It’s a weird time to be a neutral spectator of international politics. Opinions are more factioned than ever, Facebook is the king of confirmation biases and conspiration theories, and people struggle to have a moderate, open debate about the lightest topic.
People are more fierce than ever in the defense of their views and beliefs – more than that, they take every opportunity to, using ever stronger language, to confirm their identity.
The truth is, if you hold any belief very strongly, you should question it. That’s why I love communities like ChangeAView.
Let’s take the left and right of the political spectrum as an example:
A fallacy on the Left
Marx was a political and economic genius. Even so, all his theory – and the several stages of it – laid on one premise: Capitalism couldn’t reinvent itself. In the early 1800s in England, with the Industrial Revolution in full swing, it was hard to believe that there was another way for Capitalism to exist, other than exploiting workers so that owners could be richer than ever.
Turns out, that’s not the only option.
Capitalism has been reinvented, many times over: we now have worker protections, social security, and many other things. It’s far from perfect, there’s no question about that. But it has evolved.
What I mean by this is that the flaws we see today in our society are there not because we’re in a capitalist society, but because we haven’t addressed them yet. The left has a tendency to ignore that this path can, and should be made without the need to find another political system that could work better than capitalism. What we know so far is that Communism is not a solution, but every leftist struggles to explain what the alternative would be.
A fallacy on the Right
If you lean right on the political spectrum, you probably agree with my argument above. That doesn’t mean, I’m afraid, that I believe the Right is correct in its analysis of what’s needed to have a more prosperous society.
The reason for this is that most right-wing arguments have an underlying premise that is, well, wrong. That premise is meritocracy.
I think everyone agrees that people that work more, should get more. People that have better grades should have access to more opportunities, and so on and so forth. This is the basis for the Liberal argument: Let meritocracy define who wins and who loses, instead of being the government to twist the system, making it inherently unfair (usually against the elites).
This is all well and good, if and only if, we all played by the same rules. If, as a student, you don’t eat well everyday, live in a dangerous neighborhood, don’t have access to books, or so many other issues, you have to run for much longer, and with much more effort, than a priviledged, rich student.
If we all had the same resources growing up, both intellectual and material (acess to the best resources, best schools, best tutors, confortable home, etc), then meritocracy was fair. In 2020, it means the same as Utopia.
These are just two quick examples of the complexity of the issues we have to deal with when we’re discussing what’s best for our society. If we start the discussion already on one of the trenches, our objective stops being to find solutions, but to confirm our identity.
And that makes all the noise we see less of a discussion, and more of attacks on political identity.
This is happening everyday on Social Media, TV, Radio, so many other places. We have to get back to a discussion that is open, well intentioned, and have a common goal: come up with ideas of how our society can be better.