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Conservative&Progressive Sensibility


Metaeconomics is all about resolving issues in Political Economy. So, it is essential to also understand the fundamental characteristics of the main Political Isles, as represented in the Conservative and Progressive frames, the "Sensibilities" of each strand, after Will (2019).  An overview of the two frames in presented in the Sensibility Table accessible as a pdf file at this location:

Intriguingly, it is easy to see why the Right and Left Isle, the "tribes" as it were, are often at odds.  There is essentially no to very little agreement, very little common ground, as to how each Isle views the role of Self-interest, Other(shared with others, yet internal to Own-self)-interest, and the role of Self- and Outside-control.  Overall, we also see that the  Right Conservative Isle is more prone to shift the balance toward the Market while the  Left Progressive Isle is more prone to shift the balance toward the Government.  Intriguingly, Metaeconomics, due to being based in empirical reality, sees good things on both Isles, as it points to the reality that it is most generally a good balance in Right&Left, Conservative&Progressive, Market&Government that leads to the best outcomes...on a New Isle inbetween.

For example, many fisheries on this Spaceship Earth are now sustainable due to using the kind of principles supported through empirical test in Metaeconomics, which is about integrating, seeing the jointness in Conservative&Progressive notions, as summarized in the Sensibilities Table.  In particular,  Progressives are open to applying empirically based, solid science in setting the overall fishing capacity, the overall Quota that can be safely harvested from the fishery.  Conservatives like the possibility of buying and selling this Quota, helping it move to lower cost fishers in the industry, and  thus increasing profits and wealth.  So, the result is the balanced Individual Transferable Quota systems, Trade&Quota, Market&Government systems that produce good levels of profit and wealth in the fishery from those most capable to Make it, while protecting, sustaining the biological viability of the fishery. 


Metaeconomics suggests that this kind of symbiotic payoff is possible on every front, from health care and retirement, globalization and trade, and all manner of environmental sustainability matters, through safety of products and working conditions, family and education challenges, inequality of income and wealth, all solved with integration across the Conservative&Progressive, Right&Left Political Isles.  Reason?  Well, this works because Humans have the Ego&Empathy tendency, which gets expressed writ large in Conservative&Progressive tendencies.  We have both, and both are essential to building an EgoNEmpathy based Good Capitalism.

Yet, Will (2019) does not seem to see these possibilities. Rather, Government does mainly bad things, in that it takes too much away from individual freedom and liberty to choose; works to destroy civil society, all those things between the Market and the Government; does not give enough credence to minority frames, as the majority rules, with rent-seeking the driver; and gives too much to science based operation of Government, including believing in a certain fixity of human nature, not  giving much to the possibility of changing it through nurture. Will (2019) is particularly concerned about the increasing power of the  Administrative (President and Administrative Agencies) relative to the Legislative and Judicial parts of Government.  Yet, as one Reviewer claims, Will (2019) misses the point about what Conservatives are really concerned about, which is not so much Progressive Government as it is to the Progressive trends in the Market.  As Deneen (2019), says it, in his Review of Will (2019):

...does not mention the great anxieties within conservatism today arising not only from economic dislocation but the threat posed to traditional beliefs and practices by economic institutions, particularly corporations. Nowhere to be found in the 538 pages of text is a discussion of conservative commitments to the unborn, the threats posed by the advance of the sexual liberation movement, and commitments to religious liberty. It is as if the book was written in 1944, the same year as Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom,” animated by a fear that the greatest threat to humanity lies in the advance of collectivist ideology. Today’s rank-and-file conservatives, however, perceive the greatest threat to conservative social forms, practices and beliefs to be coming not from collectivism but hyper-individualism; not from too little liberty in the economic realm but a religious devotion to consumerism that supplants religion of self-discipline; and not necessarily from the state but the economic order. Will seems uninformed or uninterested about the manifold ways that the economic order today directly attacks social conservatism, particularly “woke” corporate activism on behalf of progressive causes.

So, this is like Conservative taking on Conservative, as they work to make sense of the current state of the Conservative Isle in the US in particular, and on this Spaceship Earth in general.  Intriguingly, while Will(2019) puts Progressive framing completely in Government, with great consternation among Conservatives, Deneen (2019) sees the bigger problem being Progressive framing in the Market, especially in "corporate activism," and implicitly wanting Government to do more in the Conservative realm (e.g.  conditioning perhaps stopping abortion, dampening sexual liberation, and too much liberty in the Market). 

Intriguingly, Metaeconomics again proves powerful in making sense of all this, due to Dual Interest Theory being the analytical engine.  In contrast to Neoclassical Economics with its Conservative tendencies due to favoring Self-interest within a narrow Other-interest and Neoinstitutional Economics with its Progressive tendencies favoring widely shared Other-interest and a more open Self-interest, Metaeconomics rests on empirical consideration of what works in building a "Best Isle" of Conservative&Progressive, so it is is in effect neutral on Isles. 


Metaeconomics also points to the reality that more often than not  seeing the jointness, and building on that strength, works better.  This is because Metaeconomics simply sees the role of Ego&Empathy, Self&Other no matter one's predisposition (recalling that our Political Isle Disposition is very much related to our genetics, after Hibbing, Smith, and Alford, 2014).  It is in our Human Nature to have these two Self&Other tendencies, no matter our individual predisposition to one Political Isle or the other, and the key is to find balance, including in Conservative&Progressive framing.  Empirical reality generally shows this as the path to Happiness in our Political Economy. 

Deneen,  Patrick J.  A Defense of Conservatism that Veers Toward Liberalism.  Washington Post, June 21, 2019. (

Hibbing, John R., Smith, Kevin B., and Alford, John R. Predisposed:  Liberals, Conservatives and the Biology of Political Differences. New York: Routledge, 2014.


Will, George F. The Conservative Sensibility. New York: Hatchette Books, Kindle ed., 2019.

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