Amid the United States' increasingly intense and hyper-polarized, political conflict, almost everyone seems focused on finding a way to decisively win what is seen as a climactic battle in an us-or-them war. Far too few people are focused on the enormous dangers posed by the way in which that "war" continues to escalate and the need to find a de-escalation strategy that offers everyone a future they can live with.
In an effort to help people think through this critically important topic, we have been posting on the Blog associated with our Constructive Conflict Initiative a series of articles highlighting the nature of the threat.
- What Happens When We Have an Election That Both Sides Absolutely Positively Can't Afford to Lose? -- Seeing the possibility of electoral defeat as totally unacceptable justifies the use of the most extreme and dangerous forms of political combat.
- The Base Mobilization Trap --The inflammatory tactics that make mobilize-the-base politics so effective are tearing us apart in ways that will be very difficult to reverse.
- Exponential Growth in Pandemics, the Economy, and Escalation -- Economic panic and/or escalating political violence threatens to upend society even more rapidly than the COVID-19 pandemic.
- U.S. Hyper-Polarization—Over the Edge? -- Hyper-polarization at the level of hateful, but entertaining, rhetoric could easily escalate into large-scale 1960s-style civil unrest or, ven, something worse.
- Where Does The Nightmare of Continuing Hyper-Polarization End? -- Social processes like hyper-polarization can't continue indefinitely without leading to catastrophe. We desperately need an exit strategy.
We have also included several additional essays highlighting less divisive advocacy strategies and more constructive ways of thinking about today's tough issues.
- Hyper-Polarization, the Pandemic, and the Need for a "Lifeboat Ethic" -- We are all, in a sense, on one giant lifeboat. Surviving the storm will require us to figure out how to work together more effectively.
- Disproportionality Trap and Counter Trap -- It is not enough to address the disproportionate impact of social problems, you also have to equitably address the problem itself.
- Fighting Today's Oppression, Not Yesterday's Oppression -- Opposing today's injustices will require cooperation across the racial divides that were a focus of many of the unrightable wrongs of the past.
- Avoiding the Blood-Boiling Trap -- Our tendency to overly focus on things that make us furious distorts the way we look at the world in ways that threaten our ability to identify and pursue our common interests.
- The Crane Brinton Effect -- The key to successful revolutionary (or evolutionary) change a broadly agreed-upon vision for a better society in which most everyone would like to live.
- Cultural Lag -- Today's culture wars are largely attributable to the fact that the different generations adapted their beliefs to very different social conditions. We should be able to accommodate this without demonizing one another.
Finally, you might be interested in our Conflict Frontiers series of short (~15 min.) PowerPoint lecture videos on the authoritarian populism problem, strategies for addressing it, and the massively parallel peacebuilding approach that we use.