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November 18, 2004

Nice. Under the Sun discovers those fanatically secular, religion-hating Nielsen Haydens:
I keep blogrolling and un-blogrolling both Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, because they’re intelligent, eloquent, and sometimes even wise, but they have absolutely no interest in being even barely civil to Republicans and Evangelicals and other spawn of Satan. Brad DeLong’s partisan barbs don’t bother me, because they’re serious but also humorous; the Nielsen Haydens are just…fanatics. Secular leftist fanatics. And they, unlike rightist religious fanatics, bloody well ought to know better. I know they don’t care that I’m offended; they just want to commiserate with others of their own kind. But that makes them part of the problem, not part of the solution. It makes them, in short, hypocritical scum. Clear them from the pond so that the rest of us can sit down and listen to each other.
Among the fanatically secular, anti-religious acts of this particular Nielsen Hayden: writing a sympathetic introduction to a collection of religious writing, repeatedly explaining that “evangelical” doesn’t mean “fundamentalist,” and writing admiringly about Dorothy Day. That other Nielsen Hayden’s disdain for religion is, of course, even more sneakily concealed.

Definitely, in handling these deep-cover operatives, it’d be best to “clear them from the pond,” if you know what I mean and I think you do. Can’t be too careful when dealing with “scum.” [05:08 PM]

Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Nice.:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 06:22 PM:

I just went and posted a comment there. In case it diseappears from that venue, it goes:

Wow. That really is amazingly dim. I'm a pro-gun centrist, and Patrick's the same but a lefty. We're not politically fanatical about anything but the Constitution and certain other traditional American institutions. We have no problem with Evangelicals or Republicans per se. The bit about our supposed incivility is just plain dumb, given that we're mildly notorious for our determination to maintain polite discourse in our weblogs. And as for our humorlessness, I'm not sure you can reasonably say that about me, but I'm darn sure you can't say it about Patrick.

So what is it with this nonsense? I can't tell what's going on, but if I had to guess, I'd say you've gotten your nose out of joint about some other issue -- only instead of addressing it, you're blowing off steam by throwing a bunch of generic you-liberals-are-all-alike slurs at us.

If that's what you're up to, get it right. The insults you've come up with so far will only pass muster with readers who know absolutely nothing about us.

And by the way? If you really are Evangelical, you might want to brush up on the part about not bearing false witness against thy neighbor. I'm just sayin'.

I have no idea what set him off.

Electric Landlady ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 06:54 PM:

I lurk here normally, but I had to comment on this one.

Hi! This is me, boggled.

'Course, you may not consider the word of someone with a "Godless Pinko Commie" user icon worth much in this discussion. But still.

*boggles some more*

Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 06:57 PM:

Clear them from the pond so that the rest of us can sit down and listen to each other.

Can't you just feel the evangelical love and peace vibes? I mean, how can you not be civil with someone like that?

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 06:59 PM:

Hey, does your church know about you being all secular and God-hating and stuff?

Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 07:00 PM:

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Pond-Scum:

Here's the journey he takes that cracks me up:

Start here:

It makes them, in short, hypocritical scum. Clear them from the pond so that the rest of us can sit down and listen to each other.
And finish your trip here:
I wish we could move faster, but, unlike most liberals, I respect my brothers and sisters even when I disagree with them.
Heh.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 07:03 PM:

T's guess that he's torqued off about something else seems right on. Check out his LJ post for Nov. 3.

Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 07:03 PM:

Clear them from the pond so that the rest of us can sit down and listen to each other.

The image of "the rest of us" sitting in a pond, even a scum-free one, has my butt-cheeks clenching at the thought of my pond-filled jeans.

Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 07:06 PM:

Check out his LJ post for Nov. 3.

"These people..." Uh huh.

Andy B ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 07:16 PM:

God forbid either of you address the specific item I cited (and linked to), in which Patrick awarded a point to someone who admitted that she was being prejudiced against evangelicals. That, Teresa, is what set me off, and I said so in my post, which contained one paragraph of overwrought flamage and four paragraphs of reasoned argument.

That you think of yourselves as moderates is interesting. You might be right, but then again you might be wrong. I live in Ann Arbor, MI (and have for 20 years), and most of the people I know think of themselves as moderate and tolerant. Most of them aren't. I'll take your self-perceptions under advisement.

(I'll also try reading your blogs regularly again (for the third time, as I mentioned) and start pointing out examples of incivility, misunderstanding, or intolerance.)

On the other hand, I retract "secular". I stand corrected. Perhaps you're only intolerant of *conservative* religiosity. The specific argument in my post was that your conception of social justice (which was stated by others but which Patrick endorsed) precludes Evangelicals from being Evangelicals. That strikes me as typical of liberals, who often insist that liberal standards are fair and impartial, when in fact they beg most of the important questions. That--plus admittedly vague memories (i.e. I can't cite specific posts) of having departed your blogs in disgust the last two times I tried to read them--was what caused me to conclude that you are liberals. It's quite possible that you are politically centrist but liberal in essence, which would explain in part our different perceptions. "liberal" is a word with too many meanings, and some of them, I agree, don't apply here.

David (1st comment): 50 million Frenchmen can't be wrong. And hick bloggers from the middle nowhere can't be right. I said in my post that it seemed to me that the NHs were mostly interested in commisserating with fellow-thinkers; I rather expect that there are at least 12,000 other liberals in the blogosphere. (Actually there needn't even be that many; there's no way I've been linked by 47 distinct blogs.)

I was not, believe it or not, trolling for links; I was venting on my own blog. Persons wishing to scan my recent posts will find that I am more interesting than this one post, just as the NHs are more interesting than the two posts I criticized. Do I deserve ad hominem in kind?--yes. That's the price of not disabling trackback when one blows off steam. But I'm not an idiot, I'm certainly not the kind of person who deletes any comment disagreeing with me (my blog has no comments because no one reads it, fair and square), and, most importantly, I still think I might not be so far wrong as the NHs assume. I intend to find out, and I'll report when I do.

Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 07:18 PM:

This guy is new to me, but basically he comes across as a troll. A philosophizing troll, albeit, but a troll nonetheless. Let's juxtapose two quotes:

On his own beliefs: "I couldn't be a Catholic because that's stupid.  (Some of my best friends are Catholic--really!--but it's still stupid.  We Are All Protestants Now.)"

On "liberals": "They simply can't believe that any sane person could believe other than they do. This is not politics, people; this is not a political position. This is religious fanaticism."

Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 07:21 PM:

I have no idea what set him off.

You're both smart, articulate movers and shakers in fandom. You criticize the modern conservative movement. It could only be worse if you were gay men.

Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 07:28 PM:

Andy, if you actually want to get anywhere with this discussion, this might be a good time to apologize for calling two good and decent people "pond scum". Patrick and Teresa are personal friends of many of us. They are not, no matter how angry you were, "pond scum". Nobody's even going to start to hear what you have to say until you take it back.

Andy B ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 07:30 PM:

Ah, thanks, Mary Kay--I'd forgotten I'd posted that. (As you can see, I don't use my LJ much.) Ain't Google great?

I stand by my assertion that anyone who says "225 years is a pretty good run for a republic, historically speaking" in response to an _election_ is partisan. [Anyone who thinks that this particular election wasn't fair enough to be democratic is also partisan, but I don't think that was Teresa's point.] The other blogger I cited admitted the next day that he had been venting. Perhaps Teresa was venting too. Perhaps I was venting in my post today.

Respecting hypocritical scum is hard work but worthwhile. (Calling people "intelligent, eloquent, and sometimes even wise" while calling them hypocritical scum is a good start, I'd think.) If you believe that you're part of the hypocritical pond rather than the hypocritical scum, very well; so do I. But I did choose the metaphor, and the adjective, for reasons which still strike me as relevant in context.

Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 07:35 PM:

Andy, do us all a favor, and grow up, ok? You are behaving like a six year old who thinks throwing feces is funny and will get them mommie and daddy's approval.

Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 07:37 PM:

Andy B:Perhaps you're only intolerant of *conservative* religiosity.

I can't speak for TNH and PNH, but...

Being queer, it's sort of hard for me not to be intolerant of a movement that's responsible for trying to make me a criminal. Individual evangelicals who don't treat me like a second class citizen will be greeted with tolerance. Just as soon as I find some.

Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 07:45 PM:

[...] my post, which contained one paragraph of overwrought flamage and four paragraphs of reasoned argument.

There is a Rule of Blogging in here:

If you want to flame, flame. It's your right.
If you want to make a reasoned argument, please do. It's your duty.
But don't try to do both. You'll please nobody and anger everybody.

That said, to the topic of granting Emma a point...don't be a moron, I'm sure you're smarter than that.

Emma cited a case in counterexample, and a harsh one at that. She then said she wasn't cutting her opponents any slack. This is good, because it keeps everybody from getting complacent. She also said that she didn't care how unreasonable she sounded, she was holding to her views.

Patrick wasn't granting a point to her for being unreasonable, but for providing a case and a viewpoint.

So: Don't be a moron.

Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 07:47 PM:

Respecting hypocritical scum is hard work but worthwhile.

Calling someone hypocritical scum is antithetical to respecting him.

(Calling people "intelligent, eloquent, and sometimes even wise" while calling them hypocritical scum is a good start, I'd think.)

Not in my book...At best it's condescending, and at worst it's insulting. Or maybe the other way around.

Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 08:02 PM:

And here I had you figured as probable followers of that pesky carpenter from Galilee (based on O so much stuff I've read in the Lite/Ligh-Sites over the years :-)

Andy B ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 08:05 PM:

I do grant that I should have turned off trackback and spared you all the trouble of flaming me back; I simply didn't think of it. I honestly didn't mean to troll.

I don't agree that calling someone hypocritical and (as a specific metaphor) scum is antithetical to respecting them. We are expected to love hypocrites and scum. We are not, necessarily, expected to give a pass to their hypocrisy or their scum-like behavior. I called bullshit on the NHs. They called bullshit on me back. I retracted some of my bullshit and intend to gather more evidence about the rest. You?

I really need to stop trying to reply to everything. If you have a comment you want me to consider, leave it on my blog and I will consider it. The thread here is free for such counter-flamage as Teresa may righteously permit.

Andy B ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 08:12 PM:

Sorry, one more. Josh Jasper: you've found one. I count among my close friends three happily-married (in fact though not in law) gay couples (two with children), one gay seminary student, one transgender (now male) seminary student, etc. They will all vouch that I am a hothead but not a bad guy.

I do understand that it's hard to be tolerant of people who think you're evil. It's hard for them to be tolerant of gays, too. Many of them--not all--get around to it when they actually meet one.

Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 08:44 PM:

We are expected to love hypocrites and scum.

Love is not the same as respect--at least, not when told to "love thy neighbor" or "love the sinner, hate the sin." I know too many people who claim to love people--and for all I know, they do, or at least they think they do--who don't respect them at all. I don't think you could write the paragraph you did about people you respected.

To top it off, it's not like this was an impulse rant; you had time, after writing more reasoned thoughts on social justice, to look at what you wrote. Don't claim you were caught up in the heat of the moment.

We are not, necessarily, expected to give a pass to their hypocrisy or their scum-like behavior. I called bullshit on the NHs. They called bullshit on me back. I retracted some of my bullshit...

See, no. That's not what happened. You hurled insults, and they called you on it. As a result you retracted one but kept the rest--and, in fact, reinforced your underlying sentiment.

In attempting to mount an argument in support of your insults, you blew a few words out of proportion--then didn't deal with getting called on that, instead claiming that, in short, you weren't insulting them--because you love them, and they should know that and not be offended by your characterization of them as hypocritical scum.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 08:49 PM:

Sorry, Andy. It's not your politics that are the problem here, and it's not your religion. You're just using those as excuses.

It's not Those Awful Liberals, either. Your idea of what "liberals" are like is no more realistic than your average raving antisemite's notions about Those Awful Jews, and it serves much the same purpose.

You've gotten hooked on hate and anger. Nothing could be less Christian. I won't deny that you had help doing it, but you're still responsible for your own sins and for the state of your own soul.

Unearned self-righteous anger comes with an unearned but quite undeniable buzz. That's what you're hooked on. It's much like having a drug problem. As long as you have that addiction going, you'll need to find people you can demonize and curse and blame, so you can feed your anger jones.

I'd say your choice of liberals for this purpose was arbitrary, but there was nothing arbitrary about it. Some very, very cynical men have been feeding and coaxing along this addiction to hating nonexistent fairy-tale "liberals." These men know it does devastating damage to your soul, but they don't care, because they can use that reaction of yours for their own political purposes.

These guys are not your friends. As the man says, "not everyone who cries 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the gates of heaven." Or, as Making Light would put it, the fact that you think you're on their side is no guarantee that they're on your side.

I have a deep commitment to civil discourse. That's why, if you go on being a jerk here, the least you can expect is to lose the vowels out of your objectionable passages; and you stand a good chance of being locked out entirely.

Remember: if that happens, it's not your politics, and it's not your religion. It's you, personally.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 08:54 PM:

By the way, Mary Kay, Robert -- good hunting, and I thank you.

PZ Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 10:54 PM:

I just want you to know that despite being insufficiently secular and not radical enough politically, I've never even considered unlinking the Nielsen Haydens, either one.

Darice ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 12:00 AM:

My favorite line:

And they, unlike rightist religious fanatics, bloody well ought to know better.

So rightist religious fanatics get a free pass on partisan barbery (barbary?)? This explains so much about the country's current level of discourse.

*sigh*

Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 12:07 AM:

"Unearned self-righteous anger comes with an unearned but quite undeniable buzz. That's what you're hooked on. It's much like having a drug problem."

That is exactly right! Andy, the next time you have the temptation to rage, I suggest you pray for the strength wait for the urge to pass. It has worked for me when I've chosen to try it, and when since I live in New York, the less self-righteous anger I get off on, the better.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 12:45 AM:

Whatever anyone was thinking of posting right now, give yourself an hour to cool off. Whatever is still there after an hour, post that.

Reimer Behrends ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 01:10 AM:

Andy, you wrote: "That strikes me as typical of liberals, who often insist that liberal standards are fair and impartial [...]".

May I ask where you get that idea? Aside from the fact that I'm still not used to how the meaning of "liberal" -- which, as I have on good authority, used to mean "free" and "independent" in this country less than a century ago -- got perverted to mean "far left of the political center", I assure you that there is nothing more partisan than an articulate liberal. Voltaire wrote, famously, "I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write", but the point is that he still did detest it. We are talking, after all, about the same guy who ripped the Catholic Church a new one in "Candide".

I have honestly no idea why being too timid to have an actual, discernable opinion (a.k.a. "I am so moderate that I agree with both sides") is considered a praiseworthy quality by some. The thing that matters is to have a rational discourse -- but discourse still comes from the Latin "discurrere", which means, literally, "to run different ways". Disagreement is part of the process; either one learns to deal with it, or one should give up on dealing with politics.

Why is this so important? As Hannah Arendt wrote, "The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced [adherent], but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (standards of thought) no longer exist." When we become too afraid to say what we think and instead attempt to hew closely to that fictional thin slice of the population right down the center, we destroy our capacity for critical thought. "The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any." (Again, Hannah Arendt.)

(If you read the above paragraphs as a critique of the currently popular journalistic practice of treating the writing of an article as a political zero-sum game, I won't disagree.)

In any event, what currently seems to make the left discernible from the right is that the former -- literally -- still believes that the pen is mightier than the sword. Don't be surprised when they practice what they preach. Jonathan Swift's modest proposal may have upset some people more than the justest of just wars, but it almost certainly killed fewer actual children.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 01:46 AM:

T: you were supposed to just shrug and say Oh, well as though the lost election had no more significance than a lost game of checkers. Otherwise, so a certain strain of bloggish thinking goes, you are by definition an extremist.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 04:35 AM:

Greg, I went over and read your analysis of Andy's reaction to TNH and PNH on his blog, and it's excellent: kind and intelligent. Well done.

It has evidently had no immediate effect on Andy's thinking, but maybe a year or so down the line he'll get what you're saying.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 04:59 AM:

You know, once again, I find myself thinking (and now, typing) something like: I may not agree with some significant portion of what's posted 'round these parts, but for crying out loud, how did we get from "don't like this subset of [Christian|conservative]" to "godless, left-wing fanatic"?

But I have an explanation. I must've woken up in Bizarro World.

Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 07:43 AM:

Oh, well said Reimer Behrends!

I'm going to borrow that angle on Voltaire's statement, if you don't mind.

Paul Kincaid ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 07:49 AM:

Reimer raises a point that has always puzzled me. Here am I, a long standing British liberal where being liberal means being in the middle of the political spectrum, and every time I see a discussion of American politics liberal seems to equate with something the devil would consider too extreme to touch. Why? Why does a political stance that essentially boils down to giving a fair hearing to everyone attract so much opprobium in a country supposedly founded on the notion of giving a fair hearing to everyone? Or am I missing something very basic here?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 08:22 AM:

"T: you were supposed to just shrug and say Oh, well as though the lost election had no more significance than a lost game of checkers. Otherwise, so a certain strain of bloggish thinking goes, you are by definition an extremist."

Or, perish forbid, a conspiracy theorist, since as all right-thinking people know, powerful people never conspire to deceive the public.

bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 08:27 AM:

Y'all just missed the memo - "Christian" now means "right-wing" and "Christian Right" as a distinct term is no longer allowed to be used, and "Evangelical" likewise means "right-wing", and anyone who does not fit the current norms of conservativism is no longer accepted to be either by members of the Virtue Party™ (aka Torture Party) in the same way that "conservative" has been redefined and co-opted to mean "sexist jingo defender of plutocracy" by those running the show.

See, we liberal or moderate "Christians" (self-styled Evangelicals or not) are all apostates, infidels, tolerators of evil, just as bad for "suffering witches to live" as poor Xopher for being one - so we can safely be dismissed as not-Christians, secularists, etc. and consigned to outer darkness (aka Gitmo).

Yes, this is straight out of 1984, and yes, this is an archetypal example of "political correctness" in its original sense - that which is allowed to have been true by the reigning Party. Welcome to the Brave New World of Tashlan-worship. (The truth is not in them.)

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 08:29 AM:

Reimer raises a point that has always puzzled me. Here am I, a long standing British liberal where being liberal means being in the middle of the political spectrum, and every time I see a discussion of American politics liberal seems to equate with something the devil would consider too extreme to touch. Why?

My guess is the right in America is a lot more to the right by European standards (or, better, the extreme right is a lot more vocal and, alas, actually in power) so that a fairly timid progressive stand is cast as Rabid Commie Nonsense. It's also in part a rethorical trick repeatedly denounced, IIRC, by our esteemed hosts the Pinko Commie Intolerant Rude Godless Heathens in the past.

You will note that if you start - as the referenced blogger does - from the point of view that of course you're right and the others are too stupid or too steeped in Sin to realize they're wrong, then a position such as the liberal one "I think I'm right but I can't rule out that I may be mistaken" is a) a radical and morally despicable rejection of the One Truth and b) an admission of weakness and invitation to be converted.

It also means that the others, who are, remember, utterly and absolutely Wrong (and go so far as to concede that they might!), are "intolerant" inasmuch as they refuse, out of wilful contrariness no doubt, to recognize the Truth when it stares them in the face. They may be nice people to hang out with but gosh, how can they possibly fail to follow the path of Good?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 08:32 AM:

Paul Kincaid asks:

"Every time I see a discussion of American politics, liberal seems to equate with something the devil would consider too extreme to touch. Why? Why does a political stance that essentially boils down to giving a fair hearing to everyone attract so much opprobrium in a country supposedly founded on the notion of giving a fair hearing to everyone?"

I have to say, of all the intelligent British people of my acquaintance, I'm most surprised to hear Paul Kincaid express puzzlement over this. Surely the guy who we watched buy five feet of hardcovers at the bookstore at Gettysburg National Monument is well aware that this country "founded on the notion of giving a fair hearing to everyone" is also a country founded on the practice of chattel slavery and the 5/8 rule.

Republic of Palau ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 08:40 AM:

Paul Kincaid:

I also am British and yes, small-l liberal has an entirely different meaning in the UK. The US corporate Right and their paid associates, the PR and mass media companies, have spent the last 30-odd years spreading the liberal=leftwing extremist meme, so much so that it's now 'common knowledge'. They have been doing very well financially out of it. Just look how they've been rewarded...

No wonder Ms, Mrs, Mr, Master and Miss Average America has accepted this as gospel: as everyone knows, everything on TV is true.

This is a bit of a old chestnut, but you couldn't do better for background than read Manufacturing Consent by Chomsky and others.

Charles Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 08:56 AM:

In response to Paul's question,

[E]very time I see a discussion of American politics liberal seems to equate with something the devil would consider too extreme to touch. Why?

I personally think there's a pretty simple answer: three decades of relentless right-wing propaganda, starting from the early 1970s, a time when respectable Republican politicians like the Rockefellers and Massachusetts' governor Sargent proudly called themselves liberals, and the term "conservative" was identified largely with folks like William F. Buckley, then regarded as a wild fringe figure himself because his open support for Jim Crow was not yet forgotten. If it was some kind of long-standing American tradition, it's kind of odd that it was having no effect on the discourse here a scant few decades ago...

Paul Kincaid ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 08:59 AM:

Patrick, my problem is trying to puzzle out why America has never developed a political middle ground. In Britain we have left and right (in various guises), and a liberal middle ground between them. In the US left and liberal seem to be lumped together as the same thing. Now I've never pretended that American politics make much sense - but that really is stupid.

Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 09:16 AM:

Teresa, "Unearned self-righteous anger comes with an unearned but quite undeniable buzz" implies that earned righteous anger doesn't have the addictive feature. How is righteous anger earned? Is it truly non-addictive?

"These men know it does devastating damage to your soul, but they don't care....". I find it hard to imagine that those folks care about the the souls they're duping, but maybe I'm missing something. If so, what?

I'd assume that they just care about their own goals--other peopls's souls aren't even slightly on the radar.

bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 09:29 AM:

Souls in the abstract, Nancy, not real ornery people next door. Been there, done that got the hair shirt.

It's like Mrs. Jellyby getting all sentimental about the poor kids in Africa while her own kids are wandering around in dirty diapers and getting stuck in the porch railings, or the contemporary equivalents I've known who think that by praying five full rosaries a day on their knees on the hard floor, and offering it up™ for the salvation of sinners, they don't have to actually be kind or vote in such a way as to help those real live sinners in the actual, not Platonic, world.

Republic of Palau ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 09:47 AM:

Thank you, bellatrys, for reminding me of Mrs Jellyby. I have always kept her in mind in my political life as the example *not* to emulate, when it has looked as though political activity has affected my family too much.

On an OT but tangentially related note, which of the Bush agencies most resenbles the Department of Circumlocution, I wonder?

Barry ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 09:49 AM:

Paul, I think that there was one, but that it broke down in the past 30 years. Possibly from a post-WWII high point, possibly from a high point which only exists in nolstagic imagination.

MD² ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 09:53 AM:

Il y a quelque chose d'un comique de clown blanc à voir taxé de fanatisme quelqu'un dont la grandeur morale se trouve justifiée dans une unique absence de concessions, celle de se donner comme devoir d'être et tolérant et partisant, sans jamais ployer.

Sorry, don't know how to translate that exactly in english, so I'll keep that first occuring thought of mine upon reading this post that way. Plus Reimer Behrends addressed the point much better than I could. Anyhow, I can't but smile when the people whose good example had me acknowledge and (well, at least try to) correct my own secular induced sense of superiority are branded "Secular leftist fanatics". Have I really been that tonal deaf to the nuances of the english language ?
Or maybe the rules of respectful behavior toward religion are drastically different from place to place ?

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 09:54 AM:

Paul Kincaid: Patrick, my problem is trying to puzzle out why America has never developed a political middle ground.

It has: the Democratic party. What America has never developed is a left-wing party equivalent to the Labour party in the UK. Looked at from the POV of a Scot, a Brit, and a European, American politics is severely skewed rightward, thanks to the lack of a balancing leftwing. It's as if 21st century British politics consisted exclusively of dialogue between the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, and the Labour Party had never existed - or rather, was the size of the English Green Party, with the same access to political power. (We must also imagine that all newspapers to the left of the Daily Telegraph don't exist...)

Bill Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 10:46 AM:

Paul Kinkaid

Patrick, my problem is trying to puzzle out why America has never developed a political middle ground. In Britain we have left and right (in various guises), and a liberal middle ground between them. In the US left and liberal seem to be lumped together as the same thing. Now I've never pretended that American politics make much sense - but that really is stupid.

Historically, the whole spectrum of American politics (with one exception, which I'll get to in a minute) developed out of the fact that the Tories fled after the American Revolution; from the perspective of European politics at the start of the 19th century, all of America was radical liberal, with fine, internal gradations. The Abolition movement was one of the most important sorter factors in our history: The Democratic Party was the party of slavery (and later of corrupt machine politics). The American "middle ground" is largely occupied by what we term the "classical liberal" position -- which explains why there are so many who identify themselves that way in the Republican party. It was literally not until about 1930 that "left" and "right" had any meaning at all in American politics -- All Americans were on the left wrt European (meaning mostly English and French) politics. (This is a broad overview, of course).

The exception to the general rule I just gave is, of course, the theocratic element in American society, descending from the Massachussetts theocracy, which can be thought of as a kind of distorted snapshot of English puritanism ca. 1620. American "conservatism" during the 19th century was broadly dominated by establishmentarianism, with its own internal spectrum of divisions. Reading the political history of the anarchists and sex radicals who made up the Freethought movement in America is an exercise in cognitive dissonance for this reason.

The blending of these elements together has given American political history a very strange and tortuous contour -- that and the illusion that we have a two party system, when what we actually have is a coalition system masquerading as a two party system.

BSD ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 10:46 AM:

I really don't have much to say, other than second-hand (If she weren't a more private person, I'd tell the story of my real-life-friend Teresa), about Evangelicals, though there is a parallel something going on among American Jewry, but that is more oriented towards Zionism and Israel-issues than directly-religious issues.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 10:51 AM:

Well, I'm coming to this really late, and all the good points are taken. But:

1. Calling people "pond scum" -- any kind of scum, really -- pretty well voids any claim of civility toward them. Only an apology/retraction can conceivably validate any subsequent claim of being civil.

2. Calling the NHs "secular" is just plain silly.

3. Fairness and impartiality are liberal values -- moral values, in fact. We don't claim to always acheive them. Many "conservatives" (i.e. right-wing fanatics, not real thoughtful conservatives like our own beloved Dave Luckett) are confused by this, because they can't imagine having those things as values, much less actually practicing them. Heavens, you think they're trying to be fair? I've actually had people say to me "I don't have to be fair [clear from context that he meant 'argue logically'] because I'm right." With such people, the only reasonable course is to turn one's back and walk away -- if turning one's back is safe, which it may not be.

Paul: Listen to Yonmei. She's got it right IMO.

MD^2: Something about a white clown with delusions of grandeur? Who thinks he never has to make any concessions, because he can convince everyone that he's both tolerant and partisan? As you can maybe tell, "je ne parle pas français" is about all the French I know.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 11:14 AM:

Greg, I went over and read your analysis of Andy's reaction to TNH and PNH on his blog, and it's excellent: kind and intelligent. Well done.

Thanks

It has evidently had no immediate effect on Andy's thinking, but maybe a year or so down the line he'll get what you're saying.

I think he deserves more credit than that. He has already owned up to some of his flame-like behaviour around this, which is a lot more than most people can do in a 24 hour period.

4 years later, and George W. Bush still can't think of any mistakes he has made.

Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 11:16 AM:

Andy B

So far all I know is that you're friends with them. What proof do I have you're not still treating them like second class citizens?

MD² ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 12:02 PM:

For Xopher:

"There's something funny, the way a white clown is funny, about seeing accused of fanatism someone whose moral greatness is justified in one unique abscence of concessions: that of taking the duty of both tolerance and partisanship, without ever bending."

Awful translation, I know. But then, I guess it was doubly rude of me to leave it just that way. So, sorry.
I could bet it's a riff on someone else's sentence, yet I can't seem to remember which one.

Yonmei's point actually makes a good job of resuming all my teacher's general views of the American political scene, which had led me to believe it was the general conscencus.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 12:13 PM:

How is righteous anger earned? Is it truly non-addictive?

Let me hazard a guess: Righteous anger is earned through oppression, either experienced directly, or through seeing others undeservedly suffering. I think it is every bit as addictive as unrighteous anger. It is a terrible burden that makes all burdens seem light.

Paul Kincaid ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 12:13 PM:

Yonmei: Yes, America has failed to develop a party of the left. But I wasn't thinking in party political terms quite so much. America seems to have been a two-party state since it was founded : Whigs v Democrats, then Democrats v Republicans. The closest America ever got to a third party, ludicrously, was the Know Nothings of the 1850s. And this bipolar split seems to have affected every aspect of American political thought. There seems to be no attempt ever to develop - or even any interest in developing - a middle way (and let's assume that term has not been polluted by Tony Blair). After all that time I would have expected some free-thinking Americans to go in that direction.

And Bill: the Puritan element is, indeed, a very potent influence on American politics. Even most Catholic countries are less religiously influenced in their political thinking than America is, and the dominant strand is almost pure puritanism. Considering how small a part puritans played in the original settlement of America (the Catholics of Virginia were in a much stronger position than the puritans of New England) that is quite astonishing. Even competing philosophies, transcendentalism, pragmatism, seem to bow down to puritanism again in the end. I think it may be one of the characteristics that has defined the bipolar character of American political thought ever since.

Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 12:24 PM:

MD^2, Xopher:

I Google-translated before I saw MD^2's attempt. The Google version starts out, "There is something of comic of white clown..."

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 12:51 PM:

I'm still reeling from the redefinition of "liberal" myself. I guess I'm getting old and obsolete, but I remember when "liberal" meant "?middle of the road" and people said things like "scratch a liberal, find a conservative" and the song "Love me, I'm a Liberal" was about a way of thinking that was all too prevalent. If you wanted to talk about the left, you said left, or you said radical, and you were actually talking about left-wing positions.

What's happened is that the term "liberal" has taken on a "radical" emotional label without taking on radical political positions. So that the Nielsen Haydens, who in former times would have been called "middle of the road, but really smart and honest, not like those wishy washy liberals you sometimes meet who will take the conservative position whenever it suits their personal interest" can be called "extreme" with a straight face.

I mean, people called Kerry an extreme left-winger with a straight face. I heard people who hate Bush's guts saying they were going to vote for him because Kerry was too liberal for them.

I have seen people afraid to own up to basic notions of fairness and decency because it might seem too liberal and they might lose their jobs or be persecuted in private life.

And this is what we get for letting the right wing set the terms for discourse.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 01:04 PM:

Paul, surely you mean the Catholics of Maryland, not Virginia.

With all due respect to my old friend Bill Patterson, I think the post-Revolutionary flight of the Tory loyalists is of far less importance than the persistence of the culture of the Southern landed gentry, with all its appurtenances of grievance, entitlement, exaggerated devotion to honor, disdain for work and invention, and so forth.

I'm not sure why Paul Kincaid thinks that "the closest America ever got to a third party, ludicrously, was the Know Nothings of the 1850s." Didn't we have this argument on rasff once? The Know-Nothings weren't trying to be a third party, they were trying to move into the void created in the early 1850s by the collapse of the national Whigs, and they were beaten to the punch by the Republicans, who ultimately absorbed most of the Know-Nothings' supporters. American history has plenty of other third parties that got as far as the Know-Nothings. The real reason third parties don't get anywhere is that we're not a parliamentary democracy, we're a federal republic, and a strong two-party system is an emergent property of our particular constitutional arrangements. In a parliamentary system, a third party can start making a difference at a much lower level of success; here, it takes extraordinary circumstances for them to do anything useful at all.

There's definitely truth to the observation that we have a centrist party and it's called the Democrats. We also have a centrist political orientation and it's called "liberalism."

Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 01:08 PM:

Like Xopher, I came in late, after all the valid points were already admirably made.

But my two cents, for the record:

As one of those dastardly atheists with a decidedly secular stripe, I look forward to the discussions on both Light sites, specifically because Patrick and Theresa (and the regular commenters) are so open minded, well informed and so gosh darn smart.

In the year and a half I've been reading posts here and over at Making Light, I've had discussions concerning politics, religion, spirituality, and literary theory; I've heard people expound on the beauty of classical literature and even ocasionaly, recite passages in greek and old english. I'm flabbergasted that anyone who gave even a cursery glance at these sites would ever put the word scum anywhere near the name Nielsen Hayden.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 01:10 PM:

(Lucy, I suspect I'm more "left" than "liberal" on a lot of issues. I'm definitely pro-labor and pro-union enough to be suspicious to classically liberal fellow travellers, and of course the social issues are a given.

(What I keep wanting to fight back toward is a discourse in which "liberal" and "conservative" aren't ignorant armies that clash by night, but rather "turns of mind" that each have value to bring to a discourse. There's a lot of truth to the Dave Luckett idea that one oughtn't screw around with existing social arrangements without thinking really, really hard about it first. The desire to hold onto "good enough" rather than to roll the dice for utopia is not a discreditable thing. This is all taken from the post I never wrote, the one called "Things Liberals Know, Things Conservatives Know, Things Libertarians Know, and Things Socialists Know." All of these groups know some true things.)

Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 01:35 PM:

Andy said:

I do understand that it's hard to be tolerant of people who think you're evil. It's hard for them to be tolerant of gays, too.

Personally, I think that's a good example of righteous vs. non-righteous anger. Queer people are entitled to feel anger as a reaction to discrimination and violence, because those things are genuinely unjust.

People who "can't tolerate gays" are prone to non-righteous anger, because . . . well, for many reasons. Most likely because they were taught that homosexuality is wrong, and when they encounter homosexuals who demand respect, it threatens their world-view.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 01:59 PM:

more "left" than "liberal"

OK, I'll bite. where did the term "left" come from anyway?


Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 02:08 PM:

Greg, both "left-wing" and "right-wing" come from the seating arrangements in the post-revolution French National Assembly.

Charles Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 02:16 PM:

The terms "left" and "right" come from seating arrangements in the French legislative assembly early in the Revolution, when the royalists sat on the right of the room, and the more radical elements sat on the left.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 02:25 PM:

Avram / Charles; thanks for the info.

about once a week, I find another reason to love wikipedia. Will have to slog through the article and its related articles this weekend.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 02:31 PM:
Teresa, "Unearned self-righteous anger comes with an unearned but quite undeniable buzz" implies that earned righteous anger doesn't have the addictive feature. How is righteous anger earned? Is it truly non-addictive?

I think that earned righteous anger comes with a genuinely painful smack in the face that makes the precipitating incident too painful for any sensible person to want to repeat the experience.

Take away that underlying pain, but keep the endorphin rush of the reaction, and you have a sensation that a person just might get fond of.

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 02:32 PM:

OK, I'll bite. where did the term "left" come from anyway?

I'll try to translate an interesting post in the Italian SF mailing list, from a guy called Giuseppe Panella. I don't know how much I trust him but I found this post intriguing:

"As you well know, the left-right division of parliamentary seating arrangement has its origins in the Convention National during the French Revolution. Girondins where
seated on the right, the Jacobins on the left - in the center the Marais, the Swamp...

"The Girondins were not at all reactionary (in the sense of being critical of the Revolution), the Jacobins were hounded from the left (as we would say today) from the enrages like Jacques Roux...

"Today we might say that the Girondins were liberals (admirers that they were of the English governament) while the Jacobins were in favour of a rigorous administration of the commonwealth (that is, the Republic), but not at all ready to deny the legitimacy of private ownership.

"Harking back in part to the Jacobin heritage, a larg part of the Socialism that has been defined "utopian" by Engels (like Blanc and Blanqui) have reinforced the idea that the Left was to a certain extent Jacobin...

"And certainly you can find appreciation of the Jacobin experience both in Marx and Lenin (during the Thirties in France left-wing storiography insisted on the Robespierre=Lenin equivalence, etc.)

"The idea of the equivalence between the Welfare State and the Left is later and due to the experience of German Socialdemocracy (despite the fact that the father of Welfare State was Bismark!)."

(It goes on, but gets very confusing)

Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 03:06 PM:

In the last year-and-a-bit I've spent as a frequent reader of Nielsen Hayden blogs, the discussions here have caused me to reconsider a lot of my own reactionary prejudices about Christianity and centrism. (And editors, while we're at it.) If the Nielsen Haydens can inspire a clove-smoking Unitarian quasi-anarchist like me to be nicer about churchgoing folk, to consider that conservatism has ideas worth redeeming, to realize that I don't have to agree with all my fellow-travellers to work toward the same ends... well, I think some of the words Andy's using do not mean what he thinks they mean.

And why is it that when a liberal gets publicly torqued about something that they're concerned or passionate about, they're a "fanatic?" Are we not supposed to get angry just because we're the voice of inclusivity? It doesn't make sense. When the opinionated are demonized, only the demonic will have opinions. Or something.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 03:21 PM:

MD^2: no apology necessary. And the translation conveys your meaning perfectly well, and after seeing it I was able to go back to your beautiful French, and understand why you preferred it.

But how about

"There's something funny, the way a white clown is funny, about seeing someone accused of fanaticism -- when evidence of their moral greatness can be seen in one unique non-concession: that of treating both tolerance and partisanship as unbending duties."
I still like your original better, even though I can't understand it without help.

Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 03:33 PM:

Dan: You hit something I've been kicking around my head (lots of empty space up there, you see) for a while.

The below will be one of my worst attempts to ever put thought to word, because I can't really get the general sentiment into a nice orderly fashion. Don't overread, it's as general as possible in an attempt to get someone better versed than I to see what I mean.

Liberals have a much tougher time being against people. When conservatives are against something, it's almost expected: they're right-wings, reactionaries, stick-in-the-muds, exclusionary...they can slander and debase and be as closedminded as they want. But when liberals do it, it's "against the rules," because a liberal has to agree with everybody.

That's not fair.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 03:56 PM:

For me the distinction between "left" and "liberal" invokes the Phil Ochs song "Love Me, I'm a Liberal." (I'm not sure if that's the title or just the refrain.)

FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 04:03 PM:

That's not fair.

Indeed, and this is one of the great triumphs of the Conservative Media Machine - they create (and rail against) a strawman version of liberalism, and when real-life liberals don't match that strawman, it's seen as proof that LIBERALS are duplicitous and don't really believe in anything. It's a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose situation - if liberals act all tolerant and fair-minded and accepting, well, that just goes to show what a giant collection of pussies they are, but if they get mad or angry or even express themselves strongly, it's because they're shrill or militant or humorless or driven mad with hatred or conspiracy-theorizing, and is also proof that they are empty and soulless and don't believe in anything, because they don't conform to their (strawman-defined) values.

I've gotten into arguments with FoxNews-besotted conservatives, and they seem genuinely upset, surprised, and offended that I didn't roll over and meekly accept their bullshit the way Alan Colmes does. How dare I!

It's something that liberals/democrats will have to start dealing with, starting yesterday.

bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 04:32 PM:

I often in the drear of night have ponderoed about this thing, the weblog it is, if should I have one, what things then?! I dare it not, call me chowdered, but I know to do it would enforce the linking of those dastards of radish liberaces, the Nielsen Haytheres. I like you have my mortals, there are some tricks I will not go on with even a pony under me. I am urgent that you reconsider this facts, the world would be of a place much superior if you forget the religion as she is practiced in the a of the u.s today.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 05:22 PM:

Conservative Media Machine

You oversimplify by demonizing. Regardless of any conservative media machine, there are conservative individuals who believe they are doing the right thing. It is a basic rule in writing that all your characters should believe they are justified in their actions in some way.

When a character starts acting outside that rule, the story becomes plot driven, and characters do whatever is needed to have the story go the way the writer wants it to go, whether it makes sense for those characters to act that way or not. You are telling the story of conservatism as if it were a plot-driven tale, with people acting the way the "conservative media machine" tells them to act, whether they think it is the right thing to do or not.

Conservatism has as one of its core components individual independence. This dovetails extremely well with the red/blue map, where most red counties have an extremely low population density.

I grew up on a farm where the nearest neighbor was a good mile away, where hard work was mandatory for survival, and where independence was a natural extension of the circumstances.

Anyone who lobbies in these areas would be wise to pay attention to the kind of lifestyle needed to live in the environment. Disregarding it, or worse, arguing against it, will occur to these people as being told to give up the very thing that has allowed them to survive.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 06:12 PM:

Conservatism has as one of its core components individual independence.

Y'know, I don't actually believe this.

I mean, I believe that most people -- whether they identify as conservatives, liberals, evanglicals, atheists, mongoose fanciers, or whatever -- like to thinkof themslves as individually independent. I just don't think any one of those groups actually has a valid claim on the concept.

I recall a convention hallway political discussion I was in once, in which someone told me that he didn't want to join a union because he was confident that he could negotiate a better deal for himself than any of those saps he'd be linked to if his job was unionized. It didn't occur to me at the time to reply that his boss was probably very happy to let him go on thinking just that.

(If I had more time I'd bother to build a transition between those two previous paragraphs. But I gotta go.)

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 06:33 PM:

'Voltaire wrote, famously, "I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write...'

No, he didn't. It was his biographer, Beatrice Hall, who paraphrased his views in that way.

Paul, the Jamestown settlement was Protestant, partially so they could keep the Spanish from converting all the Native Americans to Catholicism.

Reimer Behrends ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 09:22 PM:

Marilee, actually, the Beatrice Hall quote is a different one (I am somewhat familiar with the controversy). The sentence I quoted is supposed to come from one of Voltaire's letters (addressed to the Abbé le Riche), though I have admittedly no way to verify or disprove that fact (and I will happily stand corrected -- as Hall notes, regardless of the words, it is a reasonably accurate paraphrase of opinions that Voltaire actually expressed in his "Essay on Tolerance").

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 10:26 PM:

Avram is so, so right. And that's why I'm a left-wing union supporter.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 11:41 PM:

his boss was probably very happy to let him

Ah, let me see if I can reproduce your oh-so-persuasive argument with this hapless worker based on attitude:

Worker: "I don't want to join a union, I'm better off negotiating one-on-one"
Avram: "You're boss will be happy to hear that, because you'll be a fool to negotiate by yourself."

So, the worker states that independence is a core value of his behaviour. And your response is to invoke the evil Conservative Media Machine, as if it has anything to do with what drives this person's character?

You are completely missing the point.

The response to "Being independent is important to me." is not to explain to this person that they are on the receiving end of being shafted by big business. It will land on deaf ears. The general attitude to independent conservatism is that successful business people deserve to be where they are because they worked hard, were independent, and got there on their own efforts.

(and just so you know, screaming "that isn't true" is more of missing the point)

Insisting on relating to this worker as hapless or as a corporate lackey is exactly where the term liberal elite comes from.

If you relate to this person as if you've got it all figured out and you're trying to tell them that they've been fooled by the Conservative Media Machine all their lives, exactly how far do you think you'll get? How many votes will that win for your liberal candidate?

On the other hand, if you relate to this person as an equal, but as someone with a different perspective, as someone who deserves your respect, as someone who could teach you a thing or two about independent living, and as someone you could teach a thing or two about working together, well, how many votes will that win for your liberal candidate?

DAMN! You can't even acknowledge that people might actually relate to life from independent and self-reliant means! You've got to invoke the Conservative Media Machine?!? You've got to tell me how they're being taken advantage of by their boss?

You're being elitist. You know better than they do. They have nothing to teach you. And you have to show them the error of their entire way of life. Well, lemme tell ya something, you couldn't be any more blue-blood, liberal, elitist at this point, and if this is the kind of support Kerry got, its not wonder he lost the election.

WAKE UP! And smell your own high and mighty stank.

I'm telling you that the people I grew up with in farm country valued living independently, valued their self-reliance, valued making it on their own. and your response is

I don't actually believe this

If this is the best the democratic party has got, then you might as well forfeit the next twenty years to the republicans.

Elections are a game of Thing. It doesn't matter if you know the truth, what matters is whether or not you can persuade anyone that you know the truth. And trying to persuade people that you know the truth by telling them they've been fools all their lives, that you know what's best and they don't, will convince no one.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 11:56 PM:

Greg, you've totally missed the points here, which are two-fold:

1. Precious few philosophies place any value on dependence and helplessness; most worldviews teach some form of self-sufficiency and independence as an active virtue. They take many different forms, but the fact is that you have to look hard to find schools of thought, particularly in the US, that don't respect independence.

2. The fact is that many people who are deeply confident of their superior wisdom, courage, whatever, are wrong. They are not as good at trumping the advantages of power as they think. The right thing for someone who values his independence is in fact to band together with others as peers, brethren in their craft or whatever the basis of association is, to accomplish together what they can't do separately. This is a wise and moral thing to do, the social equivalent of using levers and pulleys, the multiplication of all those people's wisdom and determination when it's most needed. Those who stand alone do in fact get screwed; the odds are against them. And we do not respect others as worthy individuals if we stand there and pretend that they're right to kid themselves about it.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 12:04 AM:

Greg, first off, I'm not the one who "invoked the Conservative Media Machine". Scroll back up there and check for yourself if you don't believe me. If you're going to try and pass yourself off as someone who knows something about talking to people, you'll do a much better job if you don't stick words in my mouth.

That guy at the convention? I suspect he was more in thrall to the Ayn Rand machine than the Conservative Media Machine.

Second, you're missing my point. Sure, conservatives value independence and self-reliance. So does pretty much every single damn person on the face of the planet. I've lived all my life in the oh-so-liberal NYC area, and I've never run into a single person who said "screw this independence shtick, I want somebody to make up my mind for me!"

(Actually, I did once years ago, read about a couple who joined a biblical literalist religion because, they said, they wanted to be told what the truth was, to have the burden of independent decision-making lifted from them. I've no idea what the politics of the church they joined was, and it's entirely possible that they actually were pretty self-reliant in other ways.)

And as far as the origin of the term "liberal elite" goes, do you have some early cites to back up that claim?

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 01:33 AM:

Avram,

No you didn't invoke the conservative media machine, you invoked the conservative corporate boss. Different words, same difference. Both ignore the individuals and focus the problem on someone in a position of power.

The only thing we have control over is how we make our case. We can't control the conservative media machine, we can't control the conservative corporate bosses. We can control how we speak to the people who voted for Bush.

And my point is that if someone views a union as the antithesis to their personal mantra of independence and self-reliance, any response that says they are being taken advantage of by the conservative media machine or the conservative corporate bosses, is a useless gesture. It says to them that the premise of their way of life is foolish even though that very premise has kept them alive thus far.

Sure, conservatives value independence and self-reliance. So does pretty much every single damn person on the face of the planet.

YOU DON'T. You don't value someone's self-reliance if they say they're against a union because they're self reliant, and then you basically call them a fool for it.

That sort of approach views a person's self-reliance as far less important than the group negotiating power of a union.

Unless you can respect a person's independence and self-reliance and INCLUDE it in your pitch for a union, you will be wasting your time.

"screw this independence shtick, I want somebody to make up my mind for me!"

A straw man argument. The yang holds the power of the individual, competition. The yin holds the power of community, strength in numbers, and coming together to help those in need.

It has nothing to do with having someone make up your mind for you.

Back in farm country, when the neighbor's cows got out, we helped chase them back in. my mom was a volunteer EMT. The idea of a Barn-Raising was invented in farm country.

The idea of yin, of community help, of social programs, of barn raisings exists in the yang of independent, self-reliant farmers. It is not a foreign concept.

My point is to respect the yang when attempting to introduce some new yin program rather than saying "you've been fools all these years" as you portrayed in your union story.

As for the "liberal elite", my sources go directly back to farmers in the midwest who viewed Kerry as a liberal elite. I don't care about it's origin so much as I care how people are using the term in real life, right now.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 01:44 AM:

Greg, I've known Avram for many years, and I can say with a perfectly straight face that he does value self-reliance. I've followed his ups and downs practicing it in many aspects of his life, often with good results. It's just that there are limits to it, which conservative ideology tends to underplay in precisely the ways that are most convenient for those seeking more power over others.

A friend of several folks posting here recently ran his first marathon. He had to drop out at mile 16, after five miles of trouble from a knee injury. His dropping out is not the result of his failing to value determination and persistence; rather, he recognized when persistence would have led him into lasting pain and misery. It took great determination to prepare himself for the race and do as much as he did, and it is very much to his credit that he wasn't stupid about it.

Associations of working men and women are like that, too.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 01:50 AM:

Bruce

Precious few philosophies place any value on dependence and helplessness

I wasn't arguing for dependence and helplessness. I was arguing for presenting a liberal and/or left viewpoint into a conservative and/or right audience so that it can be recieved and heard.

you have to look hard to find schools of thought, particularly in the US, that don't respect independence.

When Kerry said our military actions must stand up to a world test (or whatever the specific words were), the Bush side very wisely turned it into an attack on America's independence. The Kerry side was seemingly blind to this, and had no counter response. and a lot of independent minded folk were turned off of Kerry for it. Kerry blew this one.

My point, and I'll reiterate because everyone seems to be missing it, is that it's not enough to know the truth, to know the right path, you have to persuade the voters that yours is the right way. And to do that, you have to have a level of respect for their world views, and the world views of rural, conservative (Red) america, has Independence and Self-Reliance high up on the priority list.

Kerry didn't heed that, Bush used it against him, and Kerry had no effective response to Bush. To self-reliant voters, Kerry was willing to sacrifice America's independence to foreign nations. To sign over control of the defense department to the UN.

None of it is true, but that is how it played out with the self-reliant voters. And since Kerry failed to correct that perception, it remained and pushed voters to Bush.

And what I hear A LOT on this blog and other blogs is a "this country is going to hell" attitude that basically swears off any contact, respect, or acknowledgement of the people who voted for Bush, which can only repeat the mess again in four years.

If democrats want to win the next one, they have to respect the people whose votes they are trying to get, not shove it down their throats because "we know better than you" or some such nonsense.


Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 02:07 AM:

Greg, to be very blunt about this, I am not inclined to take the advice on negotiation and effective communication from someone who's blatantly misreading others, failing to acknowledge it when it's pointed out, and proceeding in such a hectoring manner. There are times when we can preach better than we practice, but where practice is the point, I gotta say: show me some. Show me the ability to mend the bridges you've been busily burning and I might feel you've got something to say about how to proceed in this time of doleful politics. Otherwise, no.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 05:00 AM:

Regardless of any conservative media machine, there are conservative individuals who believe they are doing the right thing.

It is reasonable to assume that everyone, regardless of what side they are on, thinks they are doing the right thing. We can also be sure beyond doubt that a majority of them are wrong.

Conservatism has as one of its core components individual independence. This dovetails extremely well with the red/blue map, where most red counties have an extremely low population density.

Both those points are debatable. Conservatism has always been about supporting hierarchical power structures and the elites at the top. Liberalism has always championed individual independence, democracy, civil rights, independent business, and religious freedom. In regards to the map, the conservative power base is not in the sparsely populated countryside, which is, well, sparsely populated, but in the densely populated outer suburbs.

I was arguing for presenting a liberal and/or left viewpoint into a conservative and/or right audience so that it can be recieved and heard.

I have noticed this kind of statement appearing in a lot of discussions lately. Almost always it seems to be a digression from the actual topic at hand. That is because we're still mostly at the "what were they thinking" stage of the discussion. I understand that we need to figure out how to present our message, but we're not there yet, and when we get to it, it will be a different topic. It will also be a difficult topic. There is a lot of misunderstanding, mistrust, fear, and outright anger and spite on the other side, that we're going to have to overcome before any message can get across. Asking that our viewpoints be so reasonable and well crafted that they can be received by conservatives, right now, while they are flush with their narrow victory, is setting the bar very high. Most of what we say is not going to measure up. And for some reason, being told that one's heartfelt statements aren't good enough to meet someone else's arbitrary criteria, seems to come across as negative.

This relates to what Teresa wrote:

For the last ten or fifteen years, I’ve listened as Democrats, liberals, the French, and other groups have been treated to sneers, calumny, loutish bullying, and unashamed lies by the right. It’s been a terrible burden to the spirit, and has brought public discourse in America to hitherto unheard-of lows of infamy. Where was all this sensitivity, when that was going on? If they could bear years and years of hearing that thrown at others, with never a protest or reproof at its callous ugliness, they can surely bear up under a breath of implication that they’ve made a singularly disastrous decision.

And now we're being told, by thoughtful people on our own side, that we shouldn't tell people about things that we have to offer, such as unions, because if it's good for them, then we're being patronizing. I think that is just more fallout from the conservative demonization of everything that might have been able to stand against them.

Believe me, I get it.


Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 06:05 AM:

Well, as I remember it, Avram did not,in fact, say "You stupid moron, you're being screwed and you think you're so smart." He did not even say "I'm sure your boss is happy to let you think so," which is the same couched in slightly politer terms.

He kept quiet.

Now, what I would really be interested in, instead of lecturing Avram on something he didn't actually do, would be what he could have said to this hapless Rayndite fellow.

Because I'm a bit at a loss. What I would say would probably be along the lines of "Well, sure, you probably can, because you're smart, but I bet there are lots of your colleague that couldn't, and would end up screwed. Wouldn't it be better to provide a net for them?"

And my problem is that the prevailing ideology is not about placing value on reliance and self-sufficiency - is about not caring a bit about the others that get screwed. In short,it is a culture in which self-worth is compatible with a total lack of solidarity.

I never know how to counter that, save as by thinking despairingly that too many people are immoral.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 07:09 AM:

I've never run into a single person who said "screw this independence shtick, I want somebody to make up my mind for me!"

The single most effective way to make a decision like that is to enlist int he military, and people do that all the time.

Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 08:04 AM:

I'd be inclined to ask the guy: "If you were your boss, what would you prefer: to negotiate with one person knowing that they have only one job, or with a large chunk of your total workforce, knowing that you have only one such workforce? Which do you think puts your boss in a relatively better bargaining position, and hence you in a relatively worse one?"

See, if you are right, then only self-interest will appeal to this person. The great thing about this mind-set is that it thinks that self-interest is the only thing that appeals to anyone.

TomB: "Conservatism has always been about supporting hierarchical power structures and the elites at the top."

Well, perhaps not always. I admit it has often been so. But many of the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War saw themselves as returning to the ancient constitution and standing against novel extensions to the power of the Crown. Edmund Burke railed against enclosure because it destroyed the living of a class of people whom he felt were one of the ancient props of the Kingdom, so as to enrich those who were already rich. (It certainly did the latter.) Gandhi certainly presented himself as a conservative, wishing to undo a century and a half of colonialism and return India to immemorial economy, pursuits and customs.

Conservatism often had the effects you specify, no contest. But I know of no society ever that had neither hierarchies nor elites. I believe that it is defensible to hold the view that tearing down those elites inevitably means replacing them with others, and may not be worth the effort and agony involved. It may - and the examples of this are many - produce worse hierarchies and more predatory elites; and therefore a reasonable defence of the established structures is not necessarily unprincipled, and need not be rooted in self-interest.

bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 08:40 AM:

So Greg, how about those farm subsidies? And the fact that the midwest and southern rural states get the most tax dollars from us urban ones?

That vaunted independence is an illusion, based on ignorance and/or self-deception, like a child who thinks he's capable of living on his own at age 4 because he can now open the fridge by himself and get a sandwich out of the box, and doensn't need mom to dress him any more.

(It is as much an illusion as those who think the US can go it alone, without any allies.)

And we should "respect" this ignorant and incurious attitude of selfishness *why* exactly?

(Note, premptively, that I did not endorse "failing to engage and attempt to make converts," I said "respect the mindset that needs to be converted out of this maya-based selfishness." Don't construct a straw man based on what I didn't say, either.)

Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 09:25 AM:

Why not ask the person who thinks he can do a better job of negotiating for himself why he thinks so? Maybe he's a very good negotiator, or maybe he's got a lousy union. (I don't have any particular union in mind, just a memory of someone complaining that their union just took the dues money without doing anything useful. I believe that any sort of organization can go bad.)

Once you know what the person you're talking to is thinking, you can fine tune your arguments and/or learn something.

Mind you, there *are* people who are hypnotized by catchphrases (or at least so they seem to me), and I don't know what to do in that case.

As for righteous anger and addiction, I think you earn righteous anger by being willing to pay attention to the facts and especially to be more interested in achieving your goal than in hammering on the opposition.

Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 10:06 AM:

We live on a planet with 6.5 billion humans, an awful lot of dogs, cats, rodents of various size and hue and an astonishing multitude of beetles, just to hit the tip of the proverbial ice burg. That anyone would think that any one person makes a decision in a vacuum, without one of these other humans, cats, dogs or beetles ever wandering by to influence their precious Independence, is fooling themselves.

The dude who thinks he can negotiate better than a union is smoking some righteous dope but not nearly as righteous as whatever tar these neocons in office are mainlining. Interconnectivity may be invisible but the butterfly's wings are a bitch when they swing back and smack you upside the head.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 10:16 AM:

In the last election, Bush won a majority of votes over Kerry. Much of the response I've seen from Kerry voters has been "f*ck you, you bush-voting b*st*rds". I may suck at being an example, but if nothing else, my actions should serve as a good example of how the Kerry voters sound to those who voted for Bush.

Annoying, righteous, indignant, and totally ineffective. As ineffective as I've been with you, you are as ineffective with the moderate republicans who might have voted Kerry.

If there was one consistency in the campaigns themselves, Bush portrayed himself by appealing to the core values of his voters. "You value independence, and I'll keep america independent. You value strength. I'll keep america strong"

Kerry said something about how our international actions must hold up to a world standard. Bush used that to say Kerry would sacrifice our strength and independence to foreign ministers. One of Kerry's missteps was not address that well enough to show how we could be strong/independent while at the same time subject to international standards.

Kerry wasn't so much appealing to core values of the voters as he was presenting himself as "anyone's gotta be better than Bush".

I don't know the exact numbers, but of those who voted for Bush, most voted for him because they identified with the values he claimed to support. Of those who voted for Kerry, something like half actually identified with Kerry's values, and the other half couldn't figure him out, or didn't actually like Kerry, but decided anyone had to be better than Bush.

So, the exit polls appear to point to a failure of Kerry to present himself as "I'm the man who will pull for what you want when I'm in the White House."

So, he lost the election. Now, one of the most common reactions I've seen on the Democratic side has been blame and anger towards the Bush voters.

Before the election, the Kerry side's reaction to undecided voters was "What more do you need?" rather than actually appealing to the core values of the undecided voter. It was almost an indignant "How could you not have made a decision already?" This approach failed in its persuasiveness because it starts with the assumption of "you moron" and goes downhill from there.

After the election, one of the most common reactions I've seen has been anger at the Bush voters for destroying this country, our future, yada, yada. It's more of the indignant "you moron", which not surprisingly has only further proved to the undecideds who voted for Bush that the Kerry camp was a bunch of shrill know-better-than-you's.

It didn't work when I tried it with you folks, and it didn't work when you guys tried it with you undecided voters. And it won't work in 2008, or at any other election.

To boil it all down, it comes to this:
A majority of americans who voted, voted for Bush. When the next election comes around, you're going to need to persuade some of those very same people who voted for Bush in 2004 to vote for your democratic candidate in 2006, 2008, and beyond.

Rant, if you must rant. Rage against these moronic Bush-voters, if you must rage. But for God's sake, get it out of your system, and fast. Cause it isn't gonna help the next democratic candidate if the democratic party gets typecast as a bunch of shrill, screaming maniacs, who think they know better than anyone else, and throw tantrums when they lose.

That is my point.

The very same people who you are ranting about now, the ones you are saying are morons, are fooling themselves about being independent while taking federal tax dollars, those very same people are the ones you'll need to persuade at the next election.


Bill Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 10:27 AM:

Paul Kincaid:

The Puritan element is, indeed, a very potent influence on American politics . . . considering how small a part puritans played in the original settlement of America . . . that is quite astonishing.

Massachusetts enjoyed great prestige for a very long time at an important point in the U.S.' cultural development, cultural and economic pre-eminence -- though 17th-18th century English dissenters of all kinds were not a minor part of the settlement of North America. There is a certain extent to which a clone of England around the time of the Civil War was set in a new world to evolve in its own way.

Bill Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 10:34 AM:

With all due respect to my old friend Bill Patterson, I think the post-Revolutionary flight of the Tory loyalists is of far less importance than the persistence of the culture of the Southern landed gentry, with all its appurtenances of grievance, entitlement, exaggerated devotion to honor, disdain for work and invention, and so forth.

You're quite right, and the only qualifying remark I'd make is these things went together; after all, the Tory Southern Landowners who returned to England ripped the guts out of the culture of the Southern aristocracy here, leaving it to become the shabby thing it did become.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 10:34 AM:

how about those farm subsidies? And the fact that the midwest and southern rural states get the most tax dollars from us urban ones? ... That vaunted independence is an illusion, based on ignorance and/or self-deception, like a child who thinks he's capable of living on his own at age 4 because he can now open the fridge by himself and get a sandwich out of the box, and doensn't need mom to dress him any more.

Yeah, that'll work. On the campaign trail, when you're in farm country, that's exactly the sort of thing you should say to those farmers who came out to hear your candidate.

Perfect example of what I'm saying has to stop.

Is my delivery so offending that no one can see how telling people they're acting like 4 year olds living an illusion is itself offending?

I'll admit I'm being a "pot" in my delivery, but I'm calling this kettle black.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 10:49 AM:

To quote from the sidebar:

“Listen, here’s the thing about politics: It’s not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.” (Tony Kushner)

Politics is purely about persuasion. And to be persuasive, it would help if people had a little respect for the people they're trying to persuade. It's not required, but I think it would help.

The ranting and raging going on against the Bush voters is, in part, I think "an expression of your moral purity", and I get what Tony meant when he said that progressive people constantly fail to get this.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 11:03 AM:

Dave Luckett -- you are right. Of course, you are talking about true conservatism. I was talking about the "movement conservatism" that is in power now, which really is radical authoritarianism. They are conservatives only because that is what they call themselves. I wish there were a way to talk about these thugs without being unfair to their decent predecessors. Lincoln was a conservative Republican who freed the slaves. Teddy Roosevelt was an environmentalist and did much to curb the worst excesses of the big trusts, but was still undeniably conservative.

My apologies for tarring with such a broad brush.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 11:40 AM:

Annoying, righteous, indignant, and totally ineffective. As ineffective as I've been with you, you are as ineffective with the moderate republicans who might have voted Kerry.

I think the word you are searching for is "loser". As in "Pack up and go to France, you losers." Something I've seen a lot of lately.

If there was one consistency in the campaigns themselves, Bush portrayed himself by appealing to the core values of his voters. "You value independence, and I'll keep america independent. You value strength. I'll keep america strong"

Of course, we know that Bush's campaign message, while simple, was utterly bogus. Bush personally is America's greatest example of social promotion, undeserved success, and dependency on his daddy's cronies. He is a weakling and a fool. His idea of keeping America independent is to get us into deeper trouble in Iraq, drive off all our friends, and mortgage our future to the Chinese.

Kerry wasn't so much appealing to core values of the voters as he was presenting himself as "anyone's gotta be better than Bush".

That really misrepresents the Kerry campaign. The only truth in it is that Bush's relentless attacks, both directly and through proxies such as the Swift Boat Vets for Dirty Tricks, succeeded in defining Kerry for enough voters that they felt they didn't have to pay attention to what Kerry was actually saying. Voters who were willing to listen, as in the debates, found that Kerry really did appeal to their core values. But even in the debates, many people heard what Kerry said and refused to believe it because it wasn't consistent with the smears they had been hearing from Bush all along. It wasn't about Kerry, and when you frame this as being about Kerry's ineffectiveness, you are buying into Bush's smear tactics.

Rant, if you must rant. Rage against these moronic Bush-voters, if you must rage. But for God's sake, get it out of your system, and fast. Cause it isn't gonna help the next democratic candidate if the democratic party gets typecast as a bunch of shrill, screaming maniacs, who think they know better than anyone else, and throw tantrums when they lose.

I know that you are only trying to provide us with considerate, well-meaning advice, in a liberal and friendly way. In that spirit, let me say that it is not your burden to reform the Democratic Party into winners. That is their problem, not yours. We are happy to get advice, but unfortunately, as you admitted, it's not being very effective. Maybe it is because you seem to be coming across as someone who knows better than us.

By the way, it is not only Democrats who are shrill, screaming maniacs. And that is a good thing. Shrill is the new black.


pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 12:09 PM:

Shrill is the new black.

But can you accessorize it?

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 03:43 PM:

A screaming baby does nicely!

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 05:14 PM:

So, I'm going back the my basic premise, which I first stated way back when over here:

http://nielsenhayden.com/electrolite/archives/005686.html#62392

an election is a lot like a game of Thing. 20 scientests and 3 things start out in the room. Things are evil. Good scientists might vote poorly and waste tests on other scientists, allowing the things to slowly take over.


To which, Patrick replied:
http://nielsenhayden.com/electrolite/archives/005686.html#62415

Greg, that may be one of the smartest things posted in this entire thread.


Now, I'm pretty sure my premise is solid. The question is whether or not I've over extended the analogy (which I don't think I've done), or if I simply suck at deliverying the message (which I'm pretty sure I do).


As far as I can tell, a lot of good scientists voted for the wrong candidate. If the game of "Thing" analogy extends sufficiently, at this point, a lot of Kerry voting Scientists are screaming bloody murder at some Bush voting Scientists. That sort of behaviour is detrimental to the next round of voting.

we know that Bush's campaign message, while simple, was utterly bogus

OK, in a game of Thing, you never know. I'm trying to say that your claims of "knowing" who the right candidate was doesn't matter as much as your ability to persuade other voters.

Bush portrayed his campaign as one of "Strength". Vote for me and you vote for strength. That's how he portrayed himself and his attitudes, and he managed to persuade enough people that his strength was what the country needed now.

That really misrepresents the Kerry campaign.

What exactly is the one word value that describes the Kerry campaign?

I'm not even sure because I'm not sure if any one value was presented as the core value of his campaign. "A stronger america" was a common Kerry slogan, but that simply tail-gated on Bush's entire "Strength" and "Hard Work" campaign.

If I had to pick a word, it would probably have been "Justice", which would have presented the difference between Kerry's core value and Bush's core value. "Strength" by itself gives you "might is right", and "Justice" would have in one simple word shown what Kerry was trying to say when he rambled about our military actions must hold up to a global standard.

Bush took Kerry's somewhat vague message about "global standards" and turned it around and presented it as "Weakness". Kerry failed to re-cast it as "Justice" as he should have done.

So, voters were left with "Kerry is weak and wants to hand our military decisions to foreign governments." It wasn't true, but since Kerry didn't have a clear way to convey what the hell he meant to counteract Bush's spin, he lost that one.

Persuasion failed. And there's no one to blame but Kerry and his supporters.

Back to the "Game of Thing" analogy.

Why would a scientist vote for the wrong person?

One of the consistent things I'm reading on this blog is how people were duped to vote for Bush, the Conservative Media Machine tricked them, the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth tricked them.

But if the analogy of the game of Thing holds true, then the scientists would do their best with what's available to vote for the right person.

I've not heard one good reason given why anyone would vote for Bush. Not from your point of view, but from the point of view of a good scientist who cast a bad vote.

If Bush promised "Strength" and people thought we needed strength more than we needed whatever the heck Kerry was promising, then it only makes sense that they vote for Bush.

In that case, Kerry should have focused on his position of "Strength" while using "Justice" to differentiate himself from Bush. He should have gotten his swift boat crew to go out and tell the story about how he saved their lives and won his silver medal/bronze star. He didn't.

But if people thought we needed strength and thought we'd get that through Bush more than we'd get that through Kerry, then they voted the right way. They weren't idiots. They weren't zombies. They weren't brainwashed. Kerry failed to make his case. And lost in this round of the game of Thing.

Now, I'm not trying to reform the Democratic Party. I'm trying to persuade people that they're playing a political game of Thing, which has a couple of effects:

(1) insulting scientists who didn't vote your way last turn is pointless. The priority is to get enough votes to win the next turn. Strategic voting.

(2) It isn't enough to "know" who the Thing is, you've got to persuade people to vote for you. And if you're going to persuade people, it would probably help if you respect them even if they voted the wrong way last turn.

(3) the game isn't over until the things outnumber the scientists. And I'm pretty sure that we are not there yet.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 05:19 PM:

So, back to the "values" question. If you had to pick one word, one value, to describe the core value of the Democratic party, what would it be?

I'm curious, because I can't quite decide myself what it would be. I think it would be "Justice" or "Fairness", but I'm not exactly sure.

If you had to pick one word, one value, to describe the core value of the Republican party, what would it be?

I think it would probably be "Strength" or maybe "Individualism".

Anyway, I'm curious what other people would say on this.

Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 07:00 PM:

Kathryn--"Love Me, I'm a Liberal" is indeed the title. It appears on Phil Ochs in Concert (Elektra, 1967) and on the posthumous retrospective Chords of Fame (A&M). Not sure if either of these is on CD but I imagine one or the other is. Must give that song a spin again--it's been a long time since I listened to it...

LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 07:22 PM:

Greg, Kerry's message was pretty clear to me: "This administration has hurt America, and we can do better."

To me, the Democrats are the party of fair play.


-l.

Dave Trowbridge ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 08:47 PM:

Democrat: fairness
Republican: firmness

pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 09:38 PM:

Independence, within reason, is a good thing. Wilfullness is not. A vote for Bush is a vote for concentration camps, for torture, for the perversion of the rule of law into the rule of the sword. Bush said, "Bring it on!" and yon Redshirt Voter felt ten feet tall and full of piss and vinegar. What is there worthy of respect in that? It is folly, pure folly, to vote for an administration that has, in pursuit of its appalling goals, already spent one's country into everlasting debt. I do not suffer fools, nor do I respect foolishness.

If my refusal to placate such a fool with surface 'respect' makes him sulky enough to vote his tantrum in place of his self-interest, then more shame to him.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2004, 10:20 PM:

And that's why I'm a left-wing union supporter. I second Patrick's comment about Avram's point. And I consider myself a right wing union supporter. (If that doesn't sound strange...)

My first paid staff-writing job back in the '80s was for a large government employees union (N.A.G.E., an SEIU affiliate)--and you would be amazed (well, maybe you wouldn't be) at the degree to which government agencies at the state and federal level were trying to screw their employees...to the degree, for example, where they weren't even providing proper fire escapes in some of the state office buildings.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 12:59 AM:

John: Being a right-wing union supporter shouldn't seem odd, I don't think, and it's regrettable that too often it does.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 02:25 AM:

Bruce: Last night I saw a car with two stickers on the back. One was a yellow ribbon with “Support our troops” on it. The other was a union sticker. I wondered whether the driver had voted for Bush or Kerry, and realized that I couldn’t tell. And it’s right that I couldn’t.

(Odds favor Kerry, since it was a NJ car. And, of course, there’s a better than 30% chance that he didn’t vote.)

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 02:30 AM:

Anna: The reason I didn’t use the comment was not any wisdom on my part, but just the fact that the spirit of the staircase did not gift me with it till well after the conversation was over.

Greg: Actually, in the case of this one particular guy, if I were going to make a serious attempt to turn him pro-union (he was disdainful of unions in general, not just for his own use), I would probably be best off starting out with some kind of dominance head-game to crack through his wise-ass cynicism. A bit of sarcastic one-upmanship would be a pretty good opening move, and might soften him up for a barrage of fact-based argument, with which I could probably bring him around to at least accepting that unions have some valid uses. In this one particular case.

Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 02:32 AM:

And as for our humorlessness, I'm not sure you can reasonably say that about me...

Sure we can, Teresa. I am willing to attest that when funny things are said around you, you become uncommunicative and will often engage in actions that stop all humorous activity around you post-haste.

I've lived all my life in the oh-so-liberal NYC area, and I've never run into a single person who said "screw this independence shtick, I want somebody to make up my mind for me!"

Avram, you just aren't going to the right NYC nightclubs. If you go, bring a leash.

Gareth Wilson ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 03:13 AM:

"Rant, if you must rant. Rage against these moronic Bush-voters, if you must rage. But for God's sake, get it out of your system, and fast. Cause it isn't gonna help the next democratic candidate if the democratic party gets typecast as a bunch of shrill, screaming maniacs, who think they know better than anyone else, and throw tantrums when they lose."

I've read several pieces of advice to Democrats along these lines, and I think they all miss a fundamental differences between commentators and politicians. There's plenty of screaming maniacs on the internet, but those Democrats actually running for office seeem to be following your advice already. Think of John Kerry, asked by a reporter about Bush's military record. Anyone on this comments thread could have come up with a blistering attack. Kerry just said he had served honorably. And when internet ranting did start to bleed through to the official campaign the link was shut down faster than you can say "Kos"._My_ advice to Democrats is to rant and rage and call people idiots as much as you like. It really can't hurt, unless you're a politician or closely associated with one.

Pat Cadigan ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 06:33 AM:

What pond?! What pond?! How did I get in a pond?! Who's clearing it?! Am I next?!

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 08:45 AM:

Funny things said around Teresa tend to make her fall to the ground.

Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 09:02 AM:

Perhaps my sensibilities have been coarsened by the recent election campaign, but "hypocritical scum" barely registers as "Peevish" on my Rage-O-Meter.

Why, when I was a young hothead, if we thought someone was a fugghead, we didn't call them names. We hunted them down with DOGS! When we had a flame war, we used flamethrowers! REAL flamethrowers, none of this namby-pamby metaphorical crap! When all fandom was plunged into war, it didn't mean mean-spirited fanzines, it meant midnight bombing runs on the Ozark love camps!

And if there weren't any fuggheads handy, well, hell, we'd just turn on EACH OTHER! And when there was finally only one person left standing, they'd burn down their own slan shack, devour their own young, and RAPE themselves! Man, those were the days!

Actually, come to think of it, those days pretty much sucked. Especially that last part.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 09:06 AM:

I have it on good authority that, thanks to the miracle of the internets, the funny things need not be said particularly near Teresa at all to have that effect.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 09:11 AM:

And now, thanks to the miracle of simultaneous posting, I feel compelled to note that the effect on Teresa to which I was referring was that of "falling over," not that of "bombing runs on the Ozark love camps."

We're working towards the latter, of course; the IETF is even now considering a draft data typing proposal for the Cosmic MIME. Once they have that, who knows what they'll do?

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 10:44 AM:

Bruce Arthurs, good work. :)

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 11:19 AM:

Laura
"This administration has hurt America, and we can do better."

but "do better" how?

To me, the Democrats are the party of fair play.

Did Kerry mean "fairplay" when he said "do better"? If so, I missed it, and his campaign didn't emphasize it. I know a lot of people didn't like Kerry because he couldn't give a short answer to anything. I think this is a reflection of how his campaign did not take something vague like "do better" and specify how to do better with a one-word value like "fairness" or whatever.

I picked the word "justice" because I thought Kerry could have used that to show how Bush was Unjust in waging war against Iraq, preemptive strike, fake weapons of mass destruction intelligence, Abu Graihb, dead civilians, etc.

Kerry could then have portrayed himself as representing "Justice" and showing Bush as "Unjust".

which would then have balanced Bush representing himself as "Strength" and saying Kerry was "Weak".

You didn't give a one word value for teh Republican party. Any guesses?


Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 11:24 AM:

call people idiots as much as you like. It really can't hurt, unless you're a politician or closely associated with one

Maybe I'm more of a democrat as in "party of the people", but I don't think campaigns convince people, I think campaigns give people the soundbites they need to persuade the other people in their lives.

all politics is local

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 11:25 AM:

Republican: Yang
Democrat: Yin

Republican: Firmness
Democrat: Fairness

Republican: Strength
Democrat: Justice

anyone else?

Reimer Behrends ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 02:39 PM:

Greg asks: "If you had to pick one word, one value, to describe the core value of the Democratic party, what would it be?"

I'm not entirely sure what the core values of the Democratic party are (nevermind how to express any of them in a single word). If they exist, I sure as hell didn't see them advertised in the recent election campaign.

But I'd like them to include human dignity, the principle of solidarity, and providing for the common good. Yes, I know that these are godless, socialist ideas, but a man can dream, can't he?

julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 03:25 PM:

Annoying, righteous, indignant, and totally ineffective. As ineffective as I've been with you, you are as ineffective with the moderate republicans who might have voted Kerry.

So the distinction between the "liberal" world view and the tactics you personally favor is that yours are effective?

Me, I thought the most significant number to emerge from the exit polls was the 70% of Bush voters who thought that there was a clear and proven link between Saddam and 9/11, so that the debacle in Iraq was an inevitable response to terror.

That number, it seems to me, it a tribute to all the voices of dispassionate centrism who were so very careful to balance the lies of the Bush administration with the fact that liberals are really annoying.

Except they sometimes forgot to talk about the lies.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 04:23 PM:

Pericat: The problem is, most Bush voters don't know those things. I'm not sure how many times and how many ways I can say this without becoming wearisome (too late!) but, really, they just don't know. The amount of ignorance in this country as to what is happening in the world is appalling. Furthermore, attempts to cure that ignorance have been, for me, futile. They've been fed too long the lies about the liberal media. As I saw in my abortive attempt to educate my mother, their response is just, that can't be true, or that's a lie, or I don't believe that. The attitude I met in my mother was I know how the world works and so I can judge who is lying to me and who isn't. I talked till I was blue in the face about memos approving torture and people dying under torture in Abu Ghraib and she just wouldn't believe me. (Isn't it nice to know your mother considers you a well-meaning idiot? But I digress.) The don't know; they don't want to know; they refuse to know. I keep wanting to type "and I give up" after that, but that will just get Patrick on my case again.

MKK

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 04:48 PM:

Mary Kay, how is the post you linked to an example of my being "on your case"? If anything, one of the things feeding into that post was my sense that I'd previously been unfairly on your case.

Greg London has taken (and given) a fair amount of stick here, but I do think this is good: "I don't think campaigns convince people, I think campaigns give people the soundbites they need to persuade the other people in their lives."

It has to be said, though: the people in our lives with whom we're at wit's end are probably not the ideal tools for imaginatively conceiving of what rhetorical approaches will and won't work. Some people are just plain unreasonable and won't ever be convinced. Letting our experiences with them color our sense of all possibility is probably a mistake. Also, this is important too: Real people always have more of a capacity to surprise us than people in our imaginations.

Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 04:55 PM:

A lot of the people who I spend time with are GLBT. If you need to ask why we're so angry at anyone who chose to vote for Bush, you're welcome to my explanation.

Seriously. If you're curious, I've got a nice essay I'm working on. Y'all can have a crack at the first draft. Any takers?

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 05:16 PM:

Patrick: the people in our lives with whom we're at wit's end are probably not the ideal tools for imaginatively conceiving of what rhetorical approaches will and won't work.

That's why I work out my new rhetorical approaches here. Sometimes I tick off the people here, but I get some good feedback, and you guys eventually forgive me for being a part-time ass. If I did this back in my hometown, on my first bad swing I'd get run out of town by the lynch mob.

It isn't wise to practice in enemy territory.

;)

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 05:21 PM:

Reimer: human dignity, the principle of solidarity, and providing for the common good

Hey, no fair, you gotta pick one!
I'm looking for the short answer, the sound bite.
Which of those three is the most imporant core value?

And you only answered the first half of the question.
Gotta put something down for the Republicans too.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 05:39 PM:

Avram: in the case of this one particular guy,

(started to reply before, had to shut down. forgot to pick it back up.)

Perfect. You would speak to him starting from a basic level that he could identify with. That's what I'm saying needs to be done in general. So, we are in complete agreement. (And apologies for any maligning of your words to further my arguments)

To extend this approach from this one particular guy to moderate republicans in general, I think the "basic level" would be "Strength". I'm not entirely sure, but I think that would be it. One of the reasons I asked for the single word core value of Republican and Democratic parties was to try and boil it down.

So, the idea would be to speak to moderate republicans starting from a point of view of Strength, and then lead them to the point where you can show them America would actually be Stronger in the long run if we also served Justice. ergo, vote for Kerry.

Oddly, about half the people who answered the "core value" question are only answering the question for the Democratic party. But aren't listing any core value for the Republican party. I'm not sure why.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 05:40 PM:

Sorry if this is obvious, but what's "GLBT" ?

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 06:03 PM:

According to Google it stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgendered

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 07:39 PM:

Gruyere, Lettuce, Bacon, & Tomato.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 09:09 PM:

Patrick: I've been completely unclear. It was your acknowledgement of having perhaps been unfairly noodgy I was attempting to be wryly humorous about. Sorry! I guess wry humor isn't something I particularly good at.

MKK

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 09:48 PM:

Mary Kay: "The problem is, most Bush voters don't know those things." In the next few years, many Bush voters will discover the mendacity of the Bush administration as the problems come home. I hope when that happens progressives will be ready with answers and policy alternatives.

pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 10:07 PM:

Thank you for referring back to that entry, Mary Kay. I skimmed through the latest comments, just making sure I'd not missed any, and re-read this one from Stefan Jones. He wrote:

Rove's allies distributed DVDs full of inflamatory ranting about Adam & Steve to churches.

What could WE send them?

A carefully edited program showing war casualties springs to mind.

and a couple of other possibilities. "Nice idea," I think, "but it wouldn't work."

"Why not?" (yes, I talk to myself a lot. yes, the neighbours avoid me.)

Anyway, it wouldn't work because counter-DVDs about war casualties or sweatshops or even the increasing impoverishing of middle America (something that should be crystal-clear to any middle-income American with children wanting to go to college) do not reinforce the core beliefs of 59 million voters. And DVDs saying gays use blond, white cherubs as appetizers during happy hour, do.

Red voters want to believe that America is the onliest superpower by right, not because China prefers to stay out of the limelight, and they for sure don't want to hear that China holds the mortgage on their own and their children's future. Red voters want to believe that official recognition of same-sex relationships will, somehow, cheapen that afforded to opposite-sex couples. (This is the 'finite size pie' theory.) Red voters want to believe that an American government would not go to war unless there was good reason, and all that stuff about torture and concentration camps and casual targeting of civilians, and on and on, that stuff's regrettable, sure, but not show-stoppingly so. At most, they're teachable moments.

They mean well, and try hard every day to do right, and want very much to believe that their government works the same, despite all evidence to the contrary. And they won't think, damn their dewy-sweet, God-fearing eyes.

This is what the Republican party has excelled in reinforcing as regards launching war after war: that if you watch all the way to the end, and don't walk out during intermission, everything will work out for the best. I've hear it said that the Democrats' message was weak, too nuanced, too dissipated. Kerry didn't roar back when the Swift Boat Pretenders lied out their butts. Kerry couldn't speak out properly against the Iraq invasion since he voted in the Senate to approve funding for it. That John Edwards, bless him, has all the gravitas of puppy chewing holes in a penny loafer (and this despite the man's professional accomplishments).

That's not why Kerry lost. Kerry lost because 59 million people could not face acknowledging that their government just might be as bad, as criminal, as venal, as to go to war for money. Twice. They have a vested interest in believing that when some uniformed McCop tells them to take off their shoes, give up their Bics, and then pats them down without even washing first, that this sordid experience serves to fight Terror. Because if it doesn't, if they get to thinking it hasn't a snowball's chance in hell of increasing anyone's safety, then it would be intolerable and they would have to do something about it. And they already have quite enough to worry about, what with their kids' tuition and their investments tanking and their bosses hinting about layoffs.

So I guess this is my long-winded way of saying they voted to maintain the status quo, not because they think it's that wonderful, but because they cannot afford to face up to just how bad it is.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 12:05 AM:

Pericat: Yes of course, part of it is that they don't dare. But you know, they do not have the same access to news sources that most of us politically aware/involved people do. In part this is because they have other things filling up their lives and in part it's because it doesn't really occur to them. It's difficult for people I hand out with to understand just how rare intellectual curiousity actually is. If they don't get it in their local (right-wing) newspaper, or their local tv stations (also heavily right biased) it doesn't occur to them to go looking elsewhere. You know that intelligence group the Bush administration set up outside the regular intelligence agenciesto advise them with what they wanted hear? Most people don't know that existed and don't believe you when you tell them. Here's more I have written on this topic.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 01:00 AM:

Speaking of talking past each other - fly talk: unwarranted assertion followed by flat denial followed by things flying -

This is what the Republican party has excelled in reinforcing as regards launching war after war: that if you watch all the way to the end, and don't walk out during intermission, everything will work out for the best.emphasis added

Contrast that with this from Dr. Pournelle:

I don't believe the Democrats can get the oil flowing again; and the last time they were in control of the military they demonstrated that they are still the Party of War (US involvement in WWI, WW II, Cold War, Korea, Viet Nam, Haiti, all started under Democratic presidents), and also that they were now interested only in wars in which there is no discernable US interest: Bosnia, and the whole Balkan affair. Republican adventures were generally short and decisive (Granada and Panama come to mind) and had some faint connection with national interest: even Iraq if we had done it right. Bush the Elder got us into Somalia but was ready to get out: staying to build nations was another President's idea. The Party of War kept us there until the Black Hawk was down. The Party of War, but never war in American interests. "What's the use of that splendid army if we can't use it to do good?" emphasis added again

It is not obvious to me that farm supports for Archer Daniels Midland, or assorted Florida cane growers (including in Florida the right to damage the ecosystem including to pollute with run-off at least as offensive to the glades as a feed lot is to its own community) constitute anything but a transfer of wealth from the blue states to the stock holders and coupon clippers; not to the man with a hoe.

Notice the Idaho Congressional delegation - as a delegation - wanted to Sunset provisions of the Patriot Act as having been enacted to meet a potential emergency that failed to develop -hardly a knee jerk Red State reaction by my lights. Nor am I inclined to believe they caucused and decided to oppose the views of their constituents on this issue.

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 02:00 AM:

That's not why Kerry lost. Kerry lost because 59 million people could not face acknowledging that their government just might be as bad, as criminal, as venal, as to go to war for money. Twice.

Spot on.

They have a vested interest in believing that when some uniformed McCop tells them to take off their shoes, give up their Bics, and then pats them down without even washing first, that this sordid experience serves to fight Terror.

Now, now. I have to go through the Complete Security Pat-Down And Empying of Every Pocket of Every Bag about half the times I fly (probably a mixture of having a foreign passport and usually having one-way tickets), and I have nothing but warm feelings for the poor bastards working the checkpoints. They've always been unfailingly polite to me, and one even laughed herself silly over my "You don't need to look at my chest. This are not the breasts you are looking for. Move along." T-shirt. (Though I had a worrying moment when she looked at my chest frowning in what later turned out to be concentration).

I don't kid myself for a moment that they are making me safer, but I don't hold it against them.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 08:40 AM:

And they won't think, damn their dewy-sweet, God-fearing eyes.

I think you have oversimplified the thought process. Most of don't "think" beyond our model of the world. We have a model of the way the world works, and we apply it in our day to day life. But every model is a simplification of the real world, and unless we run into a situation that shows an extreme flaw in our model, we do not question it.

Having to discard our entire world view in exchange for something completely unknown, and having to rebuild a new world model from nothing, is scary and a lot of work.

Scary because we won't know our place in this new world model until after we've figured it out. The obvious example are the religious folks who refused to look through Galileo's telescope for fear of what they might see.

And a lot of work, because, well, because none of us were born into this world with complex and nuanced views on abortion, war, discrimination, and justice. It usually took some personal crisis of the moment to kick us in the pants enough that we would upgrade some minor aspect of our world-view.

Which is to say we have all held onto some incorrect world view out of ignorance (didn't know it was wrong), fear (too scared to give it up just yet), and laziness (man it's going to be a lot of work to go from geocentric to heliocentric world view. We'll have to come up with math and formulas and figure out our place in the world all over again.)

So when you speak of those Reds, I'd ask that we all have a little humility rather than demand immediate perfection. Because none of us were born with a perfect world view, and none of us simply said "Oh so thats the way the world really is." without some usually world-altering situation happening in our lives.

If you want to get people to think to the point of changing their world-view, and you don't want to go through something like a divorce, a falling out with God, their daughter announces she's gay, or similar world-altering event, then the place to start is their world-view, and bring them into your world-view by showing how your world-view adds to theirs, rather than demanding they first destroy their world-view.

If the core republican value is "Strength" and the core democrat value is "Fairness", you can either have them go through an experience where Strength failed them (They were abused or raped or they lost control and assaulted someone they loved) and get them to abandon Strength, or you can show them how Fairness works in addition to Strength, and how they don't have to abandon it, they simply need to upgrade.

None of us has changed our world-view unless something extreme happened in our life or someone very wise managed to talk us through it.

And also keep in mind that next week, next, month, or next year, something might happen in your life that will show that the world-view you hold today is severely flawed.

mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 09:28 AM:

Reimer: human dignity, the principle of solidarity, and providing for the common good

Greg said:Hey, no fair, you gotta pick one!

If I get to pick, I'd choose human dignity. I think that's what George Lakoff is saying also, that progressives/liberals/democrats believe that people are born good and need the opportunity to grow. Conservatives/republicans/fundamentalists believe that people are born sinful and need external discipline and punishment to become good.

So:
Democrat: human dignity
Republican: punishment???

Christian Left: Love
Christian Right: Fear

Is that unfair? shrill? Because that's really how it looks like to me.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 10:14 AM:

Is that unfair? shrill? Because that's really how it looks like to me.

Well, fear probably isn't what some moderate republican voter in a borderline state identifies as their core value.

And if you want to get someone to change their world-view, you need to have an idea of what their current one is.

I think someone who defines their core value as either fear and/or punishment would probably occur as a sociopath in the real world.

Now, campaign ads might play on fear/punishment, but that's different than the internal values of the individuals.


cmw ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 10:25 AM:

Why do I wince for every religious person who's not an authoritarian whackjob when I see this sort of veiled eliminationism propounded for "leftists", "liberals" and "secularists"?

Oh, right. It's because I know that not all devout folks are freaking nutters.

mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 10:57 AM:

Well, fear probably isn't what some moderate republican voter in a borderline state identifies as their core value.

No, because that would require honesty on their part. And the courage to face difficult facts. *slaps self* Enough already, woman!

Ok, I guess it's back to strength. *sigh*. Or maybe order.

But still -- isn't fearing God what the s.c. christian right is all about? The Rapture is coming and you're not getting picked, nyah nyah nyah? Fires of hell gonna get you, gonna get you.

While the Christian left thinks the most important thing Christ said is in John 13:34:
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. "

In similar vein, drawing from my Baha'i phase, I've always thought this quote from the Persian Bayan both beautiful and scary:
"WORSHIP thou God in such wise that if thy worship lead thee to the fire, no alteration in thine adoration would be produced, and so likewise if thy recompense should be paradise. Thus and thus alone should be the worship which
befitteth the one True God. Shouldst thou worship Him because of fear, this would be unseemly in the sanctified Court of His presence, and could not be regarded as an act by thee dedicated to the Oneness of His Being. Or if thy gaze should be on paradise, and thou shouldst worship Him while cherishing such a hope, thou wouldst make God's creation a partner with Him, notwithstanding the fact that paradise is desired by men. "

Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 11:11 AM:
The big powerful guilds didn't like him, but they liked him in power a lot more than they liked the idea of someone from a rival guild in the Oblong Office. Besides, Lord Vetinari represented stability. It was a cold and clinical kind of stability, but part of his genius was the discovery that stability was what people wanted more than anything else.

He'd said to Vimes once, in this very room, standing at this very window: "They think they want good government and justice for all, Vimes, yet what is it they really crave, deep in their hearts? Only that things go on as normal and tomorrow is pretty much like today."

Emphasis mine. I've been thinking about that book an awful lot lately.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 11:20 AM:

I think you have oversimplified the thought process. Most of don't "think" beyond our model of the world. We have a model of the way the world works, and we apply it in our day to day life. But every model is a simplification of the real world, and unless we run into a situation that shows an extreme flaw in our model, we do not question it.

This is good, but as a model of the models, it's missing one key aspect. People have multiple models of the world, not just one. George Lakoff calls them frames. Which model or frame we use depends on the context. Someone may have a very strict authoritarian model in some contexts, such as church, and a nurturing model in others, such as in their family, or with friends, or co-workers. Which model they apply to politics is not a given; it depends on which model seems most applicable. Lakoff calls this activating a frame. The challenge for us as liberal activists is to understand people's lives, and to connect the political debate with the aspects of their lives where they use a more nurturing model. Lakoff calls this framing the debate.

I can highly recommend Lakoff's book, Don't Think of an Elephant!. It is short and to the point. Some of the contents are also available on-line, at the Rockridge Institute (follow the link above), and at Alternet in their archive of stories by George Lakoff.

Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 11:23 AM:

I read this article by Jeanette Winterson recently and have been thinking about it a lot. Two large extracts:

Throughout the twentieth century, liberals have worked for a better, fairer, world. A hundred years ago, women couldn`t vote, black people were considered inferior, there were few educational or employment opportunities outside of your given niche in society, the British Empire was still intact, Colonialism was normal, Oscar Wilde had been sent to prison for his sexuality, divorce was impossible, etc etc. I could write the list to the end of the column.

The changes that we have seen in the status of women, the recognition of black and other cultures, the liberalisation of laws on divorce, abortion, homosexuality, the move towards an open and free society, the move away from a rigid Church-bound atmosphere of intolerance and bigotry, all these changes that we take for granted are not a result of Right Wing or Conservative policy. It is the Left that has the world a better place to live in. It is the Left that has been the force for revolution and change.

and:

Since the 1960`s, liberal values seem to have won the day. The problem is that an `anything goes` society can never win the day, because people start to get frightened of their freedom, and people don`t realise that freedom is the biggest personal challenge on the planet. If you are free to do as you like, you need a huge amount of personal discipline and personal restraint. You need values of your own to direct your conduct. The Right has always depended on making people behave by telling them what to do through the fear of some outside force - whether God or the State. (And now Terrorism - yippee). The visionary Left hoped that by removing the false oppressions from peoples` lives, people would make their own rules, and live well out of personal love and respect.

It hasn`t happened - free people continue to prefer to oppress their neighbours - even if it just means turning the music up too loud, or dropping garbage on the street. We don`t live with a sense of each other, we live for ourselves, aggressively and selfishly.

The Right have worked out that they can say this is all the fault of a godless liberal society that HAS GONE TOO FAR.

Well, maybe it`s time for the Left to fight back by finding a positive agenda for change - one that is about transforming the individual, making us fit to be free.

On a lighter note, a friend of mine has gone on the Atkins diet. She said, "It feels like I've lost at least half my brain cells." My response: "That must be why Bush won. The Atkins vote."

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 11:25 AM:

No, because that would require honesty on their part. And the courage to face difficult facts. *slaps self* Enough already, woman!

I think this is a good response to that.

mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 11:28 AM:

On a lighter note, a friend of mine has gone on the Atkins diet. She said, "It feels like I've lost at least half my brain cells." My response: "That must be why Bush won. The Atkins vote."

I know that at least one Atkins voter went for Kerry (that would be me). :)

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 11:34 AM:

mayakda: and now you know two. (The funny, lightheaded feeling goes away after a few days, btw, Laura.)

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 12:45 PM:

How is righteous anger earned? Is it truly non-addictive?

Let me hazard a guess: Righteous anger is earned through oppression, either experienced directly, or through seeing others undeservedly suffering. I think it is every bit as addictive as unrighteous anger. It is a terrible burden that makes all burdens seem light.

I had a flash of righteous indignation the other night. It was not pleasant. No, it went past indignation, to semi-coherent rage, bordering on wrath.

It bothered me, sickened me actually, ruined the next few hours and bothers me still, some 40 hours later.

It is not addcitive, at least not for me.

TK

Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 12:48 PM:

There does seem to be more of a Kerry-Atkins correlation. I was thinking in terms of Atkins' great increase in popularity this year.

No, it's not much of a joke.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 12:57 PM:

I've never run into a single person who said "screw this independence shtick, I want somebody to make up my mind for me!"

The single most effective way to make a decision like that is to enlist int he military, and people do that all the time.

Kathryn Cramer

Respectfully, I must disagree.

Is there a lot of not getting to make decisions in the military? Yep. But there was a lot of that in the machining job I had, and more when I worked at Domino's.

The military is structured, and there is a lot of paternalism in it, but there are a lot of people in it (though it sounds as though I am being apologist) who haven't had the chance to grow up yet, and are in a position to do themselves great harm. I am talking about at home, not in in a combat zone.

I have seen people making deals to buy cars with hideous payments, at outrageous rates, because they had the money. What's $500 bucks a month when you don't have rent, and can eat at the mess?

What did it matter they were only making $720?

They can't be stopped, but there are other aspects of their lives where the consequences are worse (marrying a local, when one is stationed overseas. The Commander has to sign off on it).

But more to the point, people don't join to give up self. Most of them think they will find the confidence, skills and experience to make them more independent. It's rare, outside the military, to see a 19-20 year old kid in charge of the things we put them in charge of.

TK

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 01:08 PM:

I have sometimes wondered if we shouldn't bring back monasticism. (Yes, I know there are still monks and abbeys and stuff, but it's not a big part of society any more.) I'm not literally proposing it, but there's a range of human strengths and failings and needs that it addressed that we don't seem to effectively address any more.

Go into the con suite of any SF convention and tell me you don't see a few people who would be much happier living (voluntarily, of course) under some kind of structured Rule. With meaningful work to do and basic needs taken care of.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 01:36 PM:

People have multiple models of the world, not just one.

I could believe that. I was more emphasizing the difficulty in getting someone (anyone) to discard a world view in exchange for another. Rather than carrying around a set of world-views and using whichever one they earmarked for their location.

When people upgrade their world-view, they often forget two important things: that they used to have a different world view, and the work it took to cause the change.

I was reading about a psychological development experiment, testing kids understanding of physical space. The doctors had a ball that was black on one half and white on the other. They'd show the ball to young children let them play with it, and then they'd put the ball on the table with the white side to the child and the black side to the doctor. They'd ask "what color do I see?" and under a certain age, the children would answer white. Above a certain age, kids get the concept of putting themselves in someone else's shoes, and can figure out that someone may see the world differently.

One of the interesting bits was that they video taped some of these experiments and sometimes they would even test the same children repeatedly over the course of a couple years.

When a child passed a test, the doctors would show the child a videotape of that same child failing that same test the year before. Apparently, a common response from the kids was to disbelieve they could have been so foolish, to deny the tape was real, and to claim the video was a fake.

My point being that people generally oversimplify the thought process, forget the work they did to get where they are now, call people who don't "get it" foolish, and claim some is exhibiting malice when ignorance is often more accurate.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 01:39 PM:

TK: I was wondering when someone would rise to that. Interestingly, I see a lot more agreement in your disagreement that I would have expected.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 01:43 PM:

Well, I must admit, some people can't be saved no matter how hard you try.

turkey horror stories

Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 01:53 PM:

Patrick, apparently a lot of aging punks have the same idea.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 01:54 PM:

Kathryn, you are confusing cause (desire to be led by the nose, as a reason to enlist) with effect (many are still children, and need some leading by the nose).

TK

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 02:48 PM:

The military is a structure where the decision making and the execution of those decisions is split and divied up along a hierarchical chain of command.

Useful when you need a hundred thousand men on the front lines operating in unison for them to survive. The battle of marathon had 150,000 men total in the fight. The battle of waterloo was something like 400,000 men on a side.

The opposite structure is one where everyone can make decisions and everyone can execute those decisions equally.

Useful for a free society.

Both structures have disadvantages as well.

But please don't mock them for their strengths.

Jeff Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 03:22 PM:

republican -- paternal

democrat -- maternal

mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 03:45 PM:

I have sometimes wondered if we shouldn't bring back monasticism. (Yes, I know there are still monks and abbeys and stuff, but it's not a big part of society any more.)

Wasn't one of the big draws of a religious life back then was it was one of the few ways of moving up in the class heirarchy?

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 04:18 PM:

Not really, mayakda. The lower-class monks and nuns did the scutwork and the upper-class ones concentrated on "loftier things."

The actual clergy may have been different, but I don't know as much about that. I do know that there were several cases in the middle ages where the Papacy passed from "uncle" (father) to "nephew" (bastard son). I suspect there were class issues at play there, too.

The middle class grew in size and power after the Plague...but that's getting pretty OT.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 04:43 PM:

I keep trying not to say, So this is why some parents want their kids to enlist because it seems so heartless, but that does seem to underly TKs argument. Or maybe some kids are realistic enough to know they still need limits and so enlist. Again, it seems a heartless thing to say. But people do these things. They're doing them now.

I've been following issues of military privatization on my blog, and one of the attractions of it, I think, for those who depart our military to go back and fight the same fight employed by a private company is that if the other side gets out the nerve gas you can abandon your post and run like hell. It's perfectly legal. You can quit.

People join the military because there are so many rules and they leave again for the same reason.

hugh_manatee ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 05:05 PM:

republican: "i've got mine"
democrat: "if we work together, you can get yours too."

Dave ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 05:09 PM:

From P. J. O'Rourke:

Republicans - God
Democrats - Santa Claus

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 05:10 PM:

democrat: 'bipartisan' = "let's work together"
republican: 'bipartisan' = "you do what we say"

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 06:09 PM:

I don't want to live my life in a monastery (or perhaps I mean in a monastic way, assuming monastic is the right word, and I'm too lazy to look it up at the moment so hopefully y'all will know what I mean) but I do wish that modern life were more flexible in terms of being able to take serious sabbaticals.

As far as I can tell, the only way I could take a few months off a year would be to own a successful company, work for myself, or be a school teacher, and none of those are feasible for me at this point.

Also, I'm not patient enough to be a full-time teacher. Tutoring one-on-one, sure; dealing with large numbers of students -- most of whom probably aren't motivated to learn -- while simultaneously being paid a pittance, does not appeal.

I have a lot of respect for people who teach, particularly in public grammar/jr high/high schools.

Clearly I just need to find a venture capitalist willing to fund my "actually comfortable theatre with reasonable prices" idea. (I want to open a theatre with comfy chairs that serves popcorn and soda that are priced at a lot less than a 1000% markup. I plan to attach it to a café with two rooms -- one smoking, one non-smoking. Then I am going to get on my magical pony and ride to the stars, since that's about as likely.)

MD² ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 06:24 PM:

Xopher, after reading your translation, I can only say that, against all odds and expectations, your english appears to be far better than mine.-_^

To Andy Perrin: I just SO love those tranlation softwares ! Thanks you by the way, you just helped me realise the obvious: they probably fail to their task more because of grammatical multivalence than polysemy.
I can't resist the pleasure of posting a link to the babelizer, althought I'm pretty sure everyone around these parts must know this already.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden:
"What I keep wanting to fight back toward is a discourse in which "liberal" and "conservative" aren't ignorant armies that clash by night, but rather "turns of mind" that each have value to bring to a discourse."

Whether you're a rightist or a leftist , you're hemiplegic, to misquote Raymond Aron.

All this talk about defining republicans and democrats reminds me of the problem the French "liberté, égalité, fraternité" posed me when I first came to France. Liberty and equality taken at extreme values just don't belong together, thus the need for fraternity, to glue both.
Except here it's the contrary: I can spot no reason for republicanism and democratism not to work complementarily, yet they seem totally unable to connect. The million dollar question being, whether or not, one reason can be spotted whose correction would allow for a mending of the fracture...

Time for me to go swoon like a schoolgirl over the "beautiful French comment".

pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 08:39 PM:

"And they won't think, damn their dewy-sweet, God-fearing eyes."

I think you have oversimplified the thought process.

I think you oversimplified my position, and unfairly discounted the context in which I wrote that sentence.

I regard the establishment of a concentration camp as earth-shattering. Red voters apparently do not, at least, not enough to change their vote. Same with torture, It's not happening right in front of their noses, so they won't think about it, and for damn sure don't want to hear me talking about it.

They are nice people, as I said, not stupid, but they are indulging in folly and are made fools in consequence.

You said:
Having to discard our entire world view in exchange for something completely unknown, and having to rebuild a new world model from nothing, is scary and a lot of work.

which is not terribly far off from what I concluded:
"So I guess this is my long-winded way of saying they voted to maintain the status quo, not because they think it's that wonderful, but because they cannot afford to face up to just how bad it is."

So when you speak of those Reds, I'd ask that we all have a little humility rather than demand immediate perfection. Because none of us were born with a perfect world view, and none of us simply said "Oh so thats the way the world really is." without some usually world-altering situation happening in our lives.

Frankly, I think you've got the cart before the horse. It is not a bad idea to examine just what there is in the 59 mil mindset, in whole or in part, that actively works to destroy those things I most value. Humility, in this process, takes a back seat to honesty.

And also keep in mind that next week, next, month, or next year, something might happen in your life that will show that the world-view you hold today is severely flawed.

As we are unacquainted, you will have to settle for my assurance that I am not in need of finger-wagging on this point; I am already well aware of how often and easily the world is turned upside down.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 09:16 PM:

Pericat is speaking very well for me here. There's normal partisan back and forth - not trivial, but real, about substantial stuff. Taxation, regulation, what constitutes an incentive and what it costs others, the relative merits of uniformity and diversity, the balance of powers between branches of government, levels of government, and government and society at large, when to make war, how to make it, and when to stop it. All of this involves genuine disagreement about the most serious of subjects, but can nonetheless happen with a framework about both procedures and ends. Those professions of respectful disagreement say something important about how representative government works, and even when a particular utterance isn't sincere, the act of making it and feeling like you had to helps reinforce the existence of a society in which it's said and meant.

But then we get to torture, and concentration camps, and the very deliberate levying of greater burdens on the poor to support the rich, and a callous disregard for the basic norms of real exchange (or even common courtesy), and the stated conviction of unlimited power under very vague grant indeed. This is not the same old thing. This is the threshold of tyranny - the sort of tyranny prior generations fought in World War II, that the Cold War was supposed to fight. This is the face of evil. I can respect people who are worried about immorality and social chaos...but on some basic level, I can't respect them for deciding that those fears make it worth accepting the torture and the absolute power and all the rest. That's negligence, at a minimum, or the willing embrace of un-American evil at worst. I can't respect it, and I can't very much respect the people who hold it. Which is, I guess, why I prefer to look at reaching those who didn't vote at all, or something other than pretending like I respect those who condoned the torture.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 09:37 PM:

What Bruce Baugh said. There's a time to reach out, and there's a time to fight.

Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 02:41 AM:

Earned righteous anger is no less addictive than unearned righteous anger, I think. Where else do environmentalists who will chain themselves to trees, or throw paint buckets at fur coats, come from? Where do campaign volunteers come from? Anyone who will dedicate their life to a cause such as that seems to me to be an addict of righteous anger.

Certainly the cost is less, for unearned righteousness. It is far easier to be comfortably outraged at issues that do not touch you than to tangle with the twisted and tricky issues up close and dirty.

However, it seems to me to be a difficult proposition to sort out earned and unearned righteous anger. It is the nature of the beast that all righteous anger feels justified. I share Terry's fear of it. It is a fearsome thing--it can accomplish much, but it destroys far better than it creates.

For me, I treat it like fire. When I find it in me, I capture it, and shut it in a furnace, to drive the mechanics of my heart. I do not trust it to work on its own, but I need it to fight the apathy and inertia of daily life. Without anger at injustice, and the sympathy that sparks it, it is too easy to talk and talk and do nothing.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 07:09 AM:

Isn't it interesting that the political polarity of the color red has been flipped by the election? Now Texas, not China, is a Red state.

Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 07:44 AM:

Greg London wrote:

If the core republican value is "Strength" and the core democrat value is "Fairness", you can either have them go through an experience where Strength failed them (They were abused or raped or they lost control and assaulted someone they loved) and get them to abandon Strength, or you can show them how Fairness works in addition to Strength, and how they don't have to abandon it, they simply need to upgrade.

"Upgrade Your Government" would make a catchy slogan for the Democrats in the next election cycle. Particularly considering how "buggy" the dominant Republicans seem to be making it. (The special dispensation for DeLay, the attempt to access anyone and everyone's tax returns, etc.)


Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 08:43 AM:

pericat:
We both are in agreement that concentration camps and torture are wrong. I wasn't trying to oversimplify your position. I was trying to point you to the tactics needed to make things right.

If I may chance another simplification, you and Bruce can be summed up by Patrick's statement:

There's a time to reach out, and there's a time to fight.

Which I agree with. Concentration camps and torture are things to be fought against. But you have to decide if it is more important to fight the concentration camps or fight the voters who voted for it.

Unless you literally pick up arms and literally fight by use of force, the only way to "fight" figuratively is persuade those who voted for the things you wish to fight against.

(1) civil war, use of arms
(2) free society, persuade your fellow voters
(3) leave the country

As long as you operate within the system, "fight" really means "persuade". Campaign ads, slogans, rallies, all of it to get the word out about your candidate so people will vote for them. Don't let "concentration camps are wrong" cloud the fact that your way of fighting them from within the system is voter persuasion. No one here is going to "fight" as in call out the liberal-militia and shoot down those non-thinking Bush voters. Don't let your anger cloud your view of reality.

Back when the discussion turned on Nader voters, I tried to explain the idea of Strategic Voting:

when a voter misrepresents his or her sincere preferences in order to gain a more favorable outcome

If you hold true to your "sincere preference", then you will write off any and all voters who you say "didn't think", who voted for torture and concentration camps.

And you will lose the next election.

Those very same voters are needed to win the next election. "W" got a majority this time around, so if you are in the minority, and you want to operate within the election system, you've got to persuade some of those non-thinking people to vote your way somehow.

So, you can either hold to your sincere beliefs (the equivalent of "vote nader"), and lose the next election, or you can figure out a way to persuade some of those voters to change their vote at the next election. And telling someone they voted for the wrong candidate because they wouldn't think isn't going to win the fight.

There is a time to reach out and there is a time to fight. Absolutely. But fight to win. Don't just fight from the "right" position and get your asses kicked. Don't vote Nader because he's the "right" candidate, and have the worst candidate get elected.

To create a "favorable outcome" of stopping concentration camps, you're going to have to give up the righteous position that all people voted Bush because "they won't think, damn their dewy-sweet, God-fearing eyes".


Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 10:32 AM:

Kathryn said:

Isn't it interesting that the political polarity of the color red has been flipped by the election? Now Texas, not China, is a Red state.

I was just thinking the same thing. Future historians will get extremely confused. Plus, "pinko" still means Communist.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 10:42 AM:

Me too on the "Red" thing. I'm thinking of changing my sig to "Better Dead than Red."

But I suppose only people with a sense of history would get the joke, and all kinds of "blue in a red state" folks would get on my case. So I'd better not.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 10:46 AM:

Minor quibble: Where else do environmentalists who will chain themselves to trees, or throw paint buckets at fur coats, come from? Where do campaign volunteers come from?

People who chain themselves to trees might be environmentalists. People who throw paint at fur coats are animal rights activists. As a non-extremist environmentalist who is emphatically NOT an animal rights activist, I think the distinction is important.

</quibble>

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 11:39 AM:

The Lone Star state could be a Red Star too. Along that line, I've been listening a lot to the new album, Revolution Starts Now, by Steve Earle. It's uneven, but it's got at least four excellent tracks on it, not including the title track (which is okay), and definitely not including a certain reggae-style love song. But even that's worth listening to once -- just use the headphones. The rest of it should be blasted from the rooftops.

I am also listening a lot to American Us by Los Mocosos. They are a big band, they're hot, they can sing, and they can play anything (and do). Calling them the best band in the Mission District isn't enough any more.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 12:06 PM:

"Upgrade Your Government" would make a catchy slogan for the Democrats in the next election cycle. Particularly considering how "buggy" the dominant Republicans seem to be making it.

We need to do something about our expensive, proprietary, unreliable, spyware infested government before it crashes and we lose everything we've put in it. Upgrading isn't it -- they keep selling us upgrades and the system only gets worse.

It is time to thoroughly clean out the system and install a different government. My recommendation is open source.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 12:34 PM:

My recommendation is open source.

Cool!

Perl training manual under Open Source license (GNU FDL)

Now all we got to do is convert it from Perl to Parliment...

;)

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 01:36 PM:

TomB: You've completely reframed the question Reform or Revolution?

pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 03:12 PM:

Greg, I realize that I am not on message, so far as how you've already concluded it should be structured, which seems to be, "Don't say anything that might offend Bush-voter sensibilities, as that'll scuttle our chances of persuading them of the rightness of our cause."

Bugger that.

I am not a duckling whom you need nudge back into ranks, nor a political operative whose message must be made to conform to anyone's party line. I am a private citizen in a society where speaking out is not just a fundamental right, but a responsibility of citizenship.

Strategies for forming voting blocs are all very well in their place, but they do not apply to the framing of public debate. The idea that I, or you, or anyone else, should be careful of what we say, as the next US election hinges on not offending people who voted for Bush, is the reddest of herrings, and worse — it implies that speaking our minds is a luxury we cannot afford if we are to win elections. I insist rather that speaking out, honestly and plainly, is a necessity we cannot afford to neglect if any election, once won, is to lead to any good.

To create a "favorable outcome" of stopping concentration camps, you're going to have to give up the righteous position that all people voted Bush because "they won't think, damn their dewy-sweet, God-fearing eyes".

By golly, you sure have fixed on that one sentence. I'm going to have to polish up my rhetoric, if a throw-away can have this much impact.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 05:56 PM:

pericat,

If I fixed on one of your sentences too much, at least I quoted you.

I, on the other hand, never said anything to the effect of "Don't say anything that might offend Bush-voter sensibilities". I did not say anything about nudging you or anyone back into ranks, I said nothing about conforming to some new party line.

I insist rather that speaking out, honestly and plainly

I agree. But do you honestly believe that every Bush voter actively supports torture and concentration camps? That every Bush voter actively choose not to think?

There have been a lot of statements made against Bush-Voters that are outright dishonest. I let some of it go on the principle that people need to vent, but at some point, honesty needs to be brought back in.

Speak your minds, for gods sake yes, but be honest about what you say.

as for "speaking plainly", sure. That was partly why I was asking for the one word value for the Kerry campaign. It wasn't plain to me. It would be good if someone could figure it out so we could speak plainly to people.

I'm not sure why you've turned "persuade" into some underhanded tactic. What can speaking plainly and honestly actually do except persuade people?


Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 07:19 PM:

Greg, there are precisely four possibilities for Bush voters with regard to torture:

1. They never heard about it. These people are too ill-informed to make reliable voters.

2. They ignored it.

3. They chose to downplay it as unimportant in the face of the war on terror, their pet moral crusade, or whatever.

4. They endorsed it as entirely or mostly suitable.

None of these reflect well on them. There is no rationale for supporting torture that I care to respect as moral. The very best outcome is that I regard it as a serious moral lapse on the part of otherwise virtuous people (as is the case with my friends who supported Bush), and I can only hope that it is an aberration rather than a key element in a sustained moral slide.

Pericat continues to speak for me, too. This isn't a campaign. This isn't even, say, Jerry Falwell's broadcasts, where in the last few days alone he's referred to NOW as the National Organization of Witches, or Cannity & Holmes, where Falwell called the ACLU anti-Christ. This is a public space, but it is also a fairly obscure one.

We do need effective strategies for upcoming campaigns. But strategy exists to serve a goal. And we can't work out that unless we know what in fact we do think and want. This is standard stuff in group planning - we are clarifying our values and aims. Later we will decide what electoral strategy best advances them, but policy with values is precisely part of the problem we face. So can these demands that we adopt the same reckless, immoral obsession with means that characterizes our enemies. (They think we're their enemies, at least.) We are right now doing the first and crucial step in getting to a wise, just, moral, and effective response.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 07:56 PM:

Bruce, you left out a category: They believe it was just anti-Bush propoganda.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 08:03 PM:

Bruce Baugh says exactly what I've been trying to. (I've started several comments and then abandoned them.) There are important conversations that we can't have if everything we say here is measured against the standards of what one would say to a hypothetical and angry "red-state" Bush voter.

Most of the people in this discussion understand that you can't just rant, attitudinize, and proclaim your moral superiority; at some point you have to persuade. This weblog (along with its partner weblog) has discussed the necessity of practical politics for many a year. But the process of discerning our own values and figuring out how hard we're willing to fight for them is part of practical politics too. It needs to happen in hundreds of thousands of little spaces like this one--blogs, living rooms, drinking clubs, any place where people united by their opposition to the current regime care to gather for fellowship and discussion.

Yes, there's always the danger of becoming inturned, of focussing excessively inward and losing track of the real nature of the problem outside. That something is a danger shouldn't mean it determines everything we say and do.

A lot of what Greg London says, I agree with both temperamentally and intellectually. What's starting to get to me, and I think some others such as Bruce, is the frequency with which he brings in his Invisible Friend, the red-state Bush voter who will never in a million years be convinced by our dopey, self-indulgent, unpersuasive rhetoric. It's true--we all need to learn to be more persuasive. But we also need to have healthy conversations with one another. The wake of a big political defeat is exactly when the losing side most needs to have those conversations.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 08:13 PM:

Tina, I'd file that under "ignore", but you may be right and it warrants a fifth category. If I do that tally again, I'll keep it in mind. Thanks! (I hate feeling like I've skipped what should have been obvious.)

Thanks, Patrick.

The real question for me is what constitutes a suitable forum for discussing these things with a bunch of people I share some things but not all things in common with. It could all be done through e-mail, IM, and private subscription-required forums, but each of those would cut out some folks I want to hear from. An open forum like this, where many things but not all things go, seems to me to occupy a special and very important place in the great scheme of, er, things.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 08:17 PM:

To personalize this, I should note that I'm doing a lot of reexamination these days. I feel myself in the midst of a crisis of personal political values, where things I've relied on prove simply insufficient but I'm not sure which alternatives I actually favor any more. I'm deeply conflicted on many matters, and trying hard to anchor angry passions in considered thoughts. It's hard. There may be an element of the echo chamber "let's say the same old things again and again" for some people, but not for me. This is work in progress, with some fresh insights practically every day. I need this time to get my head into an order suitable for upcoming challenges.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 08:18 PM:

Bruce,

there are precisely four possibilities for Bush voters with regard to torture

None of which is a requirement to vote. So, do you deal with these people or let them vote as is?

There is no rationale for supporting torture that I care to respect as moral.

OK, I am completely stumped here. Seriously. As someone who attempts to be as accurate as possible with my language, I cannot for the life of me figure out where I am communicating this wrong. Could someone tell me where I used the word "moral" or "not offend"???

I am serious. I honestly don't get it, and apparently I need a good reader or something.

as far as I can tell, I'm saying that people think they are doing the right thing, but their world-view affects what their "right thing" is. Not that it's right or moral, but that we all think its right or moral because all anyone has to go on is their world view. Which isn't to get all relativistic-morality either, for cripes sake. There are primary levels of development, which could probably be broken down into core values of ascending order like Strength, Morals, Justice, and Worldview. or whatever. the specifics aren't quite so important as the concept.

If someone is on the first level of Strength, they can only relate to something from a point of view of strength. if you want to get them up to the next level, you either throw them into a situation that shows how strength fails, and hope they move up, or you tell them how to get there.

It isn't saying that "strength" is right or moral for gods sake. Or that you have to talk so as to not offend. Or dumb down your honest and clear opinion. But to speak to someone who sees the world through the filter of "strong=good", don't you have to deal with that filter to get them anywhere else?

The levels build upon each other. Each level fixes a problem of the previous level. Each new level creates a new problem to be solved by the next.

That's a digital representation. I think the analog version has people who have capacities in all four levels, but who are strongest on one particular level. Someone might be good at 'worldview', but is weak in 'strength'. They would make a good ambasador, but a bad DeltaForce guy.

I suppose that this worldview operates under the premise that people rise as high as they can see, and then they need an outside event to push them further. which strips away some sense of moral superiority. But I find it hard to believe that anyone CHOOSES not to develop, its more that something happens that shunts development in some area.

I dunno. I think I have a pretty clear idea of what I'm saying. But when people speak it back to me, it's like they read a different book or something. I think I just may have to shelve it. Right now, it seems like all I'm doing is pissing people off.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 08:21 PM:

Greg, don't sell yourself short. Yes, you've annoyed some people a little bit, but you've also contributed some really valuable analysis.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 08:31 PM:

I read threads like this and remember why I want more posting here.

But, to business,

I keep trying not to say, So this is why some parents want their kids to enlist because it seems so heartless, but that does seem to underly TKs argument. Or maybe some kids are realistic enough to know they still need limits and so enlist. Again, it seems a heartless thing to say. But people do these things. They're doing them now.

Kathryn Cramer

Again, I respectfully disagree. I know a lot of people who've joined the "military" and damned few of them did it to be led by the nose.

Some of them wanted some structure, but those are a small number (though I confess, I don't know all that many Marines). What I find amusing is that those who wanted structure are disappointed at the low level of it. Not that this is relevant to them wanting it, but they found it wanting.

And, for those who do it, thinking they need an outside formative force, it's not heartless to say so. And it's not a flaw in them (which is the context in which this is being discussed). That is the examined life without which life isn't really worth living.

If I know I need something, and go to a place I can find it (lets say I have an urge, undeniable, to dance; so I go to Julliard) that is held a good thing; but not it seems, in this venue. But I digress.

The Army (which is the part of the military I know best) is a cross section of the culture, as such it, pretty well, reflect the rest of the society in which it lives.

While it may be possible to lead most people around by the nose, most of them don't want to be so led, or are, at least, not aware of it, which means (in light of this conversation) it is not a driving force.

TK

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 08:55 PM:

his Invisible Friend, the red-state Bush voter

is it the frequency or the fact that he's invisible? If it's frequency, he pretty much comes up every time someone says something over the top. I'll try a low-pass filter to take out some of the high end.

If its that he's invisible, perhaps it might help if he had a name: how about Dad, Mom, Brother, Grandma, Aunt, Uncle, Friend, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc? Does that help? It at least takes the invisibility away.

I do believe I can act as an expert witness who has spent a great deal of time out in the field of Bush-Voter country to testify that most of the Bush-Voter statements I've heard are flat-out wrong, or at the very least, so overly simplistic as to be useless.

So, that's where I'm coming from.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 09:16 PM:

Greg, some of us know Bush voters of many kinds as well: urban and rural, living in the US and expatriate, working class and middle class and professional, libertarians and religious conservatives and secular conservatives, and like that. This isn't like that thing where we don't know anybody so gauche as to be outside our circle of hip consensus views. I, at least, am writing in response to conversations I've had with friends and neighbors, people I deal with in various contexts, and what my friends have told me about their conversations with families and neighbors. I'm an urban kind of guy, but I'm only at one remove from wildly different environments, thanks to various accidents of personal and family history. The fact that you disagree with the views expressed does not make them ignorant.

What I'm doing here is reaching judgments, and most particularly saying that good intentions do not entirely excuse evil results. It matters that someone might wish for a society where people are gainfully employed, with their choice of jobs, able to enter into happy relationships and raise good families, and like that. It does not stop me from pointing out that their actions will lead to poverty, social stratification, disruption of families, and other bad stuff...and that they had the opportunity to know this, if they paid more attention to results and less to rhetoric about desires.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 10:17 PM:

Bruce,

I wasn't implying my situation is unique and therefore everyone else is ignorant. But given some statements by some people, I'm pretty sure that there are some people who have no relationships to any Bush-Voters whom they respect as a human being.

Human dignity (wasn't that someone's core value?) has to be extended whether its reciprocated or not. at least in my opinion. The guy accused of murder still gets a fair trial and a humane punishment.

I also know that I am first a product of my environment and a distant second a product of whatever internal mental development I can muster. I am not so vain as to think that had I been born into the dark ages I couldn't have turned into the guy lighting the fire under galileo's feet if born into the right situation. Let alone slip me back in history a mere decade or two and put me in a bush-voting red state, and see if I don't come out with some horrific attitudes towards people. I know because it happened to me, and by chance and by circumstance, I ended up in a position where I performed a complete world-view flip and managed to survive the intermediate repercusions of having nothing solid to hold onto for a year or two.

(vent mode on)

And I think people who were born into the circumstance of a forward-thinking blue state can succumb to the idea that they came to their views all on their own, through simple intellectual exercises, so why the hell aren't these backwoods morons figuring it out? And that really pisses me off.

Someone thinking they figured out the path from caveman to twenty-first-century progressive politics all on their own during their college years is just fucking arrogant.

We were ALL born on the shoulders of philosophical, political, and intellectual giants, and could devote a lifetime just going up one or two rungs from where we were born.

So it really pisses me off when someone thinks they climbed the ladder all by themselves and insults people further down.

Christ, that basically sums up how most red-staters experience "Liberal Elites" for fucks sake....

phhhhfffftt

...yeah, I think that's all the steam for now...

(vent mode off)

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 11:13 PM:

oh my head...

Sorry everyone. that last post was at the end of a 12-hour work-day from hell. 12 months worth of work and 3 months to do it and my manager just gave me another assignment in addition to all the other stuff this morning. my 45 minute commute home just now let me cool off enough to see I was blowing my top in the wrong place. I'm not really mad at anyone here (frustrated maybe, but not mad), but I vented a bunch of stuff here that no one deserved. sorry.

Anyway I think I need to get off the computer now and go to bed soon.

g'night.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 11:23 PM:

TK: I think the way this subtopic developed was unfortunate. Greg was insisting that conservatism is about independence, Avram pointed out that he hasn't run into any liberals that say "screw this independence shtick," and Kathryn brought up enlisting in the military. I think you might be reading more into Kathryn's statements than she intended; she didn't use the phrase "led by the nose" in any of her posts I can find.

I am not a military person, so please feel free to correct me where I am wrong, but I understand that the military provides food, housing (up to a point), clothing, equipment, and a good deal of training and guidance. It also has a very clear mission and set of values. This should not take away from the facts that soldiers are not well paid, and that life in a military family is not easy. Also, I think that success, sometimes even survival, in the military, can require initiative, problem-solving skills, and the ability to deal with stress. The way that I would put it is that in the military some things are given to you, or decided for you, and other things you have to work out on your own.

If we consider the kinds of independence that are required in civilian life, not the independence that is allowed, but what is required just to get by, civilian life can be rough, especially for people starting out without a lot of advantages. You have to figure out what you are going to do to make a living, learn how to do it, and then convince someone to employ you. You have to decide where to live, and find housing you can afford. Food is not provided. Transportation to and from work is usually not provided. By comparison, getting paid to learn a skill in the military may seem pretty good.

I happen to be comfortable as a civilian; I have been fortunate to fall into a career that matches my temperament. My dad was in the Marines, and both loved it and hated it. If his temperament were different, he might have stayed in, but even for his short enlistment he came away with some very good skills for dealing with life. I have other relatives and friends who have chosen military careers and thrived. (I will skip over the ones who were drafted.) Some of them needed structure, and I kind of felt sorry for the military, but it turned out I didn't need to worry. Others joined because they felt it was meaningful. So it's complex, and obviously people are not all the same. But it seems to me that there is an element of truth in what Kathryn said. The military provides a sense of meaning and a supportive environment that is just the ticket for some people, at the right time in their lives. If it means they have to give up their independence to figure everything out on their own, they are also giving up the risk of failure.

To get back to Greg's comments that led to this, I think independence is a strange value. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for it. But what does it mean, in real life? It seems to me that the people who enjoy the most independence are those who have the means to do so. (This happens to be very close to the original meaning of the word "liberal" as someone who had the standing and means to be free, compared to most people.) The best way to be independent is to choose your parents carefully and make sure you are born in the right country. Then as you grow up, as you are a dependent of theirs, they can give you educational, social, and financial advantages that will help you greatly when you are on your own. I wonder, does a conservative program such as the elimination of estate taxes support independence, by expanding the ranks of people who don't have to work for a living, or does that actually foster dependency? And for most people, how valuable is independence if it is without opportunity? Isn't that just the independence to starve? Again, I am all for independence, but I mean real independence, not right-wing rhetoric.

Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 12:12 AM:

Re: Enviromentalist vs. Animal Rights Activist Quibble

Hmm. Yes, quite right, sorry.

pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 12:50 AM:

Greg London wrote: I, on the other hand, never said anything to the effect of "Don't say anything that might offend Bush-voter sensibilities". I did not say anything about nudging you or anyone back into ranks, I said nothing about conforming to some new party line.

I refer to this comment, starting from:

Which I agree with. Concentration camps and...

through this paragraph:

To create a "favorable outcome" of stopping concentration camps, you're going to have to give up...

which I read as an exhortation to chill with the "don't think" chatter, because, in your view, it would alienate the very voters needed to win the next election. That ways must be found to bring these voters on side, and that expressing such views as I have been would only serve to "lose the next election". I did not, originally, quote you directly out of bandwidth concerns rather than any desire to slight you.

But do you honestly believe that every Bush voter actively supports torture and concentration camps? That every Bush voter actively choose not to think?

Rather the opposite; that the majority of them passively support torture, etc., via the passive act of not thinking about the ramifications of their support for Bush.

As Bruce said, "good intentions do not entirely excuse evil results."

And, just for the record, my personal relationships with some Bush-voters are close, in some cases familial, and IMO, neither here nor there as regards this discussion.

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 03:24 AM:

"...saying that good intentions do not entirely excuse evil results." -- Bruce Baugh

Is it not said that the road to Hell is paved with just those Good Intentions?

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 03:36 AM:

History, again, usually shows that the majority of people acquiescing in, and sometimes even carrying out, what we think of as 'evil', or just 'bad' deeds do consider what they are supporting or doing either 'good' in itself, or 'necessary in order to carry out an ultimately good end' (even if they're rather uncomfortable with it).

One example that has been discussed a lot over about the last decade or 15 years (??) in Australia is the whole "Stolen Generations" controversy in relation to Aboriginal children.
(FAR too long and difficult to try & summarise here, but not altogether different to what happened to other indigenous peoples, and even somewhat similar to the "British Orphans" exported to Canada & Australia.)
[Skirting Godwin, look carefully at the history of how assorted deceptions were used to persuade Jews to leave their homes for 'resettlement', including getting local communities to organise committees to organise it. We do forget these things because with hindsight we know how things turned out, but most don't realise what it was like trying to work it out while you were in the middle of it. It is a great example to study, simply because so much detail has been recorded from many different actors.]

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 08:53 AM:

pericat,

I read as an exhortation to chill with the "don't think" chatter, because, in your view, it would alienate the very voters needed to win the next election.

I'm saying knock it off because it isn't true. There is "think" as in evaluate your experiences through your world-model, which everyone does, and then there is "think" as in "upgrade your world-model".

I'm saying everyone evaluates what is happening around them through their world model on a moment by moment basis. And I'm saying all of us upgrade our world model perhaps a few times in a lifetime.

And what I was trying to say in my ranting, rambling, over-caffenaited post last night was that if you had been born into medieval times, you would have a medieval worldview. To believe you could have been born into a medieval world, and by way of sheer reason alone, to believe that you could think your way straight into the Information Age is fantasy.

It's not that you "wouldn't think", it's that you would be starting so far down the ladder that it would be impossible to get even to the point of where you were born into today.

And to view someone who was born into a Red State as someone who simply chooses not to think is ignoring the fact that you might have done little better if put in the same place.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 09:06 AM:

I think independence is a strange value. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for it. But what does it mean, in real life?

independent is yang
communal is yin

neither one is possible on a pure basis. No one is completely independent. And no one is completely communal. But just because they don't exist in a pure state, doesn't mean we can't understand what it is.

Varying degrees of both independence and communal attitude mixed together into a single individual will result in different personalities.

Someone with a lot of independence might be described as bold. Depending on how much communal attitude they have and other factors, that boldness could turn them into a cruel, conquering general, a special forces guy saving some hostages, a fireman, or a businessman.

Someone with a lot of communal spirirt might be described as compassionate. Depending on how much independent spirit they have and other factors, that compassion could turn them into a emergency room doctor, Mother Theresa, or someone who has a lot of kind ideas but does nothing about them.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 09:07 AM:

I think a great deal of what Greg is reaching for is well put here:

How to Respond to Conservatives

As usual, unecessary friction gets into conversations when people feel that unwarranted assumptions and implicit invidious comparisons have been made. To say nothing of the obvious fact that most of us are currently weary and on edge where these issues are concerned.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 09:12 AM:

Hm, ya know, maybe the problem is that "persuade" is simply too weak a word for people who want to grab a Bush-voter by the throat and shake them up a bit.

maybe "educate" would be less likely to misinterpretation. Of course teachers have been known to grab students by the throat, and that isn't the kind of education I'm talking about...

Oh well. Language sucks. can't do much about that.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 09:16 AM:

Patrick,

Thanks for the link.
I'll be buying that book soon.

Greg

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 10:08 AM:

Hm, nah. scratch "education", put it back to "persuasion".

"education" has teacher/student connotations and that's not the sort of relation I'm implying should occur when talking with someone. That's more likely to kick in the "liberal elite" experience for whoever ends up playing "student".

"persuasion" is more a "conversation of equals" and that has the connotation I want.


In other news, Pizza Hut drivers voted against unionizing, which seemed like a real world example of a recent conversation.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=519&ncid=519&e=12&u=/ap/20041124/ap_on_re_us/brf_pizza_drivers_union


alright, back to an impossible project with an impossible schedule...

mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 10:10 AM:

My recommendation is open source

Stumbled on this, while looking up Christian Existentialism resources. :)

Don't Think of an Elephant is a good book, imo. Thanks for posting that excerpt, Patrick.

Greg, I agree with your position here, very much.
But in practice, it's hard, because, for one thing, in my case, I'm an introvert, and face-to-face persuasion is foreign to me. So there is a level of resentment (in me) in being "forced" to go out of my comfort zone. But it is my responsibility to do what I can anyway, because I can see the problem.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 10:14 AM:

The title of Patrick's link brings something clearly into focus:

Here, I'm not responding to conservatives.

When I deal with my conservative and otherwise Bush-supporting friends, I don't launch straight into the moral charges like I've tallied above. I'm interested in persuasion and cooperation, where possible. I mean, my preferred government would make them more secure, prosperous, and in control of their destinies just as it would for me, or at least put fewer obstacles in the path of all those. I'm interested in reading more by Lakoff, but I've long grasped the idea that appeals to the angels of our better nature, to coin a phrase, often work better and in any event are more satisfying to me to make.

But this isn't that. This is me (and others) figuring out what we think about what has happened and is likely to happen and what we wish would happen and like that.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 11:00 AM:

I haven't really taken part in this discussion, except to quibble on a minor point (Heresiarch, we're cool), but I want you all to know that I've been reading it and finding it extremely valuable. Greg London's concept of two kinds of 'think' is a true gem; even if you've been arguing with him, please take note of that distinction, which will help you in conversations with practically everyone.

Another useful distinction was just drawn by Bruce "drawer of useful distinctions" Baugh. The discourses we engage in here, analyzing what went wrong and strategizing what to do about it, are of a different kind than the discourses with Bush voters we want to persuade/educate/convert. The latter are the result of the former. "Don't confuse program and data" is a good rule; I suspect that confusion may be responsible for a good part of the surface disagreement here.

Example: I suspect that there are some Bush voters who really are evil as I would define it. Their attitude toward the rest of the world is "let them hate so long as they fear"; on the domestic front it's "I have mine and I'm not sharing, or where would slaves -- oops, I meant servants -- come from?"

But I won't take that attitude when talking to a Bush voter. I will speak politely and respectfully (to the limits of my self-control, heh) and determine whether they are such a Bush voter, and THEN act accordingly. If they are, they're a Thing and I will not talk to them further. They don't need a worldview upgrade, they need to be stopped, by any legal means. If not (and these are the vast majority, I believe -- because not to believe it would be to despair) they are a Deluded Scientist and I will try, gently, to persuade them.

Now this was not my attitude prior to reading this discussion. I was taking a narrow "offend them as much as they offend me" attitude. If my name is legion among progressives, we shot ourselves in the foot. I'm upgrading my worldview; thank's y'all.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 02:05 PM:

Patrick: bought the book over lunch. A lot smaller than I thought. Should be able to get through it this weekend. Also bought the last two book of Stephen King's Gunslinger series at 35 bucks a whack. wow those things are thick.

mayakda: My first priority is to get people to see their own world-views and the world-views of people on the opposite end of teh political spectrum. It's fine if you don't want to go out and persuade others and stump for one idea or another. The first step is getting the idea of world-views. from there, people can do what they want.

Bruce: I'm not responding to conservatives.

"They don't think" is a gross simplification whether you say it to some Bush-Voter or not.

If someone is venting a gripe, I generally let them vent so they can get it out of their system. But when someone starts "figuring out what we think about what has happened", when someone starts getting into explanations, I think it's fair to call someone on proposing a gross oversimplification.

Xopher: true gems
Thanks.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 03:50 PM:

Like Patrick, I'm rehearsing and deleting a lot because the thing I want to say is difficult and important. So consider this a first draft, because I don't think I've necessarily got how to say it.

I'm looking back at history, and I'm looking at times when progressives had concrete successes and the allegiance of a majority of the population, and what I'm seeing is that at those times they broke every single one of Greg's rules of engagement.

When we win hearts, minds, elections, and legislation, is when we are not conciliatory, when we don't hobble out tongues in fear of offending someone, when we are straightforward, honest, passionate, and take the offensive.

Nobody hears you when you mumble.

This is not a time for olive branches, bipartisanship, flattering the other side, smoothing over differences.

You tell the Republican voter (I refuse to say Red -- I've been Red and proud of it all my life, and Red does not mean Republican!) "You're right about everything, but you should have voted for Kerry --" what he's going to hear is the first half of the sentence and he's not going to face up to the consequences of his actions.

Greg, I believe you're sincere -- but at this moment in history you're wrong.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 04:18 PM:

Hmm, Lucy. There is much merit in what you say, as I ponder what I know of past progressive movements. It seems like the key to success is often not so much swinging around those already committed to some other cause, but winning those who didn't feel they had much of a cause at all.

pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 05:43 PM:

I'm saying knock it off because it isn't true.

If it isn't true, then they are base, cold-hearted villians, rather than, as I posited originally, good-hearted, well-meaning people with a whole lot of stuff on their plates already.

I did at one time know several people who thought concentration camps were just dandy, as long as they were American, and that torture was a useful tool, as long as it was done in pursuit of American interests. We no longer speak. I'm pretty sure they aren't representative of most Bush voters, but it's certainly true that they do think.

Is this what you've been trying to get across to slow me, that most Bush voters did in sober fact consider the issues of the camps and the torture and the secret trials and so on, and decided it worked for them and cast their votes accordingly?

And to view someone who was born into a Red State as someone who simply chooses not to think is ignoring the fact that you might have done little better if put in the same place.

I'm not sure what to make of this. It's a neat hypothesis, very tidy. Its only real flaw is that it is false to fact. I was born in a small town in Texas. I've lived in small, medium and large towns in Texas for much of my life.

Pretending that I didn't, that I've lived all my life in the big city, with every liberal advantage, I do not see how this would discredit anything I've said about Bush voters' reasons for voting Bush in spite of all the bad stuff.

Now, saying, "someone who was born into a Red State [is] someone who simply chooses not to think" is pretty out there. Hasn't a blessed thing to do with anything I have said or do believe, and your mention of it here, along with, "To believe you could have been born into a medieval world, and by way of sheer reason alone, to believe that you could think your way straight into the Information Age is fantasy," leads me to wonder if I'm really the person with whom you're disagreeing, or if I'm just a convenient stand-in.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 05:43 PM:

The point I'm trying to make -- or the truth I'm trying to reference, or something -- is that people aren't convinced of anything if you don't say it to them. If you're so afraid of offending people that you never say what you believe, and never counter the lies they're hearing from elsewhere, they think you have nothing to say and nothing to offer, and they go with the guy who's got some kind of program -- it's better than nothing!

And if we let the religious right define the argument, as we have been doing for a couple decades now, then we do have nothing to say. There's no way to counter the fake morals and value crap on its own merits -- it's slippery, and it's disingeuous, and it's manipulative. You have to say something real, and say it clearly, and say it loudly, and say it often, and say it in every place you can.

Otherwise you're not an alternative, you're mushmouthed background noise.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 06:15 PM:

Pericat: People have said bush-voters didn't think. I'm saying knock it off because it isn't true that they didn't think. I've apparently lost track of who said it. And I apologize for that. It seems like such a minor quibble compared to my larger problems right now that I'll retract whatever it was that I posted to you.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 06:17 PM:

Lucy: my rules of engagement do not include to be conciliatory, hobble your tongues, flattery, and telling bush-voters "you were right".

As for concrete progressive movements, I think you could look at them and find that they have at their core some idea that appealed to the different world views of a majority of the people. Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a bus. A simple act but it is usually credited with causing the civil rights movement to sweep the nation.

It seems to show some rules of engagement, though. She didn't call the white person who wanted her to move any names. She didn't assault the bus driver when he got involved. She didn't swing at the police when they arrested her. And a group of black anarchists didn't organize an assault on the local jail to break her out.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott that followed focused on the notion that the idea of segregation was wrong. Martin Luther King Jr didn't preach that all whites were guilty of allowing racisism by their inaction. He preached an idea of equality, of justice, that could fit into a lot of different world-views.

I don't consider his tactics to be mush-mouthed. He didn't resort to flattery. He didn't kiss anyone's ass.

And yet, he didn't go around kicking anyone's ass either. Or calling them morons, bigots, or racists. He didn't call whites from northern states guilty of inaction. Nor did he tell the whites in the south that they didn't think when they voted for some politician who supported segregation.

He preached an idea, a core moral value, that fit within a lot of people's world views.

That is all I'm looking for here. I'm asking people to stop the accusations and name calling because it does not forward the idea of equality or justice or fair play when someone claims to be better or smarter than everyone else.

Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 06:42 PM:

This slide show reflects pretty accurately the spirit of bipartisan conciliation I'm filled with these days. Make sure you have the sound on to hear the soundtrack by Jim's Big Ego. (It is, however, emphatically NSFW.)

pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 06:45 PM:

I'll retract whatever it was that I posted to you.

Okay. Want a beer?

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 07:10 PM:

And I think people who were born into the circumstance of a forward-thinking blue state can succumb to the idea that they came to their views all on their own, through simple intellectual exercises, so why the hell aren't these backwoods morons figuring it out? And that really pisses me off.

Mr London: I grew up in northeastern Oklahoma in the 50s and 60s. I never had indoor plumbing until I was 7. I had a lousy, second-rate (at best) education, almost all family still live in that reddest of red states and almost all vote Repbublican. You are cordially invited to get over yourself.

MKK

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 09:31 PM:

The problem, Greg, is that you have a rampant cognitive split between what you say you're saying and what you're really saying -- I mean what the things you say mean to the people who are receiving them.

Consider the possibility that you're actually committing the very act you're afraid that we'll commit with respect to those poor downtrodden Republican voters. That you're getting people's backs up by being condescending and misconstruing what we're saying and doing.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 12:10 AM:

Thank you all. Goodnight.
Happy Thanksgiving

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 12:43 AM:

Elegantly succinct, Lucy.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 01:45 AM:

I just went to the store for my annual emergency molasses run (so the firstborn can make pecan pie for tomorrow, natch), and while I was driving around I figured out what I really want to say. It's about the center.

A bunch of people here have at different times expressed a certain orientation to the center -- how much they value that place that is of and not of everything else. Actually, I value the center too, though I place myself as far left as I can comfortably go. I value the center because it is the place, supposedly, where we all can play, at least some of the time.

But the center is not a static place: it's a dynamic process. It's created by the movement of the people arranged around it, and they do move. In order for the reasonable moderate liberal to be at the center, there must be something to the left of her.

I heard some guy who hates George Bush's guts talking on NPR about how he couldn't vote for Kerry because he is too extremely left-wing. This bizarre perception is only possible because the center is currently way over to the right, and the things we traditionally call the center have been marked off as the left edge, while the things we traditionally call the left have been marginalized and silenced. Generally with their own entirely enthusiastic cooperation.

So I think that it's important to speak up. And it's important to move the discussion over, to redefine the terms, to redefine the language in which this discourse takes place.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 02:25 AM:

I very much like the idea of the center as a place worth visiting and protecting though not where I choose to live. And yes, very true that it won't actually be the center unless all sides are well-expressed.

It's well worth remembering that the currently dominant political discourse wasn't always dominant. The language of political campaigns and policy-making was different ten years ago, and twenty, and so on back. We need to take what's now being said (and thought) into account. But it isn't a straitjacket that we have to accept as defining all that will ever be acceptable. Past reform movements made what had been commonplace seem both scandalous and amenable to change - it takes both. Taking the election results at face value (which I don't, but it makes a handy baseline), we're most of the way there but not quite over the bar just yet. So there's need for invention on a bunch of fronts. And it begins, I think, with refusing to accept the mold that's handed to us.

"Redefine the question" is one of those useful bits of advice for test-taking. When you can't quite answer the question as put, or you don't want to, change it to something else. It's good in debating, too - one of the secrets to successful forensic competition is pushing the resolution as far as you can toward what you're best prepared to advocate and your opponents are least prepared to resist. It's true in the political struggle, too.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 02:31 AM:

Now I'm off for rest and Thanksgiving too. :)

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 04:52 AM:

There has always been a clear divide between intellectuals and non-intellectuals. This has nothing to do with intelligence, and has less to do with upbringing than one might think.

The huge problem that progressives have when trying to communicate is that their stories are _long_. They're intertwined and they're complicated. People like my mother want everything to come in neat boxes, painted either white or black, with written instructions on how to stack them. If i wanted to choose a word to describe the Democrats -- and I do mean to describe them, not promote them to others, -- I would choose multicultural. And here is where we run into the deep divide. Progressives see more than one choice, and they see how the choices interact. Not perfectly, sometimes really pretty badly, but the concept is clear. Unsophisticated conservatives don't.

Because our stories are long, it sounds like we're preaching. People don't mosly like being preached at, even when they're in church.

Huh, that reminds me of another one of the problems that we really need to overcome. Due partly to multiculturalism, which is our big strength, we lost the moral high ground. We got all tangled in not judging other people's cultures and all that, and only the most ridiculous and extreme examples were publicized, and we got rewritten. "Politically correct" started out as a joke that liberals told each other about themselves, acknowledging one of the fundamental contradictions in the core value of multiculturalism. Next thing we knew, the right had stolen it and was using it as a stick to beat us with. And we let them. Instead of looking at Rush in great disgust and saying "Joke, Moshe" we allowed as how we didn't want to offend people and that was important to us and slunk off.

Politeness is not incompatible with rage. We have a lot of rage, right now, and we should. The damn stuff is dangerous, but so is TNT. It has its uses. No reason why you can't say, "Sorry" to the bridge before you blow it up... But back here in the real world, she said, a bit confused: the Dems have been afraid of real passion for a while. We need to get over it, and start stomping on the necessary toes, even the toes of people we consider to be oppressed. It's time to take strong stands. Rage can help with that, if you use it carefully.

We're right, they're wrong, so why is everybody so mournful? Ok, they're in charge and they're doing their best to loot the country, but that's not a reason for despair, that's a reason for focused rage. Mournful is better applied to situations where you don't know what the right thing is.

I've noticed something interesting, of late. I work in a place that has a lot of college students doing basic, boring clerical work. Their parents are, by and large, Republicans. When politics come up, most of them say some variation on, "Well, but who's to tell who is right. Maybe Bush is right. You just can't tell. I don't see much point." If I tick off my issues, they'll nod and say, "Yeah, but who's to say that you're right?"

And the Rs complain about the Liberals teaching their children situational morality!

It does no goood, probably, but I tell them, You are the one who decides. You are the one who knows whether Bush is lying or telling the truth. Who else can decide this for you? Yes, you might be wrong, that happens, but at least you're in the game. Many mistakes can be fixed later. You have a set of core values. You should believe in them. Fight for them. They're important. I mean, who's to say whether you're right or not?

Once in a while, though. Once in a while...

I hired Munazza about three years ago. She was smart, diligent, sweet, wore the hijab with great dignity, and was just fun to be around. She recently told me that she'd become a lot more politically aware. I said, that's cool. How did that happen? And she said, Well, partly it was you. I'm still really proud of that.

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 05:20 AM:

Off on a tangent, I often feel about Fundamental Evangelicals the same way the classic Appalachian big brother feels about his youngest brother: "You don't lay a hand on my brother," and then goes to beat the shit out his brother his own self. I get to pick on them, dammit, they're my people. The rest of y'all keep out. This is, of course, a very silly stance, and I'll try to stop it at once.

Fundamentalists are often accused of not thinking, or not being able to understand a rational argument. In point of fact, within the boundaries of their world, they can be extremely intellectual, and they build logical card houses with amazing number of stories. Their creative thought is impressive. One wishes they weren't wasting it on the nonsense that they're wasting it on, but if you actually look at them with a semi-open mind, it is blazingly obvious that quite a number of them are sharp as tacks, and involved in all sorts of activities of the mind.

Problem is, they won't work outside those boundaries. Nothing about my world can penetrate their world. The things I say, the facts that I present, the impeccable arguments I make are all equally ineffective. What I say hits the boundary of their world, and slides right off.

I think that a lot of Dems, probably especially Dems that didn't grow up in a nutter community of that type, mistake what they see for "not thinking."

There are, also, the ones that aren't thinking. They're busy living their life, and the shorter, easier to understand Conservative message, which is constantly reinforced by the structure of our family life and culture, makes it easier. In the mean time, they're making payments on the McMansion, the Honda, and the SUV, putting their kids in private school... or they're working 60 hour weeks hoping to work 80 to support their family. Gods, do you know that minimum wage now is the same as it was in 1981 when I got my first job. And that was not a large pile of riches, even though before that I was very nearly homeless. But the 'conservative" viewpoint is easy, consistent, and feels like good old common sernse.

I don't actually have any suggestions, by the way. If you take a complicated issue, like wetland preservation in the State of Minnesota, there aren't any short ways of explaining why it's a good idea. I think the Duck Hunters Association did best, with a one line squib about having ducks to hunt in the future. The wetlands do so much more than that. Hear a farmer on a talk show, and he was bitching about the wetland preservation act taking an incredibly difficult piece of his land, and set it aside. Every year, he's paid for that bit of land same way as if he'd farmed it, going rate. The host wanted to know what the farmer would do if they "gave him back his land." He said, Well I'd farm it. Host pointed out that he got the money either way, and the farmer explained that it was his land and it wasn't proper to just let it lie there, it ought to be working. It wasn't valuable as, oh, a place for ducks and geese to layover, possibly nest at, not valuable as part of a much better although more complex flood prevention installation, not valuable because the state flower, the ladyslipper, grows in abundance there. shrug. His view of the land is a single, inseparable truth. The arguments for the wetlands are a complicated set of interlinked effects, which will benefit not only him, but his neighbors and wildlife, and all that. I don't know how you wedge your way into his single frame there, unless he's a duck hunter -- or you use a very large hammer.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 09:59 AM:

Lydia: "You are the one who decides." This is one I often push, too. When someone tries to tell me "Who's to judge?" or "Who's to say?", I like to answer that we all are. Our opinions aren't all equally valuable - we need evidence and thinking about the evidence - but on a whole lot of matters, we are all capable of praising this as right, condemning that as wrong, and saying that the other has some merit but really needs to go back into the brain shop for some more time on the hoist.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 10:49 AM:

MKK:

At what point in your life, under what circumstances, did you come to embrace leftish political views?

See, your statement is absolutely not an argument for or against Greg's views without that information.

In fact, I'll go one better than that: it's not one anyhow. Great, you grew up Republican/right-wing and ended up on the other side. Bully for you. It's nice that you had the wherewithal to overcome familial and societal (and potentially financial) pressures of your surroundings and embrace a position that would and could (and maybe did) alienate your friends, coworkers, boss, family, lover/spouse, etc.

Not everyone does. I believe that was the point.

Instead of sneering at the concept, why don't you try actually thinking about what it took for you to get from the position you were taught/grew up around to the one you're in? If anything's going to be useful in dealing with people you'd like to convince to take another position, that's going to be it.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 11:29 AM:

Well, I've finished the first chapter of "Dont think of an elephant". Apparently, I was in the process of reinventing the wheel, and was pointing towards the tip of an already existing field called Cognitive Science. Anyway, some stuff about the book:

first, a key for my markup language:
normal text: my words, my interpretations
bold text: quoting the book

The first sentence of the book is:
Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world.

they shape ... what counts as a good or bad outcome of our actions.

Framing is about getting language that fits your world view.

It seems that he sort of collapses the idea of Frame and World-View in the rest of the chapter. He defines framing as language to express an idea inside of a world view, but then for the rest of the chapter uses the word "frame" when he means frame or worldview. The emphasis of the book is about framing a debate, though, not teaching Cognitive Science, so that might be his reasoning. Not sure.

Lakoff presents two world views in the book: the Strict Father model and the Nuturing Parent model. He uses these models to explain the views of Conservatives and Progressives respectively.

After talking about some details of these world views and how they work, he describes a set of myths believed by progressives and liberals.

The first myth is The truth will set us free. He says that progressives often think that if they just present the facts, other people will reach the right conclusion. But it doesn't work that way. To be accepted, the truth must fit people's frames. if the facts do not fit a frame, the frame stays and the facts bounce off. ... A lot of progressives hear conservatives talk and do not understand them because they do not have the conservatives' frams.

They assume that conservatives are stupid.

He then goes on to say They are not stupid. And then he explains that they are basically thinking in their world view. And that what doesn't fit their world view bounces off.

He spends muct of the remaining chapter talking about how conservatives have a lot of frames to express their world view on various issues, because they understood back in the 60's and 70's how important "framing" was. Lakoff believes that progressives have succumbed to the myth that "the truth will set us free", and they haven't spent any time, money, or effort developing frames for their world view or getting those frames out into the world conversations.

So, it appears that I want to be a cognitive scientist when I grow up.

I've only read the first chapter so far. But I did skim through the rest of the book, and I didn't see a world-view of world-views. He basically starts with the two world-views of conservatives and progressives, presents them as a given truth, and goes from there. The book itself was meant to be a short primer for progressives to learn how to frame their political arguments (it is only 120 pages long). I might have to go digging to see if he wrote anything that presents a meta-world-view that would basically "frame" what I was trying to say about being born in a medieval world gives you a medeival world-view. It seems odd (to me at least) that these two world views have been and will be true for all time. But it is a minor quibble.

Anyway, it appears that Lakoff has figured out how to frame his stuff so as to not get flamed by progressives for saying stuff like "conservatives are not stupid". But he has also been teaching this stuff and it's various related fields at Berkely since the 70's, so I've got some catching up to do.

Back to the rest of the book. Next chapter, Arnold for governor and the California recall.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 12:25 PM:

Greg --

There isn't a frame-of-frames because frames are an essential aspect of human cognition. It's possible to have a complicated frame that includes models of (your best guess at) other people's, but that's as meta as it gets.

There's strong social selection pressure for picking a compelexity handling mechanism -- that would be a cognitive frame at the personal level -- with a low cost, because all the thinking you do about how you're thinking is effort that doesn't go into anything else.

Especially in circumstances where there are few threats to life and limb, it's quite possible to get by for generations with a frame that doesn't even try to handle the edge cases; so long as it handles the 80% or so of events that actually happen frequently, it works fine.

This is a whole lot of what the neocons get support from; people feel as though they are being compelled to change their frames by external events. This is a reasonably factual position -- technological change and population growth are regularly presenting situations that the established frames can't handle. If part of your frame is that there are absolute truths, it's hard to deal with this in the 'how much work for how much reward?' way that will seem sensible to people lacking those absolutes. (I'm leaving aside the cherised axioms of no factual basis which the law has been refusing to reflect in the last thirty-odd years; while that's certainly part of the sense of compulsion, it's not, to my mind, the major part.)

Oh, and is the conflation of 'conservative' -- people who prefer to avoid change because it's easy to make things worse and hard to make things better -- and the current neocon movement (which is radical, rather than conservative) a good idea?

There are certainly plenty of people of good will out there whose cognitive frames for most issues are generations out of date; many of them are progressives, come to that.

But there are just as certainly plenty of people who are not of good will, whose diverse objects involve the subjugation of others to their will, and whose cognitive frames explicitly assert that this is their right and duty to accomplish.

I'd submit that it makes much more sense to clearly distinguish between these two cases, because the cognitive frames the first group are using are insufficent to the observed complexity, and the cognitive frames the second group are using are dishonest.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 02:44 PM:

Tina:

I can't quite remember the last time anyone spoke to me quite so condescendingly. Which makes it somewhat difficult to respond to you.

If I'm responding correctly to any of Greg London's points it's the one where he rants about how none of us understand what it's like in red country because we didn't grow up there while he did and that gives him unique insight. My point was that that wasn't the case.

You have absolutely no idea what I've thought about and what I haven't. For you to tell me, "why don't you try actually thinking about what it took for you to get from the position you were taught/grew up around to the one you're in" is so presumptuous and condescending as to be completely breathtaking.

I began to be aware of differences in how I thought and felt about such matters when I was 10 years old. I did not leave Oklahoma for good until I was 32. I am still in close contact with my family. I spent 22 years living in a culture which didn't just deny that I was right, but which completely negated and refused to believe such opinions, ways of thought and living even existed. They still do but at least I don't have to live there anymore. You have no idea of the struggling and fighting I have done. This sort of thing makes it impossible not to be aware constantly of the importance of one's beliefs, values, and principles.

What I cannot tell you, from my personal experience is how to effectively prosyletize someone in that state of mind. Because that wasn't my experience. Starting around 10, I just never believed the nonsense they were telling me. I don't know why. It may have been that that was the time when I began to really love reading and do it a lot and when I first became aware of the stirrings of intellectual curiousity. Intellectual curiousity and wide reading are not things that are typical of the kind of people we're talking about here. I can't tell you about my conversion experience because I never had one. I was always a changeling.

I do, however, still object to Greg London's feeling that none of us understand what so-called red staters are like. I lived among them and survived for a very long time. I'm still in close contact with my family who are all 'those people'. I understand them all too well which is what inclines me to the despair for which our gracious host chides me from time to time.

MKK

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 02:46 PM:

Lydy: As usual you are quite wonderful. I love you -- marry me?

MKK

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 03:15 PM:

I do have to say, the assumptions about Mary Kay expressed in Tina's post don't have much to do with reality. They also don't have much to do with the many thousands of words Mary Kay has posted here and on Making Light, words easily readable by clicking the respective "view all by" links.

By and large, a good rule of online discourse is that when you find yourself typing "Why don't you try thinking about..." X, Y, or Z subject, it may be time to stop and think how silly you're going to look when it turns out that X, Y, and Z are in fact the other person's particular field of expertise. I have disagreed on occasion with Mary Kay Kare, but it would never occur to me to charge her with not thinking about what it took for her to get from the life she was raised in to the life she has now. In point of fact, this is a subject Mary Kay has discussed in public quite a bit, bringing non-trivial insight to the matter at hand.

I realize I have a slight advantage in tending to personally know more of the regular posters here than J. Random Poster might themselves--all other things being equal--be personally acquainted with on their own steam. Whether or not this is the case, however, assumption-mongering and motivation-assuming are almost always unproductive of good conversation. Of course, I myself have needed to relearn this from time to time, and that will probably continue to be the case.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 04:32 PM:

Tina and Mary Kay and the rest

First, Mary Kay was responding to a post which literally was at the end of a 12 hour workday from hell. My brain was fried. Thinks were looking pretty bleak. At work, over here, and a few other places. I snapped and posted a whole bunch of stuff that should only be viewed as "venting". I then got in my car and did my commute home, which gave me enough time to cool off to realize I had blown my stack. I then got back on and apologized. There is a post that starts "Oh my head", which pretty much summed up my feeling, which was something like "Did I really post that?" There isn't much else I can do about that post other than to say: "please disregard". I apologize again for venting.

so, to Mary Kay, and all the others, I hereby specifically retract any assertion that "none of you understand what so-called red staters are like" and I again apologize for the post for which the "oh my head" post is apologizing for.

To Tina, thank you for picking up on the notion of "what it took for you to get from the position you were taught/grew up around to the one you're in now." That is basically this idea I'm kicking around about how someone upgrades their world-view.

Lakoff starts with the premise that the population of america breaks down into 40% conservative, 40% progressive, and 20% that have some of both views. He then proposes that progressives could win elections if they frame their ideas in their world view, rather than letting conservatives pick the frame. His emphasis isn't on changing people's world views, it is on framing debates into the already existing world views.

He hasn't talked about how you would change the population to 30% conservative, 50% progressive, 20% middle. But then I'm only on chapter 1. maybe it's later. It does seem like it ought to be possible though.

However, the priority would be to win back the country for progressives now. What happens down the road can be handled down the road.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 04:41 PM:

In case anyone missed it, I ranted here. I just noticed that I was at least aware that I was ranting enough to flag it as such. Not enough to stop, but enough to mark it with meta-text. (begin rant mode) or something like that.

I then apologized in the very next post here for the rant. Said I'm sorry. etc. etc.

So, I would not recommend putting to much stock into any logical arguments alleged to have been presented in that post.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 08:34 PM:

Greg, best wishes on dealing with the stressful stuff. Thank you very much for providing the human face to go with the posts - in my view, that's one of the very, very best ways to defuse some attention, by pulling back to acknowledge the rest of the world it's happening in.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 09:50 PM:

Pot. Kettle. Black.

"Why don't you get over yourself?" is amazingly condescending, too.

But I admit, instead of "why don't you try thinking about" I probably should have wrote "why don't you concentrate on" or something similar. I was ticked off. Still am, actually. So, I apologize for the phrasing, if not the general thrust of my comment or the being ticked off.

This all does once again remind me why it is I refuse to associate with either major party, however. Whether or not y'all intend it this way -- and I imagine you don't really, but this is perceptual, and that is a lot of what this thread is about -- a lot of the posts here come across as awfully smug and superior about how your beliefs are so obviously the smart ones and all opposing beliefs are downright stupid. And that's a lot of what turns me off of listening to any political discourse, regardless of whether or not I may have views in common with the people talking or not.

What this election and the discussion leading up to it and the post-election discussion has done has basically discouraged me from voting at all, frankly. I don't just mean the discussion here; I mean in general, on both sides.

I give up on our political system and the people who perpetuate it.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 10:48 PM:

You know, while I get the smug and condescending accusation from my family fairly frequently, I'm not accustomed to it in other venues. I was, in my comment, responding to a rant that the maker of said rant has now said was over the top. That being the case I don't think I really stepped over any lines. The whole "I know better than all you all how this is" is pretty darned smug and superior itself.

As is, "I give up on our political system and the people who perpetuate it." Glad to know you've found a better way than that set up by Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and their pals.

Greg: Yeah, I didn't see that Oh my head post until after I'd already posted. The previous one pushed so many buttons I hit reply without going any further. You'd think after all this time online I'd know better.

MKK

Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 10:51 PM:

It seems that what offended a lot of people about what Greg was saying was that he was jumping too far ahead. He was worried about persuading, while most everyone else was still just trying to figure out what the hell happened. Why it is that they failed to persaude last time. Bruce Baugh explains this view here, I think.

That isn't what I got out of what Greg was saying. Why it is that liberals failed to persuade people last time around was exactly what Greg was addressing. Specifically, its symptoms in the current discussion.

What he identified as the reason that liberals failed to persuade swing voters last time around is that when we all get together and chat, we say things like "And they won't think, damn their dewy-sweet, God-fearing eyes." Because as much as we really really want to change their minds, as kind as we might be to them in person, one of our fundamental beliefs is one of condescension. And if we feel this condescension, somehow, inevitably, it will leak out, and then we will have failed. His point was, I think, that in order to succeed, we have to get rid of this condescension. Everything else follows from that.

I think what Greg was arguing is that figuring out what went wrong and how to persuade next time around are the same thing. And that if winning next time around means adopting certain habits of thought, well, the earlier we start the better.

Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 10:57 PM:

And about "Don't Think of an Elephant:" it sounds like a slimmer, more focused version of "Crazy talk, Stupid Talk" by Neil Postman, which discusses frames and suchforth in a more general way. I would recommend it to all of you without reservation, especially in this time when public discourse has descended into unabashed crazy talk.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 11:32 PM:

Heresiarch, I don't think I'm in "what the hell happened" mode, particularly. I have a pretty good sense of what happened - vote fraud in vulnerable areas reinforced a trend in favor of the president in charge during a crisis, aided and abetted by a mainstream media locked into an X said/Y said discourse that makes truthtelling difficult, and a campaign machine geared toward exploitation of weaknesses in opponents without regard for truth or decency did its job well. Being human, Kerry made some significant gaffes, and got some bad advice. It was nearly not quite enough to keep Bush in power, but enough things came together to tip the balance in his favor.

(That's not the whole story, of course. That does cover most of the factors I see as crucial.)

The point of my post, rather, is that I'm not here engaging in outreach.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 11:51 PM:

Tina, the idea that your personal dissatisfaction warrants abandoning your franchies altogether is IMHO easily one of the most arrogant things in this thread.

Voting is a means of self-expression, among other things, a way of saying "I want this and not that". But it also makes things actually happen or not happen in the world. In close elections, small numbers of votes may tip the balance. (Right now, for instance, 42 votes separate the candidates for governor of Washington. I could have that many in this apartment, SRO, and still serve them nice drinks.) In less close elections, the aggregate still matters, as it's referred to again and again by those seeking to understand the sundry wishes of the whole population.

This next part recycles something I've said several times this year, but it's still a new thought in my head and I'm polishing it as I go:

In real life, we never get to a terminal state. History never stops. Unless all humanity gets wiped out suddenly, it won't. We are somewhere in the midst of a very long procession of moments, from the dawn of consciousness through to whatever comes after us. We don't get to plunge ahead and know what the outcome is. So what we can do is act on the margin.

That is, we get to help set the direction of events.

When I change my diet and start buying from specialized producers, I tilt the market for food a bit. When you sign up with Netflix and stop renting from video store chains, you tilt the market for video a bit. Mostly these are small-scale actions, but sometimes we get to join with others and say "let's head in that direction" more forcefully.

That's what voting is: a whole bunch of us saying "let's go there" and "let's not go there". It doesn't mean we get there. It just means we head there. Had some more people voted for Kerry and had their votes counted, for instance, we would have headed in the direction of more honest and competent government even though there's still be crooks in offices at all levels. We would have headed toward more cooperation with current and potential allies, even though we'd still have the legacy of strains to deal with. We would have headed in the direction of a sounder economy, more opportunity for the majority, and fiscal sanity even though there would still be stagnating wages, constricted choices for all but the wealthiest, and a huge deficit. It's just that we'd have put in power people who want to work on fixing all those things.

Voting isn't a way to make everything you want happen right away. It's a way to set in motion processes that will get you some of what you want. Not voting is a way to diminish the chances that any of it will happen.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 01:38 AM:

The idea that liberals are condescending is right up there with the one about the liberal elite that controls the government and the media. You know, the liberals that are taxing everyone to death to pay for their failed social programs, and forcing everyone to have abortions, destroy their marriages, and have hot gay sex. The liberals that spit on our troops, burn our flag, and want to take away your bible. The treasonous liberals who are in league with Osama and Saddam and Kofi. They are so condescending because they think they are smarter than real Americans. But they're not, they're really just losers.

In other words, what a load of crap.

Liberals believe that government should serve the people, not rule them. Explaining exactly how people would be better off in a more liberal system is not condescending. It's free speech.

What's really condescending are the right-wing politicians and commentators who get away with telling vicious lies, and who manipulate people to follow corrupt, abusive and incompetent leaders.

Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 02:26 AM:

But this isn't that. This is me (and others) figuring out what we think about what has happened and is likely to happen and what we wish would happen and like that.

And I would argue that in doing so, it is vitally important not to believe the answers to our questions are short and simple, i.e. they won't think.

Greg offers the argument (as I read it) that doing this sort of essentialization will make us utterly ineffectual in convincing anyone in the rightness of our cause. True enough, but if that isn't convincing for you, then here, another argument against: It is wrong. Not wrong as in morally reprehensible (though it is that too), but wrong as in not-correct. It simply isn't true, that our opponents are a bunch of dewy-eyed, God-fearing, irrational morons. Things are far, far more complex than that. Certainly there are dewy-eyed morons among them--but then us liberals have plenty of dewy-eyed morons ourselves.

Someone up-thread mentioned that liberal explanations for things tend to be very long and complicated, which is a fair accusation, with one exception. When liberals get together and discuss their opponents, simplistic, accusatory arguments stand pristine, untouched by critical thought*.

Whether one is engaged in outreach or introspection, I think it serves neither of these to assume that your opponents are Bible-thumping nit-wits, good-natured or no.

*Oh, the irony of applying a vicious stereotype while in the very process of arguing against such things! It kills me. However, this stereotype is true enough to be wary of.

Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 09:59 AM:

Problem is, they won't work outside those boundaries. Nothing about my world can penetrate their world. The things I say, the facts that I present, the impeccable arguments I make are all equally ineffective. What I say hits the boundary of their world, and slides right off.

I would characterize this as selective learned stupidity. This is a kind of stupidity that has nothing to do with any lack of native intelligence; as you say, many of these people have fine minds within their frames. However, they've chosen, with what degree of freedom can be argued, to reject all information incompatible with their current knowledge base and system.

I have a lot of trouble breaking my own frame enough to deal with such people. In mine, raised as I was in a house led by a man of science (whatever other problems I may have had with him), this is called selecting your data to suit your theory, and is a crime against science, and therefore against humanity. So when I notice someone doing it, even if it's on a completely personal matter, I become furious.

In case it wasn't clear from the above, I'm well aware that this is a flaw in me. I know full well that not every decision is based on science, that not everyone thinks scientifically by instinct (I knew the scientific method long before I was taught it in school), and that you don't have to be "doing science" all the time. But for me, laying down that way of thinking is a deliberate, conscious act requiring a light trance to achieve.

To reach them, therefore, requires a person more tolerant than I find myself able to be. I'm sure I can find other ways to contribute to the progressive cause, and I certainly hope there are people who can do this part, but I just have to keep my distance, or be an active detriment to the cause I want to promote.

(These are things a person could very well say with biting sarcastic intent. I'm being perfectly sincere, however.)

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 10:07 AM:

Heresiarch: It seems that what offended a lot of people about what Greg was saying was that he was jumping too far ahead.

I think people were reacting because I said stuff that contradicted their worldview. Something that occurred to me this morning is that Lakoff presents the conservative and progressive worldviews, but he never assesses them.

That was one of my mistakes.

I believe there is some value to the conservative worldview of "strength", which caused some people's worldviews to kick in the shields or fire photon torpedoes.

Lakoff never says anything of the sort. He never says whether he believes there is any value in either worldview, he just presents them as fact. Lakoff also avoids giving any assessment as to whether everyone's worldviews are evolving over time.

I think the worldview anyone has today will be different than the one they have a year from now. But then some people react to this to mean that our worldview today is "wrong" and therefore these people activate their defense mechanisms because they're worldview is so invested in them being "right".

I agree with everything Lakoff says so far in "Dont think of an elephant". He's making a living out of telling people about it, I'm getting flamed by some people about it. The only difference that I see is that Lakoff avoids saying anything that would "bounce off" the worldview of his paying audience.

I on the other hand extend the idea of worldviews and frames to mean that they are continually evolving things, and to evolve there must be characteristics in both conservative and progressive worldviews as they exist today that will merge and morph and transcend into the new worldview of tomorrow.

It is an idea that isn't worth getting into a heated argument about though, so I just need to separate framing, which can win elections now, from worldview-evolution, which can alter worlds over time.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 10:23 AM:

TomB: The idea that liberals are condescending

I think the idea of worldviews would say that everyone can be condescending to anything that doesn't fit their worldview.

This means that conservatives are telling a kernel of truth when they say "liberals are condescending". It is true, but it just happens to be only part of a greater truth, namely "All people are condescending to that which doesn't fit their worldview."

Lakoff hasn't addressed it in what I've read so far, but it would seem that condescension is basically a reaction inside of your opponent's frame, which you can never win. It basically will "bounce off" your opponent's worldview, so they don't change their mind.

The point is not whether condescension is justified or warranted or whatever, the point is that, by nature of how worldviews work, it will be ineffective. And the way to deal with a situation where you feel a condescending reaction is to get that you're reacting inside the other person's frame and reframe the discussion into your worldview.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 10:38 AM:

Greg, folks were disagreeing with you on the basis of their experience, as nearly as I could tell. And about what sort of exchange they're having.

It's worth remembering that this thread began with Patrick commenting on someone casting aspersions on him and Teresa that aren't matters of mere interpretation. They are clearly, obviously, really wrong. And when this was pointed out to the caster of aspersions, he rejected every opportunity to gracefully admit having made a mistake and leapt to a conclusion in error. Instead he persisted in something perilously close to eliminationist rhetoric and sulked and/or stormed off.

As a jumping-off point for how to talk to people of good will and wildly different worldviews, it's...well, it's okay. But if the advocates of Lakoffian framing and the like want to win over more liberal supporters, there's also going to have to be some discussion about how it's not all liberals' fault for speaking in their particular way, and that there are liars and scoundrels who are not amenable to persuasion at all. Otherwise it comes off to some degree like just blaming the victim.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 10:43 AM:

"I think people were reacting because I said stuff that contradicted their worldview."

Indeed. Everyone who's had a negative reaction to any of your remarks here is an unreflective knee-jerk liberal who's never entertained a criticism of their own worldview before.

That certainly describes, for instance, Bruce Baugh. Oh, wait. It doesn't.

You've made thoughtful contributions to this discussion. This, on the other hand, is baloney on stilts.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 10:58 AM:

As for this "condescension" that's supposedly peculiar to "liberals," listen up, because I'm only going to explain this once. If anyone here has trouble distinguishing a categorical assertion from a non-categorical one, go read a book on logic before proceeding further. Now, then.

The idea that "liberals" are somehow especially prone to "condescension" is obviously false. Condescension is a failing into which intelligent and powerful people of all political views sometimes fall. I'm sure I'm sometimes condescending. So is Dick Cheney, you can bet your last dollar.

The reason we hear repeatedly that liberals are especially prone to condescension is that, as a piece of psychological warfare, the charge works very well indeed. If you were to set out to design, from scratch, a rhetorical technique guaranteed to throw your average morally-impassioned liberal or progressive off balance, you could hardly do better than this. It is a nearly perfect technique for causing liberals to lose faith in their own strength.

That's why we hear it all the time. Not because it's true. (It's true that liberals are condescending; the lie is that liberals are condescending any more than anybody else is.) But because it's effective.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 11:04 AM:

Bruce: I'm not here engaging in outreach.

All I can tell you is that wasn't what I was proposing. What I was saying that if conservatives are framing the war on terror around the value of "Strength" there are some things to know:

(1) responding inside of Strength will fail to change the current views of the voting public.

(2) reframe the discussion to your value, such as Justice, for example.

(3) Stuff like "you're not thinking", "this is wrong", etc, etc, will bounce off the worldview of the opposition and will be completely ineffective.

If Bush comes out and starts saying stuff like "We're fighting the war on terror. We don't need a permission slip. It's hard work. It will make this country strong."

Then the thing to get is that every sentence has framed the war in terms of Strength.

reacting against the words in that speech will not change the frame.

What you've got to do is reframe the whole discussion to your value, such a Justice, or whatever.

Lakoff in the beginning of his book said that Nixon committed a fatal mistake when he got on TV and said "I am not a crook". It cause everyone to associate "crook" with Nixon. Just like when someone says "whatever you do, do NOT think of an elephant", all you can do is think of an elephant.

The idea is rather than say "not" followed by whatever conservative value is being used to frame the discussion, instead insert your progressive value and let the listener reframe.

Lakoff would say do not respond to "we do not need a permission slip" by saying "It is not getting a permission slip to get UN approval", because it keeps the "permission slip" frame in place.

Lakoff would say you cannot use "permission slip" in your response at all. Instead of reacting to "permission slip", you should reframe from your value (worldview), for example, "Justice".

"Peace can be won only by fighting a just war."

Or whatever value you're trying to put out there.

You want your value to frame the discussion, which effectively causes people who accept your frame to "eject" whatever frame anyoen else has presented.

Justice will trump Strength.

"not strength" is ineffective against "Strength".

It seems weird, especially if you view "facts" as trump cards. A fact regardless of how it is presented, should trump all. But cognitive science apparently says that is not how people think.

One thing that Lakoff says is that this kind of phrasing takes a lot of practice, and I totally agree. And what better place to practice than on your friendly, neighborhood, progressive-thinking blog?

;)

The other thing he says is that progressives do NOT have a lot of progressive phrases that they can invoke. While Bush can use the phrase "permission slip" to frame the debate about getting UN permission, there are not a lot of progressive ideas that are out there that can be invoked without a lot of lengthy explanation.

Everyone knows what "permission slip" means.

What one or two word phrase exists to re-frame the UN into a progressive light? off hand, I can't think of anything. I can explain why it is a good idea, but I don't have a simple frame to cast it into. Not that it doesn't exist, but that it isn't handy in most people's minds that they could invoke it when talking with their "thinking about voting Bush" friends before the election.

Which goes back to my earlier bit that I don't think campaigns convince poeple, I think campaigns give people the sound bites they need to convince other people.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 11:06 AM:

Sidebar:

Morally, of course, the "liberals are condescending" meme is at roughly the same sewer level as the self-justifying rhetoric of schoolyard bullies after they've pounded the crap out of some kid for the crime of being right about something and making them look bad. It's "You think you're so great, well, we'll show you."

However, this shouldn't distract us from the fact that the reason the meme gets pounded home on a constant basis by every arm of the right-wing media is because it's effective. It disarms liberals. Our job is to stop letting ourselves be disarmed.

The moment we figure out that a lot of these notions are designed to screw us up will be the moment we get a lot of our strength back.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 11:09 AM:

Greg, that was a great post about Lakoffian framing, but I'm starting to get the impression that you're simply not grasping some of the feedback you're getting.

Memo to Tina: You can "give up on the political system," but it's unlikely to give up on you.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 11:54 AM:

Patrick: "you're simply not grasping some of the feedback you're getting."

The feedback I got was basically that I was doing to the people here what I said everyone was doing to those poor downtrodden conservatives. I was yelling at everyone to stop yelling at all the bush-voters. I was condescending for everyone who was condescending.

I got it. I was an ass. Hypocrite might be more technically accurate. But "ass" seems to just fit better.

I thought I addressed this, but maybe I only thought I did and never actually did.

Either way, I apologize for yelling at everyone to stop yelling at bush voters, and for being condescending to everyone for being condescending to bush-voters, for being a hypocrite, and for being an ass.

If anyone needs me to apologize for anything I've still missed, please let me know.

Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 01:05 PM:

Dave,

What's more condescending:

--pointing out that some people are being cynically manipulated by right-wing looters and thugs

or

--cynically manipulating people in order to loot the populace and consolidate power?

Once again, if the right wing accuses the left of something, it's because they are doing it first (and more).

ie, What Patrick Said.

Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 01:06 PM:

By "Dave" of course, I mean "Greg." Apologies.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 01:21 PM:

Greg, you're not a hypocrite or an ass, you're an earnest and benevolent person--"lawful good", if I recall correctly--who occasionally undercuts his own quite good arguments by couching them in unfortunate terms. If this failing makes you a hypocrite or an ass, a whole bunch of us are hypocrites and asses.

You've gotten flak on some very specific and particular points--most recently, for instance, from me about the "people were reacting because I said stuff that contradicted their worldview" remark.

The point of the flak isn't that you're a bad guy or that your overall project in this conversation is without merit. Actually, the things you're interested in pursuing are things I'm interested in too. The point of the flak is limited to the specific points mentioned in the flak. So: we'll be having no more of these wildly overgeneralized confessions of comprehensive moral turpitude, young man!

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 02:13 PM:

Patrick, that's an excellent point about the use of "liberals are condescending" as a rhetorical weapon. Thanks for the reminder.

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 04:33 PM:

Tina: "...a lot of the posts here come across as awfully smug and superior about how your beliefs are so obviously the smart ones and all opposing beliefs are downright stupid. And that's a lot of what turns me off of listening to any political discourse, regardless of whether or not I may have views in common with the people talking or not."

If I didn't believe that my beliefs were superior, then why should I fight for them? If they're just one of a range of beliefs that is roughly equivalent to most of the others, why the hell should I care? This is moral relativism, convenient, but damnall useful when trying to find a moral path. All it does is get me off the hookl

I'm an adult. I get to have opinions. I get to have opinions as passionate and precise as the most appallingly scary Dispensationalist trying to trigger Armageddon. And, I get to think I'm right every bit as passionately as he does. This is another place where the right has taken one of the true strengths of the left and turned into a weapon against us. Multiculturism gone bad. They are the ones that pretend that someone that believes in valuing other cultures also believes in infibulation or clitoridectomy because it is a "cultural value." They try to weigh us down with the contradictions that multi-cultural activities necessarily cause. Oh, we do a lot of soul searching and maek some truly spectacular mistakes regarding these issues, but encompassing many points of view is the life blood of the left, not its ball and chain.

The right use the obvious passion of left because the left believe in facts. The underlying criticism is: "if the facts are on your side, why do you have to yell about it? Surely you should be able to present your case rationally." It's a trap. That's what works with other lefties. The current right are gifted in shifting the frame to the inevitable contradictions in our frame -- they have serious contradictions in their own, but we haven't learned how to put them on the defensive, yet.

I think that the difference between disagreement and condescension has been worn away. Disagreement has become hate, stupidity, and mendacity. There used to be room to disagree without declaring mortal enemies. I think that it's that erosion of the political language that causes you to think the system is pointless.

The system may be broken but it still won't ever stop fucking with you. I'm a bleeding anarchist, I don't approve of governments, but I vote. I live here too. I'd prefer to be comfortable and have at least some chance of affecting the future.

If the system is totally broken, a proposition which I do not currently accept, you still have to get the system into a state where change is possible. I'd prefer it get done in such a way that we don't have to go through a Civil War -- again. Even if the system is broken, there's still a lesser evil.

That's the long form. The short form is: if you believe in something, then believe in passionately enough to know that you are right. Doing right often includes doing incremental, interim actions, ones that are frustrating, but which open up spaces that open up spaces for your beliefs to flourish.

And of course, there's the shortest form of all: It Matters.

Addendum: Believing you are right doesn't mean that you can't change your mind, or can't ever have been wrong in the past. That is the nonsense with which they beat Kerry, this year. Your beliefs will grow and mature over time -- or should. The right frames the left's willingness to reassess a situation and make necessary changes as not having a permanent truth, like they do. They want to sell people on the belief that truth is monolithic. Doesn't matter if this weeks truth isn't identical to last week's. This week's and last week's are framed as perfect and absolute truth, and as long as they remain within that frame, the people who like their truths to come in monolithic chunks don't see the contradictions.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 07:11 PM:

Lydy: Thanks for some salutary reminders. Criticisms of smug superiority sting because they carry just enough truth to make me twitch. It is sometimes hard for me to remember that believing my ideas are superior does not make me a superior human being. And my sister, in particular, likes to hammer on me about that. It's one reason I haven't spoken to her in 4 months now. Hmph. Perhaps I'm wrong there. Or maybe not.

Damn I'm tired of arguing and fighting and doubting and getting up tomorrow and doing it again.

MKK

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 07:20 PM:

the "people were reacting because I said stuff that contradicted their worldview" remark.

Well, my only defense for that remark is that it was in reply to Heresiarch, who seemed to be not begrudging me for my previous outburst (or who did, but accepted my earlier apology) and who expressed a familiarity with the idea of worldview, frames, etc (or at least he mentions that it sounds familiar to "crazy talk, stupid talk" which I haven't read)

So, I thought I'd put it in terms of frames to to someone who was familiar them and maybe learn something about them from Heresiarch in the process.

I know that isn't the only reason people are reacting the way they are to me, but I thought I wouldn't have to fess up to being an ass again. Not that I don't mind if it's true, but it does get a little tiresome to have to start every post like "I know I've been an ass, but I had this really cool idea and was wondering what you all thought about it if you could all look past my prior crimes."

Perhaps I could put it in my computer clipboard and just cut and paste it into the beginning of every post? ;) Anyway, I told you before that if I worked out my crazy ideas back in my hometown, they'd run me out at some point for sure. So, yeah, I know how I can occur to people sometimes.

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 10:32 PM:

Hey, Greg. I've always found that it worked better to apologize once, and then let it go. Not nearly as tiring that way. Anybody who can't accept the first apology isn't likely to accept the second, or the twenty-second.

LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 12:10 AM:

Also, there's this kind of echo chamber that tends to happen in a linear thread.

Imagine standing with a group of people at a party -- say, twenty or thirty. You have had a rotten day, and someone says something that really gets up your nose. You vent.

Most of those twenty or thirty people might react very negatively to what you said, and murmur and frown at you. A few really sound off and tell you off in return. After a moment or two to ponder, you realize that you spoke too harshly, and apologize, and one or two might not let go right away, but after a moment or two, things blow over and your buddy buys you a drink.

In realspace, those people who got annoyed, all got to react to you at the same time, and it was all over in a few minutes.

Online, people come to a post over a period of time, and while others might have reacted already, they feel the need to throw their own two cents in, before your apology may have fully registered (or even been read yet by that particular poster).

Also, because it's written down, people are more likely to home in on a particular phrase or phrases, and want to make their point as clearly as they can about what set them off in the first place.

Because of all this, online forms of communication have this reverb effect that is not present in face to face communication.


-l.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 12:23 AM:

"liberals are condescending" meme is at roughly the same sewer level ...

As a frame, "Liberal Elite" seems similar to Nixon's "I am not a crook" or the "Don't think of an elephant" line. All you can do is associate liberals with Elites, Nixon with crooks, and elephants are running around in your brain.

Saying "Liberals are NOT elite" or "NOT condescending" doesn't change the frame, and so doesn't change anyone's opinion or worldview. This would explain why it is so effective at disarming, because once it is said, liberals spend a lot of time and energy saying "we're NOT that", which only reinforces the frame like Nixon did with the "NOT a crook" line.

I'm not sure what short phrase would reframe that topic. Perhaps this:

"Liberals are human too"

I think the wedging capacity of "Elite" is that it invokes a "better than" attitude and a "separatist" feeling.

A one-liner that integrates liberals into the human race, flaws and all, ("Liberals are human too") would seem to trump the "Liberal Elite" frame. A good dose of humor couldn't hurt, so play off of lines like "Dogs are people too" and whatnot might help as well.

Not that it should be the official slogan of the Democratic party or anything, but if anyone mentions "Liberal Elite", it would seem that "Liberals are people too" would reframe and trump the "elite" crap.

And its a simple and common enough frame that you could say that one-liner and most people would get it.

Just kicking around ideas at this point.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 12:36 AM:

Lydia: I'm a bleeding anarchist, I don't approve of governments, but I vote.

Ya know, I knew there was a reason I liked your posts.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 12:54 AM:

By "Dave" of course, I mean "Greg."

the freaky thing is just how often someone calls me "Dave". This is the first time it's happened online though. But it kinda makes me wonder what Karma there is around the name "Dave" that I often get mistaken for one.


Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 01:04 AM:

Greg, you might want to experiment to see if you are mistaken for some specific Dave, and if so, see what he's got that you don't. :)

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 01:47 AM:

what he's got

that would be a new car,
caviar, four star day dream.
think I'll buy me a football team.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 08:09 AM:

Greg, I'm not sure "liberals are human too" is quite it, but you're definitely on to something there.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 08:58 AM:

ohmygodohmygodohmygod

I woke up this morning and realized where I learned the concept of framing from. Landmark Education Corporation is a company that has a bunch of classes that basically focus on improving the quality of your life by changing the language you use. They don't talk about all the details of "Cognitive Science" (or maybe they did, but I wasn't paying attention), but it is clear to me now that one of their focuses is framing. I did Landmark's first course called the "Forum" about 8 years ago and a bunch of their courses after that, but I haven't done anything with them for years now.

Anyway, anyone who is serious about putting 'framing' into practice could learn a lot by taking one of their courses. They were well worth the money for me. And you might learn framing on a gut level of putting it into practice in your day to day life.

Here I thought I was inventing something new all on my own, and it turns out that not only is it an already existing science, but I got the idea from someone else too.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 10:56 AM:

ohmydogohmydogohmydog

The Forum, friends, is the direct descendant of EST: an acquaintance of mine dragged a friend of mine through it, and he dragged us to one of the meeting thingies -- it was a pyramid scheme, in a way, you were required to try to recruit so many people, except that you weren't promised any money back -- you just paid and paid and paid. We were supposed to be impressed by all the testimonials but there was no there there, no content to the testimonials at all. Just people felt better about themselves. And they went on and on and on about themselves. And how their selves were so much better now that they valued them more, which they could only do because of the skills they got from the endless meetings of the Forum where they weren't allowed to pee for six hours at a time. Exactly like EST. By direct descendant, I mean the Forum was designed, promoted and highly profited from by people who had been involved in EST.

I get hives just thinking about self-improvement scams and the convoluted, self-absorbed, self-justifying logic they promote in place of actually looking at the real world and thinking about it. (in case it's not clear, I didn't take the bait. I brought my baby so I wouldn't have to stay ten hours or whatever the new suckers were supposed to do -- I left after about three hours)

I was going to say something conciliatory to you, Greg, about how I'm sure that whatever you value that you got out of it is indeed valuable to you, but it sounded condescending to me however I framed it, and after the conversation we've been having I am reluctant to risk it.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 11:34 AM:

Lucy, I was more expressing the feeling I've been getting over and over again recently which is best summed up by the Professor on Gilligans Island after they got rescued. The professor went back to his university lab and kept creating these cool, new things, only to find out they had already been invented.

I was trying to get a handle on this worldview idea, and Patrick points me to "dont think of an elephant", which basically says I'm about three decades behind. Up until yesterday, I thought I had at least come up with the idea independently and on my own. But this morning I realized that the idea of re-framing your language is something I learned from some Landmark classes. They didn't call it re-framing or worldview, but it is clear that's what they were teaching. Yesterday I thought I had come up with the idea independently, this morning I realized where I got it from.

as for saying something concilliatory, don't worry. I'm not attached to Landmark. I did a bunch of courses years ago, but haven't done anything since then. I feel no need to defend it like I might defend my family. I'm sorry you had a bad experience. I've heard people tell horror stories about Landmark, but my experience was that I got my money's worth. The classes seemed weird when I took them, but I think part of that was they were coming from a completely different worldview than where I was at the time. Now, worldviews and frames seem natural to me, though I lack the training of a cognitive scientist to explain them to anyone. But I'm not trying to recruit anyone into a Landmark course. My main point was that this morning, I got clear that Landmark was where I learned about what I would now call "finding language to frame my worldview".

I do think Landmark has some value. I was checking out their webpage after I posted my last message and wish I had discovered this link earlier. It is an article in the Chicago Tribune about managing anger around political discussions. The article has suggestions from a therapist and a Landmark instructor, and it would have probably saved me from a number of recent apologies I've had to make.

Chicago Tribune article

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 02:43 PM:

Hm, it occurred to me that I've been re-framed. I was expressing the fact that I learned the core idea behind frames, worldviews, and languaging from some Landmark courses I took a few years back.

Lucy re-framed the discussion from "what I learned at Landmark" to "Landmark is a self-improvement scam and convoluted, self-absorbed, self-justifying logic". My experience of Landmark is completely invalid in this new frame.

Lucy, I get why you couldn't say I could get something valuable out of it without sounding condescending. It is impossible to learn anything of value from a scam involving self-justifying logic.

Funny. I get the concept enough now to see that I had been re-framed right out of the picture, but I still don't get the concept enough to bring it back to my frame. All I can do is point out that I see it happening.

One of my favorite responses to an extreme anti-abortion view comes to mind though.

If you think getting an abortion is wrong, by all means, don't have one.

Lucy, if you think Landmark can't teach you anything, by all means, don't take their courses.

But I know I learned some good stuff from Landmark, and I'm not going to let you invalidate it by reframing it.

I'm not angry about it. But I'm not going to be conciliatory about it either. I know what I learned and where, and I'm not letting your language reframe it away.

Nate Cull ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 07:12 PM:

One thing I've learned in life is that it is very difficult for any doctrine, no matter how screwed up, to be 100% wrong. There is always a grain (sometimes more) of truth even in psychologically abusive cults. (And the more I learn about American politics the more I realise how similar political parties and cults are).

Not saying that I personally know Landmark to be an abusive cult - in fact I know people I vaguely respect who have attended and recommended it to me - but I am aware of its EST heritage and that would make me personally run a mile from anything they say. But that wouldn't mean that what they say is necessarily incorrect.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 08:04 PM:

Greg, it's nice that you got something positive out of Landmark. Personally, I wouldn't want to go near them, or any program associated with Werner Erhard. I think Erhard's great achievement was combining new age cultism with positive thinking motivational seminars, tapping into a much more mainstream and corporate market. This made EST very successful financially, but as a program for human development, it was ugly and disturbing. Participants were put through traumatic experiences in order to break down their resistance to "new ways of thinking." In other words, their resistance to suggestion. People would come out of it with extraordinary enthusiasm for EST, without being able to explain why.

As a native Californian, I put EST in the category of things we really didn't need, created by outsiders who came to California because they felt that only in California could they realize their strange dreams. (It's a long list.) Ironically, my brother in law's father came to California to work for Werner Erhard, and now has his own program in the same tradition. I wonder how much this has to do with my brother in law being a right winger -- he's a very smart guy, but his intelligence seems to only strengthen his confidence in his conservative world view. He thinks he knows what is best for all of us, and he is willing to trust an elite to lead the people, a lot more than he can trust the people to govern themselves.

Getting back to Lakoff, I think Lakoff's ideas came out of linguistics, cognitive science, and Lakoff's interest in the political process. In other words, nothing to do with EST or Landmark, which can be dropped like hot potatoes. I know for a fact that EST made its participants sit in chairs, but that doesn't mean that Erhard invented chairs, that we need to take an EST-like program to understand chairs, or that we need to throw out all our chairs because we don't want to have anything to do with EST.

I first got into Lakoff when his book Women, Fire and Dangerous Things became something of a fad in the programming community. Programmers were interested in the cognitive basis for categories because of its potential application to Object-Oriented Programming. Also, for designing good computer-human interfaces, it helps to understand as much as possible about how people really think.

Don't Think of an Elephant is good (as I said above), and it is more practical than Women, Fire and Dangerous Things, but I think it would be a mistake to rely too much on it, especially just after reading it. I read the book before the election, and am still thinking about it. Framing is an art, and effective framing isn't easy. Also, you should keep in mind that Lakoff has been advising the Democrats through all the recent presidential campaign, and while his ideas helped, they weren't enough by themselves.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 08:47 PM:

As that post from Mathew Gross's weblog says, the actual body of the post is by Mel Gilles.

It's a very good piece; I keep meaning to sidelight it. I believe I will, now.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 09:26 PM:

There is a difference between:

"What do you suppose the best way to convince someone else to consider my position would be, and what type of people are most likely to listen?"

and..

"I'm right, and they're not only wrong, but really ignorant, stupid, or evil for believing what they do. How do I tell them apart so I can educate the ignorant and flee from the evil?"

One of these is constructive. One is not. And frankly, the latter vibe is what I feel lately.

Maybe you don't see it because you don't mean it that way. But to someone who is a relative outsider -- and don't quibble on this point; I am -- it sure comes across that way sometimes.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 09:49 PM:

Tina -- who the hell are you talking to -- or about -- in that last post?

Because as much as we're disagreeing here, and as passionate as some of us are about all this, I don't see anybody doing that second thing you describe.

Greg -- see, what this "framing" and "reframing" talk does, is it allows you to be right all the time without respect to any concrete outside stuff. Which I suppose can be valuable if you're in a situation where the people around you are going to tell you you're wrong all the time and the information you can wring put of the real world is insufficient to make plans with. But it's not helpful to me.

And for you to say I "re-framed you right out of the picture" doesn't mean anything to me. I finally figured out it means almost the same as "You're talking about something different from what I want to be talking about, and I find it unhelpful." Which is a statement I can identify with. Yes, when you bring up Landmark, you want to talk about one set of things, and I want to talk about a different set of things. That's true. And I can see how that would be frustrating for you. -- it happens to me when I want to talk about certain aspects of American history and the people I'm talking with seem to get seized by a compulsive Stalin and/or Trotsky rant, and we just never do get around to the thing I want to talk about (generally the eight-hour movement, or anti-lynching efforts, or the polio vaccine, or public libraries, or something like that -- you can see how puzzling and frustrating such conversations can be).

Thing I've learned about it is that people will talk about what they want to talk about and you can't make them talk about what you want to talk about unless you have some way of showing them how much more interesting the thing is that you want to talk about.

Bringing us back to the Kerry campaign and "what is to be done?" -- agit-prop!!! We need Mayakovsky!

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 10:25 PM:

I've been reading (or rather listening to) several books about World War I and aftermath, and pondering what some sf writer or other called the Right Man Problem: the trouble of changing someone's mind when their assessment of who's right and who's wrong depends on something prior to any actual evidence. Dick Cheney can say "go fuck yourself" and justify it as a feel-good measure and Bill Bennett can gamble away millions and not contribute to the coarsening of discourse and the weakening of moral fiber because they're among the Right People. John Kerry can speak at length about his faith and political decision-making and be part of the anti-Christian forces of secularism because he's one of the Wrong People. "He meant well but it ended badly and for reasons he should have seen at the time" does not seem to be a meaningful objection to misdeeds by one of the Right People - if they were right and bad stuff happened, then obviously it's someone else's fault.

I am skeptical that any quantity of framing can reach people who are interpreting the world this way; it seems like the hope must be reaching those who either haven't yet adopted it or have finally run into some crisis of just the right pitch to make them willing to reexamine it. The problem for me as an individual is that I really hate this habit of thought and tend to separate myself promptly from people who demonstrate very much of it. "He meant well but did badly, and must now repair the damage and make amends" is one of the basic judgments in my approach to the world.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 10:45 PM:

Tom: traumatic experience

Cheese and Rice! Why is it I find all the hot buttons for eveyone on this blog??? Whatever worldview you have for Landmark and EST is your business. I'm not looking to get into a debate about some objective assessment of Landmark. I was expressing my personal experience with Landmark.

I didn't experience any traumatic experiences being put upon me to reprogram me. But I probably have an exceedingly high resistance to traumau-induced reprogramming techniques compared to most people, so it could be that I just didn't notice. I'm probably not the middle-of-the-bell-curve guy for that sort of thing. I seem to remember people talking in a room indoors. The most traumatic thing I remember being thrust upon me was a lousy heating/cooling system and having the course go until midnight on a Saturday night.

I did experience some rock-your-world induced traumau, but that was a result of seeing how much of an asshole I was being in my life and how much work I needed to do to clean it up. I also learned that saying "I'm Sorry" is a few moments of pure hell, followed by a lifetime of no regrets, which is why I said earlier I don't mind saying "I'm sorry" if it is deserved.

I learned I was living a life of "shoulds" (someone here called it "supposed tos") rather than a life that I had any interest at all in actually living. I was moving from job to job around the country doing contract work. One thing I learned was that I wanted to be in a relationship, and learned how I was being a jerk with women I'd get into any sort of relationship with. I ended up marrying the woman of my dreams because I saw the error of my ways. I also got into action around some dreams of mine that I had put on the shelf. One was writing a book. I liked talking about writing a book. I actually finished a book because of Landmark. Two other dreams that I had shelved were skydiving and helicopter lessons. It was because a Landmark class that I got off my ass and finally went skydiving and finally learned how to fly a helicopter. I also got over my fear of being in front of people to the point that I could play guitar and sing at an open mic night, which was something else I always wanted to do but hadn't.

I did experience a couple of the things Landmark did as annoying. I did experience some of the students in the classes as people who would be better served by therapy or prescription medicine. I did experience some students as exceedingly over zealous about what they learned in the classes. Part of that is probably a result of the first course being only three days long and yet you basically need to learn framing, worldviews, and linguistics not as a science, but as a practice. And some poeple probably come out of that course thinking they now know everything there is to konw about it. You can see how horribly I failed when I tried to reinvent framing and worldviews here, and mostly I annoyed a lot of people as the result of being an unskilled and amateur cognitive scientist.

But overall, my experience of Landmark was that the courses were well worth the money. And it is where I first learned about framing and worldview not as a science you study, but as something you put into practice in your real life.

I'm clear that some people here had violent reactions against EST and/or Landmark. And I don't want to invalidate that. "I didn't like that" is a truth that is irrefutable.

But so too is "I liked it".

Lucy, to put it another way, when you say Landmark is nothing but a "self-improvement scams and the convoluted, self-absorbed, self-justifying logic", the repercussion of that is the only way I could ahve a good subjective experience of Landmark ("I got value out of it") is if I'm completely off my nut. No sane person can get anything valuable out of a convoluted, self-absorbed, self-justifying logic.

I was framing from my personal subjective experience.

You framed as an absolute, objective, judgement.

And your frame has no room for my experience of landmark.

It isn't that "your not talking about what I want to talk about" its that you're saying stuff that frames this in a way that "only a nut would get anything of value out of a Landmark course".

I don't want to be right all the time, thank you very much. But I expect at least enough respect to have my opinion of how I experienced something and not be a nutjob for it.

I am right about my personal, subjective, experience, because I'm the only one who can say.

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 11:12 PM:

I think one way to persuade Bush voters to change is to present the truth to them from sources they're less likely to reject than the ones they usually see.

They need to see the following information from newspapers, on TV, and in other sources that they respect:

"Military analysts say Iraq situation on the ground is worse than ever."

"General who mismanaged Abu Ghraib promoted by Pentagon."

"New CIA director puts loyalty ahead of accuracy."

"Bush-favored Supreme Court candidate authored legal memos sanctioning torture."

"Democratic bidding process bypassed in assignment of Iraq reconstruction contracts: Halliburton fined for financial mismanagement."

"Scientists and conservation officials speak out on Bush environmental policies."

"New Medicare reform actually reduces benefits
to senior citizens."

"Bush SS privatization scheme will create unescapable debt for our children."

"How simplified 'flat tax' reform may affect your real income."

"Educators report 'No Child Left Behind' hurts schools more than it helps."

Somehow we need to find ways to get this stuff on the radio and get it into more prominent parts of the newspapers and Sunday sections these people read. Or get it into the pop songs they listen to and tv shows they watch.

I can't stand the idea that 51% of them make their voting decisions on whether their candidate will make abortions illegal, deny human rights to a non-threatening gay minority, and display the tablets of Moses in every courtroom.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 12:03 AM:

Greg, I was talking about EST, not Landmark. I think Lucy was too. My issue with Landmark is they acknowledge their connection to EST and Werner Erhard. Maybe they really are okay now, but I am not planning on trying Landmark or any EST related program just to find out. That is my personal decision. I am glad that it worked for you.

Now, let's please stop dwelling on these hot-button issues, and get back to our regular discussion on condescending smug secular liberal fanatics, idiotic backwoods racist homophobic bible thumpers, and the appropriate intellectual frameworks for effectively reaching them.

Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 12:09 AM:

While I think there's a lot to the idea of framing, re-framing, and even (gulp) branding when it comes to the Liberal's Dilemma, I'm reminded of the second season of Six Feet Under, which includes a deft satire of the Landmark Forum: a fictional organization whose framing metaphor is one's house, and its remodelling. —It's just as easy, and just as crippling, to be trapped by your own frame as someone else's.

Something in Oliver Willis's Brand Democrat campaign is doing a darned good job of endrunning charges of elitism. At least, so far.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 02:21 AM:

Lenny, the problem here is that sources you or I would think of as neutral to conservative are, for a lot of the people we need to persuade, hopelessly biased in favor of liberalism and away from the President. It seems unlikely that Fox TV will turn on the President, or the Washington Times, and it's places like them that would have to carry productive negative coverage. And then it plays back into the Right Man Problem: bad news about the consequences of the Right Man's actions won't stick.

I do admit that I'm feeling more pessimistic than is my wont, and assume that I'm missing possibilities - this sort of tunnel perception is a manifestation of low-grade depression, and I know it, and am doing stuff to treat the biochemical imbalances. But I also think that the problem is a real one even when it doesn't seem like so much the whole story to me.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 04:17 AM:

Bruce, everyone--I think the reality is that people will be persuaded as things start to go wrong. Until that time it seems important to maintain a sympathetic, supportive attitude so that when doubt begins, we have alternatives to offer. This is very hard; it is much easier to sneer at people who are wrong. Unfortunately, sneering doesn't help and empathy does.

I think ideas like "framing" are of some value, but only some. They do help us understand conflicts and construct persuasive arguments. Unfortunately, such tools are most useful only when some connection of trust has been established; if they become manipulative, they can even become negative.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 05:40 AM:

Sounds like good advice to me, Randolph. Thanks.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 06:02 AM:

Lydia: I'm talking to everyone, in general, both posters and lurkers. It's a general comment. But it was triggered in part by this thread, yes. Let me try to dig up some examples of why:

Gareth Wilson: _My_ advice to Democrats is to rant and rage and call people idiots as much as you like. It really can't hurt, unless you're a politician or closely associated with one.

I know I'm partly taking this out of context, but it was about then this thread took a serious downturn IMO.

It does matter what you say publically. It matters to me, certainly, and I don't think I'd be stretching too much to make that 'and probably lots of other people like me', that being: People who distrust both 'sides' (and hate there's only just the two, but that's another conversation and we've had it) are not going to start wanting to deal with the Democratic side if they see them
calling Bush voters idiots.

See, my big thing is, strangely, very akin to something Patrick posted way way back near the top, which is: I want people to stop being about sides, about the big D or the big R (and yes, yes, yes, I realize that the Presidential election
of 2004 was for once not primarily about this, because Bush is a scary evil cowboy, but it's still couched in those terms post-election), about labels, and just start discussing reasons to believe in a candidate's position or positions or why one would choose one candidate over the other. No name-calling, no hyperbole (something I'm guilty of too, mea culpa), no out-there examples, just... well, what I said in the last post.

(Mary Kay, btw, up until the point you posted in lash-out, I was really sort of with you, so again, just chalk my knee-jerk reaction up to knee-jerk reaction on top of other overflow. Okay, plz thx?)

pericat: "I regard the establishment of a concentration camp as earth-shattering. Red voters apparently do not, at least, not enough to change their vote. Same with torture, It's not happening right in front of their noses, so they won't think about it, and for damn sure don't want to hear me talking about it."

"You Red voters, you're too stupid to think about the important issues, too willfully ignorant. You couldn't possibly have a good explanation for what you think or why this didn't dissuade you from voting for Bush." Yes, yes, I know pericat didn't mean it this way exactly, but there does seem to be a sort of repeated smug-SEEMING (perception, not intention, I stress again) look at this topic that dismisses the possibility that someone might believe, for instance, that Bush himself and his advisors may not have realized what was going on. (Please do not turn this into a debate about whether or not it's possible Dubya didn't know; the fact is, there was so much he-said, she-said flying around in the news that I personally can easily see how someone could
believe this.) Or some other more reasonable explanation -- such as buying into the 'smear campaign' thing I mentioned. Figuring out why people believe things would be, IMO, more constructive than repeatedly dissing them for believing them in any event.

pericat again:
Greg, I realize that I am not on message, so far as how you've already concluded it should be structured, which seems to be, "Don't say anything that might offend Bush-voter sensibilities, as that'll scuttle our chances of
persuading them of the rightness of our cause."

Bugger that.

This is where I think it really fell apart.

Do you want to change people's minds?

Then you're going to have to take into account how what you say to them is phrased. Because if all you do is harsh on people, they're going to stop listening.

Bruce, who I tend to enjoy reading, goes on to say that there's only four possible reasons, none of which are understandable or excusable, Bush voters could have condoned torture.

He also goes on to say that maybe it was just a brief moral lapse, which helped to take a bit of the sting out -- which is why my response to that one ended up so restrained. Then he and Patrick both say things to the effect of "It's just the time for ranting, and we're just talking
amongst ourselves." (Simplistically put.)

Now, maybe that's true, but I refer you back up to my opening paragraphs. And in any event, venting a little anger in general is one thing. When you are then ON the topic of talking to Bush voters about such things, continuing to use the
same sort of venting really does not help give you direction.

Now, maybe you don't care about this. In fact, I presume that many of you don't. But this is, as I said, exactly the sort of thing that turns ME off of politics, off supporting a system that turns my country into two warring camps and a whole mess o' spectators on the side who don't know whether to pick a side or duck for cover. Since I was once even asked in this blog what someone could do to convince me to vote for Kerry, here's one for you: Try to avoid making it sound like you think anyone who's considered another choice is a moron. (Even, I might add, if you do think that!)

Why I took Mary Kay's post badly:

Greg wrote: And I think people who were born into the circumstance of a forward-thinking blue state can succumb to the idea that they came to their views all on their own, through simple intellectual exercises, so why the hell aren't these backwoods morons figuring it out? And that really pisses me off.

Mary Kay responded: Mr London: I grew up in northeastern Oklahoma in the 50s and 60s. I never had indoor plumbing until I was 7. I had a lousy, second-rate (at best) education, almost all family still live in that reddest of red states and almost all vote Repbublican. You are cordially invited to get over yourself.

What I saw Greg say was: "Why do so many Democrats seem to think that people who are in primarily-Red areas can just snap their fingers and change their minds?"

What I saw Mary Kay reply was: "I did, you moron, so get over yourself."

Which is why I was so frustrated. Whether or not I read that right, it's how I took it at the time.

I'm going to ignore the subsequent post from her that raised my blood pressure because it's also a different argument. Anyhow, we were all ticked.

TomB: Liberals believe that government should serve the people, not rule them. Explaining exactly how people would be better off in a more liberal system is not condescending. It's free speech.

"If only those conservatives would listen to how right we are, things would be so much better." (Again, in case someone forget in all this scroll, this is not what I believe someone means to say, but rather, how it came across.)

Since I just hit the point where it comes up, let me say this: I am not saying that "liberals are condescending". But I am saying that "there are people here who sometimes come across in a way that can sound smug and condescending". I also
would like to reiterate that I said it wasn't just here. It is, however, especially disappointing to me here because this is mostly a group of people I have so much in common with, a few political beliefs aside.

Lydia, you're another person who I've mostly agreed with or at least thought was reasonable, but:

If I didn't believe that my beliefs were superior, then why should I fight for them? If they're just one of a range of beliefs that is roughly equivalent to most of the others, why the hell should I care? This is moral relativism,
convenient, but damnall useful when trying to find a moral path. All it does is get me off the hook

I think that there's a difference between believing one is right and believing that one is superior. In the former case, of course I expect you to try to convince other people of the rightness of your cause, though I
disagree it can't be done rationally (you can be rational and loud). In the latter case, though, it's as if there's an unwillingness (or a seeming inability) to admit that the other side's position might be just as reasonably
attained and thought out as yours. You may not agree with it, but that doesn't mean you have to automatically kick it in the puppy.

(And yes, I believe the system is fundamentally broken, but again, that's another issue for another day.)

Mary Kay: Criticisms of smug superiority sting because they carry just enough truth to make me twitch. It is sometimes hard for me to remember that believing my ideas are superior does not make me a superior human being.

You have put your finger on the point I am trying to make, from a completely different direction.

I don't think I meant to imply any person here is always smug and superior, however, merely that some of the individual posts I've read felt that way to me.

This is the first time I've felt well enough the last few days to really sit down and try to articulate what I'm talking about clearly, and I probably shouldn't have posted until I did. So if you want to just subsitute this long thing for my last post, that'd be cool.

Anyhow. I really hope people get what I'm trying to say here. But if not, well, this is the last time I will try to explain. I make a good lurker.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 07:40 AM:

Tom,

I think what I'm reacting to has little to do with Landmark and more to do with people's reactions to my experience of Landmark, which occurred to me this morning as "more of the same" just a different topic. The previous topic was my Strength=Yang, Justice=Yin experience, and a bunch of people came back saying that's weak, concilliatory, etc.

I say 'this is how I experience something', and some people reply with a worldview that not only expresses their subjective experience, but presents their objective assessment of something that excludes the possibility of my subjective experience as being sane or valid.

I keep reacting to this with a "yeah but my experience is valid" and trying to get them to change their assessment of the whole so that it allows for my experience. This quickly spirals down into crap, and nothing is accomplished. I keep holding onto the notion that poeple can change their view to allow for my experience, and sometimes that just isn't the case.

I need to get better at recognizing when this happens, stand firm with "my experience is valid", but not get pulled into the ensuing debate that always seems to follow.

Greg

bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 08:02 AM:

Greg, "I liked it/I didn't like it" may be subjective, a statement of irrefutable truth.

"It was beneficial for me" is not.

I know people who self-medicate with alcohol, or with prayer, rather than seeking professional help.

Both types assert that because it makes them feel good, and they don't perceive any damage, that this is benefical and not harmful.

That doesn't make it so.

(And if your "don't have an abortion" is the level of framing discourse you got from it, well, I'm really not impressed: to those of us in the prolife community - remember, I was one of those single-issue voters, once upon a time, and probably the only person here to vote not only for Bush I, but also for Buchanan & Keyes in primaries, in those indoctrinated years, and to not vote in 2000 because of those pastoral warnings about not being allowed to vote "pro-abortion" - what you're saying is the equivalent of "Against rape? Don't rape anyone." You don't seem to know us "Red Staters" as well as you think.)

bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 08:12 AM:

Bruce, as an ex-conservative, I have to say you're right, and yes, it *is* depressing. "Even the Devil can quote Scripture," is the correct Xtian response to those "godless atheist-pagan-feminist liberals" who try to point out the hypocrisy and contradictions by say, invoking the Beatitudes. Either you are with us, or against us, and if you are With Us you can do no wrong, all your actions are Justified (q.v. Deal Hudson), and if you are Against Us you can do no right, and everything you do is of the Evil One.

Until and unless your head is rammed against these contradictions often enough to make a dent in it, *and* you have enough of intellectual integrity to be unwilling to just accept Authority on Authority's own sake (as an ex-friend told me I should do, in fear and trembling, for daring to say that the theology of the Passion was heretical when Father So-and-so, who is so orthodox and devout, said otherwise) there's no escape for the person caught in this.

Plus, there's not much chance of ever being able to frame it in a way to reach them by being more ameliorating and sympathetic.

Because you're also playing into the "liberals are pussies" meme and by trying to be openminded, proving that you're mushminded and irrational as well as unprincipled - "openminded" is an ancient term of scorn among conservative intellectuals, with much GKC-derived witticism - as well as the "All Cretans are liars" trap.

Grimth is objectively the correct response to this realization, which doesn't mean that you shouldn't take care to get your chemistry in order, but no, it isn't all you.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 08:56 AM:

"If all you do is harsh on people, they're going to stop listening."

True.

Also, if all we do is sensitive, caring outreach to people who wish us ill, nobody's going to take us remotely seriously as a plausible opposition.

That's equally true.

If being understanding of the "frames" and "worldviews" of one's opponents were the royal road to power that some people seem to be claiming for it, the radical right wing wouldn't be running the country today.

Learning to understand other worldviews is important. So is being willing to fight. When people are being knocked down and kicked into the dirt, our immediate moral obligation isn't to wring our hands and try to reach out to those who are doing the kicking.

I'm all for practical politics. That's been a running theme on Electrolite for four years. But I'm getting pretty weary of seeing the current political disaster blamed on liberals for not being understanding enough. This is blame-the-victim logic of the most odious variety.

Tina's comments to Lydia, above, are a good example of how all of this works. Tina quotes Lydia as saying "If I didn't believe that my beliefs were superior, then why should I fight for them?" This provokes Tina to lecture Lydia about the wrongness of this kind of language, but of course Lydia doesn't routinely go around claiming to be "superior"--her remark was in the context of addressing people who accuse her and people like her of secretly believing themselves "superior." Lydia was engaging with the criticism and, in so doing, using the language in which it was couched. As a result, Lydia is now being criticized as if she had used that language in the first place. It's moral Calvinball: the only rule is, the liberal is wrong because something is making us feel bad.

Of course, just like the "liberals are condescending" meme, the "you really think you're personally superior, you wicked smug person you" accusation has two interesting characteristics. First, it can be plausibly leveled at just about anybody, of any political stripe; a sense, often excessive, of one's own superiority is pretty much a standard-issue human flaw, and right-wingers suffer from it just as much as liberals do. Second, while it is not particularly more true of liberals than it is of anyone else, it is in fact particularly effective as a rhetorical weapon against liberals, because liberals are constitutionally more disposed to believe it.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 09:04 AM:

"I want people to stop being about sides, about the big D or the big R [...] about labels, and just start discussing reasons to believe in a candidate's position or positions or why one would choose one candidate over the other. No name-calling, no hyperbole (something I'm guilty of too, mea culpa), no out-there examples, just..."

And yet, strangely enough, the side that engaged in the most name-calling, hyperbole, and "out-there examples" over the past year...won.

I don't think this means we need to become a clone of the right wing in order to win. However, I do think it calls into question whether the desire, expressed above, for a happy non-divisive politics free of dirty old "sides" really should be Priority One at this exact historical moment.

It's fine to wish people were less "about sides," but when the invading army has set up siege engines and is scaling your walls, you know something, it's about sides.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 09:36 AM:
Tina: "If all you do is harsh on people, they're going to stop listening."
I find I rather resent that "all."

But speaking of listening: have you listened to the rhetoric of the far right? It's deliberately brutal, and intermittently vile. Obviously, there are people out there who don't mind hearing it. One of the functions of such speech is to sort out the participants in the national political discourse, driving out people who get the flutters over a little harsh language, and giving encouragement to those who like "callous and offensive" just fine.

When you stop listening, you cede the discourse to those who haven't. You can't win if you don't stay in.

Wishing electoral politics weren't about sides has an equally simple answer: if some people understand it to be about sides, while others refuse to accept that idea, the people who understand it to be about sides will win.

Sorry. As Patrick has quoted me as saying, if there's no willingness to use force to defend civil society, it's civil society that goes away, not force.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 09:40 AM:

Tina: just snap their fingers and change their mind

ah man, why didn't I see that before. There was something I learned from Landmark, and if I take it and apply it to the Lakoff vocabulary, it would be this:

Everyone has an investment in their worldview.

If anything, I'm usually accused of being over-optimistic about the chances of upgrading someone's worldview at the snap of their fingers. But that's probably another way of Lakoff's myth: "The truth will set you free"

A worldview represents the way the world is, and therefore defines how the person fits in the world. Most people have a worldview that puts them in the "right" place in the world. If a person is shown some fact that would require a new worldview, the person may reinterpret the fact as bogus depending on how "wrong" the person's past and current actions would be in the new worldview.

The geocentric worldview placed man in the center of the universe. It was a worldview that had a really good payoff. People who lived their lives by this worldview had years invested in being "right", being the most important thing in the universe, being god's chosen, etc. When people like galileo said "the earth goes around the sun", the more someone had an investment in the old worldview, the more likely they were to ignore galileo, or try to shut him up.

It is an extreme example, but is serves its purpose.

The reason people don't change their worldview at a snap of someone's fingers is in part because their investment in their current worldview is lost. If you think you've been right for thirty years and suddenly are presented with the fact that you've really just been a righteous asshole, how many of you would say "Oh, well, I better start apologizing"?

I need to take my optimism that people can change and balance it with how invested a person is in their worldview.

Everyone can change. Some people are just too invested to actually do it.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 10:06 AM:

Kip,
what you call deft satire, I would call a strawman attack. Present a simplified version of anything and you can knock it down. And as far as Six Feet Under goes, I decided to stop watching it after the first season because it got boring and the writer was either unwilling or unable to show anyone act in an emotionally healthy way. A year of "everyone is miserable and here's todays flavor" was enough for me.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 10:09 AM:

Bellatrys:
alcoholics and addicts say one thing, but their life shows another. I say Landmark was beneficial for me and I listed a bunch of real-world events that occurred in my life because of it. You can't simply attack the words and ignore the events.

As for the "if you don't think abortion is right, don't have one", the point of that frame is to separate "right" from "righteousness", to separate "Freedom of religion" from "God says we can control your body". Whether or not you agree with abortion or not, that is the frame. And frames have been the topic as of lately.

And it was an appropriate response to someone who was basically telling me my experience must be invalid because their worldview does not allow it.

I got value out of Landmark. I listed a bunch of real world things that came directly out of it. If someone says "Landmark is self-help scam", then they're taking their worldview and pushing it into my personal experience of Landmark and telling me I'm wrong. Someone was pushing their worldview into my body and saying "You can't think that" and I framed it to "get your worldview out of my head".

If I had nothing real to show for doing those classes, then maybe your attempt to reframe my subjective assessment as nothing more than the "feel-good" self-deception of an addict would have some merit.

Your frame might fit an alcoholic, but it doesn't fit my world.


Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 10:32 AM:

I'm looking at recent history here. And I'm not seeing the apologetic, carefully-nuanced, don't-harsh-on-people, use-their-language approach doing anything at all. WHo's winning? The offensive, nasty-mouthed, brutal, go-for-the-throat extremists. Why? Not because people like to be treated brutally, or lied to, or hated on: because people need something solid to relate to. They may say "Kerry's too left wing for me," but that's because they have to say something, and they can't think of anything offhand, and they've been told that, so they repeat it.

I'm not advocating being mean and vicious, and I'm not advocating lying and being manipulative. I am advocating -- demanding -- being real, being loud, being definite, and being passionate. I don't think that the mass of Americans are too stupid or too fragile to hear anything or to be swayed by real argument -- they have heard, and they have been swayed, in my lifetime and it wasn't by people pussy-footing around.

The way that opinion was swayed for Civil Rights, and the way that opinion was swayed against the Vietnam War, both not only in my lifetime but recently enough that I took part in the conversation (though very young), was that people were loud, people were clear, people were passionate, people were honest, and they didn't stop.


Tina and Greg, neither of you offer really communicative alternatives. Just -- you say we ought to be worried about not hurting the feelings of right-wing voters and we ought to stop speaking bluntly right now before we start. But blunt speaking is a fine old American tradition, and it's honestly the only thing that's ever gotten anywhere with us -- look at what the right wing does. The only difference I advocate is being honest all the time instead of lying like they do.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 10:35 AM:

Patrick, for "baloney on stilts" and "moral Calvinball", you deserve the George Orwell Living Metaphor Award.

(For those of you who haven't read Orwell's "Politics and the English Language": No, that does not mean I'm accusing him of using Newspeak. And go read it.)

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 11:10 AM:

I think some people are missing the point about Lakoff's concept of framing. Lakoff is not saying that we liberals should always be nice and understanding and never use harsh language. Here, read this interview in the UC Berkely News. (At least, I don't think he's saying that. Maybe I've missed something. I suppose a climate of harsh rheotric could feed the dominant-father model he says is driving right-wing politics.)

What he's saying is that you should choose your words and phrases with thought given to the larger structure they imply. One example he gives -- an example of successful framing by the right -- is "tax relief", a phrase that should never leave a Democrat's lips in public:

"First, you have the frame for 'relief.' For there to be relief, there has to be an affliction, an afflicted party, somebody who administers the relief, and an act in which you are relieved of the affliction. The reliever is the hero, and anybody who tries to stop them is the bad guy intent on keeping the affliction going. So, add 'tax' to 'relief' and you get a metaphor that taxation is an affliction, and anybody against relieving this affliction is a villain."

He suggests reframing talk about taxes as the cost of living in a society that has things like highways, the Internet, etc. Taxes are the dues we pay, and you gotta pay your dues. The wealthy people enjoy more of the benefits of this society, but they want to skip out on paying their fair share of the cost (which is higher than our fare share, becuase they get more benefit). "Are you paying your dues, or are you trying to get something for free at the expense of your country?"

Note that there's nothing in here about being polite and respectful. The world of political rhetoric has room for many different kinds of conversations. Some are polite, some are raucous frees-for-all. Whichever kind you favor, think about the phrases you're using.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 11:39 AM:

Lucy,

I don't know how to say this in a way that you can hear it, but I'm not saying don't be honest and passionate or be weak or worry about someone's feelings before you go and stand for what's right.

There is some sort of disconnect between my worldview, the words I use, and how you hear them in your worldview, that we are simply not on the same channel.

I do think that civil rights became a national conversation when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and when MLK framed the whole debate in the language of "Equality".

The frame invoked by the language "equality" is something that a lot of people could sign up for.

Had Rosa Parks slugged the white passenger, we would not know her name now because racists would have framed the event in her violence rather than the passengers racism.

Had MLK advocated putting armed blacks on busses to keep blacks in the front of the bus, there wouldn't be streets named after him today.

You say people should be loud, clear, honest, and passionate, but that could just as eaily describe Malcolm X as it could describe Martin Luther King

Had Malcolm X been on that bus instead of Rosa Parks, he could have been loud, clear, honest, and passionate. And he would have dissappeared anonymously into history. Malcolm X became famous because MLK made civil rights a national conversation.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is a difference between "fight" stupid and "fight" smart. And "fight stupid" is to engage in a fight that alienates the very voters you need to convince.

But what happens when I try and communicate this on this blog is that people keep turning it into "being conciliatory" and "being weak", because the frame is "fight" and anything that is "not fight" must be "weak".

MLK wasn't weak. He was loud, proud, passionate, and honest. But to frame him as a "fighter" is missing the core of what made him successful. He was passionate for something that a lot of people could identify with: Equality. And he stood for equality for all, including the white man who was a racist and the white man who allowed racism by complicity. He was passionate about Equality in a way that was really and truly equality, meaning he alienated no one.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 11:53 AM:

Okay, I guess I do give up.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 12:02 PM:

Avram --

Which was called, back at the beginnings of taxation when the Church caused the invention of the private ownership of land in the Saxon Heptarchy, "the common burdens".

I suspect that quite a lot could be done with that frame.

Greg London --

There's a generational movement to destroy the US Federal government presently busily succeeding. The Least Hypothesis is that they're doing this in large part because any government with the power to tell them they have to treat a black man as an equal is unbearable and intolerable. On top of that, MLK was assassinated -- shot dead for his politics.

So don't try to sell me a line of bullshit about MLK not alienating anybody.

The choice you've got, collective you, is to utterly erase the theocrats and the thugs -- not necessarily to kill them, but to ensure that the cultural change takes place so that their children and grandchildren think they're laughable idiots -- or to be their slaves. That's what pitching the validity of elections means; it's a declaration that it's better to cheat than to lose.

That's the same as deciding that you'd rather have power than civilization -- that you would, when it comes right down to it, rather live in a log hut than deal with the idea that you can't always do what you want.

That's not widely a conscious decision, but don't kid yourself that it's not a decision.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 12:05 PM:

Tina,

I think part of our problem is that people often invoke the frame of "fight for whats right". Inside that frame anything that is "not fight" occurs to people as "weak".

The problem is that the "fight for whats right" frame can make fighting more important than the "whats right" part, and suddenly Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr are equals in "The Fight".

Unless you are literally waging war or revolution, then the frame of "fighting" is flawed when what you're really doing is "persuading". But then back in the frame of "fighting", the idea of "persuasion" is turned into being "weak".

The only solution I see is to take "fight for what's right" and reframe it in terms of "what's right" and hope it trumps the frames of the Malcolm X's of the world.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 12:12 PM:

Though, really quick, and in order:

Patrick, maybe in all that scroll you missed something I thought I repeated more than once: I said it's not necessarily about what people mean when they say things, but how it comes across sometimes. Also, please let me re-emphasize the 'sometimes'. I really wish people would focus on this part of it: it's sometimes not what you mean to say but how it's said that's the issue.

I also said:

I also would like to reiterate that I said it wasn't just here. It is, however, especially disappointing to me here because this is mostly a group of people I have so much in common with, a few political beliefs aside.

Teresa, those comments in part can apply to what you said, as well. It's not the far right you're going to reach anyhow. It's going to be the near-middle. More importantly, a phrase like "if all you do" doesn't translate to "all you do is", which I think you actually already know, so please don't treat it as if I said the latter.

I don't agree that it has to be about sides the way it is. There is a difference between "support this candidate" and "support this party", and I firmly believe that reasonable people both can and even sometimes do make that distinction, but that lately it's been a whole lot more blindly PURPLE/GREEN. But then, I also don't like the two-party electoral system, so maybe I'm just biased here.

Lydia, if you haven't seen me explaining how I would say things instead, then I don't know how much more clear I can write it. But let me try one more time:

What I see: People saying they don't see how anyone could support [insert your favorite x, let's use 'torture' since it was popular above] and re-affirming how bad x is, and dismissing all people who could possibly vote for x as [fill in your perjorative].

What I want to see: People asking people about how they feel about x, and using that as a springboard for a discussion about one's own feelings on x and why the X situation caused one to decide to not vote for a specific candidate.

You can forcefully state your own views without simultaneously dissing the other POV.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 12:23 PM:

Graydon: So don't try to sell me a line of bullshit about MLK not alienating anybody.

Nice.

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood."

This is not the frame of "alienate white people" or even "alienate everyone but the racists". This is a frame of "complete and total equality for all".

If you want to blame his assassination on your interpretation that he "alienated" racists, then you're blaming the victim, and THAT is bullshit.

He didn't alienate anyone. Some people were just asshole racists who couldn't stand to be equals.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 12:41 PM:

Hm, that's interesting, "alienate" could have two meanings, one based on teh speakers words, one based on the recievers reaction. Perhaps it also points to most of the disagreement about framing.

MLK framed civil rights in terms of "equality for all".

some white racist assholes reacted against that because they wanted to be superior to blacks so they shot MLK.

When I talk about alienating, I'm talking about the frame, the language, the words used by the speaker. MLK's words were one of universal brotherhood, the complete antithesis of alienation.

That a bunch of racists assholes assassinated him doesn't mean MLK alienated them in his frame. It means they were a bunch of assholes.

So when I say don't alienate conservative values of Strength, that means choose a frame, a language, that is inclusive of strength and extends it to include whatever progressive value you wish to add, such as justice.

If some conservatives feel alienated because your inclusive frame means their worldview of racism is wrong, that's their problem, not yours.

The idea is that the majority of people are good scientists adn there is a minority of Things in the circle.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 12:47 PM:

Greg London --

You are seen here to be prefering the frame of morals to the frame of results.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 01:50 PM:

Graydon, frame of morals ... the frame of results

huh? I'm just trying to figure out why what I try to communicate so often comes back to me as something completely different.

When I was saying to frame a debate to include the conservative value of Strength with whatever progressive value you want to promote, it got spoken back to me as conciliatory.

your reaction to "alienation" made me wonder if people are taking my idea to mean "say whatever you need to say so that the opposing side doesn't feel alienated" That isn't what I'm saying.

I'm saying to speak in a way that is inclusive of everyone's humanity, and let everyone react the way they react.

That is fundamentally different than make sure no one feels like they're being alienated.

MLK spoke in an inclusive way about racism when he framed it in "equality" and "brotherhood".

That some racist assholes killed him doesn't suddenly mean his speaking, his frame, and his worldview was not inclusive.

some different frames of civil rights and racism:
inclusive: equality
alienate: Fight whitey, any means necessary
conciliatory: I'll do whatever you want as long as you'll let me sit in the front of the bus when you're not around.

It seems to me that the inclusive frame was also the frame of morals and the frame of results.


Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 02:02 PM:

Tina: Declining to do anything is, of course, your choice to make. It's just that it would be nice if you were to couple it with declining to ever complain about an undesirable outcome, given that you've refused to select from among alternatives. (Better, of course, would be to act so as to help nudge things in a better direction, or even a less bad one. But you seem uninterested in that.)

As Graydon points out, Dr. King was not universally loved. He got a lot of support, but a lot of hatred, too. (Look at what the FBI did to him at Hoover's orders, for instance.) If there is a real threat to the rule of Bush's managers, then we can expect the same kind of hatred, and backed by more efficient use of the organs of government and mass communication, too. One of the challenges will be to respond better to the slanders that will inevitably follow, and to somehow communicate around those blocking the major channels.

This is a big part of why I think it'll likely be necessary to build up a new alternative media network; I'm not confident of anyone else's ability to displace those squatting on the current one. They have a demonstrated ability to abandon all restraint in pursuit of their own advantage.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 02:34 PM:

Greg London -

I'm saying to speak in a way that is inclusive of everyone's humanity, and let everyone react the way they react.

At which point you lose, because some of those people are entirely willing to beat you to death in order to get you to shut up, as their self-respect, sense of what is right and proper, and belief in what is good demand.

The basic challenge facing any social system is 'what does it do to survive contact with a hostile social system?'

It does not matter how well it provides for the needs of its members, how diverse its arts and learning are, how well it tends the land -- what matters is how well it defends itself from the raiders arround it, because it can only do those things to the extent that it has resources left over from warding off the hostile social systems around it.

Dr. King was up against a system that was perfectly willing to kill him, and lots of his fellows, to make them accept that they were inferior. His response to that was to convince the preponderance of brute material power that the position of his enemies was wrong, and should be forcibly suppressed. (Don't let an awareness that his argument addressed axiomatic issues of self respect obscure that it was a plea for forceful succor.)

His response was not to ignore the probable responses of "racist assholes".

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 02:48 PM:

Bruce, Look at what the FBI did

OK, I'm fairly clear that people are confusing speaking in a way that is inclusive, with the reaction it generates.

King spoke inclusively. He invoked the frame of equality and put civil rights into the worldview of a lot of americans where it hadn't existed before he spoke.

That some poeple were unwilling to accept his worldview and reacted violently doesn't take away from his framing the debate of civil rights in a moral, effective, and inclusive way.

Lakoff starts with the premise that framing won't convince everyone to come to the progressive side, but that it should be enough to convince a majority. But it has to be framed in such a way to appeal to progressives and moderates equally.

That some extreme conservatives reject your frame doesn't mean you aren't including their values, it means they aren't including yours. And hopefully, their exclusionary reaction will push even more moderates away from conservatives and towards progressives.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 03:00 PM:

That some extreme conservatives reject your frame doesn't mean you aren't including their values, it means they aren't including yours.

Eh, it doesn't matter. You're splitting hairs here.

And hopefully, their exclusionary reaction will push even more moderates away from conservatives and towards progressives.

Yes, that's the bit that matters.

Pissing off the moderates hurts you. Pising off the extremists can help, if it goads them into pissing off the moderates. (Not much fun if it gets people killed, though.)

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 03:15 PM:

Graydon,

If you want to talk about MLK's personal security measures, bodyguards, etc, that's a separate conversation.

It is irrelevant to the idea of framing an issue into the worldview of a majority of the people to cause social progress of a nation.

He spoke, a lot of people agreed, and the country as a whole changed. That is how framing causes social reform.

ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 03:46 PM:

Greg,

I may be confused here, but I think the most important step isn't framing, but action and framing in concert.

Dr. King did talk inclusively, brilliantly. But he also forced people to listen. He removed the possibility of a quiet, well-behaved underclass. That forced the oppposition to make the choice about their own level of force (IIRC, past slave revolts were put down with genocide). His rhetoric gave the opposition an honorable out (be on the side of equality and justice), a new option to the past violent one.

If I was going to form a model of fixing the USA, I'd look for a really big lever. Obama, Dean, Edwards--we've got lots of great inclusive rhetoric IMO.

But levers? Not so much. The formal levers belong to the Republicans--the executive, the legistlative, the judiciary.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 04:16 PM:

I'm going to right now before this gets any farther object loudly and clearly and perhaps rudely to the use of Malcom X as the symbol for what not to do in public discourse. It's not an honest thing to say.

Malcolm X did damned good work, and it was unifying work, over all. If you really look through his work, his writing, his speeches, and his behavior, and if you look at his work in context, and pay attention to the effect he was really having on people at that time and in that place, you'll know it.

And what you may not have paid attention to either is that Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were having discussions before they were killed, and the discussions were about overall strategy and the interrelatedness of movements and issues.

I absolutley hate, hate, hate, people taking Martin Luther King and Gandhi in vain, and using their strategies of nonviolence as "evidence" that we should in our day have a strategy of never offending anybody.

Martin Luther King offended people a whole hell of a lot. Rosa Parks offended people a whole hell of a lot.

What you may not remember is that the whole Civil Rights movement was characterized by the right wing and the moderates as "violent" -- because they said things clearly, honestly, and passionately, because their actions inspired violence on the part of others.

This is long enough. I'll break here. I have something to add, though, in a moment.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 04:18 PM:

I didn't write the following. Malvina Reynolds did, and she was talking about those nice, considerate, peaceful Civil Rights guys (Malvina Reynolds was my hero):

IT ISN'T NICE
Words by Malvina Reynolds
Music by Malvina Reynolds & Barbara Dane

It isn't nice to block the doorway,
It isn't nice to go to jail,
There are nicer ways to do it,
But the nice ways always fail.
It isn't nice, it isn't nice
You told us once, you told us twice,
But if that's freedom's price, we don't mind.
No, no, no--
We don't mind,
No, no, no,--we don't mind.

It isn't nice to dump the groceries,
Or to sleep in on the floor,
Or to shout our cry of freedom
In the hotel or the store,
It isn't nice, it isn't nice,
You told us once, you told us twice,
But if that's freedom's price,
We don't mind. . .

Yeah, we tried negotiations
And the token picket line,
Mister Charlie didn't see us
And he might as well be blind;
When you deal with men of ice,
You can't always be so nice,
But if that's freedom's price,
We don't mind. . .

They kidnapped boys in Mississippi,
They shot Medgar in the back,
Did you say that wasn't proper?
Did you stand out on the track?
You were quiet just like mice,
Now you say we're not nice,
We'll if that's freedom's price,
We don't mind. . .

It isn't nice to block the doorways,
It isn't nice to go to jail,
There are nicer ways to do it,
But the nice ways always fail.
It isn't nice, it isn't nice
You told us once, you told us twice,
Thanks buddy, for your advice,
Well, if that's freedom price,
We don't mind. .
WE DON'T MIND!



Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 05:00 PM:

Why I took Mary Kay's post badly:

Greg wrote: And I think people who were born into the circumstance of a forward-thinking blue state can succumb to the idea that they came to their views all on their own, through simple intellectual exercises, so why the hell aren't these backwoods morons figuring it out? And that really pisses me off.

Mary Kay responded: Mr London: I grew up in northeastern Oklahoma in the 50s and 60s. I never had indoor plumbing until I was 7. I had a lousy, second-rate (at best) education, almost all family still live in that reddest of red states and almost all vote Repbublican. You are cordially invited to get over yourself.:

What I saw Greg say was: "Why do so many Democrats seem to think that people who are in primarily-Red areas can just snap their fingers and change their minds?"

What I saw Mary Kay reply was: "I did, you moron, so get over yourself."

Which is why I was so frustrated. Whether or not I read that right, it's how I took it at the time.

For what it's worth that is an incorrect reading. My intention, and I do realized I'm often far too telegraphic and elliptical, was, "You aren't the only who has been there and done that. How dare you assume you are?" Because I saw him as saying he was the only one in this discussion who understood what it was like in Red Country because he was the only one who had been there.

MKK

McDuff ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 05:07 PM:

I think a lot of people are possibly being a tad hard on Greg London here. Although I fully agree that he was an ass at the beginning of the thread, since his profuse (and myriad) apologies, he has had and continues to have a perfectly valid point. If you were to take the common factor between all his posts in this thread, disregarding the gumph around the ebbs and flows of the conversation, I think many would find it a useful observation.

It is not, of course, the be-all and end-all of the argument. Argument is a skill, and part of the skill is learning when phrasing your point of view in such a way that it will appeal to others will work, and when it is more satisfying for everyone involved to say "fuck you, you fucking fuck." Sometimes it's better to say "conservatives all suck" and deal with the fallout than it is to present a very nice, balanced view; for example, it is a tactic which has worked very well for conservatives in their opposition to liberals, has it not?

The "countering 'Strength' with 'Justice'" point, for example, is an excellent one and it is well made by repetition. Merely decrying the Bush and Rove tactic of repeating simple lies until they become truth -- of making the Kerry camp state "we're not flip floppers" all the time while it could be over in Middle America saying "what part of '9/11 9/11 stay the course terrorist terrorist strength' didn't you understand?" -- is only one half of the process of working out how to beat these lying, manipulative sons of bitches. We know what they do, and we know that it works. If we can change the terms of the debate, great, but an attack has to be on all the fronts on which they operate, not just one or the other.

I am heartened to see so many liberals being released from their chains of being nice -- which I know is a danger because the conservative rhetoric since the election has been against the "nasty" side of liberalism. Whenever we turn into something that endangers them, they say "oh, look what you are" and they say "oh, are we? Sorry, we'll stop," like saps and suckers. But we must also remember that, even if we get down into the dirt with them in terms of sheer aggressive opposition to their dangerous agenda, we have to be different where necessary too.

American centrism doesn't have the advantage that European centrism does: you can't quietly exist in the active, policy-making part of government while the loudmouths on either side shout at each other. Instead you've got the loudmouths on the right shouting at you and, unlike Marxism, don't have the shouty and innaccurate stuff to shout back with. You've got to fight for the centre on its own terms, not as a compromise between the two untenable positions on extreme right and left. It's hard. But it's possible. American liberals must have positive things to affirm, even as they continue to point out that Bush Sucks, that his policies suck, that the people who work for him suck, that his ideals -- such as they are -- make lots of male donkeys very happy. And when the right say "you're just saying Bush sucks, you don't have a policy of your own," you need to know how to slap those bitches back down in such a way that will make Mr Gunowner in Idaho think "yeah, go liberals," even if they don't agree with you, and even if they won't vote for you because of it, you need to at least put up a decent fistfight. It's good defense and good offense.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 05:33 PM:

Patrick, maybe in all that scroll you missed something I thought I repeated more than once: I said it's not necessarily about what people mean when they say things, but how it comes across sometimes. Also, please let me re-emphasize the 'sometimes'. I really wish people would focus on this part of it: it's sometimes not what you mean to say but how it's said that's the issue.

Tina: You are leaving out of the situation the predilictions of the listener. Let me see if I can illustrate with an example from my very own life. Those of you who have heard the story of my sister and the amber earrings can skip the rest of this now.

My sister has frequently accused me of being condescending, arrogant, of enjoying putting people down to make myself feel better. I was at a loss for many years to understand this because being as honest with myself as I could be, I just couldn't see much of that.

One day my mother and I were out shopping and we stopped by my sister's house. I was displaying these nifty amber earring I had bought. The had rather large amber drops attached to a black disc which was attached to the post. She said something along the lines of, "Oh I could never wear anything that heavy." To which I responded something like, "Oh but feel. They aren't heavy. Amber is very very light for it's size. It's how you can tell the difference if someone is trying to pass plastic off as amber. Plastic is heavy; amber isn't." As I started to walk away into the next room, she gave me a really dirty look and said in a highly annoyed voice, "Well. Now we know."

I had a moment of satori. She thought I was being condescending and putting her down because I was telling her this neat thing I knew about amber. I was showing her my cool fact, and going, "ooooh shiny!" And she was hearing, "Let me educate you you stupid woman."

It didn't matter what I intended, she heard what she wanted/was prepared/expected to hear. Sometimes you really can't win.

I know that sometimes I myself get sensitized to a certain behavior or something and begin to see it everywhere even when it's not there. Maybe, maybe, you might be doing that here?

MKK

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 05:46 PM:

Elizabeth: His rhetoric gave the opposition an honorable out (be on the side of equality and justice), a new option to the past violent one.

That may be the best way of describing a frame that is "inclusive", giving your opposition an "honorable out". Think I'm gonna use that one from now on, cause "inclusive" just sounds too weak for some people. and we don't want to be weak, do we....

Thanks.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 05:54 PM:

Lucy,

I was relating to Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. from the quotes that they are most famous for:

King: I have a dream
Malcolm: By any means necessary

Whatever peaceful solutions Malcolm may have presented, he didn't get those ideas into the american psyche the way he did with "by any means necessary".

Since the word "inclusive" is just too fucking "nice" for you, I'm going ot use Elizabeth's phrase from now on to describe what I mean:

MLK's "I have a dream" speach presented the value of "brotherhood" for their supporters, and it offered an "honorable out" for his opponents.

If that doesn't get the idea through your thick skull that I'm not nice, I don't know what will...

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 06:18 PM:

Mary Kay: Because I saw him as saying he was the only one in this discussion who understood what it was like in Red Country because he was the only one who had been there.

For what it's worth that is an incorrect reading of what I said as well. I let it slide before because it was in response to my flame, and no sense in picking nits during an apology. But since you're now misreading my words to attack Tina, I feel the need to point out the discrepancy.

I never said I was "the only one" about anything. I start the post with this disclaimer:

"I wasn't implying my situation is unique and therefore everyone else is ignorant. But given some statements by some people, I'm pretty sure that there are some people who have no relationships to any Bush-Voters whom they respect as a human being."

(italics added in this version to point out the use of qualifying words like "some" and "pretty" in an attempt to avoid too many absolute statements) I then went on to say this:

"I think people who were born into the circumstance of a forward-thinking blue state can succumb to the idea that they came to their views all on their own, through simple intellectual exercises, so why the hell aren't these backwoods morons figuring it out? And that really pisses me off."

So, the comment was directed at blue staters, not red staters. And I said blue staters can succumb to elitism, not that they necessarily do succumb to it.

So, red-staters were never actually the target of my napalm attack.

Of course, now I need to re-apppologize to all the blue staters in case the missed the earlier ones...


Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 06:24 PM:

If that doesn't get the idea through your thick skull that I'm not nice, I don't know what will...

Jesus christ, before this gets out of hand again, THAT WAS A JOKE

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 07:30 PM:

It's hard to talk about being nice without getting a little cranky. I'm not immune to it myself.

We haven't really defined who we're trying to reach with our messages, or specifically what we're trying to accomplish. I know, in general, we'd like to reach everyone, and we want to reform and reinvigorate our democracy. But there's no way that we can come up with a set of frames that everyone can relate to, There's no way that we can dial in on exactly the right tone so that absolutely everyone will get our message and nobody will be either disappointed or offended.

As long as we are trying to focus on everything, each of us in this discussion inevitably has a slightly different idea of who we're trying to reach, which then means that we're using different criteria for judging whether a message is appropriate. There's no way that any group of people can reach agreement on a nebulous issue. It's not the fault of the people, it's just that the issue, or lack thereof, pretty much guarantees endless argument and hurt feelings.

Fortunately, this is a problem easily solved. Pick an aspect that is concrete and small enough to be manageable. Focus on it and work out a semi-reasonable approach. Repeat with another aspect until we've covered the landscape. Step back and reevaluate the approaches holistically.

On to more concrete things:

McDuff wrote: You've got to fight for the centre on its own terms

I think we need to fight on our terms. I also completely agree with what McDuff wrote. It's not inconsistent, because we are the center.

Bruce Baugh wrote: I think it'll likely be necessary to build up a new alternative media network

I like this very much. I think we need to talk about not just what to say, but how we're going to get it out. No medium, no message. Also, I think building alternative networks is getting easier, and soon could be something people do for fun.

bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 07:41 PM:

Well, no, Greg, you're saying that Landmark taught you good things and made you feel better, and so far you haven't shown that it taught you much of value, and not everything that makes you feel better is actually good for you. So you *think* that Landmark was good for you, and therefore is objectively at least potentially good, and you *could* be right, but objectively that isn't certain. (There is another nuance in that what is and isn't objectively beneficial is complicated in a Rube Goldberg sort of way, where someone tries to do harm or engage in a selfish activity and it backfires - "they dig pits and fall into them" it says somewhere in the Psalms - or something which is objectively harmful turns out to have a good consequence too, like me being raised by sexist theocons around disciples of Weyrich and Viguerie, which wouldn't seem like much of an advantage on the face of it, but which means I know a hell of a lot about how the framing of the Right works because up until the mid-late 80s I was actually actively *doing* it, to other people. (I am a handshake away from Katherine Lopez and Rich Lowry, for pete's sake; I could have been Simone Ledeen, there but for the grace of God a Heritage intern I--)

Tina, Patrick and Teresa have articulated it already pretty well, and Lucy's made one of the corrections I was going to make in re the Civil Rights movement, but yes, it darn well makes a difference if you're talking to a) someone who is lying and knows it and is profiting from it; b) someone who doesn't give a damn what hurts others so long as they get theirs; c) someone who doesn't want to know what hurts others and has their hands clapped over their ears, their eyes closed as they hum with all their worth, and d) someone who is struggling with the anguish of the cognitive dissonance between what they are witnessing with their own senses and reason and what they have been told by groups a, b, c.

It *is* a waste of time to reason mildly with a and b. All you can do is debunk them, expose them, hold the Wallaces and their minions to scorn before the whole world. They know damn well they're not telling the truth, and if you try to argue with them, they will play you and crush you. Saruman can't be won over by being nice to him, but he'd really like it if you tried.

Likewise Ugluk. Your average Meocon - and s/he might be a very "nice", giving, caring person, who is simply okay with the idea of napalming strangers to keep herself safe or slowly poisoning strangers' children to the economy strong - is threatened by almost anything, and you cannot *be* nice enough to avoid threatening this type, who are very narcissistc. (Ekaterin's husband Tien is a good example.)

However, being nice *might* work with group c - except they also have a hell of a lot to lose, even if they aren't actively profiting the way the architects of the System are. They have self-respect, identity, and may have to give up their way of life - all of which are expensive in different ways. (Been there, done that.) And historically, they don't respond to ireneic overtures - as the mammoth history of the Civil Rights movement I'm reading reveals. They need to go on thinking they're justified by God and man in what they do, which just happens to keep them on top of the heap.

Again, historically, shaming them with images of their sins on national TV worked, where 80+ years of trying to be nice and reasonable got nothing but in fact, backsliding, up to 1950, w/re social justice.

The only people who might be both reachable by niceness and turned off by being harsh, are group d. Numerically, how many are there in that wavering non-committed conservative group? I don't know, I don't think it's all that many personally. It took harsh shaming - specifically, the shaming realization that my own side was as bad as the Left said we were, thanks to Anita Hill, Tailhook, and the ongoing Clinton savaging to push me from c to d. Given that the Right largely stays in our own echo chamber, and reads only "safe" publications and media, what the Left was *actually* saying is often irrelevant - when I encountered it unmediated by Hegemony propaganda, it was more than a little surprising to find how much of it I already agreed with, at least in principle. (Whoa, you mean they're *not* trying to have all Christianity obliterated, ban Shakespeare, and mandatory sterilizations for everyone?)

"You're not being nice" is, historically, a way of shutting up legitimate dissent, not only, but particularly, among and against women. What it really means is "You're making me uncomfortable!" but frankly? That's a prophet's job. Isaiah wasn't about making people feel good about themselves and not threatening their self-esteem, Amos wasn't, and neither was the MLK who said, "There comes a time, my friends, when people get tired of being thrown across the abyss of humiliation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair. There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life's July, and left standing amidst the piercing chill of an Alpine November...If we are wrong - Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer and never came down to earth! If we are wrong - justice is a lie!"

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 08:01 PM:

Bellatrys, I love your categories and examplars. I went from nodding along with interest to laughing out loud and startling the cat, and this is very welcome. I really needed it. And I'm very interested in the rest of your comments, too.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 08:07 PM:

bellatrys,

Dude. You can tell where I've been, but I can't see it? Maybe you can see where I'm going too and just save me the trouble...

I have a feeling that this entire conversation is going to boil down to satisfying your subjective requirements for "value" as it occurs in my life. Or an exciting round of "Prove to me that you are not a deluding yourself". After that, it'll be a turn at "prove to me that you are not a figment of my imagination" and then we'll be reduced to discussing the meaning of the word "is".

Which is to say, I'm not playing this game anymore.

If you want to have a real convesation, let me know.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 08:26 PM:

Bellatrys, is there some reason you're giving Greg endless tedious shit about Landmark? Oh, you may not know it, but Landmark might have given you cancer that won't show up for another five years, and implanted an alien brain parasite that makes you refuse to notice that you're hosting an alien brain parasite,... Did these people run over your dog or something?

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 10:11 PM:

Tom asked what we're trying to accomplish, so I thought I'd answer for me at least. This pretty much frames where I'm at right now around the idea of frames. And it points to where I wanted to go with all this in the first place.

What I'm trying to accomplish is win back America and put it on a progressive track. To do that, I've been trying to figure out how win over the voters enough to effect a change in government. So far, what I've come up with is a model of the American public as 40% conservative, 40% progressive, and 20% moderates (some conservative and some progressive views).

The idea is to frame issues using progressive values, to use language that presents the issue in such a way that the choice given to the public is to accept a progressive value or reject it. The assumption is that if framed in such a way, moderates will accept the progressive value and whatever progressive consequence of that value.

In framing the issue in a progressive value, the poeple you are trying to "win over" are the moderates who are currently attached to a "conservative value" around the issue. In presenting the issue to these people, you need to present them with an "honorable out", which is to say you need to make it known (explicitely or implicitely by the way you frame) that moderates will not be "punished" for the "crime" of having once held a conservative view.

What you want to do is present the Progressive frame and give conservative moderates an "honorable out", let them make the change without shaming them for it, let them take on the new progressive frame and own it as their own. Silently "forgive" them if their only "crime" is having the wrong frame of mind. Be generous, you'll want the same from everyone else when you find out your frame is totally screwed up. (and don't think it hasn't been at some point)

If you frame them as "wrong" for holding their current conservative view now, they will somehow have to work that "wrongness" into their worldview if they change to a progressive position. This is rather difficult for most, and they'll likely find it easier to dismiss you as an extremist and keep their conservative view.

Calling a moderate "stupid" for currently holding a conservative view is revoking the chance for any honorable out. To quote Sun-Tzu, "When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard." If you give someone an out, they are inclined to take it. If you completely corner them, their only option is to fight you.

While doing all this, you don't want to alienate your progressive base, so frame the issue in a progressive value. That's what progressives want.

Framing an issue in a progressive value is NOT the same as framing the issue as "not some conservative value". If conservatives attempt to re-frame the issue into their value, don't get sucked into fighting inside their frame and their values. Frame the issue back to your progressive value.

If you are framing an issue around the progressive value of Justice. The conservative side may be trying to frame the issue inside of Strength. Do not use the frame "Not-Strength", because "not-Strength" is "Weak", it isn't "Justice". If the issue gets reframed into "Strength", do not get pulled into that frame, instead reframe from Justice.

"Justice" will trump "Strength"
"not strength" will lose to "Strength".

"Trump" is not the same as "destroy". In framing the issue in "Justice", do not use language that lands as a challenge to the value of "Strength". If your moderate conservative is currently in the "Strength" frame of mind, do not attack their current value. Anything that frames the decision as an attack on the person's values will be defended against. The frame of "attack" will invoke "defend". That is not the progresive value you were trying to frame, that is "attack/defend".

Put another way, it is fatal to simply stand against a conservative viewpoint or value. It remains in the conservative frame, "not Strength", and it may invoke an "attack/defend" frame. "Strength is bad" will frame moderate conservatives for a fight. Remember Sun-Tzu. Instead it is important to stand for your progressive value as applied to the issue you're addressing.

"Anyone but Bush" won't cut it, and could be fatal.

In short, I think it boils down to these basics:

Stand FOR your progressive value.
Always frame the issue in your progressive value.
Do not get pulled into a conservative frame.
Do not attack the conservative frame.
Do not frame the discussion as an attack.
Do not corner your opponent
Leave your conservatives an "honorable out"

I think that's a pretty good cut for tonight...

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 11:27 PM:

I don't know about Bellatrys' dog, but I liked the categories.

Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 12:43 AM:

"The choice you've got, collective you, is to utterly erase the theocrats and the thugs -- not necessarily to kill them, but to ensure that the cultural change takes place so that their children and grandchildren think they're laughable idiots -- or to be their slaves.

Hmm, no, that isn't the choice. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy complete victory as much as the next man. It's so very final, so satisfying, so, so complete. But it is--in general and especially in this case--totally, absolutely impossible.

As Bruce Baugh recently said, history never reaches a terminal point. All we get to do is pick which direction we would like things to go, and push that way.

It will do us good, I think, to realize that there is no way that we can destroy the current conservative machine. It is too well-armored, too well-made. What we can do, however, is break its hold on power. They don't really have a majority, I think. They have simply seized control of the public discourse with an amazing deftness and rapacity. We don't need to destroy them--just provide a rational, attractive alternative.

"Condescension is a failing into which intelligent and powerful people of all political views sometimes fall."

I wouldn't limit it to the intelligent or the powerful, if I were you--somone might accuse you of being elitist, you know.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 01:13 AM:

It occurs to me, though, that we need to refuse to be scapegoats. Because when things start going wrong the right-wing crazies are going to try to blame it all on the libruls again, regardless of how powerless we actually are. Important to stand up and refuse the blame; tell the story the way it was.

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 02:56 AM:

Upstream, Bruce was telling me that the problem with hoping people will publish the truth for Bush voters, on a larger scale, is that the media Bush voters read and the people they listen to won't do it.

This is the challenge that I'm interested in working on -- not so much the knocking ourselves out with ways to soft pedal and rephrase ("reframe") truths about Bush's incompetence and hypocrisy so that they won't hurt anyone's feelings.

Proceed with the working assumption that a certain number of Bush voters made the decisions they made because of lack of exposure to the information we have, not because they're possessed by memes that shut them off to what we consider to be rational analysis. (This may be a faulty assumption. Maybe all those voters had access to information about Bush's mismanagement of the military, the economy, and domestic security, and they chose not to believe what they were told. But, I'd like to brainstorm a bit under the assumption that some of them may have just lacked access to the truth.)

If lack of *easy* access to good information was a serious cause of the 2004 election results, grass- root Democratic organizations all over the country might act to correct that. Publish and distribute statements by experts that deconstruct Republican sophistries, publish hard statistics that local newspapers don't print. Make contact with local teachers, freelance writers, and alternative radio djs (slip URL lists to them). Organize local community discussion groups.

One of the more encouraging (to me) demographic voting maps that came out of the November election was this one. If the election had been determined by voters between the ages of 18 to 29, Kerry would have won the election by more than 200 electoral votes.

Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 03:34 AM:

I just went and had another look at Oliver Willis' stuff. It occured to me that this (the first one) is an excellent example of reframing the discourse, particularly because it shows that "reframing the discourse" does not mean pussy-footing around conservative lies and misinformation. It is, rather, about attacking them at a different level: not their silly little factoids and one-liners, but the fundamental assumptions that their one-liners are based on.

Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 05:23 AM:

Mary Kay, I actually almost made a specific point about that earlier, but decided it was partly implied in what I was saying. Maybe not.

Yes, some people are going to always take any given statement a way it wasn't meant. One reason I spelled out how I took the exchange between you and Greg above was the post-realization that I probably didn't read it the way it was intended. It's something I normally only do with personal one-on-one communication, one of the few 'active listening' tricks I actually think isn't just nonsense: repeat what I heard and therefore what I was reacting to. It might be useful to do it in blogs too: instead of quoting, start with what I thought I heard. (But that'd only work well if more than just me was doing it.)

But... one reason I kept saying "yes, I know that's not what x meant" was: I know that the potential read I put on it is (almost certainly) not the way the poster meant it, but my kneejerk first reaction was that read and someone else could easily take it that way as well.

bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 06:44 AM:

Two (count 'em, two) posts about Landmark is "endless"? In a context of it being given as part of Greg's prescription of intellectual cure for what ails the Left in re rational discourse?

Oookay. Back to lurking.

bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 07:29 AM:

Oh heck, I might as well give Greg the courtesy of a final answer, tho' he won't see it that way:

If I say that I received a good training in advanced math from my school, and that it therefore does a good job in teaching this subject generally, and yet I can't do long division, let alone calculus, people outside me would be perfectly justified in saying that I was wrong.

You're saying that your praised program taught you sound critical thinking and communication skills, and therefore can potentially do so for others.

I say that you haven't done anything to demonstrate your assertion, and your fabrication of a straw man at the end of your last response doesn't do anything to make me change that opinion.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 08:25 AM:

Lenny: publish the truth for Bush voters

This can feed into Lakoff's myth of "The truth will set us free". In this case, "us" is "Bush voters". I agree in part, though. I still think Kerry should have gotten as many of his old boat crew as possible and had them go around and simply tell the story of what happened the day Kerry got his medal.

But that by itself might have turned the campaign into "I'm Stronger than your are", which would have kept the campaign in the conservative frame. And I don't think it would have been enough for Kerry to win by that approach.

Kerry needed to speak to his values that Bush didn't have that would trump Bush. And then he needed to keep beating on those values, keeping the debate in his frame. Justice trumps Strength.

There is also the fact that no sitting war president has ever lost a re-election, which might point to something about people's worldviews that is ismply impossible to reframe during wartime. It's interesting that it doesn't matter if the sitting president is conservative or democrat, the voters simply do not want to change anything that might actually make it worse. The current situation may be a quagmire, but it is a tolerable quagmire. Hm, what is that line...

"that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

It would seem that Jefferson was no slouch...

I kept saying before the election that the Iraq war as a quagmire was PERFECT for Bush. The country had been conquered, so we must be Strong. The occupation had basically stagnated into about 2 american soldiers killed a day, which apparently is within the tolerance level of a lot of people. No major operations happened leading up to the election because if they had a major failure, it would frame Bush as "weak" and/or a "loser", and he could have lost some of his moderates.

The operation to take fallujah started the day after election day. That was not by accident. A failure to take the city may have lost Bush some moderates. So the attack was postponed until after the election.

Focusing on causualties, the roadside bombs, the quagmire, though only helped Bush. Framing it as "Strong/Weak" or "Win/Lose" only invigorated conservatives to redouble their efforts to be Strong and Win, so they sided with Bush.

Focusing on the Injustice of it all, might have done something for Kerry, but I knew the causualty list wasn't gonna cut it.

In 1984, didn't Orwell talk about a war with no end, no victories, no losses, just occaisional causualties as being the perfect situation for the state to maintain power? Maybe he got it from Jefferson...


Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 08:43 AM:

bellatrys: You're saying that your praised program taught you sound critical thinking and communication skills

No, I didn't. I said it gave me value which is subjective, and I said that I got some of the ideas around framing from Landmark, but that they didn't focus on teaching it as a cognitive science, they focused on putting it into practice to improve the quality of your life.

So, if you must attack again, perhaps you could attack what I said this time around.

As for value and quality of life, they are both subjective. And I refuse to get into a "Prove to me your subjective experience is not an illusion" argument with you. My day to day life got better. My relationship with family and friends got better. I did a bunch of things I always wanted to do but hadn't. I don't have to prove any of my subjective experience to you for it to be true.

If you want something objective, how bout this. Three months after I took the first three-day course, I quit my job that I hated and found a new job that I liked and nearly doubled my salary doing it.

that is not the behaviour of a self-deluded addict. Alcoholics may think they're fine, but they usually spiral down, not up.

But the bottom line is this: I don't have to prove to you that my subjective experience is valid for it to be true.

I don't need you to tell me if my value is true.

mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 09:42 AM:

The Mel Gilles article is good. Thanks to whoever posted the link.

I recall, once upon a time soon after college, attending a real estate sales seminar with a friend. Free snack, you see. :)

Two things the in the seminar stuck to mind -- the first was that the decision to buy was always an emotional one. If you figured out how to make the prospective buyer want it, emotionally, you had a sale. So, have him visualize himself there, in the nice new house, something like that. Play on the hopes and dreams, you know.

The second one was more about technique. Even if the buyer wants it emotionally, his logical mind would bring up objections. That was good. Because now you had a chance to deal with each objection and turn it from a no to a yes. Example -- too much money. Well, what's too expensive? The down or the monthly? See if it's the down, we could go with a lower down and increase the monthly a bit -- doesn't that make the down reasonable? Imperative for you to wait foer the buyer to say "yes". Then the next objectiion -- turn it to a yes. Keep him saying yes until it's just a question of sign here. Small "yesses" builidng up to bigger "yesses". Which kind of sounds like wedge issue tactics, in a way. But dealing with the objections is useless if the buyer doesn't want it emotionally yet.

Anyway, I never have managed to sell anything before or after that seminar, but this thread just made me remember that, for some reason.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 10:28 AM:

This is the challenge that I'm interested in working on -- not so much the knocking ourselves out with ways to soft pedal and rephrase ("reframe") truths about Bush's incompetence and hypocrisy so that they won't hurt anyone's feelings.

Lenny, you've gotten mixed up (and you're not the only one, so it's not your fault).

There is reframing, which is phrasing your arguments so that the listener absorbs your background concepts without noticing. And there is not hurting people's feelings, which is a separate thing. You can do either one without the other.

Being polite is a tactical thing -- in some conversations it pays to be rude. Reframing is best done at a strategic level.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 10:50 AM:

I had a moment of satori. She thought I was being condescending and putting her down because I was telling her this neat thing I knew about amber. I was showing her my cool fact, and going, "ooooh shiny!" And she was hearing, "Let me educate you you stupid woman."

I had two thoughts upon reading this. One is that there is a certain category of people who will resent new information no matter how it's presented, or in what context. These are the people with Acquired Stupidity Syndrome, or ASS. You can't tell them anything, period. Avoid when possible, and if they resent you, that's a sign that you're worthwhile.

The second is that in this particular case actually putting the earrings in her hand might have worked. With, perhaps, a comment to the effect of "You know, they're not. Feel!" Sounding surprised yourself might help too. THEN you can say "Real amber. Lighter than plastic" and possibly get away with it. (Of course, if she's a bonafide ASS, it still won't work.)

But hindsight, 20/20, blah blah. I'm sure you thought of things like this yourself.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 11:11 AM:

Lenny, I very much approve of your goals, but I'm uncertain about means. (I'd be happy to admit I was unduly skeptical in the face of good returns, mind you.)

Teachers as a class have been on conservatives' enemies list for a long time, and now they've got the No Child Left Behind Act so that they can over the course of a few years make every single public school and its teachers look like failures. That's not sophistry on my part. It's set up to move toward literally unachievable standards. Teachers who promote the evangelical Christian line are okay, but few others are.

In my experience, freelance writers split fairly evenly between people already committed to one or another of the major parties, to one of the minor parties (Libertarian or Green, and occasionally another), and to none. The thing is that the last group - and, to be fair, some of the others - have basically Tina's attitude of regarding the activity of politics as it's actually practiced as so ugly and distasteful that they couldn't possibly soil themselves with it. In addition, given that many freelance writers are, um, poorly socialized, their writers' groups often have bans on politics and other controversial subjects to let them deal with writing rather than endless doomed argument.

Alternative radio DJs will reach some young potential voters, but there already is a serious get-out-the-vote effort there, with good organization, on the part of MTV and groups allied with it. Some potentially persuadable conversatives and apathetics also listen, to be sure, but it's hard to voerstate people's ability to juggle "I like this song" and "I loathe this message".

Nor do I think that statistics and lots of 'em are really what's wanted. If anything, a lot of earnest liberal and left-wing propaganda already suffers from data obsession, like trainspotting gone all amok. A lot of people will happily chew over stats data for their favorite sport and in some other context, but in politics, the flood of data looks like browbeating. Heck, it often is. And even though you clearly don't intend to try vote realignment by cognitive bullying, you'd be up against the legacy of all those other atrocity hunters and neep addicts.

It seems to me like the people most likely to be affected by propaganda through teachers, writers' groups, and alternative DJs are people who likely already have been affected. We had more than 50 million voters on our side, after all. I can't see it creating many voters out of, for instance, the sort of community Bellatrys describes as her own experience before getting to some conceptual realignment or the sort Mary Kay grew up in. (Not that these are the only sorts who need reaching, of course, but they happen to have been discussed here by people who are articulate and willing to reflect.)

mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 11:30 AM:

Lenny, I very much approve of your goals, but I'm uncertain about means.

Tupperware parties? :P

Good question, Bruce.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 12:20 PM:

Talk radio and television news. With current technology, setting up a nation-wide syndication service seems like it should be easy. The fiber and the satellites are already in place. Getting the content seems easy. It requires people, but there are a lot of people in this country who would jump at the chance of being involved in a real network. Think the blogosphere. The hard part is the radio and TV equivalent of the last mile problem: getting on local radio and TV stations, and getting carried by cable. It probably will be necessary to buy some stations, and build some in rural areas. But the really hard and expensive options can be postponed. We could get pretty far just be providing free or inexpensive high-quality content for locally-owned and public radio and TV stations. It has to be high-quality, which means having real editors. Politically, it needs to be center-left, so well to the left of NPR, but not as left as Pacifica or IndyMedia. It would of course be non-profit and non-commercial, just not non-partisan. The funding required would be more than for a basic think-tank or magazine, the moveon.org level might be enough. Comparing against moveon.org is interesting because they run ads on commercial networks which is expensive, and the money goes to station and network owners who are not all on our side. Being a network seems like at least as good an approach; it would create jobs. I really think it could work.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 01:46 PM:

TomB: Yeah, but the tricky part is how are you going to get the people who need to listen to actually listen? They're already getting their news from Fox and it serves their needs adequately and they don't have time for more. Not to mention the perception that Fox is fair and balanced while your new set-up is unabashedly liberal. Liberals lie all the time, why should I waste my precious time listening to it?

MKK

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 02:16 PM:

MKK: Well, Fox News isn't fair or balanced. They just have that as their slogan, and they say it so often that their viewers come to believe it.

So our prospective liberal news network needs its own slogan. "Open and honest" is the best I can come up with now. This slogan doesn't address the issue of bias, but it does imply that the competition is secretive and dishonest.

(Have I mentioned that I think the right wing in general, and the Bush administration in particular, are vulnerable on the matter of dishonesty?)

mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 02:45 PM:

Yeah, but the tricky part is how are you going to get the people who need to listen to actually listen?

Radio Veritas America?
Here's a brief history* on how liberal Catholics were the voice of opposition in the Philippines during the Marcos regime.
(*ok, so it was an acceptance speech. I think it does a pretty good summation anyway.)
If there could be some kind of church/ecumenical coalition to sponsor the network, it would give it some moral backing. Unabashedly religious. If it's a holy war, maybe the way to win is to be holier-than-them.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 05:08 PM:

Yeah, but the tricky part is how are you going to get the people who need to listen to actually listen?

I agree with you that is a tough proposition. But the approach we have been using, of cranking up the message machine once every four years, is even less likely to work. We need to be getting the message out 24/7 so it is perceived as news and is less likely to be dismissed as only being politics. We will need to keep at it, and build ties to local communities, so that over time more people will accept our news as credible and meaningful to them.

I think it is possible to compete with Fox News. Fox built itself up against weak competition, when the major networks were downsizing and trying to turn news into a profit center, so quality suffered. We just have to provide a better quality product (in terms of information, not necessarily production values). We can also take on Fox and its ilk directly. Media Matters has been superb at debunking Fox's lies and disinformation. I would love it if that kind of analysis were available on radio and television receivers as an alternative to Fox.

In other words, we need to run an effective propaganda operation. Most of what I know about propaganda is from reading Psychological Warfare by Dr. Paul M. A. Linebarger. It's an old book, but I think Linebarger had some good insights.

In his discussion of various forms of propaganda, Linebarger said that the most effective by far is news. People in a stressful situation, such as war, want to know what is going on and are much more likely to read or listen to news than any other form of communication from the enemy. Linebarger also strongly stressed the need for the news to be credible. It doesn't have to be complete or "balanced," but it absolutely must be true and factual. The point is to tell people about the things their leaders don't want them to know.

Another interesting point is Linebarger's justification for psychological warfare as essentially merciful in nature. The purpose of psychological warfare is not to convince enemy soldiers to come over to our side, that isn't realistic. It is to convince them to surrender when they are in a hopeless situation, instead of fighting to the death. The role of propaganda in psychological warfare is to convince the enemy soldiers of our essential decency, and to give them pretexts they can use to justify surrendering as honorable.

I think there are some good parallels between Linebarger's thoughts about propaganda in war, and what we need to do in politics. We need to get the truth out, give people facts that demonstrate why they can't trust their leaders, and why they can trust us. We need to give them the justifications they would need to decide to join our side, or at least to acquiesce to our winning.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 05:23 PM:

And the NY Times has a slogan too, but it hasn't kept people in red states from believing they can't be trusted because of their liberal bias.

Avram: I'm just curious. Do you think MKK: Well, Fox News isn't fair or balanced. They just have that as their slogan, and they say it so often that their viewers come to believe it. is telling me something I didn't know? But the people we need to reach don't, in fact, know it. Attempts to persuade them otherwise have been futile for me.

MKK

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 05:35 PM:

Whatever happened to "Air America"?
wasn't that the left's response to Fox?

I don't think a news network is gonna cut it by itself. I think it's the progressive values in short to the point phrases that are missing. If a progressive network just rambled inside the conservative frame, they can say their point over and over, and they'll get creamed.

A lot of people on the left responded to undecided voters with "What more do you need?" which doesn't frame anything. A network doing the same thing will just spin its wheels.

Dean showed you can go from zero to contender with little more than an internet connection. But I have a feeling it was what he SAID, not the fact that he had internet access that made him a contender. I'd rather see more of that.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 05:52 PM:

MMK: Attempts to persuade them otherwise have been futile for me.

You're not a television cable news network, blaring at them 24/7 with entertaining content.

Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 05:55 PM:

Most of what I know about propaganda is from reading Psychological Warfare by Dr. Paul M. A. Linebarger

Most of you probably knew this, but just in case, Paul M.A. Linebarger is the real name of science fiction writer Cordwainer Smith. Here's an interesting biographical page from the Arlington Cemetery.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 07:46 PM:

Whatever happened to "Air America"? wasn't that the left's response to Fox?

Air America is still growing and I hope it will succeed. However, I don't think a commercial radio network, modeled on existing networks, is going to do everything we need. I'd like to see additional networks that have different structures and different modes of discourse. Particularly, I think we need an independent non-profit network.

Dean showed you can go from zero to contender with little more than an internet connection. But I have a feeling it was what he SAID, not the fact that he had internet access that made him a contender.

I don't think there was that much of a difference between Dean and the other good candidates, such as Kerry, if you look at their policy proposals and what they said. What was special about Dean was how he listened. His use of the internet was two-way. Dean supporters felt they were more involved in Dean's campaign because their input really made a difference.

One thing I'd like to see is that anyone with a camcorder and a story can take their video to the network, get it judged by the network editors, and possibly get national air time. We need a lot more grassroots news. Of course, a lot of home video and cable access TV is dreadful, but all the network has to do is select work that is good or could be made good with a little production and editing. An important part of this process is getting people involved and developing talent.

Nate Cull ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 10:40 PM:

I am finding this whole discussion fascinating because until 2001 I was fairly apolitical. I am now passionately anti-Bush, but in 2000 I couldn't have really told the difference between Bush and Gore and certainly had very little time for zealots from either US party who I saw as equally irrelevant to who I was as a person. I was reading Chomsky and Antiwar.com in 1999 so I guess that biased me to the left - but I'm also an evangelical Christian, which you'd have thought would bias me to the right if anything.

I can't tell you exactly why when I first heard Bush say 'you're either for us or against us' that speech pushed me instantly, and a little reluctantly, into the 'against' camp - but it did. It was kind of a gut instinct really, not something I could analyze rationally. The rest is still playing out as I try to work out who I am politically. I suppose I have a lot of conservative ideas when it comes to religion and culture, but not really economics; I had a lot of cynicism about laissez-faire even in 1990 when it was trendy.

The thing is, I still don't consider myself necessarily *for* the positions of the 'Left' (for want of a less Orwellian name). I would be uncomfortable describing myself entirely as 'progressive' because I have serious philosophical differences on many issues. It's just that George W Bush has made the so-called Right so radioactive that I consider anyone who opposes him my friend kind of by default.

IE, I'm not personally *for* gay marriage, in 2000 I would have either opposed it or sat on the sidelines - at the very least it would have make me run a mile from any party that made unconditional support for it a philosophical requirement of participation. But now - if the alternative is more from the people who brought the world Iraq I'm sure not going to make it a dealbreaker. I *might* draw the line at legalisation of pedophilia.

(And I was against Bush *before* Iraq, even when most of the American center-left was cheering Afghanistan - so I know I wasn't influenced by the Mainstream Liberal Media when I made my choice. The radical underground media, perhaps, which seemed a lot more honest a lot earlier than the likes of CNN, but not the mainstream.)

I'd be curious to know the stories of other people who were not Democratic cheerleaders in 2000 but who felt forced to take the difficult step of shifting alliances. We are presumably the kind of people you need to, if not convert, at least construct an alliance with, between now and 2006.

Nate Cul ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 11:07 PM:

I should add that probably one of the biggest reasons I'm not a Bush fan is that I'm not American - I live in New Zealand. His credit here is pretty low, though we liked Clinton. I've been absorbed in American media and politrivia so much for the past three years that I sometimes forget which country I'm in.

But the NZ media in October-December 2001 wasn't overwhelmingly anti-Bush, as far as I remember. It was all 'eep that could have been us strength good terror bad must do our bit for our allies'. Even while Iraq was unfolding many of our newspapers were arguing the conservative pro-war line. It's been since then that Bush and American cred has dropped to the point where we just shake our heads and go 'they voted for who???'

And no doubt there are hardline conservatives here, like the ones who voted for John Howard over in Aussie, who think Bush is the best thing since sliced Marmite on Weetbix. And our centre-left government right now is perilously enough poised that we *could* end up in their hands given a bit of pushing. But they're rather in the minority at the moment, thank goodness.

Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 11:56 PM:

makayda: "If there could be some kind of church/ecumenical coalition to sponsor the network, it would give it some moral backing. Unabashedly religious. If it's a holy war, maybe the way to win is to be holier-than-them."

I am all for progressive christians stating loudly their dedication to liberal principles. But we cannot allow this to become a holy war! To put it in terms of frames, to do that would be to
concede that religion is the most important frame in politics. I do not believe this is true.

It is tempting, but dangerous, to allow progressive Christians to take the lead in this fight. Because they can fight the enemy on their own turf, they are valuable members of the liberal party. But unless we want religious issues to become the paramount issues, the only issues, we must not let them be the only voice.

Religious sponsorship is the wrong path. While liberal Christians are a vital part of the liberal movement, they are not the only, or even the main part. And their allegiance to Christianity must be secondary in importance to their allegiance to liberal principles. Let me hasten to add: I mean that in terms of political importance, not personal importance. For that is the frame we want to encourage people to use, a frame that separates religion and politics.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 01:03 AM:

a frame that separates religion and politics

I was thinking it would be good to tie this thread back to the top, and there's your post.

Andy B wrote: Secular leftist fanatics. And they, unlike rightist religious fanatics, bloody well ought to know better.

Does anyone else feel as stunned as I by the use of secular as a condemnation? Yes, I know Andy B retracted it in regards to our esteemed hosts, but that was about them, not the term. He clearly seemed to think that it means intolerant of religion.

Progressive Christians live in two overlapping communities, that of their faith, and that of the secular society. They are welcome to be leaders as progressives who happen to be Christian, or as Christians who happen to be progressive, but those are distinct roles. Both will be very valuable in the times ahead.

Separating religion and politics doesn't mean eliminating one or the other. It's just a good idea, like not putting all your food in a blender.

mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 09:36 AM:

To put it in terms of frames, to do that would be to concede that religion is the most important frame in politics. I do not believe this is true.

I was thinking about my own post last night, and I realized that it's not really about religion as it is about meaning. Where "it" is the polarized political landscape. Americans are in a very stressful situation overall, and the tendency is to look for meaning. When daily life gets harder and the future doesn't look to bright, one has to find something that makes one life matter. That's something the religious right understand and exploit.

The response from the left need not be religious (although it can include that), but the response has to offer meaning.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 09:39 AM:

makayda: "If there could be some kind of church/ecumenical coalition to sponsor the network, it would give it some moral backing. Unabashedly religious. If it's a holy war, maybe the way to win is to be holier-than-them."

Heresiarch: "I am all for progressive christians stating loudly their dedication to liberal principles. But we cannot allow this to become a holy war!"

I think the solution is in picking a frame that is inclusive of the good parts of both sides. (although I brace for the accusations of being "weak" for using such a soft word as "inclusive")

Justice trumps Strength.

That doesn't mean Strength is invalid. It means that Justice takes the valuable parts of Strength and extends it to Justice. Strength still has value inside of Justice, and so moderates that identify partially with Strength are stil honored by the frame Justice.

The way to relate to religion is not to invoke a holy war, but to honor the values of religion that are valuable and extend and apply them to an issue in a progressive way.

Feed the poor.
Shelter the homeless.

These are examples of values that can be framed for religious and progressive people alike.

If anything, the "holy war" should be waged against those in the extreme religious right who pick and chose the parts of religion they want to enforce (old testament, fire and brimstone, turning people into pillars of salt) and ignore the fact that Jesus was fairly progressive in some of his ideas (helping those less fortunate, forgiveness, love thy fellow man).

The values that progressives and moderate religious folks have in common should be the frame we pick to describe the issues.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 02:06 PM:

Slightly OT for this thread, but still closely related, Josh Marshall (of Talking Points Memo fame) is tracking the refusals by NBC and CBS to air ads from the United Church of Christ.

Why? Because the emphasize the denominations openness to gays and minorities.

Here's a link to Josh's coverage and a link to the UCC ad.

Looks like the SCLM has decided that they the only religion they can acknowledge is the fire-and-brimstone, hate thy neighbor kind. So much for recasting progressive ideas in a religious frame. (OK - maybe it's a bit early to be so negative, but this is a pretty poor start. The SCLM is also ignoring the story, since it makes them look bad.)

mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 02:46 PM:

I saw Daily Kos talking about that UCC ad too. It is on-topic -- see, this is why we need an independent network.

The SCLM is also ignoring the story, since it makes them look bad

One would think abc at least would run with it, since they are running the ad.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 03:02 PM:

CNN seems to have picked up the story, but they've filed it under "Business". Go figure.

Also, I've just had a Charlie Brown "AAAARRRRGGGGHHH!" moment. I re-read my prior post, only to discover that I left out an apostrophe in "denomination's", wrote "the" for "they" and left in an extra "they" due to an editing error. This on a site run by an editor. I blame it on having had only one cup of coffee this AM. (Have to blame something. Commenting is Hard Work™.)

DLacey ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 05:10 PM:

This thread has been wonderful - I've gained a lot of insight from reading it through.

A lot was from watching people who agree, take umbrage at one another's statements, apologize for misunderstandings. It was particuarly informative to see the folks who I perceived as being the more temperate and reasonable, doing the bulk of the apologizing. Apologizing might make you look wrong, but it seems to correlate better with being reasonable.

If Fairness is a core value of Democrats, and Fox coopts that with "fair and balanced" what about "tough and honest" for liberal media? To coopt the Republican core values in the slogan?

I have noticed that the Nielsen Haydens often react to nuances of text that I did not notice - interpreting posts based on tone, where I interpreted them more literally. They both have sensitivity to intended slight when it is hidden under seemingly neutral observation. I often think the poster of these insulting statements didn't even realize they were being insulting. I ascribe it to editorial expertise - PNH and TNH are better readers than me - they see things I fail to. I am tone-deaf to such nuances anyway. My husband often remarks on how I don't notice when I'm being insulted -- or hit on.

So it's fascinating to me to read threads like this one. I learn a lot and even get an inkling *why* some things are insulting that I would not ever have realized.

Things I learned:
- people don't stop listening when they get mad, though it seems like they do. They still hear what you said, and think about it later.
- if you disagree, people mostly disagree back. argument breeds argument.
- people think differently. there is no one "way people think" - it varies by upbringing *and* by something inborn.
- what seems unreasonable to you is probably reasonable to someone else, and vice versa

People like to say they're giving up and quitting (something), whether or not they have any intention of actually quitting, as a passive-aggressive move. I think they will find this categorization of what they are doing to be condescending. So this statement (and in some ways the whole post) is a test of my theories developed from reading this thread.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 05:35 PM:

DLacey:
"tough and honest" for liberal media?

Might. I wonder if Fox's slogan actually converts some moderates over to their frame or if it is strictly the conservative frames that they use in their reporting style that draw people in. difficult to say. Always in motion is the future. Couldn't hurt, though.

I don't notice when I'm being insulted -- or hit on.

It has some advantages too, I'm sure. You're husband probably likes it that you don't perk up to being hit on by someone else. ;)

if you disagree, people mostly disagree back. argument breeds argument.

The phrase I heard to describe this was: "That which you resist, persists." The idea then is to roll with your opponent, rather than attempt to directly block them. It's very Aikido and Zen-like in nature, to be the grass that bends with the wind and survive the hurricane while the unbending tree is uprooted.

It sort of describes Re-Framing a debate fairly well, too. To directly fight the conservative frame of "We must be Strong", you'll get "Weak", and lose. Instead, don't resist "We must be strong", but rather roll with the punch, and throw your opponent in a completely different direction with "Justice".

Hm, interesting. Framing is verbal Aikido.

CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 07:52 PM:

An interesting note on the SCLM's refusal to run the UCC ad: Fox \is/ running it. Does money trump politics, or do they think it will help their followership identify the enemy?

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 09:49 PM:

CHip: Is that Fox News that's running the ad, or just plain Fox? The latter is not the right-wing propaganda mill that the former is.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 10:01 AM:

I'm sorry I didn't remark on it earlier, but I want to register strong agreement with Lucy Kemnitzer's comments about Malcolm X, and the false rhetorical uses to which his life and work get put by people whose agenda is to enforce division between (nice) moderates and (bad) radicals.

Malcolm X was a subtle and intelligent man whose life story is a lot more complex and interesting than that. The Spike Lee film, good though it is, only scratches the surface. Read about him sometime. And don't fall for the phony "Malcolm versus Martin" moral dioramas.

Christopher Sunami ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 02:20 PM:

Hi, I found this site by noticing there was a link to my "Open Source Worldview Creation" project in the comments section. I would like to mention that there's now a revised (and hopefully improved!) version of that essay at

http://ceh.kitoba.com/worldview/reality.html

as a bonus, it contains a lot about the Christian Materialists and why they're so peevish.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2004, 12:46 AM:

Thank you, Patrick. It's sometimes a lonely job, being an old fart and remembering things and people as they really were and mumbling on and on about the truth when there are so many shiny new lies all around. But somebody's got to do it, and it's easier when you have company.

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2004, 03:14 PM:

Last week, Bruce Baugh expressed some practical skepticism around my notion of grassroots Democrat organizations forming alliances with teachers, writers, and radio djs in areas of the country that voted heavily for Bush in November.

Freelance writers split fairly evenly between people already committed to one or another of the major parties, to one of the minor parties (Libertarian or Green, and occasionally another), and to none.

Alternative radio DJs will reach some young potential voters, but there already is a serious get-out-the-vote effort there.

It seems to me like the people most likely to be affected by propaganda through teachers, writers' groups, and alternative DJs are people who likely already have been affected.

I wanted to reply, last week, to expand upon what I was driving at, but was busy with work deadline stuff.

Something that I'd like to get a bit more reality on is how much exposure did Bush voters get to factual information on the headline issues that I listed in my first message.

Did they see the same analyses we read and discard them as "liberal lies and propaganda" or did they simply not see, hear, and read discussions of these questions other than what they got from Bush and Scott McLellan reprinted in newspapers -- with commentary from Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and local Fox News affiliates?

When I mentioned Democratic grassroot outreach to freelance writers, I was thinking about people who write daily columns in business sections and Sunday Supplement submitters. When I mentioned radio djs, I wasn't thinking only of music djs, but also of radio news departments, and talk show/interview people. I'm probably biased by my experience of how community activists influence media in progressive urban environments -- but I'm under the impression that there are small activist cells and pockets of cultural allies for Democrats all over the country. Writers, teachers, artists, radio djs are the categories that came immediately to my mind for people who might cooperate with Democratic party activists in organizing and participating in grassroots information distribution campaigns. Tom Becker contributed some ideas on establishing a Democratic broadcast network in the Midwest. I'm wondering whether it might be possible to create/sell more alternative, syndicated news and interview packages on the PBS/KPFA model -- or create a syndication service that distributes all kinds of radio packages.

I guess I believe that the disinformation campaign of the Bush administration is gross enough to transcend the traditional conservative/liberal political divide of intelligent professional communicators in red state areas. It seems to me that even conservative, Republican-leaning business columnists might question the wisdom of Bush plans for social security and the tax system if they were encouraged to speak their minds on these issues. Similarly, independent writers, radio people, and teachers might form community alliances to organize discussions and distribute factual information. Democratic party organizers might help seed these efforts by providing encouragement, capital resources, and facilities.

Of course, the neocon/religious-right alliance will attack these efforts, ridicule them, spin them, and, ultimately, threaten people who organize and participate in them.

But, to me, the point is to try to make sure the truth _is_ actually out there, where a larger number of people are going to stumble across it. If/when that's happening, the next issue is trying to increase public acceptance of the truth with *honest* strategic rhetoric.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 02:44 AM:

Lenny,

It would seem that what probably happened is that facts "bounced off" the conservative frames that people held.

Some of the people I spoke with before the election who were voting for Bush gave reasons that might as well have been a verbatim transcript from Fox News or Rush Limberger.

I think the democrats need to come up with short and sweet phrases that sum up their values applied to current issues that differentiate them from conservatives.

I don't think the communication channel is the bottleneck yet.

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2004, 04:15 PM:

It would seem that what probably happened is that facts "bounced off" the conservative frames that people held.

I'd like to find some more-than-anecdotal information on this subject.

I'm still under the impression that tens of millions of Bush voters may never have grazed eyeballs on accounts of mismanagement of the war and the prisons at high military and executive levels, seen information on the legal papers written by Alberto Gonzales in support of torture, seen information on the legal actions taken against Halliburton by DoD, seen information on Kerry's actual Senate voting record that refuted Bush/Cheney talking points, seen analyses of the implications of Bush's policies on the environment, education, and almost everything -- said accounts not being generated by Democrat campaign people, but by military generals, newspaper reporters, economists, and other career professionals.

Convince me that this information is *easily* available, but simply discounted in areas that voted for Bush, and I'll be more willing to believe that there isn't a communication channel bottleneck happening in their local media.