Thursday, December 23

A Look at the Modern Political Landscape

Critical Realism is a historical methodology for examining a culture in a specific way in order to understand a people and their worldview. This methodology had been introduced to me in a book I mentioned in an earlier post that I was reading N.T. Wright's New Testament and the People of God (which I have subsequently finished). At any rate, I mused about how this methodology might be applied to the modern political landscape. After all, it has been apparent to me at the least that the right and left sides of the political aisle have difficulty in discourse. Both sides I think fail to understand the other at a fundamental level. The easiest recourse, often taken, is to dismiss the other side as uninformed, stupid, or evil. This I firmly believe is a wrong conclusion.

Critical Realism is not just a fancy name. It has a definite methodology. Quoting Mr Wright (from the next book in the series Jesus and the Victory of God page 138)
Worldviews are the lenses through which a society looks at the world, the grid upon which are plotted the multiple experiences of life. Worldviews may be studied in terms of four features: characteristic stories; fundamental symbols; habitual praxis; and a set of questions and answers (who are we? where are we? what's wrong? what's the solution? and what time is it?) These features interact with each other in a variety of complex and interesting ways.
He defines a mindset as the worldview held by an individual.

It is clear that at simple level of story, right and left have immediate differences. On the War on Terror, simple economic ideals, affirmative action, and abortion the right and left tell different stories to themselves to explain the situation and how and why the world is like it is.

My quick google (and google scholar) search on "critical realism modern America" turned up nothing interesting. So perhaps the scholars practicing this method aren't particularly interested in modern politics. But "be that as it may", I'm going to take the old "college try" at implementing this method (admittedly dimly understood from the one example) and apply it to the "right" and "left" of today to see if it can shed some light on understanding why, for example, those lefties keep saying the darndest things. :)

Tomorrow, I'll start on the stories told by right and left, followed by symbol, praxis and question.