I am posting this not so much because of Monbiot's opinions on progressive and conservative politics, but because of what he has to say on intrinsic and extrinsic values, especially these quotes:
Progressives, he shows, have been suckers for a myth of human cognition he labels the Enlightenment model. This holds that people make rational decisions by assessing facts. All that has to be done to persuade people is to lay out the data: they will then use it to decide which options best support their interests and desires.
A host of psychological experiments demonstrates that it doesn’t work like this. Instead of performing a rational cost-benefit analysis, we accept information which confirms our identity and values, and reject information that conflicts with them. We mould our thinking around our social identity, protecting it from serious challenge. Confronting people with inconvenient facts is likely only to harden their resistance to change.
Our social identity is shaped by values which psychologists classify as either extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic values concern status and self-advancement. People with a strong set of extrinsic values fixate on how others see them. They cherish financial success, image and fame. Intrinsic values concern relationships with friends, family and community, and self-acceptance. Those who have a strong set of intrinsic values are not dependent on praise or rewards from other people. They have beliefs which transcend their self-interest.
This shift has been reinforced by advertising and the media. The media’s fascination with power politics, its rich lists, its catalogues of the 100 most powerful, influential, intelligent or beautiful people, its obsessive promotion of celebrity, fashion, fast cars, expensive holidays: all these inculcate extrinsic values. By generating feelings of insecurity and inadequacy - which means reducing self-acceptance - they also suppress intrinsic goals.
This is not the first time I’ve run across these assertions, which I think are absolutely correct. In fact, not long ago I read a paper on the people’s inclination to deny bad news (in this case, climate change) based on the fact that “confronting people with inconvenient facts is likely only to harden their resistance to change. “
In all things, and not just politics, I also fall into the mode of thinking that if you can just be rational with someone, and explain the facts, that you can easily sway them to see the validity of your argument. And like he says, that just leads to so much disappointment.
Here is a link to the original blog post: The Values of Everything. Please take a moment to read it before you comment. It’s a very good blog post.