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.

By Randall Parker 2017 May 05 12:05 PM 
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