The Creation of Public Discourse: A Blueprint for Reconciling Left and Right

A text exploring how the public discourse is created by the interaction of the left and right. An emphasis is given to e

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The Creation of Public Discourse: A Blueprint for Reconciling Left and Right

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The Creation of Public Discourse: A Blueprint for Reconciling Left and Right by Bryce Laliberte

Contents Acknowledgements and Dedication Introduction Chapter 1: Cooperation and Defection Chapter 2: The Abusive Left-Right Model Chapter 3: Games and Mutually Beneficial Exchange Chapter 4: The Internet and Diverging Interests Chapter 5: Compromise and Spite Chapter 6: The Doctrine of Speech Utilitarianism Chapter 7: The Alt-Right and Social Justice Chapter 8: Elites and Misdirection Chapter 9: Internal Enemies and Human Nature Chapter 10: Transformation

Acknowledgments and Dedication Acknowledgment must be given to my friend @blue_traveler, who reviewed a first draft of this work and gave useful commentary. The book cover is the creation of my friend @Ctrl_Alt_Acct.

This work is dedicated to my friends in journalism.

Introduction The creation of the public discourse is a subject near and dear to my heart, having studied it both analytically and engaged in it expertly as a neoreactionary tactician of the Alt-Right. We are at a point in the public discourse where both sides are mutually defecting against one another, rather than cooperating. If the two sides – left and right – were to cooperate, we would both be better off, but because we are locked in warfare with each other we are unable to achieve a healthy equilibrium. I would like to detail my understanding of the public discourse as a kind of game, and through that understanding elaborate on a means to restoring a healthy equilibrium to the dialogue. We benefit from a healthy public discourse, not only because we might be persuaded to an idea we hadn't known before, but because we have a better idea everyone else's beliefs, making it easier to coordinate to mutually shared political goals. The public discourse is made up by our interactions with one another, especially when we share opinions and give commentary to one another. When the public discourse is effective, we are all richer by having a wider selection of opinions to compare with and shape our own and by knowing the opinions of many more people. However, when the public discourse breaks down, the result is defection by both sides against each other, halting progress we might make on social and domestic issues we are invested in. It is incumbent we learn to work together in the public discourse, because otherwise the result is an opinion landscape shaped exclusively by powerful interests rather than the people. I have more than a little experience working to shape the public discourse in directions I preferred, working as an outsider with only the effectiveness of my rhetoric and ability to manipulate groups at my disposal. I used to engage in what I considered a defection against the political and media elite, writing texts and sending tweets designed to infect the public discourse with my ideas, using current events as a vehicle to focus attention. By the time of August, 2014, I had worked up enough clout with a friend of mine that we could have a disproportionate influence over the public discourse, we just needed the proper event... On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown was shot by officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. I contacted my friend as soon as it happened. For all intents and purposes, we knew what the news would be. We expected riots. We wanted riots. Not only did we want violence, looting, and protest to break out, we wanted to make a name anticipating and preforming people's judgments about those events. And we did. Within an hour of the news breaking about the shooting, we had already crafted a narrative to counter the expected mainstream. It's not like it was difficult. We'd grown up our whole lives watching and receiving missives from the media about what we were supposed to think and believe about such events. We weren't wrong. That's why we could have such an effect. We knew how to dodge the mainstream media's punches and land a few of our own. And we did. We knew there was a script, and we used that foreknowledge of the script to write our own. We weren't the only ones, but given our contacts and relative placement in the conservative media establishment, it was easy for us to disseminate our counter-narrative far and wide. We were, to the conservative media establishment, what drug dealers are to night clubs. Officially, the night club does not condone breaking the law or illegal drugs. But what would a night club be without MDMA, cocaine, and ecstasy? I was a wholesale supplier and my friend played the role of distributor. We weren't the only ones dealing, but we had our part of the market cornered. I was a leader in the growing neoreactionary movement and my friend was a conservative commentator at a respected

media establishment. We intended the resultant outbreak of protests at Ferguson to be framed as a test. We might as well have been privy to the enemy's battle plans, and we made the best use of them we could. To score points, to score a win in the meme wars. “Look,” we could say, “the media tells us blacks are peaceful. The media tells us Michael Brown was a good boy who 'dindu nuffin'. The media tells us this is purely an incident of racist police violence against an oppressed minority. But if all those things are true, then why..?” and we listed all the acts of self-sabotage we witnessed. African-Americas looting stores during the protests. Engaging in violence, even against other white, liberal protesters. The video footage of Michael Brown stealing and assaulting a convenience store owner. All we really needed to do was know, ahead of time, that the media was going to try and sweep the 'real issues' under the rug, and pull up the rug to show everyone. And it worked. In the terms of how battles in meme wars are counted, we made a killing. A number of converts agreeing with our perspective. Many openly calling themselves by the new label 'Alt-Right.' Growing distrust of mainstream media establishments. Hits and clicks for our websites. We changed the narrative so people focused on our pet causes instead, such as the influence of the narrative on crime, an example of which is called the “Ferguson effect.” One of our ideas, later iterated by media and official government publications, is that “highly publicized incidents of police use of deadly force against minority citizens […] caused police officers to disengage from their duties, particularly proactive tactics that prevent crime.”1 In other words, one of our idea was that the media actually has a counter-productive influence on policing due to its ideologically motivated preoccupation with painting police as inherent aggressors against minority populations. The issue became not one of poverty conditions for African-Americans or police violence. Instead, we caused people to focus on and repeat our own conclusions. That the media lied. That the media didn't care about truth. That the media was so myopically focused on the narrative it wanted to promote, that it would prove itself a fool. And it did. The media told and predicted one thing – that the AfricanAmerican population of Ferguson was peaceful and civil – only for the reality to show itself another way, with African-Americans looting and burning down stores as part of “protests.” Sure, the leftist true believers would believe the media's narrative no matter what, but in the grand scheme we came out winners. We wanted to show that the mainstream media was mismanaging its control of the public discourse, and in that we succeeded. The media conceded ground and the AltRight gained. We, mere tricksters and trolls, not only predicted everything the media would say, we told others what it would say and made them believe a different story. We managed to hijack the public discourse, shaping opinion through tactless wit and by bringing to light unpopular subjects. Two years later, Donald Trump was elected president, running a campaign at odds with virtually the entire mainstream media. Without conditioning the bulk of the Alt-Right into a general distrust of the mainstream media, it would have been impossible for Trump to win. We caught the media with their pants down, shitting themselves, and we merely showed everyone that was the case. Why did we do it? Because we were tired of being called racist by the public discourse over nothing. We were tired of our whiteness being blamed for everything wrong. We were tired of the mainstream media's domination of the narrative. We had better ideas and our true predictions made us powerful. From an objective perspective, we were defecting against the mainstream media, but we were only 1 Rosenfeld, Richard (2016). Documenting and Explaining the 2015 Homicide Rise: Research Directions. National Institute of Justice.

doing good by defecting against a powerful establishment that had already defected against us. We still had the greater good in mind, and even if we would be vilified, in a sense that only inspired us further. According to our worldview, the media is a dystopic apparatus of a corrupt elite – for an evil, corrupt institution to vilify us proved we were doing good. Sure, the media touted itself as interested in the plight of the poor, but that narrative so perfectly coincided with blaming whites for everything wrong it seemed that the plight of poor AfricanAmericans simply didn't matter. After all, as a matter of equality, and if the color of our skin didn't matter, then how come our plight of poverty didn't matter? Why were poor whites being blamed when we were under the heel of a corrupt establishment as much as everyone else? After all, we really had little to do with the conditions experienced by blacks in Ferguson. We didn't make Michael Brown rob and assault a convenience store owner. We didn't make AfricanAmericans engage in looting during the violent protests. We didn't make Michael Brown rush an armed police officer. When you're being repeatedly blamed for events you have no personal culpability for, you decide to turn the same weapons back on the establishment. If they were going to blame us, we were going to blame them. After all, who has more power? A poor white kid with a free Wordpress blog, or a journalist published in the New York Times? Who gets read by more people, has a wider audience, has the imprimatur of the establishment? We were powerless, so we decided to take power for ourselves and tell others the truth we knew instead. That truth would go on to form and vitiate the Alt-Right. Now, instead of getting blamed for everything going wrong without consequence, the media would pay for every time it unjustly labeled an idea or person racist. More and more people became wise to the narrative the media was choosing to peddle. We were no longer powerless, we were empowerers. Sure, we happened to empower white supremacists, white nationalists, and Nazis, but that was only collateral damage. It was better that we should have power even if others we disliked should be mutually privy to that power. In retrospect, I still don't think we were wrong. When an organization that has much more power than you do keeps defecting against you, placing all blame and responsibility for the plight of blacks, the plight of women, the plight of third worlders on your merely human shoulders, defection in return is just. It's only mere tit for tat. In the prisoner's dilemma of public discourse, we were only dishing out the same on a world that had done us so much harm. We weren't saints. You would do the same. With the wisdom a broader experience affords, there is much I might have done differently. Perhaps we might've shouldered the injustice as a temporary burden. We might have trusted the world to come around to our side. But in our limited human perspective, getting blamed for everything wrong was only two steps away from ethnic cleansing, with ourselves the targets. We weren't about to let that happen while we still had the power to direct the media narrative by wit of our talents and skills. After all, according to the mainstream media establishment whites were powerful. If whites were so powerful that everything wrong in the world was our fault, then certainly we could continue directing the course of civilization away from the catastrophe we feared. What did we, an army of disaffected straight white males, prove? That we are smart. That we are powerful. That we can get angry like anyone else and that we can smash the power structure. That we can stick it to the liberals. That we can elect a President. It felt good. We exerted our agency and showed that the media establishment couldn't get away with defecting against us, that we could just as easily defect in turn. Tit for tat. It's pure game theory. Anyone could have predicted we would troll and antagonize and organize.

It's not like we were seeking to empower white supremacists. We just didn't care. It was, in many ways, a necessary consequence of gaining power for ourselves. In our minds, if we were going to be called racist almost no matter what we did, there was no point in trying to not be racist. In many ways, that defection is a defining characteristic trait of the Alt-Right. “You're going to call us racist anyway, so fuck you.” Many of us sincerely wanted to be accepted as not racist, but that was impossible. There was nothing we, as whites, seemed to be able to do that gained approval of the media. There is no standard one can meet to prove we aren't racist. This is where I hope the point about defection makes sense; if you were being called a nasty name no matter what you do, eventually you give up trying to avoid the name and simply do your own thing. Schadenfreude at the outrage of our opponents – who, it needs repeating, were never going to approve of us anyway – was merely icing on the cake. I very much believed in the ideals of universal equality. I thought feminism and the Civil Rights movement was a good thing. I still believe the ideal of judging people on the content of their character is right. I just didn't like being called racist and sexist. In fact, I still expect to be called racist and sexist, essentially no matter what I do. I am white, after all, therefore I am inherently suspect. Despite that, I am still going to put together a solution for the greater good. I don't care any longer if I am vilified. I'm not going to avoid it. I know, as an innermost conviction, I have the interests of the people – white, black, Hispanic, Asian – at heart. We are all human after all, and so am I. I want a peaceful reconciliation, to avoid a violent and bloody civil war. I want to contribute to the project of Progressive civilization. It's the same as everyone else says they want – equality. I am obsessed with the public discourse, and given my experience on both sides, I believe I have something to contribute to the greater good. I am coming to you diplomatically, hoping to contribute to a peaceful reconciliation of left and right using my wisdom gained from experience. These are just some of my ideas to that end.

Chapter 1 Cooperation and Defection “If, in pursuance of that private judgment, though backed by the public judgment of his country or contemporaries, he prevents the opinion from being heard in its defense, he assumes infallibility.” -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty I am a sincere believer in the freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas. I believe that, given a fair and open dialogue between good faith proponents, the best of ideas tend to win out in a free society. The public discourse is where these dialogues occur, between people representing all kinds of different backgrounds and intellectual traditions, and if all participants follow the same rules of polite and civil speech, the result is a freer and intellectually richer society. Such a society is more likely to cultivate its minds, to open the doors to the freedom of thought necessary to the freedom of expression. The public discourse might be defined as “the sum of interactions between the individuals of a society, wherein they share, comment on, and critique one another's opinions about any and every aspect of that society.” If we cooperate in cultivating a public discourse, then we all benefit from having a wider range of opinions to shape our own worldviews and influence our policies. Without cooperation in the public discourse, the result is a broken society where young and growing minds realize what is called 'public discourse' is a noble lie at best. At worst, they might – as we did – see it as a tyrannical bullying by the powerful from their pulpits of the mass of the people. Freedom of speech, in its technical legal definition, only requires the government refrain from engaging in its own efforts to censor speech. Censorship by otherwise private organizations is (supposedly) another thing. We are, as Americans, blessed to live in a society where the freedom of speech is officially respected, but what we do with it is another thing. Soft censorship by corporations and media outlets disrupts the public discourse and makes radicals of us all. People were not merely being told they were wrong, they were being banished and exiled, their reputations irreparably damaged without any means of restoration or forgiveness. They were being declared unpersons for opinions they espoused sincerely and in good faith. They were sincere in representing ideas and opinions they formed in response to the world as they perceived it, and they put their faith in the marketplace of ideas to – not necessarily believe them – receive their opinion and resolve it according to their conception of a fair dialogue. Instead, they were being cut down as people, their careers and social lives sabotaged and destroyed, an abrogation of what's supposed to be a civil discourse. They were cooperating with the public discourse, but others defected against them, making attacks on their character rather than their ideas. The rules of civil dialogue I learned in school preclude attacks on character. Instead, it is the idea which is fully subject to any criticism a person can possibly make of it, and all attacks on character prove a weakness of one's argument. But in the public discourse, participants were not following those rules. The ideas were not being refuted calmly with dignity, howling mobs were forming to attack the people themselves. They were committing a violence against the conception of public discourse as we learned it in school. Instead of addressing people's sincerely espoused opinions, others sought to (and are presently succeeding) in simply removing their voices from the dialogue. As good philosophers – if we believe it is worth aspiring to philosophy – we are left to conclude that the attacks on character prove the weakness of their argument. The particulars of opinion hardly matter. If the instances of 'debate' that pass for public discourse these

days were to be graded by a philosophy professor, many would be failed. The ideal of debate holds that any idea can be criticized, but never the person. But we are no longer succeeding, as a society, to meet that standard. The freedom of speech might be technically respected by government, but as a matter of the public's handling, we are insulting ourselves and our own intelligence refusing to consider the ideas and refute them dispassionately. From the perspective of the Alt-Right, every time a voice on the right is banned and deplatformed, it is also an implicit proof they are correct. If their arguments could be refuted by leftists with reason and argument, then leftists would do so; instead, leftists bar them from the public discourse, a tactic resorted to by groups and individuals who must believe they are unable to refute the given opinion. Imagine a debate between two individuals. If you repeatedly witness one side providing reason and evidence to support their ideas, and the other only calls them names, you would be left with the impression that the calm reasoner must support an idea with more merit. The left is doing themselves a disservice by making use of tactics that defect against those attempting to join the public discourse. They are playing the role of a tantruming child rather than a reasonable adult. I think we can do better, ad we must. When we give our attention to the idea rather than the person, our society has access to better ideas it can choose from. We should expect better of the institutions that make themselves responsible for hosting and supporting the public discourse. We should expect better of ourselves. If you sincerely believe in the merit of your ideas, then you owe it to that idea to support it with facts and reasons. Otherwise, the entire point of a public discourse is defeated, and it is no better than the government intervening directly to simply tell us the opinions we are supposed to receive. It is supposed to be the public's duty to engage in a fair and civil dialogue, and we are failing ourselves, preparing the way for tyranny by government by not allowing ourselves the free discourse that prevents it. The public discourse does not exist of the ether. It is created and supported by private institutions and individuals or else it does not exist. We create it. It is only as good as we make it. If we engage in slander and malicious attacks on character, then we get a public discourse that we deserve; a public discourse bereft of valid reasoning, an abundance of stupidity, and superficial pretense. Every time we make an attack on someone's character, we are making an attack on the fabric of public discourse. The public discourse is made up of people and their good will. Every time we engage in bad faith, we reduce the amount of good will between ideological opponents that makes our peaceful and prosperous society possible. Attacking other people's character with good intentions is still equally destructive of the public discourse. One must have faith in the public discourse to sort out good and bad opinions. It is, after all, a faith in people's capacity to decide for themselves what opinions they receive and give merit. If we don't respect the rules of cooperative public discourse, we aren't respecting the reason and free will of others. I believe engaging in good faith with those whom we disagree with is a tenet of Progressive faith. The faith we put in others is faith we put in ourselves. If we judge ourselves the ultimate arbiters of what opinions we might deny others to even hear, then we can only suppose we are likewise being deprived. The rules of cooperative public discourse requires that the person's character is always respected. Even if we believe, on account of our own backgrounds, that the other person's beliefs are reprehensible, we must cherish their innate dignity as human beings. The public discourse is ruled by karma; if we support and have good faith in the good intentions of our opponents, they will afford us the same respect. Humans inherently tend to the good, and even if we think an opinion is evil we must respect

the human holding that opinion. We might believe they are mistaken and ignorant, but the way we treat those who are mistaken and ignorant reflects on our character. It reflects the merit of our ideas. The public discourse is best conceived as a widely distributed prisoner's dilemma between multiple sides. The prisoner's dilemma is a game in which two participants can choose to either cooperate or defect against the other player. If one participant cooperates and the other defects, the defecting player benefits while the cooperating player is disadvantaged. That makes defecting alluring, but in multiple iterated games (when the players are forced to play with each other repeatedly) defecting is a losing strategy for both sides. Why? Because if both players defect, the result is that both are disadvantaged. If you defect against a cooperating player today, then tomorrow they might defect against you and you'll both end up worse off. On the other hand, if you both cooperate, then in the long run you both end up better off. The only optimal strategy for both players is to cooperate; however, if one player defects, then the other player will be more likely to defect in return. Tit for tat is the expected outcome if a player chooses to defect; if you defect against me today, I'll defect against you tomorrow, and we'll both end up worse off than if we could both cooperate.2 In the grand scheme of the public discourse, the Alt-Right represents a choice by conservatives to defect against a leftist establishment they perceive as defecting against them. There are certain rules about opinion and their expression which liberals would like conservatives to follow, but conservatives are unlikely to agree to those rules if they feel they are cooperating with a defecting player. In other words, if leftists respect the character of conservatives espousing opinions they don't like, then they are more likely to obtain the optimal equilibrium they say they desire. And in the long run, both sides will be better off. It is only the optimal strategy for leftists and rightists both to follow the same rules of public discourse. In other words, we respect our own opinion respecting the character of others. It becomes easier for society as a whole to support the rationale and approval of our opinions if we cooperate in respecting each other's character. Otherwise, it becomes more difficult for the public discourse to support the mutual respect of our opinions if the perception abounds that one side will only defect against the other. “Respect for me but not for thee” is a rule that only results in mutual hostility and a deteriorating social fabric. We owe it to ourselves to respect the character of those with whom we disagree, else we inherit a poorer, corrupted public discourse. The public discourse is only the sum of our choices as individuals to respect the character of others and support our opinions with reason: if we don't respect the character of others, then the result is a less effective public discourse. An observer doing their best to be objective will be inclined to give more consideration to those opinions held by individuals who respect the character of their opponents. Again, a dispassionate philosopher would be forced to conclude the individual making attacks on the character of others has no good argument to support their own opinions. That's why I say we respect our own opinions respecting the character of others.

2 Axelrod, Robert. (1980). “Effective Choice in the Prisoner's Dilemma.” Journal of Conflict Resolution. 24(1).

Chapter 2 The Abusive Left-Right Model “The human race tends to remember the abuses to which it has been subjected, rather than the endearments. What's left of kisses? Wounds, however, leave scars.” -Bertol Brecht “Genuine tragedies in the world are not between right and wrong. They are conflicts between two rights.” -Georg W.F. Hegel The picture I have in mind of the left and right in America is that of an old abusive couple. They have been stuck with each other with plenty of children for a long time, and they've been in a state of mutual warfare and siege. Rather than working together to cover each other's weaknesses, they draw the other out into doing wrong against each other so they have a reason to harm the other. The result is mutual harm and wounds that both remember for a long time. A completely reasonable individual can observe the culture war, realize how one side is abusing the other through acts of cultural aggression, and decide “Fuck it, I'm going to go into a state of war against the other.” And thus the cycle of political division and warfare continues. Both sides have transgressed the other. It would be pointless to bring up a list of insults and abuses perpetuated by one against the other. Both are guilty. Both will only be able to heal the wounds caused by the other if they recognize the state of warfare they are mutually perpetuating and take steps to reconcile to each other. The Abusive Left-Right Model is a simplification, especially in that it treats each as monolithic entities that promulgate statements and actions from a united center, but it is useful for understanding the state of cultural warfare each side finds itself in with the other. Each side is, in essence, in a classic state of family feuding, each side perpetuating some harm on the other for the last harm caused by the other. The result has been a self-perpetuating spiral of polarization and division that makes it difficult for both sides to achieve political benefits of mutual interest. Each side responds to the extremism of the other by engaging in their own extremism. The right responds to the radicalization of the left by radicalizing themselves, and the left responds to the radicalization of the right by radicalizing even more. Who started the spiral of mutual radicalization is immaterial, what matters is that we each still have a choice about resolving our current conflicts and dilemmas. If we work together, we will both have more energies and resources available with which to solve the problems we both mutually face. In other words, by constantly exerting energies working against each other instead of working with each other, both sides end up worse off. The political failures by the political establishment – failing to reform healthcare, failing to reform the university system and student debt, failing to rein in the real estate markets to make property and basic living standards affordable – have in a sense been the result of the political establishment not having the energy left over to agree to a solution because they would rather try to harm the other. I think both sides little realize that, in a sense, they have a trigger they can press to give the other side an electric shock, causing them pain, and both sides have been enjoying using that trigger a little too much. It would be easy for both sides to rattle off a list of transgressions. Conservatives are wrong and bad because they're racist and sexist, so they deserve to be treated poorly. Likewise, liberals are wrong and bad because they transgress traditional cultural values, so they deserve to be treated poorly. The fact both sides participate in harming the other side, purposefully or not, is also a reason each side has to treat the other side poorly.

Liberals “call out” and label conservatives as being racist, get them fired from their jobs (harming their ablity to form and feed a family, for instance), bar them from prestigious institutions, and dox pseudonymous individuals on Twitter for promulgating racist and sexist beliefs. Likewise, conservatives also engage in mutual warfare, attempting to defend themselves and their values. They interpret each conservative labeled racist, each conservative fired from their job, each conservative barred from prestigious institutions for “having the wrong opinion,” as a transgression against agreed upon rules of civic conduct. In other words, both sides have their mutual justification for wanting to harm the other, on account of real and lasting harms perpetuated by the other side. Both sides really are abusing the other. A hundred instances of treating the other side nicely don't really get remembered in the face of a few bad actions by bad actors. “Tough,” you might say, “they deserve it because they're bad,” for some reason or another, but the problem is the other side is your life partner. I repeat, the left and right in America are stuck with each other, playing an iterated prisoner's dilemma, with each side having an equal opportunity to cooperate or defect. It's like both sides have the power to reward or punish the other, and lately each side has been overwhelmingly choosing to punish the other, without regard to the fact this will likely cause the other side to punish them as well. It's a losing strategy both sides are playing, resulting in many lost opportunities to change the American establishment in a way beneficial to both sides. I think both sides have something of value to contribute to the American political scene. Each side has their blind spots which the other side might be adept at pointing out and bringing to the attention of the American political establishment. Each side engages in its own kind of social cognition about the issues facing Americans of all different perspectives, and if they worked together to understand one another the result would be a richer, more detailed perspective. Instead, each side views the other as hostile – which in many ways they really are – leading to miscommunication and attempts to sabotage one another that only prevents each other from satisfying the values they say they esteem. From an outside perspective, it looks like, no matter what values they declare, they really just enjoy “sticking it to the other side,” “owning the libs,” and “bashing racists” more than they appreciate making mutual gains by working together. What is little realized, by members of both left and right, is that the viewpoints and perspectives of individuals on both sides are formed in response to the behaviors of those on the other side. Young men are turning against feminism in response to their observation of some feminists saying mean and cruel things about them. Young women are turning against men's attempts to have their viewpoint considered on account of uncouth and violent behaviors they observe among men. Would-be egalitarians are throwing multicultural considerations and tolerance out the window because they feel no matter what they do they get called racist anyway. Would-be sympathizers of the plight of young men in our society among feminists throw out all attempts to sympathize in response to violent threats made by young men against their representatives. Each side is, in a sense, justified to hold their opinion, with the result that both sides mutually holds the other in contempt. The only outcome, if both sides continue to polarize and increase in hostility towards one another, is violence and civil war. If both sides cannot find a way to reconcile (and I believe both sides can reach a mutual understanding of one another), we will all end up worse off for failing to solve our problems by working together. Millennials, my generation, have found little benefit from the strides America has made in the last several decades with respect to civil rights for people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and religions because we are mired in student debt, unable to afford basic housing, and are constantly

engaged in racial animus. These problems are unnecessary and might have been solved already, except that left and right have been devoting their energies to tearing each other down rather than building each other up. A left and right that work together is a beautiful thing. Each offers something vital and necessary to society's overall perspective of itself. The blind spots and weaknesses of each other might be overcome by working together, making both stronger together rather than weaker, divided, and hating the other. They are like the left and right lung of our society, and if each is working against the other the result is the social body failing to get enough oxygen. The left and right really are like a married couple. They can either work together so that they are both better off or they can tear each other down. Both options require just as much energy of each other, and if they sabotage each other neither side will be willing to work with the other. Both sides are locked in combat with each other, each worried the other is maneuvering to take away the rights of the other. Both sides fear the other imposing their values on the other at the end of a gun. Maybe left and right both don't realize the power they have over each other, but that's the truth. Each side feels legitimately scared due to the way each has treated the other. It will take time and effort – by both sides – to heal the wounds inflicted by the other. But I believe we can each work through this, strengthening each other other's resolve and determination to help the other succeed. I know, speaking to an embattled left and right, my proposal sounds insane. Helping the other seems to imply helping the other cause my side harm. If neither side takes into account the feelings of the other, that would be the result. Left does not want to submit to the values of the right, but neither does the right want to submit to the values of the left. It is possible for each to find some way to mutually respect and help each other through mutually beneficial exchange. They are each stronger together than they are separate and divided. If each takes the time and makes the effort to understand the other, the result will be that each finds a way to help the other deliver on common interests. I do not necessarily know the solution, but at the same time I can tell you a compromise won't be found as long as each is only trying to cause harm to the other. Doxing and firing conservatives from their jobs is a wound they long remember. So is it a wound long remembered by the left when the right shows disinterest or apathy towards their concerns about police brutality and racism by police against African-Americans. These wounds will require mutual reciprocation of concern for each other's interests before common ground is found. The public discourse is a mutual creation of the left and right. It is created by the decisions we make about how to treat one another. If the left and right both decide to “stick it” to each other, rather than understanding one another, then the resulting public discourse is one that is harder for both sides to navigate. The result is even well-intentioned and well-meaning individuals end up on different sides of an issue taking potshots at each other, with the result that no solution is found that is satisfactory for anyone. It is possible for left and right to cooperate in a positive sum game that makes both sides better off, but right now each side – with some justification – is engaging in a war mindset that is a negative sum game for both sides. It is the prisoner's dilemma, each side defecting against the other on account of the last defection committed against them. To get out of this negative spiral of mutually polarizing self-defeat, it requires some individuals recognizing that this is the nature of the problem faced by both left and right, to admit their mutual guilt, and find some way to forgive one another. We can move past an Abusive Left-Right Model to a relationship that is much healthier. After all, both

sides are Americans, and therefore have a common interest in defining and helping the plight of other Americans. I believe both sides have it in them to resolve – to each other's mutual satisfaction – the dilemmas we both face and that we need to work together to solve. If we work at understanding our cultural warfare through game theory, then we have a new tool with which to diagnose and resolve current tensions. I believe we can achieve a positive sum game, a Healthy Left-Right Model, if both sides are willing to lay down their weapons and meet in neutral territory to make peace, solve our disagreements, and resolve our common issues through diplomacy rather than warfare.

Chaper 3 Games and Mutually Beneficial Exchange “Let common sense and common honesty have fair play, and they will soon set things to rights.” -Thomas Jefferson The public discourse is dominated by games. I don't mean that only in a metaphorical sense, but in the sense of game theory. Game theory is, in short, the study of interactions between multiple players with multiple possible outcomes. Those outcomes are determined by the choices players make with respect to how they interact with the other player. In the example of the prisoner's dilemma already used, the choice is often to either cooperate or defect. I think one reason there exists so much conflict and miscommunication in the public discourse is because respective players don't realize the nature of the cycle of conflict they are in. If it were possible to give each player a top-down view of the conflict they're engaged in, I believe that would result in a change of behavior. That's what I'm attempting to do with this text. In particular, in the upcoming chapters I will characterize the nature of common back-and-forths in the public discourse as variants of these games, explaining how the choices we make when interacting with the other side are either cooperative or defective in the sense of game theory. With this specific understanding in mind, I will in later chapters suggest a blueprint for peacefully reconciling the left and right and averting the worst possible outcomes. First, I will define cooperation with the public discourse as sincerely espousing and defending one's opinion. The nature or subject of the opinion doesn't matter, but in general the opinion is meant to forward the public discourse by representing a perspective that, charitably interpreted by respective players, increases the overall understanding. This overall understanding is not only receiving an opinion or idea that one hasn't learned before, therefore learning in an academic or scholastic sense; it is also learning what perspective and opinions others hold. In a perfectly cooperative and pure public discourse, it should be possible for all players to not only espouse and defend their opinions without fear of punishment, all players would also be in mutual understanding as to the perspectives of all other players. Instead of the ideal of perfectly cooperative and pure public discourse, we are dominated by a regime of imperfect and defective public discourse. Not only are players afraid to espouse their opinions, but players often submit false representations of their beliefs to the public discourse. The result is that players not only suffer a dearth of opposing viewpoints with which they might enrich their own perspective, but players are only imperfectly aware of what opinions other players hold. This makes it more difficult, for example, for people in a democratic society to coordinate and solve problems of common interest. The public discourse is a public good. While there are players who are more responsible for the overall state of the public discourse, it is the responsibility of all to create and sustain. If we choose to perpetuate lies and misinformation about our opinions into the public discourse because we are afraid of punishment, then we mutually reap an unhealthy and misrepresentative public discourse. There are inescapable consequences to punishing other players in the game of discourse by defecting against them rather than cooperating by asserting our own sincerely held opinions. Even if, as I know some will argue, we ought to punish some players for the opinions they espouse due to some inherent danger associated with those opinions, the result is we still mutually end up with a worse public discourse.

What counts as defecting against the public discourse? An example would be responding to someone's sincerely espoused opinion by labeling them with an epithet which has the consequence of sundering their reputation, potentially damaging their actual or potential social capital (e.g. friendships, employment opportunities, opportunities to form and sustain a family). Cooperating in the public discourse does not require agreeing, rather it requires asserting our own sincerely held opinion in turn. Calling names and trying to get someone fired from their job are examples of defecting against the public discourse, which has the consequence of reducing its effectiveness for transmitting information between respective players. In a system rife with defection between competing parties, the trend is one of increasing overall harm. Likewise, the greater the number of instances of defection, the lower the rate of solvency. Solvency in this case means the “ability to gather the necessary cooperation between parties to work out a compromise.” If it's necessary for left and right to reach a compromise to solve our mutual problems, then it follows defection against the public discourse has the consequence of diminishing the probability of working out compromises. What of opinions that, in their own right, might be considered dangerous or harmful? To this, there is no way to gauge their true danger or harm without submitting those opinions to the calculations of the public discourse. There are greater benefits to tolerating an opinion we disagree with – and should like others to be unaware of – because it affords us as a society a better means of coordinating to achieving effective political goals. The inclusion of opinions we think are inherently harmful in the public discourse – where they can be calmly assessed and dismantled, in public view for everyone to witness – does a service to those who might otherwise be inclined to the ideas simply because others refuse to refute them and heap abuse on those who promote them. As I was so inclined, when I was younger. One of the points I'm trying to make is that attacks on character might be perceived as indirect proofs of their idea. Certainly that is a popular narrative in our society, which heralds as heroes persecuted thinkers such as Galileo and Giordano Bruno. Indeed, without their willingness to go against societies that persecuted them for their beliefs, we wouldn't be blessed with science or prosperity like we are. Therefore, it is easy for individuals attacked for their opinions to come out with the belief they are the vanguard of a revolutionary truth, maintaining witness to the light in a world full of darkness. The solution to an ongoing war between players, who are all locked in mutually defecting against the other, might be as simple as representing what's going on in the technical language of game theory. I believe most players of the “game of public discourse” are completely unaware how their choice to play the game has systematic consequences. Choices to label and tarnish the reputation of players will be perceived by other players as an aggression against the stated ideals of public discourse, and they might find themselves unable to do anything but defect in turn – even if they would prefer to cooperate. If I can persuade some there is a game, and that the choices of each respective side influences the choices of the other, then the likelihood of future conflict will be reduced because they will form their responses in light of the systematic outcomes of which they are now aware. Cooperation with the public discourse requires each side to follow a few simple rules. These simple rules are likely subject to edge cases – humans will still need to exercise wise judgment in their application – but they should cover most cases as they are observed in the public discourse. The public discourse is defined as the realm of public discussion between players, whether those players are “aligned” in any sense or not. That includes all speech from books, videos, presentations, speeches, news paper editorials, blog posts, posts on social media, or any public submission of opinion. Any ideas

or opinions asserted in any venue or on any platform are fair game for others to respond to with equal valence. By equal valence it is meant the idea that players will follow the same conditions in which their opinions and ideas are contextualized. Scientific discourse is a specific genre of public discourse which is widely recognized to follow certain rules. Among those is not only that character and reputation are sacrosanct, but that debate is reserved to opinions that can be made with some reference to validation by empirical data. The public discourse ranges wider than that – valid and legitimate opinions may not all be subject to questions of empirical confirmation. However, if for example one asserts an opinion that they mean to be contextualized by the rigors of science, it is only proper to respond in an equally scientific format. To draw out a scientific proposition and treat it as a moral one might be legitimately perceived as a defection against that individual's attempt to contribute to the public discourse in the specific realm of science. The first rule of the public discourse is fairly and charitably characterizing another's idea. Misrepresenting and misinforming others what a person said or meant might be accurately construed as a defection against that person's intent. In general, if we are able to improve a person's idea by the response we choose in the public discourse, then we are all better off – by representing for our scrutiny ideas in their strongest, most salient form. Whether or not a person succeeds in fairly representing another's idea is a matter of human judgment, but in general if one side (and not only that individual) responds with “That isn't an accurate reflection of our beliefs,” it is generally incumbent for the other side to accept that as a genuine representation of their beliefs. The second rule of the public discourse is always and only attacking ideas, never persons. For example, we might disagree with an opinion because we find it morally odious, but it would be unfair to attack the person as themselves morally odious. We might fairly describe the opinion as morally odious and give our reasons for it, but if in the characterization of their opinion we stoop to attacking that person's moral character, then we have changed the discussion from one about their opinion to their moral character. This is why so often discussions about racism turn into one side claiming they aren't racist, totally obviating the potentially worthwhile discussion about race and history that might have otherwise occurred. The third rule of the public discourse is never using labels to describe the person except those with which they explicitly align themselves. Attaching a label to someone is a very weighty move in the game of public discourse, and it can cause others (including ourselves) to completely observe their opinions in a different context. It can reduce the amount of information available to players, if for example a wide range of opinions are all put under the umbrella of a label, who subsequently might view those espoused opinions from a limited or prejudiced state of mind. Sometimes the assumptions of opinion associated with the label are directly at odds with what might be that person's actual stated opinion. If all players of public discourse were to follow these rules, more of us would be better off than under a regime of defective public discourse. Not only would there exist a greater range of opinions on offer for people to form their own perspectives of the world, but the better information we have about the opinions of others permits better coordination. We are, as citizens, empowered by the good will sharing of opinions we have about the world. We are intellectually richer, not only because there are more opinions for us to observe and choose from in forming our worldviews, but because those opinions face more competition and must therefore adapt in an environment with greater memetic pressure. We are also socially and politically stronger, because we will be better able to coordinate in solving the

problems we mutually share. If we are unable to sincerely share our opinions, because we are afraid of punishment by others for sharing those opinions, then the probable result is many people feel alone in their problems. If we recognize we share those problems, then we can work together to solve those problems. Politically speaking, the difference is between voting for candidates who have no idea of anyone's real problems because everyone is mutually lying about what they think or feel, and voting for candidates who have perfect information about the problems their constituents face. It is tempting to defect against others who hold different opinions from us, for a variety of reasons. It can feel empowering to stick it to someone who we think is forwarding an opinion that, if it were widely believed, would make the world worse off. However, that temptation must be considered in the light of game theoretic systems. Our active oppression of others, by punishing them for expressing their sincere opinions, engages in actual oppression. The consequence is that others who hold that opinion, or even simply fear others might think they have that opinion, will choose to defect against those doing the punishing. The result is a worsened public discourse, where only those already in power or in positions where defection against them cannot feasibly result in harming them, feel free to opinionate. We would then only receive sincere opinions from a much smaller class of people rather than the mass of people, most of whom are in a precarious socioeconomic position that might be easily destroyed if enough people thought they held the wrong opinion. The actual result is squelching the expression of opinion by those in a democracy who are most vulnerable, who feel obliged to express their opinion only in a way that conforms and that therefore eliminates sincere expression. That is why it is so important that we find a way to cooperate in the public discourse.

Chapter 4 The Internet and Diverging Interests “What gunpowder did for war the printing press has done for the mind.” -Wendell Phillips “The digital revolution is far more significant than the invention of writing or even of printing.” -Douglas Engelbart The invention of the printing press is one of the most monumental moments in human history. Where before the proliferation of writing and written thought depended on the labor intensive process of copying by hand, now the reproduction of texts was radically reduced in cost. The result is the proliferation of ideas that might otherwise have never been expressed. A further consequence is that these new ideas might find an audience they would not have found, creating communities separated by geography but united by radical ideas. Thus the breakaway of Protestantism from the monopoly on thought of the Catholic Church was made possible by the printing press, which proliferated new ideas. The internet radically extends the printing press, so that even more thought might proliferate than ever before. The consequence of more new ideas proliferating than ever before is also the divergence of people's thought from each other. Where before people's ideas were united by the limited set of sources they had for learning new ideas – books, sermons, media, other people's opinions speaking one-on-one – now the internet makes it possible for people to find ideological compatriots who might otherwise be alone in their town or city. Able to find each other, they are then able to reinforce each other's opinion, and they might even convert others to their point of view. Suddenly, the internet makes it possible for thousands of new ideas to proliferate that were otherwise limited by the mass media of the 20th century. This is, ultimately, I believe a good thing. But that does not mean it comes without its attendant costs. We will need to learn and adapt new customs with regard to the freedom of speech in order to tolerate each other. The norms I have proposed are intended to increase the likelihood of peaceful reconciliation between groups with different perspectives. When groups feel that the mainstream limits their opportunities for giving voice to their perspective, that they aren't being allowed to fairly contribute to the public discourse and thereby influence public policy, they feel a need to resort to other means. My rules are intended to avoid that violent result. Again, I believe we are all better off when we are able to freely voice our opinions without fear of punishment, so that we all have a better idea what others believe. Our own belief-formation processes are influenced by the beliefs we understand others to hold, and the more open others are about their beliefs the better our own individual belief-formation processes function. A widening public discourse where more ideas than ever proliferate should ultimately provide us all richer and more detailed beliefs than we might otherwise form. The beliefs we form in a regime of public discourse where people are afraid to voice their opinion and misrepresent what they believe to others is likely to influence our own belief-formation processes in a negative way. We only deprive ourselves better-informed beliefs if we defect against the norms of public discourse, those which respect the character and reputation of those contributing to the public discourse. I believe the expansion and widening of the Overton window has positive results. It brings into view a wider range of solutions to our present problems, and also makes us aware of alternative strategies for coordinating to those solutions. If we are limited in the range of proposals we can make for solving problems of common interest, then it is only easier for those in power to corral us away from the

solutions to our problems we really need. The internet will inevitably cause an expansion of public opinion, which is why it is so important to create and sustain an open and tolerant public discourse so that individuals, sorting through all the opinions and viewpoints espoused by others, are better able to inform their perspectives. There are also downsides to an expanding Overton window, in that it becomes harder to coordinate groups of people to specific solutions. In our American democracy, the politicians tend to practice a policy of only (and even then, only sometimes) granting to the popular will our preferred policies if a majority is brought to bear on the issue. If the popular will is spread out among a wider set of opinions, then it might seem fewer of any of the popular will's preferences will ever pass muster to become policy. However, as a counterpoint to this, it should be pointed out that politicians regularly pass policies and legislation that only appeals to a narrow special interest. It would seem that one does not require a majority of the popular will to pass policy into law, one only needs a special interest. The people, if corporations and nonprofits are granted the privilege of being special interests, can also maintain and impose their special interests as well. In fact, I believe the people are more likely to pass a greater degree of legislation appealing to our interests – over and above those of corporations and nonprofits – if more people dedicate themselves to a narrow interest rather than putting all their hopes on getting a majority of the popular will to assert itself in elections. Popular special interests are poised to have just as much power, if not more, than corporate and nonprofit special interests, as they would directly represent the will of the people. The development of popular special interests is a feature of the public discourse. As groups and individuals are exposed to a wider range of opinions, they divide themselves into narrower interests. Consequently, each asserts a more concentrated influence on account of their greater development of expertise and specialization. However, a side effect of specialization is that, apart from those with an abiding interest in the specific issue, the nature of the issue and the related policy proposals might seem morally unpopular to nonspecialists. Like economists and sociologists might have in-depth perspectives on the market and its mechanisms on account of their devoted study, popular specialists will also have in-depth perspectives that seem to diverge from the popular level of understanding, and therefore seem suspicious to the uninitiated. This is a special problem of the public discourse, one that has so far solved itself through academicism. Academicism, however, faces certain limits due to the entanglement of academics responding to the particular pressures of needing to gain funding through universities. What this likely means is that, as outsiders are exposed to a wider range and better detail of information through the internet, they are likely to form opinions that differ from academics on account of their divergent interests from the class of academics. When forming their opinions about policies meant to sustain the common good, most people, I believe, choose policies intended to serve a greater degree of people. People tend towards egalitarianism in their dealings, even if their particular perspective is, necessarily, colored by their own backgrounds and experience. On the one hand the American public has been able to trust academics – up to a point – on account of the fact they are supposed to understand the issues better than mere amateurs and dilettantes. We use a similar reasoning when trusting the opinion of our medical doctor over our own. However, the availability of education and information separating average people from academics is diminishing due to the proliferation of knowledge on the internet. Like the policy proposals of academics are intended to serve the public good, likewise will policy proposals by popular narrow interests be

intended to serve the public good. Unlike academics, popular narrow interests are likely to be informed by a wider range of public interests, as the barrier to joining the dialogue particular to that popular narrow interest is much lower. For the same reason reducing barriers to entry makes markets fairer, reducing the barrier to entry to join the conversation – by enabling and empowering individuals to join the dialogue using the greater proliferation of viewpoints accessible on the internet – will result in policy proposals more aligned with the interests of the mass of the people. One consequence of the proliferation of popular special interests growing and shaping opinion is that the opinions people are exposed to become less likely to have been formed by particular corporate and academic interests, which are necessarily self-serving. A similar effect would have been observed in 16th century Europe, although to violent results; as it became easier for non-Catholics to express their opinion and have it read by others, more and more popular opinions have been formed less with reference to the particular interests of a Catholic ruling elite. A similar effect is occurring with the internet and people getting their ideas from each other rather than received from a few mass media outlets. The problem for such popular special interests is one of self-policing. Self-policing is costly, and it often requires individuals with influence to engage in tactics that might be unpopular in the short term, and only have their payoff in the long run. One necessity for narrow special interests to follow is to come across to the greater sphere of the public as mutually interested in the common good, because otherwise their ideas – which might be genuinely better than those on offer in the mainstream media – will be rejected for seeming uncouth and vulgar. It is a tendency of subcultures to develop a division between insiders and outsiders, promulgating memes that are readily understood by insiders to be an ironic and non-genuine representation of their ideas, but which are confused by outsiders as genuine invocations to violence. For example, some strands of the social justice movement promulgate the meme “kill all white men,” a sentiment that seems at odds with the better understanding of social justice but which, to outsiders, comes across as a downright genocidal invocation. Similarly, there are strands on the right that “ironically” propose race war and anti-Semitism. These memes, I believe, serve the purpose of repelling outsiders more than they are meant as serious policy proposals, but they still have the effect of causing outsiders to similarly dismiss other proposals associated with those groups. On the other hand, if one group engages in self-policing, and another does not, it can lose support among its own followers, who might be attracted to the groups that remain “edgy” and appeal to their own nihilistic despair. Self-policing must happen equally among groups or else each group will not also self-police. Policing by outsiders is unlikely to gain traction. If self-policing were to occur equally, then each group is ultimately better off because more of each group's ideas will be accepted by and influence the mainstream. The particular game faced by these groups is a public goods game. A public goods game might be arranged as follows. There are 10 players, who each start out with $20. They have the option to secretly contribute any amount to a public pot. At the end of the turn, any amount in the public pot will be doubled and then redistributed equally among the players. So, for instance, if one player contributed $20 and the other 9 players withheld their own money, that $20 would be doubled to become $40 and then redistributed among all 10 players. The result is that the contributing player ends up with $4 and everyone else ends up with $24. Clearly, it would be optimal for everyone to contribute their full

amount, because everyone would end up with $40; but if one player contributes and everyone else withholds, that player will end up with less than they started. It is a similar problem with groups self-policing. If one group self-polices and others do not, those groups benefit but the group self-policing ends up worse off. But if all groups were to self-police, then each group would end up better off. How are the groups to coordinate on an optimal strategy? An optimal equilibrium can be found if the potential to punish other players is introduced. In this case, players might use some of the money they start out with to punish other players. For example, a player might contribute $1 to make another player end up with $5 less at the end of the round. In public goods games where punishment is exercised, the optimal equilibrium of groups contributing equally to the public pot is reached.3 The reason is because some players will pay to punish players who don't contribute, giving more of an incentive to players to contribute to the public pot. The public goods game with punishment game I'm describing more closely resembles the current public discourse, with various groups choosing to punish other groups they perceive as failing to self-police. If more groups were to perceive the relationship they have with each other, and to recognize that we are stuck in a public goods game with each other, then I believe more groups would self-police even though it is costly. There are benefits for all groups if all players self-police, as the rewards of contributing to the public discourse is equally shared among players. In that way popular special interests might reach a peaceful equilibrium with each other, rather than breaking out into war as a result of miscommunication and aggression by some of each group's more belligerent participants. Divergent interests as a result of individuals and groups being exposed to a wider range of information on the internet can still work to the common good. It only requires recognizing the kind of game we are all playing with each other and following the rules those games imply for an optimal equilibrium.

3 Andreoni, James; Harbaugh, William; Vesterlund, Lise (2003). "The Carrot or the Stick: Rewards, Punishments, and Cooperation". The American Economic Review. 93 (3): 893–902.

Chapter 5 Compromise and Spite “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” -John F. Kennedy Although the left and right have more to benefit from working together by entering a giving relationship, there is still a natural tendency to engage in spite over compromise. In spite, both sides enter a withholding relationship wherein, if they perceive the other side will only block their efforts, then they will mutually withhold from the other side what they would like to obtain. Both sides have a finite level of energies with which they can exert change over the world to obtain the outcomes they would prefer, and the respective energies of either side can be used to either allow the other side to gain their preferences or stop them from doing so. The difference is between an abundant and beleaguered mindset. Of course, if one side uses its energies to stop the other's projects and endeavors, the result is that it won't have the resources necessary to pursue its own. However, if either side perceives the other's goals threaten the existence of the other, then it can actually be rational to entertain a beleaguered mindset. After all, throughout history humans have intermittently expressed their hatred and rage by the violent destruction of races, religions, political parties, whatever they perceived as the Other. Both sides can rationally fear that the other side, if it got its way, would turn on and destroy the other. There are, in fact, radical parties within both sides that would seek violent vengeance on the other for their respective sins against their lofty ideals. Even if the core of either side could not be identified with these radicals, both sides have a tendency to identify that core with their most violent parties and to assume treatment of them on the basis of their fringes. Hence, in the minds of both sides, they are only fighting who they imagine to threaten their existence, which justifies their equally radical departure from compromise and the turn towards spite. The result of one or both parties engaging in spite is that both players end up with less than they might have if they could work together. That is the great magic trick, to make left and right work together through a compromise allowing both parties to obtain the world they say they prefer. The synthesis of left and right that would result would, in certain cases, balance interests which are directly at odds with one another, and in other cases they would mutually empower both to improve the world. Achieving that synthesis of left and right only requires both sides to find and promote the best of each other, trusting each to rein in their worst elements. This requires treating each other less from a perspective of fear and more from a perspective of love. If each side is engaged in what it thinks of as a struggle to survive, then they won't have the resources to approve of the best of themselves or the other. A way to overcome the struggle mindset is for each side to recognize and promote what it thinks of as best in the other. This requires dropping the rather juvenile assumption – though it seems common – that the other side is primarily interested in causing harm. It is my experience that both sides are interested in fair compromise, tending to engage in spiteful tactics that cause harm when they themselves feel aggrieved. The majority of rightists are not looking to dispossess minorities or cause them harm, and likewise the majority of leftists are not looking to replace whites or genocide them. It is only because they are in pain that they choose to promote the worst elements of the other side, in order to scare members of their own side into consolidating as a force for their own causes. In other words, out of ten average leftists or rightists, nine are reasonable (if sometimes clumsy or mistaken) in their approach to handling issues with the other side. Only one out of ten is hostile and

intolerant, but it is often that one who is given the most precedence by the opposing side. This is a tempting strategy for forming coalitions, as it creates a sense of urgency for one's side. However, the sense of urgency also engenders a beleaguered mindset that causes mutual warfare, resulting in neither side getting any of the things they want. It is, ultimately, a losing strategy to promote to visibility the worst of the other side. Instead, it would be better for both sides to focus on their respective voices of reason, as those voices of reason will be more apt to consider their approach to the issues, creating a wider space in which compromise might occur. There is an evolutionary reason for our emphasis of threats. If we miss signs of a threat, the result can be existential termination. On the other hand, the penalty for missing signs of benevolence or benignity is not as likely to end with extinction. As such, we are usually much more sensitive to signals that interpret to “threat,” and are even more likely to misinterpret otherwise benign cues as threatening. When a threat is detected, people have a tendency to respond by increasing their own aggression. The result is the use of more aggressive rhetoric, that in turn activates our opponent's threat detection, who respond in kind. Highlighting the worst of the other side also causes radicalization on one's own side. And radicalization creates more examples of the worst of one's side, voices that can be highlighted and brought to the attention of the opposing side, and contributing to a self-perpetuating spiral of mutual polarization. If moderate, peaceful voices were recognized by each opposing side, those voices might come together and create opportunities to work together. The result would be an invigorated left and right, each side happier with the mutual gains they are able to make towards social, economic, and political issues. For example, there is a strong contingent in the Alt-Right that opposes US military intervention. If certain parties on the left gave more precedent to recognizing common interests rather than differences, then a coalition of left and right voices might be able to prevent or at least mitigate US military intervention as a strategy of the establishment. Instead, the left tends to be more concerned with what they perceive as racial animus in the Alt-Right – a strain that does exist among the most disaffected – but which would be less of an issue if left and right did work together more often. The racial animus the left finds so distasteful might even be mitigated if the common interests were given emphasis; it is my opinion, at least, that the racial animus on the right is often a defection against a left perceived as defecting against them. How are the left and right to mutually agree on which of their voices should be given priority in the public discourse? For example, a distrustful left and right might worry the other will choose voices that really have little to no fidelity to their respective causes, “political traitors” if you will. A left that gave priority to “rightist” voices who gave little to no regard for the traditional concerns of the right would put the right at a disadvantage, unless the right were to do the same to the left. But if both sides engaged in the promotion of voices on the side with little fidelity to their stated cause, then both sides end up back where they started, without voices who can promote their concerns in the public discourse while forging a true compromise making both sides better off. The dilemma we are facing in this concern is fair cake-cutting. In other words, what strategy can the left and right follow to make sure that each have authentic voices to represent their interests, who is also considered amenable to the other side who can work out compromises? It is like cutting a cake fairly for two players. The way to ensure a fair cut is for one player to cut the cake and the other to make the first decision about which piece to take. That way the player doing the cutting has the incentive to divide the cake as fairly as possible, since if they cut it unfairly the other player will select the piece that is bigger for themselves, leaving them with a smaller piece than they might have had

otherwise. How does this apply in politics? If, for example, the left were to choose voices first without regard for their rightist bona fides, this would be like cutting the cake and choosing a piece first. It would be necessary to wait for voices on the left and right to authenticate themselves by gaining a following, and then choosing from those voices. In the age of the internet and social media, this is actually easier than ever, assuming the playing field is equal. Voices with a large following among their respective contingent can be included as participants in the public discourse, shaping the dialogue in a way that is responsive to the concerns and issues of the citizens of our democracy. Voices from the left and right can then interact with one another, representing the interests of their constituencies, a kind of unofficial democratic discourse. There would be the fear that the voices chosen by their respective sides would be intolerable and inhumane in their approach to politics, but attempts at controlling the discourse – such as by banning “extreme” voices by social media companies – will only themselves have the effect of radicalizing discourse and making compromise impossible. In fact, that might be the purpose of social media corporations clumsily censoring voices who haven't violated any de facto norms about the proper expression of opinion or the terms of service. Both left and right should have an interest in defending the right to speech of the other, because encroachments against one side will become encroachments against the other. Left and right have more in common with each other than they typically do with regards to corporations controlling speech. If left and right each mutually give greater consideration to voices of reason, rather than voices of hostility, the effect would be one of mutual moderation. Rightists would tend to be less extreme in their politics, and likewise so would leftists. The spiral of polarization occurring in response to each side's radical fringes would slow down and reverse, so that each side could more easily band together and work together on common causes. Left and right would find something admirable in the other that they would want to work together. Many issues we currently face in our society have grown to enormous proportions because left and right have been mutually trying to undo one another rather than finding that common ground necessary. Not only does compromise become more likely, but there might even be less of a need for compromise. Often times the left and right are mutually agreed on the need for a certain kind of outcome, only with a difference in opinion of how to reach that end. With more voices of reason more good faith attempts might be made at solutions for the problems we both know we face. We might even be better at setting up means to test and verify methods that work, rather than attempting the same problematic approach that can't be acknowledged as such because it was forwarded by one political side and has become their hill to die on. Likely a mixture of approaches considered “from the left” and “from the right” will be needed to solve the social and economic problems faced by our society, and as a pragmatist I prefer something that works rather than requiring a solution that appeals to only leftist or rightist priorities. I suspect this is a similar sentiment among both left and right.

Chapter 6 The Doctrine of Speech Utilitarianism “Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is slow work.” -Aristotle I would like to promote what I am calling the doctrine of speech utilitarianism. The basic idea of speech utilitarianism is that divisions occurring on one issue do not translate to, and should not be treated as, effective divisions on other issues. In other words, a disagreement about one issue should not stop parties from making agreements on other issues. For example, disagreements about trans rights should not translate to a disagreement about basic economic issues, such as healthcare or rising tuition costs. If we can interact with each other relating about specific issues, we can make progress on those specific issues that mutually benefit both parties. Otherwise, the inability to make progress because of divisions occurring concerning other issues makes both of us worse off than we might otherwise be. Further, even regardless of the nature of the disagreement, if we are able to improve our socioeconomic positions by making progress on the issue of rising real estate and housing costs, then even if we disagree about the reasons for the racial income gap, lower costs for housing ultimately benefit everyone. Refusing to deal with each other about issues where we have common interests, and the relevance of other issues is slight or none, only disadvantages us. Therefore, it is in our common interest to find a way to relate to each other that does not let unrelated divisions impede progress on other issues. If we lived in a world where we could not make agreements with others because we do not agree with them about everything, then it should be impossible to settle any issue in a way that advantages more people. If there were, for example, some issue that might be solved by Policy A, but parties disagreed about Policy B, that should not stop people from forming some agreement about Policy A to benefit everyone. And if Policy A is resolved, that gives parties interested in Policy B more energy and resources to find a useful compromise concerning Policy B. Worse still, there are many more examples of disagreement, about Policy C and Policy D and Policy E and so on, about which any number of competing factions might be formed. Again, if Policy A were to only be resolved following adequate agreement about Policies B, C, D, E, and so on, we should never come to any agreement about any policy whatsoever! This is why it is important for both sides to treat each other with dignity, respecting our common humanity. Even if we disagree, that does not mean individuals with competing visions are any less human or deserving to have their voices contribute to the public discourse. In fact, if competing visions were prohibited from the public discourse, that would leave us all worse off. Being human means our ideas and feelings deserve to be heard and considered, the will of the people arising from the dialectic of competing voices. It is precisely our disagreements that allow us to make progress as a society, because it is always possible to devise better means of organizing society or attending to the issues we commonly face. I believe there are three issues my generation, the Millennials, will need to solve – because Boomers are clearly uninterested in doing so. Those issues are rising housing costs, healthcare, and the need for university reform. However, the Millennial generation is split over issues of social justice, such as trans rights, the plight of minorities, and immigration. Our inability to resolve those issues often translates to an inability to solve these issues. This should not be the case. Even without being able to hammer out a resolution – at this moment – about these issues of social justice to please everyone, we all still face a

common problem in these economic issues. Even if we don't find an agreement about social justice, it is still a matter of economic justice to lower housing costs, provide universal healthcare, and reform universities so they are effective in preparing individuals for life and their careers. Lower housing costs benefit everyone, and they reduce the stress and burden of financial pressure. If housing costs could be effectively addressed, it would save everyone more energy to attend to social justice issues, an extra reserve of energy that might make us all calmer in our approach to these issues. The current cult of histrionic wailing that characterizes the means with which both sides attempt to address these issues are, I believe, partially the result of felt socioeconomic stressors that we can effectively address. But we aren't addressing them, partly because we are distracted and failing to give priority to issues of common interest. Likewise, if we were to effectively address our healthcare system, again this would lower the pressure of socioeconomic stressors that are making us all less adept in navigating other issues. Individuals afflicted with pre-existing health problems, individuals requiring expensive medication, and individuals requiring healthcare in the event of emergencies are all burdened with insanely costly healthcare bills that would not be so costly if we had already solved the problem of our healthcare system. Our dysfunctional healthcare system makes us all worse off and leaves us with less energy and resources to address other problems. The final issue I believe represents our most pressing socioeconomic pressures is the need for university reform. However we find a way to solve the problem of rising tuition costs, crushing student debts, and the effective preparation for careers, addressing the problem of university reform, again, alleviates socioeconomic stressors that would give all of a little more breathing room to solve other issues. It simply doesn't make sense to disallow ourselves a solution to these problems simply because we have disagreements about other issues. If we alleviate socioeconomic stressors affecting all of us (and there are many more, I only used these three as an example), then we might not be so prone to lashing out at one another. We might have the resources to remain calm and not afflict each other with wounds that make it more difficult for us to work together in the future. We might have the energy to attend to our issues with the rational resolve required to solve the issues of our time. We certainly are not helped by feeling, personally and individually, crushed by the financial burdens of student debt and healthcare costs. Even if we don't solve issues such as the racial income gap in our generation – it is a problem that might take a long time to fix – raising everyone's general income and buying power still makes us all better off. If you were given the option of improving everyone's income by 100% - even if those racial and sexual income gaps remained – would you accept that proposition? Or would you refuse such a deal, simply because the outcome – even though it is better for everyone – was not considered entirely fair? At present, I believe the choices we are making are characterized by the latter; we are preventing ourselves socioeconomic progress due to unrelated issues of social justice. And improving our socioeconomic situation might provide the resources necessary to solve those issues of social justice! Either way, it is in our common interest to improve everyone's socioeconomic situation even if those solutions do not solve every problem. A partial solution is better than none. Making progress on socioeconomic issues will first require that both sides are able to reconcile and follow rules respecting our common humanity. The rules I have suggested – charitably representing others' ideas, attacking ideas rather than character, and refraining from the use of labels – allow us to better approach these issues one by one rather than being bogged down by the illusion of needing to

solve all our problems in order to solve a single one. Indeed, as I have argued, we will be able to do a better job solving each issue individually rather than treating them as a whole system that must be solved by a single dogma such as capitalism or socialism. As I have said, the solutions to our problems will probably require solutions “from the right” and “from the left.” I do not care which side's solution we end up using as long as it works. This is where speech utilitarianism matters. If we are not even beginning to respect each other's common humanity through a decent approach to the public discourse, then we will not have the mutual resolve necessary to solve even a single problem. Making compromises requires being able to set aside other issues so that we are able to address issues individually. Then we might make real progress. Finding compromise requires being able to communicate effectively, and we aren't communicating effectively if all we're doing is calling each other names and trying to get each other fired from our jobs. Speech utilitarianism is only the first step, and maintains that we will have the energy necessary to solve problems together if we are not wasting our energies fighting and warring like an abusive couple. To follow speech utilitarianism both sides would need to drop some of the weapons they are using against each other. Banning “radicals” from social media platforms, doxing anonymous individuals, and making violent threats against individuals with whom we disagree must be stopped by both sides. To work out a peace will require both sides to begin by agreeing to a common set of standards about how we interact with each other. Think of it as a “Geneva convention for culture war.” Maybe, if we find some common rules about how we work out some of our disagreements, we will not even have so many disagreements in the first place. But maybe I am optimistic – I certainly hope and believe in a world where differences of opinion do not require us all to be in a miserable state of cultural siege. I must admit I do not like living in fear that an errant opinion of mine might result in being permanently barred from a well-paying job. Neither do I like needing to “represent my side” by taking down others. I think both sides feel impelled, by internal will and external incentives, to collect scalps in the culture war. I sense both sides are prepared to wave their white flags so we can each move on, working together on those issues we are agreed upon and finding some compromise so we can live peaceably alongside one another on the others. There might not be a magical solution to all our problems – I believe no one has one – but if we find common agreement on some issues then it will be easier to find common agreement on others. That solution will not involve everyone agreeing to the same dogmas. Some people will remain in disagreement about issues of social justice, but even so we might agree to common rules such as respecting people's rights and prohibiting violence against anyone, even if we disagree with their opinions or lifestyle. I do not think these ideas are radical – but it does seem radical to suggest left and right might lay down their arms to work out a plan for peace. Indeed, when compromises are worked out, each side might be willing to give the other more of what it wants, in terms of ideal lifestyle and preferential treatment. Urban liberals and rural conservatives do not need to get in each other's way about how they would like to live, nor do they need to impose on one another their preferred lifestyles. It is the idea of a liberal republic that people might choose how they live without imposing on one another their own ideas. As much as possible, we need to get away from these attempts at imposing lifestyles, and when we do permit each other to live as we would like, perhaps we wouldn't end up getting in each other's way.

Chapter 7 The Alt-Right and Social Justice “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” -Carl Jung The left and right are usually not cognizant of the power they have over each other, and I believe this ignorance results in the more “extreme” wings of the left and right that we call, respectively, Social Justice and the Alt-Right. Each is, more or less, an opposite reflection of the other, each mutually driving the other to its extremes of dialectic and rhetoric in attempts by their respective bases to one-up themselves in displays of tribal signaling. Both the Social Justice and Alt-Right movements only represent a minority of the left and right, but at the same time each regards the whole as identifiable with their more extreme incarnations. Both the Social Justice and Alt-Right movements have contributed something useful and true to the public discourse, even if they have not always done so constructively. They are adolescent movements, and thus prone to extremist displays of tribalism, which they often don't realize exert an fantastic influence on the other side – although as much as each wing regards their own with admiration and positivity, the other regards it equally with contempt and negativity. A sizable portion of Social Justice rhetoric is based on observing the rhetoric and actions of those in the Alt-Right and saying “See? They are extreme, and we must encounter it with equal zeal.” Likewise, a sizable portion of Alt-Right rhetoric is based on the exact same strategy, invoking zeal among their own to counter the perceived zeal of those in the Social Justice movement. The result is mutually escalating polarization4, as each attempts to outdo the other instilling zealotry and extremism in their respective camps. I use the term “extremism” lightly – I do not mean that the majority of the Social Justice movement, or the Alt-Right movement, are composed of truly extreme elements. There are such extreme elements to be found, although the emphasis by each side tends to draw out the loudest, and most vulgar, elements, leaving the more common voices of reason out of the limelight. This has the effect of associating each movement with their worst characters, and often causing more to thus associate themselves with those worst elements who might otherwise choose more moderate rhetoric and perspectives. As I said, each has a lot of influence over each other. Many in the Alt-Right feel cornered by an opponent they perceive as immoderate and tyrannical, and people who feel cornered tend to lash out. Likewise, many in Social Justice feel cornered by an opponent they perceive as oppressive and bigoted, and are also lashing out for similar reasons. Each is in a position of causing the other to mutually feel, at times, intermittently powerless and powerful – powerless when the other side appears to encroach on their interests, and powerful when their interests appear to have a victory over the other side. Although their politics differ, as cultural and sociological phenomena I will regard both Social Justice and the Alt-Right as arising from the same forces of socioeconomic oppression and political polarization. Politically, I might call myself a “dualist” or maybe even a “progressive reactionary,” as I consider both left and right to be necessary to a healthy polis. Each brings into view aspects of society that are necessary to detail a richer picture of politics than we might have otherwise. Conservatives, with their zeal for financial accounting and tradition, sustain elements of our country that liberals might not on their own. Likewise, liberals, with their zeal for economic justice and equality, sustain elements of our country that conservatives might not on their own. Ideally, each balances the other and together develop compromises that are superior in form to an exclusively leftist or rightist paradigm. 4 Zagare, F.C. (1990). The dynamics of escalation. Information and Decision Technologies. 16(3), 249-261.

As an optimist, I believe it is simplest for each side to simply accept that the other side, just like themselves, is trying their hardest to achieve what they consider to be the common good. Characterizations of the other side as villainous or neglectful do them no credit, and might even have the effect of actually instilling those elements in the other side. As a matter of game theory, if the other side continues to give you no credit for moral progress, then eventually one will give up trying to gain that credit and simply seek out naked self-interest. Maybe the right does not do enough to attend to issues of racial justice, but calling every attempt to grapple with issues of race in a way that does not sufficiently attend to a particular orthodoxy “racist” only has the effect of causing conservatives to regard the left as engaged in a cynical manipulation. Probably the plight of minorities is due to some level of racism, but at the same time the existence of one force does not mean other theories as to what contributes to racial disparities are thoroughly false – biological theories of behavior will probably continue to be supported by scientific evidence. My suggestion to the left on this aspect is to reserve the term of 'racism' for egregious and blatant cases of ill-will against other races. Otherwise, the overuse of the term – which does mean considering someone evil – only loses the goodwill of the right. If someone keeps getting called evil by another party when they are trying their best, then eventually they will harden their hearts against your conception of morality. Maybe the left does not do enough to attend to issues of science and economics, but that does not mean they are always engaged in some genocidal effort against whites. Probably the plight of whites and their shrinking demographics has more to do with the decisions and actions of whites in the past than current multicultural forces, but at the same time that does not eliminate the possibility that some on the left do see themselves as engaged in a war specifically against whites. My suggestion to the right on this aspect of a kind of cold race war is to realize the historical forces working against and foisted on themselves. I guarantee there are genuine liberals who really do believe in the ideals of equality and who seek an end to the cycle of race-based oppression, but those liberals will not be found if leftists are equally condemned as engaging in genocide. Leftists are trying their best, and many probably don't take seriously the claim of engaging in such a cold race war because they earnestly don't see themselves as intending such an outcome. I realize my considerations of the opinions of each make me an outcast to both sides – on the one hand I will not appeal to some leftists because I will not simply dismiss scientific claims as racist, and on the other hand I will not appeal to some rightists because I don't accept the narrative that leftists are seeking genocide against whites. Likewise, if leftists do plan on stamping down on the democratic power of whites, due to theories that the relatively worse plight of minorities is especially their fault, that will have the effect of inflaming the violent and extremist tendencies of the right (tendencies certainly not unique to the right). I believe many in the Alt-Right simply feel insecure that their rights will continue to be respected in an America where they are not the majority. Statements made by some on the left feed into that insecurity, as when politicians or activists make a point to bring up the demographic shrinkage of whites as though it will render them powerless. If leftists were to make a greater point about equality for all, using identity less as a weapon and more as peace-making tool, whites would tend less to radicalize out of fear. Likewise, that means when whites organize around race the same way as they observe leftist groups doing, equality suggests they have equal right to do so as a means of securing their interests. Many in the Social Justice movement also feel insecure that the rights of minorities will be given

consideration if whites have power. Statements made by some on the right feed into that insecurity, as when politicians or activists make a point to emphasize the current disproportionate power of whites in terms of economic and political welfare. If rightists were to make a greater point of speaking to the interests of minorities it would reassure those on the left and certainly make them appear less as the extremists leftists fear. Likewise, that means when leftists neglect whites in their rhetoric because of their emphasizing of minorities, temperance suggests refraining from making the issues always about whites will not lessen the equality of whites. Each side can do more to reassure the other of their good faith to respect the other. Rather than a cultural war where we both end up worse off, it is possible to engage in a cultural exchange. The current milieu is stuck in a negative-sum game, where each move makes both sides worse off, and to change that requires compromises on the left and right to make each other feel validated. There really are poor whites suffering under the heel of withering economic circumstances, and unless their socioeconomic plight is considered as such by the left, they will probably not have much sympathy for the concerns of the left. Likewise, there really are poor blacks suffering under the heel of institutionalized oppression, and unless their socioeconomic plight is considered as such by the right, they will probably not have much sympathy for the concerns of the right. I think each treating the other like they would like to be treated, as simple as it sounds, is necessary to the left and right finding a way to work together on socioeconomic issues that affect us all. The right doesn't want to be called racist. The left wants to give consideration to the plights of minorities. Both sides will get more of what they want if they put in the work to consider what the other side wants, and to recognize that the other side is making those strides. It won't be easy, but I think the easy path ends terribly whereas we have the present opportunity to improve things for everyone if we make the right choices about how we treat each other. What I am proposing is, in a sense, a meta-ideology, but it really comes down to listening to the other side. Of course both sides will be tempted to say “But according to my ideology, nothing they have to say is either salient or meaningful!” and that is precisely why we are in conflict. What each sides feels is relevant to our current state might both be necessary to a complete picture. It is unlikely humans have divided themselves into left and right as a simple moral dichotomy between good and evil; there is, in fact, good and evil in both sides. That makes the issues more complicated, but maybe that is a good thing – we are not failing to change the world because we are implementing the wrong policies, rather the issues were always greater than we had assumed. Open and earnest communication between separate ideologies and their worldviews can only make us both better off. There are lessons each side might learn from the other, and there are aspects of our own worldview that might have been hidden from us. Every individual has their own blind spots and subconscious biases, and we can only do better as individuals and as groups with an awareness of what we were missing that others can bring to our attention.

Chapter 8 Elites and Misdirection “Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes its laws.” -Mayer Amschel Rothschild It is no secret the elites are disinterested in the energies that the mass of the people exert, and in fact they often intentionally foment that destructive energy so that there is none remaining to use against themselves. If we imagine three belligerent countries, two countries in the grips of a pyrrhic war to the death, the elites are the third country conquering both after each has expended all their energies. In that way, the left and right do the elites a service and not to each other, as the energies either the left or right use to obtain victory over the other only leaves them vulnerable to the elites. That is how the people seem to find their presidents and leaders co-opted time and again by elite interests directly at odds with the platform those politicians ran on. Every principle and ideal held up as a reason to war with the other side – to the bitter end – is only a principle exposing that side to the predations of the elite. The elite want the left and the right to each have as long a list as possible why they cannot compromise with the other, because it only leaves the mass of the people ultimately easier to lead and control by those already in power. Either way, the elites win in a culture war – their wealth and power is never directly threatened, and policies that might help the mass of the people are never implemented. The greatest power the people can find is in uniting the left and the right. If the left and the right were to set down their arms and hammer out a compromise between each other, they would each have the energy and resources necessary to take down the corrupt elite and reform the system. It is precisely because the left and right war with each other, rather than uniting and warring with the elite, that neither the left nor right ever have a real victory. Our politics has essentially stood still for half a century, there being no social catastrophes like war or depression to threaten the grip the elites have on our societies. Each time one side picks on the woefully inept and vulgar declarations of some fool on the other, it is a score for the elites. When the left trots out a fanatical rightist, and declares that as their reason to never compromise with the better part of the right, the elites win. Likewise, when the right does the same with the left, the elites win. The elites win every battle between the left and the right, because the left and right only use up the energies of the people that would be necessary to reform the system. Reforming the system in a way that benefits hundreds of millions of people requires a greater deal of coordination among those millions than it does among the elite – the elite only need to coordinate among several thousands. The elites rarely go to war directly with each other, more often they use the mass of the people as a proxy for their violent disputes. Conflicts of ideals and interests are settled by using the people as pawns in wars and cultural clashes. People like you and me only end up caught in between. As long as the elites have us fighting each other, we will never be successful in implementing any reform that suits the people rather than the elites. What the elites desire is to control the bastions of information transmission, which they largely do for the most part. Using their ownership of the means of information transmission, they seek to impose a top-down control of opinion. They will provide a selection of left-leaning and right-leaning opinions for you to select from, caring little which you choose because either of those opinions ultimately serve them. Opinions which might actually serve the interests of the people over the interests of the elites will

tend to be vilified and demonized, with the effect that bottom-up emergence of opinion from the people is culled and destroyed. The result is that the opinions the mass of the people hold, whether those opinions might serve one group within the mass over the other, still ultimately put the elites on top. In order for a true emergence of opinion from the will of the people in the public discourse, these tactics of misdirection by the elites must be actively resisted. Calling someone a Nazi might feel good (hey, you're the good guy in a narrative of good vs evil!) but it prevents the person making the accusation from fairly considering a bevy of ideas that person might tell them about, many of them unlikely to be remotely associated with ill-will towards people of other races! Likewise, dismissing the opinions of women might bolster one's ego (hey, they made wrong decisions and you didn't, so you're smart!) also prevents the person from recognizing the common interests they have with that individual. Defective tactics of the public discourse must be identified on both sides and actively dismantled, to prepare each side for meeting on common ground where they might work together. Vilification and demonization must be resisted, not because such characters on the other side don't exist, but because they are inaccurate representations of the other side. If one were to consider only the ordinary individuals of the other side, rather than their extremes, then the result would be better preparation by each side for negotiations with the other, rather than coming at the other with weapons. A great deal of energies on both sides are dedicated to attempting to punish the other side, energies that would be better reserved for working out compromise and political reform. A step towards achieving that vision is to herald and promote voices on the other side that exemplify the values of speech utilitarianism that I have been discussing. Even a minority on both sides working according to the ideals I am setting out could have a huge effect over the majority. It only takes a few people to change the minds of many. The left and right working together might not be able to solve every problem to a degree considered sufficient by the idealists of either, but each would make considerably greater progress were they not to fight with each other so much. Each fears that the expansion of the public discourse will inoculate greater amounts of people with extremism and violent tendencies, but I think that is unlikely; if we treated each other with dignity and respect, then there would be fewer pains and wounds tending to cause the extremism of each other that each dislikes. If we think of the public discourse as a window letting in opportunities for political and socioeconomic reform, the larger that window is the more opportunities can come in. The elites prefer that window to be as narrow as possible, as they have the most power to determine which opportunities are first pushed through that window. But if the window is larger, if the public discourse expands in both directions, then the result is that the people have more options to choose from in attempting to solve our problems. Otherwise, if we inhibit the expansion of the public discourse because of a fear about what will present themselves at the extremes, the result is that we are left with fewer options, each of which is more likely to benefit the elites rather than the people. What the people need might not be a synthesis of moderate left and moderate right, but a synthesis of extreme left and extreme right. The solution to our massive problems is likely to have a radical character in principle – as clearly the “moderate” solutions thus far proposed are exactly what's created the mess we're in. What each fears is that the extremity of right or extremity of left directly precipitates violence, but I think that is less the case. The association of extremity and violence is due to an unfair and inaccurate association of, as I have discussed, giving prescience to those voices that make the other side look as poorly as possible.

At the extremes of left and right one finds an equal mixture of revolutionary violence and pacifism, the two often walking alongside uneasily due to their removal from moderate public discourse. In other words, political extremism does not always amount to violence, as pacifism itself must be considered an extreme position compared to the politics of the establishment. In other words, what I am suggesting is that it would be easy to find and promote voices of peace on both the far left and far right, if one only made the effort to do so. It might feel good and serve an egoic interest to dress down extreme voices of the other side for a perceived tendency towards violence, but it only represents energies that might be better used to find and promote those peaceful voices. Indeed, many of those promoting violence feed off the negative attention in the first place, and will be starved out if we give our attention to voices of peace instead. The reason I emphasize voices of the left and right seeking to make peace is because it is one of the principal tactics of the elite to mutually discredit those efforts through an undue association with violent elements. Anyone to the right of the Republican establishment gets tarnished as a Nazi who only wants to kill blacks and Jews, and anyone to the left of the Democratic establishment gets tarnished as a genocidal maniac who only wants to kill and enslave whites. These extremely fearful visions are fostered by the elites as a means to reduce the likelihood of left and right uniting to work out real solutions to our problems, so we always keep each other down rather than help each other up. Popular media depicts both paranoid possibilities as a means of increasing cultural tensions, mere stories designed to increase divisions that keep us at war with each other rather than finding compromise. The elites have no problem with ruling through fear. They want the left to fear the right and vice versa, because as long as the masses of the people are in fear of each other they will never coordinate to confront the elites. We are all, in a sense, rightfully at war with each other for being covered in shit, but never stopping our fights long enough to realize the shit was coming from above the whole time. As long as left and right go out of their way to “own” each other, only serving at best juvenile egoism, then we do the work of the elites for them. This is why it is so necessary to set aside weapons and engage with each other as equals. It means speaking of issues, rather than people. Both sides have been worked up into an emotional state, and it isn't necessarily helping us think clearer or more strategically. To make real reforms that will benefit the mass of the people, it will require working harder, better, stronger, together.

Chapter 9 Internal Enemies and Human Nature “You govern a kingdom by normal rules; you fight a war by exceptional moves; but you win the world by letting alone.” -Lao Tzu Although, on the one hand, there exists interference by the elite in the development of the public discourse among the masses, there are also instances of plain human nature that interfere with the development of a healthy dialogue. Illness tends to illness, and sometimes only time can heal wounds. The collective human spirit bears many scars and open wounds, and some of these wounds will only heal with time. We'd like to proffer up the collective social organism to the hands of a doctor, insisting on a cure now, but sometimes the best the doctor can do is not interfere, letting the body's natural processes heal themselves as they are designed to. In that sense, there are likely an abundance of collective wounds that will simply take time to heal themselves. The problem is a tendency towards the renewing of old conflicts by the aggrieved party lashing out at the other, producing a kind of massively distributed family feud. The escalation of conflict by both parties might seem, internally to the aggrieved party, justified, but it can also have the unintended consequence of perpetuating the cycle of conflict that both parties want to avoid. Retribution for collective harms perpetuated by one group against another might only have the effect of giving justification to another round of conflict. I believe the social body, constituted of all races and religions, naturally tends to heal itself. The parts that are at war with each other represent the social body at war with itself. It is like different parts of the body warring with each other, a state of being that is not healthy for it. A state of being at war with oneself tends to resolve itself in one of two ways: either expiration of the body, or a dynamic equilibrium. I am in favor of the latter, and it is what guides my prescriptions as a would-be doctor of the social body. There are cases where “sticking it” to the other side amounts to a kind of collective self-sabotage, holding ourselves back by holding others back. There is a pendulum of conflict that tends to swing back and forth of its own accord, and if we can monitor our own actions to be sure we are not pushing that pendulum further than it needs to go, it might eventually come to rest. An example of the masses holding themselves back involves the healthcare system in America. In the mid-20th century there were proposals to reform the healthcare system and give Americans a universal healthcare system. As a collective social body, it is most logically sound to insure one another, as our neighbor's health influences our own. However, universal healthcare would have implied whites paying for the healthcare of blacks, which caused some whites to recoil at the idea; as a result, the necessary coalition could not be developed to push for universal healthcare, and instead we have a piecemeal system that only generates rising costs. Whites have also been disadvantaged by such a system, a kind of collective spite, a manifestation of the worst parts of human nature that refused to benefit themselves because it would have implied the benefit of others too. It is necessary that we become self-aware on both sides in order to avoid perpetuating those kinds of self-spiting resolutions. If a policy will benefit us, then even if it benefits the other side it should be supported; refusing to support the policy because it will help others only creates new wounds that perpetuate conflict between both sides. In other words, rather than focusing on the ills of the other side, it would be wise for each side to focus on their own ills. In that way, both sides might make progress by simply coming to terms with themselves and thereby healing themselves. By refraining from interfering with the other side's process of healing, that healing might actually take place.

Each side is so confident that, without their express intervention, the other side will never heal themselves, so they continue prescribing further interventions that themselves destabilize the system they want to bring to equilibrium. Like a medieval doctor causing further harm by putting leeches all over one's body or doing bloodletting, castigating the other side for their present failures to meet the idealistic standards we hold might only make it harder to achieve those ideals. Sometimes the most effective cure for an ill is to refrain from intervention to allow the body to heal itself. There's an implicit desire to scapegoat when individuals are blamed for institutional ills they had nothing to do with erecting. We observe that there is some problem, and it satisfies a basic human impulse to blame someone for its existence, but that does not always have anything to do with actually solving the problem. Blaming others for the institutional ills of our current system might not solve those problems, and in the process of blaming it might only lose the good will of those being blamed necessary to solve those problems. Sometimes collective social problems are no one's fault, and if we work from that perspective we can better work together. Deciding who has to be blamed for what only uses up social energy and resources that would be better devoted to solving the problem itself. Blaming is a problem in itself. I know what I'm suggesting sounds radical. It is a policy of non-intervention. Sometimes there is no better cure than time. People tend towards good – if you let them. Both sides would rather be at peace with the other, and it is often the interventions one side makes in the other that each finds the most aggravating and provocative. I know rightists who openly express racist rhetoric because they feel leftists negatively influenced their lives by their interventions intended to make them less racist. Likewise, I know leftists who openly express hateful rhetorical against whites because they feel whites negatively influenced their lives by their interventions. Both opinions and sentiments are all-toohuman and understandable. Hatred is most often inspired by pain, and it causes the cycle of pain that inspires more hatred. Finding peace between left and right involves not only confronting the Other – it requires confronting ourselves. I know it is very painful to find out we might be partly responsible for contributing to the problems we say we despise, but as limited humans I believe the truth is we usually are. All too often we make a small problem into a big problem by mismanagement and bungled execution of a solution. It's a tragedy when the social body, experiencing an illness, subjects itself to medications and medical interventions that only delay healing. But if we do not face ourselves in this way, we will only continue to perpetuate the cycle of conflict. Sometimes peace requires burying the hatchet. The best thing we can do to heal the other is to heal ourselves. We should be less concerned, as Jesus points out, with the mote in our neighbor's eye and more concerned with the plank in our own. This is what I mean by self-policing – groups of people are capable of acknowledging their shortcomings, but they are unlikely to do so in an environment where that is seen as self-incrimination to be used by the other against them. Rightists will be reluctant to acknowledge their racism if leftists are only going to use that to ignore all their other ideas – likewise leftists will be reluctant to acknowledge their classism if rightists are only going to use that to ignore all their other ideas. Holding the right opinions or suffering intolerance by the other side does not excuse our faults. But neither will anyone do anything about their faults as long as they are afraid of the other side seizing on their insecurities and flaws as a means to destroy them. The left seems to have a problem with wanting to provoke the right into violence, so they can feel morally superior deriding the right for its fascist tendencies. But this is a case where the left can do a lot to help their rightist brethren, by refraining

from trying to poke them in the eye. Some on the left seem to operate by the attitude that, because rightists have the wrong opinions, it is okay to bully and antagonize them. What the left and right should contemplate are the words of Lao Tzu – win over an enemy by not antagonizing them. The left and right could be friends, if each follows the proper set of steps. That is what I'm outlining with my idea of speech utilitarianism – a set of rules each side can follow in order to respect our common humanity and dignity. It is when people feel disrespected that they act their worst. Therefore, it is incumbent for both sides to go to lengths to respect the other. Both sides will profit from an attitude of friendship. We are, after all, in this together. I know it pains leftists to think their provocations might have something to do with radicalizing rightists, but the truth is they must take some responsibility. They have caused wounds to people on the right, people who feel real pains. Like bombing the Middle East understandably creates “terrorists,” the equivalent of cultural bombing creates “fascists.” Fortunately, if leftists take responsibility, they can also make the right choices about how to interact with people on the right. What people on the right most want is to be treated as serious and good faith participants in the creation of the public discourse. They want their ideas to be legitimately contemplated and considered. As people they want their identities to be treated with dignity and respect. If those conditions are not met, then the result will be an increase of antagonisms that drive people to radicalize. “But they are racists, they don't deserve to be treated as equals!” Yes, they might not deserve it, but treating people well is not about what they deserve. Equality is not deserved, but that does not mean we shouldn't strive for it as an ideal. Again, like divvying up blame does not solve the problems that require us to work together, arguing over whether we deserve to be treated as equals does not allow us to work together as equals – because we only work together as equals, or not at all. It is the basic principle of karma – what goes around, comes around. If leftists treat rightists poorly – for whatever reason – then rightists will treat leftists poorly. And if rightists treat leftists poorly – for whatever reason – then leftists will treat rightists poorly. While left and right might have disagreements about what they consider the proper way to treat others, if they don't exemplify their standards in the way they treat each other, neither side will even want to come to an agreement about common standards. The left destroys good faith and good will among the right when they castigate them and call them evil. The right destroys good faith and good will among the left when they engage in unscrupulous and vulgar behavior against minorities. It is difficult for either side to face each other – a common excuse is “I'm not personally engaging in that behavior,” and while that is likely true for the majority, both sides are responsible for facing that in their common elements. If leftists want to see the right police their fascistic and racist tendencies, they must police their tendencies towards bullying and abusing rightists. All “moral superiority” is lost if it's only an excuse to tyrannize others. I know this will be a difficult lesson to internalize, because it requires admitting to and confronting the faults among our allies. Standing up to our friends is sometimes more difficult than standing up to our enemies. However, if the lesson is not internalized and left and right do not pro-actively police their worst elements, then both will end up defecting against each other by allowing free rein to their worst elements instead. If the left wants to see the right tame their impulses towards dehumanization, they must do the same. If the right wants leftists to treat them equally they must find a way to do the same for leftists and those for whom they speak.

Left and right respecting each other will probably be the most difficult task for each to shoulder. They must, in a sense, treat each other as their burden. The left is burdened with taking care in how they treat their rightist brethren, and the right is burdened with taking care in how they treat their leftist brethren. Each must learn to follow the golden rule, treating the other like they would like to be treated, because each must recognize they are not always right or just.

Chapter 10 Transformation “It is in vain that we search for an essential difference between good and evil, for their constituents are the same. The crucial distinction lies in their structure, i.e. the manner in which the pieces are assembled. Evil is disintegration, an angry juxtaposition of alienated opposites, with parts always striving to repress the other parts. Good is the synthesis and reconciliation of these same pieces.” -Charles Hampden-Turner Reconciliation of left and right will not be achieved by one side unilaterally imposing conditions on the other. Indeed, that is a recipe for a violent backlash, for a disintegration of the American social fabric. An overall change of the relationship of the left and right in America will require both sides to change. At present, both sides are engaging in abusive and intolerable behavior, each mutually justifying the siege mindset of the other. With each side working on themselves and seeking to draw out the best of the other, a new dynamic equilibrium of cooperation can be achieved. Each side has so far engaged in what is more enjoyable, e.g. challenging and critiquing the other for their respective faults, but neither of these are likely to actually instill the behavior they would like to see in the other. Criticism does little to endear, what is more likely to achieve a positive effect is compliments and praise when the other side engages in the preferred behavior. Both sides are desperate for validation, each having been abused by the political, educational, and media establishment. In many ways, the Social Justice left and the Alt-Right are like children of abusive parents, who take out their anger on each other, rather than seeking to shelter each other from their abusive parents. Both the left and right – especially in the incarnations manifesting by my generation – is making important criticisms of the establishment, and in that sense there is a lot more they have to share with each other than with the establishment itself. I believe the establishment is intentionally fostering the antagonisms of the left and right in order to prevent them working together against it. In fact, both sides have – without realizing – learned important things from each other about the establishment that have allowed them to improve their understanding. If we are being objective, and can set aside our emotions, each has in fact drawn out each other's better aspects of their critique and challenge of the system – only we often misinterpret the other as part of that system we are mutually opposed to. I do not like labels, as they can be misleading. If I were to use the word 'capitalism' to describe the system, it would mean different things to different people. Instead, I believe we can identify the active constituents of the system who promote and perpetuate the harmful aspects of our economy. Examples would be those who perpetuate a higher cost of living in rising housing prices, or those who refrain from the opportunity to reform the university system and student tuition. Attacking an abstract entity is not as effective as delivering our challenges directly to those supporting the system. However, in order to make more effective challenges of the system, both sides must incorporate what each understands as the benefits of the system. For example, we have – or we used to – make progress on issues of racial equality. We are, from a long historical perspective, much better than we used to. That progress can be examined and diagnosed for its beneficial aspects. There is more work to be done – but even our recognition that there is more work to be done presupposes the ideal of racial equality has penetrated as far as it has into the collective consciousness. But that progress has not necessarily benefited everyone. Whites feel – legitimately – that they have

lost something in the process. What has been lost is not necessarily tied to a narrative of dominance – if one listens, one hears that they are worried about what identity they will be allowed. There is an undercurrent of anti-white sentiment in the public discourse that those on the left are uniquely in a position to excise, and unless it is addressed then individuals on the right will deafen themselves to whatever else the left might have to say about minority issues. Some whites will consider the lingering presence of anti-white sentiment on the left as justifying ignoring the left entirely. This would actually be to their disadvantage, but it also makes a lot of sense. Minority issues are becoming a greater issue as demographics in America change. The cause and purpose of those changing demographics may or may not matter – there exist competing narratives and historical perspectives on the issue. However, the presupposition of white dominance in the culture and economy will need to be renegotiated to admit for a healthy cultural synthesis. Multiculturalism is not guaranteed to work, and the right makes valid critiques about the difficulty of people with clashing values living near each other and being forced to compete over limited political resources. The conditions allowing people of different cultures to live and work together are contingent and susceptible to evolution – in either a positive or negative direction. Without taking seriously the concerns of the right, the left might be blinding itself to relevant problems stemming from the conflict of cultures. The left and right, as collective intelligences, are sensitized to identify and concern themselves with certain patterns of social phenomena the other might miss. Each can, with fair justification, bring to the attention of the other issues that might lurk in their blind spots. We all have motivated cognition, causing us to (rationally, from a certain perspective) ignore issues that the other primarily concerns themselves with. The left is sensitized to care for the concerns of minorities, while the right is sensitized to care for the concerns of traditional law and order – a working synthesis allowing each to move forward and progress will require taking into account the concerns of both. Ignoring one or the other – just because the concerns are raised by the other side – will make us all worse off. There are virtues of both sides worth extolling. It is easy – and perfectly human – to focus on the vicious aspects of the other to the neglect of their virtue, but doing so has the long term consequence of giving more oxygen to those worst aspects. When one side strives to compromise and realize the ideals of the other and that effort is overlooked, it only instills in them the idea there is no reason to waste their energies trying to get validation from the other side. But, in fact, we really can heighten the public discourse by giving more attention to the best of each other and praising those aspects. I do not know what a transformed left and right will look like, but I do know it will give both sides the opportunity to achieve more of their desired ideals. There are opportunities for compromise we are foregoing and neglecting in our mutual abuse of each other. All we need to do is meet each other as rational equals, and to interpret what each says and does in the best light. If we can maintain a basic respect for the other, then we will be better able to work with each other. We will both be able to achieve so many more of our goals by working together than if we do not. What I have tried to communicate through the premises of game theory is the idea that, even if the result of cooperation is unknown, that unknown is likely better than a known evil. If we do not cooperate, the probable result is both sides getting oppressed. Only, instead of the top-down scenario typically envisioned by dystopic fiction, the reality will be left and right oppressing each other without the state needing to get involved. Unless we cooperate, the only likely outcome is we end up being corralled into doing the dirty business of the corrupt establishment for it.

Looking forward several steps ahead, some of the most effective responses we can have to the other side's hate is to treat them as we would want to be treated, as rational individuals. Our choices and actions will tend to be replicated by the other side, meaning if we respond with hate then so will the other side. If we treat each other with dignity and respect, then we will raise the level of the public discourse. We are pitted against each other in a prisoner's dilemma, and if we learn how to cooperate with each other then we will each be better off. A world of cooperating left and right will be one in which fewer problems persist as a direct result of our mutual defection against each other. Without energies wasted, we will both contribute to solutions raising everyone's living standards and making everyone feel better about their preferred lifestyle. Each side won't engage in antics that provoke the other into their fearsome forms, and will instead work to bring out the best in each other. It won't be a perfect world and disagreement will still exist, but at least we will still respect each other as humans with innate dignity. The less divided we are as a mass of people the harder it will be for the establishment to dump its problems on us. We won't end up doing the work of the establishment by staying divided and unable to coordinate to necessary solutions. The problems we remain divided over in one area should not stop us from working together in other areas – and with solutions in those areas we will reach better compromises over the areas we still disagree about. A transformed left and right each has more potential to change the world. We both have so much to learn from each other, it's a shame we often get in our own way assuming the worst of the other. If we can cooperate in the sphere of public discourse, then we will all enrich our worldviews. A left that incorporates characteristics of the right into its ideas and a right that incorporates characteristics of the left into its ideas as well both have greater potential to transform the world. We are holding each other back, quite literally, from moving forward in the direction we both wish to go. Even if we don't always go in the same direction, we aren't helping ourselves diverting our energies to preventing others from going their own way. The public discourse is in our collective care, and the way we treat each other is an essential ingredient. If we follow a few basic rules respecting our mutual dignity as persons, then we benefit from better ideas available that help us to understand the world we live in. We aren't helping ourselves mischaracterizing and attacking others, instead we only invite the other to do the same to us. We shouldn't be afraid to share our ideas and opinions, indeed we will only find the solutions and compromises necessary if all of us feel empowered to contribute to the public discourse. I hardly expect perfection, but if we recognize how we are impacting the public discourse in a positive or negative way by our choices, then we have more control over our future destiny as a species.