The struggle is real.
“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.”
– Marcus Tullius Cicero
From Merriam Webster
verb, often capitalized
bal·kan·ize | \ ˈbȯl-kə-ˌnīz \
Definition of balkanize
1: to break up (a region, a group, etc.) into smaller and often hostile units.
2: DIVIDE, COMPARTMENTALIZE, now pop culture has been balkanized; it is full of niches, with different groups watching and playing their own things— Richard Corliss
To relate it to the core subjects of this site, it is the opposite of emergence, and it breaks tension force like a leg; it is political reductionism, reducing powerful wholes, first to parts, then to ineffectual warring wholes too small to fight the real enemy.
Whether you call them the 1% or Oligarchs, they weary of our organized resistance and infuriating self-interest. Divide and conquer.
Cartoon by Duff Moses
In a sense, your political identity is up to you. You are the political person you are through ethical choices and principles. But since those choices are in response to events that are thrust upon us by the moment, we are also largely defined by the character and the challenges of our times.
It’s almost impossible to view your own flavor of politics as extreme because our POV includes filters to reassure us we are sane and make our truth appear self-evident. Concerning our political opinions, we all feel like we “did the math” and embraced the reality of the result (regardless of how little critical thinking took place). There is an inevitable feeling to our stance that makes contrasting beliefs appear willfully stupid. This “it’s obvious” quality reminds me of our sexuality in the way it sees beauty and feels desire in an unassailably confident and individual way. It’s also of a piece with the seamless agreement between a person and their God when it’s obvious that God’s views never come as a surprise or require any extra effort on the part of the believer. Progressive and conservative are no different in this.
Political involvement in times of extreme partisanship feels more essential and impactful than in more moderate political climates. Every moment feels like the last play of the game where all must give their all. Displaying purity and loyalty become an expectation in a way never seen in less partisan times. Language and moral judgments grow harsher. All of this to better bring the battle to the enemy. This is a tragic misconception. This is the state of things that causes loss of control over our own politics. The entire system begins hydroplaning, and the steering and brakes are useless. Continue reading
There has never been a Chinese government that didn’t despise individuality and behave with monstrous cruelty. There has never been one that appeared to even recognize cruelty except to want more. Utterly callous and indifferent is only when they aren’t trying. China is a bloodthirsty, heartless oligarchy with an unslakable thirst for absolute social control that keeps them up nights worrying that they’ve missed somebody.
All credit to the makers.
‘If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom.’
Tension Force is the name I give to the innate push and pull between progressives and conservatives. Physical tension force is a physics concept and can be pictured as the area of rope between teams playing tug of war. In a well-matched tug-of-war, that area doesn’t shift very much but that stability is reached by both teams trying their hardest to win.
Tension force is homeostasis achieved through intense opposing forces. If one of our teams wins the political tug of war it’s guaranteed to be a bad or even disastrous moment for society. One party systems have ugly results.
There are psychological patterns that are consistently reliable predictors of a progressive or conservative view on politics and culture. The personality test used to measure and correlate this connection is the famous Big 5 Test. Here is a quick visual to explain what is measured and the characteristics that typify scoring high or low.
These are the outcomes that populate our country with Progressives and Conservatives:
- High scores in conscientiousness trended conservative on both economic policy, (favoring hard work and organization) as well as social policy (strict adherence to traditional social norms).
- High scores in openness trended progressive on economic policy (favoring new programs and interventions) as well as social policy (favoring complexity and novelty).
- High in agreeableness leaned progressive on economic policy (wanting to help the disadvantaged) and but conservative on social policy (the desire to maintain harmony and traditional relationships).
- High scores in neuroticism leaned progressive on both (oh, shut up).
- High levels of the extraversion trait had no significant effect on predicting a person’s policy position but correlated strongly to being fun at parties.
Although nurture and socialization are certainly a part of shaping these political tendencies, the people nurturing you are your closest relatives and the culture you are being socialized to is the one they have chosen to live in. The matrix seals neatly around you. There’s bound to be a genetic relationship to these scores, and tests significantly confirm that. So every population produces a balance of people apparently fated to be in one camp or the other. Either group can be principled and logical, but those principles and logic are canalized by personality presets. Whatever play is in the system waxes and wanes with important societal upheavals and movements.
The consistent percentages of people born with these traits and concomitant beliefs is the underlying, invisible homeostasis that creates the Tension Force around us. As we plead with the other side to see reason or curse each other for hopeless blind idiocy we can take some comfort in the idea that humanity absolutely requires this struggle. Tension force is how we weigh the balance between the past and future, between tradition and reform.
However, technological change has dropped us into a new and unfamiliar medium for connection and communication. The new medium so completely separates us from engagement with the other side, that each side has become LIKE a one-party country unto themselves. The area of Tension Force has become the weak spot, attacked by opportunistic infections.
The situation makes us “fish in a barrel” for those aiming to divide and conquer us, then gather riches from the ruins left behind.
(I’m talking about Putin you idiots!)
- LinkedIn feels like a pyramid scheme that lacks ambition.
- I just slept 4 hours and must teach 4.5 hours today. There’s got to be a miserable little story problem in there somewhere.
- “Simplistic” doesn’t mean simple. “Over exaggerate” is redundant. Stop it.
- It turns out people who hate government make it worse when they participate.
- In the near future, every combination of English words will become an ironic catchphrase.
- Enjoy being slightly bad from time to time or your goodness will get all dusty and wrinkled.
- The three stages of grief getting into cold water: 1. Ankles 2. Genitals 3. Shoulders.
- “Doing good” never rises above undoing a “bad”. Every “good guy” in every story returns the situation to neutral; normal is good.
- When social justice people overshoot the balanced restoration of good, their polarity shifts, and their work becomes a bad to be undone.
- What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question? (stolen, I just love it.)
- Crappy days average five hours longer.
- Conservatism wants to stop time & change at the perfect moment. The range from moderate to reactionary is measured by how long ago they position the golden age.
- Greet each new day as if it were your last, filled with tearful remorse.
- “Forgotten were the elementary rules of logic, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” — Christopher Hitchens
- I’ve begun making artisanal ice in my own freezer using free-range water I collect by hand with a silver thimble. A quick stir with a sprig of lemon thyme and voila! Prices upon request.
- The “normal” economy is disappearing fast. It’s time to make decisions about how much we value people when they are out of work and there isn’t a goddamn thing for them to do.
- Ayn Rand fiction is “Twilight” set in a childish political framework.
- Put the Christ back in “Jesus Christ, I can’t believe I’m related to you!”
- I hate it when introspective thoughts talk smack about me.
- If a business becomes so wealthy and powerful that it can influence the direction of government, it is no longer a part of the “Free Market”.
- Why can’t we just redefine our government’s relation to health care as a Costco style buying club? It isn’t socialism, it’s organized consumerism. But if it lowers corporate profits it’s communism.
- With great power also come great opportunities for dating.