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Old 07-21-2015, 02:46 AM   #21
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: US city-states

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Originally Posted by tshiggins View Post
Yep. It's a problem -- but disciplined creation of electoral districts to make them as competitive as possible mitigates the issue, to a large extent. People get tired of losing, and the more extreme the views, the fewer people find it appealing, and the more people it alienates.

We have a name for an extremist who wins a primary, but loses a general election.

"Private citizen."
This system/approach of 'eliminating the extremes' is not necessarily an inherently good thing, in fact it can have strong dark sides. An example would be modern RF, where the parliament became so monolithic in its elimination of fringe opinions that there was exactly one deputate who voted against initiating territorial aggression, and was immediately branded a national-traitor for it. It's easy to say 'extremists are not fit to rule', it is much harder to avoid making it into a buzzword that is used as a justification for alienating whoever does not fit in with the establishment. And I'm pretty sure this phenomenon has plenty of other examples, such as the Cold War Witchhunts, or the voting of the Enabling Act, or the October Revolution etc.
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Old 07-21-2015, 04:40 AM   #22
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Default Re: US city-states

Extremists have pulled cultures kicking and screaming toward a better society. Civil rights movements have always required aggressive fighting against the majority opinion.
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Old 07-21-2015, 11:54 AM   #23
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Default Re: US city-states

Whoops. Clicked too soon.
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Old 07-21-2015, 01:24 PM   #24
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Default Re: US city-states

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Originally Posted by Johnny1A.2 View Post
People usually have different and conflicting priorities, when those line up in large clusters the center is unstable.

(SNIP)
That's sorta close, but you need to refine your model, a bit. Think about it, this way:

Political opinion falls along the same bell-shaped curve as everything else (Yay, GURPS!). Most people lie in the moderate middle, and just want government to work, and provided needed or desired services, with minimal negative impact on everyday life, an no need for constant oversight. (No, this isn't that realistic, but it's what most people expect.)

The vast majority of people don't think much about political issues -- or about issues of any sort that lie outside their everyday needs and responsibilities. They have jobs to do, kids to raise, expenses to pay, social status to maintain, friends to see, and vacations to take.

A full 90 percent (at least) of any population in any society knows nothing about politics, or macro-economics, or foreign policy, or even who represents them. And that's in Western cultures, with advanced mass communication technology that allows people to quickly and easily access information of all sorts.

In more traditional societies, the general citizenry might know a tribal elder or two, or the village headman, or the local imam, or whomever.

Incidentally, this basic ignorance isn't restricted to politics and economics. Most people have little time for art, or literature, or history, or philosophy, and the only thing they know about ethics or morality is what their parents taught them by rote, and what they hear in church/temple/synagogue/mosque.

People only have so much time, and being parents and responsible employees/business owners/volunteers takes up most of it, and leaves only enough for the occasional game, and (maybe) a vacation once per year.

That's your "water behind the dam." A lot of people who just want to live their lives without having to think about big-picture issues, because they elect/hire people to handle that, for them. They want government to work like public accounting or banking or utilities -- professionals do the job they're hired to do, reasonably honestly and effectively, and get it done with minimal fuss and bother.

That's it. That's all they ask.

About 5-7 percent of any given population has enough interest in politics to read the columnists, or watch 60 Minutes, or pay attention to talking heads. Only a fraction of the so-called "pundits" have any interest in rational discourse and intellectual honesty, anyway -- most have an agenda to push, and they use whatever manipulative tactics they can to do so.

Only about 2-3 percent of any given population participates in political activity. These are the party workers, and campaign volunteers, and issue activists, and bureaucrats and government officials, themselves.

That's politics as usual. A vast, bell-shaped curve of uninterested, uninformed people, and a smaller, much flatter, curve of those who actually participate in governance.

That much smaller curve of people is so much flatter, because it consists of people who have an active interest in politics. Those out at the extremes have the greatest emotional commitment to political activism, so they participate more frequently and more energetically.

As such, when it comes to "politics as usual," the activists have a disproportionate impact on day-to-day political discourse. That means active political discussion is emotional and ideologically-driven to a much greater extent than how the rest of the population views things. Most of the 90 percent find this at least somewhat annoying, so they try to ignore it.

However, at certain times, the issues become so fraught that the general population can't ignore them. What happens then largely depends on the ease of access that the 90 percent has to the political system.

In Western societies, people may bitch and moan and whine and gripe about government, but access to the political system is actually really easy. Anybody can attend party meetings or go to neighborhood caucuses, government buildings are open to the public, every official has a Web site and most willingly meet with constituents in town halls or local office hours.

Moreover, people can and do vote early, and vote often, in primary elections, as well as local, state and national elections. A lot of states allow the citizenry to bypass normal representative government and sponsor citizen initiatives.

Those who care enough to make even a modicum of effort can be heard. Those who put in a bit more effort can make at least small changes.

In those societies, the "business-as-usual" political types remain keenly aware of what they call "trigger issues." These are the issues that penetrate the fog of ennui and annoyance that keeps most people out of politics.

When the mass population perceives that a particular issue, or set of issues, has the ability to impact them directly (especially if that impact is negative), it can trigger a mass movement. Suddenly, politics stops being "business as usual," because John Bull just walked into the china shop.

When that happens, which it does about once a generation, the politics of a nation goes through a "seismic shift." A lot of the old guard find themselves sidelined and irrelevant.

The last time that really happened was during the Reagan years, with the election of a man able to emotionally motivate people with an effectiveness rarely seen. He pulled in fundamentalist Christians in unprecedented numbers.

However, the economic difficulties of the mid-70s due to the OPEC cartel, combined with Carter's perceived ineffectiveness during the Iran Hostage Crisis, are what penetrated the fog enough that the general citizenry willingly listened.

The fundamentalists didn't get Reagan elected, the frustration with the oil shortage and the Carter administration did.

In the previous generation, the items that penetrated the fog were the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War.

With the Civil Rights movement, it wasn't Stokely Carmichael and SNCC, or Malcolm and the Nation of Islam, or the Black Panthers, that caused the change. They were a side-show. It was the televised brutality used against peaceful protesters by a violent minority of the white population, combined with the eloquence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Remember, King was only considered an "extremist" by southern "Dixiecrat" conservatives and blue-collar whites who didn't want to have to compete for jobs with blacks. To the vast majority of the nation, which was steadily making the shift to middle-class, his was the calm voice of reason and compassion. The political opinion of the majority of the population -- the center of the bell curve -- had already shifted toward belief in desegregation and greater equality.

The brutality shown on television, followed by the assassination of King, acted as "trigger-events" that actually got the general population involved enough to support civil rights laws.

The Vietnam War followed a similar trajectory. The Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) had little influence over anyone. The Progressive Labor Party and the Young Socialist Alliance, didn't either. The "trigger-event" occurred with the ongoing violence seen on television every night, combined with the widespread perception of grotesque incompetence on behalf of the administration in general, and William Westmoreland in particular, combined with the fact that nearly everybody knew a young man who had fought in an unending war, and quite a few knew someone's son or brother or father who had died.

When the middle-aged, middle-class parents of dead soldiers started to appear in protest marches, the administration began to look for a way out of the war. In contrast, nothing done by extremists groups, or even student protesters, had accomplished that.

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
Extremists have pulled cultures kicking and screaming toward a better society. Civil rights movements have always required aggressive fighting against the majority opinion.
Extremists help illustrate issues, and in so doing help penetrate the fog. However, influence is not governance.

During the '60s, the SNCC could never govern, nor could the PLP or the YSA. They could illustrate the issues, and provide dramatic footage, but they could never have fulfilled the routine responsibilities of day-to-day governance.

The right-wing extremists who drive the Republican Party can't govern, now, for exactly the same reasons. That's why their preferred policies continue to fail, throughout the country. They've shifted so far to the right that they've alienated a slim majority of Americans, and demographics are against them. Their supporters are mostly older, and many of their most vocal opponents have only just reached their 30s and 40s.

In fact, I'd guess that, if anything, the backlash against the Reagan-Bush shift to the right should have happened a long time ago, and doubtlessly would have except for the events of 9/11. That put a damper on things for a decade, but that's only allowed the pressure of the backlash to grow.

But, again, while the extremists will have influence, they can never govern. The country has begun a shift to the left, but it won't go as far as the most vocal of the gay-rights' activists think, and the supporters of single-payer health care won't get what they want, any time soon, and the 2nd Amendment is in no danger.

I think the future of THS will see similar patterns. On Earth, with its huge population, extremism fails, regardless of how much memetic engineering takes place. That's why so many groups build habitats where they can control the spread of information and ideas. Extremist ideas can't compete, so they flee.
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Old 07-23-2015, 12:18 PM   #25
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Default Re: US city-states

Where are Spindizzys when you need them. The US cities could fly away with Blue America taking their freedom and dignity with them, and Red America could get the land and the nukes. At last Europe would have an America that fit its preconceptions.

Everybody would be happy.
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Old 07-23-2015, 10:34 PM   #26
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Default Re: US city-states

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Where are Spindizzys when you need them. The US cities could fly away with Blue America taking their freedom and dignity with them, and Red America could get the land and the nukes. At last Europe would have an America that fit its preconceptions.

Everybody would be happy.
No, they'd rapidly transform into things unrecognizable, 'red' and 'blue' America are two parts of one thing, and neither can function or exist without the other. Separate them and they may physically survive, but neither will be anything like what their dreamy partisans envision, because they'll both have to change into something else to function.
This actually deserves more attention because it touches on the actual topic.

The concept of a city-state is misleading, at least to modern westerners, because it doesn't (and never did) mean quite what we tend to think of as that.

The Greek city-states, for ex, were not just cities, they also included a surrounding valley or zone of controlled territory. Cities require external support to live, and this gets truer as the tech level rises (at least it has so far and is likely to keep doing so up to THS levels).

New York City, for ex, doesn't stop at the city limits, or even the edge of the NYC metroplex. It extends up throughout much of New York State and beyond in its water supply, it draws in energy from all over the east, its food-network is global.

Los Angeles is even more so. Just using water as an example, LA reaches out hundreds of miles to the Owens Valley and the Colorado River, and has often looked longingly at the Columbia River, three States away.

Trying to isolate a city independently of its support structure makes little sense. A genuinely independent Los Angeles, for example, needs reliable water supplies. That means they probably need to control the territories around their aqueducts and dams, which also means they need to control the territories that feed those.

A political divide that ignored that would produce results other than a free-standing L.A.

THS tech could change some of this. Cheap fusion might make it practical to desalinate enough sea water to relieve some of the dependence on the water networks that lead into the mountains. A combination of cheap power and a lot of greenhouse space and the food-tech used in space might make LA more independent of imported food, too.

But that matters in other ways. A lot of the water drawn toward LA gets used in agriculture. Without LA's population, southern Cali might not have the political clout to arrange for that steady inflow. OTOH, lacking the south Cali agriculture, the shape of the food industry changes nationally and maybe globally.

My point is that trying to consider high-tech cities in isolation from their environs just doesn't make sense.

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Old 07-23-2015, 10:48 PM   #27
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Default Re: US city-states

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Originally Posted by tshiggins View Post

When that happens, which it does about once a generation, the politics of a nation goes through a "seismic shift." A lot of the old guard find themselves sidelined and irrelevant.

The last time that really happened was during the Reagan years, with the election of a man able to emotionally motivate people with an effectiveness rarely seen. He pulled in fundamentalist Christians in unprecedented numbers.

However, the economic difficulties of the mid-70s due to the OPEC cartel, combined with Carter's perceived ineffectiveness during the Iran Hostage Crisis, are what penetrated the fog enough that the general citizenry willingly listened.

The fundamentalists didn't get Reagan elected, the frustration with the oil shortage and the Carter administration did.
It was both, and other things besides. The old FDR coalition had fractured over both economic and social issues, and Carter had a knack for saying and doing precisely the wrong thing to accelerate the matter. Don't make the mistake, BTW, of thinking that 'fundamentalist' and 'social conservative' mean the same thing. They overlap but most socons aren't fundamentalists and some fundamentalists are social libs, too.

[quote]

Quote:

In the previous generation, the items that penetrated the fog were the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War.

With the Civil Rights movement, it wasn't Stokely Carmichael and SNCC, or Malcolm and the Nation of Islam, or the Black Panthers, that caused the change. They were a side-show. It was the televised brutality used against peaceful protesters by a violent minority of the white population, combined with the eloquence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Remember, King was only considered an "extremist" by southern "Dixiecrat" conservatives and blue-collar whites who didn't want to have to compete for jobs with blacks. To the vast majority of the nation, which was steadily making the shift to middle-class, his was the calm voice of reason and compassion. The political opinion of the majority of the population -- the center of the bell curve -- had already shifted toward belief in desegregation and greater equality.

The brutality shown on television, followed by the assassination of King, acted as "trigger-events" that actually got the general population involved enough to support civil rights laws.
Actually, King was mostly frosting, it would have happened approximately the same way without him (or rather, someone else would have filled a somewhat similar role). The rise of the civil rights movement as we think of that went back to the 1920s, and the civil rights movement of the 1950s was the culmination of decades of work and effort.

Quote:


The right-wing extremists who drive the Republican Party can't govern, now, for exactly the same reasons. That's why their preferred policies continue to fail, throughout the country. They've shifted so far to the right that they've alienated a slim majority of Americans, and demographics are against them. Their supporters are mostly older, and many of their most vocal opponents have only just reached their 30s and 40s.
No. The GOP is not far-right at all. They're barely conservative, and they actively dislike and detest their own voters. That's why they've been losing. The idea that the GOP is dominated by a 'far right' is easily disprovable simply by looking at their actions

Quote:

In fact, I'd guess that, if anything, the backlash against the Reagan-Bush shift to the right should have happened a long time ago, and doubtlessly would have except for the events of 9/11. That put a damper on things for a decade, but that's only allowed the pressure of the backlash to grow.
Again, no.

The backlash, such as it was, was in the 90s, and over by 2000. The politics since then have little to do with Reagan or Carter, and everything to do with an emerging aristocrat vs. commoner divide on both economic and social issues. It's not Democrat vs. Republican, it's elite Dem/GOP vs street level Dem/GOP, though the latter are only just now starting to react to that. One reason both parties ' elites are meeting such resistance to their preferred candidates (Jeb and Hillary) is that more and more people see them as two faces of one outfit (even aside from the distasteful dynastic aspect of it).

It's true 911 covered that up for a little while, but it was out in the open by 2006.

Quote:

But, again, while the extremists will have influence, they can never govern. The country has begun a shift to the left, but it won't go as far as the most vocal of the gay-rights' activists think, and the supporters of single-payer health care won't get what they want, any time soon, and the 2nd Amendment is in no danger.
Depends on which faction wins the elite/common argument (with a backbeat
of 'birth dearth' issues rapidly rising that look likely to make Western politics very different from today even 10 years from now).
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Old 07-24-2015, 12:08 PM   #28
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Default Re: US city-states

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It was both, and other things besides. The old FDR coalition had fractured over both economic and social issues, and Carter had a knack for saying and doing precisely the wrong thing to accelerate the matter. Don't make the mistake, BTW, of thinking that 'fundamentalist' and 'social conservative' mean the same thing. They overlap but most socons aren't fundamentalists and some fundamentalists are social libs, too.
The vast majority of the fundamentalists active in politics came in via Reagan's "Big Tent," and promptly began to label the traditional Eisenhower/Rockefeller Republicans as "RINOs" and did everything they could to throw them out of the party.

The percentage of fundamentalists who break to the left on social issues amount to little more than a rounding error.

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Actually, King was mostly frosting, it would have happened approximately the same way without him (or rather, someone else would have filled a somewhat similar role). The rise of the civil rights movement as we think of that went back to the 1920s, and the civil rights movement of the 1950s was the culmination of decades of work and effort.
I think you and I are saying the same thing, here. The country had already begun the shift, as you said, and by the early 1960s we were ready to address segregation, systemic discrimination and institutional racism.

King articulated the issues, beautifully, but we were ready for change, anyway, and that's why people listened to him. Please note, I never said King made the Civil Rights movement possible. I said people listened to him because they were already ready to hear what he had to say.

Even then, the reason they listened to him, and not to Malcolm or Carmichael, was because King came across as a reasonable reformer, and not an angry radical extremist.

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No. The GOP is not far-right at all. They're barely conservative, and they actively dislike and detest their own voters. That's why they've been losing. The idea that the GOP is dominated by a 'far right' is easily disprovable simply by looking at their actions.
Sorry, Johnny, but you're wrong.

Based on what I've seen you post, here, in the past year, I believe the reason you don't believe the GOP is right wing is because you are further out to the right than most of them.

You may not be an extremist, per se, but you're on the rightward fringe of American political views.

Most Americans are pro-choice, in at least some circumstances.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com...over-abortion/

Most Americans favor separation of church and state, favor a path to citizenship for immigrants (especially those brought here as children), and are okay with the presence of Muslims in the United States.

http://publicreligion.org/site/wp-co...can-Report.pdf

Compare those findings to what the candidates say when they address the voter base, during the primary campaign season.

Now then, you are correct in that the national GOP leadership is probably more moderate than the base, and favors de-regulation and limited government spending (on everything except the military and infrastructure) much more than they do social issues.

However, the most active of the GOP rank-and-file are much more conservative than the U.S., as a whole. It's costing them elections, and that's why the GOP leadership is so dismayed.

In point of fact, Democrats took more votes in the House of Representative races, in 2014. The only reason the GOP won was because the Republican-dominated legislatures gerrymandered the district boundaries.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...got-a-mandate/

This took place during an off-year election, which usually favors the party that doesn't have the presidency, and it took place during a year with a low voter turnout, which usually favors the GOP. Despite both of those factors, the GOP still won fewer votes than did the Democrats, overall, and only kept the U.S. House because the GOP legislatures drew the boundaries.

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Again, no.

The backlash, such as it was, was in the 90s, and over by 2000. The politics since then have little to do with Reagan or Carter, and everything to do with an emerging aristocrat vs. commoner divide on both economic and social issues. It's not Democrat vs. Republican, it's elite Dem/GOP vs street level Dem/GOP, though the latter are only just now starting to react to that. One reason both parties ' elites are meeting such resistance to their preferred candidates (Jeb and Hillary) is that more and more people see them as two faces of one outfit (even aside from the distasteful dynastic aspect of it).

It's true 911 covered that up for a little while, but it was out in the open by 2006.
I think you make a cogent point about how things work on the GOP side of the fence, but on the Democratic side, there is much less in the way of a problematic divide between the party leadership and the rank-and-file. Partly, that's because the Democrats have always been divided; they're used to it, and have learned to deal with it by wheeling-and-dealing, as needed.

Also, it's because union Democrats are far less powerful than in the past (and you can thank Reagan for that), as compared to the "limousine liberal" adherents to the Democratic Leadership Conference (DLC) point of view. If the unions don't have as much pull, they can't pull the Democrats apart, either.

Moreover, while significant differences remain in the Dems about particular policies, the desire to fight what most Dems see as the increasing extremism of the GOP dwarfs those differences.

You can point to one particular race, or a particular issue, and cherry-pick outcomes to show whatever you like. However, when you look at national numbers, the trend is pretty clear, I think.

The GOP is in some trouble, unless it starts to move back to its traditional center-right position. I'd say that, while many Democrats, and even fewer unaffiliated moderates, feel enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton, they find the GOP field of candidates mostly appalling.

The best part is, we'll have a lot more information in less than 16 months. Given what we know, now, I predict it'll go this way:

Hillary probably wins the Democratic nomination. She'll select a pro-union Democrat as a running-mate, probably from California or some other populous state.

If the GOP gets rid of Trump before the end of the year, AND Trump doesn't run as an independent spoiler, AND the GOP nominates Jeb Bush or some other moderate, Clinton wins narrowly.

If the GOP gets rid of Trump, but Trump decides to run as an independent, Clinton wins big and has substantial coat-tails, no matter who the GOP nominates.

If the GOP gets rid of Trump, AND Trump quietly goes away, AND the GOP nominates a social conservative, Hillary wins slightly less big, but still wins by a larger margin than she'd beat Bush.

Trump's a clown, and he's offending huge swathes of the voting demographic, and the longer he shoots off his mouth, the more damage he'll do -- and that's because most people believe that what he says actually, truly does reflect the popular opinions of the GOP rank-and-file, and the rest of the country finds those views absolutely grotesque.

(And, having posted all that, I think I need to do my part to nip this tangent, before it goes any further. It's more of a GenChat discussion, as opposed to THS, although it does illustrate some interesting memetics, I guess.)
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Old 07-24-2015, 01:59 PM   #29
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Default Re: US city-states

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No, they'd rapidly transform into things unrecognizable, 'red' and 'blue' America are two parts of one thing, and neither can function or exist without the other. Separate them and they may physically survive, but neither will be anything like what their dreamy partisans envision, because they'll both have to change into something else to function.

Even the red/blue divide is something of an illusion, the real division is along different lines than the media-driven issues.
Media taglines rarely cover more than the passing illusion. But the Red/Blue division is just the name of an older Agrarian/Patriarchal / Urban/Egalitarian split that runs through US history from colonial times forward. In fact the fight began in Europe in the Middle Ages.
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:35 AM   #30
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Default Re: US city-states

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When the mass population perceives that a particular issue, or set of issues, has the ability to impact them directly (especially if that impact is negative), it can trigger a mass movement. Suddenly, politics stops being "business as usual," because John Bull just walked into the china shop.
As Terry Pratchett put it "People believe they want justice and wise government but, in fact, what they really want is an assurance that tomorrow will be very much like today."

But by this interpretation, "extremist" and "centrist" aren't absolutes; they depend very much on what "today" is like, and therefore how the average person expects it to continue into tomorrow. As you yourself point out...

Quote:
Remember, King was only considered an "extremist" by southern "Dixiecrat" conservatives and blue-collar whites who didn't want to have to compete for jobs with blacks. To the vast majority of the nation, which was steadily making the shift to middle-class, his was the calm voice of reason and compassion. The political opinion of the majority of the population -- the center of the bell curve -- had already shifted toward belief in desegregation and greater equality.
So King wasn't an extremist because the centre had moved towards him. And if it hadn't, he would have been. Abolishing slavery was an extremist position once, in both our countries.

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But, again, while the extremists will have influence, they can never govern. The country has begun a shift to the left, but it won't go as far as the most vocal of the gay-rights' activists think, and the supporters of single-payer health care won't get what they want, any time soon, and the 2nd Amendment is in no danger.

I think the future of THS will see similar patterns. On Earth, with its huge population, extremism fails, regardless of how much memetic engineering takes place. That's why so many groups build habitats where they can control the spread of information and ideas. Extremist ideas can't compete, so they flee.
And yet, on this side of the Pond, those are seen as extremist ideas, since our status quo is different. (Although opposition to single-payer health care apparently isn't as extreme as it was 20 years ago, because our centre has shifted as well.)

In the future of THS, extremism will have failed, because the things that failed will, by definition, be considered extremism.
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