Nuance in politics | INFJ Forum

Nuance in politics

Discussion in 'News and Politics' started by slant, Jul 31, 2020.

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  1. slant

    slant Ruby Adoraboobie

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    I want to take ownership for the fact that, when entering political threads, they often are derailed by my general frustration and presentation of the politics themselves. To remedy this situation I'm just going to make a thread about the topic that I apparently really want to talk about. I get what you're saying @acd you're not wrong. Sometimes it's difficult to understand the line between what is on topic and what's a whole other thing.

    We all have bias and experiences that effect politics. How do we approach discussion of politics in a way that acknowledges our own biases and is willing to explore other ideas? I don't think it's possible for there to be a perfect idea and in a sense all positions are valid.

    So is it that the inherent nature of politics encourages us vs them thinking and leaves no room for nuance? In general life is complicated and there's no easy or obvious answers. To create laws and order to society arbitrary judgement calls have to be made and typically that's determined by different groups expressing what they think is right until the one that gets the most traction is adopted.

    So where does this leave us in politics? I feel this sort of cognitive dissonance where I am forced to take strong positions without acknowledging that there's a lot I don't understand and there's many perspectives to the issue.

    Politics can be a social bonding tool, but doesn't it just promote us vs them in group out group thinking?

    At the same time, these decisions have to be made, so how do you balance the fact that yes, politics are not nuanced or definitive, but in the structure of our world, necessary?

    This is what I struggle with. Would love to hear your thoughts.
     
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  2. noisebloom

    noisebloom theory conspirer
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    Great thread idea. I honestly should have a lot to say about this, as I've found myself continually shut down during political discussions (not so much on this forum, but on another in particular) by the left and right because I don't always agree with what I'm "supposed" to. I'll have to spend some time reflecting on this before I say too much, but I will respond to this:

    I think it tends to. In America, the left and right are kind of monolithic, and it seems like people often feel pressured to conform to the progression of these sides' beliefs because it's their side. If you don't, you risk being alienated, and you risk not really having much of a representation of your beliefs by the mainstream movements.

    I don't know how to solve this, but I do think that encouraging "positive" discourse and trying to understand the other side's perspective would be helpful.
     
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    slant

    slant Ruby Adoraboobie

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    What I was thinking the answer for me is, I'mb leaning this way at least since there's no actual answer to anything, but to try to approach politics with curiosity. A mindset of learning everything you can about the issue, all sides. I think people don't do this because learning about the sides that they might not agree with initially makes them uncomfortable. But I feel like we need to find a way to get past our own discomfort.
     
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  4. Pin

    Pin "Magnificent Bastard" / Ren's Counterpart

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    I just believe whatever the top donors of the Democratic Party tell me to believe.

    I know, I know, I'm a slut.
     
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  5. Wyote

    Wyote Xenoi
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    It's fine to not care at all about politics and anyone trying to convince you otherwise is just trapped in the system anyway.
    Fuck 'em.

    But it's pretty important since pretty much everyone gains advantages from existing within the system.
    So on some level you probably should care, but there are a shit ton of other things to be cared about too.
    There's only so much cognitive resources we have and we have to learn how to manage them best.

    Some people thrive with nuance, some people are just weighed down by it.
     
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  6. Cornerstone

    Cornerstone Well-known member

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    The two party system encourages this, I think. It's the same in the UK and it makes having a nuanced view difficult to do anything with unless you want, or are willing, to get involved in politics directly. I can think of more fun ways to waste my life though.

    It seems to be going beyond left and right into something closer to good vs evil with both sides believing themselves to be the good. In that case, I've been leaning more and more toward a position which I can sum up as 'fuck humanity.' Individual humans I can work with, and I believe humans have great potential, but the human race as a whole I just can't see making it if we're still reverting to good vs evil narratives.
     
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    slant

    slant Ruby Adoraboobie

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    It's not necessarily that I don't care about politics or think we shouldn't care; but it seems impossible to have a nuanced approach to politics in the way that it is set up and I find the difficult to grapple with.
     
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  8. Hostarius

    Hostarius A R C

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    I was pretty partisan until my mid-twenties. I was raised in poverty in the Labour heartlands of the North of England, and the Conservative Party were associated with every ill that befell us, stemming from the for-all-intents-and-purposes 'civil war' of the 1984 Miners' Strike. Before the strike, my village was a vibrant community, and after its defeat was a post-industrial wasteland of unemployment and hopelessness. These facts of life were placed squarely at the feet of Conservative Party responsibility, and to support them was traitorous.

    However, I did start to cultivate a firmer belief in the political 'centre' as I got into my twenties. At first it was intellectual and not 'felt'; a kind of feigned respect for the other side driven by a sincere belief in political dialogue. I was tolerant, but I still felt that they were 'wrong' and practically 'immoral' in their thinking.

    Then by my mid-twenties I started to learn more earnestly about conservatism - what drove it, its roots, and its formally articulated political and philosophical ideologies. I looked into Edmund Burke, the One-Nation Conservatism of the 19th century in Britain, and most of all modern conservative idealists like Sir Roger Scruton. I think I finally understood and 'got' conservatism when I came across his definition vis-a-vis the term 'oikophobia':
    In his 2004 book England and the Need for Nations, British conservative philosopher Roger Scruton adapted the word to mean "the repudiation of inheritance and home."[9] He argues that it is "a stage through which the adolescent mind normally passes,"[10] but that it is a feature of some, typically leftist, political impulses and ideologies that espouse xenophilia, i.e. preference for foreign cultures.[11]

    Scruton uses the term as the antithesis of xenophobia.[12] In his book, Roger Scruton: Philosopher on Dover Beach, Mark Dooley describes oikophobia as centered within the Western academic establishment on "both the common culture of the West, and the old educational curriculum that sought to transmit its humane values." This disposition has grown out of, for example, the writings of Jacques Derrida and of Michel Foucault's "assault on 'bourgeois' society result[ing] in an 'anti-culture' that took direct aim at holy and sacred things, condemning and repudiating them as oppressive and power-ridden."[13]:78 He continues:[13]:83

    Derrida is a classic oikophobe in so far as he repudiates the longing for home that the Western theological, legal, and literary traditions satisfy.… Derrida's deconstruction seeks to block the path to this 'core experience' of membership, preferring instead a rootless existence founded 'upon nothing.'

    An extreme aversion to the sacred, and the thwarting of the connection of the sacred to the culture of the West is described as the underlying motif of oikophobia; and not the substitution of Judeo-Christianity by another coherent system of belief. The paradox of the oikophobe seems to be that any opposition directed at the theological and cultural tradition of the West is to be encouraged even if it is "significantly more parochial, exclusivist, patriarchal, and ethnocentric."[13]:78 Scruton describes "a chronic form of oikophobia [which] has spread through the American universities, in the guise of political correctness."[9]:37

    Scruton's usage has been taken up by some American political commentators to refer to what they see as a rejection of traditional American culture by the liberal elite. In August 2010, James Taranto wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Oikophobia: Why the liberal elite finds Americans revolting", in which he criticizes supporters of the proposed Islamic center in New York as oikophobes who were defending Muslims and aimed to "exploit the 9/11 atrocity."[14]

    In the Netherlands, the term oikophobia has been adopted by politician and writer Thierry Baudet, which he describes in his book, Oikophobia: The Fear of Home.

    I also had a formative experience watching a speech delivered in parliament by Kenneth Clarke (Tory) on this subject, focusing on the friendship between Enoch Powell (hard right) and Tony Benn (hard left). It left a deep impression in me about the power and dignity of proper democratic discourse, and actually, now that I think about it... it wouldn't be wrong to say that I believe in democracy in a fundamental way.

    I've long described my political position as 'I'm of the left, but I believe in the centre', and this is where I rest now. I have no partisan allegiance and view the products of either side as useful technologies of statecraft (e.g. free markets and socialised services used in varying proportions for optimal results), while fundamentally having a deep respect, even love, for all participants. The 'forum', the 'centre', the parliament - this for me is a kind of hallowed place of debate where everybody is fundamentally invested in the wellbeing of the community, but might disagree on the mechanisms to achieve it.

    I would not want to live in a world without conservatives. I would not want to live in a world without progressives. I don't think this indicates any cognitive dissonance or a fracturing of the human psyche, but rather something quite natural and to be encouraged.

    I'm not saying that becoming comfortable with the system necessitates developing a respect for things which you disagree with, but it does entail a severe divorcing of people as individuals from their ideas; temporary, malleable and provisional as they are. The person is sacred, inviolable; their ideas subject to the rigours of logic and evidence but ultimately not them.

    Sorry to bring social network analysis up again, but most models predict that the only 'stable' states of any social network are either 'unitary utopias' or antagonistic bipolar states. When the network is bipolar, everyone is sucked into one of ether camp, simply because of how the logic of social networks determine that they will probably order their immediate relationships.

    'A balanced state exists if all parts of a unit have the same dynamic character (i.e., if all are positive, or all are negative), and if entities with different dynamic character are segregated from each other. If no balanced state exists, then forces towards this state will arise. Either the dynamic characters will change, or the unit relations will be changed through action or through cognitive reorganization. If a change is not possible, the state of imbalance will produce tension.' [Fritz Heider, 'Attitudes and Cognitive Organization', The Journal of Psychology 21 (1946), pp. 107-8.]

    Or in other words:
    'Fortunately, the probability of reaching a jammed state is vanishingly small and the final state is either a two-clique polar network or paradise.'
    [T. Antal, P.L. Krapivsky and S. Redner, 'Dynamics of Social Balance on Networks', Physical Review E 72.3 (2005), p. 8.]

    The theory is based on Fritz Heider's early work on 'social balance', later given a formal mathematical structure by Harary and Cartwright. 'Social balance theory' is one of the many 'consistency theories' (of which 'cognitive dissonance' is the most well-known) in social psychology in which it is postulated that individuals attempt to maximise their internal psychological 'consistency' and minimise their 'cognitive dissonances' by ordering the things and people around them into a state which is seemingly more consistent.

    The classic example is the triad of a married couple and a friend. In the 'unitary utopia', everybody gets along and and have positive ties to each other. In the case of the divorce of the married couple, however, the triad is now 'unbalanced' because the friend is friends with two people who are mutually antagonistic. It causes a great deal of psychological distress (cognitive dissonance) because the friend is maintaining bonds which seem mutually exclusive - indeed, there will probably be some actual tension which results from this.

    The solution, which occurs more often than not - either abruptly or naturally - is that the friend 'chooses' which of the former spouses to remain friends with, thus returning the triad to 'balance'.

    It's not really anything to do with our 'political system' which causes this behaviour as much as it is to do with the inherent nature of human beings. As Heider pointed out ['Attribution theory' - see Fritz Heider, 'Social Perception and Phenomenal Causality', Psychological Review 51.6 (1944), pp. 359-60.], 'objects' and 'ideas' are treated as individuals from the perspective of social network ordering, and so unbalanced states can obtain if you suddenly find yourself disagreeing with someone on a topic of importance. Again, to bring the network back into balance, new antagonisms must be formed. In our case, political hot potatoes are these 'Objects'. By contrast, linking like to like (known as homophily in the technical literature) is a powerful force for attracting and creating in-groups anyway.

    Fritz Heider, 'Social Perception and Phenomenal Causality', Psychological Review 51.6 (1944), pp. 358-74.

    'In the development of the child's causal thought "the original union of doer and deed forms a schema according to which causal thought can develop".' p. 359.

    'The tendency to attribute changes to personal origins is, of course, related to what Piaget calls animism, that is, the tendency to attribute life to inanimate objects.' p.359.

    'That this tendency to perceive persons as origins influences social perceptions can be shown by many examples. It can lead, for instance, to an underestimation of other factors responsible for the effect. Changes in the environment are almost always caused by acts of persons in combination with other factors. The tendency exists to ascribe the changes entirely to persons. This is shown by the reaction to other persons' successes or failures. The interpretation will, of course, depend also on forces acting on the "alter level", that is to say, on the value level of the other person within our life space. If we are inclined to disparage him we shall attribute his failures to his own person, his successes to good luck or unfair practices. But disregarding these forces, there probably exists a tendency to be "intropunitive" in regard to other persons, that is, to see the cause of their successes and failures in their personal characteristics and not in other conditions.' p. 361.

    Polarisation is a pretty natural and inevitable phenomenon, and reducing it is probably going to be a long cultural project of removing 'ideas' or certain ideas from the 'arena' of social networks.

    Yes, this cannot be avoided. The key is structuring the terms of the discussion in such a way as to remove all 'assortative power' from political topics. This is possible - it's done well for the most part in science, where all parties are more interested in 'the truth' than the victory of their own particular idea or another. We must adopt a scientific mindset towards political ideas as much as possible.

    Heider calls this 'cognitive reorganization', referring to the recategorisation of ideas into categories that do not hold the same assortative value - e.g. no-one is killing each other over their taste in ice-cream flavours, it's simply a category where legitimate disagreement is possible. Scientific ideas are (or should be) the same way, and political ideas can be too.
     
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  9. Cornerstone

    Cornerstone Well-known member

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    Dayum... great post @Hostarius. How do you think cognitive reorganization could be achieved in this day and age? One thing that strikes me about modern politics is that everything seems to be a crisis that is going to erupt any minute now so that back and forth dialogue is too slow a process. We need action now.
     
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  10. Hostarius

    Hostarius A R C

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    With the power of friendship!
    [​IMG]

    I'm not even joking.

    The social network I'm actually studying - the 11th & 12th century monastic church - split into a bipolar state with the emergence of a new kind of eremitic monasticism (monks who were more like hermits), the 'White monks'. It's my hypothesis that the Whites developed in response to the prevailing 'Black monks' and their practices of traditional Benedictine monasticism. Where the Blacks were oriented towards the towns, the Whites took to the wilderness; where the Blacks empasised the liturgy (prayer), the Whites emphasised manual labour, &c. &c. There was a process of bipolar epistemic generation - a novel idea/ideology emerging out of a kind of naturally occurring 'opposite' of what already existed, both in practical and doctrinal terms.

    I think this polarisation was somewhat of a natural process when the traditional base was sufficiently defined and spread, and of course it turned out to be epistemically productive: new, even 'better' ideas came from the splitting and the conflict.

    This state of affairs heated up until the big dog of the White monks - Bernard of Clairvaux - was writing polemics against the laxity of the Black monks, represented in turn by their own big dog, Peter the Venerable. At this point, the network is perhaps at its most bipolar.

    Peter the Venerable hit back, of course, defending the traditional practices of the Black monks, until...

    He saw the point of view of Bernard and changed tack, turning inwards to reform his own establishment based partly on the criticism received from the other side. Bernard and Peter became strong friends, with a bond forged in mutual respect, and the monastic network lost much of its antagonisms, returning to a comparative 'unitary utopia' by 1215.

    In this case, what was decisive was big 'L' Leadership - which is perhaps something counterintuitive to consider when we're more comfortable with considering large-scale impersonal forces. Because Bernard and Peter were so powerful, I think a great weight of the polarisation became vested in their own person, and so when Peter decided to heal the rift by conceding, the whole of his network was brought with him.

    I don't think most people have the strength of character to bear the 'tension' and 'cognitive dissonance' that is characterised by being friends with your side's 'enemy', but there are people who are capable of such a move. We call them leaders. Such bridging friendships are characterised by great maturity, respect and a finding of new common purpose.

    This is why I thought that the friendship between Enoch Powell and Tony Benn was so important, as was the choice of Obama to deliver John McCain's eulogy.

    A 'better brand of elites' would go a long way to heal the rifts dividing American society; real leaders who have enough integrity to say, 'no, ma'am, he's a decent man - we just disagree'.



    This is the benefit of polarising forces: when they become attached to individuals - leaders - the whole character of their clique in the network becomes attached to them.

    This is one method. How to achieve that? It's a matter of political culture. 'Unparliamentary language' is a more important rule than many people realise, and it goes a long way in contributing to that respectful discourse among political elites.

    This is what the executive branch is for, provided that they act within the confines of the constitution. With a more 'respectful' political culture, the imperative to take 'partisan' executive decisions diminishes and that old concept of 'the national interest' resurfaces.

    This happens all the time, by the way. These republics aren't completely corrupt.
     
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  11. Hostarius

    Hostarius A R C

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    By the way, I think this is one of the benefits of a parliamentary system compared to a presidential one.

    In a parliamentary system, the prime minister has already learned the rules of proper political discourse during a time as a backbencher, and especially as a minister or shadow minister. He or she has had to directly interact with his peers in a respectful manner (lol), as well as mix with them behind the scenes at official functions in the presence of supra-partisan national symbols like an apolitical head of state. By the time he or she becomes prime minister, he or she is already saturated in this political culture of tolerance and respect.

    In a presidential system, the presidential candidates never have to endure this period of apprenticeship or 'indoctrination'. They are complete free agents who are able to isolate themselves in their own echo chambers if they need to, and never have to level questions from the opposition. The irony here of course being that the POTUS as an office was designed specifically to avoid the kind of partisanship that would develop in Congress, but this only works if 'party' is outlawed.

    Of course it's telling that Obama and McCain were both senators, too - they'd graduated from political kindergarten and the respect permeated their campaign. It's a shame that McCain couldn't direct the Republican Party itself in this way during Obama's actual terms.
     
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  12. In the Wings

    In the Wings Community Member

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    I'm not really sure how one would solve this myself, but I think some of it would have to involve strong personal values and a mental life offline. If your goal is to feel good or be liked, you're going to use politics as a means to that end. If your goal is to improve the world, you'll use politics for that end. If your goal is to seem smart, etc.

    It's easier to find joy in non-social things when you're not constantly socializing.
     
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  13. Sometimes Yeah

    Sometimes Yeah Regular Poster

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    I mostly disengage from politics, and if voting weren't compulsory here, I probably wouldn't vote.

    That said, I can understand if someone votes for a candidate because that candidate's policies marginally benefit that particular voter over other policies.

    I don't understand people who vote because they think others need this or that policy platform to win.

    Voting for one's own self interest ensures that if many people find themselves in a similar situation, the results will address that emerging need.
     
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  14. Dopamine

    Dopamine Community Member

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    @Hostarius you have earned my respect on this topic, not that my fucking opinion is germane to your ego, but there is something I have been dying to discuss with someone who actually thinks about this stuff. I am not as eloquent on this subject as you are, so I ask for grace in advance if my wording stumbles. In undergrad I took a series of courses about race and gender politics, and Nazi Germany- but that's another series of questions for you. The last one of the series was taught by Bishop Desmond Tutu. He was in the States for awhile teaching. The course was a deep dive into the Truth and Reconciliation ending Apartheid in South Africa. (Holy Shit, sitting there in class it was impossible not to understand you were in the presence of an actual Spiritual genius. His global understanding of people and societies from a minute and broad standard was absolutely staggering. I totally had a weird non-sexual crush. I digress. sorry)

    Question: I have often wondered if America would benefit from some iteration of that perspective. The goal would be to return the American Spirit back into what it used to be, but better, with racial issue at least as much solved as possible. We have a lot to atone for, internally and externally. Both "sides" have made big mistakes, hurt or left behind chunks of society. We lefties over here, claim great superiority over the racial attitudes of our conservative countrymen, but as one of my conservative close friends said to me- "Oh yeah-well what have the democrats really done for Black Americans lately besides talk nice at election time and post videos of vapid white people being horrible and blame it on republicans on Twitter?" I had to pause on that. Democrats take a lot of responsibility for civil rights and progressive movement but in reality it is the members of the marginalized groups that lead and pushed the change. I've tried really really hard to get to a place of empathy with people who aligned themselves with Trump. I have some close friends that I served in the military that are Trump enthusiasts. They are not stupid, racist, selfish people. I was beside them in many situations where our lives were dependant on one another and they did not let me down. These are good people. I talked to them a lot about what made them so afraid, or so angry, or so frustrated that the messages from trump sounded valid and acceptable? I knew I would not agree or like everything that they said but my goal was to find empathy for their reasoning and for how they got there. I am ape shit FURIOUS about what is happening in America right now. I loathe Trump. But, I love my friends and I appreciate conservative values in our country are vital to the balance in our society. And damn it, as cheesy as it sounds, I love America, or what I used to believe it was. I have come to learn that we are all yearning to go back to a place where we were proud of who we were- whatever that means to him or her. Can you see how a version of a Truth and Reconciliation of our past and present may restore some of that sanctity? Germany has done this and it seems to have healed many of their incredibly painful wounds. Not all- but many-that's what it looks like from here anyway. Americans are prideful people. We'd have to put a positive spin on it, but we have some big gaping wounds ourselves and we have really let eachother and the world down. I can't think of another way.

    BTW- that John McCain moment- actually represents how a lot of conservatives actually are-I have absolutely loved McCain ever since, I cried when he died, hard. I voted for Obama- but I respected McCain.

    Everyone is fixated on drooling over the worst of each kind- we can't see eachother anymore. Does any of this make sense?
     
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  15. Hostarius

    Hostarius A R C

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    Yeah it made sense.

    Yeah I cried at the funeral, too. I caught it live by chance on BBC Parliament (Or News, can't quite recall) and was really touched by the gesture as well as having a profound sense that 'that is a great republic' while watching it.

    Wow, that sounds like a great privilege - I want to say I would've snapped at the chance to hear him speak, but the truth is that I probably would've missed it in my own undergrad, lol.

    This sounds like you served in the military yourself, is that true? What was your MOS?

    'Truth and Reconciliation'... hmm. I think it was the right move for South Africa at the time, however much their domestic political situation has degenerated since (always teetering on the edge of a race war). Germany is an interesting case, too, since it's attempted two different forms of dealing with its former regimes, showing that, yes, 'context matters'.

    Personally, however, I don't think it's appropriate for the modern United States since there is nobody left who really is accountable for slavery (I'm presuming that when you mention 'race', you're talking about the historic legacy of slavery), and the formality of the process implies a level of blame which I don't think is really present. I think it would probably breed more division and focus on the division.

    The US has already had a kind of 'Truth and Reconciliation' process during Reconstruction - what it faces now is, ironically for this thread, much more 'nuanced' for that level of formality.

    On the question of conservatism, Trump, and how to have empathy for the 'other side', I'll come back to that when I have the time since it's a separate question which requires some more energy.
     
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  16. Dopamine

    Dopamine Community Member

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    No I didn’t mean slavery. I mean what happened in the “Tuscaloosa Race Riot” and the fact that a good portion of American had never even heard of it until Watchmen put it in episode 1. Or that it is true that it is STILL brutally hard to be black in a really large swath of America. I mean how we have prioritized wealth over community every single time and destabilized the working poor drastically. There are more poor white people than black people in America- the percentages are really skewed there is no denying that in any scale- but we constantly tell poor white people that they are racist trash because they are frustrated and need help too- and there is the whole media catastrophe- I don’t know what to believe. I don’t know how anyone feels like they know anything. No I’m not talking about slavery. That’s where it started but Americans have been shitting all over each other and it has gotten bad. We have to find a way to get to the truth and fess up to things that have been supported that have really hurt people. We are doomed if we can’t heal this divide somewhat.
     
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  17. Hostarius

    Hostarius A R C

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    Oh

    I'll have to think more about this.

    What kind of process did you have in mind? Congressional hearings? Things of that sort?
     
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  18. Dopamine

    Dopamine Community Member

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    I don’t know- it’s a super big picture vague idea in my head. But I feel there is a track towards a good idea in it.
     
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