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Political and social writing is nowadays almost completely tribal. Maybe it always has been. Regardless, I am increasingly uninterested in making general “I’m not a fan of X … but” statements any longer.

My new kick (in some ways merely a continuation of policies I tried to enforce when I was a magazine editor) is to write as if no one cares what my political and moral commitments are. I’ll deal with issues and facts and arguments that I think interesting, and let the rest go.

I do not need to signal my virtue in every prefatory remark.

What this means is that when writing about Vilfredo Pareto I won’t often mention his relationship with fascism, or when writing about Karl Polanyi, communism. I’m against both fascism and communism, but I hardly think I need clarify my obvious antagonisms ad nauseam. I attack them separately enough as it is. Pareto and Polanyi are interesting enough on separate grounds, as are any a number of other Ps: Peirce, Perry, Popper, Parsons, and (Michael) Polanyi.

Most current social media sharing seems like the moral preening of children. Well, youths. Or, more precisely: cultists. We can do better by not appearing so concerned without our appearances, just dealing with the ideas and issues themselves. One should be able to write about a political matter without always signaling your allegiances. Among strangers, I actually do not care about their allegiances, whether they are "on the right" or "on the left" or what-have-you. I care about facts, values, principles, etc., but we should be able to discuss such matters without taking sides each sentence.

We are not required to be tribal, or to join a cult.

wirkman 2 Aug 13

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Sir, you are a wise man.

I'd amplify a point woven into your comment but could be more explicit: It is important to know the ideology of the creator of an idea to the extent it forms the idea, perhaps differently than a strictly "objective" approach might.


I will give credit where credit is due. Even Trump can do good things at times, rare as they might be. Obama did bad shit, normalised predator drone use. No-one is all good and bad in this world.
They hypocracy in world politics gets me. Foreign political interference. Rallying against "repugnant regimes" whilst supporting the likes of Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. Crimea returning to Russian control is concerning with sanctions justified, but US military setting up base uninvited in Syria is tickidy boo? Hypocracy.
So look at issues separately keeping a big picture in mind, and call it like it is. Agreed.


Tangentially I submit that open registration to a political party undermines the "one person, one vote" type of democracy. An anonymous vote allows you to act honestly.


You make a very valid argument! Maybe we are off in the weeds, because we feel helpless with our own ideas as we try to make sense of what seems so upside down and unrecognizable? We need props because our singular helpless thinking is not making a difference...and we are acclimated to get instand results (push a button and get a result). Not make a plan and keep on working with it, until it does become worthless and then examine where it might be improved and make some adjustments! When people are hurting they are less likely to think creatively and about anything...’in the long term!’ They are too preoccupied with holding on, until the ‘wind changes direction!’ We need to relieve our constant companion of anxiety! And, if we are not seeing results, we look to others or blame them, because...’why are they not doing anything?’ This is a confusing time for the ‘enlightened and the un-enlightened!’ A leader would help, as we really are on our own at the moment! I myself...cannot hold in my mind one person, in the ‘mainstream,’ whose words have a ring of truth and hope in them! (Except maybe Colbert, who is relieving stress, thru laughter), There are words thrown out one individual or another and they keep me from running completely off the rails, but it is not enough! Even as a strong independent person, I can see clearly how important a mentally and morally healthy leader is! I wish I had the answer...


We live in a time of critique. Tribal allegiances seem to me to be cultural defined by time and place. Marx"s communist dream failed in the 20th century (China has an extremely efficient capitalistic system).

We can no longer quote the 'scripture " of the left or the right, unchallenged. Critique requires cogent construction & deconstruction of all arguments. Our conclusions must follow from defensible premises.

Speed is everything and it is accelerating. People like Nick Land believe that cultural acceleration will lead us past capitalism and others such as Frederic Jameson think we are in the final stage of capitalism.

cava Level 7 Aug 13, 2018

I agree with you and might be learning something here. Sometimes I get it right. Not so long ago I talked to a business owner and Trump supporter and gave him several things to think on. I actually believe he thought I was also a supporter. Having this happen is rare.


I find myself repulsed by the same sort of attitude among tv/film critics and commentators. It seems they feel every film or television show should, in some way, offer some form of social or political commentary. Maybe, sometimes, a movie is just a movie? Not necessarily a vehicle for the dissemination of values?


People are finding a lot of comfort in identity politics. The leaders, I guess, love the fanboys.


A very cogent description of our apparently common dilemma.

Individuality is not understood or respected anymore. The tribal, polar nature of society today cedes no space to it. When one agrees on an issue on the side of the tribe supporting it love and acceptance are plentiful. To agree with their 'opposing' tribe on another issue is treated as betrayal of doctrines never accepted in the first place.

Agree with them and they love you as one of 'their own'. Disagree on another topic and you become despised and vilified as traitor; as a devil. It works the same way on the Left or Right. Actually I see them more as herds.


I write everything as if no one cares what my positions are.
I find that generally to be true.

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