The Great Divide: Why Liberals and Conservatives Will Never, Ever Agree
The theme of The Great Divide is that the populations of the democratic world, from Boston to Berlin, Vancouver to Venice, are becoming increasingly divided from within, due to a growing ideological incompatibility between modern liberalism and conservatism. This is partly due to a complex mutation in the concept of liberal democracy itself, and the resulting divide is now so wide that those holding to either philosophy on a whole range of topics: on democracy, on reason, on abortion, on human nature, on homosexuality and gay marriage, on freedom, on the role of courts … and much more, can barely speak with each other without outrage (the favorite emotional response from all sides). Clearly, civil conversation at the surface has been failing — and that could mean democracy is failing.
This book is an effort to deepen the conversation. It is written for the non-specialist, and aims to reveal the less obvious underlying ideological forces and misconceptions that cause the conflict and outrage at the surface — not with any expectation the clash of values will evaporate, but rather that a deeper understanding will generate a more intelligent and civil conversation.
As an aid to understanding, the book contains a handful of Tables directly comparing modern liberal and conservative views across a range of fundamental moral and political “issues” so that curious readers can answer the book’s main question: “Where Do You Stand?” An interesting result in testing this exercise has been the number of people who find they “think” one way, but “live” another.