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Chapter 53 from: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974

MORALISM AND POLITICS



By John Ray

It is shown that Left-wing activism is often termed 'moralistic' by its opponents. It is suggested that any idea that moral statements could have truth value is delusory and a moralist is defined as one who accepts such a delusion. A scale was devised to detect the extent to which people use moral criteria in deciding on courses of action. This 'moralism' scale showed a reliability of .90. On a group of one hundred technical college students moralism was found to be high in two groups of respondents -- those who were radical on social issues and those who were conservative on issues of sexual morality. In the second study a polarised sample was obtained by student interviewers in a campus-wide study at the University of New South Wales. The issue was attitude to Apartheid. Anti-apartheid demonstrators were found to have lower moralism scores than the non-demonstrators but their moralism scores correlated highly with social desirability. A second study with Sociology I students confirmed this finding and also showed that demonstrators tended to reject intellectually the notion of an objective Right and Wrong. The high correlation with social desirability is interpreted to indicate however that the radical is strongly drawn to moralism even though he rejects it intellectually.


This paper is concerned with the ascription of 'right' and 'wrong' to certain actions. Considered by itself the proposition that there is a discoverable (or 'objective' or 'absolute'). Right and Wrong distinct from the imperatives of human legislation or policies could not be expected to receive wide support from social scientists (1). It is fairly clear that the difference between the two statements 'x is right' and 'x is pink' lies in the fact that the first tells us more about the utterer. It has the function of expressing personal values and preferences whereas the latter does not. This also holds for 'x is good' or 'x is something that ought to be done'.

We may on some occasions of course wish to translate 'x is good' as 'x is something that all men on all occasions would desire if they had full knowledge of its consequences for them' -- in which case it is an empirical statement normally requiring proof. On many occasions, however, it is accurately translatable only as 'I like x' or 'I have been taught to like x' or 'x will get me what I want'. The similarity in form between the two sentences 'x is good' and 'x is pink' does not on reflection deceive us into thinking that both are empirical propositions about something outside ourselves. In saying 'x is good' we tell something about ourselves (i.e. our policy beliefs or preferences) only.

Political polemics, however, often seem to involve some sort of reference to an absolute, true-for-all-times Right and Wrong. One does suspect that phrases such as 'basic human rights' are presented as describing something other than the personal preferences of the utterer or the legislative provisions of some community. In the absence of a provident Deity the source of these 'rights' is somewhat mystical and it comes as little surprise when users of such talk are referred to derogatorily as 'moralistic'. The political Left appears to attract this epithet while the Right is 'practical' or pragmatic. On the issue of support for white South Africa, Mr Gorton, a former Australian Prime Minister and head of the conservative Liberal-Country Party coalition, was reported as saying: 'Australia will decide its actions purely on the criterion of practical self-interest. It will not be swayed by moral considerations . . . . (2). Mr B. A. Santamaria, perhaps Australia's foremost Right-wing political commentator (and a devout Roman Catholic), was reported as saying: 'Australia should base its diplomacy on the principle of effective control, not of moral judgments (3). On the American political scene the liberal Mr Ramsey Clark, former Attorney-General was described as follows by the political journalist Sam Lipski: 'It is clear that what attracts many liberals to Mr Clark is his moralism, and that what angers his opponents is their inability to accept the Clark gospel' (4). Also in the U.S.A., the editor of "Ramparts", the sensationalist Left-wing magazine is reported as having said: 'We look at things from a moral point of view. That's what the new politics is all about' (5). Speaking of the British Conservative party Feiling (1953) says: 'Indeed, if we called them the most unprincipled of all parties, in the sense that rigidity or exclusive principle has been alien to their manner of thinking, there would be a measure of truth in it.' (p. 130). The study of moralism per se is obviously then an enterprise of the greatest social relevance. For all that, the following comment by Eisenman remains true: 'A wealth of research has been done on children's moral judgments, with comparatively little research on moral values in older subjects' (Eisenman, 1970; p. 34).

The work by Eisenman (1970) himself was like that by Jourard (1954), in that it appears to confound moral conservatism with moralism as such. One can believe that women have an inalienable right to have abortions on demand, but this is scarcely a morally conservative point of view. Moralism refers to the strength with which a belief about the rightness of some action is held. What that action is may be variable. It may be an action taken in accordance with a conservative policy or one taken in accordance with a liberal policy. Thus if a person said that on the whole he thought that women should remain virgins until they were married, he would appear as a conservative on a scale of moral conservatism. If, however, we discovered that he was mainly concerned about the risk of venereal disease, we might say that although he was conservative on that particular moral issue he was not very moralistic. If the basis for his attitude had been something like: 'It's just wrong and that's all there is to it' we would say that he was both morally conservative and moralistic. Thus moral conservatism-radicalism refers to the direction of the belief whereas moralism refers to the basis or justification for that belief. If a person is quite definite, however, that there is no such thing as right and wrong he cannot be either conservative or radical on moral issues. This is not to say that he may not have policy preferences. Thus he may say that he thinks the Vietnam war is a good thing but he may wish to support this statement only by saying that he (personally) hates 'all those little yellow bastards' and consequently is pleased by the thought of them wiping one-another out. He is not concerned to justify the slaughter as 'right' and condemnation of it as 'wrong', which he sees as simply irrelevant. On a conventional attitude scale of political conservatism such a person would show up as politically conservative while on an ideal scale of moralism he would be completely non-moralistic (a-moral ) . Another non-moralist, on the other hand might say that the Vietnam war was a bad thing because the thought of people being killed upsets him (personally). If he does call the war 'wrong' he is simply trying to persuade or induce others to experience the same response or take the same action that he does.

Perhaps the most widely known work on the measurement of moralism is that by Kohlberg (1969). His work has been also extended into the political field by Hampden-Turner & Whitten (1971). Kohlberg, however, makes the assumption that the stages of moral development he sees in (some) children can be equated with a scale of adult morality. Thus a person is 'more' moral if he exhibits decision-rationales similar to those children whom Kohlberg considers to be more morally developed. It will be evident that this is a rather arbitrary approach. Even if some children do go through these stages in a regular progression, this of itself is no criterion for saying that they are 'more' moral than when they started out. What would we say of a person who went through all Kohlberg's six stages and then went 'back' to Kohlberg's second stage? An answer to this question would surely reveal that the criterion for what is 'moral' exists only in Kohlberg's own set of values -- however plausible they may seem. Surely even if most people behaved as in the case given above, Kohlberg would still want to say that they were 'going back'. He would not want to regard the final stage as 'higher'. The 'scale' is thus imposed on the data rather than being derived from it. A less contentious scale of moralism would, therefore be highly desirable. Some sort of explicit and value-free measure of moralism is necessary. This is, of course, no easy task. It is easy enough to measure an attitude, but with moralism we want to measure something about how an attitude is held or justified. We want to measure a characteristic of attitudes. Even more difficult, we want a measure that will not be ideologically biased. As was pointed out, one can be moralistic about a wide variety of issues. If we want to examine whether Leftists are more or less moralistic, we cannot simply ascertain how many of a set of supposedly 'Left-wing moralistic' statements they agree with. They would obviously agree with them not only because they are moralistic but also because they are Left-wing. What we want to do is sort out the two possible bases for agreement. Only thus can we empirically examine whether moralism is characteristic of the Right, of the Left or of neither. Although the present author is something of a psychometric specialist with a long list of contributions to the measurement of psychological dispositions to his credit (Ray, 1970 a & b, 1971 a, b & c, 1972 a to g ), any idea at all for a solution to this problem eluded him for some years. As it is, what is presented in the following sections must be viewed as only a preliminary attempt at the objective measurement of moralism.

In the following study, then, a moralism scale is reported which is used to check on the hypothesised relationship between moralism and radical-humanitarian stances on social issues. An initial attempt will also be made to probe into 'what makes the moralist tick?'. Why do people seem to believe in an absolute Right and Wrong when there are such obvious questions than can be raised about the tenability of such beliefs?

STUDY I

Method

In the construction of the scale it was assumed that the important thing was not to ascertain whether, on mature reflection, the person believed that there was such a thing as absolute right and wrong, but rather to ascertain on what he based his decision when confronted with a demand for decision. The scale itself therefore was designed to take no sides in the philosophical debate over whether discoverable right and wrong exists. It merely considers responding in terms of what is believed to be right and responding in terms of one's own self-interest as possible alternative bases for decision. Presumably the person who had devoted some thought to the philosophical questions involved and concluded that there was no such thing as right and wrong would always use self-interest (enlightened?) as his decision basis. For him one of the alternatives would be excluded a priori. It is assumed however that for most people the choice between doing what is right and doing what is in one's own interest was a real one. Administration instructions for the scale included the assurance to the subjects that they could use 'their own definition' of what is right. Throughout, however, the interest was not in what it was that they thought to be right but rather in the relevance this had for their policy decisions. This is to some extent the opposite of the immediate concern in most attitude scales.

The scale took the form, then, of a set of situations or policy requirements wherein it was expected that people might divide in their responses. In response to each the subject was asked to tell whether he would 'Do what is right' (scored 3), 'Do what is to our own advantage' (scored 1) or 'Don't know' (scored 2). See the appendix for full details.

This scale is basically a measure of a person's set to respond 'Do what is right' in a variety of situations. What situations they are is relatively secondary -- as long as they are as near to 'real-life' as possible. It seems fairly clear, however, that there must be some temptation to social desirability responding also, and steps to control for this are indicated.

For the purpose of testing the scale, it was desired to employ a sample somewhat less demographically biased than the usual first-year university student sample. As has been shown many times elsewhere, (e.g. Ray, 1970a ) scales tested on university students often turn out to be far less satisfactory when applied to general community samples. This scale, therefore, was applied to a sample of one hundred evening students at North Sydney Technical College. It was administered as part of a larger questionnaire in normal class time by one of the teachers. Also included in the questionnaire were items to measure conservatism in social issues, political issues and issues of sexual morality (these scales are given in Ray (1971 c )). The short forms of Eysenck's Neuroticism and Extraversion scales were also included -- as were the eight strongest items (four negative and four positive) of the Marlowe-Crowne social desirability scale (Greenwald & Satow, 1970); see the appendix.

Results

The reliability of the scale was .90 (Cronbach's, 1951, coefficient 'alpha'). This indicates a high degree of consistency in response on the part of these subjects. The fact that the item means oscillate on either side of the midpoint (2) indicates that a good spread of responses was obtained. Some subjects fairly consistently opted for what was 'right' while others fairly consistently opted for self-interest.

The correlations between all the variables measured in this study are given in Table 1. There are two groups of respondents who are high on moralism -- those who are radical on social issues and those who are conservative on issues of sexual morality (rs of -.239 and .377). These correlations remain significant when the social desirability artifact is removed by partial correlation. That political conservatism was not related to moralism reflects the many bases that political issues have. Moralism is obviously of very subsidiary importance in political life -- except on purely social issues. These correlations should be read in conjunction with the actual items of the three attitude scales. It is clear that in the political items (involving military preparedness and foreign policy) judgments of national vulnerability, likelihood of aggression and social class of respondent might be the important influences. Where humaneness of social practice on the home front is in question (e.g. racial prejudice, treatment of criminals etc.) moralism does play a part.

TABLE 1

Correlations of selected variables with moralism among 100 Technical College students

.....................Moralism....Pol. C...Soc. C...Mor. C....S. Des...Extr....Neur

Voting choice... .078...... .472.... .269...... .287....... .025... -.049... -.064
Moralism....................... -.155... -.239...... .377...... .403.... -.044... -.123
Political conservatism............... .504...... .171...... .042.... -.014... -.158
Social conservatism................................ .213..... -.217..... .056.... .059
Moral conservatism.............................................. -.045..... .065... -.092
Social desirability............................................................... -.042... -.303
Extraversion.................................................................................... .318



Discussion

An apparently satisfactory measuring instrument for moralism was produced. Instead of ranking people on an arbitrary value continuum of morality, it simply categorises people into whether or not they do accept a morality -- be it of whatever sort in their own personal life. This makes it possible for empirical investigations into the causes of moralistic attitudes to proceed. Given its importance to the great debates over social issues (also confirmed in this work) that feature so prominently in public life nowadays, an understanding of moralism could have a far-reaching impact. That it could be related to the justifications given for parental punishment during early childhood (as distinct to the type or intensity of that punishment) remains an open and interesting possibility. The initial checks made in this study show that moralism is not related to the broad personality categories of extraversion or neuroticism. The cognitive effects and correlates of moralistic training also still offer a promising field for investigation. As has been mentioned before (Maze, 1973), it could well be maintained that a belief in an absolute right and wrong is a type of delusion. It attributes to objects or actions a property for which there is no obvious manifestation or evidence. What needs does this mystical attribution subserve? Does it indicate a need to be protected from the imperatives of one's own impulses or is there a cognitive limitation or inadequacy of some kind? The aggressive violence of moralistic political movements (e.g. the anti-apartheid movement?) with their talk of 'conspiracy' and their blatant misrepresentations of their opponents in demoniacal terms 96), do in fact make an understanding of moralism an urgent necessity. (For a fuller disquisition on the Australian anti-apartheid movement see Ray 1971d.) The comment by the British Conservative Home Secretary (Mr Reginald Maudling) to the effect that 'there was an apparently growing doctrine that if one held views strongly enough, one was entitled to impose them on others by force (7) is also most relevant here.

STUDY II

The foregoing study fell into the well-known mould of correlating pencil-and-paper personality measures. This alone will obviously not suffice. We also want to know whether our new personality measure (the moralism scale) is related to actual behaviour of a politically radical kind. By reason of its topicality at the time of writing, the particular behaviour selected for examination centred around the anti-apartheid movement. It was desired to ascertain whether moralism was especially high among anti-apartheid demonstrators. If this could be shown to be so, it would provide some encouragement to the view that moralism is one of the causes of anti-apartheid demonstrating.

Method

It was proposed to obtain the mean scores of a group of people who had actually taken part in an anti-Apartheid demonstration and compare their scores on the Moralism scale with those previously obtained. This was not a particularly easy enterprise. The anti-Apartheid 'movement' as such is quite inchoate and there existed the real danger that contacts made purely through anti-Apartheid formal organisations might cover only 'organisation men' -- people who find an important part of their social rewards by joining any radical movement that happens to be going. It was desirable, therefore, to cast our net widely enough to catch 'supporters' as well -- people who demonstrate out of concern for the cause who may not necessarily be habitually alienated. Two separate solutions to this sampling problem seemed possible and both were adopted. One solution was to administer a questionnaire to all students in the Introduction to Sociology course at the University of N.S.W. It was felt on a priori grounds that a substantial proportion of Sociology students might at some time have taken part in one of the demonstrations and a question was included in the schedule to check on this. Students who had demonstrated could then be separated out and compared with those who had not. The other solution, and the one that will be reported initially here, was to send interviewers out on the campus to ask people whether or not they had ever demonstrated and, if they had, ask them to fill out a questionnaire. In this sample two students were used as interviewers. They contacted people they knew personally and also approached people in places such as the cafeteria. The questionnaires used in the campus-wide study contained the moralism and social desirability scales as before, but the accompanying scales were different. There was an Attitude to Apartheid scale plus the Ray (1971c) Attitude to Authority scale and an Alienation scale.

These scales deserve description in some detail. The attitude to Apartheid scale is given in the appendix. It is a balanced ten item scale designed to reflect condemnation versus acceptance of Apartheid. It is scored so that a high score denotes approval of Apartheid. With this scale it was hoped to provide an attitudinal counterpart to the behavioural dichotomy. The Attitude to Authority (AA) scale has, of course, been fully described elsewhere. Suffice it so say here that the AA scale is designed to provide a less inferential and more predictively valid measure of authoritarianism than does the California F scale (Adorno et al, 1950). It has been found to predict submissive, but not domineering or aggressive behaviour (See Ray, 1971c ). The Alienation scale was that given in the previous chapter.

Results

In gathering this sample, the interviewers endeavoured to obtain a highly polarised group. That is, a particular effort was made to obtain people who were opposed to demonstrating as well as those who actively supported the cause. In contrast to the other sample of students to be reported, then, the non-demonstrators here are also to some extent anti-demonstrators. There were twenty-four demonstrators and twenty-seven non-demonstrators in the sample. A 'demonstrator' was defined as someone who answered 'Yes' to the question: 'Have you ever taken part in an anti-Apartheid demonstration?' appearing at the end of the questionnaire. All respondents answered yes or no.

Pooling responses for both types of respondent produced results some of which were quite similar to those obtained in Study I. The correlation between moralism and social desirability was .402 (cf. .403). The correlation between moralism scores and scores on the attitude to apartheid scale was -.368 (cf. -.239 with the social conservatism scale in Study I) . Note that both attitude scales are scored so that a radical would get a low score. The correlation of -.368 is significant at the .01 level. Moralists were not more authoritarian (r = -.185) but were less alienated (r = -.277). Since normlessness has always figured as an element in the concept of alienation, this later result may be taken as concurrent validation for the moralism scale. Moralism and normlessness are obviously opposed.

It is when we come to the correlations with behaviour that the results partake of the unexpected. The correlations between having demonstrated and moralism is non-significant and is in fact in the direction opposite to that expected. With 'Yes' in answer to the 'Have you demonstrated' question scored '2' and 'No' scored '1', the r with moralism scores was -.133. To have attitudes and behaviour unrelated is conceptual problem enough, but to have them running in opposite directions is very peculiar indeed.

To help sort out this peculiarity, the data was divided into the two sets of demonstrators and non-demonstrators and re-analysed. The mean scores on the moralism scale (SDs given in brackets) for the two groups was 78.41 (10.11) for the demonstrators and 81.18 (10.48) for the non-demonstrators. Both these levels are high in relation to what was observed with the sample of Study I -- where the mean was 70.64 , (13.49). This does of course tend to suggest a U-curve relationship -- with both people who are strongly 'for' and people who are strongly 'against' being especially moralistic.

A much more revealing comparison uncovered by the re-analysis, however, was in the correlation between moralism and social desirability compared across the two groups. For the anti-demonstrators it was .193 while for the demonstrators it was .601. Note that this cannot be explained in terms of a high level of social desirability (invalid) responding on the part of the demonstrators. Their overall mean on the SD scale was in fact -- at 24.75 (6.18) lower than that of the non-demonstrators -- at 28.88 (5.32). This compares with figures of 23.11 (4.87) for the sample of Study I. A summary table of the correlation observed in this study is given below as Table 2.

TABLE 2

Moralism among two groups of students

A. Correlations among 24 demonstrators

................................Auth...........Ali.......Att. Apar.....Soc. Desirability

Moralism................ -.347......... -.570.... -.655.............. .601
Authoritarianism..................... -.172..... .286.............. -.306
Alienation............................................. .431.............. -.358
Attitude to Apartheid................................................... -.656


B. Correlations among 27 non-demonstrators

...............................Auth............Ali.......Att. Apar.....Soc. Desirability

Moralism............... -.169.......... .063.... -.219.............. -.193
Authoritarianism..................... -.223.... .576................ .078
Alienation........................................... -.227............... -.476
Attitude to Apartheid................................................... -.295


Discussion

The evidence just reported suggests that moralism brings about anti-Apartheid attitudes, but not anti-Apartheid demonstrating. The high correlation between the moralism scale and social desirability among the demonstrators, however, does suggest that their responses to the moralism scale cannot be taken at face-value. Among the demonstrators, moralism is associated with 'faking good. Our suggested explanation for the findings will therefore be centred around this phenomenon.

The most charitable view we can take of social desirability responding is that it indicates confusion. As Martin (1964b) suggests, responses in terms of a social desirability set are a recourse where there is some difficulty in responding in terms of content. What might be the source of this confusion? It could be that moralism is in some sense old-fashioned, reactionary or traditional and that, increasingly, the norm among educated people is to reject it. Notions that value judgments are in some sense non-objective do in fact seem to permeate modern social discourse. Among educated people, the saying that 'There is no such thing as Right and Wrong' is almost conventional wisdom. It makes sense then that no-one should so thoroughly accept this view as the radical activist. If nothing else, it does have the value of freeing him from so much that has gone before. Against this, however, we must set the strong appeal we have noted before that moral imperatives do appear to have for at least the radical propagandist. There is to the radical some attraction for appeals to absolute and inalienable Right or Rights.

We could, of course, understand this conflict as only apparent and really rather Machiavellian. We could say that although the radical does not believe in morality himself, he does find it effective in motivating those others to whom he must appeal or whom he must try to convert.

I cannot admit this Machiavellian answer because it is too implausible. I am in a word, prepared to allow the possibility of sincere and honest radicalism. It is suggested that the real answer lies again in the by now familiar phenomenon of attitude-behaviour discrepancy (Ray, 1971d ). If one may for a moment wax anecdotal, on occasions I have, when talking with young Maoists and others of the more 'revolutionary' (and minuscule) Left in Australia, often had the experience of hearing their actions and creed justified by talk that boiled down to something being 'just wrong' or 'basically unjust' (cf. Bedford, 1970). When giving my reply to this: 'But I don't believe that there's any such thing as Right and Wrong', the typical answer was initially a rather long silence followed by: 'But I don't either'. This would then be followed by some sort of attempt by other arguments to persuade me to feel as the revolutionary did about the fancied 'injustice'. The conversation always terminated in the revolutionary realising that he was speaking to someone who just did not get angry about the same things he did. This caused complete (if sometimes polite) cessation of further interaction. The radical, then, although he would on serious reflection reject out of hand the notion of an objective Right, does find in the heat of debate no language more appropriate to express his feelings than the language of Right and Wrong. Once out of his armchair, the radical is as moralistic (if not more so) as the reactionary. His abstract conclusions about the nature of Right have not penetrated far or deeply into his everyday behaviour or thinking. Underneath it all, he is still working with the same sort of assumptions as the reactionary. The point at issue is always what is right, not whether anything is right. If then to some the radical appears an especially moralistic person, this is to be understood as showing that he is a person who feels especially deeply about certain social phenomena and, as a consequence, he has more need of the language that is traditionally appropriate to expressing such feeling and which has most efficacy in inspiring others to feel similarly. The danger of course is that if the radical talks as if there were an absolute Right and Wrong he might, given the opportunity, act as if there were also. We all know the pitiless oppression that can result (e.g. the Spanish inquisition, Stalinist Russia) when men believe that they act in the name of Right. Thus alone can inhumane acts be justified in the name of humanity and mercy.

The challenge, then, is to understand why opposing affect can be attached to the same phenomenon or policy among different people. Given the need to defend that affect, and where an appeal to self-interest is not immediately plausible, people at either end of the political spectrum will probably defend it (at least initially) in moralistic language. If we are to take note of the political quotations given earlier at all we might in fact entertain a revised hypothesis, not that radicals are more moralistic, but rather that they more often express affect for policies or actions that can not readily be justified by observable or inferable self-interest. They might be, in a word, more altruisic (to put a 'good' face on it) or more irrational (to put a 'bad' face on it). For whatever reason they may more often have a practical need to give a moral apologia for their policies and preferences.

A step towards the explanation of this opposition of affect-attachment between conservatives and radicals is to be found in Ray, 1972d. It is there suggested that childhood experience of inter-personal aggression may carry over to assumptions in adult life about the greater or lesser probability of international aggression.

Looking at it from the radical's point of view, one crucial problem is to understand why it is that some people may actually like war and enjoy aggression. The facile answer that such people are 'sick' is at best false (Elms, 1970; Masling, 1954; Martin & Ray, 1972; Ray, 1971c; Ray, 1972c and e) and at worst the sort of terrifying value-judgment that put Zhores Medvedev and other Soviet intellectuals who criticise the regime in psychiatric hospitals for indefinite periods and against all medical evidence. Until we have understood why some people like aggression (and indeed perhaps after we have come to understand it) we can be sure that there will be many more Vietnams.

The above interpretation of the findings of Study II, although plausible, does stand in need of further confirmation. This is especially so because informal interviews with some of the respondents revealed that at least some of the people who reject the idea of a discoverable morality but who nonetheless order their lives according to what they believe to be 'right' were not really being inconsistent. Some respondents appeared to be using the terms 'good' and 'right' simply to index the accepted practices or preferences of their own community or reference group. In this sense an argument about the 'goodness' of some practice could intelligibly proceed as an argument about what is or is not compatible with the other standards or preferences of the group. This is perhaps particularly likely where it is felt that the particular preference or standard is one that would be required to ensure the enjoyment by the individual of certain universally sought biological states (such as shelter and nourishment). It might be argued that humanitarianism is 'right' in this sense. It is a value which, if held, gives me the best assurance of the good (pleasant) life. This is, of course, an empirical proposition and can be argued as such without any commitment to belief in a discoverable morality. This, then, was taken into account in designing Study III.

STUDY III

It had been hoped that both the content and format of the moralism scale would have precluded the type of responding described above-where the 'do what is right' alternative is seen as being to some extent equivalent to 'do what is to your own advantage'. Since it appeared that this might not have happened as planned in some instances, a further scale of the classical 'attitude to -' type seemed called for -- in this case 'attitude to morality'. This scale would take as its focus the issue that the moralism scale had eschewed -- i.e. whether there is or not an objective Right and Wrong. The items of the scale constructed to fill this need are given in the appendix.

As was foreshadowed above, the sample used in this study was obtained by administering a questionnaire to the Introduction to Sociology class at the University of NSW. Aside from the moralism and attitude to morality scales, the questionnaire also contained the attitude to Apartheid and social desirability scales as before. The scales occurred in the questionnaire in the order in which they were given above -- i.e. with moralism coming first. Analysable results were obtained from 117 respondents.

Reliabilities (Cronbach's, 1951, coefficient 'alpha') observed for the scales were as follows: Moralism .9I; Attitude to Morality .76; Attitude to Apartheid .73; and Social Desirability .69.

As was to be expected from the results of both previous studies, there was a significant negative relationship between the Moralism and Attitude to Apartheid scales (r = -.200) when the sample was analysed as a whole. The overall correlation between moralism and social desirability was also maintained -- with an r of .203.

As in the second study above, the correlation between moralism and having actually demonstrated was again non-significant but negative in sign (r = -.088). When the subjects were divided into the two groups of thirty demonstrators and eighty-seven non-demonstrators, the means of the non-demonstrators were again slightly (but non-significantly) higher on the moralism scale -- 75.19 (12.03) versus 72.76 (15.40). The scores on the Social Desirability scale were 24.87 (4.83) for the non-demonstrators and 23.86 (5.40) for the demonstrators.

The matter of particularly great interest in this study, however, is the comparison between the two groups with the attitude to morality scale. The mean for the demonstrators was 54.26 (12.58) and for the non-demonstrators it was 60.79 (8.97). The 't' between these two means is significant <.05. The correlation between the moralism and social desirability scales was .074 for the non-demonstrators and .453 for the demonstrators. The correlation between the attitude to morality and social desirability scales was -.082 for the demonstrators and .062 for the non-demonstrators -- both of which are non-significant.

Our suggestion that the much higher correlation between the moralism and social desirability scales among the demonstrators could be due to their overt rejection of morality has thus received support. The theoretical mid-point (no. of items x mid-point of each item) of the attitude to morality scale is 60. We can see therefore that the non-demonstrators vacillate on whether there is an objective morality whereas the demonstrators definitely reject it.

Both the findings and the inferences drawn from the previous study have then been supported by this third study.

The overall correlations observed in Study III are given in Table 3.

TABLE 3

Correlations with moralism among 117 first-year students

A. Demonstrators (n = 30)

.........................................Att. Mor......Att. Ap.......Soc. Desirability

Moralism........................... .211............. -.394.......... .453
Attitude to Morality................................ .081.......... -.062
Attitude to Apartheid............................................... -.272


B. Non-Demonstrators (n = 87)

........................................Att. Mor.......Att. Ap........Soc. Desirability

Moralism............................ .340............ -.155........... -.074
Attitude to Morality............................... -.061............. .062
Attitude to Apartheid................................................. -.108


Discussion

We must conclude that, contrary to what one would suppose from everyday observation, the radical activist is not (at least overtly) a moralist and is in fact a person who is characterised by the clear rejection of an absolute morality. He is, however, caught in the ambivalence of seeing morality as highly desirable. Among radicals, people who are trying to 'fake good' choose the 'Do what is right' alternative of the moralism scale rather than the 'Do what is to your own advantage' alternative. Among non-activists and non-radicals doing what is right is not seen as deserving more esteem than doing what is to one's own advantage.

We can thus see the radical activist as a conflicted person who has particular need of just that which he also sees he must reject. In terms of the explanation for moralism given in Maze (1973), we can only suppose that the radical activist is one who has received all the characteristic totalitarian upbringing of the moralist but who for some reason has rejected moral absolutism at the conscious level only. What his attitude to morality scores would disguise, the correlation between his moralism and social desirability scores strongly reveals. Everyday observation then is not so wrong after all. Both attitudinal and behavioural radicalism does go with moralism -- the only qualification necessary is that behavioural radicalism goes with what is potentially a most pernicious form of moralism -- unacknowledged moralism.

It is perhaps in order here to look at the possible reasons both for the radical's overt rejection of morality and his real attraction to it. We could say, as was suggested earlier, that the radical simply feels outrage at the discomfiture of others (and of himself) much more readily. This need not necessarily be traced back to the fact that he was brought up to respond in that way, though there are now plenty of studies (e.g. Keniston, 1968) which confirm that young radical leaders at least are simply putting into practice values they learnt from their parents. They are not in fact characteristically alienated from the culture of their homes. It could also be possible that some sort of biological predisposition to sensitivity or emotionality (Eysenck, 1967) has a role in making some people more radical than their home-background would demand. In either case this outrage is presumably greater than what other people in general feel. In this situation the idea that the radical has identified some property ( 'wrongness' ) of the outrageous situation which other people have not as yet identified at once furnishes the radical with cause for self-congratulation, explanation for his own oddity, and material for propaganda. We can thus see that there are strong incentives for moralism to be perpetuated and transmitted in radical families. In any one instance we could not be sure then to what extent moralism was a cause or an effect of radicalism. Certainly the radical brought up in a radical family would have a remarkably good chance of learning both the outrage and its apologia. No reasonable person could of course object to others feeling outrage of this nature. It is in the apologia that danger might lurk.

Having seen then that moralism for the radical is probably both a response enforced in childhood and a response of great immediate value, we need to consider why it is in general not acknowledged when under challenge. Again as was suggested above, the answer probably lies in greater acceptance by the radical of the conclusions of an intellectual sub-culture. The prominence and extremeness of students in radical movements is probably the best-known evidence of this. This could also have a bearing on why radicals feel greater outrage about social phenomena. Through being better informed, the stimuli to outrage are probably more available to them. Given the exposure to disturbing information and ideas that students have, people in the general population might also be as radical as students; greater outrage might in some cases be simply the product of greater or more vivid information. Beyond sub-cultural influences, however, the denial of morality would also have value to the radical in enabling him to discard the system which has produced the phenomena disturbing to him. If the man who supports 'the system' argues that: 'We think this is right because . . .' it is indeed a neat and intellectually respectable ploy to say: 'But nothing is right'. This would certainly confound most opponents rather readily. The radical has then detected that the untenability of moralistic assumptions invalidates many of the assumptions upon which existing society is built. As one who would tear down what exists, this suits him very well indeed. The sorrow is that he has not realised that the moralism is probably at least as harmful as the assumptions it has been used to justify. On this account what we want are more radical radicals. A society where grandiose justifications of one's own personal affect were recognised as not possible would surely be a more tolerant one. 'All men are equal!' are surely fighting words in a way that 'I like to treat all men equally' or 'it would be in our own interest to treat all men equally' surely are not. The moralist can condemn. The non-moralist must try to understand.

NOTES

1. Among philosophers, hostility to such a view extends at least as far back as Friedrich Nietzsche: e.g. Beyond Good and Evil (1907), London: Foulis.

2. Report in the "Australian" newspaper, 23 January 1971. (p. 11)

3. Report in the "Sydney Morning Herald" newspaper, 10 February 1971. (p. 11)

4. Report in the "Australian" newspaper, 21 November 1970. (P. 11B)

5. Report in "Time" magazine, 6 January 1967. (p. 39 )

6. A recent anti-apartheid poster to be seen on the campuses of all three Sydney universities was headed: 'Australia-South Africa -- the white conspiracy. Bishop Crowther speaks'. Paranoia is not exclusive to the political Right.

7. Report in the "Australian" newspaper, 16 January 1971. (p. 10 )


REFERENCES

Bedford, I. White Australia: The fear of others. Politics, 1975, 5, 224-227.

Cronbach, L.J.(1964) Essentials of psychological testing N.Y.: Harper.

Eisenman, R. Teaching about the authoritarian personality: Effects on moral judgment. Psychological Record, 1970, 20, 33-40.

Elms, A.C. (1970) Those little old ladies in tennis shoes are no nuttier than anyone else, it turns out. Psychology Today 3, 27-59.

Eysenck, H.J. (1967) The biological basis of personality Springfield Ill.: Thomas

Feiling, K. (1953) Principles of conservatism. Political Quarterly 24, 129-133.

Hampden-Turner, C. & Whitten, P. Morals Left and Right. Psychology Today, 1971, 4, 39-76.

Jourard, S.M. Moral indignation: A correlate of denied dislike of parents' traits? J. Consulting Psychology, 1954, 15, 59-60.

Keniston, K. (1968) Young radicals: Notes on committed youth N.Y.: Harcourt Brace.

Kohlberg, L. Stages in the development of moral thought and action. N.Y.: Holt Rinehart, 1969.

Martin, J. & Ray, J.J. (1972) Anti-authoritarianism: An indicator of pathology. Australian J. Psychol. 24, 13-18.

Masling, M. (1954) How neurotic is the authoritarian? J. Abnorm. Soc. Psychol. 49, 316-318.

Maze, J. (1973) The concept of attitude. Inquiry 16, 168-205.

Ray, J.J. (1970a) The development and validation of a balanced Dogmatism scale. Australian Journal of Psychology, 22, 253-260.

Ray, J.J. (1970b) Christianism.... The Protestant ethic among unbelievers. J. Christian Education, 13, 169-176.

Ray, J.J. (1971a) "A new measure of conservatism" -- Its limitations. British Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 10, 79-80.

Ray, J.J. (1971b) The questionnaire measurement of social class. Australian & New Zealand J. Sociology 7(April), 58-64.

Ray, J.J. (1971c) An "Attitude to Authority" scale. Australian Psychologist, 6, 31-50.

Ray, J.J. (1971d) Ethnocentrism: Attitudes and behaviour. Australian Quarterly, 43, 89-97.

Ray, J.J. (1972a) Are conservatism scales irreversible? British J. Social & Clinical Psychology 11, 346-352.

Ray, J.J. (1972b) A new reliability maximization procedure for Likert scales. Australian Psychologist 7, 40-46.

Ray, J.J. (1972c) Non-ethnocentric authoritarianism. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Sociology 8(June), 96-102.

Ray, J.J.(1972d) Acceptance of aggression and Australian voting preference. Australian Quarterly 44, 64-70.

Ray, J.J. (1972e) Militarism, authoritarianism, neuroticism and anti-social behavior. Journal of Conflict Resolution 16, 319-340.

Ray, J.J. (1972f) The measurement of political deference: Some Australian data. British Journal of Political Science 2, 244-251.

Ray, J.J. (1972g) A new balanced F scale -- And its relation to social class. Australian Psychologist 7, 155-166.


APPENDIX

The Moralism scale

Following are a list of things that people sometimes have to decide whether to do or not. We would like you to read each question and tell us in each case what you would go by if the decision were up to you. Tell us in each case whether you would choose what was right or whether you would choose what was to your own best advantage. These questions are all ones where many people think we should just do what is to our own advantage, so please do not feel afraid to say so if that is what you think. You circle one of the three numbers to indicate your answer.


1 Should we steal things from big business firms? (Presuming you're not likely to get caught)
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


2 Should we steal things from persons we know? (presuming we're not likely to get caught)
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


3 Should we give back money we see someone drop in the street? (Presuming there was nobody else around to see whether we did or not)
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


4 Should we allow African negroes to migrate to Australia if they want to?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


5 Should we allow Chinese people to migrate to Australia if they want to?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


6 Should we torture prisoners of war to get information out of them?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


7 Should we tell white lies?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


8 Should we tell serious lies?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


9 Should men force a girl to have sex with them if she didn't want to?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


10 Should we kill someone we hate if we were pretty sure we could get away with it?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


11 Should we bash up someone who we really dislike?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


12 Should Australia send its troops to fight in Vietnam?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


13 Should the Australian Government co-operate with the South African Government in business and defence even though the South Africans are hard on the black people?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


14 Should girls remain virgins until they are married?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


15 Should we do things that might harm other people?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


16 Should you help a small-time criminal in any way?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


17 Should we eat, drink and be merry while people in other countries are starving?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


18 Should we eat, drink and be merry while people next door are starving?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


19 Should we tell lies to escape paying some of our taxes?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


20 Should we break the speed limit when we are driving?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


21 Should we say insulting things about other people behind their back?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


22 Should we say insulting things about other people to their face?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


23 Should we dob in our mates to the boss if they have done something wrong?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


24 Should we crawl to the boss?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


25 Should we bung on an act to get out of doing something we don't like?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


26 If someone we know is in trouble with the police, should we help him to avoid them?
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


27 You are a used-car salesman. You have an old car to sell which you know will break down completely not long after it is sold. A customer from interstate, who doesn't know much about cars, offers you $500 for it and says he hopes to drive it back to his home state. Would you:
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


28 You are the honorary treasurer of a social club. You know you can take some of the club's money for your own use without anybody ever finding out. Would you:
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


29 You are a prosperous shopkeeper. You get some goods in at a very low cost to you. You are deciding whether to pass on the low cost to your customers or not. Your customers need the goods but cannot get them from anyone but you. Would you:
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


30 You are a big businessman. You have a small competitor. You know you can ruin your competitor by cutting prices temporarily. Would you:
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know


31 You are a trade union boss. Some of your unionists want to force non-union members to join the union by threats of bashing, but they won't do it unless they get the go-ahead from you. Would you:
3 Do what is right
1 Do what is to our own advantage
2 Don't know



Notes:
(1) Items 23, 24 and 25 above use peculiarly Australian idiom and might have to be omitted if administered to other populations.
(2) The scale score is the sum of the numbers circled.


The Attitude to Morality Scale

Items marked 'R' are reverse-scored.

Following is a set of statements on which we would like to get your opinion. You will find them a bit repetitious but this is because this questionnaire is only a trial version. On the basis of your response we expect to be able to cut out more than half of the statements in later versions of the survey. You indicate whether you personally agree or disagree with each statement by circling a number. Try to answer each question in its own right without looking back to see how you responded before. Answers are given by circling one of the numbers from 5 to 1 to signify Strongly Agree, Agree, Not Sure, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.


1 There is no such thing as an absolute right and wrong. R
2 The only things that are right and wrong are what man has made so by his laws. R
3 Things are only wrong if you think they are. R
4 There are some things which can never possibly be right.
5 It is always possible that what is right to one man will be wrong to another. R
6 What is right and wrong was laid down before man ever began to think about it.
7 Right and wrong is a myth. R
8 What is right and wrong doesn't depend on men's opinions about it.
9 There is a higher moral law of which man's law is only an imperfect reflection.
10 There are some things which are right regardless of time and place
11 One man's opinion on what is right and wrong is as good as another's. R
12 There are universal moral laws.
13 What is right for one man may be wrong for another. R
14 Some things are just wrong and that's all there is to it.
15 Whether a thing is right or not doesn't depend on man's convenience.
16 There are no absolute, unchanging moral laws that man can go by R
17 Things are regarded as wrong only because if everyone did them, civilized life would become impossible. R
18 Your conscience is nearly always an infallible guide.
19 Some things you just know to be wrong without anybody needing to tell you.
20 You cannot go against your conscience.


The Attitude to Apartheid Scale

Items marked 'R' are reverse-scored.

1 The South African government should definitely abolish its Apartheid policy as soon as possible. R
2 Apartheid may not do as much harm as some people think
3 The South African blacks are every bit as good as the whites and should not be discriminated against. R
4 Some separation of different races is a good thing if conflicts are to be avoided.
5 The South Africans are ruled by a brutal Fascist Government. R
6 People here in Australia should do everything they can to smash apartheid. R
7 If the blacks in South Africa were really being oppressed as much as some people make out, they could always leave the place or use force to get a better deal from the white minority.
8. It is survival of the fittest in this world so if the South African blacks can't help themselves they don't deserve to be helped.
9 It is no good us condemning the South African whites because we in Australia would probably do the same if we were outnumbered four to one by a less civilised race.
10 The South African attitude towards their blacks is a disgrace to humanity. R


The Social Desirability Scale

Items marked 'R' are reverse-scored.

Here are a few questions about how you see yourself. Answer 5, 4. 3, 2, or 1 to indicate from "Definitely Yes" to "Definitely No"

1 R I have sometimes taken unfair advantage of another person.
2 I am always willing to admit when I make a mistake.
3 R There have been occasions when I took advantage of someone.
4 R I sometimes try to get even rather than forgive and forget.
5 I am always courteous; even to people who are disagreeable.
6 R I sometimes feel resentful when I don't get my own way.
7 No matter who I'm talking to; I'm always a good listener.
8 I am quick to admit making a mistake.




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