[Discussion] Uncivil Agreement

I listened to this Ezra Klein podcast a few days ago, and it really affected me, making me re-think the reasons I believe I hold different opinions. While the main topic is the massive polarization in politics today, I found the discussion relevant on culture in general. We like finding out peeps and bonding on common likes, and this leads to bonding over how dumb those other guys that like what are obviously the wrong things. Those might be political issues, sports teams, or what platform you like too play video games on.

It's a healthy reminder of, as Ezra comments the podcast, how wrong we are about our brains being these truth seeking devices, when really, they are really little rationalization and justification boxes that we insert use to convert new data into evidence that supports what we already believe.

In many ways, I feel like this podcast ought to be primer for discussing politics, as it serves as a massive reminder that we are all very prone to seeing all group dynamics as win or lose, and this affects how we interpret the world. The only real way to counter that is to actively think about it all the time.

The Ezra Klein Show
The age of "mega-identity" politics

Yes, identity politics is breaking our country. But it’s not identity politics as we’re used to thinking about it.

In Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity, Lilliana Mason traces the construction of our partisan “mega-identities”: identities that fuse party affiliation to ideology, race, religion, gender, sexuality, geography, and more. These mega-identities didn’t exist 50 or even 30 years ago, but now that they’re here, they change the way we see each other, the way we engage in politics, and the way politics absorbs other — previously non-political —spheres of our culture.

In making her case, Mason offers one of the best primers I’ve read on how little it takes to activate a sense of group identity in human beings, and how far-reaching the cognitive and social implications are once that group identity takes hold. I don’t want to spoil our discussion here, but suffice to say that her recounting of the “minimal group paradigm”