Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Contribution to the Political Debate, April 26, 2008
This review is from: Liberal Hearts and Conservative Brains: The Correlation between Age and Political Philosophy (Paperback)
`Liberal Hearts and Conservative Brains' is a very good treatise on political philosophy. The author's primary thesis is that there is a correlation between one's age and political philosophy. Specifically, the author contends that most people tend to be quite liberal when young and generally move in the direction of being more conservative.

Of course, this is not universal, and the book examines the exceptions to the rule as well. The author, Dr. Ron Lipsman, is a mathematician by trade so he brings that unusual perspective to a book about political ideas. He is also Jewish and brings that unique frame of reference. He explained something in the book that has always been a mystery to me namely the very large number of Jewish people who tend to be politically liberal.

Overall, this is very good. There are a couple of not so good things as well. I'll go through these.

First, the good:

1. The connection between one's worldview and positions on issues is examined.
2. He does a great job of outlining the history of the liberal-conservative divide from 1900 through the present.
3. There is a well thought out discussion of the differences between liberals and conservatives on 24 issues.
4. The discussion of the common ground between conservatives and liberals is very good and very little discussed in the current acrimonious climate.
5. He does a solid job of showing why President George W. Bush is not a conservative in spite of his claims to be one.

And, the not so good:

1. The book needs a good editor. There are several glitches in it. One is the misspelled `schmorgasbord' which occurs at least twice.
2. Although liberals and conservatives are two primary groups, they are not the only ones. There is no mention of libertarians or statists, both of which also occur in fairly large numbers. I would encourage the author to bone up a bit on other methods of measuring political philosophy. The traditional left-right is nonsensical. It originated in the parliaments of Europe based on the seating of various parties. It has no real meaning in the United States today. The author seems to get this on some level. He talks about various dictatorial thugs being pretty much the same, e.g. Hitler and Stalin, rather than Hitler being far right and Stalin far left. They were both socialists. I would suggest that there are two systems of measuring political philosophy that are far better. One features tyranny or `ruler's law' on one extreme and anarchy on the other extreme. This one makes far more sense as politics is about the power of government. This scale accounts for that. It is described very well in `The 5000 Year Leap' by W. Cleon Skousen The 5000 Year Leap: The 28 Great Ideas That Changed the World. Another system that accounts for the aforementioned libertarians and statists as well as conservatives and liberals is the Nolan Chart. One can research that or find a quiz that will place one according to political philosophy. That can be found at the Advocates For Self Government's website.

In spite of the issues mentioned above, I really enjoyed the book. It is very interesting and well researched. I recommend it.
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S. Peek
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Location: Rocky Mountains, USA

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