Misogyny and the Political Divide

A conversation with Cathy Reisenwitz

The right has a problem with women. I don't mean in the sense that women are far less likely to vote for right-wing candidates than men are, though it is true that we have women voters to thank for our avoidance, so far, of the country turning fully towards hard-right authoritarianism. Instead, I mean that misogyny is much more openly expressed by the American right than was the case ten years ago, with influencers, politicians, and conservative leaders defending the view that not only are men and women different, but that the only just social hierarchy is one with men at the top.

I sat down with Cathy Reisenwitz—who has been writing about the diverging politics and ideology of men and women at her newsletter, Sex and the State— to talk about why so many men have convinced themselves they're smarter than women, and how that can help us understand our contemporary political scene.

A transcript of our conversation, edited for clarity, is below. You can also listen to it at my ReImagining Liberty podcast: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | YouTube | Pocket Casts | Overcast | RSS

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Aaron Ross Powell 

On your newsletter you recently made a rather provocative claim, namely that the urban/rural divide can be explained, at least in part, by the belief among men in rural communities that women aren't as smart as they are.

Can you unpack that a bit?

Cathy Reisenwitz 

Yes. And I don't think that it's limited to men. I think women also buy into what I've termed belief in female idiocy, which is, yes, the idea that women are, on average, dumber than men. On average, yeah. I mean, it's one of those things where it kind of works in a bunch of different ways. And so it's difficult to summarize, but essentially there's a few things happening. So the urban rural divide stems in part from brain drain in rural areas, and that is people who are smart and efficacious are tending to move to superstar cities because that's where the vast, vast majority of the best jobs are being created in the United States. And so what that means is that you have a concentration of people who are less intelligent and efficacious and ambitious in rural areas than in superstar cities and in urban areas.

And so I think people who are less educated tend to be more likely to believe in the myth of female idiocy. And I think that belief in female idiocy also helps exacerbate brain drain, because all else equal, if you're an intelligent woman, you probably are less likely to want to stay in a place where people tend to believe that you're dumber than you are.

And if you do decide to stay, your belief in female idiocy incentivizes you to pretend like you're dumber than you are, to remain likable and to remain dateable, because everywhere in the country, people prefer, most people prefer for the man to be slightly higher income and better educated. And I think we can infer from that a little bit smarter than the woman.


What's the cause of this belief? I mean, a belief in the lower intelligence of women is not limited to rural America, and we can point to lots of examples of it and even the higher echelons of education and commerce and our urban enclaves.

But sticking to rural America for now, what gets this belief started or what's driving it? Is it purely, essentially a way to justify hierarchy, which plays a large role in misogyny? Or is it, are there aspects of it that are based on experience?


Well, I think one of the things that has driven belief in female idiocy, there are two things. Historically. I mean, one, women have been excluded from education and employment opportunities where they would have been able to demonstrate our intelligence. If women are less educated than men, then it's hard to tell who's smarter because the less educated subset is going to seem less intelligent because they're less educated.

And then again, there hasn't been a huge incentive for women to demonstrate our intelligence because it would then make us less marriageable in a lot of ways. It limits who would want to marry us because most of the time men seem to not want to marry women who are smarter than them.

So there's that. And then I think, honestly, one of the big problems with intelligence is that the reality of the situation, as far as we can tell, is that men and women are equally intelligent on average, but intelligence is differently distributed between men and women. Women tend to cluster around the mean, and men tend to cluster more so on the tails. So there are more geniuses among men and more idiots among men than women.

Most people aren't really paying attention to the bad end of the tales, so they're not really thinking about the fact that men are clustering around the bottom, but they can see men clustering around the top. And so they're taking the fact that men are overrepresented among geniuses and inferring from that, that men are smarter on average, which is just not true. When it comes to what we can do about it, we need to examine the fact that belief in female idiocy helps justify men's place at the top of the gender hierarchy.

But it's not the only contributing factor, certainly. I think another thing that's really interesting about this is that men are, generally speaking, more status seeking than women on average. Wealth, for example, or like, access to resources can be positive sum. Status is necessarily zero sum. If one person gets more status, another person has to lose status. And men are more interested in winning status games than women. So this would probably help men want to demonstrate their superior intelligence, you know, more forcefully than women on average, which probably also contributes to the belief in female idiocy. And as I pointed out in a post that I just published, I think there could be some cyclical effect where if women are more incentivized to leave rural areas due to belief in female idiocy, combined with the brain drain aspect, then the average woman that a rural person encounters is going to be dumber than the average woman that an urban person encounters, which then may fuel further belief in female idiocy.


This would seem to lead to a conclusion that essentially the relative status that just comes with maleness, because there's, in our culture for quite a long time, you got kind of a default status boost by just being male. And that has certainly, in the commanding heights of culture, there's been a pushback against that. Our popular media reflects that less than it used to. Feminism is more widely regarded than it used to be. And one of the explanations for, say, the rise of Trumpism is the declining relative status of rural men.

All of that would then seem to indicate that this would potentially get worse. What you're describing would get worse as a product of that. If basically the only claim to status you have left because you're not highly educated, you're not part of the elite, you're not a famous musician or sports star or something like that, basically what you have is your maleness as the thing that can grant you status, but that is declining in how much status it grant,s you might just kind of try to reassert that particular thing by being like, “I may not have anything else, but at least I'm not as dumb as I think women are.”


Yeah, I think, you know, when I first started thinking about what sucks, about belief in female idiocy, it was very much from a selfish perspective. It annoyed me that men, especially, really exclusively, kept assuming I was dumber than I am. And then I started reading about men and, like, what's happening to men, especially low status men.

And I realized that women are really, generally speaking, ascendant, and men are really, generally speaking, you know, diverging. So the top men are becoming more top, and the bottom men are becoming more bottom.

And we used to have a society in which there was a lot of demand for male labor. So manufacturing and agriculture used to be, like, 90% of employment in the United States economy. It's not that anymore, and it will never be that again. It's unlikely that there will ever be a point in the future where men are disproportionately valuable in the labor market.

So we have a society based on the idea that men should be in charge and that men are more valuable in the labor market. Men should be breadwinners in an economy that says, no, it's not happening.

Things like conscientiousness and education, where women are excelling and are likely to continue to excel, are becoming a lot more valuable than physical strength and stamina. And so it's really leaving men adrift, especially low status men. High status men are doing just fine. They're figuring out how to win at education and how to get enough conscientiousness. They're using their intellect, and they're winning. But men who are not very smart and are not very conscientious are really adrift. And you're seeing unprecedented levels of men who have just dropped out. They're not in education, employment, or training. They're not dating. They're not even socializing.

And so I think that for some of these men belief in female idiocy is a coping mechanism where they need some justification to believe that men should be at the top of the hierarchy. And I think, as well, one thing that we really understate or, like, underrate is for people who lose status. They see their loss of status as violence against them. And so these low status men are lower status than they've ever been. They're likely to become even more low status over time, and they see that loss of status as violence against them, and they're reacting with violence, which they see as proportionate.

This is like a huge factor in Trumpism and violent extremism, with patriot front and proud boys and, violent white western chauvinism against women, minorities, immigrants, whatever. Queers took our status from us, and we're going to violently reclaim it.


That's a really important point. And it seems like it fits in with a lot of cultural reactions that we've seen, not just among the rural men that we're talking about, but more broadly. So in cancel culture debates, or the response to, say, the #MeToo movement.

There was this really strong negative response to that among a lot of men, and often high powered men, higher status men, that made it clear that they felt like that assertion by women was, if not violence, they might not use that term, was like a direct attack on them. Because part of what it meant to be high status was you got to sexually harass the women who you viewed as lower status than you. And now this is being taken away from you. And not just taken away, but you're being told that this thing that you thought was your due as a high status man was wrong all along, and you should be ashamed by it, and you should be socially censured and punished for it.

But what you said about viewing a loss of status as violence just seemed to click with cancel culture. You've decided you're not going to publish me on the, like, the op-ed section of the New York Times anymore. That's like a direct attack on me. Or these people who used to associate with me don't want to hang out with me anymore, which lowers my status. That's a direct attack on me. This seems to be really, really central. That status declines are an assault or violence.


Yeah, that's really interesting because I've always thought about it in terms of, like, low status men, but I think you're absolutely right. Men are more interested in status games, invested in status games, and that loss of status is experienced as violence no matter where you sit in the status hierarchy. What we're talking about when you lose your endorsement or you don't get to appear on your podcast or, these guys are still rich and famous afterwards, right? Like, they're not actually harmed in any way. They're all fine. But this temporary hit to status is experienced by them as worse than being groped or raped.

And I think that there's probably, like, an evolutionary basis for this. I mean, generally speaking, like, you know, the classic thing is the beauty status trade, where men optimize for beauty in women and women optimize for status in men. I think men are very, very afraid of being total reproductive losers. And so they see, as they see hits to their status, men are also more violent on average. And I think that they experience violence kind of as par for the course. Like, it's not a big deal to them, but a status hit could result in not being able to reproduce. That’s more threatening to them than physical violence.


Before we get too much further, I just want to bring up something that might have stood out for listeners. You mentioned that men are more invested in status games than women, and when you said that, which seems to be true in a lot of aspects, but then there's, say, middle school girls who, there's an age at which women seem to be much more invested in status games. Middle school is an incredibly toxic time for kids generally. But that counterexample stood out to me. Is there something going on there? Is this women become naturally less status oriented, or is it a learned behavior, they were highly status oriented and then it's acculturated out of them?


That’s a great question. My claim that men are more invested in status games is based on, like, just lived experience, my experience with how men and women operate in politics. And it was like, one study that I saw. And so, you know, one study is not very much debase a belief on. And so, you know, that may be wrong and it may be more.

I'm sure to some extent, it depends on the status game and the circumstance where, like, yeah, maybe in middle school, girls are more status obsessed than boys. There was a book I read, Warriors and Worriers, and it really went into how boys are a lot more cooperative and girls are a lot more competitive in school, and how that does and doesn’t carry over into adulthood, and the situations in which it carries over. It does seem from her book, and this makes sense to me, that boys collaborate more than girl and women. But the main thing that women compete over is access to high status men, like good providing men.

And I think that's true to an extent in middle school, though it does seem like it doesn't explain the whole thing. But, yeah, anyway, that's what I know about that.


In one of the essays in this—as of this morning—three part series, you mentioned that better educated people have a harder time maintaining belief that women have lower intelligence simply because of this. The sorting that you talked about at the beginning, that better educated people tend to hang out mostly around better educated people. And the higher intelligence women end up better educated and so are hanging out in those groups.

So I'm curious about the rise that we've seen. I don't think this is new. I think it's just become more vocal over the last decade or so. I'm thinking of Intellectual Dark Web types. And I wrote a short essay a few weeks ago on the Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams had this absolutely unhinged tweet about immigration and women and sperm.

It was really bizarre stuff. But it was an example of this kind of scientific misogyny that’s often heavily influenced by evolutionary psychology and is very present among Intellectual Dark Web types. You see it among the kind of IDW adjacent Silicon Valley VC types that there’s something genetically different about men and women that mean that women are not as intelligent. This also manifests as very smart people writing very dismissive stuff about feminism.

They’re exactly the kind of people who are in the areas where they’re going to have the highest educated women around them. So is that a distinct thing? What’s going on there?


That's a great question. And I think that one thing relevant to this phenomenon is, I think it’s Anne Applebaum has written about watching her ostensibly liberal friends embrace authoritarianism, I want to say in the Czech Republic, but somewhere in Europe. And what differentiated the friends who went authoritarian versus the ones who remained liberals? And she said—and this is something that I've seen other places that seems to be a common thread in authoritarianism—authoritarianism is very concerned with maintaining unjust social hierarchies. And that is that these are people who are not objectively low status. They're high status, but they're lower status than they think they should be. They have a lot of status resentment. They think that liberalism has led to an elite class who has robbed them of their rightful place in the hierarchy. And I think that that is what is happening with the Intellectual Dark Web. These are people who are not low status, but they're not as high status as they think they should be. I mean, they are people who advocate for monarchy, thinking that they would be the landed gentry, not realizing that, statistically speaking, they're going to be serfs, because that's what most people are. They have a very inflated view of their own merit.

And it's not just men. I think, you know, there are female adherents of the Intellectual Dark Web as well. And I think that they also feel robbed, right? They feel like, well, I should have a rich husband who lets me trad wife, and I don't because the liberals took it away from me.

But there are people who aren't living the life that they think they should be living and want to blame out groups for that. I don't know. I mean, sure, there's a lot to explain it, but I do think that that seems to be a common thread of, these are anti intellectuals who are intellectuals. They're not stupid.

So what’s motivating it?


I suspect there is also just an angle of heterodox thinking involved. In a lot of these circles, they’re staking out positions that are outside of the mainstream, and particularly if the mainstream is of the political tribe that you don't view yourself as a part of, then staking out positions outside of the mainstream is a political stance that you take. So all the lefties think that climate change is real and bad, but I'm not a lefty, therefore, climate change is not real or not bad. And then I think it also turns into, you can watch these people in the Intellectual Dark Web, the brain worms get worse and worse over time. They go from just “I have some heterodox views” to “Now I'm appearing on the Alex Jones show.” This was with Brett Weinstein recently, talking about how maybe AIDS was fake.

That trajectory seems to be fairly consistent, and part of it feels like the out group has a set of views that I don't like. And so basically, anything that's not a view held by the out group must have a degree of truth to it. The very fact that it is heterodox is an indicator of its truth value versus just an indicator of it being a minority belief that could be right or wrong.


Yeah, I definitely think tribalism plays a role where if the bad tribe believes X, then Y is at least worth considering.

I also think it's like there's just a basic epistemic problem in, you know, quote unquote, heterodox thinking, which I hate to even call it that because like this, these are literally the most mainstream views you could possibly imagine. Like, most people agree with these views and have for a really long time. It is quite mainstream. But whatever. Heterodox among educated people, somewhat fine, but all right, so you can't trust authority. You can't trust authorities, like people who are experts. You can't trust them. You can't trust empirical evidence. You can't trust the crowd.

Well, so we're going with vibes like, there's no epistemic grounding there. And so it, it just becomes a mess in terms of beliefs. And I think, as well, it would be really wise for, and this is something that I think you're doing a good job of. And I think Liberal Currents is doing a good job with…

Liberalism has some really big deficits in terms of what do people want and what do people need to have decent lives. And two of the things that people need to have decent lives are meaning and community. What reaction and authoritarianism and nationalism and xenophobia offer is meaning and community.

It's a sense of belonging. And it's a sense of, you know, it's an antidote to nihilism. It's a very confusing world. And to have someone say, “Here's a set of beliefs, this is the truth,” is just a lot more comforting than there is no truth. It's all unknown and confusing, and you have to make your own meaning. Nobody wants to do that. I mean, a few people want to do it, but the average person doesn't. And so we as liberals who want to sell liberalism, we've got to create a product that is compelling. And these are some of the questions I think that we should work on having answers to.


That makes me think of two connections back to the specifics of gender roles and belief about differences between men and women. One is, as you were saying, that, and Ed, you were talking about the difference, the outsider beliefs versus the mainstream, and believing yourself to not be part of the mainstream and having that be part of your identity is in libertarian circles, there's always this, why aren't there more women libertarian question. And the most common answer among libertarians, unfortunately, because it's a terrible answer and it's so clearly a self flattering one among libertarian men, I should say, is, well, women are naturally, statistically they just want to be taken care of. They don't want to rock the boat. They are slaves of the status quo and don't appreciate the radicalism of my enlightened beliefs and so on. So basically, it's like it's the fault of women, and they represent this very thing that we're reacting against. And so they are the mainstream and we're necessarily outside of it. And so, of course they're going to be uncomfortable in our clique.

The other thing that occurred to me, as you're saying this, is you're talking about liberalism providing people, seeking out meaning.

One really, as you said, one important part of that, too, is stability, like a stable source of meaning.

And one kind of meaning that a lot of men had was, I am the head of the household. No matter what is going on, I might lose my job, the world might change around me, but at home I am still king of the castle and my children are subservient to me and my wife is subservient to me, and I am the head of this thing. And so there is stability through essentially being in a position of power lends a degree of stability because power is control. And so at least I have control at home.

The rise of feminism and women's willingness to just say no to that story in increasing numbers feels not just like a loss of meaning in the sense of I no longer have this anchor of being head of the household to define myself as, but a loss of control and stability as well. Maybe I dont even have that control at home anymore.

And I think that's one of the real problems when we liberals are trying to defend liberalism is so much of the way that reactionaries think about the sources of meaning is not just like, here are the things that are meaningful to me.

I am really into classical music or riot girl music or I love this kind of literature, or I am, I attend this sort of church. But it is, I have a certain relationship to other people who I can dominate in different ways or who I am higher than or who I can control in certain ways. You know, this is also the, I think, return to work and like CEO's raging about workers not wanting to work. A lot of the arguments are about connecting and all that, but there is an angle of just, I like to walk into a

building and see all the people who report to me. And I'm in this position of power, and I don't get that anymore and I don't like it.

But liberalism is ultimately about, rejects those very kinds of meaning, like meaning through hierarchical subservience or domination.

And that seems like a real problem if we kind of get to be like, well, what do we do about this? Because essentially we have a whole lot of people who are very invested in finding meaning.

It's not that liberalism doesn't provide meaning. It's that liberalism says there's lots of ways to get meaning, but it can't be those ways because those ways run counter to the freedom of everyone else who wants to find meaning.

[00:33:05] Reisenwitz: The way I would describe it is the liberalism says there is no universal inherent meaning.

And so it's not, and you, so it's everyone needs to find their own. And I think that's beautiful. It's also terrifying. Like what we're competing with is me finding my own meaning versus I have the truth. This is meaning. This is the path to meaning.

This is what is, and that is really simple. It's really compelling. It's really comforting.

It draws people together.

It's really wonderful for the individual.

It's just terrible for people who are outside of that shared understanding of meaning.

And so I think there's that. I think the other thing that illiberalism particularly reaction has is, you know, I don't think it's a good vision, but at least it's a vision, right? They're saying, like, this is what the social order should look like. This is what the economy should look like. And it's comprehensible. It's, you know, in some ways we've already done it. So, like, we know what it looks like and we can envision it. And it's, and it's more than just I'm a man and I get to be head of my household. It's I'm a man, and at least I know what I'm supposed to be striving for. And I think that that's what's really f, over men right now is that they don't even know what they should be striving for. Like, what should I be doing? And if you ask the liberal, I don't know. I don't know what society looks like in a reality in which demand for male labor is lower than demand for female labor. I know that the breadwinner nuclear family is incompatible with that, and I don't know what replaces it. And I don't even know, what should replace it. And that's scary. You need to have a lot of privilege and a minimum of trauma to be able to survive in that level of uncertainty and that level of individual responsibility and that level of, frankly, like atomization. Right. And I think that liberals are often not sufficiently empathetic to the lived experience of people who huge to authoritarianism and illiberalism and how scary and uncertain and unmoored and atomized liberalism like is and certainly seems to these people. Does that make sense?

[00:36:04] Powell: Yeah, though I don't know that I agree with it as a picture of liberalism.

I think that framing of liberalism makes it look scarier than it really is. I hope that's what I mean by that is I recently published an essay about meaning and liberalism and a metaphor about Legos, which I'm pretty happy with the essay. I'll give the very short summary of it, which is imagine that you are a kid. You've just gotten, you open your present on Christmas morning and its legos and youre in a conservative, reactionary, kind of right trad, illiberal household. And so what you got was you open up the package of Legos and its already been built and its been

glued together.

And so thats what you get. And it was the same package of Legos and the same set, the same ultimate model as your father got and his father before him and so on.

Or you have the, I think the liberalism, as you've described. And I think it's a pretty common way of talking about meaning and liberalism, which is you open it and it's just a big bag of Legos mixed together with no instructions.

And the person who gave you the gift is like, just build whatever you want, but you have no idea what to build. Or you have something in your mind but you have no idea how to build it. And there's no guidance.

And that's, I think, the typical framing. But I feel like liberalism is actually in between those two because what liberalism looks like more is you're given the box of Legos, you open it up. It comes with instructions for building a model that's the same model that is common in your community or that your family's had.

And the person who gave it to you is like, I'm going to help you build this model. But if you want to build something else, you can, if you want to build it and then later revise it, swap out the car, the tires on this particular car for some other thing, you can do that. Or if you are content with what the instructions tell you to build, you can stick with it. And that feels to me more like the way that liberalism, we are born into communities, we're born into families, we're born into sources of meaning. And liberalism just provides us with the option to either opt out of them or revise them versus the like.

Just have at it. You have no guidance, which I understand is like, very convincing. And I think that where the conservative objection to liberalism as this, you can build it but change it model is in fact that their view of meaning is that everyone else builds the same model. I do too.

And that there's something wrong with the world. Like, I can't find meaning in a world where I've built the thing I want, but you, Kathy, have built something else entirely. I need uniformity of the social sphere is baked into my kind of needs of meaning.

And so that would seem to go into then ratcheting down on gender roles have to stay the same.

The place of men and women has to stay the same as opposed to if I want a trad family, I can have one. But if you want a polyamorous family somewhere else, that's not okay with me.

[00:39:48] Reisenwitz: I think my problem with that is that I think that's true in a society in which there isn't authoritarianism, but in societies in which authoritarianism exists.

It's a very different experience. Like, my experience was, I was, the present I opened was conservatism and evangelical Christianity. And these were not presented to me as options. These were the truth.

And to go against them required me to go against my family and my community and the very cons. Like, I had to change my epistemology and, like, it was traumatic. And what I have now is way less pleasant than what I had then. There's a level of comfort and security in certainty that liberalism cannot compete with because it isn't truth if it's just my truth, like, it's truth if everyone has to believe it. And I don't have that anymore. And that sucks. Like, as a lived experience, let me tell you, it's not as good. I mean, it's better, but it's not as pleasant.

We're not evolved for it. And so, yeah, absent a reality in which people are told this is the truth, then, yeah, it's a Lego set and you get to build whatever you want with it. But in the reality that we currently inhabit, where people are told, no, this is the truth. And you have to make a decision.

It's really, it's really not as, it's a challenge. It's a challenge, I think.

[00:41:40] Powell: So what do we do about it? So going back to the urban rural divide that we started with, the particular beliefs or pathologies among certain sets of men that lead to these views about women.

But also, I mean, you've been writing for quite a while on your newsletter about these, these issues that men, in particular lower status men face. And I encourage listeners to, I have learned a lot from that sequence. It's really valuable stuff. And so as someone who has thought about this, what can we do about this? Because it seems like, on the one hand, just saying, well, what we need is a much better educational system so that the men in these rural areas can get the education that they're lacking and therefore get the higher status jobs or have access to more jobs or encourage people to move to the cities doesn't seem like the right answer. If this is basically a, they're not really capable of doing that kind of work anyway.

It feels like part of this is just like the economy has evolved to such a kind of highly focused knowledge angle that it's left people behind and there's not really a way for them to catch up to that. But then just saying, okay, well, we could support them. We could give up welfare payments or whatever doesn't provide the sources of meaning that they're looking for.

So what do we do about this? Because we don't want to just give up on liberalism.

[00:43:28] Reisenwitz: Oh, no. Absolutely not.

I would say the two things, and thank you for the kind words, would be one, I am personally pushing for a change in the heart condition.

I mean, Maya Angelou said, people will forget what you said. They'll forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. And I think that a lot of the conversation around gender and liberalism is from a very antagonistic place and a very scared place. And I think that that makes sense. I understand why that's the case, but I don't think it's super helpful. And so, for example, I think the conversation around sex and gender is a lot of men versus women. And I think that that's not helpful. I think a more helpful framework for the conversation is do our beliefs around sex and gender serve us, us being everyone, or do they are they outdated or are they problematic? You know, our beliefs should serve us. We should not serve our beliefs. I think that's one of the biggest tenets of liberalism.

And so I think, like, not thinking in terms of, like, this group of people is my enemy. Men are the enemy. Women are the enemy. But like, we're all fighting against bad ideas and unhelpful beliefs is a way to look at it. And I think another thing that needs to happen is I think we need to have, liberals need to have more empathy for authoritarians. I believe authoritarianism is both a personality trait and a trauma response. I think that some people are born with personalities that are more sympathetic to authoritarianism, and they can't help that. And I think that traumatic experiences exacerbate latent authoritarian tendencies. And again, people can't help that. People are victimized by authoritarian tendencies. And we would do well to understand what got people into that place and to help prevent it by helping to prevent the traumatic experiences that exacerbate authoritarianism. Like, we need to be working on, like, preventing sexual abuse, preventing child abuse, preventing child neglect, preventing violent crime, to stop breeding


And for the people who are experiencing authoritarianism, to come to them with empathy and say, like, the world is a scary place. It's especially scary for you.

You know, you're not a bad person. Let's work together. Let's understand where you're coming from. Let's have a dialogue. And then the last thing that I think would be useful would be to come up with a compelling answer to these questions. And, you know, why haven't you done it, Kathy? I don't know how, like, I don't know what the solution, I mean, I've written a lot about loneliness because I think loneliness is a huge problem, probably the biggest problem facing modernity and systemically, like, I mean, I think some things are solutions. Like, I think we need to build our cities more densely and like, blah, blah, blah. But no, there doesn't seem to be like a clear silver bullet to the loneliness problem, nor the meaning problem. But I think that if we're thinking about how to sell the product of liberalism, not hating our people we haven't converted is probably number one, understanding them and empathizing with them. I think it's going to be, like, necessary and then also creating a product that actually meets those needs that authoritarianism is currently meeting in terms of community and meaning, particularly. And I don't know how to do that. But I do think that that's, you know, if I'm looking at, like, how do I make the world more liberal? That's something I might focus on.

[00:47:37] Powell: Thank you for listening to reimagining liberty. If you like the show and want to support it, head to reimaginingliberty.com to learn more. You'll get early access to all my essays as well as be able to join the reimagining Liberty Discord Community and book club. That's reimaginingliberty.com. Or look for the link in the show notes. Talk to you soon.

Produced by Landry Ayres. Podcast art by Sergio R. M. Duarte. Music by Kevin MacLeod.

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