Summary: Paul Krugman made a remarkable admission for a political columnist in America, one that points the way to a path for the reform of America. He took a step towards seeing that there is no “reality-based party” in America.
“… first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
— Matthew 7:5.
Today both Left and Right routinely “create their own reality”. The Right invented and perfected this methodology to mobilize their followers, creating engines of disinformation such as Fox News and the Washington Times (examples here and here). The Left has copied them, making this the primary tactic for their crusades. The most obvious example is the fight against climate change, where the Left has liberated themselves from dependence on the consensus of climate scientists (as expressed through the IPCC and major climate agencies). Unusual weather (no matter if historically common) is extreme weather is climate change is anthropogenic climate change — because they say so loudly and with conviction.
“Yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.”
— Leo Tolstoy in “Three Methods Of Reform” (1900).
This acceptance of propaganda makes us a gift to our leaders. It makes us docile, weak, emotional, irrational, easily manipulated and led.
We see this clearly when it comes to the other side’s propaganda. That accomplishes nothing, and our disconnect with reality — the core break in our observation-orientation-decision-action loop — makes reform impossible. People can only fix this problem in their own community.
Which brings us to the latest from Paul Krugman – Nobel Laureate economist, hard core liberal, Democratic Party hack, and #5 on Prospect magazine’s 2015 list of the world’s top “thinkers”.
Paul Krugman has an epiphany, taking a small step towards clearer vision
“And this suggests to me that we may need a clarification of the doctrine that facts have a well-known liberal bias. More specifically, they seem to have a center-left bias: conservatives are big on empirical denial, but so is some of the U.S. left.”
— Krugman in “The Facts Have A Well-Known Center-Left Bias“, NYT, 9 May 2016.
It is a big step for straight-party line Krugman — who usually sees Left as right and Right as wrong — to admit that members of his tribe are “big on empirical denial”. It’s a small step, in effect more narrowly re-defining his tribe of truth-tellers as the “center-left”. Perhaps the clear-sighted ones are those who think like Paul Krugman. Another round or two of this and the only clear-sighted one will be Paul Krugman.
Let’s be optimistic and assume this is just a first step for Krugman — that he becomes a leader for America by seeing beyond the lines dividing the two polarized teams that play American politics. He might come to regard his tribe’s truths with skepticism, and become open to the possibility that the other side might sometimes say something reasonable.
What kind of American might result if others follow his lead? We might learn from each other, no longer following our tribal leaders like baby ducks. We might forge alliances capable of defeating the 1%, such as the progressive-populist alliance at the heart of the New Deal. Who can say what the future might hold for us?
For More Information
- At the Tampa Convention Right & Left display our great illness: Tribalism.
- Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America.
- Facts are the enemy of both Left and Right in our America.
- The story of America: what’s wrong and how to fix it.
- Examples of blind allegiance to tribal truths, keeping us weak & ignorant.