Professor Coleman describes "the way out!"

MONDAY, JULY 12, 2021

Of "toxic polarization:" Here at this site, we've been asserting a certain view for the past several years. We've been saying it's hard to see a good way out of our nation's current mess. 

Our current mess is a tribal mess—a war of competing tribes. It's hard to see a way out of this mess because it's so heavily fueled by new technologies and by the large profits acquired therein.

People are making lots of money promoting our current mess. The technologies in question aren't going away. Neither is the widespread, all-too-human desire to make lots of money any darn way you can.

Talk radio isn't going away. Neither is cable news or the Internet, or our sprawling "social media."

Something else isn't going away—the human impulse to align with a tribe and engage in tribal loathing. For all these reasons, it's hard to see a good way out of our spiraling mess.

Today, we're flipping the focus of this site, or at least so we intend. There are questions we've pondered for fifty years which we want to pursue to the end. At present, we're planning to explore those topics in our principal morning posts.

Our focus on our current mess will shift to briefer afternoon posts. Today, we want to introduce Peter Coleman, who offers the view that there actually is a way out of our current mess.

Who the heck is Peter Coleman? He's a professor at Columbia. He describes himself as someone who works "in the field of peacebuilding and conflict transformation." 

That sounds like a very good field! The leading authority on Coleman's career thumbnails him as shown:

Peter Thomas Coleman (born September 9, 1959) is a social psychologist and researcher in the field of conflict resolution and sustainable peace. Coleman is best known for his work on intractable conflicts and applying complexity science.

Coleman is a professor at Columbia University and the executive director of the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) and the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution...

The profile continues from there. Yesterday, we watched the bulk of a C-Span event concerning his latest book.

That book is built around some useful terminology. Its title is this:

The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization

We've been saying it's hard to see a way out. Coleman's book suggests that there is a way out of this mess—out of the mess he defines as "toxic polarization."

You can watch the C-Span book event here. To read a short but instructive excerpt from Coleman's book, you can just click here.

For our money, that excerpt draws from the worldview of Our Tribe more than it does from Theirs. But we'll recommend Coleman's basic focus—his search for "cooperation and conflict resolution"—even as we continue to think that the factors cited above make it hard to picture a good way out.

Tribal wars will often involve propaganda from both warring tribes. The "toxic polarization" in question won't come from only one side.

At this site, we've largely focused on the messaging which now animates  Our Town. We've done that because everyone who lives in Our Town has been able to see the toxic shortcomings of Donald J. Trump. It's harder to see the propaganda we may be fed from within our own tribe.

Our primary posts this week will start to define a new "Physics / Philosophy Howler." In the afternoons, we'll still tend to focus on the unhelpful propaganda which emanates from our own side.

In our view, such propaganda suffuses the pages of Our Town's leading newspapers. Some such work is completely accurate. It may be part of Our Town's  contribution to "toxic polarization" nonetheless.

Coleman mentioned Gandhi and Mandela at several points during his book event. They were high achievers.

Dr. King, but also John Lewis, advocated refusing to hate. We still think that's a good idea. For everyone in all human towns, stopping the toxic starts here.


41 comments:

  1. Agreed that it is super easy to see the propaganda from the Right, than from the Left, but that's only because the mainstream media is Right-wing, so there are way more instances of it from the Right in society.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Our current mess is a tribal mess—a war of competing tribes."

    Nah. There are no 'tribes', dear Bob. We aren't observing anyone -- other than your liberal-hitlerian cult -- pushing their 'theories' into everyone's throat.

    It's you, dear Bob, your liberal cult, who's trying to wreak havoc. And actually it isn't succeeding so well as to create a 'mess'.

    It's rather comical, dear Bob; both your totalitarian cult's convulsing, and your panic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And there's our dose of irony and ridiculous lack of self-awareness for the day. Thanks for stopping in and serving your limited but vital purpose.

      Delete
    2. Every word Mao posts is a lie, including the "and" and the "the."

      Delete
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  3. 'In our view, such propaganda suffuses the pages of Our Town's leading newspapers.'

    Certainly Trumptards like Somerby dislike stories that don't involve worship of Donald Trump, and defence of Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Devin Nunes and Matt Gaetz. Which is why Somerby's town of hardcore, malignant Trumptards likes to see worship of Donald Trump, and defence of Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Devin Nunes and Matt Gaetz in their town's publications and news shows.

    ReplyDelete
  4. 'Here at this site, we've been asserting a certain view for the past several years.'

    Indeed, the viewpoint of a would be useful idiot for Trump. However, Somerby's general ineffectiveness meant that he ended up being a useless idiot for Trump.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He just explained it to you, Mr. Broken Record.

      >At this site, we've largely focused on the messaging which now animates Our Town. We've done that because everyone who lives in Our Town has been able to see the toxic shortcomings of Donald J. Trump. It's harder to see the propaganda we may be fed from within our own tribe.

      Delete
    2. I am a Centrist, so I'm not part of any Town. And I'm perfectly willing to read the shortcomings of liberals. However, someone who spends 4 years defending Donald Trump, Roy Moore, lying, concern trolling and the like is not acting as an honest broker or a concerned reformist, but as a Trumptard.
      That's the real broken record here, irrationalist.

      Delete
    3. Alright fair enough. As you're feeling feisty maybe you can provide some recent examples of this defending of Donald Trump? Hopefully you aren't confusing a criticism of approach and factualism of attacks as a defense of the the target?

      Delete
    4. 'Hopefully you aren't confusing a criticism of approach and factualism of attacks as a defense of the the target?'

      Somerby's preferred approach would seem to have been not to attack Trump at all since he would leap to Trump's defense on practically any charge. And it was rarely facts he questioned so much as nitpicking. 'Did Trump really lie or did he honestly believe this ?' That definitely counts as a defense.

      I remember when Dan Dale criticized a comment Schiff made as a lie, Somerby promptly jumped on it and wrote about it. Dale has written articles about literally hundreds of Trump's lies, and that article itself mentions that Schiff's single comment can't compare to Trump's 4 year + records of lies. But Somerby focused on that one article to attack Schiff.

      And during the whole impeachment proceedings and trial, he kept on saying that it was an attempt to overturn the election, how it was nothing etc. etc.

      And he referred to all Dem candidates in a very broad field as terrible in the primaries. That's not a reformist, that's a Trumptard trying to spread dissension in the anti-Trump ranks. Fortunately, Somerby is so pathetic that he only ends up being a useless idiot for Trump.



      Delete
    5. The Schiff example is a good one that certainly has the ability to create some doubt about Somerby's motivations.

      I think he just likes to police his own side. Think of the often left out part of the famous quote "when wrong to be made right".

      Do you legitimately believe anyone is going to switch to supporting Trump at this point based on criticism of the left? Perhaps there's some guy sealed in a bunker somewhere that only reads the Daily Howler and he's "had it with the libs".

      Delete
    6. It might be construed as "policing his own side" except that Somerby so frequently repeats conservative talking points, right at the time when conservatives are talking about them. That cannot be a coincidence.

      People may not be switching to Trump, but many are switching away from him. It seems more likely that Somerby may be trying to deter that eventuality.

      Somerby is no liberal yet he repeatedly calls himself one. Today he is taking the stance that he is on the side that he is criticizing. There is no evidence that is true. That makes Somerby dishonest.

      Delete
  5. Bob,
    You remind me of Neville Chamberlain.
    A Quisling.
    Give the Nazi's what they want. We will have peace in our times.
    Rupert Murdoch has spent his life lying.
    Liberals should go with the flow.
    Not me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dismissive, ad hominem comments like this are worse than useless. Why not respond to specific points Somerby makes, wrestle with them, counter with facts or arguments he may not have thought of? Of course, that would force you to think outside the convenient category you have assigned him to. I have been reading him for years, and I find him to be deeply, seriously liberal. He is also an excellent writer, funny, pungent, highly alert to the zeitgeist. He actually researches things and is a terrific critic of certain elements of main stream media -- not from the right, but from the point of view of someone who wants to see the better angels prevail.

      Delete
    2. It is "deeply, seriously liberal" to say that there has been too much talk about race lately?

      It is "deeply, seriously liberal" to call Stormy Daniels a grifter?

      It is "deeply, seriously liberal" to say that Donald Trump is not a liar because no one knows what he is really thinking when he tells obvious falsehoods?

      I'm not sure the word "liberal" means what you think it does.

      Delete
    3. To me, "deeply, seriously liberal" means going beyond lip service and tokenism. It means trying really hard to actually makes things better. And that action has to rest on a clear-eyed view of reality. It's very possible that all the virtue-signaling about race will result in a backlash that costs the Democrats power for years to come. Stormy Daniels sure seemed to enjoy the attention and the bucks that came with it. And Trump is so demented he might actually believe the idiotic things he says.

      Delete
    4. And yet recent polls are showing that racial attitudes have never been better. Somerby is talking about race these days because the conservatives are doing so, and they are doing that because there is a midterm election coming up and they are trying to rally their base. Aiding that effort is not particularly liberal.

      Stormy Daniels was approached by Trump's fixer, not vice versa. Somerby never addressed that point.

      And no liberal goes around saying that maybe Trump is sincere. It doesn't matter what he believes -- the things he says are still lies. Only those trying to defend him emphasize his state of mind instead of the damage done by his falsehoods. There is plenty of evidence that Trump's lies are instrumental (self-serving) and that he has no respect for truth. Somerby ignores all of that when he attempts to carve out some sense in which believing Trump might be rational. And this is how he defends Trump, something no liberal spends any time doing.

      I see no evidence at all that Somerby does anything whatsoever to try to make things better.

      Liberals supported Hillary, whether they liked her or not. Liberals supported Biden, because he was the best hope for defeating Trump. Somerby criticized both Hillary and Biden, and Somerby attacked Kamala Harris and other democrats, calling them all terrible candidates. No liberal did that.

      Somerby is no liberal. He needs to stop calling himself one.

      Delete
  6. Somerby tells us about Coleman's existence and he says we are polarized, but he doesn't tell us what Coleman's solution is. Neither does the excerpt he has linked to. Who cares whether he talks about MLK or Ghandhi, what is his proposed solution to polarization and conflict?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I may be going out on a limb here, but my guess is that TDH announced a new focus and that there’s more to come.

      That may or may not play out depending upon any number of things having to do with a changing new cycle or with personal whim. It’s always a interesting trip nonetheless.

      Here’s a podcast:

      https://icccr.tc.columbia.edu/news-and-events/news/peter-coleman-on-the-follow-up-question-/

      I’m not impressed with a Coleman tweet today where he wonders why it’s legal to publicly call the Covid vaccine a hoax, but it’s illegal to yell fire in a public theater.

      That’s some subtle thinking there… but I’ll keep an open mind.

      Delete
  7. Bob loves people of color if they are murdered (MLK and Gandhi), or spend decades in prison (Mandela). And the "beautiful" children of Baltimore.
    All other black people deserve to die.
    Trayvon Martin could have killed Zimmerman with the sidewalk.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Trump has complained that it is race, race all the time. So has Somerby, echoing that conservative talking point.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I like the direction TDH is going. While never using the term "toxic polarization" (to my knowledge), TDH often references the "tribal thinking" that's destroying journalism. This seems a deeper take on it.

    I'm looking forward to this theme.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Bob is still trying to shovel the idea that mainstream media isn't Right-wing.
    It takes a generation of denial to still believe such BS.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you a troll or an idiot?

      Delete
    2. You can say that again!

      Delete
    3. And she always does...just to be an asshole.

      8:25 is spot on, and everyone in this sub-thread goddamn well knows it.

      Delete
    4. No, Mike Barry, I truly am this inept.

      Delete
    5. Okay, I did one on purpose, but in general, I forget to not reload.

      Delete
    6. Cecelia,
      You spelled troll wrong.

      Delete
    7. Cecelia's crappy denials that she's a bigot, prove her ineptness.

      Delete
    8. I don’t deny being anything you call me. Who on earth would bother?

      Delete
    9. Cecelia,
      Why wouldn't you deny being a troll? It's not like anything you write has a modicum of truth to it anyway.

      Delete
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