Bowling Together
Saving Civil Society From Itself

Could it be that an important part of our problem today is that people tend to cooperate… too much?

Published on: January 15, 2018
Dalibor Rohac is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC. Follow him on Twitter.
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  • Everett Brunson

    If one is interested in an honest dialogue between opposing publications I suggest one starts with an honest premise.
    For example:

    For the nationalist Right, the overarching ambition is to return ethnic homogeneity to Western societies and to reverse the decline of relative status enjoyed by the white working class. The goal of the identitarian Left, in turn, is to rectify the injustice caused by the historic domination of white heterosexual men over Western societies.

    does not represent the issue in a truthful manner.
    As a Western Civilization Nationalist I could not care less about the country of origin of any immigrant. What I do care about is that said immigrant comes to this country to contribute to its shared values–and not to turn it into the same hellhole that was left behind. “Ethnic homogeneity” has nothing to do with it.

    As to “the historic domination of white heterosexual men over Western societies” , that is a canard too blatant to be worthy of consideration. The object of the extreme left is to move to some hoped-for Marxist Utopia. The useful idiots of such a revolutionary movement will be the first casualties.

    • D4x

      An ‘honest dialogue’ between AEI and CAP only keeps the Neocons trying to talk with Wilsonians, who both believe “Western-led international order”ust needs more time, no renovations. This insight inspired by: “There are two distinct lines of argument against Trumpian mercantilist realpolitik, and both come from the reigning liberal/neoconservative coalition of American foreign policy intelligentsia.”

      Better to send them a postcard that they squandered the post-Cold War Peace Dividend on failed nation building, with a copy of “The Thirty Years War” by C.V. Wedgwood, 1938.

      “The dismal course of the conflict, dragging on from one decade to the next and from one deadlock to the next, seems to me an object lesson on the dangers and disasters which can arise when men of narrow hearts and little minds are in high places.”

      In 2006, I tried to read “Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600–1947” by Christopher Clark, but the Thirty Years War was too depressing. Too bad I did not know about Wedgwood’s more readable account. I just can not get interested in European history.
      Yeah, the ‘Identitarian Left’ needs a permanent time-out, especially from the brain circuits of those who get paid to post here.
      It’s not like non-white gender fluid heads of state produced utopias anywhere, not even in print.

      • Jim__L

        A Short History of Prussia, 1600-1947:

        Prussia is flat.

        So when Austria and France wanted to have a war, they had it in Prussia. Likewise, when Sweden and Spain wanted to have a war, they had it in Prussia.

        Prussia said “This sucks. Let’s get REALLY REALLY good at war.”

        So when Prussia had an Enlightened Despot for a ruler (who looked like the woman they got to play Lady Catherine de Berge in the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice) he invented Prussian Militarism — basically, being REALLY REALLY good at war, and using it as an instrument of foreign policy.

        So in the middle of the 18th century Prussia went to war with everybody else (except England), and ended up keeping Silesia after all. (England turned that war into the first proper World War, which North America remembers as the French and Indian War.)

        Then late in the 18th century France stopped trying to be Christian, which meant they stopped using Christianity to keep Germany from uniting. By the middle of the 19th century, Prussian Militarists united the Germans. (Uncharacteristically, the last step was buying Bavaria from its king, who needed money to fund his Dungeons and Dragons addiction.)

        As far as Prussian Militarism went, it took two World Wars to beat it out of them.

        …. If that wasn’t more interesting, at least it was shorter.

        • D4x

          Good job! Except not sure Frederick William I of Prussia’s resemblance to the A&E Lady Catherine de Bergh 🙂
          Russia history is so much more interesting, except for trying to remember the names. Nice to finally know Peter the Great’s Great Northern War finally ended Swedish militarism, which gave Prussia’s Frederick the Great more opportunities to not only keep Silesia, but to … never mind – am back to Middle Eastern history…absorbing how American Protestants from Massachusetts were really the first Zionists, since 1823. Their descendants now deny that bit of history.

          • Jim__L

            I was thinking of Frederick the Great, not his father. Frederick William looks far less scary than Lady Catherine.

          • D4x

            I thought you were, except it was Frederick William who really invented the Prussian military. No mas – Germany history before unification is too many princely states for me.

        • Everett Brunson

          Kudos to you also Jim from a former World History teacher. Great synopsis. I tend to get wordy. You kept it short, pithy, and historically accurate.

        • Margaret

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  • QET

    Your joint effort is going to have to be much more analytically sharp if it is actually going to be a serious contribution to political thought with a meaning beyond the self-satisfaction of the participants that will come from all agreeing with each other that “at least we are not like those people. As writers and thinkers, you are going to be judged by the propositional and the ethical-political statements you actually make, the words you actually use. You are, presumably, competent to discriminate among various word choices and concepts, and so it will hardly be unjust to critique your efforts on that assumption.

    For one thing, you cannot seriously aggregate all politics that favor immigration restrictions across the various nations–the USA, Hungary, Poland, etc.–into a single “Nationalist Right” or “Alt-Right” or “Far Right” category. The immigration experiences of the US are far to different from those of the European nations to belong together under such a slogan. It is both inaccurate and unfair of you to blithely speculate that we who are concerned with record levels of both illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America and of unprecedented levels of MENA immigration harbor a desire to make the USA “ethnically homogeneous.” Perhaps your joint effort could supply the one concept/policy that is so far missing from such accusations: a statement of what restrictions on immigration, if any, are acceptable to persons such as yourselves–international liberal order global citizens (or however you conceive yourselves). You can address such a concept nation by nation, and also it would be helpful if you could all arrive at a statement of whether it is permissible at all to act upon a concern for the impact on the culture of the host nation of large numbers of persons whose native cultures are in many respects antithetical, and sometimes militantly so, to that host nation culture.

    Perhaps you could arrive at such a position by way of a thought experiment (you are all thinkers so this should not be too difficult for you to carry out): imagine that millions upon millions of white US people emigrated to Mexico in a short period of time, and the Mexican public agitated for limitations based on the impact upon their historical culture and “ways of life” of this mass immigration from a different culture, even if the immigrants were hard-working. Would you allow that such an objection cold be valid? If yes, under what conditions, restrictions and limitations, if any? Are those conditions equally applicable to the US’s situation? If not, why not?

    For another, you will be expected to know more than the average Twitter screeder about your subject. You will be expected to know, for instance, that the concept of “domination” is a very recent one and is a concept of theory–of Foucault, Marcuse, Habermas, for example. Maybe Gramsci too, although hegemony, as you will be expected to know, is not the same as domination. As a construct of post-modern Continental political thought, domination cannot be asserted, as you so assert here, as an empirical fact. White heterosexual men, if they even have historically “dominated” anyone or anything, most certainly have not done so qua white heterosexual men. (For instance, it would be inaccurate to say that African slaves in the US were dominated by white heterosexual men; their sexual preference had nothing to do with it, and white women were just as much a part of the white society that dominated slaves). If you consider analytical efforts like this to be mincing words or nitpicking, then you merely prove you are not really serious about thinking these matters through.

    These are just a couple of the things you are going to have to address. You will surely all know that what you all decide are “the” facts and data that you will allow to inform your project are themselves determined by your theoretical and ideological commitments, whether you are consciously aware of them or not. So you will have to first all agree on a set of principles, or axioms, of your joint ethical-political position, and then state them, so that we your readership are enabled to assess the truth of your propositional statements and the relevance of your choice of evidence. You will also have to, or at least ought to, perform a good-faith analysis from the perspective of the opposing ethical-political position, choosing evidence relevant to that position, so that we the readership can better judge the strength of the two analyses.

    • Everett Brunson

      QET–I think you stopped them at ” So you will have to first all agree on a set of principles, or axioms, of your joint ethical-political position, and then state them, so that we your readership are enabled to assess the truth of your propositional statements and the relevance of your choice of evidence.” as I have not “seen” either an empirical or an axiomatic list by either side. What I have seen is a jello-like glob of amorphous sound bites that wiggle away each time one attempts to stick a pin in them.

  • Gary Hemminger

    Isn’t it interesting how the far right or far left reads this article and then immediately defends their indefensible position. the problems are laid out in the article very nicely. As stated, all the intolerant groups are unable and/or unwilling to see their positions as anything except absolutely correct. I think the author should have noted one example. You have on one hand those that think Open borders and sanctuary cities are fine; and on the other hand those that think deporting all illegals and building great walls are the answer. Clearly none of these are the right response to the immigration issues going on in this country. There are a whole slew of items like this where the far right wackos and far left idiots line up. Abortion, death penalty, etc….

    • Everett Brunson

      Gary, what are the “right” responses to the problems of immigration–legal and illegal–in this country? What should be fixed first in your opinion?

      • D4x

        While you wait for Gary, my inclination is to deport the far left to wherever they or, for the native-born far left, their ancestors came from. That would immediately make dialogue possible.

        I have no direct knowledge of the far right on immigration, but I expect they would be more tolerant of illegal migrants who spoke, and understood, English; had practical, useful skills; combined with an end to the immigration lottery program; and replacing the family reunion policy with some kind of merit system – not as rigid as Canada, but definitely with a premium on English language. English is the only criteria that unites Americans.

        My solution to the lengthy Spanish option on every recording? ‘para la prensa española dos’ would work just fine for anyone who actually needed to proceed in Spanish. Disclosure: I have a permanent exemption from charges of Hispanophobia because I was the sole Anglo in my twelfth grade Government class, because of the Freedom Flights from Cuba. I was very empathetic to the new wave of refugees, because they were dumped into class without English, no prior knowledge of American history, and they all failed the class because I set the grade curve.

        That was fun, for a change. I made the mistake of reading Joffe on the palestinians from Jan 4, and had to exercise enormous restraint in not responding to the far leftie from Sri Lanka’s string of lies. Send him back home first.

        • Everett Brunson

          Fun for me to read too. In Christian lore during the thousand reign of Christ after the return ALL people are to be sent back to their country of origin. That means I’ll have to be cut up in about a dozen pieces. That’s gonna hurt. But the unkindest cut of all is where they will send my sense of humor. That’s gonna really hurt because I think it will be somewhere in the Levant.

          • D4x

            So many Lore Options. 🙂 Hope you have some Viking genealogy – seems to be good for POTUS. We can assume everyone is trying out the Montreal Cognitive Assessment:
            McDonald’s and Coca-Cola stocks probably went up; golf surges…

          • Everett Brunson

            I wish! A little bit of German mixed in with Anglo/Saxon (so there has to be a Norseman or two from a quick rampage and pillage) but mostly southern Italian–which means ancient Greek and Phoenician. Oh–and a touch of Native American.

            I don’t know if you got to watch the medical report part of the presser but I laughed all the way through. I even remarked to the wife after it seemed to go on and on that I bet Trump told him to stay and answer EVERY question! It turns out he did–made me laugh even more.

            It was like watching the naughty kids who found only coal in their stockings.

          • D4x

            Hmm, a good year for me to finally check my ancestry, definitely the result of the rampage of Empires. The % of paternal Mongol is dominant, versus whoever deposited the DNA that had my maternal side look way too much like 25% of Finland. The 15th century in northern Europe, between the Swedish and the Polish-Lithuanian Empires must have been as rampaging as the Mongols.

            I have been avoiding cable news for months, and have not yet checked to see if my reconfigured PC really does have sound drivers – will make a point of watching that presser. For a long time, I have preferred to read transcripts instead of watching. Never bothered to install the sound when I bought this Lenovo in 2015.

            Slow start to 2018, thank you for this bit of normalcy.

          • Everett Brunson

            I love Lenovo. I had a Lenovo Netbook. I loved that it was small but would do everything my Dell Laptop and HP Desktop could do. I had to turn it back in when I retired. Pardon me while I wipe away a tear.

            There, all better. I bought an HP Envy for my consulting work. I love the wide screen as a laptop and the clarity on the screen is wonderful.

            For me, If you took away Fox News I would probably go into the DT’s. I also watch some CNN and MSNBC to try to stay abreast of the opposition. But truthfully I cannot take very much before disgust sets in.

            What a varied background! The Mongol invasions pushed a lot of folks through a small amount of territory. I thoroughly enjoyed discussing the waves of Germanic tribes that were forced into Europe going back to the Ostra-Goths and Visa-Goths in the late Roman period all the way through to the times the tribes were pushed west by the Kipchaqs in the early 1200s. Did I tell you I had a whole day in Novgorod a few years ago? What a great city to see the intact kremlin on the Volkhov River–very, very picturesque.

            Lastly–2018 is going to be a great year as it will be another year you and I are above ground. Eh?

          • D4x

            Apologies for editing out my Lenovo bit. You are fortunate to have travelled. The only place I wish I had seen is St. Petersburg, especially The Hermitage, but now, I ‘be happy to get to Gettysburg.
            As for 2018? Perhaps in an email. The to-does grew by leaps this week.

          • Everett Brunson

            Then if you see this know I understand. I edited mine as well.
            I do not recognize the name but you-no-see-me-you-know-me sounds ominous. Why is the world filled with crazy people?

          • D4x

            They are not crazy – they are cyber-tagging. Not random. Right click to see their disqus registration. I do not know why the disqus moderator allows registers with a ru country code who are interested in anime and sexy girls. I do not think they are from ru – another country ukr-persia- using that. The cyber-tags that look like googlespam? Even more suspicious, and definitely a tag, not random.
            Running on empty here. Need to make the most of the rare snow day to reboot, offline.

  • Anthony

    Something requiring both pause and thought:

    “…Namely, that it has become easier than ever to form communities that filter communication, suppress internal dissent, and consider their own standards above any outside criticism.” (Dalibor Rohac)

    “Intolerant communities will rarely characterize themselves as such. Most typically, they can only be identified in opposition to other intolerant communities, especially those intolerant of them. Intolerance coming from different sides thus becomes mutually reinforcing, suffocating other forms of civic engagement, debate, and cooperation.” (Dalibor Rohac)

    In particular, Dalibor Rohac is calling “the better angels of our nature.” This may not be quite Tocqueville but certainly apropos in this epoch of social/cultural tension (transformation) perhaps. Regarding spirit of Tocqueville and Washington DC, reason, reality, and empathy engineered to reduce both polarization and the demons of ideology avails insight. Similarly, Steven Pinker’s “the expanding circle” – smaller increments in valuation of other people’s interests – is a suggestion highlighting perspective-taking where such may create a psychological response aiding human sympathy (occupying another person’s vantage point and imagining his or her emotions as if they were one’s own). Finally, appreciating that literacy, cosmopolitanism, and education are definitely exogenous experiences that may help expand appreciation of other people’s points of view.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Yes, there is too much joining required for following various fads or pods of philosophy in fraternity. This is not conducive to either thought or happiness. Whether camping in the park with “Occupy”, or “getting by” with a workplace gang, or that old sport of trying to impress everyone at church or club, all the way to “Dilly, Dilly”—– its just better to spend one’s real time with a beloved spouse and some animals than with the membership committee of this or that. Then one can type his political thinking in a more solitary way for affirmation or criticism by assorted other nuts who also visit comment sections. It’s like roller skating in various buffalo herds (Roger Miller)—-but, not really having to live with the buffalo.

    • Jim__L

      There isn’t enough joining. Barbara Ehrenreich has an interesting point that too many Americans are just one small financial catastrophe away from ruin (an unexpected expense of $500 or so would push a lot of families under, she figures).

      That’s where these Fraternal organizations come in — also Organized Religion, extended family, and the rest — all those things that make up Civil Society.

      Honestly, anyone who has ever spoken badly of “joinerism” is a huge part of the problem, rather than a part of any workable solution.

  • Angel Martin

    “Namely, that it has become easier than ever to form communities that filter communication, suppress internal dissent, and consider their own standards above any outside criticism? According to the economic historian Timur Kuran, such “intolerant communities lay the foundations for tyranny by creating constituencies prepared to suspend the rule of law for some higher purpose.””

    Sounds like the Strzok and Page FBI.

  • The polarization and balkanization we see in the Western World in general are due to a lot of problems dirigiste government is failing to solve. Economic and social problems are accumulating at a disconcerting pace. By dirigisme, I mean a philosophy or ideology of ruling that views government as the main tool for solving both social and economic problems.

    If we view this situation through the lens of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, we can think of the accumulation of problems as anomalous observations that contradict the ruling paradigm of dirigisme. I write about the resulting crisis of the ruling paradigm in the post The Structure of Social Revolutions at URL, and speculate about possible resolutions in A New Paradigm for Democratic Government Coming? at URL

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