Battles and bewilderment

An extract from Chapter 2 of the book Transcending Politics:

2. Battles and bewilderment

Politics has grown nasty – dangerously nasty.

In recent times, political topics such as immigration, sovereignty, the EU, Jeremy Corbyn, Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Vladimir Putin have become increasingly toxic. Personal relationships fractured, as long-time acquaintances found themselves unexpectedly on opposite sides of spiralling bad-tempered political disagreements. Former friends dismayed each other by championing views previously thought to be beyond the pale. “How can you believe such nonsense?” they gasped to each other, in mutual bewilderment. “Have you taken leave of your senses?”

For many people, social gatherings have become more delicate experiences. We have had to learn to tread gently on eggshells. A Private Eye cartoon captured this sour turn of events as it depicted guests arriving for a wedding ceremony. The guests were asked: “Which side of the family: Brexit or Remain?” Sitting with the wrong camp might provoke a bitter dispute that would overshadow what should be a happy occasion.

With political discussions dominated by hostility and suspicion, it’s no surprise that the conclusions of these discussions fail to take full advantage of the collective insight latent in the community. Our best ideas are drowned out by the loudest voices or flashy distractions. The unwarranted certainty of true-believers leaves little space for the collaborative exploration of more nuanced solutions. “The people have spoken”, we hear. “You lost. Get over it!”

Politics at the speed of light

Some might say that there’s nothing new here. Politics has long had its unpleasant side. Ours is far from the first generation in which people have been deeply troubled by the political opinions of their erstwhile favourite uncles or nieces.

However, six factors deserve special attention as we hurtle towards 2020…

<snip>

Recent Posts

Tools for better politics?

Which solutions most deserve mention, in a list of “tools for better politics”?

Tools for better politics

As I’m reflecting on comments from reviewers of the draft chapters of the forthcoming book Transcending Politics, I’ve reached the view that I should add a new section, towards the end of the book, entitled “Tools well worth watching”.

This will fit well into Chapter 14, “Afterword”, which already contains a similarly-themed section “Communities well worth joining”.

If you have any suggestions or comments, either leave them in the Google Doc for Chapter 14, or as replies to this blogpost.

Ideally the list will include tools applicable to one or more of the systems described below (this is an extract from Chapter 1).

  • Transparency systems, so that the activity of public organisations and decisions are visible, and can be judged more easily and accurately
  • Fact-checking systems to determine more quickly and clearly, via an online lookup, if some information is misleading, deceptive, biased, or in any other way suspect or substandard
  • Thinking training systems to help everyone understand and routinely practice the skills of critical thinking, hypothesis formulation and testing, and independent evaluation of sources
  • Accountability systems to hold people and organisations to account whenever they pass on damaging misinformation – similar to how codes of conduct already operate in the fields of advertising and investment communications
  • Bridging systems to encourage people with strong disagreements to nevertheless explore and appreciate each other’s points of view, so that shared values can be identified and a constructive dialog established
  • Educational systems to keep politicians of all sorts informed, succinctly yet reliably, in timely fashion, about the trends that could require changes in regulations
  • Simulation systems to help politicians of all sorts creatively explore possible new policy frameworks – and to gain a better idea in advance of likely positive and negative consequence of these new ideas
  • Monitoring systems to report objectively on whether regulatory policies are having their desired effect
  • Concentration systems to boost the ability of individual politicians to concentrate on key decisions, and to reach decisions free from adverse tiredness, distraction, bias, or prejudice
  • Encouragement systems to encourage greater positive participation in the political and regulatory processes by people who have a lot to contribute, but who are currently feeling pressure to participate instead in different fields of activity.

One source of ideas, by the way, is the H+Pedia article on “Politics 2.0”.

 

  1. Chapter updated: “1. Vision and roadmap” Leave a reply
  2. Chapter updated: “4. Work and purpose” Leave a reply
  3. Transpolitica goals and progress, Q1 Leave a reply
  4. The Future of Politics (#T4G17) Leave a reply
  5. Democracy and inclusion: chapter ready for review 2 Replies
  6. Markets and fundamentalists: chapter ready for review Leave a reply
  7. Exuberance and scarcity: chapter ready for review Leave a reply
  8. Championing the Future Leave a reply
  9. Technology is eating politics Leave a reply