Model of Changing Tolerance
In the Big Question of “why are people so much less tolerant of different opinions lately” (see the immediate post before this), @balioc proposed the following model I hadn’t heard before:
Before: There was the Mainstream, and the Fringe. The Mainstream was so dominant it didn’t really even have to police heterodoxy - not at the thought-crime level we see now - everyone just went along. And the Fringe was so scattered, so small, so diverse that there was no reason for them to operate dissent-stifling tactics: you couldn’t possibly overthrow the Mainstream, and you couldn’t unify the Fringe except with the broadest, most accepting tolerance anyway.
And at some point, our culture started fragmenting. For the Mainstream this meant splitting into smaller, but still cohesive groups. For the Fringe, this meant congealing into more homogeneous but still isolated groups. Like:
- Liberal identity politics
- “Dirtbag Left” socialistbros
Within a Fragment, it makes sense to police people’s ideas. The group is small enough and cohesive enough that you can do this, and big enough to actually make a difference when you succeed. And so rather than an in-built sense of tolerance we had that was washed away, it’s more like “the incentive to do this has increased, and so now people do it.”
It was indeed a depressing model.