Coronawar: Battleline Mood Affiliation
Britta: The Red Door is on L Street
Jeff: L Street has a Red Door
Troy: It’s the same bar? You two have been saying one bar is lame and the other one is awesome ALL NIGHT… AND IT’S THE. SAME. BAR??
It’s been a confusing journey trying to keep track of liberal vs conservative opinions in India over the course of this issue. One would think that the biggest confusion would be due to the distinction between social and economic and political liberalism/conservatism, but at least in the loudmouth versions it’s difficult to get a socially liberal economically conservative opinion and vice versa, so at least that variable simplifies into a unified liberal/conservative socioeconomic complex. What’s confusing is that sometimes they end up saying the same thing while still being consistent with their polar opposite ideology.
When you break it down into context, everything makes sense of course, the apparent oscillations by one side on a certain issue are not oscillations but refinements, the apparent convergences of the two sides are not convergences at all. Conservatives want open borders for goods and ideas but not people, liberals the other way around, but the ideology is just ‘open borders vs closed borders’. Panic should be minimized in order to protect the economy/mass psychology and should be stoked in order to justify strong authoritarian responses, or on the contrary panic should be stoked in order to pressure an inactive incompetent government and should be minimized to maintain social harmony and oppose draconian measures, but the ideology is just ‘downplaying the issue vs sensationalizing the issue’.
Context is everything, but why should it be? I hate ideology because it is a lazy way to decontextualize everything and reduce complex situations of reality to a set of heuristics I can apply to any novel situation. So how is it that context suddenly matters for ideology? The optimist in me says this is a good thing, that nuance is always better than rigidity, that internal consistency is not a dogma, and that energy is expended in making decisions rather than resorting to default templates. The pessimist in me says this that the context is actually still entirely irrelevant, and there is only the illusion of context.
In the diagram, I’ve taken a stab at a rudimentary evolution of left-right responses as Covid evolves as a crisis. The optimist in me says that every time the horizontal line adds new data into the mix, there is a change in direction of the vertical line based on the contextual interpretation of ideological principles. The pessimist in me says that the horizontal line is irrelevant. The change in direction is based on a reaction to the assumed change in direction of the other side. Wherever they go, we will go in the opposite direction. Now this might lead to some inconsistencies between what we do and what we might have done were we reacting to the external stimulus in line with our ideological principles, and these contradictions we will explain away by referring to nuance and context instead of what it is, blind reactivity.
In an infinitely iterated game, a prisoner’s dilemma for instance, the efficient strategy is usually tit for tat, except when you know that there is a chance of noise in the signal, which means you are a little more accommodating, following a forgiving tit for tat strategy. This is especially true when the first person has to act with no prior information and chooses an action based on a coin toss. This sets off a quickly cemented tit for tat strategy of punishment with many generations down the line never even realizing the initial act was based on a coin toss just to get things moving. So is this a chicken and egg thing? I alluded earlier to the love affair between infectious diseases and authoritarianism, it has the added legitimacy of psychometric research, with people high on orderliness disproportionately impacted by such events and thus being induced to contract philosophically. If patient 0 in China can also be reasonably seen as Stimulus 0 in this game of left-right, and biology pushes the conservative right to move towards more to the right (close the borders) whether they know it or not, and that action causes the left to move more to the left as a reaction, then with whom does the status of prime mover reactionary lie?
Thankfully, the realist in me says I have no idea what I’m talking about, that there is a plurality of thought I’ve already sort of hinted at by forking the vertical lines once.