BI/CRQ Online Discussion: Supporting, More In-depth Information from Beyond Intractability

Hyperpolarization discussion masthead graphic

This page links to materials from Beyond Intractability that further explore the five major topic areas that are the focus of this discussion: 
Hyper-Polarization Threat | Scale and Complexity | Bad-Faith Actors | Good-Faith Actors | Scale-Up Examples

This page is still under construction. We plan to add a great deal of additional content as the discussion proceeds.

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Part 1: Understanding the Threats Posed by Hyper-Polarized Conflict and Us-vs-Them Thinking

Part 2: Dealing with the Full Scale and Complexity of Society-Wide Conflict 

Part 3: Challenging "Bad-Faith" Actors Who Seek to Amplify and Exploit Our Conflicts

Part 4: Helping "Good-Faith" Actors More Wisely and Equitably Address Our Common Problems

  • Constructive Confrontation — The key to empowering the disempowered and more fairly distributing power through society is not the abandonment of conflict resolution insights. Instead we need to apply them from an advocacy perspective.
  • Bystanders — It's time for those caught in the middle to take a more active role in limiting the many ways in which they are harmed by the extremists driving the hyper-polarization spiral.
  • Reversing Polarization and Escalation - Part 1 — Amid the seeming hopelessness hyper-polarization, we sometimes forget how much we know about how to combat destructive escalation and polarization. Part one of a two-part review of what we know.
  • Reversing Polarization and Escalation - Part 2 — Part II of our series on de-escalation further reviews at least 28 things that we now know. Now, we need to scale up these efforts and find ways of resisting those who would disrupt them.
  • (When) Should We Escalate? — Reflections on one of the most consequential questions swirling around the quest for justice and efforts to limit hyper-polarization -- what kinds of escalation are helpful, and when.
  • Positive Thinking — Giving "the other" the benefit of the doubt most of the time will lead to better outcomes for everyone.
  • Priorities for Reducing Political Polarization in the United States — An explanation of why, in a healthy democracy, it is so important that voters believe that their core interests will be protected--even when they lose an election!
  • Face — Humiliation is an extremely powerful negative emotion that drives many conflicts. That is why permitting people to "save face" is so important in helping diffuse conflict.
  • Constructive Escalation — By choosing one's conflict strategies carefully, it is possible to win the support of people on the other side without causing backlash.
  • Limiting Escalation/De-escalation — Escalation often happens very quickly and easily, while de-escalation is typically very slow and difficult. But it is essential, and possible.
  • The "Two Taproot (or Fuses) Theory" of Social Unrest — Civil rights mediators have long done what now seems impossible – mediating highly escalated racial conflicts. This article explains that one key is understanding the underlying causes of tension.
  • Empathic Listening — It isn't enough to simply listen to what your adversary has to say. You need to empathize enough to understand why they believe and act as they do.
  • Finding Common Ground / Constructive Addressing Differences: a Discussion Guide — For students (and everyone else) a strategy for unpacking our conflicts that illuminates common ground and constructively addresses differences.
  • The Meaning of Civility — Before civility can provide an alternative to today's hyper-partisan dysfunction, we need a clear image of what civility is and isn't.
  • Living with Uncertainty in the COVID-19 Era — Reflections on strategies for dealing with irreducible risk and uncertainty – one of the big challenges that good-faith actors need to surmount.
  • Does Nonviolence Work? — Research shows nonviolence is far more effective than violence--it should be all protestors' go-to choice!
  • Nonviolence and Nonviolent Direct Action — Nonviolent direct action uses tactics such as strikes, boycotts, marches, and demonstrations to try to convince opponents to change their behavior without using violent force.
  • Reconciliation Part 1 - What is Reconciliation? — Defusing hyper-polarization will require some measure of reconciliation. This is the first of two articles exploring the nature of reconciliation and what it takes to bring it about.
  • Reconciliation Part 2 - — Part two of our exploration of reconciliation and the process of pursuing truth, accountability, apology, and structural and policy changes.
  • Complexity-Oriented, Massively Parallel Reconciliation — Simple solutions won't work in complex conflicts; one needs a complex solution to match the complexity of the conflict.
  • U.S. Reconciliation in 2020 and Beyond — Reconciliation is not the imposition of one side's view on the other, but rather a meeting of minds and a way forward.
  • The Many Types of Reconciliation — Different types of reconciliation are better at different times and places, and can be done simultaneously or sequentially. Choosing the proper order can determine success or failure.
  • Tolerance — We need to learn how to tolerate those with whom we have deep moral disagreements (even when they are not part of our political coalition).
  • Coexistence — Coexistence offers a promising alternative to today's all-out struggle for dominance among competing socio-cultural groups.
  • Envisioning — You can't get to where you want to go, if you don't know where that is. So, how can you get to a desired future, if you don't know what that future looks like?
  • Principles of Justice — For those struggling to figure out how to build a more just society, and exploration of the many different meanings of the term.
  • Reconciliation as a Noun and a Verb (Outcome and Process) — Reconciliation can be visualized as a balance beam, where everyone needs to maintain their balance to keep reconciliation from failing.
  • Ingredients of Reconciliation — Using the metaphor of baking, reconciliation can be made with a variety of ingredients, in different amounts, and added in different orders.
  • Shamil Idriss: America’s Hard Path Forward — We must address extremist groups' grievances, while standing firm against their extreme actions. By focusing on commonalities, as well as differences, we can find a path forward.
  • Track I - Track II Cooperation — The prevention and resolution of complex conflicts depends on a the efforts of both officials (track one) and non-officials (track two). This essay discusses the importance of cooperation between these two tracks.
  • Multi-Track Diplomacy — Peacebuilding is seen by many participants to have many "tracks" beyond just track I and track II. This essay explains the concept of multi-track diplomacy, developed by Louise Diamond and John MacDonald.
  • Mediating Evil, War, and Terrorism: The Politics of Conflict — This essay discusses alternative ways that political systems, individual peacebuilders, and "regular" people can address violence and evil, suggesting that some approaches perpetuate or even escalate the evil, while other approaches disarm it and render it an ineffective mode of action.

Part 5: Scaling Up More Constructive Approaches To the Level of Institutional Change