Ingroup/Outgroup Dynamics

Ingroup/outgroup dynamics are a topic of much interest to both the ‘alt right’ and rationalists. From Wikipedia:

In sociology and social psychology, an ingroup is a social group to which a person psychologically identifies as being a member. By contrast, an outgroup is a social group with which an individual does not identify. For example, people may find it psychologically meaningful to view ourselves according to our race, culture, gender, age or religion. It has been found that the psychological membership of social groups and categories is associated with a wide variety of phenomena.

Scott has written extensively about ingroup/outgroup dynamics, in one of his most important articles “I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup” observing how groups that share many similarities may be the most acrimonious, an example being German Jews versus Nazis:

Compare the Nazis to the German Jews and to the Japanese. The Nazis were very similar to the German Jews: they looked the same, spoke the same language, came from a similar culture. The Nazis were totally different from the Japanese: different race, different language, vast cultural gap. But the Nazis and Japanese mostly got along pretty well. Heck, the Nazis were actually moderately positively disposed to the Chinese, even when they were technically at war. Meanwhile, the conflict between the Nazis and the German Jews – some of whom didn’t even realize they were anything other than German until they checked their grandparents’ birth certificate – is the stuff of history and nightmares.

Other historical examples include Irish Catholics vs. Protestants. Or Israeli Jews vs. Palestinians, both being Semitic people residing in a close geographical proximity.

Why Are the Highly Educated So Liberal?

Online, however, I have noticed that some of the smartest, best-informed actually tend to hold some variant of conservative, libertarian, or neoliberal views on economic matters but are somewhat liberal on social matters.

I would wager that the liberal ‘liberal vs conservative’ dichotomy tends to be blurred among some of those who are smarter, so depending on how you word the question can result in answers that may or may not conform to these categories.

Answering ‘yes’ to the question ‘Is poverty a major issue?’ can be interpreted as liberal, but the solution may not necessarily be a liberal one.

Liberalism tend to be populist (Sanders’ campaign), but some call liberalism ‘elitist’, so it’s kinda confusing or contradictory how it can be both.

In this sense, for welfare liberals, the ‘outgroup’ is neoliberals, who tend to be more critical of direct democracies and populism, preferring variants of utilitarianism run by an educated, well-informed ‘elite’ over the ill-informed masses.

For NRx, the ‘outgroup’ may not be liberals, which is the most obvious choice given than NRx is a right-wing ideology/movement/whatever. Instead, perhaps, it’s ‘low-information’ and ‘democracy’, both from the ‘right’ and ‘left’, as one type of ‘outgroup’. As in the case of utilitarianism, it’s possible to be on the ‘left’ and still reject direct forms of democracy.

As very recent example of ingroup/outgroup dynamics over small differences, the post-2015 ‘cuckservative’ movement, which pitted ‘traditional conservatives’ against ‘establishment conservatives’, with insults hurled between both sides on Twitter and blogs, despite both sides being ‘conservatives’.

Thus, possibly in every group, there may be two ‘outgroups’: one involving small differences (establishment conservatives vs. alt right, neoliberals vs. welfare liberals) and an ‘outgroup’ of broader differences (conservatives vs. liberals).