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We Should Embrace Polarization

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posted on Sep, 22 2018 @ 12:09 AM

There has been countless gesticulations about the rise in polarization in politics today, that some fear it will lead to extremism, sectarian violence and even civil war. So whenever a pundit besmirches partisanship, political bias or our natural urge to lean one way or another, he expects and usually receives praise.

But this is a false accusation. Polarization is the necessary essence of politics. If there wasn’t political division we’d be divided along borders of blood and violence.

By continuing to slander polarization we risk demonizing many important aspects of our democratic inheritance in favor of temporary conveniences. The result, as it so happens, is people fleeing further into their perspective camps or from political engagement entirely.

Instead, we should embrace, participate in, and be grateful for polarization as a sign of a healthy democracy. Wherever we’re drawn to this or that pole, we should remember to what sort of world these poles belong.


Where we once seized power by force and violence we’ve learned to do so through debate and deliberation. We now convince each other instead of conquering each other. We’ve traded our arms for arguments, our political monism and uniformity for political pluralism and variety. The topology of our political landscape no longer resembles a desert, flat and arid, but offers a variety of peaks and valleys of thought that anyone can traipse across without fear. At least, so we once hoped.


The ancient Greeks used the word idiotes (ἰδιώτης) to describe a private citizen indifferent to civic participation and far removed from the governing elites. The word idiotes eventually shifted into the derogatory term “idiot” we know and love today. Though the meanings are different, the semantic thread makes sense. Philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle saw civic life and political engagement as a necessary curriculum towards self-development, educating the student in how to be a citizen, developing the capacity to rule and to be ruled. To forgo that knowledge, it seems to me, is to willingly remain an idiot.

The idiotes of today take polarization as a species of sectarianism and factionalism, and not an opportunity for learning. These fence-sitters, as high-minded and reasonable as they may seem at first, are at best wallowing in their own complacency, but at worse, advocating unknowingly towards the end of politics altogether.


What does no politics look like? If we could do away with polarization and division, forcing unity, we’d find ourselves in the midst of some form or other of totalitarianism. A glance towards the most uniform and united politics in the world reveals at the same time the most tyrannical and stupid. There is no polarization in the politics of North Korea, for instance, and if there was, it would be suppressed immediately. The opposite of the politics of division is the politics of conformity and homogeneity, or in other words, no politics at all.

Instead of the routine ambivalence and apathy towards politics we might try fostering a love of it. After all, our ancestors fought and died for it. Instead of running from polarization, partisanship and the politics of division, we should promote them all as the properties of a democratic society. We should participate and come to love these as properties of freedom, or risk abandoning the enterprise of civilization altogether.


Only in the open and unrestrained conflict of principles and ideas is there any sort of clarity. Only in an environment of dialectic and trial and error is their any sort of synthesis. Even the great Buddha, arriving at his enlightenment, first had to live the full spectrum between the extremes of indulgence and self-mortification in order to finally realize it.

If it’s the lack of civility that bothers the naysayers of politics, they better be sure to equip themselves with weapons of argument anyways, lest they risk leaving it to someone else to define what civility is. As in any argument they might have to take a side. If it’s balance and bipartisanship they crave, hence their position, what do the moderates do when the scales are tipped more one way or the other and we lose balance altogether? Do they finally leave their coveted perch in the center, or do they wait for the push and pull of everyone else to decide where the center might be?

posted on Sep, 22 2018 @ 01:03 AM
What makes a man turn neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?
-Zapp Brannigan

a reply to: Aphorism

posted on Sep, 22 2018 @ 06:31 AM
Partisans embracing polarization is like narcissists embracing "Satanism" (the ideological school of thought that is).

posted on Sep, 22 2018 @ 09:09 AM
Being content with ones self is usually best. Trying to be someone else is folly, the position you see, is taken.

posted on Sep, 22 2018 @ 09:16 AM
i dont need to embrace anything. i should feel like it. say no to forced hugs.

posted on Sep, 22 2018 @ 09:18 AM
a reply to: Aphorism

"If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything".
-Alexander Hamilton

posted on Sep, 22 2018 @ 09:27 AM
Well said, and in a perfect world... it would perhaps be desirable. But as we know, were just one tweet away from chaos.

a reply to: Aphorism

posted on Sep, 22 2018 @ 09:28 AM
No ideology has the answers for societies needs. Use some from each. There are more than one. This requires using one's brain. Lead yourself. Don't follow others.

posted on Sep, 22 2018 @ 01:01 PM
Magnets do it. So it can’t be all bad.

posted on Sep, 22 2018 @ 11:40 PM
a reply to: Aphorism

Meanwhile the worker making the median wage has absolutely no representation in government we get this:

And flat or negative wage growth:

Which leads to this:

George Carlin was right 20 years ago and even more right today:

There's reason why NOTHING will ever get better in politics. The American people are SCREWED.

posted on Sep, 23 2018 @ 04:31 AM
The problem is not so much polarisation but the developing trend that votes no longer count to settle an issue. This is what happens when each side regards the other as evil, as bad people, not just those having policy differences.

The system only works if policies that win are allowed to be implemented until the next scheduled vote.

That used to be the case, losers accepted thier argument lost and went away to improve it., Now it isn't the case. Now Resist, Sabotage, Subvert is the new normal. Those resisting now will in turn be resisted when the pendulum swings back. Slowly but surely the whole system breaks down. That's what we are seeing now.

posted on Sep, 23 2018 @ 08:36 AM
Well reasoned and relevant to the current state of affairs in democracies lately. The MSM derides the rise of Nationalism as some form of extremism. Here in Australia we have seen at the last Federal election people actually voting minor parties.

This has forced the Government and the opposition to make deals with the minors. A more balanced outcome for the majority of constituents. Given the fact that voting is compulsory in Australia its a refreshing outlook and one hopes will lead to better outcomes.

syncretic politics wiki

Syncretic politics, or spectral-syncretic, refers to politics that combine elements from across the conventional left–right political spectrum. The term "syncretic politics" has been derived from the idea of syncretism

Speaking of the Greeks they had a novel way of dealing with legislation - direct democracy

Voting in ancient Greece Other Greek cities set up democracies, most following the Athenian model, but none are as well documented as Athens'. It was a system of direct democracy, in which participating citizens voted directly on legislation and executive bills.

posted on Sep, 23 2018 @ 08:44 AM
a reply to: Plotus

But as we know, were just one tweet away from chaos.

One tweet? Oh dear - you've swallowed the Kool aid. Saner heads will prevail.

Earlier you wrote:

Trying to be someone else is folly, the position you see, is taken.

This is what I don't get - you change your avatars every 2nd day - trying to be someone else?

posted on Sep, 23 2018 @ 08:57 AM
You are mistakenly conflating "indifferent to civic participation" and a less partisan viewpoint. The two are not the same.

You can be both less partisan and very active in civic participation at the same time. In fact I would argue that the current level of participation is making as all idiotes (ἰδιώτης) ... it in fact prevents us from civic participation. It instead makes us scurry away to our own camps where our viewpoints will be echoed and we won't have to hear the hurtful opinions of our opostion. That's not civic participation, its civic retreatisum.... or worse we run away to the solitude of our homes and play keyboard waryer.

Greater civic participation will come when we can actually talk to our opinions like adults and find ways to compromise.
edit on 23-9-2018 by DanDanDat because: (no reason given)

edit on 23-9-2018 by DanDanDat because: (no reason given)

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