We published a podcast a couple of weeks ago about the differences between “leftists” and “liberals.” It was our most listened-to episode ever. There’s obviously an appetite out there for a deeper understanding of political philosophies, how they come to be, and how they manifest themselves in real world conflicts and struggles. And so we thought we should follow up on this topic and dig a bit deeper into the psychology of people’s political tendencies - how people’s anxieties, fears, hopes, and dreams, influence their political opinions.

Cristin Sauter is a social worker, activist, and PhD student at Adelphi University who appeared on our podcast last year to discuss her studies on drug policy, and how our attitudes towards addiction shape the decisions we make about criminalization of drug use, distribution, etc. She’s currently working on a thesis about political attitude development, and so we knew this would be the perfect time to invite her back on the show.

Ironically, we inadvertently picked up right where the “left vs. liberal” episode ended. Cristin mentions a set of personal values that play a role in determining people’s political ideologies: benevolence, universalism, self direction, stimulation, hedonism, achievement, power, security, conformity, and tradition. We zero in on universalism as being particularly important in differentiating liberals from leftists.

Cristin also discusses the year she spent collaborating with the City of Newburgh Police Department as a social worker, and her takeaways from that experience. She mentions the discrepancies in compensation between social workers and police officers, and how they reflect the values of the society as a whole. For example, police officers in New York State make an average of $75,000 per year after two and a half years of training. The average social worker makes $60,000 after six years of schooling, which of course leaves them in significant debt. The implication of this is that we place more value on authoritarian law and order values than we do on anxiety-transcendent empathetic ones.

We also discuss how the establishment attempts to funnel most of these values into an embrace of capitalism, and how we can counter such efforts with true democracy. We discuss how white supremacy is a tool of capitalist hegemony, and how to best organize against it by appealing to universal human dignity. And of course, we talk a bit about the 2020 election for good measure.

You can listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:

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Image: worldsocialism.org