I’ve been reading – and greatly enjoying – Scott Alexander’s writing over at Slate Star Codex. I don’t recall how I first ran across this trove of deep though but it’s worth noting that /r/slatestarcodex is also a thing.
Among his (self-selected?) best-of list is this gem from 2013 entitled A Thrive/Survive Theory of the Political Spectrum. Part way through, he gives up the goods:
Okay, I’ll put you out of your misery and tell you my hypothesis now. My hypothesis is that rightism is what happens when you’re optimizing for surviving an unsafe environment, leftism is what happens when you’re optimized for thriving in a safe environment.
This is an explanation I have not heard and maybe that’s what makes it so interesting. Later on in the piece, after some worthwhile point-making:
I admit some confusions. For example, it seems weird that poor people, the people who are actually desperate and insecure, are often leftist, whereas rich people, the ones who are actually completely safe, are often rightist. I would have to appeal to economic self-interest here: the poor are leftist because leftism is the philosophy that says to throw lots of resources at helping the poor, and the rich are rightist because rightism says to let the rich keep getting richer.
I like this a lot and it explains much of what I think we see today in the U.S. I’m going to need a couple more read-throughs to really wrap my head around it and maybe I’ll write more at that point.
For some really mind-bending stuff, check out Meditations on Moloch - a long read that I have literally zero chance of illuminating in any way so I’ll likely not mention it again, other than to link to it a few more times…