Can polarization actually be good?
Peace between people of passionately opposite opinions may only be achieved when both are dead. Erstwhile, items of disagreement can be so unamenable as to produce silent, blood chilling effects in one or the other parties involved. These are likely never to be blunted by consensus.
I agree that consensusis is illusive and rarely possible. What I think is missing is a willingness to compromise. All sides want to shove their ideas down everyone elses throats. There are limits to what policy should do and the remainder should be left up to individual persuasion.
As always I really enjoyed your essay, even if i didn't agree with all of it. I'd like to pick up on two things I found particularly interesting. First, is the notion of homogeneity. I'd argue it's possible, indeed necessary, for Western liberal states to constitute a homogeneous polity if it wants to retain a form of stability. For me, the big question, is how is that homogeneity organised. Is it predicated upon a thick set of communal values? A shared commitment to the nation? or something else.
Homogeneity, I believe can be constructed via a politically 'thin' relationship of base values adopted in the constitution of the state. In this sense, the constitution would be a reflection of the homogenous mass' will and beliefs. Counterintuitively, I believe it's possible to create a homogeneity of value whilst recognising necessary heterogeneity in the political order. If as a 'mass' of people we recognise and adhere to a set of basic individual rights, such as a liberal constitutional platform, we can hope to foster a form of homogenous agreement upon society. The challenge to western states today comes from not just polarisation but a decline in agreement upon basic norms (such as an agreement to recognise procedural democracy).
Second, is the really interesting idea that no political order is everlasting. This is definitely true, and it reflects something Toby Buckle said on my latest podcast which can be seen here. https://theorymatters.substack.com/p/podcast-no5-liberalism-and-the-limits#details
Whilst no political order can ever be made fully safe, the liberal democratic project has a strong record for political stability. I fear the strength of polarisation threatens political stability in ways that purely democratic societies used to suffer from. Perhaps, the only way is to acknowledge political difference and embrace it, but there is a bit of me that wants to create consensus and ameliorate strong disagreement.
Excellent analysis! Points clearly to the problem
How can peace be possible between 2 dead souls when one of them is in heaven and the other in hell? :)
You are the first person I've ever heard from that knows about the polling thing. As I know many conservatives, I've kind of always known this. The fact that you also know this means I will be subscribing. Nice.