Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Political Polarity

Originally posted on experience project on February 22, 2016
“Cannot you conceive that another man may wish well to the world and struggle for its good on some other plan than precisely that which you have laid down?”

― Nathaniel Hawthorne
Polarism is the false dilemma ideologues invoke when they want to shame another person into supporting their cause. It's the ancient 'you are either for us or against us' mentality. Do you support this candidate or that candidate? Are you pro-choice or pro-life? Are you for or against a minimum wage hike? In each case the assumptions are the same: there are only two choices and you have to pick one of them (i.e. you cannot be indifferent to the issue at hand or have an unconventional proposal). Your choice between the two false alternatives is further used to make judgments about your character. Do you support this candidate? Well, you must be a racist, sexist, homophobe, and bigot. Do you call yourself a feminist and take the time to talk about 'social justice.' If not you are a sexist, misogynist, rape apologist, transphobe, and shitlord.

A major component of Polarism is entitlement: the ideologue feels entitled to your time and labor. This is particularly true of leftists. They believe that you must stop whatever you are doing and attend to their every demand or else you are a/an (insert epithet). They believe the world revolves around them; there aren't any issues that people might be concerned with outside of their own narrative. The people who fall for this tactic further succumb to the dogmatism inherent to the ideology. It is not good enough that you support their cause and attend to their demands; you must also believe everything they tell you, without question, or else you are an (insert epithet).

Explaining indifference

Ideologues usually don't understand why some people are indifferent to their cause. Their overly simplistic views don't account for people who don't fall into their preconceived binary categories. Instead of accepting this problem as a failure of their worldview, they pretend the problem doesn't exist and assume that the people who aren't in their camp are against them.

So why might someone be indifferent to a particular issue?

No one can concern himself/herself with every issue under the sun because time is a scarce resource. We prioritize the things we care about and omit the issues that are least important to us because it's not physically possible to research every issue and construct an informed opinion on the matter. Every one does this, especially ideologues.

For instance, I do not care about the abortion debate, gay marriage, transgender bathroom laws or really any of the other mainstream social issues. I do however take definitive stances on the drug war, corporal punishment,  police accountability, warrantless surveillance etc. (social issues that usually fall outside the purview of the msm). I do not have time to research every single social issue so I usually prioritize the issues that are the least politicized and most relevant to my own well-being. There are also some economic issues that I don't given much attention to either such as the minimum wage debate. I'd rather focus on occupational licensing, a much bigger job killer that impacts more people than the 4 percent of the labor force that earns minimum wage. The tax debate is another issue where I don't fit into the false liberal/conservative dichotomy. I am not for lower taxes or higher taxes, progressive taxes or flat taxes. I support land value taxes, royalty income taxes and letting people keep what they earn as their rightful property.

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