Twitter Thread: Will Wilkinson: @willwilkinson: "IMO, the issue is whether America can EVER evolve an EGALITARIAN shared sense of pluralistic identity, which it's never had. It has ALWAYS had a pluralistic imperial identity, which involves an ethno-nationalist imperial/settler ruling class dominating enslaved/occupied subjects. Imperial/settler ruling classes always propagate narratives of 'unifying' national identity, which legitimates its own cultural/political dominance and casts demands for association on the terms of pluralistic equality as 'divisive' threats to social order...
...manu saadia @trekonomics: Who or what radicalized you Will?
Will Wilkinson @willwilkinson: Honestly? (1) The literature on the epistemic benefits of viewpoint diversity -- evidence that homogeneous groups share blindspots, make systematic correlated errors, and get intra-group feedback that leads them to update in a way that entrenches those errors. (2) Reading enough real history that I could see that what I was taught growing up was extremely distorted, which validated my sense of having been caught in the dynamic in (1). (3) Having a personal identity strongly tied up in the value of objectivity and truth pushed me to (4) actively seek out the best scholars/thinkers most likely to see clearly into my blindspots, (5) assign their views more credibility than those more likely to share them, leading to (6) more good history and receptivity to political theory that accounts for the patterns I could then historical data.
I've noticed that when I come at questions straightforwardly from my more recent (I think more objective and factually grounded) perspective, I get accused (by my blindspot cohort) of seeking some sort of social approval by "signaling" wokeness. Which is funny to me, because I'm a very typical annoying "facts and logic" libertarian white guy type (though maybe atypically philosophical and sincere). Still, it gets to me, really does hurt a little. But that's okay. Because I've come to believe that discomfort over opting out of identity-based circle-jerk confirmation bias is what it feels like to be serious about facts and logic, which don't care my feelings. Thanks for coming to my sermon.
Brad DeLong @delong: SO SAY WE ALL!
manu saadia @trekonomics: I did read the libertarian-conservative vulgate (Burke, Rothbart, Hayek, Rosenbaum etc etc) I found it lacking, except perhaps for Tocqueville. But is Tocqueville part of it anyways?
Will Wilkinson @willwilkinson: No, not really. A vulgar version of "little platoons" and the importance of vital private voluntary associations is canon, but not much else.
manu saadia @trekonomics: wait so I spent all that time uh ah nvm
Brad DeLong: @delong: At least you were in the company of Raymond Aron. Raymond Aron tried to convert post-WWII really-existing-conservatism into Tocquevillism. It was a bold intellectual judo move. It did not succeed, IMHO at least...
Will Wilkinson @willwilkinson: It's ridiculous, but I get it. I mean, I still feel miffed no one ever helped me grasp that the Ivy League is anything but a bad college sports conference. But I also know it's toxically entitled to feel you deserve EVERY advantage just because you were born with most of them.
*Brad DeLong: One possible way of understanding white America from 1925-1975 is the effective-WASPization of those willing to done down the Blarney and the Yiddishkeit—a think the Ivy League was good at teaching people to do. Hence a Scotch-Irish governor's grandson like economist James Buchanan can self-regard as a discriminated-against outsider relative to "Ivy League" Illinois Irishmen like James Tobin and New York Jews like Herman Wouk