The illusion of political division: Take a step back and understand why we constantly disagree

Politics is increasingly fascinating to me. As someone who tends to live by the rules of what is true rather than what seems nice, politics is a very peculiar grey area where suddenly, the ability to land on an absolute simply breaks down.

There is no other area like it. In the arts, there is nothing but subjectivity, but that is exactly the point here. Nobody is arguing that the Mona Lisa is factually the third greatest painting in history. When people say these emphatic statements, we understand that this is mostly passion speaking, or at most, speaking from data of others' opinions.

Religion is demonstrably false, yet we add 'faith' into the mix and suddenly being false is irrelevant and they can continue reaping their tax-free benefits.

Politics, on the other hand, insists that is is a fact-based, practically scientific endeavor, only ruined by the dishonesty of corrupt officials and if only we could elect this one perfect individual that I happen to support, everything will follow the truths out there and immediately transform into a utopia. Fact.

Yet, even if you had truth-designed machines running the political world, totally incapable of anything other than objective facts, it still creates a totally divided set of opinions in which everyone is 100% sure their views are right and the other is not only wrong but evil.

Fascinating.

It's likely because unlike pure science, politics is a rather conscious element in all of our daily lives, and with any individual living a slightly different life to the person next to them comes a hugely different set of values on what we define as 'good' and 'evil', 'right' and 'wrong'.

On the whole, we humans have been improving the world, at least in the direction we on the whole agree with what is considered an 'improvement'. Some may disagree, and those who do not follow the global consensus are typically seen as evil.

Slaves are still being bought and sold in Africa and the Middle East. Fascists (actual ones, not Trump supporters) are still out there - I taught music to one of them here in China who in turn learnt of this from a community of fascists online based in Norway.

These are things we generally all agree across the world are 'bad', yet here we are in a world where countless humans consider them a genuine good.

It's easy to consider them brain-damaged or brainwashed, but that's too easy and it drives them away from public discourse, which actually protects their ideas as they get more and more support through other means. It's far better to think about why and how we as a species can view things so completely differently.

The reality, it seems, is that we actually don't. It's an illusion. Perspective.

In England, we recently had elections that was largely a battle between the left and the right; Labour and Conservatives. As I sat in the middle doing my best to break down the fake news on either side, I realised that people were barely fighting over political ideologies at all, but over one party's ability to lie or not.

  • The left insisted that their leader was nothing but the most honest, homely grandfather-type person looking out for 'the many not the few', the purest, most altruistic endeavor that would not only save the country from the horrible state it was in, but the world - A dystopia created by the right with their obsessive desire to steal everyone's money and hand it to the elite billionaires who in turn lock it all in a giant safe for thousands of years, cackling on a golden throne the whole time.

  • The right insisted that the lies from their own leader were really quite meaningless and they just wanted to focus on the here and now, letting each individual have the freedom they deserve, allowing the country to flourish without the influence of tyranny, while the left were utter communists out to take everyone's money, put it in a tax pot in which 90% goes to the Labour leader himself and 10% gets thrown into the sea. This naturally leads to a Venezuela-type economic collapse but at this point, the rich political elite can just fly off to another wealthy country and repeat the process.

Then you look at their policies both sides are arguing for:

  • Fight climate change
  • More money on health services
  • More rights/less discrimination for minorities and women
  • Stronger economy
  • Stronger military
  • Better international trade
  • Better education
  • Better public services
  • More opportunities

And pretty much every other grand buzz-phrase you can think of. both parties were practically in agreement with each other on most issues!

Yet the country has for years been more divided than ever before. Why? Well, the other team is OBVIOUSLY lying, of course. Don't trust them, trust me.

Each party has enough dirt on them to prove that they are not to be trusted - welcome to politics, yet neither will acknowledge that they are anything less than perfect. Even now, with Labour having suffered the greatest defeat in living memory, the narrative was 'we won the argument, but it didn't translate into votes'.

Moments later it was 'democracy is broken and it should be done this way instead'. Everything in between came after that, from the entire country is brainwashed except us, to the entire country is just inherently racist and evil.

People refuse to see that both sides actually have a lot - but not all - in common. In fact, this is such a blasphemous idea that those who consider themselves 'centrist' are suddenly 'apologists' or 'weak'. Being centrist is just not acceptable.

The bigger picture

What about more extreme differences than simple nationwide parties? The US has a very diverse culture as the UK does, but they all typically agree on what is 'good' if you zoom out a bit, so the trajectory towards greater nations is generally a bipartisan one.

What about North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia? Are these countries not evil?

Living in China for so many years it gets increasingly more difficult for me to justify anything they ever do, but there is a long history to consider and that's not really possible for any one human to fully digest. One large factor for China is that it has been the victim for basically thousands of years. Most points in history involve the Chinese being massacred, even when they were a burgeoning, technological powerhouse of the time.

All it took were the Mongols to come along and that was that. Later came the Japanese, the Russians, the British, the French, and well, other Chinese.

Britain, in contrast, hasn't suffered a proper invasion in a thousand years, and the US hasn't even existed more than like 30 years or whatever.

China's approach to its existence has until recently been a very protectionist one. Why forcefully control regions that wish to be autonomous? Well, Xinjiang, Tibet and Inner Mongolia are huge buffer zones militarily, with the Himalayas acting as an impenetrable wall, and Inner Mongolia as a vast, empty wasteland reaching thousands of miles. Give those up and the US will be freely stumbling around barely 5km from Beijing.

With this kind of mindset ingrained into the political scenery, you can, slowly, start to see that, even though we see things as intensely evil, there is an actual root to this conclusion, from thousands of years gone by, that can be seen as justifiable - just not by our own standards from our own experiences culturally and historically.

You can, if you have the knowledge, apply the same method of thought to North Korea, Saudi Arabia and beyond. Suddenly you start to realize that your idea of 'evil' is really just a result of your upbringing in your current political climate.

We're all the same

We know, from science and history, that we are all capable of what we currently see as evil. People in China are totally happy to put mice into a shallow pool of boiling water and watch it slowly burn to death, uploading it on social media for fun. Well, guess what? American teenagers recently, joyfully, uploaded footage of them putting their own cat in a microwave, in which its blood rapidly boils and expands and... well, yeah. Gross.

The Mongol Empire were known for their brutality, once when defeating a town, slaughtering all men, and building wooden floors atop the women and children where they would park their horses and tents and party all night as the women and children slowly suffocated and got crushed.

The Mongols rarely saw anybody who did not support them as human, they had not developed a moral compass in the same way we do today. Their killing was casual, not evil. That is to say, they were not cackling with evil intent planned in a dark cave full of bats. They just did it because it was no big deal.

In the same vein, we literally slaughter billions upon billions of animals every year after they've grown up in their own feces and each others' infectious filth, caged so tight that their skin looks like balloons poking out of the metal gratings for 5 years until the day they finally get a baseball bat to the head or however they do it these days.

The Muslims among us prefer Halal meat and insist its the best way. Non-muslims on the other hand just see a cow being strung upside down and slit at the throat while it slowly chokes on its own blood until kindly delivered on your kebab.

But hey, we're ok with it. This is nothing less than casual mass genocide on a daily basis for decades, all over the world. We don't typically see ourselves as evil for enabling this, though because they are dumb animals. It's FINE.

Well, the Chinese and Europeans were dumb animals to the Mongols too.

Quick reminder: Mongols, Chinese and Europeans were and are in fact all humans.

We are all capable of evil. Don't forget that. Whoever reads this, under the right circumstances, you could find yourself 5 years from now casually skinning the scalps off of some minority before dumping their limp corpses into a mass grave.

I say that because it actually happened in Nazi Germany. The regular, every day, blue-collar workers were capable of unimaginable things. This was only a single lifetime ago. The interviews of those men decades later is heartbreaking, as they fail to grasp how they could possibly have ended up doing such things.


So what does all this mean? Well, the next time you end up in a political debate and you are certain your opponent is utterly retarded and you are righteous and pure, remember they could be wearing your hair before your next child is born.

Wait, that's not what I was trying to point out... I mean, remember you guys are not actually very different. It's our experiences that shape our views, and no political view can be absolute no matter how strongly we believe otherwise. There is always a different road to go down that arrives at a totally different conclusion based on the same premise you all started off from.

Take a step back and realize you're all just trying to make the world a better place, then work on those things you have in common. You'll find there's actually quite a lot to discuss.


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  • @edumurphy

    Brilliant writeup.

    You have laid out how pretty much all human endeavour that veers even slightly from the brute material realm is a house of cards built on foundations of clouds and sand.

    The more of life I see, the more I engage in arguments with people who, while clearly competent and intelligent, have beliefs that are utterly incomprehensible to me, the more I realize that:

    i) reality doesn't care what we think

    AND

    ii) our thinking doesn't care about reality

    What I mean is, our brains only barely interface with reality, they interface with a Cliff's Notes loose approximation shadow of a shadow of an image of reality. As a result, we can believe almost anything (aside from stuff like: "humans can fly" and "gasoline is a nutritious drink") and still be functional members of society.

    When you look at the human world through that lens, it's a a wonder we have even built a society at all and held it together for this long. We are all of us mad and full of worlds.

  • @holovision

    This might be a little confusing to some because I also started a Politics community two weeks ago: https://beta.steemit.com/created/hive-179804

    Then again, politicians love confused voters. Also lawyers love confused jurors. Is that why so many lawyers become politicians? :-)

  • @erh.germany

    I think that ultimately, politics is also about people fearing other people and their decisions. How we got to the point of electing people instead of deciding on issues I explain to myself by the fact that we think more about issues of opinion than is good for us. That in the rich nations it is not only a matter of maintaining the standard, but even improving it, is not a question for me. I think that the fear of losing wealth and generally good health and old-age care and maintaining unbridled consumption dominates thinking and feeling. This creates a conflict in the individual because we see that our standard creates its own problems and we have shifted the exploitation in our own country to that in distant countries or certain regions, people and animals/plants. As if in a kind of protective reflex, we then want - because we see the injustice and dangerousness in this - to protect ourselves from retaliation by walls or a return to nationalism, religion and the family. This creates a breeding ground for fundamentalism, culprits must and will be found.

    I had tried for some time to make the systemic consensus known here, a fairly simple but very effective method of getting away from the cult of the person and moving towards decisions that take the person out of focus and instead deal with an issue rationally. My attempt was to offer a consensus method, especially for crisis issues, that goes beyond debating and is a very easy to adopt method for elections, at least in the final part. Interest was moderate until the method even met with fierce resistance.

    Much in the political business and especially in elections seems to me to be much too simple and is a kind of encouragement of an unwanted mental effort, according to which things should be quick and easy to design. Like a cheap talk show, where viewers are supposed to form a pro or contra opinion, which translated means that you decide by preference. But such preference decisions do not reflect the complex reality in which we actually move every day and where we are more likely to be disturbed by someone asking for our opinion loudly and aggressively. As a rule, we make better decisions when we think about something calmly, when we let some time pass by, when we have illuminated several perspectives.

    I ascribe this to the dualistic world view, according to which the division into good and evil is done, thus preventing us from contemplating in an ethical way both political and personal life decisions. Since one can hardly separate the one from the other anyway. In my opinion, we are far from being out of the religious dogmatics of this deeply rooted view of mankind: the good and evil theme can be seen in all cinemas and films, a deep-rooted thread that runs through films and literature like no other. I don't see such a big difference between the people who were vividly portrayed in the pews of the church at that time as being afraid of the devil and the screens of today, which present the same theme - only with a little more technology. Modern film is influenced in exactly the same way by two millennia of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith. Rather unintentionally, but what difference does it make. One should never underestimate media.

    So, yes, we are all the same. People who can do stupid or murderous things. But in the same way, we can also be reasonable and compassionate, which is perhaps the most painful explanation, because our compassion can quickly turn to anger and hatred.

    Little is said about those who do not talk about themselves and who are probably the best role models in terms of ethical rules in their current reality. There is simply little to say about those who behave correctly or do not offer a provocation. Leading a boring life and yet offering no or little room for injustice.

  • @agmoore

    Interesting: I'll just address one sentence :

    In the U.S. "...they all typically agree on what is 'good' if you zoom out a bit..."
    I disagree with you on exactly this point. For example, a significant portion of the population here is waiting for the 'end of days'. No, not waiting, working toward it. They want to get to heaven, quickly. They need a conflagration in the Middle East so there can be a Second Coming. All policy decisions are governed by this one goal--their idea of good. This ideology represents a significant voting block in the US. It is a rock solid ideological perspective that governs their lives and influences local and national politics.

    No matter how far you pull back the lens, it is hard to see how agreement on major policy and value issues can be reached between these believers and people outside the faith.

    This is just one, but very important, example of how people in the US don't agree on values, on what good is. As a matter of fact, the greatest schisms in US society come over values.

    I don't engage in political discussions here, but your tone is so reasonable, so rational, that I thought I might safely comment without being controversial. By the way, I very much admire your advocacy for animals. I share that advocacy.

  • @valued-customer

    I find it edifying to consider that the brain capacity of H. sapiens has been dramatically reduced since the LGM. Neanderthals had brains ~20% larger than our own, but the Cro Magnons that succeeded them had larger brains than they. ~25% of our intellectual capacity has been lost in the intervening domestication that has been undertaken by our psychopathic overlords since then.

    This reduction in our mental facility is reflected in politics, and derives from the parasitic power of institutions that have been necessary to industrial development in recent history. The rate of stupefaction continues to increase, and today is accompanied by the incredibly rapid loss of fertility and feminization of civilized men. Switzerland, which avoided the economic destruction of both WWI and WWII, today has men that average penises ~1/2" shorter than their fathers'.

    Endeavoring to support politics is submitting to human husbandry that is presently rendering humanity infertile, creating a deified class of psychopathic overlords that wield the institutions parasitizing us all. Centrists are universally reviled because it is the last step in the transcendence of politics altogether, and the power of individuals versus institutions the only threat to the attainment of deification psychopathic overlords have nearly completed today.

    Coupled with ongoing distribution of individually suitable means of production modern technological advance is developing, folks that nominally disregard politics - institutional control - and effect their own security as they do provide their own goods and services, free and competent individuals render institutional power obsolete. This does not suit psychopaths that intend soon to be worshiped as gods.

    The sides pitted against one another that have replaced lions, tigers, bears, and Neanderthals as our societal enemies cannot win. As you point out being pitted against other political factions simply pits humanity against itself, and we can only lose that contest, never win, because winning would only be possible through genocide. It is only transcending institutional control and gaining nominal means of production to create our quality of life while reversing our incipient forced infertility that enables any semblance of humanity to our posterity.

    Nature provides myriad examples of social insects along the scale from those that merely are willing to cooperate when profitable to those in which total eusociality has reduced all but royalty to infertility. We can see what will happen to humanity if we do not assume our ability to pass our personal merit to our posterity.

    If evil exists, we will suffer it should we fail to retain our human agency. I will leave imagining that unimaginabe future nearly upon us today to better minds than mine. It is all I can manage to consider how to reverse the ongoing chemical castration of humanity and distribute individually suitable means of production nominally to enable those with merit to secure their persons, families, communities, and wealth from psychopaths wielding institutional power.

    We are become able to restore to humanity our legacy intelligence, for which our species is named. I reckon we should, and anticipate the future of free and prosperous people undertaking to bring the blessings of life to a barren universe where joy and good company will be our happy lot, freed of the vampiric parasitization that has so plagued society since our domestication began.

    Homo sapiens sapiens, or Homo sapiens vulgaris, is the choice before us. We choose, and failing to succeed to the former will result in the latter. Never has such a moment been availed us before. Pasty politics pales in contrast. I note that priests and prophets have ever pointed to this day, and prophesied that the heavens would be filled with the joyful visages of the free and prosperous humanity that seize merit from the conflagration of degradation threatening to consume us all.

    The means will justify the ends, and I will be content.