Polarization today equals tribalism.

https://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/rethinking-polarization

Interesting piece from Rauch that explains how we got to where we are.

…” according to Pew, majorities of highly politically engaged Republicans (62%) and highly politically engaged Democrats (70%) said the other party makes them feel “afraid.” When one ponders those and other such findings, one is forced to reflect that the word “hate” is too strong, but it is, alas, in the right ballpark for inter-party feeling right now. What we fear, we tend also to hate.”

Thought this was an excellent explanation of where we are, how we got here, and some ways to save ourselves.

Thanks to George Will in today’s VP for referencing this piece.

19 thoughts on “Polarization today equals tribalism.

  1. The opening anecdote is extremely disturbing to me; while I am opposed many of the viewpoints expressed by Misters Roberts and Tabor in this forum I can’t imagine a situation where I wouldn’t render assistance if required in a moment of need.

    One of the many negatives of trump and his Administration’s (particularly compared to the last Administration) demonizing of those that don’t agree with their political views is increased polarization.

    Labelling any opposition, as well as, those Republicans that disagree with you as “scum” is having a cumulative and dangerous effect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The opening anecdote was disturbing to me as well. And it wasn’t even a refusal to render assistance. It was a refusal to perform a JOB. The lady in question needed a tow. This guy was called in because the regular mechanic was too busy to render aid. TO leave a driver stranded like that is nothing short of cruel, regardless of political support.

      Yelp and other review sites would be getting a butt ton of negative reviews on this “gentleman”.

      “One of the many negatives of trump and his Administration’s (particularly compared to the last Administration) demonizing of those that don’t agree with their political views is increased polarization.”

      The piece made that point several times.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Trump has consistently called the Democrats and the media the “enemy” of the people.

      Not political opposition or critics, but the enemy. If that were true, then what is ISIS?

      Liked by 2 people

    3. In a tweet, Trump referred to Republicans who don’t support him, e.g. Romney, as “human scum”.

      I gave it some thought and at least he’s correct about one thing — the fact that they don’t blindly support him proves they are human. Given they’re Republicans that he’s speaking of, maybe he’s doubly correct.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, as the tow truck driver I would not have refused the Bernie supporter service, but I might have had a little fun with her by asking for her Adjusted Gross Income for the previous year before quoting a fee.

      Not that I would actually charge her more, just to see her face when it might be her ox getting gored.

      Like

      1. Glad to read that you’d only fuck with her in her moment of need rather than just turn your back over her political leanings.

        The fact that you would not charge her more for you services is additionally laudable.

        SAD, on EVERY level I can think of….

        Liked by 2 people

          1. Really?

            Which has killed more?

            Which has subjugated other countries?

            Most of all, which is more easily seen as evil, and which disguises itself as caring for the poor to seduce the young and idealistic?

            The Klan is just as evil, but is so inept that it poses less of a threat.

            Like

          2. The fact that you see ANY system that allows the redistribution of wealth for the public good unacceptable (demonic?) makes rational debate useless.

            Liked by 2 people

  2. Rauch’s thesis is summarized: “What if, to some significant extent, the increase in partisanship is not really about anything? To put the point in a less metaphysical way, what if tribalism as such, not ideological disagreement, is behind much or even most of the rise of polarization? What if emotional identification with a partisan team is driving ideology, more than the other way around? To understand and assess this peculiar proposition, we need to expand our toolkit beyond classical political science and into social and cognitive psychology.”

    Not to be glib, but there are hundreds of other “what ifs” that Rauch might more usefully explore. Two readily come to mind:

    • What if the American public, at last, is simply too poorly educated about its own government and founding principles to present coherent opinions about them? Wouldn’t widespread ignorance look a lot like polarization or tribalism?
    • What if the political polarization we see is simply the direct result of corrupt media? Noam Chomsky especially was a major proponent of this theory.

    I mention these alternative possibilities because psychology is notoriously unreliable at explaining or predicting large social/political trends. Until the relevant alternatives are exhausted, expanding the “toolkit” as Rauch wishes to do is both unnecessary and problematic.

    Of specific interest here is the fact the word tribe has no particular scientific meaning (Wikipedia), nor does Rauch define it for his own purposes. Thus, the very phenomenon he sets out to exploit as explanatory is inherently vague.

    This frees Rauch to avoid addressing an obvious puzzle: Are we polarized because we are tribal, or do we appear to be tribal because we are polarized? Instead, he picks his own in-group to belong to: that of the enlightened perceiver of tribalism who finds that tribalism is particularly evident among the out-group of Trump supporters. (None of the examples of tribalism Rauch gives are from the Left, although there are many he might have chosen from: Climate change, the Obama personality cult, race/gender politics, etc.)

    All in all, the argument is not very compelling on its merits. Still, Rauch returns to his Burkean/Hayekian roots in the end when he allows that the institutions of society are the antidote for polarization. It is a welcome turn after so much never-Trumpism, but the irony seems lost on him: To the extent that institutions breed community, they are “tribal” entities in their own right.

    Like

    1. I felt he backed his arguments well. However, you are a contrarian and you would have been bragging about how brilliant his thesis is if had been YOU who had posted it.

      I’ve got your number, Mr. Roberts and you proved exactly what I thought.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Fair enough. And your words are more important than you are. They actually DISPLAY who you are, but I digress.

          “To the extent that institutions breed community, they are “tribal” entities in their own right.”

          You fail to address the fact that institutions are more welcoming then actual tribes. Institutions are open to all who wish to join. If you want to be in the right wing or left wing tribe, you have to forsake any sense of compromise or middle ground. Rauch addresses the decline of the middle early in the piece. That is one of the more disheartening things of the article. There is no more room for compromise because of the separation of the people into “tribes”.

          You also say that “tribe” has no scientific meaning. Which science do you mean? The social sciences, particularly Sociology is full of tribal discussions. You also seem to dismiss the idea of psychology having any redeeming factors in determining the “how” of why people do what they do and think what they think. Try visiting a professional and see how you have come to be who you are and what you think. I have.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. RE: “You also say that ‘tribe’ has no scientific meaning. Which science do you mean?”

          I gave Wikipedia as a source for that statement. You can look up the word “tribe” there.

          RE: “You also seem to dismiss the idea of psychology having any redeeming factors in determining the ‘how’ of why people do what they do and think what they think.”

          I said, “psychology is notoriously unreliable at explaining or predicting large social/political trends.” This happens to be true. I’ll give you an example.

          The Stanford Prison Experiment (Wikipedia) once was considered a “gold standard” in social psychology by which to explain such worldly events as the Armenian Genocide, the rise of Nazi Germany and the holocaust. But recently, the original Stanford Prison Experiment was found to have been faked.

          https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2018/06/27/replication-crisis

          The Stanford Prison Experiment is only one part of a larger problem in the social sciences called the replication crisis (Wikipedia). By some estimates, 50-70% of social psychology’s “scientific” findings are non-reproducible. And yet this is the discipline Rauch wants to borrow his toolkit from.

          I believe that psychology in general, and social psychology specifically, provide some insights into human behavior, but at present they have little power to explain group behavior at large scales.

          Like

  3. Well, if they hate me because I would support Bernie then maybe that’s a sign that things are improving. I mean maybe that means at least they don’t hate me because of my skin color, or my religion, or my New York accent any more.

    Liked by 1 person

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