Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

The Three Languages of Politics

People see the world differently. If we’re going to do more than preach to our respective choirs in the climate debate, we need to recognize this.

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I was a speaker at a conference in downtown Toronto yesterday called Liberty Now 2013. A gathering of interesting and diverse people, the discussion was wide-ranging.

The point in which we all intersected is that we believe passionately in freedom. Previous generations laid down their very lives to ensure our liberty, yet these days freedom is often treated cavalierly.

Speaker Gerry Nicholls drew my attention to a short e-book called The Three Languages of Politics. Written by economist Arnold Kling, it explains that people see the world in profoundly different ways, speak different languages as a result, and therefore often have no clue how to connect with individuals outside their own group.

As an Amazon review observes:

The gist of the book is: political discourse tends to run along three axes…Liberals tend to judge along an oppressor-oppressed axis, Conservatives along a barbarian-civilization axis, Libertarians along a coercion-freedom axis. The purpose of the book is not to deconstruct and criticize what [the author] sees as the dominant heuristics of each group, but to use them to help readers get into their ideological opposition’s shoes. [bold added]

So much of what gets said and written about climate amounts to people talking at each other – rather than to one another. We don’t actually listen to the other side’s point-of-view – we denigrate it. We don’t try to understand perspectives that differ from our own, we hurl insults.

The world would be a better, kinder, safer place if we all tried harder to understand what makes other people tick. I’ve download this book to my Kindle (it cost less than $2) and look forward to reading it.



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This entry was posted on October 27, 2013 by in books, ethical & philosophical and tagged , , .
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