I know what you must be thinking. What is the point of another publication claiming they know the truth, the way it all really is? Aren’t there enough blogs, newspapers, magazines, journals, news channels, and YouTube creators who think that they and they alone have the keys to progress and utopia? If we must open our mouth, you may say, why not just post something on our Instagram stories, or write in our town newspaper? Perhaps we are just a bunch of overachievers, hoping to inflate our resumes. Maybe you’re on the left, and you think we’re a discount Prager University, diluted so we don’t get cancelled. Maybe you’re on the right, where you think we are weak-willed centrists afraid to support Trump because of a politically correct society. What use are we, the outcasts? What makes the Postpartsian unique, maybe even necessary?
It is a paradoxical time to be an American. On one hand, we won the Cold War, have the world’s greatest economy, are a hub of entertainment and the arts, made Enlightenment liberalism the default system for organizing societies globally, and are still a place to which millions of people immigrate in search of a better life. On the other hand, regardless of your political leanings, you may sense that there is a glitch in this matrix. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Political polarization is at record highs, to the point where rather than debating across party lines, each side has created caricatures in their minds of the other side (the whining victim social justice warrior; the white supremacist patriarchal snotty Trump supporter) and choose to bayonet the strawmen. Faith in institutions is crumbling, the average American still struggles economically, our productivity and innovation has flatlined, world affairs feel like a mess, shooters target schoolchildren, and factors out of our control - from race to gender to zipcode - seem to dictate our destiny.
Let us get something clear from the beginning - these problems are hard, really hard. The mission of alleviating human suffering is next to impossible even when we have ample resources and everyone works on the same team. But we are nowhere near our best. While these problems are multi-faceted and have many causes, we at the Postpartisan believe that there is one plague above all else, a tumor metastasizing in the American and global soul, which most undermines our hopes of solving the great problems -
Due to its importance to everything written henceforth, it is useful to define exactly what we mean by dogma. To quote the psychologist Jordan Peterson, it is a “crippled religion… religion that is missing an arm and a leg but can still hobble along.” To us, ideology is a set of ideas, principles, or facts which the ideologue, or dogmatist, accepts on faith, often with influence from a higher authority. The dogma claims to be self-contained - all that needs to be known can be derived from within the dogma itself. Because of this omniscience, it can easily be concluded that those within your group can be trusted without question, and that those without are scum who are to be rejected out of hand. An ideology is more interested in its self-preservation and expansion than in the revelation of truth.
Roman Catholic Christianity, especially in the past, is ideology. The political parties are ideologies. Fundamentalist Islam is an ideology. Communism is an ideology, as is capitalism. Postmodern critical race theory is an ideology. Being a Drake fan is an ideology (while being a Kanye fan isn’t, because we obviously know what quality music really is).
Now let me clarify two things. First, as with most things in the world, ideology is a continuous variable, not a discrete one. The characteristics I mentioned above are qualities which a group can have more or less of. Even the smallest, most well-intentioned institution will by its very existence exhibit tendencies of self-preservation which may contradict with the truth. And even the most entrenched, tyrannical institution may open its gates to new ideas.
Second, it is important to separate beliefs from dogmas. Even though strongly held beliefs and ideas are the seeds from which ideology is built, it should be tolerated, nay encouraged, that people are passionate Christians, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, conservatives, liberals, libertarians, Marxists. As James Madison remarked in the tenth Federalist Paper, factions (by which I believe Madison was referring to a concept synonymous with what I am calling dogmas or ideologies) are “the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished,” and that in order to control them, a democracy must either fix the causes or effects. However, the causes of faction are precisely the freedom of thought and expression which we founded our liberal societies for - giving them up is too high a price to pay (if you want to see an example of what comes of controlling the causes, I encourage you to learn about Mao’s Cultural Revolution). And as I will explore further in a future article, it increasingly seems that our political leanings have a lot to do with biology and nurture - they are not merely opinions.
So we cannot create Sam Harris’ moral landscape, and we cannot be Nietzsche’s Ubermensch, creating our own objective values free from the ideologies of the past. What we can do, which is the goal of the Postpartisan, is to have as many people with as many educated viewpoints as possible, discuss the issues in a space of free thought and expression. To be a safe space in the most effective sense of the term, not as a place to hide from those you disagree with, but as a place where anyone who can articulate a viewpoint and back it up is free to join in the Great Conversation. To this end, we teenagers are inspired by the Intellectual Dark Web, a set of thinkers which include Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Christina Sommers, Eric Weinstein, and Sam Harris, individuals with great diversity in political leanings and areas of expertise, who get together (largely through internet ‘new’ media) to discuss the great issues in a space of mutual respect. We are also inspired by the principles of Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard’s political campaigns - campaigns which emphasized the understanding of political enemies, not the demonization of them; the emphasis on data-centered thinking and aggressive teamwork.
Thus, as of right now, the Postpartisan shall consist of a set of articles written by young thinkers on a semi-regular basis, with minimal constraints and formatting concerns put in place which would interfere with the ideas. We currently have a relatively diverse core, but we desire to expand across opinions, geographies, and campuses - and if you believe in our message, we want you too. We can only imagine what we might evolve to as we find new ways of creating our arena of debate - but at the end of the day we want to instigate a movement in the youth - a generation of peers we admire for their civic engagement and awareness. We believe that the adults have left us with an unfavorable mess because they allowed dogma to get the best of them - as our generation moves into positions of power and influence, we’d like to encourage them to ground their ideas in deep research, believe in the power of articulated speech and debate, and above all recognize ideological mania when it is seeping into their own heart.
To that end, if you are interested in our movement, it is useful to understand some of the principles we as a group believe in, and which will orient all of our work. The first is our strong, strong belief in the importance of freedom of expression in a society. I’ll be honest with you - as someone who considers themselves as a centrist classical Enlightenment liberal, there are members of the core group of the Postpartisan whose opinions I vehemently disagree with. But if they are so wrong (and this is something everyone should think about), why not allow them to express their ideas so they can be proven wrong? And what if, in the course of that discourse, it turns out that there was a way in which I was wrong as well, and thus both of us can walk away a little maturer and wiser? This principle is core to what we do. We, as students of history, have seen the tyranny which arises when ideas are regulated. As Louis Brandeis said, “sunshine is the best disinfectant.” When dogma begins to regulate what can or cannot be said, it is nothing but catastrophe. And thus, no idea is too stupid not to be argued with.
Essential to the above principle is the idea of universal respect and love. You might counter my statement for free expression saying - why should I listen to what a Nazi, or a racist, says? Agreed. Thus, anyone who contributes to the Postpartisan, represents the Postpartisan, must agree to the axiom that everyone is equal - that all are deserving of love and respect. The idea that all are created equal is not obvious - it cannot be derived from a more basic set of facts. It is something we decided, as a society, in the Enlightenment. Some traditions grounded it in their religion (such as the Christian idea that all people are created in the image of God), while others didn’t (I, a very proud Indian and descendant of Hindu culture, am chagrined to mention the caste system). Perhaps making this non-obvious commitment is what saved us from the Hobbesian nightmare.
So all people are created equal. There is zero tolerance for the idea that people are unequal due to factors they cannot control (murderers are obviously quite unequal - but even they have the right to a fair trial). But this principle not only applies to the peoples we discuss, but to the writers with whom we may have adversarial opinions. I personally think that communism is an abhorrent idea which killed hundreds of millions of people. But if I can see that a person who supports Marxism has the basic tenet of love and respect in their hearts, I can happily debate them. And this is what we mean by love - setting aside our dogmatic loyalties and realizing we are all well-meaning people hoping for a better world.
This idea of love brings us to a third principle - optimism. We are by nature contrarians - we wouldn’t want to write about stuff everyone agreed with anyway. But a danger with a lot of contrarians (and I see examples of this on both the far left and right) is a sort of cynicism which focuses more on explaining why the other side’s ideas are stupid than posing their own ideas for the future. Whether it be ideas on the right that society is becoming a bunch of victim milksops, or the leftist idea that our economies, societies, and countries are screwed and we are doomed to live in an oppressive society aren’t the kinds of things which can fill you with hope and inspire you to make change in the world. While we have differences in opinion we all believe in the idea of progress - and are foremost committed not to just ideas, but to making a difference in the world.
Two more principles. First - discourse above all. The idea which wins should not be that of the person with the most money, power, or PhDs. It’s the person with the best crafted argument. We value logic. We value backing your ideas up with data, science, and the ideas of the great thinkers before you. All claims will be scrutinized. Nothing will be taken for granted. We appreciate humor and creativity, and we hate Comic Sans.
Finally - embrace nuance. There are no easy solutions - to quote the West Wing, no “ten word answers.” I’m sorry, but those posts you share on Instagram don’t come close to cutting it. No one camp has all the policies necessary to bring about utopia. There is a lot of data, unintended consequences, and imperfect information to consider - celebrate that. And above all, factor into your analysis the possibility that you could be wrong.
By now, I hope you have somewhat of an idea of what we stand for, and would like to advocate for, here at the Postpartisan. Ideally our vision will become concrete in this first edition. If you believe in our vision - come join us. If you’re skeptical, give us a shot. To all, thank you for your time and attention.
*The author does not claim to represent all the opinions of all the members of the Postpartisan in this essay.