paul or Johnson the two most federalist minded candidates offering the two boldest plans for change. Real change we can get with an undeniable mandate.

    A Cain/Perry ticket or a Perry/Cain is the only ticket that can produce an undeniable mandate for change and a blowout victory over Obama and the Democrats.

    Lets put them in office and allow congress to debate 9-9-9 vs a Flat-Tax and lets rolls with one for a few years and see what happens. More tweaking around the edges is not going to change anything and just lead to more of the same with both parties driving the car straight for the cliff -one party just steps on the gas pedal harder without changing course. We need to slam on the brakes and turn the car around. Perry and Cain are both offering plans to do just that – lets elect them, then debate it/enact real forward thinking change then push the city back to the top of the hill – we will use American energy sources to power all those lights that have been shut off in our youth and society. I suspect you libertarians will behave typically and not see the forest because of the trees – shiny things.

    The forest could be a whole generation or two seeing this thing we call capitalism and free-markets unleashed where it will be self evident that Professor Marxist is an idiot.

    Then again why would libertarians want to move out of their bubble and turn the whole country into a debate society of their ideas when you can just stay within your bubbles.

    An undeniable mandate and guaranteed debate on the two paths which are a necessary first step if you ever want Gary Johnson to stand a REAL chance of winning in the future.

    1. Cain is a Godfather in the Bankster cartel!
      Perry is a Bilderburger!
      Bachmann is an avid listener but she is batshit crazy.
      Santorum is a puppet for the NAZI-youth Pope.
      Romney is part of the LDS conspiracy to have all men wearing dark suits and all women barefoot in the kitchen.
      Gingrich is a puppet of K-Street.
      Huntsman is a UN puppet.

      Ron Paul! RON PAUL!
      RON PAUL! Ron Paul!

      Ron Paul! RON PAUL!
      RON PAUL! Ron Paul!

      Ron Paul! RON PAUL!
      RON PAUL! Ron Paul!

      Ron Paul! RON PAUL!
      RON PAUL! Ron Paul!

        1. ^fake^
          but not inaccurate


    2. Anybody who thinks Perry is any different than that fake flipflopping egomaniacal piece of shit Romney doesn’t live in Texas.

      You can insult us all you want but you aren’t seeing the forest or the trees if you think Perry is anything other than a crony corporatist.

      The jury is still out on Cain but leading a Federal Reserve Bank, supporting TARP, hating muslims, supporting the drug war and an interventionist foreign policy is a pretty fucking poor start.

      1. Yep

  14. Scroll down to the bottom for the latest additions if you’ve already seen this floating around the net.

    Just for fun imagining how it all went down OWS:

    Fmr Green Czar Van Jones: Okay, ideas anybody.

    Professor #1: I think I could get some of my hippie students and their friends to protest Wall St.

    Professor #2 Great idea, I’m going to text some of my students from my iPhone and tell them they should be protesting evil corporations whose products are made in China and sell stock on Wall St.

    Van Jones: Excellent!

    SEIU Andy Stern: I can get some of my people there.

    Trumpka: Me too.

    JournoList: Hold back boys we wouldn’t want it to look like astroturf.

    DNC Debbie Dolberman Shultz: Once the MSM sets the narrative about how spontaneous and grassroots the OWS crowd has sprung up we could get Nancy and Barrack to comment on it.

    Nancy Pelosi: Okay.

    Trumpka: That’s the cue for our unions to come in Andy.

    Van Jones: Excellent. A very productive meeting on this one. We wouldn’t want another CBS incident. Has anyone admonished CBS and that reporter yet?

    Nancy Pelosi: My husband and I need a distraction.

    Al Sharpton: When will we tell them it should be about redistributing the money?

    NYT Bill Keller: I’ll start setting the narrative that the Tea Party is finished.

    PBS Charlie Rose: I’ll coincide with that and and call OWS a growing phenomenon.

    JournoList: Once all that’s rolling we’ll keep pounding the talking points.

    Senate Leader (D) Harry Reid: I’ll prevent the Senate from voting on the Barrack’s jobs Bill while all this is going on. I’ll need help blaming Republicans since the bi-partisan support is against us.

    JournoList: No problem and no different than business as usual.

    MSNBC Al Sharpton: Money…when will we tell them it should be about redistributing the money?

    WH David Axelrod: Al follow my cue and then organize. Barrack will say “Republicans Don’t Want A Place Where People “No Matter What They Look Like” Can Succeed”

    Nancy Pelosi: I will stir up their passions with stuff like they’re voting to let women die on the floor.

    JournoList: Great idea Nancy. That one helps get out the feminist vote every time. Women like “shiny things”.

    ABC Whoopi Goldberg: I can tell women George Bush er….Republicans want to steal their uteruses.

    Sean Penn: Garofalo and the rest of us will set the meme the Tea Party is the “Get The N-Word Out Of The White House Party”.

    Bill Maher: Excellent Sean! Most excellent! I will call Cain and republicans racist and poke fun at them.

    Al Sharpton: I will add to the meme: “We Will Get The Jobs Bill Done In The Street”.

    WH David Axelrod: Excellent guys. The WH messaging will be OWS “Will Be An Issue In This Campaign”.

    WH Valerie Jarret: We need to crush the idea MLK would have supported Cain. Barrack will tell the people at the ceremony that MLK Jr. Would Have Supported Occupy Wall Street.

    MSNBC Lawrence O’Donnell: I will imply a brilliant man like Cain should have been drafted, or perhaps volunteered to be considered a patriot – rather than work for the Navy in a private capacity on rocket science where the Navy wanted him solving problems on an important project. I can also push the meme that he’s an Uncle Tom for thinking for himself and unlike 90%+ of African Americans. I will do this from atop my white horse. Perhaps MSNBC should hire Al to provide me cover.

    Al Sharpton: That’s what I do, I know how to crack the whip on those who dare leave the Democrat plantation. How much are they going to pay me?

    Michael Moore: Will Barrack be using the styrofoam columns again? I will make a documentary of all this with a similar name as my 5th one but call it “Bowling for Columnlike” instead.

    Van Jones One last thing. Can you JournoList within the press corpse please keep ignoring the Fast and Furious scandal.

    WH Press Corpse Indeed!

    JournoList We concur, and don’t worry Nancy. Tell your husband too.

    WH David Axelrod: Once all this is rolling Barack will hop on the bus and hit the road with the standard organizing talking points like “GOP Wants “Dirtier Air, Dirtier Water, Less People With Health Insurance”.

    MSNBC Martin Bashir David, I’ll follow your lead with “Cain Doesn’t Want To Be “Associated With African-Americans.”

    MSNBC Comrade Brzezinski I’d suggest a Bolshevik type approach like “Make Rich Known Publicly To Pressure Them To Give Back”

    WaPo Eugene Robinson: I call my meme “Defend Wall Street” and go with the theme is not likely to be a winning campaign slogan in 2012. For Republicans, this is an obvious problem.

    Fmr Green Czar Van Jones: Very productive people. I mean that..

    Sen. Socialist Bernie Sanders: We Need To Address The Issue Of The Rich Getting Richer

    MSNBC Lawrence O’Donnell: I’d like to add Republicans still don’t have a jobs plan, they’ve never had a jobs plan because Republicans are lying liars that lie even when lying about lying that’s the kind of liars the lying liars are.

    MSNBC Rachel Maddow: I’ll push this one “Republicans vote against employing more teachers and first responders” and since we believe the American people are too stupid to figure out the locals already pay taxes to cover those type of things in their cities and states.

    Van Jones Very good Rachel.

    SNL Sen. Al Franken: And also remember we are good enough, smart enough and gosh darn it, people like us. We are wonderful people…..just ask us.

    MSNBC Rachel Maddow: I’ll also go with Republicans think poor people are scam artists.

    WH David Axelrod: Excellent Barack will use the standard Alinsky playbook on his bus tour which we can film for campaign ads. Barack will also tell the people not to believe their lying eyes and that all the choices he made were the right ones.

    1. Jesus Christ, shut the fuck up.

      1. It’s like the ObamaCare of internet posts – no one is going to read it. And for good reason.

        1. I concur. BURN IT!!!!!

          1. That you, rectal? Gambol your fat ass on out of here.

        2. Whenever a post extends below the bottom of my screen, I scroll down to see how long it is before I even start reading it. Anyone else do this?

          1. Yes. Which means that perhaps some words of wisdom are going unread. Write a fucking book! He who writes upon the wall…..

            1. He who writes upon the wall…..

              disturbs the thread about American Fall?..er….Autumn?

            2. He who writes upon the wall…..

              … is a graffiti ‘artist’?

          2. Unless it’s someone whose posts I know to be generally interesting/informative, I don’t even do that. Instead, I just scroll down to the pithy “shut the fuck up” replies.

        3. Except he was 100% spot-on.

          1. Except he was 100% spot-on.

            That may be, but the products of public education have different priorities.

            1. Dammit Beavis, if I wanted to read I’d go to school!

    2. Can’t you go post on WorldNetDaily or some other Team Red site where mindless drivel is appreciated?

      1. Professor do you believe a Creator allows freewill?

        Professor: Sure, I’ll play along.

        Did you support Obamacare?

        Professor: Yes.

        Then you do not accept freewill and you are a potential tyrant.

        Professor: You just flunked this course pal.

        Hey climate scientist, do you believe the Creator allows freewill?

        Climate scientist: I don’t believe a Creator exist let alone that one allows freewill.

        AGW Skeptic: Einstein was right.

        Climate scientist: Silence skeptic! We must sacrifice your rights and do what’s best for society.

        Hey Hillary, progressives Dems do you believe Our Creator allows freewill?

        Choir: We must sacrifice the rights of the individual and do what’s best for society.

        Who decides what is best? Certainly not society see Obamacare.

        Choir: From one, many see Obamacare.

        1. Guest, congratulations. After flunking out of Real World College’s Nuance program, you passed Trolling University’s “Bringing Teh Partisan Stupid” course and graduated with a degree in Uncreative Writing magna cum laude. You’re just a few misspellings and capitalizations away from a completely one dimensional, tin foil masterpiece.

          1. Uh oh Proprietist called me a partisan [team red] I suppose. Its like a key word that triggers automaton for libertarians.

            It’s kind of like; are you read for this…saying “State’s rights” which triggers something in progressives to go into a racism rant about how you want to bring back slavery….yada…blah…


  15. Quick show of hands (you know what I mean) of anyone who’s read Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer?

    Just curious. Its the best thing Ive ever read re: these sort of ‘movement’-type people.

    The fact that they call themselves the “99%” is something he’d be unsurprised by: he goes on at length about how people long to exchange their individual identities for a theoretical, idealized, coherent mass…

    Some snips:

    The effectiveness of a doctrine does not come from its meaning but from its certitude. No doctrine however profound and sublime will be effective unless it is presented as the embodiment of the one and only truth. It must be the one word from which all things are and all things speak. (p. 80)

    It is obvious, therefore, that in order to be effective, a doctrine must not be understood, but has rather to be believed in. We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand. (p. 80-81)

    If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable. One has to get to heaven or the distant future to determine the truth of an effective doctrine. (p. 81)

    To be in possession of an absolute truth is to have a net of familiarity spread over the whole of eternity. There are no surprises and no unknowns. All questions have already been answered, all decisions made, all eventualities foreseen. The true believer is without wonder and hesitation. (p. 82)

    The act of self-denial seems to confer on us the right to be harsh and merciless towards others. The impression somehow prevails that the true believer, particularly the religious individual, is a humble person. The truth is that the surrendering and humbling of the self breed pride and arrogance. The true believer is apt to see himself as one of the chosen, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a prince disguised in meekness, who is destined to inherit this earth and the kingdom of heaven, too. He who is not of his faith is evil; he who will not listen shall perish. (p. 99-100)

    The burning conviction that we have a holy duty toward others is often a way of attaching our drowning selves to a passing raft. What looks like giving a hand is often a holding on for dear life. Take away our holy duties and you leave our lives puny and meaningless. There is no doubt that in exchanging a self-centered for a selfless life we gain enormously in self-esteem. The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice utmost humility, is boundless. (p. 14-15)

    1. Yep. A single copy has been passed around my family for over forty years. Comes up in our discussions frequently.

    2. No, but damnit, I want to!

      Heard about him years ago.

      Need to see if the local library has anything.

      1. You can read some decent chunks of it here: http://www.google.com/search?t…..ver&btnG;=

        1. Okay!

          Will do!

  16. I have more important things to think about than a potential Perry/Cain ticket.

    Everybody is upgrading their commenter names, but “Cane-Wielding Misanthrope P Brooks” won’t fit in the “name” box.

    reason, I am disappoint.

    1. I have better fantasies than a Cain/Perry ticket.

  17. They claim solidarity with the world then support protectianism.

    I do not fully understand the whole alpha male explanation, is this guy saying that getting your friends together for a big group hug, is how an alpha male reacts to a problem ?

    1. I think the thesis is, a bunch of friends get together for a group hug, and then finally go kill that Alpha bastard! He was always dominating them and stuff. They were afraid to compete individually, but collectively they can dominate him!

      1. “With the strength of ten.
        Ordinary men!”

        We’ll crush those eeevul alpha males and replace them with us! Yeah!

        1. Retard strength works for one guy. A group of 200 with retard strength also has retard brains and can’t organize to use its strength.

  18. It looks like Haidt and co. are trying to describe peoples’ motivations (pseudo-)mathematically. They have selected a basis (made of the six clusters of moral concerns) and they are attempting to show that the entire space of moral appeals can be described by some combination of these basis vectors. I don’t think these vectors are orthogonal, though. There seems to be some overlap between, say, harm and oppression or harm and betrayal. Elimination of one or two of these vectors might yield a more compact and useful theory. I haven’t thought about it enough to suggest a replacement set of vectors, though. Either way, I salute the author for putting this interesting theory together.

    1. I don’t think these vectors are orthogonal

      We are aroused

      1. the Borg are 100% and fully equal and fair.


        1. Wow, this went off on an unexpected tangent…

          1. No.
            Not unexpected at all.

            1. Seven of Nine found resisting me to be futile.

              1. LMAO, you guys are funny. Including orthogonal, irresistibly, futile Borg-like sexual arousal.

  19. I posted on another thread that was probably already dormant, so I’ll ask again here: Where are the papier mache heads of Obama, Biden and Geithner?

    1. Where is Obama doll being lynched?

  20. The youngster in the oxford-cloth shirt with the “Check it out Fox the peasants are rebelling!” sign is precious.

    Peasants with $5,500 laptops.

    1. $5,500 laptops? Really?

      1. Ok, ok, $550.00 at Fry’s.

      2. Best link I could find:


        OWS’er complains her MacBook was stolen, says it’s worth $5,500. I don’t think even a top-end 17″ MBP runs that high, so she must be counting her copy of Creative Suite, etc. Creative accounting!

        1. OWS’er complains her MacBook was stolen, says it’s worth $5,500.

          She may have paid that at one time, but they don’t go for anywhere near that that any more if they ever did.

    2. Okay, I’m that kid you’re talking about who held up the “fox” sign. First of all, I don’t own a $5,500 laptop, nor is my family particularly wealthy. Second of all, even if I was the richest, most afluent and spoiled child on the face of the earth, I could still join the protests because I am capable of feeling a humanizing sense of empathy for the people who are truly suffering in this current economic state. Saying someone is “too rich to be there” has no logical value as an objection. In other words, you don’t have to be directly victimized by a situation to see it as wrong. Enjoy formulating a rebuttal to that gem. And thanks, I’m glad you liked my shirt.

  21. “six clusters of moral concerns… upon which, we argue, all political cultures and movements base their moral appeals”

    Forgot the main one: do I benefit. That is the key to every political establishment.

  22. “they [progressivism] rarely make moral appeals based on… authority/subversion”


    1. Exactly. The name 99% is already an appeal to authority.

      OK, it’s a left-wing group of protesters instead of right-wing protesters. Like we needed researchers with half-assed theories and loaded terms to tell us that.

  23. There’s a big appeal to upper and upper-middle class leftie college kids to slum and feel like they have experiences that can authentically relate to the downtrodden, homeless and unemployed. In the future, they can claim that they know how it feels to live on the streets and be poor. It’s a novelty to them and one that they can wear as a badge of honor when showing to the world how good their intentions are. “Tax mom and dad” is merely another manifestation of immature teenage rebellion.

    The thing is that rich kids slumming doesn’t actually help the poor. Rich kids getting even richer and becoming philanthropists does. If they want to live in a normal middle class home so they can spend all their savings on helping the poor, more power to them.

    1. I saw a lot of this at my university. Many individuals whose parents were actually quite wealthy slumming in apartments in the bad side of town because they wanted the ‘college experience.’

    2. Sounds a little like “Walden Pond” as well.

    3. I want to live like common people…

  24. “Equality First!
    Liberty Later!”

    The leftist imperative in a nutshell. No different than Slavery yes, liberty no (as long as slavery makes us equal)

    There’s no one more equal than the happy people of North Korea, who have known the pleasures of grass eating and cutting their hair according to the socialist ideal.

    1. Here you are ALL equally worthless!

  25. “Private Ownership Of Industry Is Theft!”

    Insteqad, public ownership of industry (which gave us the Trabant) is non theft… I guess!

  26. Jonathan Haidt: “Libertarians, true to their name, value liberty more than anyone else[…]”

    And you don’t?

  27. A few questions to ponder

    Can capitalism survive without fraud, waste, bigotry and treating labor as subhuman chattel?

    Which is more important: Labor or capital? In fact, can either exist without the other?

    Do you think everyone wants to be a millionaire? Additionally, do you think that someone who doesn’t want to be one is lazy, parasitical or useless by default?

    1. Re: Hate Potion Number Nine,

      Can capitalism survive without fraud, waste, bigotry and treating labor as subhuman chattel?

      Who said they are the sine qua non of capitalism? Can you elaborate?

      Which is more important: Labor or capital?

      Which is more important – labor or food? Which is more important – labor or materials? Which is more important – labor or the savings accumulated (i.e. capital) to pay labor while the damned thing sells?

      Do you think everyone wants to be a millionaire?

      No, I don’t think so. I want to be a zillionaire, which ipso facto renders your question moot.

      Additionally, do you think that someone who doesn’t want to be one is lazy, parasitical or useless by default?

      No, of course not. Only tax-fed lazy-ass leeches who take the productive efforts of other people for themselves are parasitical and useless, by their actions.

    2. Can capitalism survive without fraud, waste, bigotry and treating labor as subhuman chattel?

      Sure, in theory. The question should be, can any human endeavor exist without fraud, waste, bigotry and treating labor as subhuman chattel? If you answer yes, give examples.

      Which is more important: Labor or capital? In fact, can either exist without the other?

      Trick question, right? Important to who, on what scale?

      Do you think everyone wants to be a millionaire?

      I have no idea. Nor do I care.

      Additionally, do you think that someone who doesn’t want to be one is lazy, parasitical or useless by default?

      No. You?

      1. The first question deals with the argument regarding labor laws, civil rights and environmental protections. I won’t bother debating the pure constitutionality of such things because they do exceed the powers enumerated. The common objection is not that these things are unnecessary but that they restrict economic output – that a business is burdened by ensuring the safety of its workers and burdened by safely disposing of harmful by-products. Okay, let’s set every regulation to naught and start again – do we see very little real change in business practices or a race to the bottom as competing business cut as many corners as they can?

        OM, can we then agree that maybe the notion of capital and labor belonging to two distinct and opposed classes may be a fallacy? Maybe you share this view already, I don’t know. Without labor there can be no capital, yes? But capital will be used to generate more labor.

        If there is a distinction then there is still a symbiotic (not parasitic) relationship between the two. If it is in the best interest of the labor class to burden the capital class as little as possible – why would it not be in the interest of capital to invest in and ease the burden of labor (or did I just totally misread “The Gospel Of Wealth” by A. Canegie on this)? Each side can benefit the other.

        The next is a pure values question. I am not a millionaire. Nor do I wish to be. I do not take handouts and I’ve never taken a dime from welfare. I do not want a luxury car. What I have in life isn’t much but it’s been honestly gotten. How many people on Wall Street or in Washington DC can truthfully say that (including the protesters)?

    3. I have 6 million pennies in the bank.

      That would have been awesome in 1909. Today, not so much.

    4. Do you think everyone wants to be a millionaire?

      Wanting to be a millionaire and being both willing and able to do what it takes to get there are two different things.

  28. When will these dopes realize that the political class is the 1%?

  29. If you put equality first you will never have liberty.

    1. tell that to pre-Lincoln blacks, pre-suffragette women, feudal peasants in medieval europe…etal

      p.s. “equality” is again NOT LITERAL jeesh!

  30. Honestly, I get a bit tired of using this single morality system as the only one. Philosophers have been debating morality for YEARS. There are thousands of systems, no single one is the best.

    1. -20 Karma.

    2. Except, of course, your single system claiming no single system is the best.

  31. Liberals tend to be wary of authority.

    Unless, of course, they happen to be the ones with the authority. Then they are all too happy.

  32. The whole problem with MFT is that it tests people’s statements about morality, not their moral choices. If anything, it’s a theory about ethical paradigms, not moral ones. As economists have learned the hard way, there’s a difference between what people say, and what people choose, because choosing carries an actual cost.

    That said, if there was a way to measure actual revealed moral preference in a fairly normal environment, that would be interesting. I think there are also a lot of attitudes that are, while not specifically moral, close to it — boldness versus caution, diversity versus homogeneity, truthfulness versus deceit, and so on. And some should be broken up — fairness seems to be two values, justice and equality, that are very different in nature.

    1. Great post here…additionally all of these preferences change in the person over time.

  33. Hate Potion Number Nine|10.20.11 @ 6:53PM|#
    “The first question deals with the argument regarding labor laws, civil rights and environmental protections. […] Okay, let’s set every regulation to naught and start again – do we see very little real change in business practices or a race to the bottom as competing business cut as many corners as they can?”
    Easy; government is a trailing indicator.
    Right now, sellers offer and customers buy goods at premium prices because those goods are ‘green’ or ‘organic’ or ‘from sustainable X’. And the actual result is probably every bit as good as what government regs require.
    One difference might well be more jobs.
    “The next is a pure values question. I am not a millionaire. Nor do I wish to be.”
    Uh, not sure what this has to do with whether you get welfare or not.

  34. One thing to note.

    The subjects of the signs in the fairness section were “We” or “I”. They were statements about the sign holder.

    That’s consistent with my observation about the difference between the left and the right. The right wants to do good, the left wants to be good.

  35. Great article. Clearly shows why almost all left/right arguments eventually come to a point where neither side can agree, they are motivated by entirely different factors and “facts” don’t matter.

  36. Cain: Anti-Abortion, But Pro-Choice

  37. “Equality Now:Liberty Later” and if you grow taller then six feet, you’ll get your feet chopped off, because equality, man.

    1. A liberal spoofing other liberals? What has the world come to?

    2. Someone needs to get these kids to read more…

      e.g. Harrison Bergeron =

      Due to the 211th, 212th and 213th Amendments to the Constitution of America, all Americans are mandated equal. “They were not only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way.” In America no one is more intelligent than anyone else, no one is better looking or more athletic than anyone else. In order to stop any sort of competition in society these measures are enforced by the United States Handicapper General. The current Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers, and her team of agents have developed several forms of “handicaps.” Beautiful people are forced to wear masks, athletic people have to carry weights, and intelligent people have to wear radios in their ears that interrupt thoughts with loud noises. In April 2081 the agents of the Handicapper General take fourteen-year-old Harrison Bergeron away from his parents, George and Hazel. The couple is not aware of the full extent of that tragedy because Hazel is of average intelligence and George has to wear the mental handicap radio. Later that day the two are watching ballerinas on live television where the talented dancers have weights on their arms and feet. The show is interrupted by a bulletin announcing that Harrison Bergeron has escaped from prison. A picture of Harrison wearing several handicaps is shown. Suddenly the photo is replaced by images of Harrison storming the studio. Ripping off all his handicaps he declares that he is the emperor and a greater ruler than anyone else. He chooses one of the ballerinas as his empress, liberates her from her handicaps, and starts to dance with her. They dance until they kiss the ceiling. A few seconds later Diana Moon Glampers enters the studio and kills Harrison and his empress with a shotgun, and then the screen goes dark. George Bergeron misses these events, having left to get a beer. He returns and finds Hazel crying on the couch. She says that something sad must have happened on TV, but that she cannot remember what it was. George tells her to forget about sad things.

  38. It is really disappointing to find this kind of pseudoscience littering the pages of Reason. I’ve seen some of Haidt’s work elsewhere, and if he ever came within whispering distance of a falsifiable statement I feel sure that his head would explode.

    Also, since we all made such fun of the “let’s cherry-pick protest signs with a raging case of confirmation bias” technique, back when it was used against the tea party…we should hardly tolerate it now, when it’s used in support of some hack’s publicly funded hypothesis.

    1. How would it be necessary to “cherry pick” signs to show that Occupy Wall Street protesters are against business? They are Occupying Wall Street, after all.

      1. He’s not picking signs in an effort to show that the protesters are “against business”. He’s picking signs in an effort to show that their hatred of wall street is really just a reflection of their commitment to caring and fairness (or some other really precise concepts like that).

        How is it usually said around here? RTFA?

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  40. Let me preface my remarks by saying I am a liberal who like generations of my family before me served in the military and who has for the last twenty years been a small business person.

    I find the authors bias insulting and dishonest. He portrays conservatives as using all relative values while the more honorable values do not exist in liberal decision making. While he was not so ham handed as to call liberals Godless Anti Americans he came very close.

    The claim that American Liberals seek a equality of outcomes is oft used by conservative spin meisters but has no factual basis. Liberal Americans are Americans and Americans with few exceptions thrive on competition and capitalism.

    To understand the complaints of those protesting read Federalist Ten”the most common and durable

    source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property…..The regulation of these various and interfering

    interests forms the principal task of modern legislation and involves the spirit

    of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the

    government. .” It is governments failure tor regulate these interest that Americans are protesting. James Madison understood it 200 years ago but your author apparently was not well educated.

  41. It is really disappointing to find this kind of pseudoscience littering the pages of Reason. I’ve seen some of Haidt’s work elsewhere, and if he ever came within whispering distance of a falsifiable statement I feel sure that his head would explode.

  42. That’s consistent with my observation about the difference between the left and the right. The right wants to do good, the left wants to be good.


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