Circling the Sacrality

One of Haidt’s most powerful notions is the idea that bound and blinded political coalitions support and defend their underlying Moral Intuitions by Circling the Sacrality.  In the New York Times he said

“In many pre-agricultural societies, groups achieved trust and unity by circling around sacred objects.  In modern societies, much larger groups bind themselves together by treating certain books, flags, leaders or ideals as sacred and by symbolically circling around them.”

We see this in the literal sense when Muslims go on the Hajj pilgrimage and literally encircle and walk around the Kaaba (or Sacred House), or in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics where the athletes, again, literally, circled around the Olympic Flame.

Haidt argues that political coalitions very much do the same thing.  In the US the left and right sacralise the constitution with the left emphasizing rights to free speech and the right tragically sacralising the citizens’ right to bear arms.

In the UK context the right sacralise the Union Flag, the Armed Forces, the Monarchy as an institution and the Queen in person  and the unwritten nature of the constitution.  Whereas the left sacralises the achievements of the welfare state, the NHS and women and the poor as victims.  Interestingly in the New Labour years the right appeared to join in with the left on the sacralisation of the NHS and the new Labour with its five foreign wars appeared to adopt the armed forces.

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