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Maslow Strikes Again May 8, 2020

Posted by geoff in COVID-19, News.

Almost 6 years ago I wrote a post titled “A Tale of Two Philosophies,” wherein I talked about the Maslowian hierarchy of needs, and the differences between liberals’ and conservatives’ perceptions of where our primary concerns should lie on Maslow’s pyramid. Here’s an excerpt.

…I believe that conservative and liberal attitudes are informed by different positions on the Maslow hierarchy of needs chart. That’s the chart that shows that as societies/individuals progress, they move from one set of needs up to the next, gradually working toward self-actualization:


This chart is one I’ve used before, and I am lazy, so I didn’t change the “DNC” label to something more relevant. But suffice to say that I think that conservatives live in Tiers 2 – 4, with special emphasis on the Safety Tier* (Tier 2). Liberals, on the other hand, occupy Tiers 3 – 5, with their emphasis on Tiers 4 & 5 (Esteem and Self-Actualization).

I think one of the key lessons of the COVID-19 experience is its reminder of  the fragility of our hold on the bottom tiers of the pyramid. When you can’t pay rent, food and essentials aren’t available at any price, and everybody is arming themselves against a worsening of conditions, it’s clear that the upper tiers (Esteem, Self-Actualization) are nice-to-haves, not have-to-haves.

Some writers have noted this point by saying, “Boy, worrying about pronoun usage certainly seems to have dropped out of vogue.”

Obviously, though, everyone should be striving to clamber up the pyramid to the best of their abilities. The question, then, is: How much involvement should the government have at each tier?

I’d claim that recent events have verified conservatives’ position that the government needs to get the bottom two tiers right, and that its ability to ensure that our Physiological and Safety needs are met should be robust against all threats and circumstances.

And that’s all.

Until we lock those tiers down, the government has no business mucking about in the higher tiers. Responsibility for those tiers should be left to the individual and society.

Several leading figures among the Democrats have been talking about how the COVID-19 crisis is a sterling opportunity to effect the societal changes that they’ve long longed for.

They should have come away with the opposite conclusion.



1. Cathy - May 14, 2020

Studied this Maslow stuff back in the 70s. Nothing has changed, really. It’s a good model, I believe, when it is properly understood and applied. And — YES — I’ve considered how it fits what is going on right now.

I’m not much for salons, mani or pedi stuff, but I’m a big supporter of Shelley Luther, who took a great risk, stood her ground here in the DFW area and drew attention big time. Applying Maslow’s hierarchy to her situation and to everyone who is trying desperately to sling mud at her is just pure fun.

Yes, a lot of what you say, Geoff, fits.

For me, it was not about getting my hair or nails done, but about standing up for liberty and freedom. I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from or if I’ll get kicked out of my home. I wanted to support OTHER’s rights to care for their own livelihoods without the government needlessly interfering. People online argued a LOT. It was interesting to consider how they fought from their differing views of Maslow’s hierarchy. Lots of projecting about one’s opponent’s position. Maslow would have had fun with it.

Shelley ended up with over a half-million in a GoFundMe account created for her, not by her, before they closed it temporarily, and things now have gotten very interesting. She’s been featured on tons of national mainstream media. Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and even Trump have mentioned her, which may have ‘helped’ her cause. She got salon appointments from local and state-wide conservative politicians, by Senator Ted Cruz, and even Sarah Palin.

I doubt those dollars raised had much to do with hair, nails, or feet. It’s wasn’t about “self-esteem” really. Was it about being able to eat or have shelter? Well… kinda, but not really if you look at it. People from all over the world who donated their hard earned money didn’t care about their hair, nails, or feet either. And… No one was starving. No one was getting kicked out of a house or business — not yet anyway.

I think it was about supporting the right to be left alone, to push off government interference, to be able to work hard in order to pay bills. Yeah… That’s more about the Constitution and freedom. Sounds more like self-actualization, trusting humans, (maybe for some of us it’s about trusting God) having hope in our future, something beyond oneself, belief in humanity to be okay and be able to survive. That’s closer to the TOP of the pyramid, not the bottom, in my view.

2. beckyjo125 - June 30, 2020

Also found myself musing on Maslow this week!

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