The Three Languages of Politics
Play • 21 min

Our political debates are not debates but are instead vehement expressions of tribal anger. That insight was the basis Arnold Kling to write this book. Since then, the insight has been reinforced. There is now widespread concern with the way political divisions are exacerbated by the communication that takes place in both traditional and social media.

Politically interested people sort themselves into 3 coalitions: progressive, conservative and libertarian:

- Progressives will communicate along the oppressor-oppressed axis.

- A conservative will communicate along the civilization-barbarism axis. 

- A libertarian will communicate along the liberty coercion axis.


- Progressive assert moral superiority over conservatives and libertarians

- Conservatives assert moral superiority over libertarians or progressives

- Libertarians assert moral superiority over progressives and conservatives

They cannot all be correct! And when they think in those terms, it is unlikely that they will sit down and work out solutions to shared problems.

In politics, Arnold claims that progressives, conservatives and libertarians are tribes speaking different languages. The language that resonates with one tribe does not connect with others. As a result, political discussions do not lead to agreement. Instead, most political commentary serves to increase polarization.


See for privacy and opt-out information.

More episodes
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu