Scott Adams’ blog has become a real must-read over the past year or so. I think his idea that we live in a two-movie reality is probably the best explanation of the world as it is today.
It’s not that different people have different political views. It’s not even that different people have different world-views. The two sides of the political debate literally inhabit different realities. There are two alternative realties running side-by-side. Those who live in one reality quite simply and quite genuinely are incapable of perceiving the other reality. It’s like two people watching entirely different movies, and the two movies have nothing in common.
This is profound implications for the future of our society. Our society is built on the assumption that political differences can be settled amicably through the ballot box. It’s based on the assumption that we can agree to disagree. If however we live in a two-movie reality that’s not going to happen. Each half of the population, being utterly incapable of perceiving what the other perceives, believes the other half is not merely stupid and deluded but willfully evil. They must be evil, since they refuse to see what we can see so clearly. You can only agree to disagree if you believe the other person holds his beliefs in good faith.
There’s little doubt that Adams’ two-movie theory holds true for the vast majority of the rank-and-file supporters of our competing ideologies? But does it hold true for those who pull the strings behind the scenes? Does it explain the motivations of the very rich very powerful men who direct international finance and control the political system? Are they deluded themselves because they are honestly believe in the version of reality in their movie, or are they actively and consciously manipulating their followers?
If the latter is the case, how far up the totem pole of power do the delusions reach? Is everyone subject to the two-movie problem except for the top one percent, or is it the top .01 percent? Are journalists and academics mere deluded foot-soldiers or are they active manipulators?
As far as the top levels of the elites go, I’m not sure which is the more depressing scenario – that they sincere but misguided believers in a delusion or that they are cynical con artists.