Is Polarisation a Good thing?

Internet DNA Podcast

Should we start a crypto-currency - we think we have the perfect plan? Gold, the upside of the black death, social media, free speech and how about uni-culturalism? Uniting cultures to create something better, a fusion not pockets of opposites.



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Hello? [inaudible] I'd be done this week if polarizing. The thing I'm not going to say because I have a feeling. I know what you, yeah,

cool. Centrist. I'm going to say, yeah, I think it is

it. You think it's a good thing? No, I think it's a bad thing. Yeah, I was going to say, yeah, no, I think it's a terrible thing.

I do. Absolutely. Yeah.

But when I was thinking about this, we've been given so much choice and choice is gray. There's all sorts of things. It's not black and white. Things used to be much more black and white. You could have this or you couldn't have this. Now you can have any shade of this. A lot of us would say that too much choice is not a good thing. It's like with children, isn't it? You give them two choices or is it three choices that you don't mind them having? Say you only let them choose from a finite amount of choices and all of them are okay. So if I'm saying that we're not so keen on too much choice and black and white is easier, this or not this. Okay, that is a bit like polarization. But what you're saying is no, I like the smattering of every different, yeah.

Okay. So when I think of polarization, I'm actually thinking about things like, I'm quite interested in, as you know, politics. And I think that polarization leads to ideology. And the problem with ideology is that it's inflexible. Now that's not to say that you don't need some people at the very extreme of each end because there may be some interesting ideas off the beaten track, but when we talk about polarization that's talking about the large portion of the population moving to extremes and what that does is a great, huge difference between what people think and it totally negates the middle ground.

So it means that people are more likely to argue because they're black and white as opposed to they wouldn't to argue with someone that was in the middle somewhere.

Yeah. And they become wedded to an ideology that makes them absolutely blind to the possibilities that some of the things that people on the other side, I'll say may have some valid points in it. And my issue with it is that people become entrenched and you basically end up in a place where no one can compromise politically, it happens at times of economic distress. So anytime you look at economic distress, you see polarization. Right?

Right. So that's what I was gonna ask. Why is it in the last 10 years that the world, not just Europe or the states, the world is becoming more polarized. What is it that's making this happen?

Well, I would say with the 2008 credit shock, if you take on the idea that all growth, all growth is 1971 but I mean probably all gross. It's the Reagan Thatcher era is actually being done through credit or debt, whichever way you to look at it. So that they realized that they couldn't actually generate any more real wealth. So what they did was loosened credit control so that people could buy more things and therefore feel like they had more stuff. And that's not to say that our lives weren't all improved by that credit. They were people's lives pretty much until 2008 had just improved generally. But the downsides of that credit is housing became so expensive, but it's almost impossible certainly in the UK to get on the housing that are on your own and that jobs, although we've get paid the same or even slightly more, we actually get poorer because as you introduce credit into the systems, that's what inflation is, is basically if you just increase the amount of money to the money, just becomes worth less. Not worthless, which you can do, you know, Zimbabwe and the rice mark and the thought can become, if you keep printing money, it becomes less and less worth until people lose basically faith in the currency.

So move on 20 years, 50 years, however it is you want to move on. Crypto currency is based on a finite amount of coins that you can mine and therefore if we move to a digital currency, would we be going back to pre inflation? So again, you couldn't just ease things. There is a finite amount to be moved around.

The thing about cryptocurrencies is it stops governments from being able to create monetary policy because the money's not owned by anybody. As in the currency is not owned by anybody. You may own five. Yeah, bitcoin or others aren't to some are and some aren't. In fact, I've been sort of toying with an idea of a gold backed crypto coin,

didn't we? In one of our episodes, we have the API currency, but then we decided that no one was actually gonna

yes and no one's going to invest, but then I thought, actually, how would we make people be able to trust the Abby coin? If you back this by gold, then it becomes an incredibly stable currency that no government has control over. In fact, it's controlled by the price of gold and it becomes an incredibly resilient currency.

You have to go and get yourself some gold. Have you seen the program? Gold Rush? No. Oh, it's fat. Well, it's, some people think it's fantastic not to name anyone in my family particularly, it's all these guys who live in really the middle of nowhere in the states and Canada and they go to even more in the middle of nowhere and mine for Gold and the program is all about them and their relationships and the gold. So what you can do is leave everything, go to the middle of nowhere. Mine yourselves from gold and then starts up your crypto currency and you would be on your way.

Yes. Oh. When people buy your crypto currency, you use the money that they buy your cryptocurrency with to go buy gold. That's the way I was going to look at it. Obviously we could go and dig some gold up. Everyone did too. I don't think that's going to be

so we can get famous by getting a gold rush. My husband would love, he could watch me sipping for gold.

Gold is a fantastic metal. The more I've researched girl, the more I find it. It's amazing. It never tarnishes it. Never ever case. It never loses anything in being reformed. So when you smelt gold, you don't lose anything from it. If you go and look at ancient things, if you go and look at Viking sores, the gold on them looks new. It's very odd. You see these sort of rusted, decayed things with this? Absolutely. Yeah. Vibrant, untouched gold on it because it doesn't tarnish. It doesn't rust. And that's why it is such a precious metal.

It's the same as cathedrals, isn't it? I was in Ravenna in the north of Italy and these cathedrals were hundreds of years old and some of the work was fading, but the goal just made it look like it was built yesterday.

Yeah, and you can beat it into leaf. You can put it into a bowl. I mean, it's a very amazing substance and also it's incredibly heavy.

Okay, so when are you starting your cryptocurrency? I'm just thinking about it at the moment. Okay, so is inflation is quantitative easing? It's not inflation, is it? Or is it? It's is inflation.

Inflation is, will be the result of quantitative easing. Basically quantitative easing is just printing more money.

Does inflation happen without printing more money?

Inflation is basically a measure of how much more worthless your money is. Lucky thing. That way, how much, how much less valuable your currency is than last year. That's exactly what it means. That's what the measure of it is

and is it the fact that money has been created so it devalues it slightly. That has made it easier for rich people to get richer and this supposedly larger gap between rich and poor, which I really can't believe because let's go back to the Victorian Times. Like we were talking about last week. The poor working in the workhouses had nothing and the rich owned most of the country, so I can't see that it's got even bigger than that.

I think you've got to be very careful as to what you're measuring it against, but the disparity now is bigger because it's the fact that the people who are fabulously rich are inconceivably rich compared to previous generations and the everybody else is pretty much earning the same. Now it would be absolutely incorrect to say there's more poverty because that's absolutely not true. Poverty has decreased massively, massively, especially over this century, child mortality rates and people being able to actually eat and so those are almost competitive. Even the 1930s they've just not issues in the scale that they were. So it's incorrect to say the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, the rich get richer and the poor don't get richer at the same speed is kind of the thing. And I think what happened in 2008 is that we started to move into and now you're getting, and I don't relatively, I see what you mean.

Yeah. And relatively is what you mean about money supply. And one of the most interesting things I've found is that banks just create money. I didn't have this understanding of how credit really work. So a bank says, I'll lend you some money, I'll lend you whatever. I'll lend you 20,000 pounds. It doesn't actually have the 20,000 pounds. It just says I'm going to lend it to you as magic money and you pay them back. Now the thing about money is it's worth more when it's first created. So banks and the very rich get access to that money, the real money early on, when it has a higher value, by the time it trickles down to other people, hey, it's had inflation, so it's got less valuable. So actually I'm not hundred percent sure that the rich getting richer is anything that you can do. And this thing about, I think that's like monopolies. It's a positive feedback loop because they have the money, they have the access to the things that they can make more money from. They can afford to take bigger risks. Do you see what I mean?

Yeah. It snowballs.

Yeah. And it's, I'm just a positive feedback loop and I don't know how much you can really do about that. Genuinely, the only time those things really set are pretty horrible things like violent revolution or massive disease. A black death was a great receta. I'm not sure that's the solution we want to come up with.

Yeah, I love the fact that it was a great reset. Yeah, it was was devastating. Reset.

Hey, it was a massive social change because suddenly they were less workers than they were jobs. And so the peasants could actually start to demand rights. They weren't just a worthless seething, massive interchangeable. Suddenly you had to actually bid for these people cause they weren't enough of them to go around. And that gave them the power to demand rights. And that struck a huge part of the British way of life that we are now. I'm not suggesting we should do it again, but actually it was a huge force for positivity for the lower and the present class in this country.

Okay. So yeah, we've talked about one of the reasons that how do ization might become a more acute yeah. Is to do with a financial crass is, so you were saying it, it's a financial distress and that led us on to more polarization, which is the difference between rich and poor.

Yeah. You can be a lot more generous when you're feeling like you're doing well. When you feel like your life is getting worse, you tend to be a lot more protective of where you are.

And surely the soapbox aspect of social media has also added into polarization in that you can find people that talk in the same way that you do much more simply than you could when you didn't have this type of platform.

I mean, if you look at something like the Russian revolution, they fermented that Soviet communism pretty widely pretty quickly because people read leaflets and we weren't distracted by love island. And you know, so what I'm saying is, yeah, you can disseminate your voice a lot easier in social media, but there are so many more voices that does it actually make it any day? How easy would it be now for someone like, Oh, I keep peeling out really unpleasant people, but hit the, to sort of push through his polarizing state propaganda now when there would be thousands and thousands of dissenting voices with access to actual media than it was at that time? Probably my belief is that it would be just as easy, but not less or more.

So he doesn't think the Internet has had a part in that.

I think that it has in recent, I mean we've talked about this before. I think because it's quite a new technology, the difference between people who really know how to use it and really know how it works and people who don't is quite large and we as a society haven't learnt just discount, you know, we don't understand fake news enough yet for it to be something that we instantly recognize as humans and just go, that's nonsense. You know, much like we would have had this issue with the television and through, we'll say video has a lot more or authority, just inevitable authority than audio and audio has more authority innately than print.

Do you think people in general, Amo passionate, I wonder if empathy is given out less generally and less generously and given out in bigger quantities for someone that is of the same beliefs as you and have lesser quantities of someone that isn't.

I think that's exactly right, which is as things tighten up in our lives, we will generally, and probably from a very good evolutionary reason, yeah, start to narrow our borders to draw in our defenses into a much tighter ball. Whereas when everything was great and the fact there's another tribe on your plane doesn't really bother you that much because there's more than enough to go around. When you start to compete, then it does bother you. If they kill that auction, that's a not that you won't be able to kill and you may go hungry and that will then cause few look at it in those sorts of senses. I think that's why we get this natural tightening of people's generosity when things become more competitive,

but it's almost like there's the same amount of generosity. It's just given more so for some and less so for others where perhaps less polarization, empathy would have been given out in a much more equal and general way.

I actually think probably there's less generosity to go around and therefore if you've only got five generosity, you give them to the five people close to you. If you've got 10 generosity, then you can spread a bit further around because the five people that really matter get them anyway and then you've still got five free. I think if you look at it in those terms, I don't think there's the same amount of generosity in terms of ideological generosity to other people's view points.

So when would polarization be a good thing? Wow. In a wall? A really? No, no, I don't think so. I'm just trying to think if polarizations would ever be a good thing

because you're talking to a radical centrist, it's going to be quite difficult for me to say. I think it's important that you have people who are polarized. I think it's very important that you have people all along the spectrum. My issue with the word polarization is that what it tends to mean is that everybody has moved either to one side or the other and there isn't a distribution along the entire spectrum. You have basically clumping at each end and a massive hole in the middle.

So you lose ideas and you end up with extreme.

You lose the mixing. So if you are of the belief that real creativity comes from the mixing of ideas and cultures. So if you look at great cities around the world, places like London, New York, Paris, at different times, you will notice that the times when they really, really flourish is when they had the most diverse mix of people or they had a large influx of newly diverse, she's why New York, which is almost by default

with these people, the cultures and the products and what they brought with them. Visual.

Yeah. So you now get a whole bunch of ideas from this culture, whole bunch of ideas from that culture and a whole bunch of ideas from that culture and you fused them together and actually what you generate is something that is greater than the sum of those parts. And that, in my opinion, is where real creativity and new things come from

in the south of Spain where the western and Middle Eastern cultures, Christian and Islamic cultures were fused 500 years ago or more. It is extraordinary now. I don't think that everyone had a lovely time, particularly living together, but the, and they didn't really miss that side of what it's created is impressive.

Yeah. Auntie, they didn't live together at the time because that was della Fronterra. That was the folder lands of Jihad, you know, that was the caliphate versus the Christians. But once that had cleared one way or another, either it was almost all Muslim at one point and then it was almost all Christian at one point. But if you look at Andalusia, it has an amazing culture because those people lived under both cultures and therefore both of those types of ideas.

Yeah. The same with Seville.

Exactly. Or Cadiz the from Thera, you know, all of these places in the south have this lovely mix of both cultures and have a very interesting cultural mixed, but also you see it in Paris, in the Beller Pot. That's an influx of people creates this. Or you could argue that the 60s in London is generated by an influx of people as well. And I think New York's always been vibrant for that reason. And I think the reason why the u s has so much interesting creativity is because it is almost by definition a molting pot of cultures and becoming less and less so, and therefore I think becoming less and less of a, an interesting cultural place. There you go. So is polarization good? No.

As a radical sense to this, she don't like polarization. How do we depolarize? How do we bring back more points of view as it seems like it's on a trajectory where it might get more polarized and us as individuals need to stop it?

I think it's a natural reaction to the world we currently live in and I think the real way to deal with it is to make people less fearful of the future. How do we do that? I think that's probably something that people are grappling with at the moment.

Certainly that is what our podcast for, to let people know that the future is rosy. Isn't that what we do a day when we don't go to the apocalypse? We're saying that it's all great until it isn't,

well, maybe not in the apocalypse, but thing. Even if we talk about dystopias. Yeah, that's still enjoyable life to be having a dystopia is one we could probably say we live in a dystopian now in many ways or many people live in a dystopia now. Some people live in a utopia now as we were talking earlier, you know a few people that have amazing lives.

I have an amazing life. I've been making money. I mean I have still because I have been earning billions.

Maybe that's one of the solutions, which is to stop it being all about money.

Yes. If life could be measured in something different, but that's easier said than done.

You choose to measure your life in some other way than money. That's why you say I have a lovely life. You're not as rich as creases, but you have a lovely life because you measure you. What's lovely about your life in a different way. Now when you don't have any money, it's very difficult to measure it in any other way than I need food. I need housing, I need water. But once, but once you've got those needs passed away, a think you can then start to say, right, I can actually choose what do I find important about life for my happiness and then pursue those things. And you see many people that do that, whether it's the people that get very into a sport or people that are into some way of communing with nature or, or whatever it is. But I think it's very difficult for people to feel comfortable when the future is uncertain and looks as if it will get less easy to escape. The

does a control. You're holding onto something that looks like it might know what it's doing.

Your reaction when you get nervous or frightened it is to sort of call your borders in.

So we will need to chill out, man. Say what we feel, listen to other people's ideas. But is that where you see that's all well and good until you get university saying, well we don't want them talking here because some people's ideas on what other people like. But what you're saying is we missed, let everyone have the same platform so that we're not so aghast by it. And everyone can have opinions in between.

The thing about free speech and the reason why it's so important is because if you allow all voices to be heard, then people get to here and make decisions on a number of things. And I know that the argument, oh well the people that say bad things are so much more charismatic than the people that say good things really. Is that true? I don't think that's true. I think if you take bad ideas and good ideas and you put them together, there's a dog Winnie in effect that the bad ideas just die out because they're just bad ideas. And actually it's the control of media that makes bad ideas

and it's not just in people to be able to make their own judgment on it. You should give people more trust in that they will make the right decision from hearing something that is perhaps classified as wrong.

Yeah. And so there's a whole bit about, if you subscribe to the view that corporations own media and media control the conversation. So what they do is not tell you things that aren't true or or so forth. You may argue they do, but what they really do is control the things that you actually talk about. So what they do is they control the conversation and that's actually in many ways much more insidious than disseminating untruths, if you know what I mean. Because it prevents people from even considering questions outside the normally discussed frame. And I think that's why it's really important to talk to people who not only agree with you, which is really easy cause generally cause birds of a feather flock together. Most of your friends will have fairly similar views to you. They might be a little bit more to the left or a little bit more to the right or they might be more liberal or they might more authoritarian.

But generally they'll be in an area around you. It's one of the things where I lived in Germany is that because people couldn't decode me when I walked into somewhere, I could hang out with a communist biker gang in the morning. They weren't out beating people up. You know, they were discussing politics, man riding motorbikes and then in the evening I could be hanging out with the first of some place in a castle and I was treated the same because they couldn't decode me. Now when I'm living in the UK, as soon as I walk into somewhere from my voice, the way I speak, the way I dress, people have already decoded me and put me in a box. And so it's much more difficult oddly in your own country to get that. Why? Well, not just the anonymity, but that wider view where people will touch you about the thing cause they can't decode you. They can't decide. Actually he's not going to be receptive to this idea, so I'm not going to talk to her when you're abroad. Maybe this comes back to that whole fusion is when you mix cultures that they're much more freer with their ideas. And the way they talk to people. Maybe that's one of the drivers of it.

Well, multiculturalism. I agree. Growing up all over the place in different countries and living in a lot of places, not being placed was fantastic because it gave you so much freedom.

Well, I think multiculturalism as being slightly hijacked into this idea where what it means almost in this country is you can retain your culture here and really what has always traditionally been brilliant about multiculturalism is that people assimilate themselves into a culture and make it better. Well, I think their cultures into it rather than saying, we've got 15 different cultures here who all don't talk to it. That's not multiculturalism. That's just nonsense.

Should be a creative bubba boiling pot of everything together to make something better.

Sorry, that you take, let's see what were you would have called Englishness and you add an Indian nurse into it and you add a Caribbean nurse into it and you add a European nurse into it. And actually that culture becomes more rich and vibrant because of it.

Well, and even just talking about it, it sounds really exciting or really obvious.

Yeah, but actually what we do at the moment was we have an English nurse which sits over here and complains and then we have an Indian nurse that sits over here and complains and we have a, you see what I mean? What we don't do is create a single dynamic culture out of that. That said, I think that multiculturalism, that term has come to me and exactly what it doesn't mean. It's not the acceptance of lots of different cultures. It's the assimilation of all of those cultures together to create a greater thing. That's what multiculturalism should be about, but it's turned into a all, you can't say that about those people. No, you can. You can say what you like.

That should be unique. Culturalism

yeah, really, but that monoculture is and also has this thing of you have to be English and you have to know about cricket if you want to live it. That's also nonsense. It's not that we need to stamp Englishness on you. It's that we need to bring everybody together and take the best of all cultures. That's what multiculturalism should

and should lessen polarization.

Yeah. What we have at the moment is basically polyculturalism, which is we have lots of different cultures all trying to exist within the country and that leads to division, especially as people become more polarized. Whereas if it was a uni culture as you call it rather than a monoculture, which is like we're all stamped out into the same, this is how the British show actually, it's more dynamic than that.

So that's sounds silly. Should we're going to have to leave it. They Uni culturalism talk, see your neighbor, create plans together.

Yeah. Towards people with different views with an open mind. One of the things on radio four is they'd have this thing where they get to people who are quite differently minded and they have to argue each other's case and it's quite interesting.

Yeah, definitely

because it forces you to go, okay or certainly the people within the program, it forces them to actually take on the views of the other person and I think that's quite an interesting exercise.

I'm always playing devil's advocate. I can't help myself. And then I generally come out to the person's point of view anyway, which is a good thing. Yeah. Yeah. And then I say, sorry, you've got to go. I will. We'll speak to you in a couple of weeks actually, as I'm away on holiday. Oh, you lucky thing. Where are you going? [inaudible] wow. In the boiling pot of Italy. Wow. I think maybe the heat wave is, it's subsiding, isn't it off, and also Italy has c on each side. It never gets to that. Where like Austria or mid Germany where sometimes there's nothing to cool it for months and months and they can get really

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