What Divides Us the Most?

I see it all the time, on this board and elsewhere. It affects many of various political persuasions, as well as those adhering to views on various scientific and pseudoscientific subjects. I’m not immune to the temptation to do it myself on occasion but strive not to.

Sorry if my post struck a bit too close to home for you. :slight_smile:

This as well. Almost everyone claims (and perhaps genuinely) clings to a moral sense of justice, fairness, right vs. wrong, and equality. And the intensity of political warfare is because of such demand for fairness, not in spite of it.

Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft

They are idealized ways of looking at social organization that can loosely be translated as community and society.

Community exists relationally. Social organization functions because of shared informal codes of conduct and relationships of the participants. It rebels against more formal legal constructs. It functions best in small homogenous groupings.

Society exists contractually. It functions because of shared legal codes and rigid enforcement of violating those codes. It rebels against relational social structures that by their nature must be unlevel. It functions best in social organizations that lack expected personal connections so much better in large social groupings.

Both have pros and cons, but largely we have seen community being increasingly marginalized as transience, urbanization and globalization have become larger features of our world.

Except that isn’t quite true. The red/blue divide isn’t evenly split between black/white, rich/poor, or urban/rural. Colleges are full of affluent liberals and rural areas are full of poor conservatives. Wall Street tends to run conservative while Silicon Valley tends to run liberal.
If I were to define the divide, I would say it’s split between people who want things to stay the same (conservatives) and people who want things to change (liberals).

Conservatives fear societal change because they worry about becoming marginalized in a world where traditional social structures have changed.

Liberals believe they are making the world a better place for everyone, but their policies often have unintended negative consequences.

Everyone blames others for the problems in the world. One side blames those with less power than themselves; the poor, immigrants, minorities. The other side blames those with more power than themselves; the wealthy, corporations and the politically connected.

We are NOT divided.

Not to the degree that everyone says. It’s ideological discourse designed to provide political advantage to certain interests, and when people continue to mindlessly echo this conceit it just becomes self-amplifying.

I’ll go with Joseph Heath’s position that it’s rationalism (usually liberal, but not always) versus intuition and tradition (usually conservative, but not always.)

Actually I have tended to find rationality to mostly end up in the “mildly liberal” zone, whereas intuition (not tradition though) is used to anchor not only conservative but also radically progressive perspectives. In the latter camp you’ll find some people very frustrated at the way that rationalists insist on a rule-following game in their discourses and use the rules of the game to reject axioms they don’t regard as axiomatic while treating others as self-evidently real because they like them better, etc. (You also of course have plain old “frothing at the mouth” folks in the latter camp who prefer to argue from “if you believe that you’re just bad and wrong and evil, which is why you’re wrong”).

Right. Our system offers binary options for a gradient world, without enough granularity to dither the black and white into meaningful greyness.

Stupidity, mostly. But then again, humans fundamentally are more alike than different.

So there you go.


Or, more specifically, our perception of and reaction to threats. It seems that everything else is a rooted in that.

Well put- I think that’s the single biggest divider. Class/income is probably second.

And, I’ll go ahead and say that a lot of what we think of as racism in the US is really just classism that is confused with racism, because minorities are disproportionately poor here. So a lot of what people are getting down on is poor people and how they behave, not the color of their skin. But since a lot of those poor people (and people think urban poor typically) aren’t white, that gets all wound in and confused with the poverty part.

Some people are willing to work, some people think everything should be handed to them.

Seriously. I’ve known people who think the government should support them and they shouldn’t have to do anything to get help. And I was recently homeless and didn’t ask anyone to help me get a place. Just made calls and applied till I got somewhere to live.

It seems like every post is about some virtue one group has and the other group doesn’t have. Astonishingly, the poster is always from the “in” group.

At a guess, and what happens all over the World and all through history, obsessing over what makes us different than them.

Not mine. Both Gesellschaft and Gemeinschaft have pros and cons.

Yeah, but “they’re protestant and we’re catholic” is a bit more empirical than the abstractions here. It shows me that people who aren’t talking about race, social class, and other real divisive factors really don’t know what the nation’s dividing lines are. It does answer the question of why people maintain those divisions, though – eg Annie’s self-serving proclomation of a work ethic is how people justify social stratification.

The dividing lines are created by minding too much the differences between people in the first place.
Unfortunately we are hard wired for tribalism and it takes good mental hygiene habits to stay away from it.

You only need to look at how very artificial lines can be drawn between groups that are essentially identical except for one particular label they apply to themselves and others; a very clear example is members of different sport teams that come from essentially the same homogeneous mix of individuals from a society who, based on nothing but one voluntary, arbitrary and frankly spurious difference can develop a strong antipathy towards each other, even leading to violence.
What happens between two people saying to each other “I like team Red” and “I like team Blue” over a friendly conversation to them bashing each other into a bloody pulp is a downward spiral of ever increasing othering.

At least that is my reckoning because I’m a first principles kind of person.
First the line is drawn, usually over a minimal or inconsequential different, and then various mechanisms kick in to widen it, for example what usually happens is that once an Us vs. Them situation begins the reasons for the division begin to change from first hand experience to what Us say about Them (and vice versa on the other side), this leads to a feedback loop where Group A arbitrarily ascribe negative characteristics to Group B, that group feels slighted and does the same and so on and so forth.
In the end what, for example, starts with a minor difference in the way two groups of people interpret religious scriptures ends up with calling someone a Devil worshiper while doing very nasty things against the bodily integrity of the other.

I remember him promising to not cut any benefits for SS/Medicare/Medicaid, advocating trillions of dollars for infrastructure spending, advocating trade protectionism and higher tariffs, and at one point even talking about raising taxes on some hedge fund people.

And he said all this in a Republican primary, and yet won the primaries. The big factor for his “team” was race/minorities/cultural/immigration, etc. His fans didn’t care about the tariffs. But they cheered like crazy when he talked about a wall.