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Is the left as dogmatic as the right?

Is the left as dogmatic as the right?

June 17, 2024

It is evident that we are experiencing moments of social and political change that are associated with the progressive left. That left that advocates social rights, intellectual freedom and thought. An ideology that, in short, is positioned from its origins against the different forms of repression towards cultural particularities and thought, as well as in favor of citizen participation in the social and political debate.

All these principles and moral positions, however, need an implementation, a way of being applied to practice. And this is where the controversy and confrontation appear not only about the methods to assume the objectives but also about the goal to be achieved. For all this, at the University of Minnesota, a study was conducted to determine the practices and techniques used by the left to convince the population and defeat their political opponents. The underlying idea was to find out if the left is so dogmatic and contrary to the questioning of certain ideas as the right , traditionally associated with conservatism. The final results are, at least, surprising.

  • Related article: "What is Political Psychology?"

Politics, the new religion

Lucian Gideon Conway, associate professor of psychology at the University of Montana, warns that political ideology is one of the most deeply rooted and influential variables in our way of thinking, even if we do not realize it, "to the point of being dogmatic", points out .

It has been some years since the Second World War (1945) and the Cold War (1945-1991) had been started. the concept of war of ideas , predicting that the next battles that were going to be waged would not be as material as ideological. Since then, propaganda has been the most useful tool to combat the opponent's ideas. The expenses in newspapers, televisions and programs related to political dogmatisms, are counted by millions of dollars. H

ace little less than 1 year that the Russian Revolution of 1917 was held in the hands of Leninist communism. Some applaud it, others lament it and accuse the radical left of historic authoritarianism, largely because of the way in which public opinion has been polarized in this regard. As a sign of the influence that the propaganda battle has had, it should be taken into account that although at the end of the Second World War the Soviet Union had been the main responsible for the defeat of Hitler, in the last decades it is believed rather that they were the Americans who defeated the Nazis.

Conway was stung by curiosity and, along with his psychologist colleagues, he decided to delve into the left's way of conveying arguments. For her, many of those who were opposed to dogmatism, already practiced verbally .

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Is it the authoritarian left?

Unconsciously, it is usually associated with authoritarianism with the extreme right and with fascism. There are reasons for this, given that from these positions are legitimized ways to discriminate against people not from their actions, but their membership in "fixed" categories such as race or place of birth. Conway, however, believed that dogmatism is also widespread among the left. As a starting point, the team of psychologists took the model of the "Scale of the Authoritarian Right of the American Bob Altemeyer .

This method is no more than a survey to measure the authoritarianism of a person who answers the questions. Some questions respond to the power that should be granted to the State, trust in the authorities and in their laws. Phrases like "it is always better to trust in the rigor of the authorities regarding climate change and other problems related to the sciences", to which we must respond on different scales of agreement: absolutely agree, strongly agree, partially agree, slightly agree, neutral, partially disagree, strongly disagree and absolutely disagree.

This technique brings us closer to a very precise analysis given the range of possibilities to respond, especially to determine the level of ideological dogmatism. For it 600 students of progressive ideology were selected, and another 600 of ideology of the liberal right . Both groups responded to their respective surveys of their left / right political spectrum.

Surprisingly, crossing the responses of both groups, they agreed on three variables. According to the data obtained, left-thinking individuals are as authoritarian, dogmatic and extremist as their right-wing colleagues. The participants questioned were placed in the same political spectrum as soon as they were asked about State power.

Conclusions and limitations of the study

As Conway says, this study has some limitations. The number of participants is too small to be able to draw definitive conclusions. For the team of psychologists, there are good reasons to believe that the right tends to be more dogmatic than the left, and say that there is still a bit more research to be done in order to compare the behaviors of both ideologies.

On the other hand, the research presents a bias: Trust in the State and laws does not have to be a trait of dogmatism if these actually serve to make all social groups live well, or in times when the threat of ultraconservative influence is perceived because of the tendency of the latter to systematically discriminate against certain minorities.


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