Is there a way that society can continue to exist, even with the polarization we have now?

I have been thinking about the fact that so many modern issues necessarily result in polarization, as the 2 views are mutually exclusive. For example:

  • If you are pro-abortion then the other side is trying to control women's bodies, if you are anti-abortion the other side is committing murder.
  • If you are a capitalist the other side is trying to steal your money, if you are a socialist the other side is trying to keep all the money by the rich and keep poor people poor.
  • If you believe in modern gender theory the other side is causing suicide and trying make people conform to their worldview, and if you are anti it the other side is causing the drugging and mutilating of people.
  • If you hate Trump the other side is trying to destroy democracy and put in a tyrranical and crazy leader, if you like Trump the other side is attacking the leader they support for no reason, in result attacking them.

And the list goes on...

So with so many issues leading to polarization as the 2 sides of the coin are polar opposites, can society continue to with these differences (as opposed to anybody drastically changing what they think/believe)?

  • 2
    What happened to compromises? Something like two people coming together and figuring out a way to live in coexistence together, only on a larger scale. Isn't politics the art of the compromise? Aug 21, 2022 at 8:36
  • 5
    I attribute this to American tradition of pointless "debates" where you are supposed to take an assigned extreme position and defend it without any attempt at listening to your opponents or trying to find a middle ground. The victor is arguably a prized consent destroyer and polarizer.
    – alamar
    Aug 21, 2022 at 9:06
  • 2
    what is the criterion for "society to exist"? Disagreements have existed for much of history. Is it the lack of an armed civil war?
    – Rad80
    Aug 21, 2022 at 13:22
  • 3
    I don't think there is a pro-abortion side (as in "let's have as many abortions as possible"). One side is pro-choice.
    – Vorbis
    Aug 21, 2022 at 16:36
  • 4
    "there is no way to agree with what the other side believes, even in part" But there is almost always a way. Just take abortion, you can make it more strict or less with different time frames or different exceptions. And for taxing, immigration, climate protection, resource usage, ... they are so quantitative that compromises are easily possible. Or you can trade issues, like you give something but get something else. It's not like compromise isn't possible anymore, it's just not sought nowadays. People don't want it anymore and that's why I asked in the comment what happened to it? Aug 22, 2022 at 6:07

3 Answers 3


The problems you describe are a consequence of the bipartisan split, not the cause of it.

  • There are countries which accept a progressive tax system, inheritance taxes, etc., and welfare funded out of those taxes, without banning private property.
  • There are countries which allow people to switch their legal gender identity, but only after a lengthy bureaucratic process and possibly a medical/psych evaluation, and which ban any "therapy" on minors in either direction.
  • There are countries which allow abortion within strict limits, to include mandatory counselling. (Yet abortion is probably the one point out of the four which most likely leads to absolutist positions, at least on the 'no' side.)

In the US, all these issues and more (climate, vaccination, ...) are dragged into the existing bipartisan divide. There is something called Duverger's Law, a law in the social sciences sense, which suggests that single-seat, plurality-based election systems lead to only two viable parties. This comes together with modern social media, which is a commercial acitivty earning money by aiming targeted advertising at comsumers, and which requires audience engagement to sell their product. Facebook understood that this is easier done by stoking anger instead of more positive feelings.

The bipartisan divide, and the increasing inability to overcome the deliberate deadlock built into the US Constitution as a safeguard against government overreach, caused conservatives to seize on Supreme Court nominations to push their causes (see McConnell on Garland and Barrett). Which leads to your 4th bullet point:

  • Many Republicans were willing to overlook obvious problems with then-President Trump as long as Trump did deliver a stream of nominations to the SC. Compare the fate of Boris Johnson, whom the UK conservatives could replace with a new Prime Minister of their choice. So they are doing it.
  • That is mostly right, but still somewhat simplistic. Canada has several major parties, yet is seeing quite a bit of polarization, though not as much at the US. Ditto France, but see the Gilets Jaunes or the rise of populist parties. While the UK did ditch Johnson they haven't found a way to reverse or mitigate Brexit. Finally, if the US's structure was so inherently problematic, why did it wait till the like of Newt Gingrich for the pot to boil over? Aug 21, 2022 at 23:10
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica, I wrote "a law in the social sciences sense." Call me a hard sciences snob, but those are more like guidelines. And if I had to speculate, having "won" the Cold War gave them the leisure to bicker.
    – o.m.
    Aug 22, 2022 at 4:15
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica: If one wants to nitpick, Brown etc. came about the same way, overriding filibuster in the Supreme Court. It's just that the tables have turned, which is actually more or less how stuff was in the early 1930s, i.e. a conservative-dominated court.
    – Fizz
    Aug 22, 2022 at 9:07

The question already implies that current polarization is a bigger issue than in the past, which to me seems obviously wrong. It is easier to express dissenting opinions, and you have mentioned some examples of this, but compare that to polarization in the past:

  • People being violently oppressed with others violently opposing oppression
  • States seceding and starting a war about it
  • People being oppressed for their (alleged) political views

So society should be able to tackle these problems in the way it has always been done, by coming to a conclusion about these points at some time; but it's probably going to be easier than in the past.

  • 2
    I think it is a big issue. Obviously we had, for example, the civil war, but in recent history there was widely understood unity. Like, when you look at old debates the candidates where tripping over each other saying how 'We both want the same objective, but have different ways of getting it'... But now there isn't disagreement, its personal. Its hate. Because so many issues stem from 2 totally different belief systems, visions of what America should believe, etc.
    – Kovy Jacob
    Aug 22, 2022 at 2:07
  • @KovyJacob "Its personal. Its hate" In 2018 Trump tweeted re TDS. "Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It's called Trump Derangement Syndrome!" See edition.cnn.com/2018/07/19/politics/trump-derangement-syndrome/… Seems more relevant today than 2018
    – Raveesh
    Aug 24, 2022 at 15:22

Einstein said

We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them

So my short and sweet answer is "Pray to God."

Note I am merely using Judeo-Christian language above.

A more eastern answer would be: "When the Truth is known there are no disputes. To know the Truth we must start by becoming more aware of our own truth."

To me the two answers are the same because Truth and God are the same in most religions. In particular in Hinduism Satyam Shivam Sundaram is a description of God. Literally means: The True, The Good, The Beautiful.
(I am a Hindu by birth but respect all religions)

Note this quite exactly matches the basis set out by Socrates, the starting point of western philosophy: The Good is higher than the True and Beauty is higher than the Good.
[Philosophy mostly deals with only the True because the Good and the Beautiful are beyond words.]
See how close it comes to the starting point of Tao Ching! In the language of Plato's Republic, the Good has no being but all being arises from it.

The very word 'Platonism' (it should really be Socratism) means: There is truth; that truth is not in our mind but can be reflected there It is not in space time but it is manifest in space-time.

You can call it Plato's heaven or Truth or God. Its the same

Coming to your examples:


If we take one extreme its murder. At that extreme one can find hard core fundamentalists who will say ejaculation (masturbation) is murder. Even erection?

At the other extreme the foetus is an unliving entity. Till what point? If we take it upto 9th month then 'aborting' a mother in labour would be ok.

Most sane people would find both extremes absurd. Clearly there needs to be some midpoint where the transition happens from male-female fluid mixture to a living being.

If we agree to this much then it becomes a question of agreeing to a point where discarding a hair or a nail transforms into a moral question.

Why can people not have such a discussion? Because people in a confrontation take extreme positions.

To not take confrontative positions we must follow Jesus Christ teaching: "Do not judge." Because if we stop judging we may listen to the other party.

BTW a particular Indian nonsense regarding abortion. In USA feminists are pro-abortion because they are pro "choice". In India feminists are anti-abortion because selective female foeticide is a particular Indian problem. So that ultra-sound clinics have government notices saying sex determination is a crime punishable by 50,000 rupees and jail for 5 years etc. Such notice is considered PRO feminist.

So a consistent feminist sitting in a Mumbai-New York flight needs to flip her stand half way!!!!

So much is a bad joke. But it has a serious part. Suppose India and USA were to merge into a larger country. And suppose we were framing the Roe-Wade controversy for this super-country. Which way should it go? Which choice is the feminist choice?

LGBT theory

Some very great people have suffered and died just for being LGBT eg Alan Turing, Oscar Wilde. In modern times Chelsea Manning is a great person and a hero. These examples tell the horrors of the old default anti-LGBT model.

So should rapists be allowed to be in women's prisons by just claiming to be trans? Should a man can enter a women's wrestling competition and break the opponent's skull just by claiming he is a she?

So hard and fast rules are not the way. Detailed careful discussions are needed. Why they dont happen? Because we judge and not listen.

Why this?

I believe this is because of the peculiar nature of Christianity. [Just to make clear: I have the highest regard for Jesus Christ as a rishi, as a guru as a healer. In India such a man would be called "mahatma" -- great soul]

The problem is that 300 years after Jesus in the Nicene council the gnostics were murdered and wiped out. What this meant is that the wisdom side of Christianity disappeared and only the faith devotion, side remained.

This is very very unfortunate and the source of much of the western world's problems. In the Bhagavad Gita Sri Krishna teaches Arjuna the way of jnana and bhakti, in modern language philosophy and religion. Arjuna tries very hard (18 chapters!!) to make Krishna commit to one or other. But Krishna cannot be pinned down!! Likewise Buddhism is a system of psychology. To therefore use that to say Buddhism is not a religion would be absurd.

So we can say that the wisdom-devotion pair can be found in all world religions. Its just that in Christianity it has to stay more hidden because of this absurdity that knowledge is considered antithesis to faith.

So in short I would like to say: The mystic Hermes Trismagistus said: "As above so below" The division of ourselves and the division of the world is two sides of the same reality.

The fracture of faith and wisdom was created externally by the Nicene council. After that it has become a feature of the Christian heart. From there it has become a feature of the Christian world. Now even after the effective erasing of Christianity from our modern world the fracture remains.

Many people will retort: We have no interest, connection with religion. Dont talk religion to us.

So I say, Just replace: "wisdom-faith" by "facts-values". There you see the basis for the modern fractured world.

[Apologies if this looks like "conversion" attempt. There is no such concept in eastern religions. My suggestion (wish) is that for you to get beyond polarization you find in whatever religion, philosophy, teaching you like the faith part and wisdom part TOGETHER. All Abraham's descendants can do that but it may be a bit hidden. Its just a bit easier for us eastern people ]

Added later

quarague asked this. Some 6 others upticked the comment. So I assume its worth a clarification

Relation between compromise and religious orientation

This is a correct question.

The meeting ground is humility. One does not go for a compromise-finding line without a modicum of humility. The only guaranteed way of fostering humility is a religious upbringing. People may argue that humility can and does arise in secular day to day life also. eg if one is a doctor, scientist, engineer... and encounters someone enormously better. But a careful self-examination at that point would reveal that there is always some admixture of envy, jealousy, greed etc there. Towards a transcendent entity, that is impossible:

O God you are so great I cannot make the universe as you can. But I built my own house. Do pat my back and tell me its half as good as you!

Can such a feeling ever arise? I dont think so. So the habit of humility inculcated in religious oriented childhood can then get translated into the mundane world.

Added later

Specifically in answer to people who think religion is the problem not the solution:

This guy (don't know his name) says what I am saying better than I did.
[Note I am underscoring the first one minute or so. The remaining part is more political but also more divisive. Choose from it as you will. For this answer I am referring to the first part]

  • 7
    This answer seems to mix two (to me) completely unrelated aspects. The first is what I also consider the key answer and insight to the question OP is asking: compromise and the finding of a middle ground. If people are willing to do that, the troubles of polarization can be avoided. The second is the religious aspect. I don't see at all what this has to do with the question at all. Personally I don't see religion in general as a useful force towards compromise, quite often religion is used as a reason to justify polarization.
    – quarague
    Aug 21, 2022 at 13:33
  • @quarague "Irrelevance of religious aspect". A I said, Christianity has some specific problems due to its peculiar history. In the answer I talked of the negative consequences of the Nicene council. Your (and I guess 90% of westerners) aversion to Christianity is also history related but from a different point (I guess). Middle ages, popes bullying, getting political, doing nonsense like fathering illegitimate children and so forth and so on. My own experience is v v different (continued)
    – Raveesh
    Aug 21, 2022 at 15:27
  • (2) I am not a Christian but studied in Jesuit school and college. The fathers were inspiring mind-blowing teachers compared to the others. And there was no hint of conversion (or anything sexual). Looking at those guys I knew intuitively that they were drawing from a source that was outside what they were teaching, outside the system. And after graduation Ive repeatedly found the card carrying scientists are narrow minded and stupid, the religious oriented are open minded and listening Some examples youtube.com/watch?v=QaA5QrZBzWg) and youtu.be/O_mFtQiI0EY
    – Raveesh
    Aug 21, 2022 at 15:27
  • (3) As for "key answer and insight is compromise and finding a middle ground" Just ask yourself: When our modern society is so obviously being riven apart at so many levels surely many of the folks in the melee must also see the need for compromise and middle ground? Then why dont they find it? Or even try to find it? Because the transcendental element where all divisions vanish has been lost from modern secular society. Note the Einstein quote: "We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them" Thanks anyway for raising this point. Ive started with Einstein!!
    – Raveesh
    Aug 21, 2022 at 16:00
  • 1
    You wrote: "And after graduation Ive repeatedly found the card carrying scientists are narrow minded and stupid, the religious oriented are open minded and listening." This is your personal experience, mine is 100% opposite. All major religious texts have some very inspiring ideas and quotes in them somewhere and people can do amazing things and point to them. They also have ideas and quotes in them that can and have been used to justify almost any atrocity one can think of.
    – quarague
    Aug 21, 2022 at 17:10

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