Centrism, Politics, US Election

We Are Living in Parallel Societies

Yesterday’s Italian election saw mainstream parties rejected, and anti-establishment parties such as the 5 Star Movement and anti-immigration League make big gains. Even Silvio Berlusconi did well relative to the centre-Left’s humiliating defeat. The map of election results shows a deeply divided country. As we have seen since 2016, such divisions are becoming the norm around the world.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re university-educated, agnostic or atheist, no longer live in your hometown, have traveled to different countries, are relaxed about cultural and demographic changes, binge-watch drama series on Netflix, speak a second language and perhaps even supported Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Now imagine a person who is opposite in every one of those ways — and you have your typical Donald Trump supporter. “Identity politics” is becoming a pleonasm. Identity is politics and politics is identity.

In the United States, Republicans have become the party of the left behind: predominantly white voters who sense the country is changing in ways that deprive them of power and status. Democrats, a coalition of minorities, millennials and college graduates, are actively promoting those same changes. No wonder the two sides see each other as enemies.

The Brexit referendum and the 2017 general election revealed a similar cleavage in the United Kingdom: university-educated voters in the major cities voted for EU membership and switched to the Labour Party when the Conservatives embraced Brexit. Post-industrial voters in emptying mill towns and depressed former seaside resorts switched the other way around, siding with more prosperous rural and small-town Tory voters, many of whom are either in or near retirement.

It’s the same story in France: optimistic college graduates were Emmanuel Macron’s strongest supporters, while Marine Le Pen was the choice of “unhappy France”. And in Germany: the prosperous west and south voted for centrist parties; in the east, the far-Left and far-Right did better.

False dichotomy

This rupture isn’t driven by either “economic anxiety” or “white resentment”. It’s both. Yascha Mounk of Harvard University has argued that when people see their economic prospects diminish, it becomes harder for them to find an earned social identity so they end up focusing on other identities, like nationality, race or religion.

Americans could once believe that if they worked hard and played by the rules, they could become middle class, whether they had a university degree or not. Realistically, who still actually believes that?

Beyond the promise of social mobility, the Niskanen Center’s Brink Lindsey has argued that the working class used to have dignity. Their work mattered. They could derive pride and a sense of purpose from working in industries that supported the whole economy. But who is going to feel that way drifting from one dead-end job to the next?

There is a racial dimension to this. To some whites, it feels like a betrayal of what they thought to be the natural order if they end up sharing the same social class with blacks or Hispanics or Eastern European labor migrants or Muslims.

Most Democrats are comfortable with the “browning” of America. Republicans are not. The European Left hails open borders and secularization as progress. Reactionaries feel the continent is losing its bearings. Populists like Trump and Le Pen tap into a toxic combination of discontent and resentment — and they know what they’re doing. If anybody is responsible for radicalizing fearful conservatives, it’s them. But liberals may have unwittingly contributed.

Deplorable

In France last year, the conservative candidate, François Fillon, was pilloried by the Parisian press. Laurent Joffrin of the left-wing newspaper Libération compared his “aggressive Catholicism” to political Islam. Pierre Bergé, a co-owner of Le Monde, said his supporters were little better than Nazi collaborators, all because Fillon had proposed to limit parental rights for gay couples, lower immigration and emphasize French history in schools.

Fillon warned that the likes of Joffrin and Bergé were “making themselves into electoral agents for Marine Le Pen.” He was right. By disparaging the traditional views of La France profonde, big-city liberals drove otherwise respectable center-right voters into the arms of the far right. Le Pen got twice the support her father did when he qualified for the presidential runoff in 2002.

Now think of how Hillary Clinton dismissed “half” of Trump’s supporters as “deplorable”. Was that supposed to make them see the error of their ways? Of course not. That’s how you get people to hunker down and reject social change altogether.

No matter if she was right; you don’t convince people to be more relaxed about female power or gay rights by ridiculing old-fashioned gender norms. You don’t defeat jingoists by mocking patriotism, or open up people’s eyes to racial injustice by shaming their whiteness.

As one Republican voter put it in 2016: “Give people the impression that you will hate them the same or nearly so for voting Jeb Bush as compared to voting for Trump and where is the motivation to be socially acceptable with Jeb?”

Both sides are at fault. “Just flip on Fox News to see stereotypical Democrats and coastal ‘elites’ lampooned as lazy, deviant, precious or generally offensive and worthless,” writes Josh Marshall. British and Dutch nativist leaders Nigel Farage and Geert Wilders accuse “metropolitan” and “liberal” elites of betraying their people all the time.

In the end, we are all radicalized. If we keep doing this, there won’t be anyone left in the center anymore to bridge our differences.

The moment policy disagreements are seen as existential threats to identity, compromise is no longer possible. Lilliana Mason, a political scientist, has warned that, “The angrier the electorate, the less capable we are of finding common ground on policies, or even of treating our opponents like human beings.”

Finding a way back to the center

We need to find a way back to the center. That starts by taking people seriously.

A middle-class lifestyle really has become unaffordable for too many Americans. Immigration has uprooted working-class neighborhoods in Europe. Yet women do still face discrimination in the workplace and racism and transphobia are still prevalent.

College-educated, English-speaking Westerners who don’t mind moving to another city, state or country for a job — or who have the entrepreneurial spirit and social capital to freelance or start their own business — thrive in the footloose economy. If you’re a factory worker or a truck driver and your job could be shipped to Mexico or given to an Eastern European posted worker at any moment, it’s hard to see how the gig economy works for you.

If you’re a young woman, a person of color or don’t identify as straight, you probably feel it is about time society’s gender, racial and sexual norms caught up with you. If you’re a middle-aged white man who’s unsure what’s the appropriate way to talk about these issues anymore, then change can feel bewildering. Ask your grandfather.

Taking a step back, it seems to me we have two overarching challenges:

  1. Finding a way to give workers without a university education the chance to make a valuable contribution to society.
  2. Updating our social norms in such a way that everybody (or at least the vast majority of people) can accept change.

We are living with the legacy of a social compact that was built on strong trade unions, lifetime employment and health and pension benefits tied to salaried jobs. The Left needs to stop defending an outdated model. The Right must accept that it can’t dismantle the welfare state without putting something better in its place.

Sensible people can agree that losing a job shouldn’t mean losing your health care; that employers shouldn’t have to go through months of arbitration to fire somebody for cause; that entrepreneurs shouldn’t have to wade through mountains of paperwork to start a business; that the tax system shouldn’t discourage workers from switching between part-time and full-time jobs.

We need to make taxes and benefits more flexible. We could have tax-exempt family savings accounts to pay for certain health-care and educational expenses. We could have a basic income or a universal credit. Different countries will try different things and we’ll see what works best. But we need to have the same goal: to design our way of life around people: families and communities, instead of jobs. This would help restore a sense of dignity and make (other) identity issues feel less urgent.

But it won’t make them go away entirely. People won’t change their minds about bathroom laws because they can now afford to send their kids to college. That will take time and a constant willingness to empathize and explain. Gaining rights and recognition is one thing; gaining acceptance another.

And that’s not something that can be won through elections or litigation. It’s something we all need to do: by listening and recognizing that sometimes the things we do or say hurt or limit others in ways that we didn’t realize.

The meaning of democracy is not winning 50 percent plus one vote, and then vanquishing your rivals into oblivion. It’s a process. If we want to avoid splitting into parallel societies that ignore and misunderstand, each other, then we all need to make the effort.

 

Nick Ottens is the founder and editor of the transatlantic opinion website Atlantic Sentinel.

61 Comments

  1. JackbeThimble says

    Points for first time I have ever seen he word ‘pleonasm’ used in a sentence.

  2. Sarcasmisgreat says

    Wow, did t realize that Republicans are uneducated, uncultured, selfish, sexist, and homophobic. I also learned that Hilary Clinton is none of these things. Thank you for this great lesson!

    • Mike says

      “If you’re a middle-aged white man who’s unsure what’s the appropriate way to talk about these issues anymore, then change can feel bewildering.”

      Um, no. If you use the wrong words, no matter how well meaning, you’ll lose your career or have your head caved in. There’s only so many beatings that you’ll take before you realize that the other side is actually the side that’s on your side.

  3. Barry says

    “Just flip on Fox News to see stereotypical Democrats and coastal ‘elites’ lampooned as lazy, deviant, precious or generally offensive and worthless,” writes Josh Marshall.

    I don’t watch Fox News, but picking it to typify polarized political ridicule – in an age when one can’t watch late night talk shows, award shows, or even listen to public radio without being berated by the snide sarcasm of the left – seems remarkably selective.

    As a university-educated progressive Canadian voter who has supported all parties across the spectrum, I certainly agree that the discourse of the left has helped solidify my future votes for conservative options.

  4. As the above responses should indicate, the author has their head squarely up his own backside. Best of luck in the next election cycle.

  5. Matt says

    In terms of moving away from the valuing the worth of the individual based on the job they do, I do wonder what a minimum monthly wage would do for social cohesion. I realize its early days in that experiment but I think its going to make an interesting study after say 10 years of it.

    There is no doubt that dramatic financial inequality in a society causes a lot of problems in terms of overall instances of poor mental and physical health, access to education, even violence and drug abuse. Particularly if you have nothing and little family support.

    In saying that, I think that while it “might” help to pick up the fortunes of people in the underclass and lower level of the social pyramid, which is in itself extremely useful, I don’t think it will do much to fix this political divide we have. The game of identity and collective politics seems to be played overwhelming by the middle class and to some extent the elites. The poor just want to survive and the rich are too busy getting richer.

    Also, there is no doubt that these ANTIFA thugs are getting more violent and more brazen. You can’t talk to somebody that is literally taking physical action to stop you speaking. Those people need to be stopped, violently if necessary.

  6. Sapere Aude! says

    I am not sure the terms “left” and “right” make sense anymore, but I would say I lean left on most issues. Still, I think the blame for the current political crisis lies overwhelmingly with the liberal center and the identitarian left. The reason for that is that this ideological spectrum holds a near-monopoly in the most important institutions in the west.

    The rise of the radical right is a backlash that could be seen coming a mile off, and is a largely legitimate response to the hubris of elites who appear more interested in preaching from on high than serving the people who support their lifestyles and (in the case of politicians) elect them.

    The biggest mistake on the elite centre and left is the assumption that this is a problem of communication – that the problem is people don’t understand what is good for them and are simply being misled by propaganda. Immigration is the number one issue, and, in actual fact, looking at the empirical evidence (with regard to crime, social trust etc.) the fear of mass immigration is totally justified. Social democrats should be able to acknowledge that social democracy can only thrive in high-trust societies, which I. turn reqyire high cultural homogeneity. Sweden will be an interesting test case.

  7. Sapere Aude! says

    Just to add to my previous comment, the rise of nationalism on the right is also a totally predictable reaction to the left’s current obsession with identity politics. If people perceive that they are being targeted (as white men are) on the basis on immutable characteristics such as race and gender, unless they are suicidal they will inevitably end up banding together in their own interest. That is the alt-right in a nutshell. It’s starting to look like the left has decided to open Pandora’s box.

    • Matt says

      Obviously that will happen. Its perfectly natural and normal. The extent to which it happens depends on how hard the left push. If they are smart they will back off, because simple numbers indicates these people are not going to “win”, whatever that is.

  8. ga gamba says

    Yet women do still face discrimination in the workplace

    How so? The wage/earnings gap has been debunked. Women employed full time in the UK work about 5 hours fewer than men per week, yet they think they’re doing the same job. Further, same work for same pay, which used to be the demand as was achieved, morphed into equal work for equal pay, where dissimilar jobs are compared. You think a lawyer and a librarian are equal jobs? You may file a complaint.

    Employers actually recruit for women and inform men they’re ineligible. Women are provided all kinds of legs up in mentoring, professional development, even female-only training ,and promotions. When a private individual endowed a veterinary science scholarship with his own money that prefers men over women in an academic area where women are 90% of the students presently, the ladies were “horrified” and threw a fit. It’s not even a male-only scholarship, and much of the intent was to get vets to treat large animals in rural areas because the female graduates prefer to treat urban pets. Stacking the deck in favour of women is so normalised that people take this discrimination as a given; it feels so right that it’s lauded. It isn’t right. It’s as repellent as when done in the reverse.

    and racism and transphobia are still prevalent.

    The discriminatory acts in favour of women I cited are also found with these groups. A recent example being the BBC’s announcement for no-whites hiring. Even the Labour Party, the party of “equality” and “fairness”, is getting in on the act.

    Make no mistake. These are institutions using discrimination systematically to create systemic oppression. “But they’re doing it for the right reasons!” They aren’t ending discrimination, they are reversing it, and reversing it is discrimination moving in the opposite direction. There’s your prevalence of isms and obias.

    Reading Mr Otten’s piece I was left with the impression positive discrimination/affirmative action, i.e. bigoted practices, and UBI are “centrist” positions. Are they? Or, by including them amongst other less contentious issues, has Mr Otten reframed them to be “centrist”? I always thought discrimination against anyone is wrong. I thought benefits given to those in need are a temporary measure until they can get back on their feet again. Is endless discrimination and money given to everyone forever “just ‘cuz” the centrist position? Am I the radical?

    The meaning of democracy is not winning 50 percent plus one vote, and then vanquishing your rivals into oblivion.

    Agreed. Which is why national constitutions provide numerous protections (speech and assembly freedoms, presumption of innocence, etc.) to thwart the tyranny of the majority. The framers saw the threat to this hundred of years ago. Does Otten believe we have this tyranny presently? We don’t. What we have presently are numerous actions, mostly by progressives, to undermine our legal protections under the guise of social justice. If they succeed, we’ll surely see genuine tyranny then.

    But it may not even have to be a majority. If you read Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s “Skin in the Game” he explains how a stubborn, inflexible minority, evenly distributed across society, can impose its will on the majority who have been conditioned to be flexible, seek compromise, and go with the flow. It’s important centrists still have principles they adhere to. Saying no is always an acceptable answer.

  9. DiscoveredJoys says

    Piling up stereotypes on ‘both’ side may be balanced but it doesn’t promote the ‘lets all work together’ idea, it just reinforces the polarisation. It also leaves out the uncommitted middle.

    You could argue that politics is like ‘the market’. For centuries we have had various flavours of authoritarian governance play out, the better ones succeeding, the worse ones losing. Only in the last 40 years or so has ‘liberal’ politics gained the largest market share. It’s success is now ‘overcooked’ and a market adjustment should be anticipated. But politics, like markets, is not driven by entirely rational considerations *on either side*.

    In the meantime the world rolls on.

  10. Veronica says

    ‘If you’re reading this, chances are you’re university-educated, agnostic or atheist, no longer live in your hometown, have traveled to different countries, are relaxed about cultural and demographic changes, binge-watch drama series on Netflix, speak a second language and perhaps even supported Hillary Clinton in 2016.’

    Something missing here. I’m uni-educated, moved from my hometown (to a different country), I speak 5 languages. I’m also religious, I’m worried about the abovementioned changes, I have no time for Netflix and while I’m not from the US, I would certainly support Trump. And I often read Quillette – also because it did not try such guesses on who I am before. Think again.

    • SweetPeavey says

      The author was not trying to guess anything about you, he was making a mostly accurate generalization about people who identify as center left or classic liberal, which is the ideological orientation of the essays on this site and the people who read them, there are always exceptions though, you appear to be one, congrats.
      I didn’t finish university and only speak one language but the other ones describe me well enough, and I recognize the general truth of his representation of typical centrist liberalism, which is peripheral to the main point about the inability of left and right to carry on respectful dialogue and how that is driving people to the fringes

  11. This is one of the first quillette pieces that I completely disagree with from start to finish.

    • Middle-Aged White Hetero Man in Ohio says

      Bryn Jones, how so?

  12. David Johnson says

    I agree with much of this article, however…

    “But it won’t make them go away entirely. People won’t change their minds about bathroom laws because they can now afford to send their kids to college. That will take time and a constant willingness to empathize and explain. Gaining rights and recognition is one thing; gaining acceptance another.”

    This appears to assume that such acceptance is desirable, sensible and in the interests of those from whom acceptance is sought. The onus to change minds is firmly placed on those who, for example, currently don’t want a change in ‘bathroom laws’. No justification for that belief is given.

    • Jake says

      We should just have separate tranny bathrooms. I don’t trust guys who say they are girls now In the bathroom with my nieces . Women shouldn’t have to go through the anxiety of wondering if the person next to them has a pecker.

  13. KDM says

    The author seems to assume “Change” is an absolute good and should be embraced by the plebs when coming from the anointed enlightened ones. Ummm…. no.
    Just a brief glance through the 20th century alone will inform one that change not only isn’t always desireable but can be downright dangerous. See (for starters) The Bolshevik Revolution, the fall of the Weimar Republic to the Third Reich, Venezuelan Socialism as recent as the late 1990’s. These were all changes, all of them venerated as beneficial and good from the elite professorial class (whom are mostly exceedingly hostile to business and capitalism, no matter what kind of empiracle or statistical evidence is put forth).

    Add to that the multiple (and i mean many, many multitudes) of policy failure from the expert technocrats and I have to wonder about authors like you who seem to have been born yesterday or have a killer case of historical amnesia.

    It is not xenophobic, bigoted or racist to revere your culture (not ethnicity but culture) and to want limits on immigration. Future historians (the ones that read history) and scholars will look back on mass immigration from the 3rd world to the West as one of the biggest blunders of the 21st century. The utter hubris and errogance of bureaucrat paper pushers whom have no skin in the game (in the words of Nicholas Taleb) are and will be seen as the cause of this horrendous rift throughout the Western world.

  14. I am reading this:

    ✅ University-educated
    ✅ Agnostic or atheist
    ✅ No longer live in your hometown: Lived in a metropolitan city since 18 after moving from a small town
    ✅ Have traveled to different countries: Have visited over 20 countries, lived in Central/South America and Asia for extended periods
    ✅ Are relaxed about cultural and demographic changes
    ✅ Binge-watch drama series on Netflix
    ✅ Speak a second language
    ❌ Supported Hillary Clinton in 2016: Did not vote for Trump, but considered him a necessary vaccine and understood that he would win, and why

    We do live in parallel societies, and I would encourage the author to look deeper, because they seem to think they understand the dynamic far better than they actually do.

  15. K.M. says

    “If you’re a young woman, a person of color or don’t identify as straight, you probably feel it is about time society’s gender, racial and sexual norms caught up with you.”

    On the contrary, as someone who’s 3 for 3 on your list, I think we’re actually doing great in terms of civil equality but there’s a crisis manufactured by activists and groups who aim for “equality of outcome” rather than “equality of treatment and opportunity”. We’re not doing worse, it’s just that some people have decided to pursue supremacy instead of equality.

    There are some good goals and desires expressed in the article, but if you buy into the idea that gender, racial and sexual norms have “fallen behind,” I can’t say I’m impressed by your powers of insight.

  16. David J says

    @K.M.

    “there’s a crisis manufactured by activists and groups who aim for “equality of outcome” rather than “equality of treatment and opportunity”. We’re not doing worse, it’s just that some people have decided to pursue supremacy instead of equality”

    I wholly agree. Excellently put.

    • K.M. says

      Thank you! Though I’m worried that while aiming for brevity I lost some nuance. But I think you get my gist when I say these groups use the process of: redefine equality -> demand the world meet your new definition of equality -> general public doesn’t notice the switcheroo and starts to think the world must be in very bad shape

  17. This is the most amazingly arrogant piece that I’ve read in quite a while. I learned that whites and Republicans are racist, anti-immigrant and homophobic. They are “bewildered” by expansion of rights? [sigh]

    It couldn’t just be that we believe that societies are best served by certain cultural stability and children are best raised by a mother and a father?

    Maybe the people who disagree with you have sound reasons for their beliefs, which have nothing to do with hatred or bewilderment.

    Nah, that can’t be it.

    The author is remarkably arrogant. Remarkably.

  18. Like someone above said, this is the first Quillette article I found offensive from start to finish—and I’m not a Republican. It’s basically an expanded version of Clinton’s ‘deplorables’ comment. There is no hate, fear, or bewilderment to be found in the overwhelming vast majority of this country’s inhabitants. I would go on but, eh, I don’t suppose it will make a difference.

  19. Maureen says

    The comments are my consolation. The article itself was pure drivel: myriad claims with no basis in fact made by someone who has a much higher opinion of his intellect than should. However, the comments have been quite enjoyable to read. So, not a complete waste of time. Quillette is one of those great venues where the readers are frequently more interesting than the contributors.

    • tillurdizzy says

      Yes, it pure drivel,but it’s exactly what leftists / Liberals / Democrats think of anyone who disagrees with them. We are all uneducated, stupid dolts. They don’t have a clue who we are, not do they have a clue who they themselves are.

  20. Nicholas Conrad says

    “If we keep doing this, there won’t be anyone left in the center anymore to bridge our differences.”

    You forget about Libertarians! Never fear, we’ll always be squarely in the middle, drawing fire from both sides.

  21. Paul says

    Disappointed, as are many posters, to see this unthinking mis-mash of unargued assumptions on Quillette, which up to this point has been admirably sharp, non-partisan and intellectually rigorous – a rare combination indeed. Please do not move further in this HuffPo direction.

    • Stoyan says

      what are you on about. this is great you think shitpo will allow this kind of variaety of articles on their platform? no. id rather see suck articles all the time and see them eaten alive in the comments than not. its this mentality that we have to blame the platform for the content on it. get your head out of your ass its, this is why youtube turning into such a turd, because everyone started blaming the platform for things other people have posted on it.

  22. Huffpo? Is that you?

    Me:
    University, 3 languages, live abroad, catholic but pro-choice, fine with gays, etc etc, but if I see something swinging down below in the locker room, I’ll chop it off.

    The left jumped the shark some time back. Articles like this prove it.

  23. SweetPeavey says

    It might that the title of the essay is more appropriate than than the author intended as I seem to have read a separate but parallel essay than many of you, I see nothing arrogant or offensive about it and rather than mimic the identitarian-left style of the HuffPo it spends a good deal of time blaming it, in part, for our fraught political situation.
    The generalizations the author makes about center-liberals on one side and Trump voters on the other,(notice he said Trump voters, not conservatives or right wingers), are broad but reflect the data as I understand it.
    Pointing out the various ways in which you differ from the generalizations or taking those generalizations personally in any way doesn’t seem relevant or useful, in fact, doing so kind of makes the author’s point for him doesn’t it?
    Getting offended and buttsore over details and trivia and assumptions while the overall claims of the essay remain unexamined? Then in a blaze of reactive hypocrisy and/or tribal retribution, blurt out a string of the sort of generalizations and stereotypes and contempt that you claimed to be offended by in the first place.

    Jesus, listen to yourselves,”the left has jumped the shark”, “pure drivel”, everything about the article is wrong, nothing is right, he’s an arrogant liberal scumbag…attack! Attack! If you think this is only a liberal left problem, you are mistaken, and if you think the author, who takes care to point out that neither side is blameless on this issue, is an irredeemable HuffPo-style identitarian leftie, than to me you are a walking, talking example of the author’s point.

    • KPC says

      To blame a winning formula like Identity Politics is of little use, just like assuming that Identity Politics divides society and not that a divided society leads to Identity Politics, the arrogance is in assuming that is both sides’ fault or that more racial and gender laws are needed, that’s just cultural decadence. I think many countries have reached the limit and the moment for a divorce due to a divergence too big to fix has come, kicking the can down the road won’t help.
      I have no problem with the idea of doing away with welfare entirely, even if that means that some people will not have health care and others won’t be able to have 5-8 kids at taxpayers expenses.
      the best substitution to welfare is a system of tax-exempt saving accounts he describes, but that has to be only for families, more taxes and restrictions on single people are necessary if “we need to have the same goal: to design our way of life around people: families and communities, instead of jobs”, I am not thrilled at the idea but I agree that it is necessary, just don’t expect the government to do that. He can try to sell this to the hyper-individualist society but he has to know that the acceptance and tolerance he wants are a risk to his goal, he can’t have it both ways.

      • KPC says

        “If you’re a young woman, a person of color or don’t identify as straight, you probably feel it is about time society’s gender, racial and sexual norms caught up with you”
        I don’t know what he means by this since all this groups have the rights they need everything else is privilege, he is mistaking narcissism for legitimate issues.
        “If you’re a middle-aged white man who’s unsure what’s the appropriate way to talk about these issues anymore, then change can feel bewildering. Ask your grandfather…Updating our social norms in such a way that everybody (or at least the vast majority of people) can accept change”
        Someone in the late Czarist period must have said something similar: “Trust me Change will come and it will be for the better of everyone. Accept it, I am talking at you farmers”. As said before, he has to choose between a stable society or more of the same; there’s a lot of arrogance in assuming he can have it both ways and then simply think that any further opposition can be simply assigned to bigotry. Face it, going back to the 19th or 20th century won’t solve 21st century problems.

  24. KPC says

    As someone else as noticed I don’t know if the arrogance comes from an historically illiterate perspective, that favor Change and the Educated Class at all costs, and simply assign guilt to ‘both’ sides, even when it’s fairly clear that this is not the case. The “Educated” elites, if years of ideological lobotomy can be described as education, has given the world starvation and genocide in one century, the Iraq invasion and the 2008 crisis the other, those where Change too so I woudn’t put my trust in what seems more and more a groupthink with large bank accounts.
    As the title suggests we live in parallel societies and I don’t think that going back to an imaginary state of unity is the solution, nor do I think is necessary as terrible as is depicted, in fact I think that parting ways is a better option; as much I don’t like Identity Politics I am ware that most of the dislike that is displayed against it comes from a not so well hidden fear that whites will regain a sense of racial identity.
    What the author seems to propose is more of same: more welfare, more ‘education’, more gender politics, and ignore demographics especially when Demography is Destiny and votes for me, until the bigoted plebs swallow the Revolution and surrender to the Great March of History and to the decadence of the cultural and political left, accept this philosophical death scream of a suicidal civilization.
    When it comes to the issue of identity one must remember that nations exist as long the magiority believes in them and decades of anti civic nationalism is showing its fruits, maybe the moment for the long united empire to divide has come.
    “If you’re a young woman, a person of color or don’t identify as straight, you probably feel it is about time society’s gender, racial and sexual norms caught up with you.”
    No. I fit 2 of those 3 categories and I am aware that I have all the rights I need and some privileges as well, it just happens that I don’t think that someone with a lighter skin tone than me must bow to my demands and stopped listening to well funded activists. My dislike of Racial and Gender politics and their lack of respect for the individual doesn’t mean I endorse the postmodern view of human nature, as much I would like it to be true; the fragmentation of western society can be ascribed to changing demographics, differences in individualism vs collectivism and altruism between and within populations, so better keep that in mind because ignoring it caused this situation alongside a lack of selective immigration.
    What is to be done? Who knows? maybe the formation of City-States based on shared interests with strong borders and positive birth-rates and less faux tolerance to help immigrants assimilate, the use of saving accounts to avoid the use of welfare, which is a way for the government to control the population, more research and development of genetic technologies to increase human intelligence. I don’t know what will work but I know that the rhetoric and thinking here displayed won’t. Is this the moment for the anointed class to step down from the pedestal?

    P.S: I live in Italy and you can guess with 90% accuracy my view of the election. The left here started to behave like their friends in the English speaking countries and left the economy to the EU.

    P.S.S: ‘Bathroom laws’??? Seriously?

    • KPC says

      There are very good reason to be against welfare entitlements: it’s dysgenic since it allows for the least productive members of society to reproduce, it’s a burden to society and force productive citizens to pay for it, it’s a way for the government to buy its citizens and generate an underclass deprived of autonomy. At the same time young people should be helped to start their own business, further their education and get married with children, but I don’t trust a large government to do it, maybe cities, communities and even churches can offer services that incentivize positive behavior and punish anti social members of the community. How can someone do it? I don’t know but I wouldn’t promote the “tolerance/anything goes” doctrine and then be surprised when everything it is still the same, nor ignoring demographics will work in the long term.
      Maybe Center-Left/Left/Social Liberalism should take a pause to reflect in what way it has contributed to the current situation with its cultural battles and understand if it’s needed for the solution, or people will be better served without it.
      Is Democracy still a valuable option? Or is it an impediment to a new way forward? Political parties will do what gives them more voters not necessary what’s best for the citizens

    • Bill says

      The irony I caught is the placement of blame on both sides is taken as the “correct” position; however, I seem to recall that when the same was said about Antifa vs the Neo Nazis in Charlottesville it was an unacceptable statement.

  25. John McCormick says

    This is the first Quillette article that made me laugh out loud. This is priceless:

    “1. Finding a way to give workers without a university education the chance to make a valuable contribution to society.”

    As far as parallel societies, they aren’t parallel at all. The author is speaking from a society that exists within the dominant society as a child’s play house exists inside the home his or her parents have provided. That world is inhabited by people whose affluence has led them to believe that their privilege, real privilege, entitles them not only to the latest gadgets and fashions, but also to an entirely new reality, a fantasy world, that the rest of us (you know, the ones who can’t make valuable contributions to society because they don’t have university educations) are tasked with supporting. Maybe Elon Musk can oblige us by sending them, one by one if necessary, to Mars. Well, one can hope.

  26. augustine says

    I always imagine or hope that authors of Quillette articles intently peruse the comments section. In this case, as in most others, I sincerely hope so.

    “Yascha Mounk… has argued that when people see their economic prospects diminish, it becomes harder for them to find an earned social identity so they end up focusing on other identities, like nationality, race or religion.”

    I like the idea of an “earned social identity” and I think I get it but the question begs, why should anyone who develops such an identity abandon their nationality, gender, race or religion in the first place? Could a person not have all these identities at once, with different “cards” carrying a low or high value depending on conditions? E.g., if anyone has to rely on race as a primary social identity that is probably not a good thing. But the way the author expresses this idea it suggests to me the modern liberal quest for individual autonomy, where particular qualifiers we may cling to are relegated to the bin of history.

    “But we need to have the same goal: to design our way of life around people: families and communities, instead of jobs.”

    Sounds OK but do the globalists and their toadies know of this “families and communities” you speak of? Their planning is centered on forming the atomized, atheistic, rootless individual in order to extract the maximum from labor and natural resources. So far they are doing very well. This is one philosophic area where left and right could, in theory, meet to push back a common enemy. Maybe that will happen someday.

  27. muguet says

    >The meaning of democracy is not winning 50 percent plus one vote, and then vanquishing your rivals into oblivion…It’s a process. If we want to avoid splitting into parallel societies that ignore and misunderstand, each other, then we all need to make the effort.

    You may prefer softer branding, but that is the Trump-voter UX. Researchers and students live in fear of social capital destruction through informers discovering their crimethink. Firearms owners constructed an entire culture from the losing end of this paradigm.

    US politics historically employed parallel societies – federalism – as a palliative. Breaching these safe spaces to brutally impose foreign values doesn’t encourage cooperation. It clarifies conflict.

  28. Steven says

    I haven’t commented here in quite some time, but the level of anger directed at the author really compelled me to do so.

    This was an intelligent and thoughtful discussion of the divides in our society that we should be aware of. The level of rage directed at the author reminds me of the student protests, hyperventilating in horror that someone with opposing views would dare come into “their” space and speak words they disagree with.

    Food for thought.

    • Inanna says

      I think it was more that everyone thought the essay was factually wrong, naive, ideological and presumptuous. The right is seens as transphobic and racists and sexist and homophobic. Spend a week watching Fox News. They really really aren’t any more. Not wanting certain laws about bathrooms does not necessarily come from a place of hating actual trans people (lots of trans people hated that law too btw). People are seeing *their* working class neighborhoods change literally in the space of a few years into places that are not western, not first world. They are told they are nazis for complaining. Their voices are legitimate, and the author completely misses this.

      • Steven says

        Then I would have welcomed more responses showing where it was factually wrong. Most responses were either ad homs or “I am X and do not have Y characteristics; therefore everything you said is false!”

        The author did not claim “bathroom laws” come out of a place of hate, but ignorance or dislike of change. As I am not sure which specific law you are referring to, I can’t possibly check whether “lots of trans people hate it”; can you be more specific?

        As to whether “they” are nazis for complaining, it would depend on the complaint. Saying you dislike more non-white people in “your” neighborhood is obviously racist. How has “your” neighborhood become “not western, not first world”?

        You need to be more specific here. What specifically is it you are opposing. If your complaint is non-white people live near you and this is somehow an issue, it is racist as a question of basic fact. If you have some other complaint related to the changes in your neighborhood, tells us what specifically you oppose.

        • augustine says

          The fact that you put “your” in front of neighborhood seems to say something about how you see the world, in social terms at least. Why the scare quotes? Would you use “your” country in the same way?

        • Kurt says

          Re: “What specifically is it you are opposing. If your complaint is non-white people live near you and this is somehow an issue, it is racist as a question of basic fact. If you have some other complaint related to the changes in your neighborhood, tells us what specifically you oppose.”

          I oppose those who’s bright idea it was to transplant a significant portion of the population of Somalia to Minneapolis, so they could feel good about themselves and gain Democrat votes.

          I oppose terrorist attacks at Minnesota malls that have become a regular occurance. I oppose the very real possibility that something big and catatrophic will occur at Mall Of America that was unthinkable a few short years ago.

          I oppose by paying tens of thousands of underskilled people enough tax dollars to survive without working or integrating, so they can exist in their insular communities and seethe at the meaningless of their existence here – a meaningless spoken to by ISIS and ever more radical local mosques.

          I oppose a darling of the left and member of the Minnesota legislature, with a penchant for fabricating hoax anti-Muslim hate incidents meant to divide, that is also clearly guilty of immigration fraud.

          Good enough for you? Racist as a basic fact?

          • Steven says

            It is my understanding, the number of Somali refugees in Minnesota is around 25,000. The current population estimate for Somalia is around 14 million. Regardless, our nation has a long and proud history of taking in refugees from around the world. My ancestors were refugees who came here after WWII. They were attacked verbally and physically for their religion, names and for celebrating traditions which differed from most Americans. They had few marketable skills, none of which were heavily in demand. That said, they worked hard, learned and contributed to society; just as millions upon millions of other refugees had throughout American history despite being met with hatred and violence from many Americans.

            If your ancestors sailed here in the lap of luxury, then I am happy for you. Most of the people who came to this country did not.

            After a search on terrorist attacks at Minnesota malls, I found two in the last 2 years. This is not generally seen as “common”.

            As for the general life of Somali refugees coming to America, see below:

            http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/02/us/somali-minnesota-photos/

            Since this question comes from both you and augustine, I will provide an answer to both: telling people you dislike new neighbors with different color skin from yours is pretty much the definition of racism. Some believe a neighborhood is “theirs” because they live there, but this is mistaken. Your neighbors have just as much right to live in the neighborhood as you do. If their traditions, beliefs, religion or skin color differs from yours: tough. That is no one else’s problem.

  29. augustine says

    “telling people you dislike new neighbors with different color skin from yours is pretty much the definition of racism.”

    You are loading your premise with “you dislike”. It’s not about dislike, it is about valid objections to belligerent or destructive or criminal behavior on the part of new arrivals, whether those involved are of different races or the same race. Are Kurt’s objections legitimate in your view or not? You don’t say but instead haul out the anodyne rhetoric of our “long and proud history of taking in refugees from around the world.” No critical thought on the subject is evident in your comment.

    Terrorism is only a small part of the tactics of aggressive Islamic influx. I suspect you know that.

    My neighbors have just as much right to live there as me, yes, as a general statement. So then it would be *our* neighborhood, right? Theirs as much as mine. So why did you use scare quotes around “your”? Would you also say “my” neighborhood for your own case?

    • Steven says

      What are these valid objections?

      When “new arrivals” more commonly referred to as fellow Americans are subject to belligerent, destructive or criminal behavior by their new neighbors for the dastardly offense being immigrants; what makes their suffering less legitimate?

      I have already answered Kurt’s points, if you are unclear, try reading my post. If you think the fact our nation has a long and proud history or taking in refugees is “anodyne rhetoric”, I feel sorry for you.

      I pointed out his statements were inaccurate. This is traditionally what people mean when we say critical thought.

      I am not sure what these “tactics of aggressive Islamic influx” you refer to are. Are they similar to the rising number of hate crimes perpetrated against Muslims in this country?

      As to your last point, absolutely right on all counts. I used quotes to point out the absurdity of the claim that the neighborhood you live in is, in any sense, yours. It belongs to the people who live in it, you, the guy you lived next door to since you were ten, and the Muslims who just moved in down the block. Pretending otherwise is simply ignorant.

      • Kurt says

        >>It is my understanding, the number of Somali refugees in Minnesota is around 25,000.

        Highly debatable:

        https://www.sctimes.com/story/news/local/immigration/2016/01/10/fact-check-how-many-refugees-live-here/78415922/

        >>Regardless, our nation has a long and proud history of taking in refugees from around the world.

        The point being? Are any limits acceptable? Are borders and immigration standards as concepts acceptable or just a manifestations of racism?

        >>My ancestors were refugees who came here after WWII. They were attacked verbally and physically for their religion, names and for celebrating traditions which differed from most Americans.

        How many of your ancestors attacked their new countrymen in the name of their religion or went back to their home religion to fight a religious war?

        >>That said, they worked hard, learned and contributed to society; just as millions upon millions of other refugees had throughout American history despite being met with hatred and violence from many Americans.

        Violence from many Americans? You really don’t think much of your fellow citizens, do you Steve? And I call BS on your ancestors’ victimhood . Where, when and who? What kind of violence?

        After a search on terrorist attacks at Minnesota malls, I found two in the last 2 years. This is not generally seen as “common”.

        Twice in 2 years is a bit more common than never ever before, no? Which way is the trend going? How many religiously motivated attacks are acceptable? Is there any reason to believe this won’t continue to escalate?

        >>As for the general life of Somali refugees coming to…

        No doubt many Somalia are fine people that like to go bowling, ride boats and mean no harm. The vast majority, probably.

        Then there are these ones…

        https://duckduckgo.com/?q=somali+minnesota+isis

        What about them, Steve? Just new neighbors we violent racist Americans deserve? Because of what? Treatment of Native Americans? Violence toward your ancestrors? What?

        >>telling people you dislike new neighbors with different color skin from yours is pretty much the definition of racism.

        Who mentioned skin color?

        >>Some believe a neighborhood is “theirs” because they live there, but this is mistaken. Your neighbors have just as much right to live in the neighborhood as you do. If their traditions, beliefs, religion or skin color differs from yours: tough. That is no one else’s problem.

        Somewhere in there is a point, I guess. Do you believe in the right of any nation to control who comes and stays?

        Is anything other than complete acceptance of any group’s right to move in and bring a threatening element racist by definition? Is there nothing about the culture of long time Minnesota inhabitants worth preserving, or should the rubes just get over themselves, keep writing the checks, passively accept the growing terror threat, and undersrand that it isn’t “our” neighborhood anymore?

        >>When “new arrivals” more commonly referred to as fellow Americans…

        Actually, new arrivals aren’t referred to as fellow Americans by anybody. Maybe someday they will be. The problem is, many aren’t interested in your designation, even the second generation with automatic citizenship; something that sets them apart from your storied ancestors. We should be happy about this why?

        >>are subject to belligerent, destructive or criminal behavior by their new neighbors for the dastardly offense being immigrants; what makes their suffering less legitimate?

        You really do hate your fellow Amercans don’t you, Steve? The suffering must not be too extreme if they chose to stay, which the vast majority do. This seems to be the cruelest place on the planet, except for all others. Deep down they – and you – know why.

        >>This is traditionally what people mean when we say critical thought.

        No, it really isnt. It is traditionally what people mean when we say SJW pablum.

        • Steven says

          First, your link conflates people of Somali descent with Somali refugees. These terms are not interchangeable.

          Second, deciding what constitutes an acceptable number of refugees is an open question. Your comments clearly indicate the number you would accept is zero. I am in favor of giving at least some people the benefit of the doubt just as my ancestors received it.

          My ancestors were law abiding citizens. The only time I am aware of them becoming violent is when my grandfather was assaulted by Americans for having the wrong religion/nation of origin. But the fact is most Somali refugees are not criminals. Pretending otherwise because a mall is attacked by one person a year is dishonest.

          Insisting that because a tiny fraction have committed crimes we need to keep 100% of them out is the kind of hysterics typical of the anti-immigration movements throughout US history. Do you believe that the people from the country of your ancestors were all (without exception) honest, law abiding people? Would you have thought it acceptable to tar your grandparents as violent criminals if not?

          Somali refugees are here legally, how is this hard for you to grasp?

          Nothing sets them apart from my ancestors. They are mostly decent people looking for a fresh start in a safe place. And just like my ancestors, they are the target of hair on fire level hysterics from individuals who deny their status as fellow Americans and demand they all be shipped out if even a single, solitary one ever commits a crime. You may not call them fellow Americans, but that is what they are and what many people do call them.

          Our strength as a nation is that we have had enough enlightened people who can embrace others through our history. Neighborhoods change, people move in and out. If your way of life is truly so amazing, take heart, most people will see this and take steps to adopt it. If not, try learning from those around you instead of condemning them.

          I suggest you stop demeaning your fellow Americans and take a look at yourself in the mirror; ask why you feel such animosity towards others with so little reason.

  30. Pingback: Weekend Reading | Common Sense and Whiskey

  31. John Galt says

    The author of this article is way off an half the points, some correct but my goodness, do some better research. Wow, For my first time reading an article on this site it may be my last. Jordan Peterson gave the impression this was a site for facts not opinion trash that thinks he know what I am thinking or why I voted for Trump.

  32. Bill Kenny says

    I started reading this article in the hope of gaining some insight into what is perceived by some to be a growing or contentious issue in Western society. You will understand my disappointment when in fact I found nothing more than a condescending middle class ‘girn’. I would hope that Mr Ottens could produce some thing better researched and succinct in the future.

  33. “Yet women do still face discrimination in the workplace (…)”

    Pardon me? What world does the author live in? The opposite is the case!

  34. L. Davis says

    I suppose Quillette was trying to find “balance” by getting the pomo, sjw perspective to contribute. Someones going to have to do better than this though. Come on the Left! Give us something worthwhile to discuss!

  35. (NOTE TO EDITORS / ADMINS . PLEASE RELOCATE THE COMMENT BOX TO THE TOP OF THE FOOTER.) It’s convention and putting it at the bottom is a disincentive for conversation.

  36. NO. EUPHEMISMS OBSCURE CAUSE AND SOLUTION

    We aren’t living in ‘parallel societies’ we are living in a EMPIRE just like every other empire in history, and this particular empire has vastly outlived its usefulness.

    Revolt.Separate.Diversify.Specialize.Compete.Innovate.Prosper.

    The answer is simple. We are wealthy enough to afford to express our differing reproductive strategies – strategies in which we can signal our fitness for that strategy optimally.

    There exist only three methods of coercion? masculine violence, and hierarchy, neutral exchange and meritocracy, and feminine disapproval, shaming, ridicule, and rallying and equality.

    The political spectrum reflects these reproductive strategies. (conservative masculine concentration of capital, libertarian exchange-neutral production of capital, and progressive redistributive communal consumption of capital.

    The only solution by which each obtains his optimum interest is by the production of commons best negotiated in his interests.

    Ergo – revolte, separate, diversity, specialize, compete, innovate, and prosper.

    Curt Doolittle
    The Propertarian Institute
    Kiev, Ukraine.

  37. >If you’re reading this, chances are you’re university-educated, agnostic or atheist, no longer live in your hometown, have traveled to different countries, speak a second language

    Yes, but why does that have anything to do with

    >are relaxed about cultural and demographic changes,

    ? What we see today are not value neutral or even positively enriching cultural changes but the mass third worldization of the West, a diversity based reduction of educational and job standards, mass illegitimacy and generally sexual behavior that cause a lot of problems on all levels, and so on, basically all negative things and it should be PRECISELY intelligent and educated people who notice it first!

    The reason they don’t notice it is that they are ideologically educated at the university. While my college educatiomn was very technical and everything I know about social matters I have read from books I wanted to read, and it was not so hard to stumble on rightist perspectives which actually confirmed what I saw with my own eyes.

    >and perhaps even supported Hillary Clinton in 2016.

    Not American but for the above reason, not.

    >binge-watch drama series on Netflix,

    Wait, are smart people supposed to do that? Come on. I don’t even have it, I don’t have that much time to waste and if I do I would watch something more technical like Top Gear.

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