With the ever-increasing polarization in the United States and Europe, it seems that many are starting to wonder if this is just an inevitable outcome of our current political system and that therefore it is time for something new. The rise of extremism and vigilantes in the street are becoming ever more evident and it seems that no one has a good answer on how to deal with them. It’s come to the point where people dressed in black, collected underneath the hammer and sickle can occupy an intersection and direct traffic to their liking, while the police were simply observing from a distance. On the other side of the political spectrum, a neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman.
It’s clear that the political wings always seem to have different solutions to the same problems. On top of that, they also seem to think that the solution from the other side is dangerous and could lead to death.
However, there does seem to be some consistency in how each side likes to tackle problems. The left seems to want to build bridges. They love immigration, for instance, because it will mean that new and unknown things will seep into their surroundings, creating something beautiful. They want to go out and explore the wondrous world that surrounds them and are quite optimistic about what they’ll find.
The right, on the other hand, would much rather build walls. They consider the world outside to be a hostile environment and are looking for a way to protect themselves. They hate immigration because new and unknown things will seep into their surroundings, destroying what they’ve built up. They want to protect themselves because they seem to be much more pessimistic about what they’ll find outside.
So the question then becomes, for any given problem, how much protection and how much exploration do we need? There probably isn’t a good answer to this question, mostly because the problems keep changing.
Let’s simplify the situation a bit, by comparing this problem to simpler versions of ourselves. The alpha leader of a troupe of chimpanzees might wonder how he should order the chimps around. He can either order his chimps to stay in their territory and be on the lookout for invading chimps. On the other hand, if they go out to explore, they might find some delicious ripe fruits. It’s also possible that while they’re looking for these fruits, that they’ll find hungry leopards instead, which will surely upset his chimps.
Now that we have a better picture of the possible risks and rewards, the question becomes instead, are the tasty fruits worth the risk of finding hungry leopards? This quickly leads to another question: how hungry are you? If you’re not hungry at all, there is no apparent reason to risk your hides and end up as leopard dinner. If you’re starving, or soon will be, it’s probably safer to go into leopard territory, or you’ll become a maggots dinner.
This is where the political divide comes in because no one really knows how much everyone else is starving. The left will always act as if we’re starving and we need to go out and find fruits while the right will continue to argue that if you let immigrants in, everyone will get slaughtered by leopards. Now if there is a lot of food around, the bridge builders case won’t be as strong the wall builders case and vice versa. So the discussion shouldn’t be whether or not immigration is good or not, it’s never always good and never always bad. It’s a risk, but sometimes it’s worth the risk. So we should stop trying to convince our neighbors about our immigration policy. Instead, ask your neighbors how hungry they are. And if you really fear the leopards, you might find that sharing your food will turn out a lot better for you.
Floris Thijssen is a Dutch developer and a bitcoin trader. He’s a major proponent of technologies like bitcoin and tor and spends his free time coming up with ways to ensure that the internet can continue to spread quality ideas and thoughts without any censorship.