Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Inequality and polarization

Recently, Belgian newspaper De Standaard published an article stating that a feeling of impoverishment pushes voters towards extremist sides. Hence, more inequality is responsible for more polarization in our societies. Also see my April 12 blog: Politics, a belief in (in)equality.

For some time, I have noticed an increasing radicalization in the beliefs of acquaintances, friends and – sometimes – even myself. It’s increasingly hard remaining a centrist. An obvious culprit is Covid-19 and its restrictions to our freedom. In my view, that pandemic resulted in a tipping point.

For decades, there has been a growing inequality in society’s distribution of wealth. Unfortunately, the reaping of the benefits of globalisation was hardly equal. Without a well-paid job, a feeling of impoverishment is hard to miss. Hence, the Standaard article indeed makes sense to me.

I suppose that the above gives the main explanation for centrist parties having lost appeal – and political ground – following this growing inequality. Moreover, extremist parties can – and will – promise anything, while not being in Power. Centrist parties will be held accountable and responsible.

Usually, liberal-left parties insist on more regulation to address increasing inequality. Usually, conservatives insist on more freedom and less regulation. However, more freedom often results in more inequality. Still, more regulation does not create equality, and may even increase inequality.

My previous paragraph may be considered a dualistic debate between Principles (eg, freedom) versus Rules (eg, for mitigating inequality). It also shows why dualism is almost never effective (eg, Dems vs Reps in USA). It’s a main reason why I believe in pragmatism rather than ideology.

In my view, the best example of high inequality resulting in a highly polarised society is USA.

“Unity is an anomaly. Polarization is normal. Skepticism about liberal democracy is also normal. And the appeal of authoritarianism is eternal.”

A quote from the book Twilight of Democracy (2020) by Anne Applebaum (b.1964), “a Polish-American journalist and historian”.

You Get What You Give (1998) by the New Radicals
band, lyrics, video, Wiki-band, Wiki-song

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


Framework Posts


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest