2017 May 05 Friday
Split Between Left And Right Is A Vicious Cycle

See Scott Alexander's post on Slate Star Codex titled Neutral Vs. Conservative: The Eternal Struggle.

I can only guess how bad Fox News talk shows are because I don't own a TV (hurray) and consider TV watching as being, at best, a poor use of my time. But I suspect Alexander is being somewhat unfair in casting the Right's TV as being more egregiously propaganda than the Left's TV. Since the Left's Narrative still holds the (admittedly somewhat weakening) commanding heights of allowed starting assumptions people on the Left who are trying to be rational (and I think Alexander is trying very hard and with a highly capable mind) are still blind to a great many problems with #TheNarrative.

However, leave all that aside, because I think Alexander recognizes a big and quite problematic process that is fully at work splitting apart American society:

And whenever I mention this sort of thing, people protest “But Fox and Breitbart are worse!” And so they are. But I feel like Vox has aspirations to be something more than just a mirror image of Fox with a left-wing slant and a voiced fricative. It’s trying to be a neutral gatekeeper institution. If some weird conservative echo chamber is biased, well, what did you expect? If a neutral gatekeeper institution is biased, now we have a problem.

Roberts writes that “the right has not sought greater fairness in mainstream institutions; it has defected to create its own”. This is a bizarre claim, given the existence of groups like Accuracy In Media, Media Research Center, Newsbusters, Heterodox Academy, et cetera which are all about the right seeking greater fairness in mainstream institutions, some of which are almost fifty years old. Really “it’s too bad conservatives never complained about liberal bias in academia or the mainstream media” seems kind of like the opposite of how I remember the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

The way I remember it, conservatives spent about thirty years alternately pleading, demanding, suing, legislating, and literally praying for greater fairness in mainstream institutions, and it was basically all just hitting their heads against a brick wall. Then they defected to create their own.

Alexander points out there is a vicious cycle at work: as more on the Right give up on mainstream institutions the more the remaining customers or clients of those institutions tilt Left and demand purity of Leaf-leaning viewpoints. This of course drives out even more right-leaning people from the Left's institutions and perpetuates the cycle. The moral disapproval across the partisan divide and the misunderstanding (especially by the Left about the Right) will keep growing.

I subscribe to the NY Times even though it is getting even more partisan (while pretending not to be) as right-leaning people abandon it. I find it quite useful on some non-partisan topics. I also find useful and important to keep track of what the "mainstream" (i.e. big) media and top policy makers think they ought to sell and what they believe. For similar reasons I subscribe to Foreign Policy, which has neocon and neoliberal Middle East war hawk writers.

I think the big media are becoming steadily more deluded and steadily more isolated in a bubble. See that article. The decline of local newspapers has concentrated reporters in a smaller number of highly liberal big cities. This is one of the reasons the bubble isolation is steadily becoming more severe. This drives more extreme trends in bubble thinking (e.g. Open Borders and Safe Spaces where speech is restricted for those who commit thoughtcrime).

As I've argued many times previously, I do not see an end to this vicious cycle. Leftists certainly don't want to live near people who they wouldn't want their kids to marry. To get a sense of the extent of the migrations within the United States to live near like minds read The Big Sort by Bill Bishop. Within nations people are sorting to live near like minds.

Between nations of hugely different living standards people are quite willing to move to places with higher living standards but conflicting values and loyalties. So the biggest influxes of unlike minds and incompatible values come due to immigration. But those influxes will also sort in later generations to again co-locate with like minds, except where lower classes want to live near upper classes in order to get higher wages. That sort of migration will be limited in left/progressive areas by restrictions on construction (e.g. San Francisco). So for quite a few years to come I expect the upper class left should be able to still live mainly near like minds and like educational levels.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2017 May 05 12:05 PM 

Mike said at May 6, 2017 11:51 PM:

It's the concentration of left-liberals in big cities that has given the left so much power in the first place. If you want to access the Microphone, lobby politicians, hold marches, get involved in political activism etc, you need to live in a big city. Hence, its hardly surprising that the left controls politics at local level. Most liberals are concentrated in big cities, while conservatives are widely scattered.

However, as America found out in the Vietnam War, control of the big cities doesn't always mean control of the country.

chris said at May 10, 2017 8:21 AM:

Randall, why don't you post more?

map said at May 10, 2017 1:56 PM:

It's so nice to know that liberals are concentrated in areas where food and water has to be imported.

map said at May 10, 2017 1:57 PM:

It's so nice to know that liberals are concentrated in areas where food and water has to be imported.

jb said at May 13, 2017 9:47 AM:

Overton's Window is a code-phrase for oppression. It makes it sound like there is some sort of compromise being worked out while in fact the powerful simply dictate 95% of the rules of what is allowed to be talked about. I've always said that conservatism is a movement of cowards led by crooks, they'll always find some way to blame the (white) victims. The conservative crooks at the top do it for money, those at the bottom act out of fear and forelock tugging conformity. The left isn't getting more bold because right-wingers have abandoned their subscriptions, it's getting bolder because their successful policy of racist colonialism against white America is beginning to pay off. It's putting them close to totalitarian rule and they're in a frenzy because it is just out of reach. They no longer have to pander to the mythical "Silent (white) Majority" because it no longer exists. That's what emboldens them. Cooperation with the right is now irrelevant to them.

The issue between Pole and German in 1942 was the German plan to liquidate the Polish nation. A Pole who helped with that liquidation was a Nazi collaborator no matter how much he opposed German views on farm policy, or art, or taxes. Fox News or National Review aren't political opposition, They're junior partner collaborators in the liquidation of white America. That's what all their problems stem from. Once you agree to exterminate the people who just happen to be overwhelming majority of your supporters what's left is just con. They don't even dare to report on racist murder against whites. The argument about right abandonment is a relative of the cuck whine "What ever happened to civil debate (sniff)?" It means whitey shut up, sit down, and take your dispossession and extirpation in silence. By its very nature it means the weak sidling up to the dominant hoping they'll show mercy if we expose our bellies to them. Yeah, right. The right engaging these people is the problem, not the solution. Bubbles are good. Conflict is good because the power imbalance makes cooperation suicidal.

Brett Bellmore said at May 14, 2017 4:33 AM:

"Overton's Window is a code-phrase for oppression."

Something like that, since "Overton's window" is about the range of "allowable" opinion. Supposedly it's about the range of opinion the "public" will accept, but usually it's actually about the range of opinion the media are willing to carry. The media's own censorship of the much wider range of actual public opinion.

You could see this last year; Illegal immigration has been very unpopular for decades, but the media had decided that proposing to do something about it was "outside the window", and so anybody who proposed doing something about it was regarded as a lunatic, and cut off from media coverage. Until Trump came along, and couldn't, as a practical matter, be silenced.

Vincent said at May 15, 2017 9:39 PM:

"However, as America found out in the Vietnam War, control of the big cities doesn't always mean control of the country."

Weren't some of the nastiest fights in towns in Vietnam? Like the Tet in Saigon.

albatross said at May 16, 2017 1:33 PM:

The Overton window is mostly self-imposed oppression. It's not what the boss or some media mogul thinks is offensive to say, it's what the people you're talking with think is offensive to say. And that seems to mainly be determined by what people are used to hearing. (Which is where the media have a lot of power *collectively*, but plenty of high-profile media people get their careers ended by stepping a bit outside the window.) Get all the respectable people in the society to start talking about some idea in a positive light for awhile, and it will suddenly be inside the window.

The thing to realize is whether an idea is in the Overton window has absolutely nothing to do with whether the idea is right, or whether it's morally good. In the last fifteen years, both torturing POWs and people changing their gender have moved from outside to inside the window. It's hard to see how the morality of either one could have changed in that time, but that's fine, because what people will accept is based on what they're used to hearing, not on whether it's right or wrong.

Similarly, whether some idea is factually right or wrong has nothing to do with whether it's in the window. Racial IQ differences are about as solid as anything in the social sciences, but they're outside the window and liable to get you shunned or mobbed. Homeopathy is obvious bullshit--there's no way it can work and it doesn't--but you can talk about how much some homeopathic remedy has helped you on TV or in the office, and you're at basically no risk of a career-ending scandal or outrage.

Brett Bellmore said at May 17, 2017 3:24 AM:

I think you're talking about what the Window theoretically is, and I'm talking about what it is as a practical matter.

There must certainly be topics where the Window operates as theoretically described. But for the most part, what's going on is the media stifling the public expression of opinions they disagree with, in an effort to mold public opinion.

Of course, this shades into the topic of opinion falsification and cascades.

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