The World Turned Upside Down (and what to do about it)
Russ Roberts
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Compellingly written essay. Also love the podcast (especially the range of guests (like Chuck Klosterman)). Perhaps a more optimistic take on the phenomenon you describe is that outgroup persons are feeling more democratically empowered relative to the usual dominant influencers (corporations, politicians, professors). By this hypothesis ideological entrenchment and identity politics is less about belief than tactics — outgroup persons responding like corporations, colleges, etc. to the ordinary upsides of controlling the narrative (which typically requires group coordination/intensity and often a kind of anything goes warfare (using outrage/unreason, ad hominem attacks). Basic tools of human politicking are being used to undermine those with the conventional markers of authority. IOW people — the hoi polloi included — are aware that truth is nuanced and that the world is a complex place. How could they not be? The SAT, index funds, private schooling, the geographic distribution of toxic waste, the mortality of lovable pets. The fact of these nuances and complexities are in part how institutions without democratic control end up exercising effective control. And further these developments could be said to be more than just the Hegelian swing of things (where victimhood has become fashionable) but indeed progress in democracy (albeit of the 2 steps forward, 1 step back type). While it’s chaotic and tyrannical, ironically, it also seems at some basic level motivated by the growing possibility of individual action to ripple outward (in a post-Twitter/Facebook/Medium way that wasn’t possible when access to broadcasting platforms and influence was more exclusive). Ef the facts, sure, but that’s because ef the machine.

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