Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
Most people think we can describe politics with the linear model above. One side wants one thing, the other wants the opposite. Yes to abortion rights, no to abortion rights. Yes to immigration, no to immigration. Yes to lgbt rights, no to lgbt rights. Big military, small military. In fact, many politicians have used this simplistic reading to carve out careers for themselves. That’s because it’s much easier to get the people at the extremes angry and involved than it is to rationally convince the people in the middle. Why? Because in practice, politics isn’t linear at all. It actually looks like this:
The reason is group dynamics. Opposing factions create the need for compromise, and the compromise is freedom of choice- or what we’ve come to call in the west, individual liberties. Or as my mother used to put it when my younger brother and I would fight over the last bit of cake left: “One of you gets to cut it into two slices, and the other one gets to choose their piece first.” A system that basically guaranteed fairness.
That’s the opposite of what extremists want (both left and right.) Those extremists are ideologues who, if given their way, will, through prohibitions, impose their single vision of the world. That’s why life in fascist states ended up looking terribly similar to life in soviet states. No freedom of the press or opinion or speech, no freedom to dissent, no freedom to assemble, no freedom of movement. No Freedom.
It’s time for people to wake up. To stop falling for the traditional song and dance politicians do trying to convince us we’re in a Left/Right war. What’s really at stake is freedom, and freedom as we know it depends on a centre that’s bigger and stronger than the extremes.