May 15th, 2004

eyes black and white

Learning Eloquence

Sometimes I indulge in political discussion with socialists, and after a lot of heat, I realize that the discussion isn't going anywhere because each participant has a different base approach to thinking at all. Notably, I'm a "rational" (NT) on the MBTI, whereas most other people are not, and are thus not prone to being receptive at all to the rough logical reasoning that comes to me naturally. The most important thing to me is the truth of statements and logical rigor of arguments. That's why you see me insist on ideas being "correct" or "false", and nitpicking on what looks as boring details to you, yet are crucial turn to me. That's why you'll find blunt insulting or shocking things I'd see as concise and precise rational statements, whereas I'll find moronic or dishonest things that to you are obvious sincere casual statements. Because we have the same temperament. Now, I can't change you by mere wishful thinking. But I can improve myself by some strainous effort. So I've decided to improve.

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What is a Debate?

Ideas matter. There are correct ideas, and wrong ideas. This is the agreement implicit in any sincere debate. Without this agreement, the content of any debate is irrelevant. (Of course, there are also social interactions where content doesn't matter -- but they are not debates, precisely.) Of course, the debate itself is only considered useful if there is a mismatch of knowledge between participants. If they think the same, they have nothing to learn but the fact that they think the same. And if they think differently, it means that at least one has something to teach to the other, that the other doesn't know, or currently disagrees with.

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Free Market for Socialist Anarchists

You are an Anarchist. You think that capitalism is evil, that the "market" is a subtle dictatorship, that wage labor is but hidden (or softened) slavery, that consumership is an illusion to manipulate minds, that the State is the institution of this system of exploitation. You want to promote human life, natural beauty, liberty, and things well and good. That's why you oppose all the above evil things. OK.

Now you face weird people who say they are anarchists, yet who promote those evil things you associate to the State you hate. How can that be? Are they hypocrites? Spies paid by big corporations to instill confusion? Are they crazy people incapable of coherent thinking? No, we're people just as sincere as you are; we also despise the current state of affairs and hate dictatorship, slavery and mind manipulation; and we're also motivated by our love of human life, natural beauty, liberty, and all things well and good. But we just have a different interpretation of what is evil.

How slight or how big is this difference? How much of it is a matter of a cultural gap in terminology and how much of it is actual irreconcilable ideas? Can we find a common pattern by which both of our groups may legitimately claim to be anarchist? Can we identify and circumscribe the root of our disagreements? Is it possible to find a peaceful way to resolve our disagreements, or will we have to kill each other before either or us may have his way? Well, if you'll allow me to argue my case, we can enter a sincere debate. And maybe we can find a resolution to settle our conflict in the anarchist way: through peaceful discussion.

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