top of page

Political Polarisation and Civility: The correlation between increased political Polarisation and declining civility in discourse.


A noticeable trend in public discourse has emerged, one that is characterised by an increase in political polarisation and a concurrent decline in civility. This phenomenon, not confined to any single nation, resonates with particular intensity in Australia, extending its tendrils into the fabric of my home in the Northern Territory. The crux of this discussion revolves around the intricate interplay between these two facets of societal interaction, exploring their causes, manifestations, and potential remedies.


Political polarisation can be understood as the process through which public opinion divides and goes to extremes. This is not merely a divergence in political ideologies but a fundamental shift in how individuals perceive those with differing views. It's a shift from disagreement to disdain, from debate to disdain. In Australia, and by extension, the Northern Territory, this polarisation is palpable in debates ranging from indigenous rights to environmental policies and immigration.


The discourse often turns vitriolic, with opposing sides not just contesting each other's ideas but questioning each other's moral compass, intelligence, and even right to opine. The decline in civility is a direct offshoot of this polarisation. As the chasm between differing viewpoints widens, the mutual respect that forms the bedrock of constructive discourse crumbles. In its place, a culture of confrontation and hostility festers. In the Northern Territory, this is evidenced in public discussions where individuals are quick to label and dismiss rather than engage and understand.


The debate over fracking, the environment, aboriginal cultural issues, and crime, for instance, has seen proponents and opponents often resort to ad hominem attacks rather than reasoned arguments.


Several factors contribute to this milieu. The rise of social media has created echo chambers where individuals are exposed primarily to viewpoints similar to their own, reinforcing their beliefs and demonising the opposition. The media landscape, which is increasingly fragmented and sensationalist, often prioritises controversy over nuanced discussion. Moreover, the human propensity to seek affirmation rather than information leads to a selective intake of facts, further entrenching beliefs.


However, this isn't an irreversible trend. Theories and principles laid down by various philosophers, economists, psychologists, and security experts offer a beacon of hope. For instance, adopting a viewpoint that acknowledges the complexity of human nature and societal dynamics, as put forth by some psychologists and philosophers, can foster a more nuanced understanding of political opponents. This, in turn, can pave the way for empathy, a critical ingredient missing in today's polarised discourse.


Economists' insights into the unintended consequences of policies and the importance of individual liberty can inform a more civil and productive debate on economic and social issues. They advocate for a discourse grounded in respect for the individual's autonomy and a cautious approach to governmental intervention, principles that, if embraced, can mitigate the divisiveness characterising current debates. The litany of quotes and highlighted passages in my Thomas Sowell, Ludwig Von Mises, and Friedrick Von Hayek novels remind me daily of the hope I can envision through evidence of history repeating itself from past failures, to better pastures.


Security experts' understanding of risk, threat assessment, and the importance of a rational approach to fear can be invaluable in depolarising debates on national security and public safety. Their emphasis on evidence-based strategies and the avoidance of fearmongering can contribute to a more level-headed public discourse. The book "living with fear" by Gavin De Becker provides emotive and clear directions of the value of human intuition.


Real-world examples from Australia, particularly the Northern Territory, illustrate these points. Consider the debate over indigenous rights and recognition. The extremes of this debate see some calling for sweeping changes, disregarding practical implications, while others outright dismiss the need for any. A nuanced understanding of the historical, cultural, and societal complexities can help steer discussions in a more positive direction. It's about trade-offs, not final solutions.


In addressing these issues, it's crucial not to lose sight of the individual's role in fostering a more civil discourse. It begins with the recognition that those with opposing views are not enemies but fellow citizens with different perspectives. It's about listening to understand, not to refute. It's about engaging with the idea, not attacking the person. And it's about recognising that, in a complex world, there are rarely simple solutions to complex problems.


The correlation between increased political polarisation and declining civility in discourse is evident, with profound implications for the societal fabric. However, it's not an intractable problem. By understanding the underlying causes and embracing principles that promote empathy, respect, and rational debate, a path towards a more civil and constructive discourse can be forged. This journey, while challenging, is essential for the health of any democracy and the well-being of its citizens. I am constantly amazed at how many people I genuinely love in this world whose ideologies I oppose. From the author.


The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.


10 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page