Finally There’s Name For The Conduct I’ve Been Calling Unethical For Years…Now Let’s Agree To Stop It

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That name is “partyism.”

From Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein:

“…party prejudice in the U.S. has jumped, infecting not only politics but also decisions about dating, marriage and hiring. By some measures, “partyism” now exceeds racial prejudice — which helps explain the intensity of some midterm election campaigns. In 1960, 5 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats said that they would feel “displeased” if their son or daughter married outside their political party. By 2010, those numbers had reached 49 percent and 33 percent. Republicans have been found to like Democrats less than they like people on welfare or gays and lesbians. Democrats dislike Republicans more than they dislike big business.”

Based on what I’ve seen, the fact that Republicans/conservatives  are nearly twice as likely to be “partyists”  as their hated enemies to the left on the political spectrum doesn’t surprise me. Most of the manifestations of the bigotry I’ve seen out in the open and written about here—restaurants that give discounts to praying customers and bars that claim that they will only serve “red voters”—have come from that sector, but 33 percent isn’t anything for liberals to be proud of, either. Over all, the trend is horrible for the country. As I wrote regarding “Mary’s,” the restaurant that favored its religious customers…

“I detest this kind of thing, and so should you, because it is ethically indefensible and un-American to the core….splitting the world into them and us, good guys and bad guys, the virtuous and the reviled. All of “Mary’s” customers are human beings, and that is the only thing that should matter in the United States of America.”

I confess that since I have been observing this phenomenon, I am preconditioned to think the Stanford research that purported to measure it as has validity. Most social science research, especially involving politics, is so skewed by researcher bias and agendas that it is inherently dubious, and perhaps this example is too: I wouldn’t rely on the percentages. Also 1960 would have to be the absolute low water mark in U.S. political passions, after the remarkably non-partisan, unifying two terms of Dwight Eisenhower while the public felt united against a common enemy in the Cold War. I’m guessing the numbers in, say, 1860 would show a sharper divide.

I do think that the intensity of emotion, rising to bigotry, distrust and hate, in the nation’s political polarization is growing, is very alarming, and dangerous to our health and future. I’d like to know more about where it resides. Is the bulk of the bigotry coming from the low-information voter, who uncritically absorbs every campaign smear, bumper sticker insult and Facebook meme as fact—you know, morons? Or are the individuals who would rather die than see their daughters marry men who oppose the family’s favorite party the narrow-minded political junkies who watch only Fox News and listen to Rush, or who cheer Al, Chris, Rachel and the 24-7 conservative-bashers on MSNBC? I’d like to know.

Naturally theories will abound regarding the reasons for this new bigotry. In a general sense, it is pure cognitive dissonance, and can be explained by people today caring more about politics and ideology than they have for quite a while. People care about something when they sense that it matters to their lives, health and welfare, as well as those around them: if political views were regarded as no more important than what baseball team one rooted for, there is no way substantive bigotry would attach to them. With foreign threats looming, the economy weak, nobody certain of the right policies in so many crucial areas and the pettiness, corruption and ineptitude of parties in and out of power, trust has plummeted. When we can’t trust those whom we have given the job of looking out for our welfare, we become worried and scared, as well we should. Then it makes sense to care more about politics. If we care more, and feel strongly about what should be done either out of a lack of sophistication and gullibility (the morons) or from unbalanced self-education (the zealots), then those who proclaim opposing views seem more obnoxious and more threatening, prompting active discrimination. The Stanford study found that “discrimination against the out-group is based more on out-group animus than in-group favoritism.” That figures. But for a nation, it is suicidal.

This nation of ideals gleaned from a diverse population must value trust and belief in what all citizens share more than it embraces passion and anger over what we disagree over. If we cherish the basic principles of democracy, then we must accept, encourage and respect dissent, frank speech, the shocking opinion and the minority view.  We must always keep our minds open to new ideas, different solutions to old problems, and the possibility that we, or the public officials, scholars and pundits we favor, may be wrong on any one topic or issue. If we can’t do that, we doom ourselves and our culture to self-righteousness, doctrine, cant  and rigidity, which block out enlightenment like an eclipse blocks sunlight.

Prof. Sunstein doesn’t provide any scholarly theories about why partyism is growing, except a poor one: I doubt that negative political campaigns is a major factor. Among my culprits—though not all of these have been bad or undesirable developments in the abstract— would be…

  • The decline of civility in public discourse
  • The beginnings of harsh generational disrespect in the Sixties
  • The failure to teach ethics and values, as well as critical thinking skills, in the schools and at home, making people vulnerable to ideological formulas and leaving them unable to challenge demagogues
  • The collapse of organized religion, neighborhoods, social groups and communities, making citizens eager to identify with some group, somewhere, to provide identity and purpose
  • The struggles of the declining portion of the public guided by morality to adjust to new cultural standards dictated by ethics evolution
  • The rise of the online community, allowing users to stratify themselves and isolate their minds from any but palatable concepts, opinions and ideas
  • The collapse of the broadcast media news monopoly, which fed a homogenized world view to the vast majority of the public without challenges
  • The rise of conservative talk radio and Fox News
  • The unwise weakening of national culture and the values consensus that nurtures it
  • The emergence of social issues carrying stakes and passions comparable to slavery —abortion, open boarders, gay rights
  • The post-Sixties ideological imbalance in elite universities
  • The deterioration of the public schools and the educational system generally
  • The corruption of capitalism increasingly being opposed by the fantasy of socialism
  • The failure of prominent, alleged moderates to show restraint, wisdom or integrity, like John Avlon, who launched the supposedly moderate organization “No Labels,” and then published a book labeling anyone who opposed abortion as a “wingnut”…

..and more.

However, the fish still rots from the head down (yes, I wish there was a newer, cleverer, less hackneyed metaphor too), and the primary miscreants who has led the nation to this troubling place are the people who lead and have led the nation. They are the ones who have encouraged division for political gain. They are the ones who have increasingly used the rhetoric of hate, demonizing the character and motives of opponents and adversaries, seeding bigotry in the process. They are the ones who have said that Republicans want us to die, and that Democrats want to destroy civilization, from places of power and influence where such irresponsible slanders do not belong, ever.

We, of course, have the power to reject such leaders and make such tactics too costly to thrive. We can make friends with someone different from ourselves, and resolve to love them for their humanity and good qualities, not revile them because they have an Obama sticker on their car, or were raised in a church where the minister said that a man loving a man was a sin. We can teach and enlighten them, and give them the chance to teach and enlighten us. We don’t have to practice partyism. It’s harmful, cruel and stupid, sucks the variety out of life and the vitality out of this wonderful country. We don’t have to be partisan bigots.

So let’s just stop.

 

_______________________

Pointer: Volokh

Source: Volokh, Bloomberg

98 thoughts on “Finally There’s Name For The Conduct I’ve Been Calling Unethical For Years…Now Let’s Agree To Stop It

  1. I have very close friends of all political affiliations — and most of them have logical reasons for their ideology and the way they vote. It doesn’t bother me — and I would be happy if my daughters married into those families. What does bother me is “bumper slogan” reasoning. I wouldn’t want my daughters to marry anybody who doesn’t care or think about their civic duties.

      • They aren’t reading the rational places like this, they’re getting their opinions predigested by ads, business, religion, and the media which cannot even pretend at balance. I may not agree on all your stands, but the comments and links people add are invaluable.

        But many points in my life I simply did not have the time and energy to keep up. Sound bites are terrible for this issue, but everyone seems to want to reduce it to this.

      • They are people such as my husband’s cousin. A professor at a big name university who refused to sit at our table after my mother-in-law’s funeral because our son belongs to a different major party. As a long-time registered Independent I was barely tolerated. The attitude removes all possibility of civil discourse.

      • How about right here? I can tolerate a Democrat, just barely, but if someone goes on about gay marriage or how stupid those of us who have faith are, then they will be told to leave at the conclusion of the course.

        • Nothing bigoted about telling someone they hold a stupid opinion. I tell people I am good friends with that they hold stupid opinions, all the time. I explain why too. Pretty forcefully.

          Friends don’t let friends live stupid, at least without letting them know.

          • Clarification: But the conduct you are talking about is just plain rude, I’d throw them out too. An opinion is one thing; insulting someone is another. Stupid is a legitimate description of many things, but if you use it, you had better 1) smile and 2) back it up..

            • Unfortunately in the end we can’t control the behavior of other adults who aren’t breaking the law, and most of us like to believe we have formed our opinions rationally and that we are reasonably intelligent. Calling another adult’s opinion stupid is too easily taken as a personal insult and you shouldn’t be surprised if that other adult tells you to kiss his ass or shove it up your ass, which is also just plain rude, but may be perceived as a justifiable reaction to earlier rudeness.

              That said, too often simply belonging to the opposite party or holding opposing views is viewed as rudeness or behavior not deserving of respect in and of itself, giving you a license to be rude or snarky or unpleasant in the first instance. This is true not only in the case of partisanship but in the question of religion versus non-religion, with the religious calling the non-religious hellbound or evil and the non-religious mocking the religious by making reference to “your sky friend” or “fairy studies.” This is doubly true with regard to contentious issues, like same-sex marriage, with one side seeking to ruin the other and that side angry at attacks that it views as excessive.

              Unfortunately, this attitude is now ingrained and has been for at least 15 years, and I think a plea to “just stop” is going to fall on deaf ears.

      • Not the people reading this blog, obviously. Reading it implies thinking about issues that are sometimes uncomfortable, which one doesn’t agree with or which challenges one’s own established views. Reading being the operative word here.
        Think decline of the newspapers for example. It’s symptomatic for an age where people read less and less. Little titbits of news and gossip on the internet is all anyone seems to be interested in anymore. Perusing a newspaper forced you to look over long articles that featured information which you may not have been looking for in particular but then absorbed none the less.
        Reading a newspaper online is mostly limited to one particular article at that moment – and I guess in most cases not even the whole article.
        Nowadays people enclose themselves in an informational bubble and very little reading is included in it. It’s the pure laziness of a generation having become acustomed to instant stimulation and amusement. And of course instant propaganda on TV where no reading or thinking is needed and as a result these skills have deteriorated to a scary degree.
        Maybe I’m just getting old but almost every conversation degenerates into: Have you seen that movie?
        And not: Have you read that book?

        Partyism reflects this very development. Prefabricated proganda from political leaders fed to an intellectually lazy public in bite-sized pieces – no difficult reasoning necessary. Why read a political manifesto or the draft for a new law when you can sit in front of your telly and simply adopt a ready-made opinion which you can then yourself perpetuate. Think entertainer instead of politician and clapping or booing audience instead of informed voters.

  2. They are the ones who have said that Republicans want us to die, and that Democrats want to destroy civilization, from places of power and influence where such irresponsible slanders do not belong, ever.

    This is also poor propaganda.

    http://www.stentorian.com/propagan.html

    Do not direct propaganda against the opposing side’s rank-and-file. They are the people whom you want to persuade to cease resistance, malinger, desert, mutiny, or even change sides.
    “Sending the Japanese cartoons of themselves, mocking the German language, calling Italians by familiar but inelegant names- such communications cropped up during the [Second World] war. The senders got a lot of fun out of the message but the purpose was unintelligently considered. The actual effect was to annoy the enemy, stiffening his will to resist.” (Linebarger, p. 40. Emphasis is mine)
    “Then go after the Propaganda Man [hypothetical listener on the other side] yourself. He is your friend. You are his friend. The only enemy is the enemy Leader (or generals, or emperor, or capitalists, or ‘They’).” (Linebarger, p. 154) The rank-and-file member of the opposing side is not a villain, he is a victim. His leader or boss is exploiting him. The opposing leader is not only your enemy, but your listener’s enemy as well.
    “For psychological warfare purposes, it is useful to define the enemy as: (1) the ruler, (2) or the ruling group, (3) or unspecified manipulators, (4) or any definite minority. It is thoroughly unsound to define the enemy too widely.” (p. 51) The rank-and-file member of the opposing side is not “the enemy.” He or she is a victim of the enemies suggested by Linebarger: his/her ruler, ruling group, etc. “The sound psychological warfare operator will try to get enemy troops to believing that the enemy is not themselves but somebody else- the King, the Fuhrer, the elite troops, the capitalists. … ‘We’re not fighting you. We are fighting the So-and-so’s who are misleading you.'”
    Antigun cartoonist Benson’s depiction of a beer-swilling, beer-bellied, unkempt, apparently uneducated “NRA member,” while in the same category as the Nazis’ depiction of Jews with exaggerated Semitic features, probably backfired by antagonizing every National Rifle Association member who saw it, along with many other responsible firearm owners.
    “Hate” propaganda must be directed only against the enemy leaders.

    While the above was written in 1999, these principles are true fifteen years later.

  3. “The collapse of the broadcast media news monopoly, which fed a homogenized world view to the vast majority of the public without challenges
    The rise of conservative talk radio and Fox News”

    You say this as though breaking free of the collectivist monopoly of propaganda is a bad thing…

    • No, I didn’t. In fact, I wrote specifically…”Among my culprits—though not all of these have been bad or undesirable developments in the abstract— would be…”…

      This is one of the factors I had in mind. It’s not a bad thing, but it has certainly had some very ugly unintended consequences. Women’s rights helped wreck the public schools. Integration killed the Negro Leagues in baseball. The rejection of homophobia means that I have to look at Bruce Villanch….

        • I second the question.

          I do see how the educational style has shifted to favor girls and their learning style.

          I just see so much else wrong that I only view feminism as a small factor.

        • One part of how this happened is that in olden times one of the few ‘respectable’ jobs available to women which could provide a livelihood was that of school teacher. Because of this, many teachers came from the best of the female population instead of the dregs left over after the best and the brightest go into law, medicine, politics, management & so on. While a few of the best and brightest still make teaching a career these days, way back when it was the rule that teachers were among the best and brightest instead of the exception.

            • I thought it was generally accepted by now.

              Once barriers to women entering the professions and industry, including management and higher academia, were weakened, public school teaching stopped being a prime occupation for smart, sensitive, able women who had the ability and talent to do other things. My high school Latin teacher had a PhD…so did my sixth grade teacher. I had no male teachers until Junior High. I had no idiots as teachers at all. Nobody tried to indoctrinate us. I can’t recall any outright misinformation being taught. All the teachers used valid and grammatical English. We had sexy teachers, but they were married, and civilized. A sexual predator teacher was unimaginable.

              Thanks to the better, and better paying, opportunities available to women, current teachers are performing at the top of their potential or beyond it. I’m sure there is some research supporting this. My sister wanted to be a teacher, but by the time she was in college, she realized that she could be a lawyer. That wasn’t a viable option for my Mom….indeed, when I went to law school, the runover bias against the women in my classes was palpable.

              • You still need to rework your statement then. Women’s rights didn’t weaken the public schools. What weakened the schools was the failure to pay these positions what they were worth. I too would have become a teacher if the pay had been better. I know that is true for many men as well. We don’t say that the public schools suck because men have more lucrative options available to them in the private sector. Sheesh.

                • The context was unintended consequences of beneficial developments. The statement, in that context, is correct.
                  It’s a tough job, with limited advancement. Current teachers are often overpaid for the skills they bring to the job. Structurally, it is difficult to pay those jobs what they should be paid IF the teachers were qualified to do them. When women had no better choices (other than marriage), the salaries had to suffice. Once we had an abundance of underpaid competent teachers, now we have an abundance of overpaid, incompetent ones.

  4. There wouldn’t be nearly as bad of a divide if we still believed in Federalism. But since one party has decided to nationalize EVERY SINGLE ISSUE (and by reaction, the other party has had to counter every issue as though it were a national issue), this makes everything everyone’s business. Since one party has decided that massively expand the scope of government into every facet of a person’s life, naturally the other side gets pretty prickly about it.

    Face it, we’re in a Cold Civil War right now.

      • I don’t. History teaches that law and government adapt to the needs of a changing society. Those governments that do face evolution; those that don’t, face revolution.

        Lyndon LaRouche (even a busted clock is right twice a day!) once said that the battle in every society is one between Athens and Sparta — the conflict between the desire to dominate others, and the desire to be free of the dominion of others. The Religious Right desires control over our personal conduct, whereas the Left desires control over our economic conduct. Big Gub’mint is always a bad thing … unless and until it does our bidding. Both sides are equally culpable here.

        Technology is forcing us to rethink the social contract. We can’t create enough jobs to meet the supply. Wages have fallen, which means more for the few and less for the many. That is unsustainable.

        Also, anthropologically-caused global warming is real, and the excrement is just starting to hit the fan. 35,000 walruses beached themselves on an Alaskan beach because they can’t find enough sea ice to live on. Oceans have become so acidic that it has stressed the microorganisms that form the bottom of the sea’s food chain. We’ve reached peak food, and use of GMO grains reduce biodiversity to the point where our food supply could be vulnerable to collapse. The CO2 has nowhere else to go — all of the excess we have spewed has been accounted for — but the atmosphere, and it is a greenhouse gas. It doesn’t have to do much to send the planet down a road to perdition, as retreating snow cover reduces the planetary albedo. More sunlight is absorbed, resulting in higher temperatures and the melting of Arctic permafrost, resulting in the release of methane into the atmosphere, which reduces the snow cover. It is a vicious cycle, and probably can’t be stopped at this point. All we can do now is try to limit the damage.

        Some of us see an existential threat to the planet, and the one thing we do know about the free market is that it is slow to react. Sometimes, we have to plan ahead. So, what do we do? A rational capitalist government has to act in a socialistic manner at times to curb the natural excesses of capitalism in order to preserve the greater good which is capitalism.

          • He is also wrong that all we can do is limit the damage.

            If we detonate our entire nuclear arsenal over the Gaza strip in a single day, we can stop climate change cold in its tracks. The science upon which this is based is the soundest of sciences, endorsed by Carl Sagan himself.

          • It is actually quite apolitical. Remember that Richard Nixon gave us the EPA, and rational Republicans will tell you that Job One is protecting the environment. While most people don’t realize it, George Romney was a fairly radical environmentalist. Back in the day, what was good for GM was good for the nation.

            To me, this is about the science, and the recognition that capitalism does not respond particularly well to crises. History doesn’t give a damn about our politics (I generally lean libertarian).

            • Your rant ignored the fact that the relationship between CO2 and temperature is logarithmic. There is no risk from runaway heating due to increased CO2 emissions because the marginal effectiveness of CO2 as a greenhouse gas decreases with concentration.

              • Michael, it doesn’t take that much to trigger the other effects, which are far more problematic. CO2 isn’t the problem per se. Increased absorption of solar radiation is.

                Snow reflects as much as 70% of the sunlight that hits it. Water, about 10%. The more sunlight the planet retains, the hotter it gets. The hotter it gets — and this is clearest in the Arctic — the more methane is released into the atmosphere, and methane is far more noxious. Excess CO2 is the trigger; the gun has only started to fire.

                • The evidence of an actual runaway positive feedback that isn’t overridden by negative feedback is nonexistent. It’s completely incompatible with the current pause (depending on data set just a huge decrease in the rate of warming).

                  • Secretary Chu actually suggested something to that effect. Dude has a Nobel in physics, and is probably one of the sharper tools in the shed.

                    Anyone who has lived in PHX has learned the value of having a white car.

        • “I don’t.”

          Typically, when one claims to disagree with a post, their follow on response addresses why they disagree and what salient points they believe show the error of comment with which they disagree. Interestingly, you state disagreement, and then follow with no actual response, just an unimaginative ramble.

          “History teaches that law and government adapt to the needs of a changing society. Those governments that do face evolution; those that don’t, face revolution.”

          I think I saw that bumper sticker also…

          “Lyndon LaRouche (even a busted clock is right twice a day!) once said that the battle in every society is one between Athens and Sparta — the conflict between the desire to dominate others, and the desire to be free of the dominion of others.”

          I wouldn’t use a wikipedaic style analysis if I were you. Claiming the conflict between Athens and Sparta is parallel to the competition between Libertarians and Collectivists is unrefined at best. Victor Davis Hanson (an actual historian who has written extensively about Athens & Sparta) would probably disagree with LaRouche’s clumsy quip.

          Substantively, your own commentary conflicts with this quote in which you assert that the competition in our society is between those who want to dominate our economic lives and those who want to dominate our private lives. Where’s those who don’t want to dominate anything in your lamentation?

          “The Religious Right desires control over our personal conduct, whereas the Left desires control over our economic conduct.”

          Interestingly enough, your need to clarify the “Religious Right” as the juxtaposition to the whole “Left” indicates you acknowledge there are more competitors in this than just those 2. But, as a good little demagogue, you need to pull out the Left’s favorite whipping boy.

          The other interesting point is that as America was founded on the notion of Economic Freedom, the only way to truly dominate economic conduct is to essentially dominate EVERY aspect of a person’s life — not just the public economic component.

          “Technology is forcing us to rethink the social contract.”

          No, it isn’t. Desperate socialists and collectivists are grasping to claim there are reasons to rethink the social contract.

          “We can’t create enough jobs to meet the supply.”

          We could. But of course when you look at the economy as though jobs is the starting point, you are already heading to failure. The economy is about providing value. The more expensive and complicated we make to provide that value, the less likely people will step up to provide that value.

          Make it easier on the people (by getting out of the way) and the jobs problem solves itself.

          “Wages have fallen,”

          Gosh, if only we could find a way to reduce cost of living also…

          Hint: a free market is the ONLY historically successful way of reducing cost of living. Oh but wait, in your follow on ramble you’ve morally eliminated that option so we’re stuck in a damned if we do damned if we don’t scenario.

          “which means more for the few and less for the many. That is unsustainable.”

          Historically it is quite sustainable. Mankind has lasted in that condition for closer to 10,000 years. In fact, material equality (which is only possible with political/economic/legal equality) is a recent development… what, about 2-300 years? To be clear, it is unsustainable if you also want to have political and legal equality as well.

          And you collectivists are trying your hardest to ruin that and have gained considerable ground since the post-WW2 unholy marriage of Big Government to Big Business (which I’m sure you’ll say is a Republican problem – but it isn’t).

          • Tag: “Historically it is quite sustainable.”

            Really, Tag? Even S&P has admitted that inequality is a drag on GDP growth. We have seen this rodeo before. A society where the benefits accrue only to the few is inherently unstable. Spend a little time in the part of Mexico that isn’t in the tourist zone, and you’ll see what is coming. I could demonstrate this with resort to Art Laffer’s napkins, but the best analogy I have heard is Ravi Batra’s analogy of the Arctic ecosystem. If the wolves become too strong, they eat up all the caribou and starve. Conversely, if the caribou become too strong, they eat up all the grass and starve. An economy is like an ecological system; the supply and demand curves represent that balance.

            Tag: “since the post-WW2 unholy marriage of Big Government to Big Business”

            According to Mussolini (who gets to say so, because he coined the term), that is fascism. A corporate takeover of government is no different than a government takeover of corporate interests, in that respect. Professor Lawrence Britt, writing for the atheistic and libertarian rag Free Inquiry, identified fourteen characteristics of fascist regimes: http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/fasci14chars.html (reprint). “The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.” Yep, this is a real problem.

            Tag: “Hint: a free market is the ONLY historically successful way of reducing cost of living.”

            And the only way to approximate a free market is to regulate it. Left to its own devices, capitalism will devour itself.

            Tag: “The economy is about providing value.”

            And the rational capitalist government should do what it takes to maximize value. The rich man needs only so many Bentleys.

            Tag: “Make it easier on the people (by getting out of the way) and the jobs problem solves itself.”

            This is a religion to you, and it is pointless to argue religion.

            • ““Historically it is quite sustainable.”

              Really, Tag? Even S&P has admitted that inequality is a drag on GDP growth. We have seen this rodeo before. A society where the benefits accrue only to the few is inherently unstable.”

              Here, I’ll let you re-read my commentary, since you didn’t get it the first time:

              “Historically it is quite sustainable. Mankind has lasted in that condition for closer to 10,000 years. In fact, material equality (which is only possible with political/economic/legal equality) is a recent development… what, about 2-300 years? To be clear, it is unsustainable if you also want to have political and legal equality as well.”

              Do you see how I qualified that? You do see how I qualified that, right? It makes a huge difference. Do you see how it makes a difference? You do see that right?

              Read some history…actual history, not Howard Zinn type crap… you’ll see my assessment is 100% accurate that man’s society has lasted 50 times longer under grossly unequal conditions than it has under equal conditions. But you may have missed where I said that came with a cost. But I promise if you’ll re-read it, you’ll see the point. At least I hope.

              “Spend a little time in the part of Mexico that isn’t in the tourist zone, and you’ll see what is coming. I could demonstrate this with resort to Art Laffer’s napkins, but the best analogy I have heard is Ravi Batra’s analogy of the Arctic ecosystem. If the wolves become too strong, they eat up all the caribou and starve. Conversely, if the caribou become too strong, they eat up all the grass and starve. An economy is like an ecological system; the supply and demand curves represent that balance.”

              Not sure if that ramble had much to do with anything at all.

              “that is fascism. A corporate takeover of government is no different than a government takeover of corporate interests, in that respect. Professor Lawrence Britt, writing for the atheistic and libertarian rag Free Inquiry, identified fourteen characteristics of fascist regimes: http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/fasci14chars.html (reprint). “The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.” Yep, this is a real problem.”

              No, we aren’t quite fascist despite having certain characteristics that are very very close in appearance to it. But, then again, you shouldn’t have a problem with that since, although humorously claiming to be a libertarian, you have quietly advocated for the kind of marriage of government and business that is necessary to enact the salvation of the environment you religiously believe is necessary.

              “And the only way to approximate a free market is to regulate it. Left to its own devices, capitalism will devour itself.”

              A useless observation on it’s own. Got it, everyone agrees a truly free market is anarchy and won’t last. We have to be a little more sophisticated in our explanations and rationales, however, when we discuss how far to regulate it. I would suspect your ideal places you much further down the scale of regulation than me. Nice try however at making a broad statement, knowing it can be agrued as though it was meant to cover a specific instance.

              “Tag: “The economy is about providing value.”

              And the rational capitalist government should do what it takes to maximize value. The rich man needs only so many Bentleys.”

              I don’t think you understand value creation. Value is created when the market first discovers a need…when people WANT something and another person steps up to fulfill those wants, value is created. You can’t arbitrarily start providing stuff and call it value. Government can’t maximize value. Not one bit. It can however seek ways to minimize it’s impact on the creation of value.

              You are a pretty arrogant ass to assume you know how many Bentleys any one person “needs”.

              “Tag: “Make it easier on the people (by getting out of the way) and the jobs problem solves itself.”

              This is a religion to you, and it is pointless to argue religion.”

              I know history isn’t your strong suit, but you should recall, prior to all the Keynesian manipulation of the economy, employment pushed 90-95%. The only faith I’ve seen here is one who pushes socialism despite every single historical example where collectivized power and centralized economies not only fail miserably, but often do so after killing off vast swathes of their own people.

        • It doesn’t have to do much to send the planet down a road to perdition

          Actually, it becomes less effective at higher concentrations, because the relationship between CO2 and temperature is logarithmic.

          Using simple mathematics, it is easy to calculate the anthropogenic carbon dioxide contribution to temperature changes. One inescapable conclusion is that the marginal effectiveness of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas decreases with higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, meaning that the climate is more sensitive to anthropogenic carbon dioxide at low carbon dioxide concentrations than high carbon dioxide concentrations.

          • It’s not the CO2 per se. If all we had to worry about was that, I would not be worrying. And let’s be honest: I’ll be dead within 20 years anyway.

            CO2 is absorbed in the oceans, and it has reached the saturation point. The oceans have become more acidic, threatening the basic building blocks of the food chain. I have friends down in Aus studying this, and what they tell me is alarming.

            You can’t isolate one fact and properly analyze a system. Actions have consequences throughout the system.

    • Yours are all good points, Tex. My take on partyism is that it’s just unionism, dressed in party affiliations. Unionism has infected both of the major parties. I can only hope it will infect disaffected from both parties, too, so we can break up this one-party racket and move forward in full Yugoslaviation.

  5. I found myself headed down that path myself. What I noted is that as this progressed and people became more isolated, an echo chamber effect grew. Each side’s respective reality diverged. Events that reflected negatively on their side were deemed “untrue” and painted as lies by the other side.

    Rather than refusing to associate with those of differing political views, I’ve distanced myself from those that live in those echo chambers, regardless of political view.

    • I make it a point to engage those I disagree with — a self-enforced reality check. If you don’t understand your opponents’ arguments, you probably don’t understand your own.

      These intellectual battles change my mind, and not infrequently. We are all ignorami — in at least some subjects.

  6. Regarding two of those points:

    – The collapse of the broadcast media news monopoly, which fed a homogenized world view to the vast majority of the public without challenges
    – The rise of conservative talk radio and Fox News

    I think you also need to include the main stream media’s growing partisanship that fed the creation of right wing radio and Fox news.

      • Just ideological cant, divorced from reality. Tell me that the positive coverage of the absurd Occupy Wall Street movement was corporatist. Oh, right—they were just trying to suck us in, right?

        • Was Occupy REALLY that absurd, or are you just uncloaking your own political and philosophical positions? I’ve been to both Tea Party and Occupy rallies. The Occupy protesters were nowhere near as ignorant. Frankly, most of the Koch Suckers couldn’t recognize the Constitution if you spotted them the vowels.

          Remember this exchange from the movie Spaceballs:

          Lone Star: A million? That’s unfair.
          Pizza the Hutt: Unfair to the payor but not to the payee. But you’re gonna pay it, or else!
          Barf: Or else what?
          Pizza the Hutt: Tell him, Vinnie.
          Vinnie: Or else pizza is gonna send out for *you*!

          A civil society depends on mutual consent. When the deal becomes too onerous, consent is withdrawn. Once consent is withdrawn, that society collapses. Right now, the plutocrats are writing our rules and of course, they are deliberately slanting them for their own benefit. But as they say on Wall Street, “pigs get slaughtered.”

          You can take this all the way back to Plato, but Marx said it best: When the common folks “have nothing left to lose but their chains,” revolution will follow.

          Revolution can either be peaceful or violent. It is often violent. My view is that it is in the enlightened self-interest of the haves to ensure that the have-nots are never placed in a position where the status quo ante offers nothing to them.

          Put another way, what would happen if the common man, collectively, decided to “go Galt?”

          • Read my posts on Occupy, and why it was absurd should be apparent. It was absurd because it proposed nothing and stood for nothing, except protesting. It was a primal scream, and wasted a lot of money and time. The tea party, at least, had specific objectives. “We don’t like the fact that some people have more money than Croesus” is not a coherent mission.

  7. The party (not really party, but political philosophy) of a person matters to me because it tells me about a person’s world view. I can and do have friendships with people from every political and social philosophy, but I confess I would not want my children to marry a person who is invested in most of the liberal philosophies.

  8. You are preaching to the choir here. That is why, when you go after the current administration, I take the liberty of reminding you of the sins of the last and previous ones. By way of example, the Obama management style you decry is the same one we have endured in our courts for decades: it is devoid of any semblance of personal accountability.

      • So if a different example is used, how would you assess Art Hawley’s last post? Great post by the way. I’m doing a segment on partisanship in class right now. This will be helpful.

        • If you do a survey of Jack’s posts (I’ve read a fair sampling of them), you will find that he is indeed partisan, though he does try hard to put lipstick on that pig. I am consciously playing devil’s advocate, and even arguing some positions I do not personally hold to draw attention to this.

          Jack’s article is incisive–well, maybe I am biased here, but I do try to pay attention to and manage my biases–and should be at the core of how we look at politics. Tu quoque evidence is relevant. We should judge by one standard, regardless of whether it is friend or foe. We ought to judge our friends–albeit gently, if we can–to keep them and ourselves accountable. To be scrupulously ethical is a constant challenge.

          • A ‘fair sampling” would be about, oh, 2,000 or so. I absolutely judge “friend and foe”..and myself…by the same standards.

            One standard I use is that arguing things I don’t believe just to muddy the water or prove how smart I am is unethical.

            Being objective does not mean that I am obligated to split 50-50 on the ideological scale. If objective analysis shows that one point of view reaches the better and more ethical result more often than its opposite, that indicates that the point of view may just be a little better. It doesn’t make the objective analysis biased.

        • You’ll have to tell me which Art Hawley post. He just put up about ten of them. Also, “different example” than what? Judges? Occupy? Nixon? The thread is getting pretty far afield from “partyism,” which involves active bigotry and hate directed at someone for having a different world view.

      • Judges are managers. The Supreme Court is tasked with superintending control over all inferior courts, by virtue of their being a “Supreme Court.” In the system Justice Wilson envisioned, John Roberts is the equivalent of Barack Obama. But yet, you will not hold him to the same harsh standard that you would a Barack Obama? With all due respect, I honestly do not understand where a salient difference lies.

        Justice Kagan called it the “Problem of Platonic Guardians.” Columnist Max Boot called it “gavelitis.” The notion that America wants a King—that
        America needs a King—and that “I should be your King.” The hopelessly airheaded Justice O’Connor commits this “original sin” of judicial hubris:

        “The importance of the judicial branch to citizens of every country, and the crucial need for an independent judiciary free from political and private pressure, was eloquently expressed by John Marshall long ago: “The Judicial Department comes home in its effects to every man’s fireside. It passes on his property, his reputation, his life, his all. Is it not, to the last degree important, that [the judge] should be rendered perfectly and completely independent, with nothing to influence him but God and his conscience?”

        Sandra Day O’Connor, The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice 248 (2d ed. 2004).

        Change the word “judge” to “Adolf Hitler,” “Saddam Hussein,” or “King George III,” and you should see the obvious problem. The judge must be constrained by more than her conscience; she must be bound by the
        law, and accountable thereunder. History teaches that those constrained only by their conscience tend not to have one.

        Judges have NO accountability. The Constitution imposed an array of effective chains on them: jury trials with the jury deciding law and facts, published opinions, mandatory certiorari review, stare decisis, private criminal prosecution (think Judge McCree), and good behavior tenure enforceable by the litigant, to name a few. But they have methodically dissolved these chains with their rulings, in what the sainted Judge Bork has called a “judicial oligarchy,” Robert H. Bork, Our Judicial Oligarchy, First Things 67 (Nov. 1996) at 21, brought about by what he accurately described as a “judicial coup d’êtat.” Robert H. Bork, Coercing Virtue: The Worldwide Rule of Judges 13 (AEI Press, 2003).

        Correct me if I misapprehend you, Jack, but what you appear to be saying is that our judicial oligarchs ought to be judged by a different standard, despite the same zero accountability for incompetence and corruption, and the same zero consequence for failure.

        • You’re not wrong. Judges have to police themselves. If they are beholden to the electorate, their decisions are biased. If they are overseen by non-layers, then they are judged by those without the knowledge or understanding to do a good job at it. Thus we appoint people of broad experience, dedication, wisom and honor, we hope, and entrust other judges to remove those who prove themselves otherwise.

          It isn’t a perfect system. There are no perfect systems. It doesn’t take a a lot of acumen to pick it apart. It’s the best of the realistic options, and has worked, on balance well. I understand that the victims when it has not would not agree.

  9. I think this is an excellent piece, Jack, but I’m confused about one thing: When you refer to “open boarders” as a social issue with high stakes, what are you referring to, bars and restaurants that should serve everyone? Wouldn’t that be an issue with high steaks?

  10. How to tell if you are infected: if there is an election where the candidate for your party is known to be incompetent, corrupt, or a bigot but you vote for them anyway because you “can’t let …. have more seats in the ….”. I know a lot of people who refused to vote for someone in one local election that they admitted was intelligent, hardworking, and dedicated to bettering their community. They refused to vote for him because of his party, instead voting for someone that they admitted had none of the attributes above. The same people voted for someone with felony fraud convictions rather than his opponent, a man who only ran because he felt someone needed to run in opposition to said ex-felon.

  11. The numbers surprise me a bit. In my experience, it’s mostly people on the left who will do things like unfriend someone on facebook because of a political position.

    I wonder what the numbers looked like during the “Bush LIED! People DIED” period. I would not be the least bit surprised if the party that is currently seen as being in power is more tolerant of the idiots on the other side.

      • I thought social science researchers from pretty much anywhere were reliably left-biased. At my undergrad alma mater, we even put them on the left side of campus. 😉

          • I suspect that as an extension of the primary reason man pursues science is, in the end it isn’t for the sake of knowledge, ultimately to understand phenomena enough to engineer solutions to mitigate or control those phenomena. Applied to social sciences, it is safe to assume those who rigorously study it are motivated by the desire to understand the big brushstrokes that cultures appear to make with the hope to someday manipulate those movements towards a preferred goal.

            In short, they are Utopians who believe a people can be controlled to a certain idealistic end. You typically see Leftists attracted by that.

          • My suggestion would be as follows. Left wingers, in general, tend to view people primarily as members of a group rather than individuals and don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Right wingers, in general, tend to view people more as individuals, although not with any real consistency. Any given individual can easily buck those trends, but they seem relatively accurate in my experience.

            Sociology, by design, measures the behavior of groups of people and attempts to make predictions about behavior based upon those groups. By it’s very nature, it will appeal more to people who already think of people as members of a group rather than individuals. In addition, studying it will also influence students to think that way, because noting that what is true of groups statistically doesn’t indicate anything useful about a given individual is hard, and makes the study of that subject seem like a waste.

            I could probably find some other overlapping characteristics with a little thought.

  12. Pingback: I’d rather vote for a Democratic slimeball than a Republican saint | Alas, a Blog

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