This post is by Continuations by Albert Wenger from Continuations by Albert Wenger
Politics in the US has become ever more tribal on both the left and the right. Either you agree with 100 percent of group doctrine or you are considered an enemy. Tim Urban, the author of the wonderful Wait but Why blog has written a book digging into how we have gotten here. Titled “What’s Our Problem” the book is a full throated defense of liberalism in general and free speech in particular.
As with his blog, Urban does two valuable things rather well: He goes as much as possible to source material and he provides excellent (illustrated) frameworks for analysis. The combination is exactly what is needed to make progress on difficult issues and I got a lot out of reading the book as a result. I highly recommend reading it and am excited that it is the current selection for the USV book club.
The most important contribution of What’s Our Problem is drawing a clear distinction between horizontal politics (left versus right) and vertical politics (low-rung versus high-rung). Low-rung politics is tribal, emotional, religious, whereas high-rung politics attempts to be open, intellectual, secular/scientific. Low-rung politics brings out the worst in people and brings with it the potential of violent conflict. High-rung politics holds the promise of progress without bloodshed. Much of what is happening in the US today can be understood as low-rung politics having become dominant.
The book on a relative basis spends a lot more time examining low-rung politics on (Read more...)