2018: “Facebook, as well as Twitter and Google’s YouTube, have become the digital arms dealers of the modern age … by weaponizing pretty much everything that could be weaponized. They have mutated human communication, so that connecting people has too often become about pitting them against one another and turbocharged that discord to an unprecedented and damaging volume. They have weaponized social media. They have weaponized the First Amendment. They have weaponized civic discourse. And they have weaponized, most of all, politics.”
Kara Swisher, Aug. 2, 2018 (behind paywall) (Posted in Big Tech)
Realistic conflict theory, wikipedia.
Realistic conflict theory (initialized RCT), also known as realistic group conflict theory (initialized RGCT), is a social psychological model of intergroup conflict. The theory explains how intergroup hostility can arise as a result of conflicting goals and competition over limited resources, and it also offers an explanation for the feelings of prejudice and discrimination toward the outgroup that accompany the intergroup hostility. Groups may be in competition for a real or perceived scarcity of resources such as money, political power, military protection, or social status.
Feelings of resentment can arise in the situation that the groups see the competition over resources as having a zero-sums fate, in which only one group is the winner (obtained the needed or wanted resources) and the other loses (unable to obtain the limited resource due to the “winning” group achieving the limited resource first). The length and severity of the conflict is based upon the perceived value and shortage of the given resource. According to RCT, positive relations can only be restored if superordinate goals are in place.
The theory was officially named by Donald Campbell, but has been articulated by others since the middle of the 20th century. In the 1960s, this theory developed from Campbell’s recognition of social psychologists’ tendency to reduce all human behavior to hedonistic goals. He criticized psychologists like John Thibaut, Harold Kelley, and George Homans, who emphasized theories that place food, sex, and pain avoidance as central to all human processes. According to Campbell, hedonistic assumptions do not adequately explain intergroup relations… (Posted in Social/Realistic Conflict Theory)
We Can’t Even Agree on What Is Tearing Us Apart (behind paywall), Thomas B. Edsall, May 25, 2022.
Today, even scholars of polarization are polarized.
This was not always the case.
…They haven’t yet related it to the wider literature or explained why so many centrist voters seem unable to elect centrists, or why it is when there is a national tide running against a party, it’s mostly moderates who lose.
Fowler and his co-authors, on the other hand, contest the view that voters are deeply polarized:
We find that a large proportion of the American public is neither consistently liberal nor consistently conservative…
There are, Fowler and his collaborators point out,
many genuine moderates in the American electorate…
Orr contended in an email:
Several experiments have successfully manipulated feelings toward people from the opposing party and found no effects on anti-democratic attitudes or other predicted consequences of affective polarization.
…There is another key factor underpinning growing polarization and the absence of moderate politicians.
“Most legislative polarization is already baking into the set of people who run for office,” Andrew Hall, a political scientist at Stanford, wrote in his book, “Who Wants to Run: How the Devaluing of Political Office Drives Polarization”: “Indeed, when we look at the ideological positions of who runs for the House, we see the set of all candidates — not just incumbents — has polarized markedly since 1980.”
This trend results from the fact that since “the winning candidate gets to influence ideological policies” in increasingly polarized legislatures and the Congress, “the ideological payoffs of running for office are not equal across the ideological spectrum.” As a result, “when costs of running for office are high or benefits of holding office are low, more moderate candidates are disproportionately less likely to run.”
In other words, polarization has created its own vicious circle, weeding out moderates, fostering extremists and constraining government action even in times of crisis. (Posted in Politics/Partisan Divide)
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U.S. democracy is in grave danger, a new Economist report warns, Amanda Erickson.
“Democracy is in under siege around the world, according to a new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The annual Democracy Index tracks the health of the world’s governments. And the results for 2017 are depressing. In 89 countries, democratic norms look worse than they did last year, the report’s authors write. Just 4.5 percent of the world’s residents live in fully functioning democracies, down from 8.9 percent in 2015.
That precipitous drop is thanks, primarily, to the United States…”
Foreign Policy Books:
Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville and Henry Reeve.
Healing the Heart of Democracy, Parker J. Palmer.
The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels. Jon Meacham.
The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, Robert B. Reich.
Amanpour & Co. with Christiane Amanpour. Fascism and Human Rights interviews. April 7, 2022: Scroll to: Bosnia-born Dunja Mijatovic–the human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe and Author Jason Stanley talks about fascism and the dangerous spread of autocracy. November 11, 2023: A new report says U.S. democracy is backsliding. A look at why and the dangers of polarization.
Threat to Democracy, Fareed Zakaria interview with Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham.
Interview with Masha Gessen begins at [10:40:42]
Cultural Complementarity, Hector E. Garcia,
“…All humans see only a small part of reality, which brings about a sense of insecurity (this is one of the assumptions of CC). Our tendency is to subconsciously allay anxiety by acting as if what our group sees in our time is all of the true reality; consequently, all other groups must be totally or partially wrong. Since all groups are doing the same, conflict easily develops and grows. We then try to validate our position, and often our aggression, by showing current and past evidence for that position. This is not difficult for any group to do since the present and the past hold multiple facts and human errors to pick from and take offense. (The time I have spent as a consultant has taught me that you can usually select from an abundance of facts to validate most positions you want to sell). Parties in conflict will continue to assign fault to each other until the more powerful one puts an end to the never-ending argument by exercising its power; as a victor, it will acquire the credibility to gain support for its position…” READ MORE
The American polity is cracked, and might collapse. Canada must prepare, Thomas Homer-Dixon.
“The U.S. is becoming increasingly ungovernable, and some experts believe it could descend into civil war. What should Canada do then?… Once a hardline doctrine is widely accepted within a political movement, it becomes an “infrastructure” of ideas and incentives that can pressure even those who don’t really accept the doctrine into following its dictates. Fear of “true believers” shifts the behaviour of the movement’s moderates toward extremism. Sure enough, the experts I recently consulted all spoke about how fear of crossing Mr. Trump’s base – including fear for their families’ physical safety – was forcing otherwise sensible Republicans to fall into line…” READ MORE
While he was Professor of Spiritual Resources and Dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University from 1953 to 1965, Dr. Howard Thurman became a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is reported that when he traveled King carried with him Thurman’s small book, Jesus and the Disinherited. This Boston University resource presents twelve 1959 sermons by Thurman on the theme, “Jesus and the Disinherited.” (The sermons are numbered but they aren’t listed in sequential order.) (Posted on Personal/Spirituality)
Shaming, Self-improvement, and Political Action, Wade Lee Hudson. “In “The Shaming-Industrial Complex, Becca Rothfeld describes the problem: Absent structural change, self-improvement will be limited. A large network of supportive small teams whose members are aware of this problem could be one solution. In itself, this network could constitute structural reform, which Rothfeld seeks. It could also nurture a strong sense of community whose members, given their awareness of the Shaming-Industrial Complex, would logically pursue structural reform in other social sectors and, ideally, cultivate holistic and systemic transformation.”(Posted in Systemic/Essays) READ MORE
Dr. Cornel West: Philosophy in Our Time of Imperial Decay. American philosopher, political activist, social critic, and educator public lecture.
“SirFortesque: Is any living human being gonna try to tell me that you couldn’t listen to Dr West talk about any topic for hours on end and just feel better about your life and want to hug somebody? Who else can seamlessly meld Philosophy, Literature, History, Music, Religion, Politics, and Ethics together in such a manner that you smile for no reason while challenging your beliefs. The vast knowledge from so many diverse fields and a computer-like memory mixed with the outpouring and nonjudgmental LOVE just envelops me every time i hear this world treasure speak. This is the sort of Christian warrior that even as an Atheist I find so mesmerizing. He can critique anything without being condescending or mean-spirited. I feel honored to be able to watch this man.” (Posted Systemic/Videos)
Cultures of Care celebrates people that practice collective care in unconventional and insurgent ways. Care is an essential, immediate and practical way to create belonging. Perhaps most vitally in our urgent times, at the heart of each profile you will find provocations that are seeds for reshaping society and how we relate to each other and the world.
Cultures of Care was initiated in the fall of 2020 as we faced a deepening pandemic and economic inequality, popular uprisings against state-sanctioned violence against Black people, an expanding border wall and a deluge of traumatic climate events. These conditions continue to grow today. In the chaos, isolation and fear of these multiple storms, we also witness beautiful points of shelter. These practices center an ethos of collective care in the face of multiple forms of overlapping othering and oppression. Some of these are new and emergent, like harnessing technology to adapt to social isolation. Others are long-standing, such as stewarding ancestral lands through fire. Most, if not all, are an evolving mix of new and old ways to practice collective care. Cultures of Care are practices that create belonging in the context of othering. A Culture of Care is an affirmative, generative form of resistance and adaptation…. (Posted in Systemic/Articles)
By Ezra Klein
“After three decades of dominance, liberalism is losing its hold on Western minds,” Matthew Rose writes in his powerful new book, “A World After Liberalism.”
Rose does not mean liberalism in the way we typically use the word. This is not about supporting universal health care or disagreeing with Justice Samuel Alito. Rose means liberalism as in the shared assumptions of the West: a belief in human dignity, universal rights, individual flourishing and the consent of the governed.
That liberalism has been battered by financial crises, the climate crisis, checkered pandemic responses, right-wing populists and a rising China. It seems exhausted, ground down, defined by the contradictions and broken promises that follow victory rather than the creativity and aspiration that attend struggle.
At least, it did.