Healing the divide

June 29, 2007

John T. Jost's article "Ideology is back and the divides are still deep" (Opinion, June 15) gives the dispiriting impression that we are somehow predestined to be of the political Left or Right. It is, he says, "probably a natural part of the human constitution and will always be present in one form or another".

What about Theodore Adorno et al's important study ("The Authoritarian Personality", 1950), which demonstrated rather clearly that if you are brought up in a punitive environment you are more likely to become a punitive, authoritarian adult?

In so far as there is a problem about this division between Left and Right, it seems (to me, anyway) mainly to be a problem of authoritarianism - which can be very effectively tackled simply by treating children like human beings.

Bob Hughes
Oxford Brookes University

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