John Goodman has a nice post on political disagreement. The key line for certain intellectuals is this:
For example, a conservative’s support for pro-growth tax cuts becomes “tax cuts for the rich” to a liberal opponent. A liberal’s case for investing in people becomes “wasteful, big-government spending” to a conservative.
I once viewed these word twists as a mere debater’s ploy. But then I came to realize much more is involved. There are quite a few liberals who actually believe their opponents want nothing more than to cut taxes for the rich. There are more than a few conservatives who really believe that liberals favor wasteful government spending as such.
Just as partisans can get trapped into seeing the world only through there eyes, many intellectuals can fall into the trap of not realizing the extent of partisanship. Surely – you say – people don’t actually believe what they are saying. Surely this is all propaganda.
But, it is not. People genuinely believe what they are saying. They do suspect that the other side grows horns at night only to have them fall off in the morning.
The fact that we have descended into identifying US political factions by color only makes the comparison with earlier bought of tribal obsession more stark. From Wikipedia on Byzantine Chariot Clubs
Chariot racing in the Byzantine Empire also included the Roman racing clubs, which continued to play a prominent role in these public exhibitions. By this time, the Blues (Vénetoi) and the Greens (Prásinoi) had come to overshadow the other two factions of the Whites (Leukoí) and Reds (Roúsioi), while still maintaining the paired alliances, although these were now fixed as Blue and White vs. Green and Red. The Emperor himself belonged to one of the four factions, and supported the interests of either the Blues or the Greens.
The Blues and the Greens were now more than simply sports teams. They gained influence in military, political, and theological matters, although the hypothesis that the Greens tended towards Monophysitism and the Blues represented Orthodoxy is disputed. It is now widely believed that neither of the factions had any consistent religious bias or allegiance, in spite of the fact that they operated in an environment fraught with religious controversy. According to some scholars, the Blue-Green rivalry contributed to the conditions that underlay the rise of Islam, while factional enmities were exploited by the Sassanid Empire in its conflicts with the Byzantines during the century preceding Islam’s advent.
The Blue-Green rivalry often erupted into gang warfare, and street violence had been on the rise in the reign of Justin I, who took measures to restore order, when the gangs murdered a citizen in the Hagia Sophia. Riots culminated in the Nika riots of 532 AD during the reign of Justinian, which began when the two main factions united and attempted unsuccessfully to overthrow the emperor