Slate Star Codex has a (relatively) new essay, Conflict vs Mistake
, exploring whether we should think about political disagreement as the result of different views of facts and arguments (“Mistake”) or irreducibly opposed interests (“Conflict”). This got me thinking about where political change comes from. My tentative view is that many major political fissures are best understood as intra
-elite conflicts - even (or perhaps especially) when they’re presented as elite vs populist conflicts or pure ideological disagreement.
What’s fascinating is that elites often cannot contain the forces they unleash as they try to best their opponents. In this view, Brexit is a continent-scale disruption born out of a internal dispute in the British Conservative Party and the Reformation was a series of dynastic struggles in Holy Roman Empire played out as a grand theological dispute.
If, like me, you’re a sucker for this type of sweeping historical analogy, I recommend this podcast
(sent to me by my colleague Freddie fforde) on the links between the Reformation and Facebook…