Differences Within Your Own Side Are Helpful - BCB #13
"Fear not the enemy who attacks you, but the false friend who embraces you."
Acting with a single mind is a clear advantage, but calls for unity and solidarity can also mean suppression of internal dissent. Unfortunately, this also marginalizes the moderates and reduces the nuance needed to diffuse conflict. This conformance pressure is playing out in different ways in Red and Blue culture.
On the Red side, the old slur of “Republican in Name Only” or RINO has come back into fashion. But that’s playing nice by current standards. “Cuckservative” may have begun as a white nationalist insult (think miscegenation), but it has become a much broader epithet for Jeb Bush-style elites, or just those who are a bit too friendly with the libs. Meanwhile, the GOP has become a party where public criticism of Trump can be career-ending. On both the personal and political level, MAGA leaves little room for debate.
Blue-on-Blue infighting is perhaps better known. What we now call cancel culture has had a long history under many different names, as we explored in Issue 8. Today, with the dominance of Blue manners in corporate, academic, and non-profit institutions, a wrong step can amount to professional and social suicide. This conformance pressure is often one part earnest belief and one part hypocrisy, but that’s not new either. Phil Ochs’ 1966 folk song “Love Me I’m a Liberal” comes from a different era of left factionalism, but it’s still scathing today (“I love Puerto Ricans and Negros / as long as they don't move next door.”)
Today’s Red and Blue ideologies have both been compared to cults. We’ll tackle that dimension in a future issue, but conflict itself has always inspired the closing of ranks. If you believe that the stakes are nothing less than extinction, compromise is treason. Of course, civil contact with the enemy is also the only avenue to future peace, which is why it’s so important to preserve diversity of thought – and action – within each side.
The resurgence of “RINO” is reflective of how in-groups and out-groups are established within a movement. This term is older than you might think, and while it fell out of favor in the 2000’s, Trump is bringing it back.
“I remember a moment well when someone said, ‘You’re telling me these voting machines weren’t connected to the internet?’ I looked out at the crowd and just knew the true answer was going to be wildly unpopular with at least 48 of the 50 people who were there.”
“Leftism and liberalism are distinct political categories with different histories,” at least in British politics. “It’s the difference between a candidate who believes capitalism, with just a little refereeing, will eventually provide what working people need, versus a candidate who believes serious intervention in the capitalist economy is necessary.”
New and Interesting
If you don’t understand how anyone could find student debt cancellation objectionable, try this essay from someone who chose an inferior education because they didn’t think they’d ever be able to repay a loan.
This careful review of 12 previous studies finds that trigger warnings don’t really do anything, not even for the genuinely traumatized people they are designed to help. However, they do make people slightly more likely to read the material.
As part of the Trusting News project, journalists used an interview guide to conduct conversations with journalism skeptics. The advice gleaned from these sessions: Be consistent, avoid stereotypes, and commit to staffs that are intellectually and geographically diverse.
“Radical scholactivism” is defined here as “a ‘research’ project whose hypothesis the ‘researcher’ is irrefutably committed to confirming even before the research has begun.” The argument is not that scholars shouldn’t act, but that merging activism with scholarship will actually harm the pursuit of justice.
Quote of the Week
“Politics is a set of worded opinions. But it should never become sets of worded abuse.”
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