Polarization in modern politics

I found the April 18 Bloomberg article by Cass R. Sunstein, “Why well-informed people are also close-minded,” very interesting. The problem here is figuring out what phrases like “well-informed” and “political knowledge” actually mean.

Factoids that are selectively picked up to reinforce one’s political belief can hardly be called knowledge. Remember when the opponents of Obamacare claimed that the American medical system was the best in the world, notwithstanding the mountain of evidence indicating otherwise?

I am compelled to call the polarization in modern politics the otaku-ization of politics. Animation otaku (fans) adore the hero or heroine of their favorite story and burst out in anger when it is attacked. They prefer gatherings of the like-minded, refusing to view their favorite story in a wider cultural perspective.

The otaku-ization of politics is the consequence of the failure of education to build in the population a firm ground for nurturing ideas about society building, governance, and the debating process to find out what is right or wrong.

Without a revival of the mainstream political culture based on the common sense shared by all members of society, the proliferation of political subculture will inevitably lead to the breakdown of governable society. Of course, it would be most difficult to define “common sense.”

keisuke akita
kakamigahara, gifu

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.