Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

The only solutions to a culture war:

1) Domination: fight it out and exterminate the other side or disenfranchise them so much they become powerless to oppose your agenda. Then you rule over them and make sure to keep them weak and defeated otherwise they will switch tables on you. (Examples: Bismarcks' original Kulturkampf reversing to Weimer reversing to Nazis, Argentina's dirty war)

2) Devolution: decentralize even more and reduce power of Federal government (Examples: Lebanon. Switzerland)

3) Divorce: split into two different nations entirely. (Examples: Ethiopia/Eritrea split, Yugoslavia breakup)

The reason why is that this is ultimately a religious war about values. People will die rather than give up their religion or change their core values. That means that if their core values are diametrically opposed, then will rather die than stop doing what the other side is convinced is immoral. This brings us to my favorite trilemma:

    a) diversity (of values)
    b) liberty
    c) a strong central government
    
    Pick two. 
Historically nations dealt with diversity of core beliefs by Federalism, e.g. letting one province be Catholic and the other Protestant and they just leave each other alone, with a central government that only takes action if both sides agree. But that's a very fragile arrangement prone to civil war -- e.g. Lebanon -- when there is a demographic shift that upsets the balance of power. The left, also, would not accept if, say, America split into a red and blue nation with the Red nation say not respecting gay rights or emitting lots of carbon. Blue America would invade them as they have a crusading vision that is global and totalizing.

Personally, I favor devolution (best) or a national breakup (second best). Obviously I do not favor domination. But most people I know, and everyone I know on the left, favors domination. The right must be defeated.

But it's easy for me to emigrate to a nation which is much more sane than the U.S., so I have less at stake than those stuck in America.




Or... just renew the electoral system to break the two-party system you guys have. People are a lot more agreeable when they have to compromise to get shit done. Talking shit about other parties will be remembered come the next elections.


The culture war doesn’t arise from two-party politics. Indeed, it’s causing people to switch parties as they realign around cultural lines. E.g. when Obama campaigned as a socially moderate economic populist in 2008, he won Iowa by 10 points. Just 8 years later, when Clinton campaigned as a culturally liberal economic moderate, she lost Iowa by 10 points.

In the US we have some people that are to the left of France on social issues, and other people that are to the right of Poland, all in the same country. Increasingly, a small contingent of the former have come to dominate the media, corporations, and NGOs. The two party system didn’t create that situation.


Also: small but loud extremist fringe groups are more likely to break out into their own party, if they see it as an realistic option. There they can be sidelined or loose majority support, which means an election actually represents the will of the people instead of some loud minority.


Or - as happens frequently in multi-party PR systems - large parties needing to form a majority coalition end up giving small extremist parties concessions in order to secure their support, meaning even a single electoral success can be parlayed into an outsized influence. There's no perfect system.


> c) a strong central government

Tangential to this, as an initial fan of the Federalist Papers (and of the people who wrote/were behind them) reading the Antifederalist Papers from that same era really opened my eyes, the people (anonymously) writing in there about the perils of centralised government in North America really touched on many points that are still valid now, ~230 years after they were written. You could also see in those writings that the mid-19th century Civil War was really hard to avoid, and not only because of slavery. For the record, I'm not an US citizen and I've never set foot in the US, maybe these facts about the Antifederalist Papers are really well-known across the pond and I'm only stating the obvious in here.


So let's say hypothetically America splits into red and blue. What about those of us not comfortable with living in either territory? Because at least as things are now, the extremes tend to balance each other out. But if you separate, there's a chance the highly motivated people on the far right and left will gain power and push for that kind of government.

Which would leave a lot of people in the Overton window unhappy with living in either blue or red. Can there be a three-way split? Blue is a leftist utopia, red is a conservative paradise, with purple remaining neoliberal (current US minus the left/right).

Question is how does purple keep red & blue from meddling in their politics as a kind of proxy war against the other?


Step 1: Don't have a two party system


That's easy to create election rules which doesn't induce a "two party" system, but how do you convince the current winners of the current system to change the election rules?


Current US minus the left and right could be a pretty nice place.

How does purple keep red and blue from meddling in their politics? By being larger/stronger than either red or blue. If it's smaller and weaker, the meddling is probably inevitable.


To point 3

A group will radicalise itself, even in isolation.

The approach of splitting the nation into 2 will work… for a while.

Also: I don’t have any better solution for the near or mid term.

Maybe education will help. But I am immensely disappointed with this approach. I seams to just not work.

Maybe small nations work way better. As far I can see this is the case. So maybe splitting up the nation into even smaller states would help.

As long as you have federal laws that grands children a life if they decide to go, this would be somewhat human? Think on a gay child in a radical state that demands forced conversion therapy.


> Maybe education will help.

You mean, Red education to get the Blues to see the error of their ways, or Blue education to get the Reds to see the error of their ways? People really don't want their enemies' values taught to their kids. We are seeing massive pushback against Blue education now, which was the key to Virginia's governor flipping red. It may be the most important issue of the 2022 elections. Did I mention how much people hate their kids being indoctrinated in values they think are evil?

> Maybe small nations work way better. As far I can see this is the case. So maybe splitting up the nation into even smaller states would help.

Yes, if Saudi Arabia doesn't let women drive, we don't need to invade and conquer Saudi Arabia. We can can grant asylum to Saudi women who are unhappy with this arrangement, and just leave Saudi Arabia alone. Even if they behead people.

>Think on a gay child in a radical state that demands forced conversion therapy.

Agree. Ultimately it means giving up on the idea that the US is going to fix the whole world. We stayed in Afghanistan, it seems, to make sure the girls can go to school and that gay men are not killed for being gay. I don't think this was the right decision. At some point you have to say "I hate how those people live, but I'm not going to try to change them."

Honestly I don't know a single friend of mine on the left who is willing to say this. I have friends on the right, on the other hand, who want nothing more than to be left alone. They don't care how many abortions people have in New York or what kind of stuff is taught in New York schools about how evil Europeans are. But the reverse is not true, every single leftist friend I have is absolutely committed to making sure girls in Alabama can also have abortions and that they are taught the evils of Europeans in the Alabama schools. For there to be any peace, the left is going to have to give this asymmetry up, and learn to live and let live.


I agree, but you're being a little biased I think, presumably due to your experience and the news you read:

>"I hate how those people live, but I'm not going to try to change them."

This is phrased to sound reasonable without context, but based on your example, it's more like "They are fairly objectively killing/beating/oppressing people for their gender/sexuality, but I'm not going to try to change them." I agree it's probably futile, especially in this case, but we should be realistic about what we are asking people to accept.

As for the domestic example of abortion, everybody I know on the right, friends and otherwise, want it illegal for everybody, and have a pretty deep hatred for people who get abortions (sometimes barring health reasons), in their own state and in all others. On this and other topics, they are all firmly in "dominion" territory, even going so far as to "joke" to varying degrees about killing people on the left for their crimes.

I am not refuting your point though, and I'm not taking a "both sides" stance, just offering a different view on the same conclusion. In general people want to exclude others, and in general the right favors splitting first, and, if that's unrealistic, dominion second, while the left tend to favors dominion first. Both are enormous disasters.


> which was the key to Virginia's governor flipping red

I think you'll find that turnout in an off year was the major driver of this change. Turnout 2020: 75%, Turnout 2021: 55%.

In general, only motivated people turn up in off years, which usually favours the opposition.


I wonder how coherent the base of either party is values-wise or ideologically. There's certainly some intellectuals that have a clear ideological side, but for the people I talk to offline there often seems to be a kind of sports-team dynamic, even if they don't fit neatly into ideological boxes. For example, I know Republicans that don't generally support their party's economic policies, and Democrats that don't support many of their party's social policies, but neither of those facts seem to interfere with them being solid partisans. Often they end up in a media bubble for their "team" which probably contributes.


Truth helps.

Every, single popular issue has nuance.

Whenever I see something on Cable News, usually my 'BS sense' tingles at least a bit, and I check alternative resources for more information.

Usually, most things don't fit very clearly into a narrative once you have a lot of facts.


> They don't care how many abortions people have in New York...

> every single leftist friend I have is absolutely committed to making sure girls in Alabama can also have abortions

I find it so curious how much you claim that people on the right just want to be left alone, and then bring up the issue of abortion as an example. If what you really wanted was for people to live and let live, then why would you care about women in Alabama having abortions? Don't they have just as much of a right to be "left alone"?


There are deep historical roots for this. In 1861, the US South just wanted to be left alone. It was the US North that forced their moral values on the South.

Some of us think that's a good thing.


The Union’s war against the Confederacy was fueled by the religious zeal of an evangelical Christian movement. I’m not sure that should be the go-to template for how we structure a diverse country of 330 million people.


That is a unique take on the abolition of slavery. I am sure you have accessed much more literature and data on this take that seems novel to me.


I don't think there's anything unique about it. Some Enlightenment thinkers opposed slavery, but abolition in the U.S. was an evangelical Christian movement. The Republican Party was a fusion of religious fundamentalists and northeastern capitalists. The Civil Rights movement was also quite closely affiliated with Christianity until the late 20th century. It's not a coincidence that Martin Luther King was a preacher.

Remember that, prior to modern genetic science, "all men are created equal" was an unfalsifiable assertion. IT was an article of faith. The Confederacy thus sought to portray their position as resting on scientific observation. https://www.battlefields.org/learn/primary-sources/cornersto.... And, of course, there's little apart from faith that could convince a society to sacrifice 360,000 of their own to fight for the freedom of a distinct group of people. I'm not aware of any other such "war of morality" in history prior to that.

All that being said, not every perceived social ill is slavery, and the Civil War isn't a good template for how we should relate to societies that have different moral frameworks. Do we want to go to war with Bangladesh because homosexuality is illegal there? My view is that Bangladeshis get to decide how to structure their society, and that this self determination is a principle that overrides almost all others. But maybe I'm biased being a foreigner.


> My view is that Bangladeshis get to decide how to structure their society, and that this self determination is a principle that overrides almost all others.

Unless you're a Bangladeshi gay I suppose. Then other people get to determine your social structure for you.


Self-determination is a collective right, not an individual right. Distinct groups of people get to structure their society as they see fit. Individuals within that a society must abide by those rules.

International law, of course, recognizes individual rights as well. My point is that when a society doesn’t abide by those rights, it’s not the business of other societies to do anything about it. Self-determination should trump in almost every case.


I'm on the left, but probably favor option #2, or potentially option 2+3... which would be to divorce the 50 states into their own countries, w/ a weakened D.C. that still manages interstate disputes, commerce, etc more like the EU than a country unto itself.

I'd like to see more communal type "intentional communities" w/ farms, eco-designed homes (earth bag/earth ship), that doesn't have religious aims, but only has one tenet which is to cut down on consumerism (not asking for major commitments, just limit spending, and buy things the entire community can share like ATVs, RVs, etc that could be loaned out.

You can build an entire home using earthbag tech for <10k. (It might take 4 years to DIY, but it's feasible) and you can buy tiny homes for <50k, or a yurt to live in until the home is completed, then reuse that for an airbnb or something. Pool up w/ maybe 20 other families to buy land, create a community garden, and a community toolshed+library of shareables (tools, printers, atvs, etc), and maybe have potlucks a few times a month, and some nice outdoor activities that make living their fun, and people wouldn't have to travel to have fun, and waste gas.

Could have a building w/ some offices too, for people who work from home.


Where do governments or nations come into play here? Groups don't split along geographical lines any more, and so, breaking up countries will not lead to delineating groups with different values.


1) Additional examples: Maos Cultural Revolution, Khemer Rouge, Russian Civil War, Spain Civil War


Or to try to calm the culture war. A lot of this is populism and one idea is to try to reel it in on campus, in social media, and maybe even in the News somehow (which has become more slanted).

It might be possible to marginalize the radicals on either side a bit.

Most of us are getting tired of this nonsense.

With Trump and COVID passing, there will be fewer 'lightning rods'.

Even the MeToo and Racism claims I think are starting to fall a bit short, most people have common sense and recognize the difference between racism, and a film that happens to case white people, or a serial Hollywood rapist, and a guy who got in a loud back and forth with his wife.


I mostly agree with your analysis, but while Devolution sounds good on paper at an abstract distance, the reality of it is going to be (and is) a lot messier.

The problem is that we don't have just Red-vs-Blue states in the US. We also have Red-vs-Blue subregions and counties within most (all?) states, and even within a nominally Red or Blue county, city, or town, you'll almost universally find a a sizable sub-population of the opposite bent.

So, to pick an example hot-button issue: Abortion Rights. If the feds decentralize this issue and let states find their own paths, you'd have ample abortion rights in the blue states and virtually no abortion rights in red states. But many of these nominally red or blue states are really, say, a 70/30 or 60/40 split by population, and so a large (but non-majority) population of each state is now living under laws they despise, which is not going to make for good long-term outcomes.

Over a long-enough time period, I suppose many would choose to move to other states and physically polarize the nation by-state, which is then going to make it easier and more natural to eventually Divorce the two sides as separate nations, and then they will almost surely have wars in the future over turf, politics, etc. But in the shorter term, most people don't have the freedom to just move states on a whim because of political change: they have families and friend networks, they have jobs to consider, financial and social costs of uprooting and moving, etc. It's still a relatively-rare privilege, among the whole US population, to be in a situation where you can easily move states as you feel like it on a political whim.

You could also imagine a path where Devolution just gets more-fine-grained - the Feds leave more to the states, the states leave more to the counties, they leave more to the cities, etc. This would allow things to differ at a much more local level. All over the country, you might find a flip of the abortion laws every 20-30 miles traveling down the highway. This reduces the costs and challenges for the individual - now they can more-easily move a short distance for a set of laws they find palatable, or simply drive across legal lines for various services/purposes. However, I think having such a large menu of divisive and important legal issues vary at such a low level would lead to a lot of chaos and friction. You'd lose a lot of the advantages of being a relatively-homogeneous country. Imagine doing business in such a country and having to pay far more attention to the more-significant legal differences in every jurisdiction. It sounds like a mess!

My current (perhaps naive!) opinion is that you can't fix this in an effective way through Devolution or Divorce - the costs are too high. I think this needs to be fixed at the per-human level: we need to become less-polarized as individuals, and elect less-polarized politicians as well.

We need to learn to disagree without being disagreeable again, and to understand where each other is coming from. We used to have that (well, to a much larger degree than we do now) decades ago. I don't think Facebook alone created this mess, but tech is certainly playing a significant role in amplifying the problem rather than solving it.

You have to reach a point where everyone can have conversations with all of their neighbors of the form "I disagree with your stance on X, but I can see why you think that way, and I want to explore where we have common ground and find a compromise solution that can make both of us reasonably happy to live alongside each other", or your society is doomed to eventually be a failed one.

Being "right" on an issue is not as important as being good neighbors to each other and respecting others' views. Perhaps your particularly strong view of a certain issue will eventually prove itself to be universally acceptable/accepted (in the sense that eventually in some future year, an overwhelming majority of the population will agree with you instead of say, just the 35% that are in your political subcamp).

However, you're not going to get there by going to war with the other 65% and demeaning and degrading them. You're going to get there by being understanding enough to have healthy relationships with them, and then perhaps minds can change more-naturally (and it may take a generation or two for some changes, but it's the only non-violent way to get there). You have to do this even if you don't think the other side is doing it, or even capable. It's the only way to have hope for a better future.




Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: