One of my favorite podcasts lately is EconTalk. The host, economist Russ Roberts, is admittedly quite libertarian (for anyone who doesn’t know: I’m not!), but it features some of the most civil, interesting conversations among economists and other commentators I’ve run across.
The latest episode features Arnold Kling talking about his new book, The Three Languages of Politics. I haven’t read it (yet!), but the idea is that much of the reason we tend to talk past each other so much in politics is that we tend to frame things in different terms based in different core arguments… so the libertarian’s coup de grace debate-winner isn’t necessarily anything that matters to the progressive or vice versa. By his classification, conservatives tend to organize good and bad along an axis of civilization vs. barbarism, libertarians along freedom vs. coercion, and progressives as oppressed and oppressors. Echo chamber tendency to listen to those with whom we already agree makes it easier and easier to avoid “multilingualism.”
Anyhow, while I’m sure we could debate all year how well the system actually encompasses political thought, I found it to be an insightful quick shorthand for analyzing arguments and thinking about how my own opinions are constructed — both freedom/coercion and oppressed/oppressor axes are easy for me, which is where my political opinions can get a little equivocal if you press hard enough. On other hand, my capacity for empathizing with those who feel the barbarians are at the gates… might need work. Worth thinking about and prodding the blind spots.