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22 AUGUST 2015

The 1968 Buckley-Vidal debates: presaging the end, not the beginning, of the American public intellectual

"The directors of The Best of Enemies, a documentary about the 1968 debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, could have produced a riveting movie simply by splicing together old debate footage. This movie is about many weighty matters--politics, ideology, history, society and the media--but the delicious spectacle of watching two sexy men in their prime, with rapier wit, speaking in the accents of a gone American elite, slicing each other into fine ribbons, makes the film a guilty indulgence.

These two ghosts from a bygone era still make great television. It worked so well, in fact, that the series of debates, created by ABC to attach to the two 1968 conventions–Republicans in Miami and Democrats in Chicago–became the prototype for every television talking head show for the next half-century.

Sadly, no one has ever done it better. ...

The Buckley-Vidal debates could be the high moment in the history of the televised American political debate. But the spectacle contained within itself the seed of the end too. Extreme civility was about to explode and cool William Buckley, whose fate it was to manifest that explosion, would regret it for the rest of his life."

(Nina Burleigh, 1 February 2015, Newsweek)

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TAGS

1968 • ABC (USA) • Best of Enemies (2015) • Buckley-Vidal debates • bygone eraChicago • Christopher Hitchens • conservative cool • conservative intellectual • conventional liberalism • crypto-fascist • crypto-Nazi • cultural elite • culture wars • Democratdocumentary film • erudite commentary • essayist • extreme civility • faggot • Frank Rich • Gore Vidal • great television • information bubble • insult • John Birch Society (JBS) • liberal ideology • liberalismMagnolia Pictures • Matt Tyrnauer • Miami • Morgan Neville • National Review (magazine) • Newsweek (magazine) • novelist • Pericles • polite society • political debate • political ideology • presage • public intellectual • Republican • Robert Gordon • Sam Tanenhaus • social conservatismspectacle • talking heads • Ted Koppel • televised political debate • the media • US electionswhite male • William Buckley

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
15 FEBRUARY 2014

Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact

"Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right–wing ideologies (social conservatism, right–wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out–groups. In an analysis of two large–scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract–reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models."

(Gordon Hodson and Michael A. Busseri, 2012)

Hodson, G. and M. Busseri (2012). "Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right–Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact." Psychological Science 23(2): 187–195.

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TAGS

2012 • abstract reasoning • abstract reasoning skills • abstract thinkingabstract thought • antihomosexual prejudice • authoritarianismbelief systems • bright minds • childhood intelligence • cognitive abilities • cognitive ability • cognitive profilingcognitive psychologyconception of abilityconservative attitudes • conservative ideology • dunce • general intelligence • Gordon Hodson • human behaviourintelligenceintelligence of mind • intergroup contact • interpersonal behaviour • Michael Busseri • orthodox practicesout-groupsoversimplificationpersonal valuespolitical compasspolitical ideology • predictive effect • prejudice • prejudice models • racismright-wingsocial conservatismsocioeconomic statusUKUSA

CONTRIBUTOR

Linda Carroli
22 FEBRUARY 2009

The Significance of the Frontier in American History

"American social development has been continually beginning over again on the frontier. This perennial rebirth, this fluidity of American life, this expansion westward with its new opportunities, its continuous touch with the simplicity of primitive society, furnish the forces dominating American character. The true point of view in the history of this nation is not the Atlantic Coast, it is the Great West. Even the slavery struggle, which is made so exclusive an object of attention by writers like Professor von Holst, occupies its important place in American history because of its relation to westward expansion.

In this advance, the frontier is the outer edge of the wave –– the meeting point between savagery and civilization. Much has been written about the frontier from the point of view of border warfare and the chase, but as a field for the serious study of the economist and the historian it has been neglected.

What is the frontier? It is not the European frontier –– a fortified boundary line running through dense populations. The most significant thing about it is that it lies at the hither edge of free land. In the census reports it is treated as the margin of that settlement which has a density of two or more to the square mile. The term is an elastic one, and for our purposes does not need sharp definition. We shall consider the whole frontier belt, including the Indian country and the outer margin of the 'settled area' of the census reports. This paper will make no attempt to treat the subject exhaustively; its aim is simply to call attention to the frontier as a fertile field for investigation, and to suggest some of the problems which arise in connection with it.

In the settlement of America we have to observe how European life entered the continent, and how America modified and developed that life and reacted on Europe. Our early history is the study of European germs developing in an American environment. Too exclusive attention has been paid by institutional students to the Germanic origins, too little to the American factors.

Now, the frontier is the line of most rapid and effective Americanization. The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a European in dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought. It takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. It strips off the garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting shirt and the moccasin. It puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois and runs an Indian palisade around him. Before long he has gone to planting Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick; he shouts the war cry and takes the scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In short, at the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes or perish, and so he fits himself into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian trails."
(Frederick Jackson Turner, 1893)

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TAGS

1893 • Americanization • becoming • Cherokee • civilization • colonisationconflictdemocracydivine destinydivine providence • expansion • expansionism • Frederick Jackson Turner • frontierfrontier mythideologyIndigenousIroquoisliminalmanifest destinymoral dignityNative Americans • personal enfranchisement • political ideologyprovidenceromantic sublimesettlementterritoryThe WestWesternwilderness

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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