The United States today is bitterly divided. It is less an aspirational melting pot of immigrants and more a salad bowl made up of distinct, often clashing flavors. The successive elections of two divisive presidents—one committed to the perennial leftist dream of “fundamental change” and the other to a conservative vision of “Making America Great Again”—have exacerbated what is arguably the greatest rift in politics since the election of Abraham Lincoln. Taking inspiration from Coleridge’s belief that all humans are temperamentally destined to follow the path of Plato the Idealist or Aristotle the Realist, this book examines the political divide in terms of these temperamental differences.
Liberals’ and conservatives’ views of human nature have a large bearing on the political policies they espouse, but their temperaments and personalities have the most significant impact. This book analyses the personality traits of liberals and conservatives in terms of the “Big Five” model—openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Conservatives are found in almost all studies to be more conscientious, agreeable, and extroverted, while liberals are found to be more open to new experience and neurotic. The political divisions I explore in this book are all essentially fueled by personality differences.
There is a deepening divide between liberals and conservatives in the battle for America’s soul: one side seeks to steer the nation sharply to the left into socialist selfdom, whereas the other side desires a wealthy and free America under the watchful eye of God’s providence. A preponderance of academic texts belongs to the liberal tradition. Conservatives have long lacked a comparable intellectual tradition of their own, although an incipient one is now beginning to form. This book, while maintaining a measure of scholarly distance, is unashamedly written from a conservative point of view.
Anthony Walsh teaches law, statistics, and criminology at Boise State University, Idaho. He entered academia upon earning a degree in criminology after 25 years in the “real world” as a Marine, police officer, and probation officer. His primary area of expertise is biosocial criminology, and he was honored with the 2014 David Rowe Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions in this area. He is also interested in legal philosophy and statistics. He has written 40 other books and approximately 150 articles, many on topics included in this book.
While the Texas influence has always been strong, and has ebbed and flowed, never has it been stronger, especially as a guiding force in American foreign policy. Today, people around the world perceive this Manifest Destiny swaggering style in our foreign policy. Because of its sheer size, its border wars with Mexico, its ten-year history as an independent republic, and its having been settled by a warrior culture originating in the English-Scottish borderlands and arriving in Texas via the southern Appalachians, Texas is unique in American politics. The author does not assert that Texas causes, or is the sole cause of, our various policies or of so many violent events. Rather, he demonstrates convincingly that the Texas warrior culture provides a fascinating context for national politics in a way that no other state's political culture can claim.
Walsh argues that sociology has nothing to fear and a wealth of riches to gain if it pays attention to the theories, concepts, and methodologies of the biological sciences. Both study the same phenomena. Beginning with an examination of the reasons why we need a biosocial approach, Walsh explores sociology's traditional "taboo" concepts (reductionism, essentialism, etc.) and how those concepts are viewed in the natural sciences.
Throughout the work, the author introduces relevant concepts from genetics and the neurosciences, using examples that will appeal to all sociologists. Later chapters apply his introductory arguments to traditional substantive sociological issues such as culture, crime, gender, socialization, social class, and the family. This book will be essential to all sociologists, evolutionary biologists, and scholars interested in the history of this important divide between the fields and where it currently stands.