The Three Languages of Politics

This great interview is part of the incomparable EconTalk series from Russ Roberts, of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. In this episode, Roberts interviews Arnold Kling, author of The Three Languages of Politics, about why human beings so often talk past one another when discussing politics and policy.

Kling posits that conservatives, progressives, and libertarians plot things along three different axis, civilization/barbarism, oppressor/oppressed, and freedom/coercion respectively.

It’s because of these three different ways of analyzing or evaluating issues that that three camps in American politics don’t see eye-to-eye. It’s not that they disagree on whether something is a problem, it’s that they don’t even speak the same language about problems and solutions.

Tallest Tree believes in approaching the marketing or selling or ideas in a problem-oriented way, so this insight is significant. If a given policy is solving a lack-of-freedom problem, but creating a too-little-civilization problem or a too-much-oppression problem, or is at least perceived to be causing those, then the problem-solving approach is only going to win over one of those three camps.

Listening to this podcast, and reading Kling’s book, is a must for anyone interesting in creating coalitions of more than one of the three political ideologies that Kling discusses.


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