My blog post this week may seem slightly off topic but I think this needs to be said. It is human nature to like those people with whom you have many things in common. I understand that. However, due to the ease of communication in modern society, we are now seeing the emergence of groups who communicate almost entirely with one other. The days of discussion appear to be long gone. People communicate with others who have similar views, thereby avoiding the difficult questions, the ones that would point out the flaws in their arguments. An economist publishes a new theory on tax efficiency with another economist. A leftist radical publishes a manuscript with another leftist radical. We have groups adopting radically different points of view and each is arrogant enough to believe that they are correct. How could anyone possibly disagree? I would argue that the commodity society has not homogenized the population; rather it has polarized the population.
One need not look very far to see other examples of this polarization. You see it between Republicans and Democrats in Washington. Both refuse to budge on their positions, from healthcare to taxation to foreign policy, either blind to the fact or ignoring the fact that the ideal solution lies somewhere in the middle. The same radical difference of opinion was obvious yesterday in the comments section of the Chronicle article regarding Pi Kapp’s Pilgrims and Indians party. Half of the students were appalled at the marginalization of Native American culture, with the other half thinking that the outrage was a gross overreaction. The only similarity that emerged was the fact that each group failed to attempt to see the discussion from the other side’s point of view. Criticism without understanding is ignorance. Critiquing capitalism having never taken an economics course is ignorant, in the same way that critiquing the works we’ve read without first understanding the flaws that exist in society is ignorant; and yet people seem all too happy to perpetuate that ignorance.
One quote from the reading this week that stood out to me was: “Out of the capitalist chaos must come what I call “attractors” of values: values that are diverse, heterogeneous, dissensual” (8). I am not entirely clear about the meaning of dissensual, but on the points of diverse and heterogeneous I agree entirely – true diversity and heterogeneity, not simply polarization. People have become too self-interested and narrowly focused in their opinions. Many have become too concerned with the pursuit of money and power. However, advocating for an entirely humanistic society is ignorant in that it ignores the fact that competition and the desire for recognition and achievement are also fundamental components of human nature (for many people, maybe not all people). Would not an ideal society, a society that “fits” for the greatest number of people, contain values from both?