Now we've got voices preaching hatred of "the other." That other side, why they're evil, vile, disgusting. They're to be feared, distrusted and loathed. It doesn't matter what side you're with, every group has them. And they've been remarkably effective.
What these zealots have achieved is to undermine social cohesion, the force that unites people, makes them stronger, less submissive and vulnerable to authority. Social cohesion is the glue of democracy.
There will always be issues on which people disagree but invariably we agree on far more than we dispute. By building on a foundation of consensus we build trust and a willingness to listen and confidence to discuss and debate. Both sides get heard and, from that act of listening, understood. We may find solutions based on compromise and accommodation that can heal divides.
There is money and power to be had, plenty of it, by those who can divide, confuse and weaken society. The real mischief of globalism is the rise of the corporate state in which narrow, special interests manage to insinuate themselves between the public and those they vote into office.
Globalism demands the surrender of certain incidents of national sovereignty to private sector interests, the ISDS or investor/state dispute settlement regime, being one example. Governments may be restrained from legislating or regulating for the benefit of the public by such means. Jurisdiction becomes shared between government and corporation.
A deeply divided society is weakened, less capable of defending the public interest against the special interest. Government becomes less responsible to the public, more patriarchal. The bond steadily erodes. In some societies it can reach the point where an alienated public fall prey to populist hucksters who feed their discontent and harness it to their own purposes.
My blog, the Disaffected Lib, is dedicated to the restoration of progressive democracy. I really can't see much future for Canada unless we manage to reinstate progressivism, the beating heart of liberal democracy that was pretty thoroughly expunged after the implementation of neoliberalism and the surrender to globalism. Progressivism is the key to restoring social cohesion.
Barack Obama has warned that American democracy and that nation's economy are in peril if the US cannot solve its political divisiveness.
"We live in a culture today where everybody feels the crush of information and the collision of worlds," Obama explained.
This is very different than how our ancestors lived, he pointed out. Humans have, for most of their history, lived their whole lives in the same basic geographic area where they were born, had a network of friends that stretched to maybe 150 people and lived in societies "with very clear rules and expectations," Obama said.
The challenge Americans face today is "how do we maintain that sense of common purpose, our 'in it together,' as opposed to splintering and dividing? As we are seeing in some debates in social media and elsewhere, it's harder to do today. But I think it becomes more necessary than ever, because if we don't figure it out, not only will it be hard for our economy to survive but it is going to be hard for our democracy to survive."
Obama believes that one important way we can maintain and increase a national identity, where citizens view themselves as Americans first, rather than members of a particular tribe (like our political party, or race, or gender) is by sharing stories with each other. The more we can do that, the more we'll see each other as fellow humans, rather than as caricatures representing some other tribe.
One place to start is to ask everyone, no matter where in the political spectrum you fall, to expand your media sources, he suggests.
"Right now part of our polarization is that if you watch Fox News all day, or you read the New York Times, you are occupying two different realities. We have to be able to figure out, in this multiplicity of platforms, to have some common baseline of facts that allow us to meet and solve problems," he said.A "common baseline of facts." Facts are facts. Beliefs, suspicions and ideologies are not facts. They obscure facts or blur fact and contrivance until the two become indistinguishable. Once facts are adulterated, you're left with narratives that are often irreconcilable, leading to suspicion, distrust and hostility. The separation is complete because the essential bond of fact is broken. Without restoring that baseline of fact we can only drift ever further apart, morphing from rivals into enemies. Then we're lost.