Tag Archives: hibbing

Teaching Barbarism

Civics Is Not Enough: Teaching Barbarics in K-12,” by John Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, PS: Political Science and Politics, Vol. 29, No. 1. (Mar., 1996), pp. 57-62, http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=1049-0965%28199603%2929%3A1%3C57%3ACINETB%3E2.0.CO%3B2-U.

UN nation-building exercises drag on as atrophied imperial mandates. Parisian suburbs are “zones without law.” Influential members of the nation-security community praise posts that warn without resiliency, State-building is nothing more than the creation of an empty suit.”

A decade ago, two UNL professors warned that the moral legitimacy of democracy was under attack

But the striking finding to us was that, even setting aside [particular scandals and controversies], there was an undercurrent of intense disgust with intrinsic elements of democratic government, particularly democratic government in a technologically complex society of 270 million people, most of whom expect the government to do many things.

Although people, at least as represented by the individuals who participated in our survey and in our focus group, are effusive in praise for the concept of democracy as well as for the basic construction structure of the United States government, they recoil from what democracy looks like when seen in action and sometimes in inaction.. People love the rules of the game, but hate the game itself. Such a hatred of democratic procedures is obviously unhealthy and apparently springs from a patently unrealistic set of assumptions about the nature of democratic politics.

This is an important point. Democracy is safe from material attack. John Robb’s systempunkten aside, guerrilla movements would not succeed in undermining democracy by knocking a few (or even a lot) of points of gross domestic product.

A much greater threat is the horror of people who see politics up-close in our super-empowered information-rich society, and hate it.

For instance, I recently analyzed the blog remarks of House Speaker Dennis Hastert on oil companies. One commentator wrote

Does the interest in your politician’s manipulation of you as a people end in satisfaction that you think you have it figured? Or does it only end when you remove yourself from them and do something to negate their influence?

I think this reaction is pretty typical. People see political manipulation and the application of war theories to politics and want it to end. But barbarism never will end. Human struggle is universal. Politics is not civics — it is barbarics.

And the reason for this is obvious: yet another failure of America’s public schools

we have never been taught what democratic processes look like; we have only been taught antiseptic constitutional principals.

students are not receiving a balanced picture: they are taught the civics but not the barbarics of democratic process.

Current efforts to rectify the situation by getting people to participate more won’t work. It may even make the situation worse, as people become even more aware of the barbarism of civicism

Participation alone will do little to solve the problem

Hibbing and Theiss-Morse believe that the situation can be fixed by teaching “barbarics” to students from early ages

Would it not be preferable to let students know from an early age that preferences, whether based on racial groups or otherwise, will frequently lead members of society into conflict.

Making students aware of both civics and barbarics would not magically turn a negative public into a positive one, but it is an important step toward a public that appreciates the governing process

Despite the authors’ warning of no magic solution, the problems of our public school system are deeper than they suggest. As I earlier wrote, children wish to struggle from early on (boys especially through kinetics, girls especially through gossiping), but the school system retards and perverts this. Teaching barbarism in the current sit-down-shut-up framework is a band-aide.

Worse, the civics-barbarics dichotomy is misleading. All politics is war by other means — or more accurately, some other means. The friction of human struggle encompasses all attributes of life: counter-terrorism, literary criticism, humor, biology, aesthetics and pornographics, computer science, and others.

Human struggle is horizontal across all knowledge, because humans will eventually use any knowledge to win. Teaching that human struggle is something less than the hyper-internet we call reality just rearranges the blinders, and and adjusts our weak-point of democracy from one area to another.

The DNA of Politics

“Are Political Orientations Genetically Transmitted?” by John Alford, Carolyn Funk, and John R. Hibbing, American Political Science Association, May 2005, http://www.apsanet.org/imgtest/GeneticsAPSR0505.pdf (from Nebraska Liberation Front).

Today I attended Dr. John Hibbing fascinating lecture on the role of genetics in politics. His powerpoint was excellent, though I do not think he wants to make it generally available. Instead, I found a link to a scholarly article Dr. Hibbing has written that discusses some of the same points.

For those interested in the scientific details, please read the original article. Alternatively, at the end of the article I am putting some footnotes to allow one to read details without having the post bogged down by “boring stuff.”

A political survey was given to many pairs of fraternal and identical twins. Fraternal twins are brothers or sisters that just happened to be born at the same time, while identical twins are genetically identical (identical twins are “clones” of each other). [1]

Using some math, the similarities and differences in answers between the sets of identical and fraternal twins were used to calculate environmental and genetic factors. [2] It did not matter is identical twins were raised as identical twins, raised as fraternal twins, or otherwise brought up. [3]

Every question was at least somewhat influenced by genetics and at least somewhat influenced by the environment. The least genetic — those were “nurture” mattered the most and “nature” mattered the least — were a person’s party affiliation and their view of “liberals.”


This makes sense. A party affiliation is basically a club, while in American politics “liberal” is used as an insult by almost everyone.

Interesting, while one’s own party was almost entirely “nurture,” “nature” was about twice as important in what one thought of the parties. That is, while it was almost genetically random what party you are, your genetic heritage — your “nature” — determines a littlw aht you think of the Democrat Party and the Republican Party


Yet, other factors are genetically more related — particularly things involve money and blood:


What political issue is most closely tied into genetics? What political move would run into the deepest, most ingrained hostility?

School prayer.


There are many reasons that Conservatives may want to be thankful to the Warren Court, but Envel v. Vitale, which banned school prayer, is one of the biggest. The unique factors of American political culture make school prayer a center of gravity — what the Germans called a “schwerpunkt” — in the defense of conservatism. A smart liberal would try to go around it, as water goes around mountains.

Earl Warren was not a smart liberal.

In one swoop the Warren Court threw the progressive movement against the genetic/conservative schwerpunkt of prayer in schools.

That “liberal” is now an empty insult is a testament to Mr. Warren’s work. So is the Bush Presidency, the Republican Congress, and the Court.

Footnote 1: On Identical and Fraternal Twins

“The process of identifying in the laboratory the precise genes responsible for given human behaviors (especially those behaviors that do not have corollaries in lab-friendly animals such as mice) is extremely challenging. Fortunately, even without identifying the genes responsible, it is possible to compile information on the matter of most concern to social scientists: the extent to which attitudes and behaviors have a genetic component. The relevant procedures center on comparisons of monozygotic (MZ; frequently but erroneously called identical) twins and dizygotic (DZ; fraternal) twins.

“MZ twins develop from a single egg, fertilized by a single sperm, and share an identical genetic inheritance. DZ twins develop from two separate eggs, fertilized by two separate sperm, and are in effect simply two siblings that happen to be born simultaneously. As such, DZ twins share the same average of 50% of genetic material as do any two biological siblings. It is this fixed ratio (two to one) of genetic similarity between MZ and DZ twins, and the contrasting average equivalence of environment influence, that provides most of the power of twin designs. It is important to appreciate that the assumption of environmental equivalence is one of equivalence across types of twins, not across pairs of twins or across twins within a given pair. For example, there is undoubtedly at least some variability in parental socialization across siblings, even those of identical age, but acrossmultiple twin pairs the assumption is that this variability is essentially equal for the MZ and the DZ pairs.”

Footnote 2: Mathematically Seperating Environmental and Genetic Factors

“Heritability is typically estimated by subtracting the correlation for DZ pairs from the correlation for MZ pairs and then doubling the resulting difference.At one extreme, if the correlations are the same for MZ and DZ pairs, suggesting that genetic similarity plays no role in similarity for that particular trait, then the result will be an estimate of heritability of zero. At the other extreme, a purely genetic additive trait should produce a correlation of .5 for DZ pairs and 1.0 for MZ pairs, resulting in an estimate of heritability of 1.0 (1.0−.5=.5, and 2 x .5=1.0). In a similar way, we can estimate the influence of shared environment, as opposed to shared genetic material, by doubling the correlation for DZ pairs and then subtracting the correlation forMZ pairs. Again, a purely genetic additive trait should produce a correlation of .5 for DZ pairs and 1.0 for MZ pairs, resulting in an estimate of the impact of shared environment of zero (2 x .5=1.0, and 1.0−1.0=0). At the other extreme, if the correlations are the same for MZ and DZ pairs, suggesting that genetic similarity plays no role in similarity for that particular trait, then the result will be an estimate of the impact of shared environment that is equal to the MZ or DZ correlation (e.g., if MZ=DZ=.4, then 2 ∗ .4=.8, and .8−.4=.4). Whatever is left over is taken to the unshared environment.”

Foonote 3: It Does Not Matter How the Identical Twins were Raised

“Both caveats have been subject to sustained and varied investigation and neither has been found to hold up under empirical scrutiny. The argument of more similar treatment fails on several fronts. Parents frequently miscategorize their twins (DZ twins are often believed by their parents to be MZ twins) and the differential correlation persists in these instances of miscategorization. In other words, the degree of correspondence betweenMZtwins surpasses that of DZ twins even in the large subpopulation of twins thought by their parents to beMZtwins (Bouchard and McGue 2003; Bouchard et al. 1990; Plomin 1990). The contention that MZ twins have closer or more frequent contact than DZ twins turns out to be at best irrelevant. The correlation between the frequency of contact between twins and the similarity between twins on all attitudinal andbehavioral variables tested, including conservatism, is slight and actually negative (Martin et al. 1986). In other words, twins in greater contact with their cotwins are not more likely to share the same attitudes and behaviors, so even if MZ twins have more contact than DZ twins, this contact is not the cause of any elevated correlations. But the most powerful refutation of both of these criticisms comes in recent studies utilizingMZ and DZ twins raised apart. These studies uniformly validate MZ and DZ differences found in earlier studies of twins raised together. Arguments about the relative degree of shared environmental effects between MZ and DZ twins simply offer no credible explanation if the twins in question have been raised apart (Bouchard 1998; Bouchard et al. 1990). In effect, this naturally occurring, if uncommon, condition provides precisely the sort of laboratory control that we would want in an experimental setting.