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How to Combat the Conflict Entrepreneurs

Pugilists can only succeed where there are willing customers. All of us can resolve to invest elsewhere.

This piece was adapted from Russell Moore’s newsletter. Subscribe here.

An episode of my podcast must have hit a chord with many of you, because countless people have brought up one section of my conversation with Amanda Ripley—the part in which she talks about “conflict entrepreneurs.”

Whether in business, families, or the church, scores of people have identified this exact phenomenon in their own lives. For many, the question is: “So how do we confront conflict entrepreneurialism without becoming conflict entrepreneurs ourselves?”

First, a reminder of the definition. In her book High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out, Ripley notes, “One way to prevent high conflict is to learn to recognize the conflict entrepreneurs in your orbit.” These are people for whom keeping those around them in a state of high conflict is the goal itself.

Ripley offers some advice for finding who, if any, are the conflict entrepreneurs around you. “Notice who delights in each new plot twist of a feud. Who is quick to validate every lament and to articulate wrongs no one else has ever thought of? We all know people like this, and it’s important to keep them at a safe distance.”

In an article on foreign policy obstacles of the moment (which I first saw referenced on Jonathan V. Last’s excellent Substack), Peter Singer and Josh Baughman report on the way that the Chinese government is counting on “cognitive warfare” against the West. The primary arena for this sort of battle for the minds is, of course, social media.

One of the ways the Chinese Communist Party seeks to do this—like Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian Russian regime—is through a …

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