[FoRK] Is Balkanization really a problem?
<jbone at place.org> on
Sun May 27 11:47:27 PDT 2007
On May 27, 2007, at 12:33 PM, Albert S. wrote:
> I agree that Balkanization is happening. But I'm not
> so sure that it is a problem. The opposite of
> Balkanization is blind allegiance to one political
> movement or another.
You're right, balkanization by itself is not the problem.
Balkanization (in the form we see it today) coupled with widespread
systematic media bias promotes exactly that --- blind allegiance not
to one "political movement" per se, but to a systematically
manipulated and biased version of "the truth" with little opportunity
to admit and consider facts that conflict with the "dogma" peddled in
these little reality-distortion media backwaters. It is, I believe,
the very core of the "red state" problem. The Soviets understood
this process very well; the Chinese understand it today. The
radical right wing of this country, and indeed the global oligarchy,
understand it well enough to not be making the same mistakes that the
Soviets made and the Chinese are making; they at once have a more
subtle touch as well as a much more sophisticated and sinister
> That smaller groups or even
> individuals should think for themselves and have
> differing opinions on specific issues seems healthy to
If you assume that everyone is reasoning in a rational way based on
the same essential facts, or that --- at least --- irrational
thinking and / or disagreement about facts follows some kind of
normal distribution, then you are exactly correct. If there are
enough "islands" of subjectivity and opinion, and those islands are
randomly distributed around some mean reality that approximates
actual reality, then sure --- even if there's a large standard
deviation, then you're still correct --- in general, these diverse
opinions will cancel out and what's left --- importance magnified ---
is the more informed, more objective opinion.
The problem is, the bias in our political process today is far from
randomly distributed; when you have large-ish groups form their
opinions based on a heavily-engineered, intentionally-biased,
distorted view of reality, and that group isn't exposed to diverse
other viewpoints, then you get a seriously biased political reality
that is manufactured rather than based on any objective truth.
That's exactly the situation we find ourselves in today, with
concentrated ownership of media that intentionally manipulates and
biases the flow of news. Coupled with balkanization through self-
selection of community according to some notional similarity of bias,
and we've got a very serious problem.
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