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When it was first released in 2013, Arnold Kling’s The Three Languages of Politics was a prescient exploration of political communication, detailing the “three tribal coalitions” that make up America’s political landscape. Progressives, conservatives, and libertarians, he argued, are “like tribes speaking different languages. As a result, political discussions do not lead When it was first released in 2013, Arnold Kling’s The Three Languages of Politics was a prescient exploration of political communication, detailing the “three tribal coalitions” that make up America’s political landscape. Progressives, conservatives, and libertarians, he argued, are “like tribes speaking different languages. As a result, political discussions do not lead to agreement. Instead, most political commentary serves to increase polarization.” Now available as a newly revised and expanded edition, Kling’s book could not be any more timely, as Americans—whether as media pundits or conversing at a party—talk past one another with even greater volume, heat, and disinterest in contrary opinions.The Three Languages of Politics is an accessible, precise, and insightful guide to how to lower the barriers coarsening our politics. This is not a book about one ideology over another. Instead, it is a book about how we communicate issues and our ideologies, and how language intended to persuade instead divides. Kling offers a way to see through our rhetorical blinders so that we can incorporate new perspectives, nuances, and thinking into the important issues we must together share and resolve.


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When it was first released in 2013, Arnold Kling’s The Three Languages of Politics was a prescient exploration of political communication, detailing the “three tribal coalitions” that make up America’s political landscape. Progressives, conservatives, and libertarians, he argued, are “like tribes speaking different languages. As a result, political discussions do not lead When it was first released in 2013, Arnold Kling’s The Three Languages of Politics was a prescient exploration of political communication, detailing the “three tribal coalitions” that make up America’s political landscape. Progressives, conservatives, and libertarians, he argued, are “like tribes speaking different languages. As a result, political discussions do not lead to agreement. Instead, most political commentary serves to increase polarization.” Now available as a newly revised and expanded edition, Kling’s book could not be any more timely, as Americans—whether as media pundits or conversing at a party—talk past one another with even greater volume, heat, and disinterest in contrary opinions.The Three Languages of Politics is an accessible, precise, and insightful guide to how to lower the barriers coarsening our politics. This is not a book about one ideology over another. Instead, it is a book about how we communicate issues and our ideologies, and how language intended to persuade instead divides. Kling offers a way to see through our rhetorical blinders so that we can incorporate new perspectives, nuances, and thinking into the important issues we must together share and resolve.

30 review for The Three Languages of Politics: Talking Across the Political Divides

  1. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Arnold

    One of the moments in grad school that I've come back to repeatedly is the day where we talked about hierarchies of needs and different models to explain them. Maslow and all that. The fact that there were multiple pseudo-rigorous ways to say that food and shelter were more basic and necessary than emotional validation or high self-esteem fascinated me, and to this day whenever I see a system that tries to explain some psychological or social phenomenon by using geometrical metaphors I get remin One of the moments in grad school that I've come back to repeatedly is the day where we talked about hierarchies of needs and different models to explain them. Maslow and all that. The fact that there were multiple pseudo-rigorous ways to say that food and shelter were more basic and necessary than emotional validation or high self-esteem fascinated me, and to this day whenever I see a system that tries to explain some psychological or social phenomenon by using geometrical metaphors I get reminded of that class. Obviously the basic insight that some things are more important than others is true, yet how can you have multiple different non-quantitative models to explain this? It's basically guaranteed that the most interesting questions will be found where those models disagree, and in that case can you really trust any of them? Arnold Kling is a libertarian economist who will be familiar to anyone who reads any of the blogs written by him or his friends Tyler Cowen, Robin Hanson, and Bryan Caplan, all of who get referenced in the book. This short book is a meta-rational attempt to catalog American political rhetoric by using three axes that represent frameworks for how people think about political issues: - The Progressive axis of oppressor-oppressed - The Conservative axis of civilization-barbarism - The Libertarian axis of freedom-coercion It's expected that people will see different issues in different frameworks, but in Kling's view, people of each political persuasion will tend to look at similar issues using consistent frameworks. One of the examples of an issue that he uses is the cause of the mortgage meltdown that prompted the current global economic crisis. A Progressive might say that banks swindled people into deals they didn't understand by using manipulative language and unleashed a bubble they couldn't control. A Conservative might say that the government caused the crisis by lowering mortgage standards so that poor people and minorities who shouldn't have been buying houses could get loans they had no hope of repaying. A Libertarian might argue that the government caused the crisis through the Federal Reserve's manipulation of interest rates that distorted what had otherwise been a smoothly functioning market. Kling explains these views and offers cursory rebuttal evidence towards each of thesm, with the ultimate point that whichever of these basic explanations you agree with, you have no hope of debating them with someone you disagree with if you don't understand the lens they're using to look at the situation through. And, thanks to the ubiquitous human tendency to explain away inconvenient data ("motivated reasoning"), a depressingly large percentage of the time people are talking past each other using coded language that's less about communicating viewpoints than cheerleading to people on your "team" that already agree with you. He also discusses the concept of an "ideological Turing test", meaning that you can't effectively criticize an argument if you can't explain or paraphrase it in a way that someone who agrees with it would say that your summary fairly characterizes their view. All of this is reasonable and true-ish, in the same sense that Maslow's hierarchy of needs is reasonable and true-ish. Kling even has some data in the form of an analysis of some editorials by Progressive E.J. Dionne, Conservative Victor Davis Hanson, and Libertarian Nick Gillespie. Does his 3 axis model explain things any better than the slightly more familiar 2 axis model of economic and social liberalism and conservativism? Would adding in a fourth axis explain still more things? Why not 5? In the appendix he points readers to works by people like George Lakoff, Thomas Sowell, Jonathan Haidt, and Daniel Kahneman who have similar models of political philosophies, but he doesn't explain how his model explains the world better than those folks'. Any socialists out there will surely be wondering what happened to their point of view, and I don't think this book will do much for a non-American. Overall this book is useful, in the sense that it's always useful to be reminded to put yourself in someone else's shoes, and Kling is pleasant to read, but I'm not sure that this book actually breaks new ground. Making an unfair comparison of this book to something like Aristotle's Politics, or Michael Oakeshott's Rationalism in Politics, it's striking how bullet point-ish it feels, and the data is cherry-picked enough to be of dubious value (to his credit Kling is very up front about this). However, you could knock this book out in a subway commute, which you definitely can't say about Aristotle or Oakeshott. Ultimately these kinds of meta-rational works are useful only to extent that they actually explain anything, because you could fill an entire career constructing models about words without actually solving a single real-world problem. I'm happy to read a discussion of perspectives on civil rights, urban crime, or marijuana legalization, but as to learning whether your opinion on them is actually correct or grounded in real data, look elsewhere.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tristan

    Anyone who thinks that progressives, conservatives, or libertarians are ignorant or evil should read this. Kling outlines how progressives operate on an oppressor-oppressed heuristic, conservatives on a civilization-barbarism heuristic, and libertarians on a liberty-coercion heuristic. These heuristics have a place, but all involve "fast" thinking (to use Daniel Kahneman's term), ensuring that we'll never get the full picture so long as we stay within the language of our own tribe. By recognizin Anyone who thinks that progressives, conservatives, or libertarians are ignorant or evil should read this. Kling outlines how progressives operate on an oppressor-oppressed heuristic, conservatives on a civilization-barbarism heuristic, and libertarians on a liberty-coercion heuristic. These heuristics have a place, but all involve "fast" thinking (to use Daniel Kahneman's term), ensuring that we'll never get the full picture so long as we stay within the language of our own tribe. By recognizing the concerns and assumptions that each tribe brings to the table, we can better understand them. This allows for more productive disagreements. Kling illustrates the need for "slow" thinking using many examples. For instance, a conservative or libertarian who stuck to their guns would have been in the wrong during the Ameircan civil rights movement, which was a progressive cause. Conservatives appear to have been in the right regarding stronger policing in the 1970's, which reduced urban crime and made communities safer during an uptick of criminality. And progressives and conservatives have missed the boat on drug laws—if libertarians had gotten their way long ago, we'd have far fewer nonviolent drug offenders locked away. Also, this book only takes a few hours to read. It's rare to get so much out of such a short read. (A longer review of mine was published in Quillette a couple years ago, if readers of this review are curious for more of my thoughts.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Very short book, available only for Kindle format I think. Describes the differences in the language used by progressives, conservatives, and libertarians and why they have such a hard time communicating with each other. Nothing terrifically deep or complex, but he references a lot of other writers I like, like Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow) and Haidt (The Righteous Mind). And I guess what I really like is that while the author is libertarian I think he is scrupulously fair to other viewpoints Very short book, available only for Kindle format I think. Describes the differences in the language used by progressives, conservatives, and libertarians and why they have such a hard time communicating with each other. Nothing terrifically deep or complex, but he references a lot of other writers I like, like Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow) and Haidt (The Righteous Mind). And I guess what I really like is that while the author is libertarian I think he is scrupulously fair to other viewpoints.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    What's great about this book is that it paves the way for civil, thoughtful political discussion. Kling asserts there are three major political languages in contemporary America (conservative, progressive, and libertarian), and that no single language is sufficient for solving all the problems we face in every situation. Kling says that each of these languages prioritizes different ideals: 1. Conservatives are primarily concerned with maintaining order and fending off barbarism. 2. Progressives ar What's great about this book is that it paves the way for civil, thoughtful political discussion. Kling asserts there are three major political languages in contemporary America (conservative, progressive, and libertarian), and that no single language is sufficient for solving all the problems we face in every situation. Kling says that each of these languages prioritizes different ideals: 1. Conservatives are primarily concerned with maintaining order and fending off barbarism. 2. Progressives are primarily concerned about supporting the oppressed and fighting oppressors. 3. Libertarians are primarily concerned with maintaining freedom and rejecting coercion. While Kling is a libertarian himself, he admits there are times when another political language is more ethical in a given situation. For instance, he admits that libertarians were wrong in the 1964 Civil Rights debate and that the progressive framework was right. This framework for thinking about political language is fantastic because it opens up the possibility that your team (whoever your team might be) isn't infallible. Once you believe that, you can stop demonizing people who disagree with you and listen. Bring on civility!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I was expecting this to bit a bit more fleshed out than it was - Kling did a bunch of press (EconTalk, Cato) to promote this idea, and I think he more than covers the idea in those interviews, there's not much more in the book. I would have liked some more depth to establish the framework - how well does it hold up outside of American politics? How well does it hold up over time? Already in the more recent versions of the book, he has had to modify this to note that Donald Trump is using a total I was expecting this to bit a bit more fleshed out than it was - Kling did a bunch of press (EconTalk, Cato) to promote this idea, and I think he more than covers the idea in those interviews, there's not much more in the book. I would have liked some more depth to establish the framework - how well does it hold up outside of American politics? How well does it hold up over time? Already in the more recent versions of the book, he has had to modify this to note that Donald Trump is using a totally different language/axis to frame his ideas, so is it now the "four languages"? Overall, I think this is an interesting framework for thinking about political discourse. I suspect that more broadly there are other similar axes along which people make judgements - considering that for most people the Libertarian axis would barely be noticeable in modern discourse and Kling likely only notices it because that's his preferred mode. It's a good, thought-provoking essay and it's quite short for a book, so I recommend reading it and not taking it too seriously. 3.5 of 5 stars

  6. 5 out of 5

    The Well-Read Investor

    Arnold Kling’s short book on the “languages” of politics is well worth the small effort it requires. Kling, a former Federal Reserve and Freddie Mac economist, argues that we can understand most folks’ political views by their highest stated ethical and moral values. And while this book is wholly on politics, many of the lessons in bias and ideology apply to investors, too. He simplifies us all into one of three buckets, each defined by a prevailing value: 1. Progressives value equality highest 2. Arnold Kling’s short book on the “languages” of politics is well worth the small effort it requires. Kling, a former Federal Reserve and Freddie Mac economist, argues that we can understand most folks’ political views by their highest stated ethical and moral values. And while this book is wholly on politics, many of the lessons in bias and ideology apply to investors, too. He simplifies us all into one of three buckets, each defined by a prevailing value: 1. Progressives value equality highest 2. Conservatives value tradition highest 3. Libertarians value freedom highest But broad generalizations aren’t really the point. Kling pursues the idea that we humans tend interpret the world through the lens of our most-favored core values. It’s not about “wishing” the world was different, it’s about how our values actually alter the perceived reality in front of us. This insight is important for more than politics. Part of what makes investing so difficult is that our primary values serve as biases—not out of stupidity or ignorance, but a bedrock belief in the way we think the world “ought” to be. For example, many investors prefer “cheap” stocks because cheap seems to signify a better value. Hence, myths that will never die about price-to-earnings ratios and their forward predictability. In reality, the ratio has basically no useful predictive function. Kling observes that most people fit into all three of these categories to a degree, but the one that takes priority tends to govern a person’s experienced reality. And he keenly points out, that ideology will ignore a lot in order to preserve the integrity of its view. That’s why ideology is poison for investing. For example, there’s this value-investing cult that compiled mountains of evidence to show value stocks are surely the best for all time. That’s ideology. Value stocks have been crushed for nearly a decade now relative to pricier growth stocks. That’s reality. But reality won’t deter either side. But why do any of that? Why not straddle the conflict—seek to benefit when each kind of stock has its moment in a market cycle? Growth prevails now, but value will again one day. And on it goes. Why be ideological about investing styles? It only guarantees wrongness at some future point. Kling says part of the problem here is that we abstract too much, lumping people into the same generic bucket. Such broad generalizations are convenient ways to draw distinctions, but only as a means to reveal a broader argument. Trouble arises when generalizations ignore complex and contradictory realities. We could all likely do with a little less seeing each other through the same lens, and a little more seeing others in all their contradiction, complexity, and subjectivity. Well-functioning stock markets do something like that. With the free and turbulent push-pull of opinion, markets love to price in differing views. That heterogeneity makes for a strong price. In spite of all our own blind ideology, a larger, more integrated view somehow tends to prevail—one with elements of our individual views but different on the whole than any of us envisioned. It’s when everyone seems to hold the same view that markets get treacherous. If everyone thinks one way, reality in all its complexity will pull back toward the non-ideological (and likely unpriced) truth. Our ideologies won’t save us; reality ultimately cares little for them. Far better to live with the sometimes painful tension of opposing views and see the world a little clearer than to relent toward the safety of confirming what we believe it should be. Let’s wish each other luck in the trying—politics and investing alike.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Kost

    This is a tiny little book that accomplishes its goals neatly and succinctly. In Spanish, the saying is "Lo bueno, si breve, dos veces bueno" [that which is good, if brief, is twice as good]. Kling reveals himself as a libertarian and the book was published by the libertarian Cato Institute. By his reckoning, most of us can be politically categorized as progressive P, Conservative C or Libertarian L. He describes them thus: P believe in human betterment, revere science and regard markets as unfa This is a tiny little book that accomplishes its goals neatly and succinctly. In Spanish, the saying is "Lo bueno, si breve, dos veces bueno" [that which is good, if brief, is twice as good]. Kling reveals himself as a libertarian and the book was published by the libertarian Cato Institute. By his reckoning, most of us can be politically categorized as progressive P, Conservative C or Libertarian L. He describes them thus: P believe in human betterment, revere science and regard markets as unfair. C emphasize human weakness, revere the past, and believe markets promote virtue. L believe in human rationality, revere technology and believe markets promote peaceful cooperation. It is essential for humans to feel part of a group with a "a higher moral purpose. For centuries, major religions met this need, but now the need is being met increasingly by political affiliation." In the effort to foster more civil discourse, Kling urges us to examine the language of political tribalism that signals to others we are either in their group or not and asserts moral superiority. Understanding that political differences are languages can enable us to maintain open minds to more effectively communicate --listening and understanding, not merely speaking or writing-- across the political spectrum. Kling's model for that political language is compelling. "A progressive will communicate [and frame issues] along the oppressor-oppressed axis, framing issues in [those] terms....A conservative will communicate along the civilization-barbarism axis, ....A libertarian will communicate along the liberty-coercion axis." The archetypal hero myths and media stories that receive the most play operate respond to the "three negative polarities: oppression, barbarism, and coercive tyranny." Clearly, these are deeply rooted in the collective unconscious. Kling explores different aspects and applications of the axes model. The phenomenon of motivated reasoning describes the way a P, an L and a C can all examine the same evidence and come away with a perspective that affirms their side. The aversion to "ambiguity and uncertainty" is so strong it presses the need for closure. Kling proposes thinking more slowly, de-centering (intuiting what others are thinking, not feeling) and striving for objectivity. He recommends that we approach evidence that supports our perspective "as if it had reached the opposite conclusion...and with that mindset scrutinize the study for methodological weaknesses." Excellent idea. In the 20 page appendix, Kling continues to test his axes model. It's an effective illustration to help us recognize the languages in practice. Last is a section for further reading. This is a helpful book that has great potential for helping all of us to engage in more civil discourse.

  8. 5 out of 5

    E

    This might be the most important book I've read so far this year. Kling discusses the political differences between conservatives, liberals, and libertarians. Because these groups have different priorities, we often assume that if they reject what we stand for, they are in favor of the opposite of our priorities. So if a conservative prioritizes order and rule of law, he assumes that someone who opposes his position is against the rule of law. If a liberal prioritizes standing up for the oppress This might be the most important book I've read so far this year. Kling discusses the political differences between conservatives, liberals, and libertarians. Because these groups have different priorities, we often assume that if they reject what we stand for, they are in favor of the opposite of our priorities. So if a conservative prioritizes order and rule of law, he assumes that someone who opposes his position is against the rule of law. If a liberal prioritizes standing up for the oppressed, then someone who opposes his position must be in favor of oppression. If a libertarian is against coercion, then someone who is arguing contra his arguments must be against liberty. This is incredibly insightful. It should help us refrain from demonizing our opponents. When people are disagreeing with us, it is often because they are viewing things along a different axis, not because they are evil and are against standing up for the oppressed or preserving liberty or maintaining high standards in society. We should practice voicing the arguments of others. Do I understand the position of a progressive well enough that I could convince a liberal organization that I'm one of them? Could a liberal voice the neoconservative position well enough to convince Bill Kristol that he's an ally? And so forth. Don't get me wrong; I'm not a squish. I think I'm right and others are wrong. But I shouldn't then decide that it is because everyone else is evil or unenlightened (or both). I should consider along what axis they are viewing things, and then see how that might reasonably lead them to a different position.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    This was a stimulating read. It is essentially a long essay on being charitable to others views. Because I have always thought the principle of charity is important, the book resonates with me. The book's main idea is that in the US there are three main axes that people use to evaluate policies (perhaps four, now, with the rise of Donald Trump in the GOP, according to the author). The three axes are progressive (along oppressor-oppressed), conservative (along civilization-barbarism), and liberta This was a stimulating read. It is essentially a long essay on being charitable to others views. Because I have always thought the principle of charity is important, the book resonates with me. The book's main idea is that in the US there are three main axes that people use to evaluate policies (perhaps four, now, with the rise of Donald Trump in the GOP, according to the author). The three axes are progressive (along oppressor-oppressed), conservative (along civilization-barbarism), and libertarian (along liberty-coercion) [and perhaps a new axis along cosmopolitanism-nationalism now). If you realize that people of different political viewpoints are using different axes to evalute arguments, you can see why most arguments make no difference to anyone but people who already believe the argument. The author is careful to restrict this theory to the US and to not make too strong of claims. Indeed, the author admits, that like everyone, his preferred axis of libertarianism means that he may not interpret the other axes correctly. I think the book is a useful way of thinking about political systems of thought in a generic way, and is probably helpful whenever you hear an argument that does not make immediate sense to you. You should try to evaluate the argument on the terms the arguer sees it. This book is rather short, and that is why I can give it a full 5 stars. If it were much longer it would feel like it was taking too much time to say what is a fairly simple point.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Francisco Nogueira

    A small book about a big topic that is affecting western cultures. Proposes a very interesting metaphor about language and how people, in political discourse, speak in a specific language most aligned to their political beliefs (progressive, conservative and libertarian). Most interesting is that the book doesn’t try to convince anyone to switch sides or provoke a fight about specific issues. The author doesn’t argue the virtues of his position but, instead, challenges the reader to consider the A small book about a big topic that is affecting western cultures. Proposes a very interesting metaphor about language and how people, in political discourse, speak in a specific language most aligned to their political beliefs (progressive, conservative and libertarian). Most interesting is that the book doesn’t try to convince anyone to switch sides or provoke a fight about specific issues. The author doesn’t argue the virtues of his position but, instead, challenges the reader to consider the other languages and to think in a politically slow way, understanding the virtues and faults of all the positions and how those can translate into cooperation and good decisions. I quite liked the transparency of the author who explicitly shows a libertarian lean but does a very fair analysis of the other points of view he touches upon. The agenda of the book is clear: to show that we’re all susceptible to fast political judgement and to propose a constructive and positive way of dealing with the different thoughts and priorities of our fellow human beings.

  11. 4 out of 5

    John Crippen

    Thanks to EconTalk, again, for the recommendation. Russ Roberts' recent podcast interview with Kling is a good explanation of most of this short book. Kling's thesis is that progressives communicate along the oppressor-oppressed axis, conservatives communicate along the civilization-barbarism axis, and libertarians communicate along the liberty-coercion axis. This is a good complement to Jonathan Haidt's moral foundations theory. We'd probably all be more civil towards each other if we considere Thanks to EconTalk, again, for the recommendation. Russ Roberts' recent podcast interview with Kling is a good explanation of most of this short book. Kling's thesis is that progressives communicate along the oppressor-oppressed axis, conservatives communicate along the civilization-barbarism axis, and libertarians communicate along the liberty-coercion axis. This is a good complement to Jonathan Haidt's moral foundations theory. We'd probably all be more civil towards each other if we considered Haidt and Kling's thoughts before we spoke. Although in its third edition, this book is close to self-published and not edited thoroughly. I suggest the inexpensive Kindle format or the free ebook.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Arnold Kling's The Three Languages of Politics provides welcome insight into the way in which libertarians, conservatives and progressives perceive the world and each other's perspectives. Kling posits that progressives see the world in the quasi-Marxist axis of oppressor - oppressed, conservatives embrace the civilization - barbarism axis and libertarians gravitate toward the liberty - coercion continuum. Unfortunately, such siloed perspectives do not lend themselves to harmony and mutual under Arnold Kling's The Three Languages of Politics provides welcome insight into the way in which libertarians, conservatives and progressives perceive the world and each other's perspectives. Kling posits that progressives see the world in the quasi-Marxist axis of oppressor - oppressed, conservatives embrace the civilization - barbarism axis and libertarians gravitate toward the liberty - coercion continuum. Unfortunately, such siloed perspectives do not lend themselves to harmony and mutual understanding. The explicit objective of this book is to create awareness of how each of these three schools of thought differ in their fundamental foundation of analysis of the same events and how such mutual understanding can hopefully help the three tribes to more effectively interact. Unfortunately, Kling's book will probably mostly be read by libertarians who, as they are constantly surrounded by the other two dominant perspectives, already have a fairly developed appreciation of how progressives and conservatives think. For them, this quick read offers additional clarity and vocabulary to more consciously categorize political thought.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    A very short book and practical in our age of social media argumentation and vilification. Extra points because it's not just a progressives - conservatives dichotomy, but libertarians are given equal attention. A very short book and practical in our age of social media argumentation and vilification. Extra points because it's not just a progressives - conservatives dichotomy, but libertarians are given equal attention.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Murtaza

    Realizing ones political opponents are usually just different and not evil is the first step to engaging constructively. If you’ve read The Righteous Mind by Jon Haidt you will have internalized this message very well and this short book will likely be redundant.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    I don't disagree with this book but I also don't feel as though I learned anything new from it or gained any new food for thought. I did notice that the author tended to display his own viewpoint (libertarianism) in a way that made it seem more reasonable than the other viewpoints. Bias is to be expected but I would have anticipated more of an effort to seem fair to all perspectives considering the nature of the book. I believe that Kling could have benefitted from seeking people with alternativ I don't disagree with this book but I also don't feel as though I learned anything new from it or gained any new food for thought. I did notice that the author tended to display his own viewpoint (libertarianism) in a way that made it seem more reasonable than the other viewpoints. Bias is to be expected but I would have anticipated more of an effort to seem fair to all perspectives considering the nature of the book. I believe that Kling could have benefitted from seeking people with alternative viewpoints to help him with his book, especially in sections where he tries to summarise perspectives that he doesn't really seem to understand on various issues. E.g. Kling claims that progressives believe that libertarians want poor people to starve, a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of progressive views that libertarians are indifferent to the issues of the working class as long as individual liberty is preserved. Kling also claims that it is not possible for anyone to find another person to be unreasonable, with everyone only being able to establish themselves as such. He then provides an example of his own unreasonable behaviour in the past - a situation in which he decided to give a punishment to students despite having never warned in advance that this punishment was possible. He then decided that he was being unreasonable and rescinded the punishment. This is surely a terrible attempt to justify his claim as the example provided is one in which anyone could have established that he was being unreasonable - his conclusion here was based off of objective fact about his actions and not any introspection on his decision-making process. Anyone could have labeled his actions as unreasonable. Thus Kling has offered a weak point and even weaker 'evidence' for it. This book was also very repetitive and pandered to the reader in places which I found irritating. Ultimately, it was fine. The points made were largely accurate but obvious.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pete

    This is an excellent book that looks at how people with different political views weigh different explanations. Kling divides people interested in politics into Progressives, who look at the world in terms of oppressors and the oppressed, Conservatives who see the world as being divided between barbarism and Libertarians who see the world as being either free or forced. While Kling's division of where people stand may not apply everywhere his arguments about closely examining things that support This is an excellent book that looks at how people with different political views weigh different explanations. Kling divides people interested in politics into Progressives, who look at the world in terms of oppressors and the oppressed, Conservatives who see the world as being divided between barbarism and Libertarians who see the world as being either free or forced. While Kling's division of where people stand may not apply everywhere his arguments about closely examining things that support your views, seeing if you could impersonate someone with certain views and making sure you really appreciate where people are coming from are very much worth reading. It's also interesting that Kling adds Libertarians as a major political grouping in the US. Perhaps they are really becoming so. The book is also an excellent use of a Kindle single. It makes a point well, is backed up by evidence and doesn't waste the readers time.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Arjun Pathy

    Heavily over-simplistic (which meant it was simultaneously too short to be a properly rigorous book while also being too long to function as an instructive essay), and in my view better summed up elsewhere (specifically in Haidt's The Righteous Mind). This book's "value-add" on The Righteous Mind is the explication of the three-axes model, and much of that value can be gleaned from reading the blurb. If you really need this concept, I'd just listen to the Econtalk episode on the matter. Heavily over-simplistic (which meant it was simultaneously too short to be a properly rigorous book while also being too long to function as an instructive essay), and in my view better summed up elsewhere (specifically in Haidt's The Righteous Mind). This book's "value-add" on The Righteous Mind is the explication of the three-axes model, and much of that value can be gleaned from reading the blurb. If you really need this concept, I'd just listen to the Econtalk episode on the matter.

  18. 4 out of 5

    book_explorer

    Good for what it is, but you should recognize that it's more of a layman's guide to navigating politics than anything else. Useful for the axes: 1. Left: Oppressor and oppressed 2. Right: Civilized and barbaric 3. Libertarian: Liberty and coercion When talking to people who know nothing about politics (and even a few who do know a thing or two), these axes will prove useful. Good for what it is, but you should recognize that it's more of a layman's guide to navigating politics than anything else. Useful for the axes: 1. Left: Oppressor and oppressed 2. Right: Civilized and barbaric 3. Libertarian: Liberty and coercion When talking to people who know nothing about politics (and even a few who do know a thing or two), these axes will prove useful.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Dowzicky

    This book gets better and better each version that is made! It is particularly appealing to those who follow the current political climate. It can help you navigate the wide world of debate by speaking the other sides' language. This book gets better and better each version that is made! It is particularly appealing to those who follow the current political climate. It can help you navigate the wide world of debate by speaking the other sides' language.

  20. 5 out of 5

    James

    A short but important book (I read it in just over an hour) that explores why we so often seem to talk politics past each other rather than with each other these days. First published in 2013 and revised in 2017, Arnold Kling focuses on the contemporary American political environment, noting three broad "tribes" of political identity and thought: progressive, conservative, and libertarian. Each tribe, he observes, uses a particular "language" along a particular "axis" of morality that serves, in A short but important book (I read it in just over an hour) that explores why we so often seem to talk politics past each other rather than with each other these days. First published in 2013 and revised in 2017, Arnold Kling focuses on the contemporary American political environment, noting three broad "tribes" of political identity and thought: progressive, conservative, and libertarian. Each tribe, he observes, uses a particular "language" along a particular "axis" of morality that serves, in a sort of heuristic short-hand, to identify (a shibboleth) and strengthen tribal association while providing a framework for refuting and downplaying the arguments (and often character) of others. Each tribe views events, issues, and policies along an axis that opposes an abstract good (or virtue) against an abstract evil. For progressives, this axis is the oppressed-oppressor axis; for conservatives, civilization-barbarism; for libertarians, liberty-coercion. Therefore, "for a progressive, the highest virtue is to be on the side of the oppressed, and the worst sin is to be aligned with the oppressor. For a conservative, the highest virtue is to be on the side of civilizing institutions, and the worst sin is to be aligned with those who would tear down those institutions and thereby promote barbarism. For a libertarian, the highest virtue is to be on the side of individual choice, and the worst sin is to be aligned with expanding the scope of government." As you might imagine, many contemporary hot-button issues can be framed along each of these axes in different ways, and Kling gives numerous examples to illustrate his point. Kling would propose, however (and I would agree), that each tribe is actually likely being reasonable given their own axis, and that our talking past each other has to do with an uncharitable view toward people who don't "speak our language" or readily share our axis of perspective, rather than any nuanced understanding of an opposing viewpoint which we understand but reject. (We seem to resonate with us v. them arguments, even though there is much area for discretion in policy-making--my words.) "If you are lucky," Kling says, "sometimes you can convince others that they are wrong.... But pounding the table and asserting that someone else is being unreasonable adds nothing to your argument." (I am reminded here of a lesson that my wife received in cross-cultural training before studying abroad in college. All cultures, she was told, are reasonable--you just have to understand the reasoning. So often, what we see as unreasonable, then, is simply someone--sometimes literally!--speaking a different language.) Unfortunately, these heuristic and linguistic axes often end up reinforcing the divide, because we feel others are completely off the rails when they can't readily see things our way. As they say, though, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, and Kling suggests we acknowledge our own biases as we work toward evaluating an argument, situation, or policy from another heuristic axis. "Most political issues are sufficiently complex that they cannot be understood fully using just one heuristic. If that is the case, then we probably will be much wiser if we can detach ourselves from our preferred language," Kling says. (He even suggests at one point a sort of Turning test, in which one would choose to adopt another, non-dominant axis to discuss an issue, to see if one could be mistaken as a member of an alternate tribe. This seems to resonate with another technique I've heard proposed elsewhere, as far as being charitable toward others goes, in which one should be able to make the strongest arguments for an opposing viewpoint before presenting one's own.) "In addition," Kling continues, "treating people who use other heuristics as reasonable is likely to prove a less stressful and more productive way of approaching politics than treating the other heuristics as heresies that must be stamped out." This book has certainly been helpful in very quickly framing some of my own attitudes, and I am more aware of (and have some terminology now to to discuss) my own dominant axis. One particular area I anticipate this being particularly helpful is in understanding the perspective of media sources I consume, as it provides a framework for considering and evaluating the predispositions of differing views of the same or similar events or issues. I highly recommend this short read. Though the author is a self-acknowledged libertarian, he is rigorously charitable toward the conservative and progressive axes--which I greatly appreciate. As of the writing of this review, the book was available for Kindle on Amazon for $3.99, or in several digital formats for free from Libertarianism.org.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Igor Veloso

    This small but very important book may not cure ills, but prevents them and its better than self help books. The current political climate is clearly more polarized – certainly not coincidence that while religious presence declines, political tribalism increases. No way around being human. In general, tribes divide themselves between Progressives (P) and conservatives (C), but there’s always a small percentage that believes possible to merge the best of the two while accepting the trade offs Libe This small but very important book may not cure ills, but prevents them and its better than self help books. The current political climate is clearly more polarized – certainly not coincidence that while religious presence declines, political tribalism increases. No way around being human. In general, tribes divide themselves between Progressives (P) and conservatives (C), but there’s always a small percentage that believes possible to merge the best of the two while accepting the trade offs Liberty presents, and this is called Libertarianism (L). Arnold Kling calls these the three-axes of political communication. P communicates along oppressor-oppressed axis, C communicate along civilization-barbarism axis, and Libertarian will communicate along liberty-coercion axis. He quickly adds a disclaimer however: Let me quickly add that I do not believe that the three-axes model serves to explain or describe different political ideologies. I am not trying to say that political beliefs are caused by one’s choice of axis. Nor am I saying that people think exclusively in terms of their preferred axis. What I am saying is that when we communicate about issues, we tend to fall back on once of the three axes. By doing so, we engage in political tribalism. Most people will be moderates but its easy to fall back into a specific axis when communicating certain issues with someone that disagrees. It’s in our nature to gain status in our own tribe while defaming the other, it can be seen daily on social media and news outlets. Axis and related goals allows for coalitions to be formed and work towards policies that further those goals. Say progressives assert moral superiority by denouncing oppression and accusing others of failing to do so. Conservatives assert their moral superiority by denouncing barbarism and accusing others of failing to do so. Libertarians assert their moral superiority by denouncing coercion and accusing others of failing to do so. The axis may appear simplistic, but even when finding nuance, once can’t help but to pick a side, and again, examples of this can be found daily. Kling’s objective is to raise awareness of this on the reader and prompt him or her to risk passing an Ideological Turing Test. He makes it as if you have to infiltrate a group of adverse ideas and talk in a way they’d expect. If they believe every word you say, you passed the test. I’d say its layman and day to day equivalent is known as steelmanning. You will find and understand the best of your opponent’s argument and communicate it in a way the opponent can relate or agree as accurately as possible. This will show to others you understand his position clearly and in turn he feels his view is validated, even if you disagree. This allows for a much better and respectful discourse. In political interchange all sides claim to be searching for the truth, yet they disagree, so either all of them are being blatantly dishonest or are not really searching for truth. This is due to motivated reasoning: everyone will defend their argument through the position on their axis. This becomes clear when you find someone who acts like a lawyer arguing a case: he will reinforce his preconceived opinions while scrutinize anything that appears slightly contradictory. These individuals focus on what they want it to be and are not very open to new variables. That’s also a pundits game. They narrow their understanding of issues and in consequence, narrow the viewers understanding. The pundit closes the people’s mind to the pundit’s own side. A healthy discourse opens the minds of the people on whatever side he talks to. (Opening a mind does not mean accepting an idea but means understanding an idea.) Even when honesty is present, individuals tend to think they understand a political ideology better than those who belong to it. Conservatives claim to understand progressives better than progressives do. Progressives claim to understand conservatism better than conservatives do. Yet, from the opponent perspective, the one who makes the claim possesses a straw-man view, not an accurate view. Not a steelmaned view. It takes a presence of mind to be aware of this. Everyone can do it, but people are glued to the internet and have its biases confirmed at every minute. Amazing how one has thousands of opinions at a distance of a click, yet they always tune in into the show that preaches to the choir. If more face to face time was encouraged, polarization would not become the “new normal” as easy nor as fast. We’re at a tipping point, however. Again, brief books like this are better than political self help books that many times have manipulation and “sealioning” as ways to survive today’s events, but that’s me, I like to keep it straight. Its small and concise, well presented and well sourced, - I admit being familiar with all his sources so I’m also subject to confirmation bias – and you can quickly read this and get the whole gist of it. If you want more disclaimers, author is libertarian.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    The core idea is sound: According to the author, there are three separate buckets of political thinking in the USA: a libertarian bucket, a progressive bucket and a conservative bucket. For each bucket, there is a corresponding axis along which we evaluate political ideas. For example, a libertarian will evaluate an idea based on whether it increases or reduces freedom; a conservative will evaluate the same idea based on whether it conserves or imperils some important aspect of civilization; and The core idea is sound: According to the author, there are three separate buckets of political thinking in the USA: a libertarian bucket, a progressive bucket and a conservative bucket. For each bucket, there is a corresponding axis along which we evaluate political ideas. For example, a libertarian will evaluate an idea based on whether it increases or reduces freedom; a conservative will evaluate the same idea based on whether it conserves or imperils some important aspect of civilization; and a progressive will evaluate the idea based on whether it helps or harms some oppressed minority. Most of us fall into one of these buckets and, while we are very quick to evaluate ideas using our **own** axis as a guide, we are cognitively unable to grasp that people in other buckets use a different axis. This causes us to dismiss those people as stupid or wilfully obstinate. This basic idea calls to mind George Lakoff's Moral Politics and Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Foundations. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think In Lakoff's version, we evaluate political ideas using one of two metaphors according to whether we are conservative or liberal. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion In Haidt’s version, we all share six moral “senses” that are activated in different proportions in liberals and conservatives. The details are a bit different but the advice is the same: we can be more effective politically if make more of an effort to understand our opponent's point of view. So far so good. We could all benefit from understanding what our opponents are saying and from learning to make arguments using our opponent's axis for reference. My problem with the book is that I know of almost no one who fits into one of the author's buckets. I certainly don’t fit in any of them. I know that progressives have a disproportionate influence in academia and in the Democratic Party. I mostly know this because they terrify the conservative writers that I read on the web. In real life, I know just a handful. The left-leaning people that I meet in real life are either freedom-loving liberals who believe society should be organised to be fairer to the disadvantaged or people who picked Team Blue early in life and buy whatever the Democrats are selling in any particular election. Living in Silicon Valley, I know a LOT of libertarians. Even the liberals are libertarians. However, I know vanishingly few people who believe that the US government is a greater threat to liberty than the corporations who own our media (social or otherwise), our food supply, most of the land and wealth in the United States and, even, the politicians who run the goverment. On the evening of the last election, a prominent conservative personality said he had always believed that most Republic voters were conservative but “it turns out that there are only about 200 of us and we all know each other”. The Republicans stopped being conservative many years ago. The people I know who voted for Trump were either a) Christians who are afraid that atheists and progressives want to eliminate Christianity from the public square (I think they are right to be afraid), b) Make America Great Again types who want to return America to its former glory and think that a swamp creature is just what we need to drain that swamp and (most of all) c) people who picked Team Red early in life and have been persuaded that Team Blue is out to destroy everything they cherish or d) Very Rich People who think their wealth is safer with Republican hands on the levers of government (totals may add to more than 100%). I do know a very small number of conservatives but they all started voting Democrat in about 2008 about 4 years after the Republic Party lost its moral compass entirely. To summarise: full marks to the author for encouraging us to try to understand our opponents views but I’m afraid his buckets do carry even a passing resemblance to real life voters. The author, a libertarian, proves his own thesis by entirely failing to understand the political views of everyone who is not in his bucket. As to understanding libertarians, I’ve found it much easier to predict their views since I started to think of them as “Propertarians”. They don’t value **liberty** so much as they value **property**. If you own something, you probably deserve it. The government should not be allowed to interfere with your property rights. If you own nothing, well. Hard luck to you. You probably don’t deserve it. Try to own more stuff in your next life. Fukuyama announced the End of History in 1992. I’m announcing that political theory ended in 2016. Political science has nothing more to say about American elections that can’t be explained by assigning voters to Team Red or Team Blue. Even when Team Red reverses it’s policy on everything that the Red Team previously held dear, the Team Red voters change their opinion along with them. There’s a small number of people who think about the issues more deeply but not enough to influence the outcome of an election. Read the book though. It’s cheap and short and easy to read. You might learn something or, more likely, it might encourage you to come up with your own taxonomy like I did.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    In this short book (essay really), Kling presents a structure to help you understand the nature of political discussions. We are always talking past each other, misunderstanding and misconstruing each other. Kling shows us that this is because we are in many ways speaking different languages. Kling calls these axes: Conservatives tend to speak in a barbarian/civilization axis; Progressives in a oppressor/oppressed axis, and Libertarians in a coercion/liberty axis. These axis tend to frame the wa In this short book (essay really), Kling presents a structure to help you understand the nature of political discussions. We are always talking past each other, misunderstanding and misconstruing each other. Kling shows us that this is because we are in many ways speaking different languages. Kling calls these axes: Conservatives tend to speak in a barbarian/civilization axis; Progressives in a oppressor/oppressed axis, and Libertarians in a coercion/liberty axis. These axis tend to frame the way members of these political tribes look at and describe the world. So, for example, a libertarian tends to view political discussions and topics as existing on an axis from coercion (bad) to liberty (good). So when libertarians talk about politics, they frame it in those terms. Meanwhile, a progressive looks at thinks in terms of oppression (bad) and liberating/supporting the oppressed (good) and frame things in those terms. But since these categories are not picking out the same sets, we don't understand each other when one side says some policy is good. (e.g. "It's a good policy because it is meant to help poor workers." But "That can't be good its coercive".) And so the discussion goes nowhere; each side frustrated by the apparent obstinance or stupidity of the other side. Kling discusses why we tend to fall into these tribes and axes as well as the pernicious affect these have on rational, truth seeking discussions. In part, due to this framing, we tend to see the other tribes as evil and irrational hellbent on destroying our deepest values. These other tribes are either stupid or conniving, manipulative conspirators. If they were smart or honest, they would, of course, recognize the truth and agree with one's own tribe. But, of course, the other tribes say the same about you and your tribe. The ultimate take away, and Kling's hope, is that by being more aware of your own axis and language, as well as the other axes and languages, you can be less susceptible to your own biases and less likely to be dismissive of those with you disagree. You can better understand why they are wrong (and if they are wrong) when you don't just dismiss them as stupid or irrational. You will be better able and open to discover problems or weaknesses in your view as well. This might actually lead to more fruitful and reasonable political discussions. It's a quick read, concisely and clearly written. It's nothing ground breaking, Kling is building on the work of many others (and he has a nice appendix that discusses the work he is building on.) But it is definitely worth reading for anyone frustrated by the seemingly lack of actual or reasonable discussion in politics.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joey

    In The Three Languages of Politics, MIT-educated libertarian Dr. Kling observes that Americans are becoming more and more polarized politically and socially, and that demonization of those who disagree is common. Rather than talking with each other, we are talking past each other. We do this because our primary concerns are often certainty, proving our role in our own political tribe, and downplaying the legitimacy of other positions. We are closing minds instead of opening them. Kling argues th In The Three Languages of Politics, MIT-educated libertarian Dr. Kling observes that Americans are becoming more and more polarized politically and socially, and that demonization of those who disagree is common. Rather than talking with each other, we are talking past each other. We do this because our primary concerns are often certainty, proving our role in our own political tribe, and downplaying the legitimacy of other positions. We are closing minds instead of opening them. Kling argues that to improve discourse, our goal should not be to change minds, but to have open minds and to reason with others and open their minds. To do so, we need to understand the three major political tribes and become conversant in each tribes’ language. Kling added a fourth tribe after the 2016 election. Progressive. Language is centered on oppressed vs. oppressors. The highest goal is to side with the oppressed. Conservative. Language is centered on civilization vs. barbarism. The highest goal is to protect civilization and its institutions from moral decline. Libertarian. Language is centered on liberty vs. coercion. The highest goal is to protect everyone’s ability to freely choose how to live. Populist. Language is centered on outsiders vs. insiders. The highest goal is to protect average people from the cosmopolitan elite, be they progressive, conservative, or libertarian. Tribalism is at heart of much of Kling’s book. He argues that it is innate in humans to desire to belong to be accepted in a group. We identify with and try to become accepted to the political tribes by signaling identification in the group through language that supports the tribe and denigrates others outside the tribe. Part of the reason that we are so politically divided is that we do not understand the other tribes’ language. Progressives view conservatives as heartless because they side with oppressors. Conservatives view progressives as actively working to destroy timeless institutions of society such as religion and family. Rather than take this view, Kling advocates for seeing others as reasonable and rational. While we may disagree with other tribes’ frames, they are rational. We can utilize others’ language to explain our positions and interest and not treat those who hold different views as enemies. Civil discussion becomes possible when we are politically multilingual, which should decrease polarization and demonization and increase productive discourse and understanding.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mike Cheng

    Highly recommended short read, especially for those frustrated with the state of our political discourse and the increasing antagonism resulting from political tribalism. The premise is what the author Arnold Kling calls the Three-Axes Model, specifically that most Americans identify as one of three groups: Progressives (P); Conservatives (C); and Libertarians (L), and accordingly frame facts and events in each respective axis. If you’re P, you’re likely to see things from the perspective of opp Highly recommended short read, especially for those frustrated with the state of our political discourse and the increasing antagonism resulting from political tribalism. The premise is what the author Arnold Kling calls the Three-Axes Model, specifically that most Americans identify as one of three groups: Progressives (P); Conservatives (C); and Libertarians (L), and accordingly frame facts and events in each respective axis. If you’re P, you’re likely to see things from the perspective of oppressor vs. oppressed and that government has an important role in remedying injustice and inequality. If you’re C, you likely see things from the perspective of civilization vs. barbarism, and that Western civilization and traditional values as being an important institution that has come under fire from those who seek to tear down that institution. If you’re L you probably see things as liberty vs. coercion, and that the individual is in constant threat of tyranny. Several examples are then presented from the viewpoint of each axis. Take tax reform for example: the P will argue that taxes and spending should be used to reduce inequality; the C contends that the tax code should reward hard work, thrift, and family; and the L wants low taxes because the size of government should be limited and because the individual owns his/her own labor and should spend as he/she sees fit. Mr. Kling thereafter challenges the reader to take an introspective look at one’s own beliefs and prejudices and trying to disabuse ourselves of the notion that we are right and that everyone else would agree with us if they had more knowledge about the issues. This will enable you to understand how others think about political issues instead of simply resorting to thinking that those with other views are crazy, stupid, or evil. Even more fun is the challenge to look at events, news, etc. and predict how pundits / political commentators will attempt to frame such in terms of P vs. C vs. L, as doing this will help you be able to better understand and articulate the views of those with whom you disagree. Lastly, Mr. Kling says that: “While you may be qualified to tell other people that they are wrong, you are not qualified to tell other people that they are unreasonable. The only person you are qualified to pronounce unreasonable is yourself.”

  26. 4 out of 5

    Philo Phineas Frederiksen

    Interesting This is an interesting, but atypical passage: Libertarians also look at government as the ultimate source of the problem. Libertarian economics is closely aligned with the Austrian school, and Austrian economists view central banks as the Dennis the Menace of capital markets, distorting interest rates and causing bubbles. Again, there is some plausibility to this, because housing prices did experience a bubble. However, there are problems with blaming this on Fed interest-rate policy, Interesting This is an interesting, but atypical passage: Libertarians also look at government as the ultimate source of the problem. Libertarian economics is closely aligned with the Austrian school, and Austrian economists view central banks as the Dennis the Menace of capital markets, distorting interest rates and causing bubbles. Again, there is some plausibility to this, because housing prices did experience a bubble. However, there are problems with blaming this on Fed interest-rate policy, because it is difficult to explain the evolution of the interest rate controlled by the Fed (the Fed funds rate), mortgage rates, and house prices. From January of 2002 through January of 2009, as the Fed moved its rate up and down, the mortgage rate remained relatively stable, between 5.25 percent and 6.75 percent. The most spectacular phase of the house price bubble was 2005–2006, and it is hard to see how this was connected to mortgage rates, which drifted toward the high end of their range in those two years. Other libertarians, including me, have focused on the perverse impact of bank capital regulations. In what ultimately proved to be a misguided attempt at sophisticated control over bank activity, agencies in the most advanced countries collaborated on a set of risk-based capital requirements, known as the Basel Accords. The goal of international collaboration was to avoid a race to the bottom in regulation and instead to ensure that banks in all countries faced similar rules. Because bank safety and soundness is such an important regulatory goal, the Basel Accords set strict standards that required banks to maintain more capital against assets deemed to be risky than against assets deemed to have less risk. Unfortunately, in 2001, the assets designated as low risk were expanded to include mortgage securities with AAA ratings from the major bond-rating agencies. In hindsight, this expansion proved to be quite a blunder.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Abhishek

    Are you worried that we as society have lost the art of conversation? Are you frustrated that person who holds an opposing viewpoint is not able to recognise even the basic facts? If like me, you are looking for some help to understand chaos surrounding us, then I'll recommend this book 100% The book argues that people with different ideological leanings are speaking different languages. They are: 1. Progressives (P language) They view the world in Oppressor - Oppressed axis 2. Conservatives (C langu Are you worried that we as society have lost the art of conversation? Are you frustrated that person who holds an opposing viewpoint is not able to recognise even the basic facts? If like me, you are looking for some help to understand chaos surrounding us, then I'll recommend this book 100% The book argues that people with different ideological leanings are speaking different languages. They are: 1. Progressives (P language) They view the world in Oppressor - Oppressed axis 2. Conservatives (C language) They view the world in Civilization - Barbarism axis 3. Libertarians (L Language) They view the world in Liberty - Coersion axis Now, for any given issue, from these first principles all three of them are right. It's just a matter of understanding where the thinking began. The use of the term "language" in the framework however would imply that you can somehow translate the contents from one language to another. This is where this model of thinking starts to show some cracks. To give full credit, author himself realises this shortcoming and calls out towards the end. In the same way, a corporate person with big thinking inclination would consider the detailed person as small minded and the detailed person would consider the big picture guy as careless. This framework of 3 languages helps one to see that neither of them are right or wrong. It also cautions against putting the person with a different ideological inclination into the worst possible end of the spectrum. We all contain multitudes within ourselves. We can have conservative positions for some policies, libertarians and progressive for others. It is important that we're aware of it. The book also builds on the idea of tribal nature of human beings and how these three way of thinking about it makes the tribal hate unbearable. It's a very short book, so hopefully it will not be intimidating to read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Heerman

    That politicians are working to strengthen their base and "speak" to their base in a language that they understand, is not a surprising conclusion. He is also correct that emotions about politics seem to divide us more now than they have in the past. On the other hand, I think that Watergate also divided the nation and that President's Ford pardon of former President Nixon did not resolve that divide. There is a brief section that suggests the divide between Trump and non-Trump supporters is bas That politicians are working to strengthen their base and "speak" to their base in a language that they understand, is not a surprising conclusion. He is also correct that emotions about politics seem to divide us more now than they have in the past. On the other hand, I think that Watergate also divided the nation and that President's Ford pardon of former President Nixon did not resolve that divide. There is a brief section that suggests the divide between Trump and non-Trump supporters is based on one's exposure to a cosmopolitan environment. While that may be partially true, it explains only one dimension of Trump's appeal. I think that the entire dynamic is superficial, measuring conservatives, progressives, and libertarian's on different planes. Integrating some of the examples of language used into the text would have helped to bolster his argument. For example, in the South a "Constitutional Conservative" is speaking about gun-control not about the inter-state commerce clause or due process rights. The excerpts at the end, are not analyzed to discuss word choice. The reader is left to discern the language that is instrumental in appealing to a voter of a specific persuasion. Mr. Kling anticipates the labeling of his work as superficial. He says that those of us who see it as simplistic, are deeper and "slow" thinkers about politics. I do think that we self-select the forms of entertainment and news sources to fit our biases. Even when SNL was making fun of Hillary Clinton, it was probably the "not-Trump" people who were watching the skits during the election campaign. One would find it hard to believe that Trump supporters tune in to see Stephen Colbert. Similarly conservatives rather than progressives, enjoyed Bill O'Reilly and still watch Fox News.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris Cangiano

    This short book contains some very important thinking on the way we use language in a heuristic way to separate ourselves into political tribes to seek out the approval of our selected tribe. Kling identifies three dominant modes of political tribes (progressives, conservatives and libertarians) and then identifies three axes which he posits the groups respectively use to perceive and to communicate about events (respectively the oppressor-oppressed axis, the civilization-barbarian axis and the This short book contains some very important thinking on the way we use language in a heuristic way to separate ourselves into political tribes to seek out the approval of our selected tribe. Kling identifies three dominant modes of political tribes (progressives, conservatives and libertarians) and then identifies three axes which he posits the groups respectively use to perceive and to communicate about events (respectively the oppressor-oppressed axis, the civilization-barbarian axis and the liberty-coercion axis). These axes are not intended to represent the beliefs or tenets of any one of the groups rather they are a lens through which members of those groups tend to understand and talk about these issues generally. The intention being that if we understand the way the we tend to perceive and communicate about the things that we believe that we not fall into the trap of using these tropes, which are often nothing but virtue signaling to our own side. The corollary to that being if we understand the language that other are using that we will be able to at least understand where they are coming from and to realize that their concerns are legitimate, even if we disagree with that position. I understand that Kling is working on a third edition which will include a section on “populism” which I understand he will identify as an emotive gloss that can be placed on any of the three “languages” rather than a separate political language itself. Highly recommended, I’m going to be sending around some copies as holiday gifts this year.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pedro Pinto

    A great (small/efficient< 150 pages) book, it explains in a simple and concise way the basics of the major political divide and why the majority tend to go to the extremes while debating it and be so intransigent to the others who see differently from us and finally why in the public domain it's so difficult to have a sound and value-added discussion about politics and policy options, Don't expect it to be an in-depth political science book, but one that tries to explain the divide, one that lays A great (small/efficient< 150 pages) book, it explains in a simple and concise way the basics of the major political divide and why the majority tend to go to the extremes while debating it and be so intransigent to the others who see differently from us and finally why in the public domain it's so difficult to have a sound and value-added discussion about politics and policy options, Don't expect it to be an in-depth political science book, but one that tries to explain the divide, one that lays the foundation of the communication (languages) problems and how we could start changing the current status. The 3 axis are heuristics/rules of thumb of the 3 main political tendencies and should not be seen as an extensive portrait of each spectrum (they, are used to exemplify, sometimes to the extreme, why we cannot understand each other and find a common ground. Its simplicity, objectivity and capacity to convey the thesis that the author presents (and that i fully relate to), coupled with a great capacity of synthesis, not extending beyond the fundamental of your argument (in area that could push you to do so), made me give a 5 stars rating. Strongly advise its reading as its reach and insights will last way more that the time you will invest in it, and it's applicable not only to politics but other areas,

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