Political segregation

Topics:
Project

Still within the context of the Political Discourse project, and in support of the work currently being carried out by Bryce, I'd like to start this discussion thread to speak about a topic that has been in my mind for many months, if not years: political segregation, its roots and its many manifestations.

As I am developing these themes, I'm trying to strike a balance between common sense, consensual information that can safely be added straight to the wiki, and my personal take on them, which I'll develop in my personal book. Your feedback is obviously most welcome. Please avoid posting images in comments below, so that we can focus on the issues.

Comments

Plurality voting as a cause

I'd like to cover:
- the causes
- the manifestations
- the solutions
of political segregation.

Among the causes, one that is very obvious to me is the use of Plurality voting, an aspect that is not covered at all in wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polarization_(politics)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polarized_pluralism
So this is an aspect we can cover in depth here, as I seek complementarity with what's already covered within wikipedia.

We the (segregated) people

A few months ago, I wrote on this web site:

Highlight agreement over disagreement

Let me be very clear: it is perfectly OK for any two people to disagree. Disagreement is a natural occurrence and properly handled, it can be healthy.

However, I want to do everything I can to avoid sorry flame wars that are so common throughout the internet, especially on a political web site like this one. A friend of mine, with whom I agree on 99% of the issues, was so caught up in the 1% he couldn't make me agree with him, that he went away from my home, slamming the door, and burning all bridges behind him. It is a strong tendency that we all have, myself included, when replying to someone, to disregard all the points on which we agree, and only highlight the points of disagreement and exclusively reply on those divisive points.

This confrontational attitude helps nobody, only serves to make people upset at each other, and certainly does not empower us to band together to actually make a difference in our fucked up society.

So, again, diverging points of view are welcome, disagreement are expected to occur, but I want to organize the site in a way that helps people to figure out the common ground on which to stand.

I want to unite people. Look at US politics: there is certainly no need for further divisions!

We already know what a liberal and a conservative would disagree on. I'd be much more interested in figuring out how much they can agree on.

This is a point of view that I have held for many years. A couple of months after posting the above, I was introduced to Bryce who, I was so inspired to see, has a very similar philosophy and extensively wrote about it. He is now trying to get pro-Trump and anti-Trump people to actually meet (in the flesh) and talk to each other. His first hurdle, I believe, was precisely that political web sites and social networks have become extremely partisan and segregated, so that Bryce had to find a way to get accepted into segregated groups representing each side in order to start a conversation in each group.

While Bryce is doing all the leg work in the real world, I'd like to support him the way I can, by documenting theoretical and practical aspects.

Of the three points I mentioned earlier (the causes, the manifestations, the solutions), I think it'd be easier to start with documenting the manifestations of political segregation in social networks, in major web sites like youtube and facebook, in highly partisan political web sites which only ever present one side of the argument.

Note that I have set my mind, many years ago, to avoid such segregation and partisanship in this site. That's why the Political Discourse Project is critical: we should do our best to avoid all the pitfalls that exacerbate sterile partisanship and political segregation. So this is not a progressive nor a liberal web site, but a place where we can explore and honestly discuss the issues.

The Righteous Mind

I recommend the book "The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt (2012) as a baseline reference for discussions of political segregation. It is an engaging read based on comprehensive research. The book might be a reasonable candidate for anyone interested in starting a "book club" on the site.

healthy discussion

Tags:+Jonathan Haidt

Thank you for the book recommendation. I've just ordered it. I have added a reference to it in the draft (stub) wiki article: http://en.minguo.info/wiki/political_and_social_filters

If you want a discussion thread focussed on the book itself, you may start one in your blog.

What policy areas interest you the most?
Personally, I have too many interests to list them here, but with regard to the topic of the current thread, I very much long for a very healthy debate on the issues, on policies and abhor anything that prevent people from having a healthy discussion, from understanding each other's point of view, whether they agree on the issues and their solutions or not.

Stable institutions

Thank you for your response. I will not be starting a book club in the near future but I will be most interested in your impression of Haidt's research.

In the most general terms, I am interested in learning more about the history, current status and future potential of political institutions and attempting to discern which of these institutions might support the continued development of civilization as circumstances and experiences continue to evolve through the ages.

Jonathan Haidt

I will be most interested in your impression of Haidt's research.

It is still too early for me to have a proper grasp of his research. However, I am truly inspired by a preliminary reading of the wikipedia articles about him and his work, as well as by some of his personal web sites.

I am truly grateful that you introduced his work to us. I'll see to it that Haidt is properly covered in our wiki so that we can benefit from his work. We'll talk much more about it in the coming weeks and months. Thanks.

In the most general terms, I am interested in learning more about the history, current status and future potential of political institutions and attempting to discern which of these institutions might support the continued development of civilization as circumstances and experiences continue to evolve through the ages.

I am intrigued. The topic is very broad and according to what you actually have in mind, I may have one thoughts or two to contribute. However, I'd like to keep this discussion thread focussed on political segregation. Can you start another discussion thread, and expand a bit on your thoughts regarding political institutions?

Jonathan Haidt wiki page

I've created a new wiki page dedicated to Haidt. It's currently only a stub:
http://en.minguo.info/wiki/jonathan_haidt
The goal is not to repeat what is already written in the wikipedia article about him, but to highlights the elements of his research that are particularly relevant to our projects.

Political segregation causes

The consequence of contributing to this and other topics on this site will be to reveal the depth of my ignorance of the subject matter. I choose, however, to engage the topics such that I might learn from the wisdom of others. The first topic I would like to engage is the issue of political segregation, in particle, the causes.

I have chosen not to be an active participant in Social networking so I will leave that aspect of the topic for others to illuminate. I would ask, however, if the political segregation evident on social media is a "cause" or a symptom of a deeper problem.

It has always been my belief that constructive dialog (multiple opinions expressed and debated in a way that leads to increased understanding and productive outcomes) is a product of mutual respect and a common mutually accepted vocabulary. I am now beginning to wonder if the concept of a mutually accepted vocabulary has been undermined by the pernicious effect of a phenomena known as post-modernism that emerged in academic circles in the early to mid 20th century.

I do not understand post-modernism! I have attempted to grasp its essence, in vain. Any thoughts that provide a cogent framework for understanding the phenomena would be greatly appreciated.

It is my fear that the post-modern phenomena eats away at the heart of all vocabularies. It seems to turn all communications (audio, video, textual) into relativistic tracts relevant only to the author not the audience. It seems to "deconstruct" words and concepts into adversarial dichotomies that render both words and concepts meaningless. It is my sense that our vocabularies have become honeycombed with double entendres, "narratives", "dog whistles", ambiguities, fallacies and "relativism". A honeycombed vocabulary has no structural strength, it has lost its power to explain or enlighten. I suggest that Use of a honeycombed vocabulary is an invitation to misunderstanding and disagreement. I suggest that a honeycombed vocabulary leads to disrespect and conceptual segregation.

I suggest that post-modernism is one "cause" that lies at the heart of political segregation.

Social networks

I have chosen not to be an active participant in Social networking so I will leave that aspect of the topic for others to illuminate. I would ask, however, if the political segregation evident on social media is a "cause" or a symptom of a deeper problem.

I'd say both a cause and a symptom.
We must keep in mind that Social networks are commercial ventures. Their aim is to make a profit and they do so by delivering a products that their consumers crave for. In a political context, people want to be proven right, whether they are or not, to have their bias confirmed. Social networks are organised as echo chambers that exacerbate an underlying social problem.

Moral outrage as revenue stream

I wrote: "We must keep in mind that Social networks are commercial ventures."
See: Moral outrage in the digital age http://en.minguo.info/blogs/augustin/moral_outrage_in_the_digital_age

Online platforms have profoundly changed the incentives of information sharing. Because they compete for our attention to generate advertising revenue, their algorithms promote content that is most likely to be shared, regardless of whether it benefits those who share it — or is even true.

mutual understanding

It has always been my belief that constructive dialog (multiple opinions expressed and debated in a way that leads to increased understanding and productive outcomes) is a product of mutual respect and a common mutually accepted vocabulary.

This is very beautifully put, and perfectly represents what I am after. Thanks.

I am completely ignorant about post-modernism. It's also the first time I hear about the concept of "honeycombed vocabulary" and I find your comments very insightful. Whether people agree or not, mutual understanding should be a primary goal for any healthy discussion on policy and politics.

In the next few days, I'll do my best to develop a little the Political Discourse project wiki, where we can progressively develop all those avenues of research we've just started discussing.