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Eiuol

Objectivism and Political Action

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19 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

2. Well, "people are idiots" does not imply "I can convince them or force them to be non-idiots".

I meant to address this post. Fine for 1 and 3. But for 2... We were already talking about not working to persuade people, where you are making no effort to make people smarter or wiser. "Some people are irrational idiots, so sometimes it is necessary to cause change without regard to persuasion." That's more like it.

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2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

 "Some people are irrational idiots, so sometimes it is necessary to cause change without regard to persuasion." That's more like it.

Yes, I understand. That's why I said "or force them".
The point is that just because people are XYZ, does not imply that you can get your way using force. 
Even if force is the only way you can get some people to do something, it does not follow that you can get your way with them using force.

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Well, as 2046 was saying, and me, persuasion and force aren't the only options. The link I showed before is neither, which I assume is a type of protest/response that Don finds morally bad and/or bad strategy, based on his earlier comments.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

The link I showed before is neither, which I assume is a type of protest/response that Don finds morally bad and/or bad strategy, based on his earlier comments.

Certainly bad strategy.

On 7/12/2016 at 10:57 AM, Eiuol said:

...a protest like playing music really loud looks pretty wise. It takes careful judgment to do it properly. Importantly, it suggests moral strength, pride. Prideful that you can push back against irrationality.

Playing music really loud does not look pretty wise to me. It does not suggest moral strength or pride to me, to try to make it impossible for your opposition to voice their views. It suggests cowardice to me, and an inability to compete with arguments or reason.

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44 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

Playing music really loud does not look pretty wise to me. It does not suggest moral strength or pride to me, to try to make it impossible for your opposition to voice their views. It suggests cowardice to me, and an inability to compete with arguments or reason.

I provided reasons that this isn't true. I also explained that reasons you gave are about preferences and appearances. Those aren't justifications.

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On 7/12/2016 at 0:01 AM, 2046 said:

Yes Ayn Rand wrote novels, but what about the character Ragnar Danneskjold? 

 

Isn't Ragnar Danneskjold an example of Objectivist "revolutionary literature", in a certain sense? Although Rand never described any concrete battle plans (at least nothing comparable to Rules for Radicals or the Anarchist's Cookbook), she clearly portrayed them in her warrior-philosopher.

So, yes; "what about Ragnar" is the proper point to make on multiple levels. That is the place to start.

 

---

 

Ragnar Danneskjold was certainly not a pacifist. He knew that "he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword" - and he was willing to assist them with it.

However, neither was he actually a violent person. He didn't enjoy the bloodshed; he didn't run around, shooting all the looters and the moochers; he didn't use his guns in anger and he put them away as soon as he could safely do so (even stopping to evacuate the crews from conquered ships before he sank them).

The evacuations, in particular, speak volumes. I have never been in a pitched battle, but if I were -if I was actually fighting for my life- I'm not sure I would be able to stop fighting while my enemies were still breathing. I'm not sure I would care to, either.

 

He used force with more respect and temperance than most Christians use for the Name of the Lord God.

 

That's something we should aspire to, if we'd like our effect on society to result in any Objective "good".

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On 7/11/2016 at 0:26 PM, Eiuol said:

Silencing as in forms of verbal protest or interfering with others so that the other side isn't heard.

 

Silencing people (violently or not) is a bad goal to pursue.

 

Suppose you and I were standing in a kitchen with a bowl of cookie dough and miscellaneous baking supplies - but no way to communicate. We're both severely autistic, so neither of us can comprehend speech or any sort of body language. If someone pointed at something, neither of us would know the meaning of that gesture; we would only see a finger. However, both of us know how to bake cookies and have a fierce desire to eat some.

*This is a gross oversimplification, for the sake of the argument*

If either of us were alone in the kitchen, we'd have no difficulty in acquiring the value which is cookies. However...

If I see you reach for the cookie dough then I'll have to protect it. I have no idea what you're trying to do and you have no way of telling me. If you see me pick up the pan, you'll have to take it away. I might intend to wedge a door open with it (or something similarly not-cookie-related), for all you know, and there is no way for me to enlighten you.

Without communication, the very fact that both of us want the same thing would prevent either of us from achieving it.

 

Without communication, there can be no cooperation. Without cooperation, nothing good can come from forming a society in the first place and this discussion is moot. So it's important that we respect the value of communication, even when it's used in ways we dislike.

 

The alternative is a world without cookies.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
The Alternative ...

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Harrison, your point is true as far as the other party is to a degree rational. I was talking about when one party is irrational. Not just wrong on some points, but deeply irrational. Such people exist. Compare that to a person totally wasted and drunk. You don't persuade them, you don't reason with them. You treat them accordingly. On some topics, people are just as irrational as a drunk. So you disregard them - whether you shut down their protest (without force), mock them, or ignore them, is a strategic decision. Judging with mockery, say, is a way to offer resistance to irrationality. Responding with force only depends on if your life is under threat. They are people already operating outside reason. 

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9 hours ago, Eiuol said:

 On some topics, people are just as irrational as a drunk. So you disregard them - whether you shut down their protest (without force), mock them, or ignore them, is a strategic decision. Judging with mockery, say, is a way to offer resistance to irrationality. Responding with force only depends on if your life is under threat. They are people already operating outside reason. 

Judging one's opponent as irrational is subjective, until you have argued said-opponent down to the last syllogism. If we are to assume that the Objectivist argument has the strength to overpower said-opponent, then there is no reason for shutting down the debate. Having proved your argument as true, the opponent must withdraw, forfeit, or admit defeat. But they must be allowed their freedom of speech. Force by overwhelming audible volume is still a form of force. If one's revolution is to prove a sustainable success, you have merely forced your opponent to lowering his volume to a level only circulated among members of the counter-revolution. (At this point, I don't care to list the many counter-revolutions, or acts of repression against dissenting and/or unpopular opinion-makers, from Socrates to heresy, to the present, but only to suggest that counter-revolutions do happen. It would be naive not to expect them.) Once you have "silenced" your opposition, they become "victims" of your force. You may think you have silenced them, but they will only use your oppression to their advantage in their argument against you. While I agree that (rational) mockery is one of the most useful tactics, the opportunity for your opponent's response must be guaranteed, especially if the revolution promotes morality in Objectivist terms, otherwise you have undermined your desired society of objectivity.

For example, let's take the matter of anti-mysticism as a desirable Objectivist social norm. If you were to shout down your religious opponents, or in anyway deny them their opportunity to speak their piece, you will only alienate and enrage them. You may momentarily hush them up; you may go through the motions of re-education. And rather than re-educate them, and their children, they will only pass their cherished beliefs along down the generations, until the day of their reprisal. Judging by our current political climate, religion will not go away easily.

If we examine some of the more sustained, successful, and least violent revolutions in history, we will notice a certain "ground-work" or foundation preparing society for the sudden changes. The industrial revolution, perhaps the best example, emerged from a time of reason brought about by a change of theology, and discovery brought about through innovation approved by the ruling classes. And yet, Luddites resisted. The American Revolution emerged from a society well accustomed to religious dissent, free-trade, free-speech, and more than one hundred years of a concept, known as, The Rights of Man. To be sure, the monarchists resisted violently, and in five years were violently defeated by those who believed in an untried form of government. And yet, church leaders resisted the idea of separation of church and state. The Civil Rights Movement (circa 1945-1965) emerged from a society that had seen the virtues and accepted the value of African-American lives through their valor in war and their contributions in sports and entertainment. And yet, the racists resisted. They still resist, but so too do the Luddites and the church leaders. Nonetheless, I am reasonably confident that in spite of America's curious and often irrational trends in politics, the core values of the industrial revolution, American Revolution, and equal protection under the law for all minorities will be norms for many generations against the wishes of dissenters. The revolutions that succeed often do so because they were right, and the public was prepared.

If we are to ever witness an Objectivist victory over irrational mystic, collectivist, and socialist norms, it will be a victory achieved only after the establishment of a base of majority, consisting of people who believe in free-minds and free-markets. To the specifics of these ideals, I leave to those future generations. For now, let's say you want a revolution. As an important part of the process, people will need to be informed, one might say, re-educated. Re-education under Chairman Mao and Pol Pot didn't end well. In fact, I don't think you can change the norms of society until the young are educated properly, rather than re-educated as adults. The ideas of an Objectivist Revolution will only succeed when people willingly accept them. People must arrive at the truth under their own efforts and volition. To force any ideas on anyone is folly. 

The education of a society of true individuals will begin with parents who see themselves as individuals. Teach your children well. I witnessed a generation of people who believed themselves enlightened and right, the New Left, force a (believed-to-be) revolutionary set of values onto the American political landscape. The results are the formation of otherwise unique individuals into diverse collective-identity groups, and an expansion of the social welfare state. In my opinion, neither bode well for the future, nor does the rise of the counter-revolutionary Christian Right. The downward trajectory of politics will not change direction until a properly educated public demands the proper change. And that change cannot be explained on a bumper-sticker, nor blasted through an amplifier. The revolution will not be televised. It may have all ready started with forums such as this one. All said, I absolutely support an Objectivist revolution. Long live the revolution.

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1. I would need to argue against Donald Trump "to the last syllogism" to deem him irrational? That sounds like an excessive, or at least implausible and unrealistic standard, and a form of extreme skepticism (i.e. "I can't -really- know they're irrational").

2. Being really loud is not an initiation of force. Speaking louder than someone is rude, to be sure, but you are still free to speak. I'm not literally taping your mouth closed. There is no "right to be heard". It is not an initiation of force to utterly disregard a person and be really really mean. Freedom of speech is a political right, it has nothing to do with allowing an opportunity to be heard, or to care at all about being able to hear their counterpoint. There is no ethical or epistemic obligation to "argue it out" if one party really is irrational.

3. I suggested multiple times that education is an important part of political action. The irrational people I spoke of, the idea is to disregard them, not to force beliefs which is impossible to do anyway.

4. The industrial revolution is not a revolution of the sort relevant to political action. It was not a political act. The Luddites were a revolution actually. The American revolution also counts, arguably it only really worked because of the French. On top of that, they were forceful in a number of ways like the Boston Tea party, so I don't think it really helps your point.

Edited by Eiuol

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The industrial revolution wasn't a revolution, yet the violation of property rights by Luddites was? If the industrial revolution was not relevant to political action, how could fighting against it be? Prior to the industrial revolution

wealth was not earned on an open market, either; wealth was acquired by conquest, by force, by political power, or by the favor of those who held political power. —FTNI, pg. 13

It is one of the rare revolutions won, for the most part, peaceably. The benefits of adopting the new approach was persuasive within its own right.

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The industrial revolution was not a political revolution of political ideology. Luddites were a political movement, their actions constitute political action. They aimed for some amount of revolution to alter society.

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Industrialization of the means of production did not alter (revolutionize) society?

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This is an expression allegedly spoken by a famous Jesuit priest: "Give me the boy until the age of seven, and I'll give you the man."

The Comprachico public school system is the primary reason the Revolution would fail, regardless of one's choice of weapon. I might have all of the necessary arguments to figuratively debate Trump into a corner and pummel him. But his significant share of the public would only believe that "the system is rigged." Any antics that audibly drown him out would only result in his escalation. I have little doubt that Trump could produce the loudest electronic sound system the world has ever seen. But he wouldn't need it; his adoring public would provide the all the noise he needs. Or if they are subdued, they can play the "victim card." People have been so instructed, and that is the state of democracy in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Now I realize the subject of this discussion could change from agreeing or disagreeing on a means of altering the course of history, to one of discrediting each others' examples. Nonetheless, if we are to succeed, the numbers must support the cause. At present, I would say that relatively few people have any awareness of an Objectivist movement; they've never heard of Objectivism. We may hold a shared opinion that Trump, the Pope, and Vladimir Putin are irrational. Yet, it is merely a subjective opinion until proven otherwise, and their respective fans support their claims to power; they outnumber our more independently-minded individuals, and in any political context, popularity matters very much. Whether you establish a liberal democracy, constitutional republic, kleptocracy, or a totalitarian dictatorship, if you can so influence the minds of the young, they will act on the instructions they've been taught. That is the underlying premise of my theory. Go ahead and shout down whomever you wish. I don't think that really impresses the sort of rational egoists needed for a more rational society. In fact, I would approve of some genuinely intelligent and proper humiliation of the perpetrators irrationality. It would help if we had a more public exposure accompanied by a charismatic spokesperson. Such is not the case at present. The liberation of the mind would be my primary choice of countermeasures, the one that could succeed and sustain freedom, and the earlier in life, the better. If it seems to be taking too long, so be it. I don't think anyone would benefit from a prolonged "dissing contest."

 

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6 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Industrialization of the means of production did not alter (revolutionize) society?

The term revolution is use to mean major changes in society (industrial revolution, scientific revolution, internet revolution).

Related, but different, is the concept of force being used to bring about such radical changes. The "French Revolution" or "The American Revolution" refer to revolts that were large, successful, and brought political change. It's really a different concept for which the same word is used.

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2 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

It's really a different concept for which the same word is used.

I agree with your two contrasting distinctions. I am thinking different contexts (with/without force), along the axis of major/radical change. What you're saying is less obvious to me than something like "rock", the rock you can sit on, or the act, to rock your baby to sleep in a rocking chair.

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Without intention of changing the debate to a question of what constitutes a revolution  or what doesn't, the industrial revolution also brought with it a very political change. As Ayn Rand pointed out in For the New Intellectual, for the first time in history, the producer became a major player in political affairs. All the same, it wasn't intended as a rebellion, but it had much more sustainability than, for example, the Pheasant Revolt of the 14th century. In regard to my argument, mob actions or forms of violating private or public property would less likely advance a rational social change, whereas a more gradual and intellectual revolt may succeed, or may not succeed, but definitely would reduce the likelihood of an escalation to pitched confrontation, leading to destruction.

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9 hours ago, Repairman said:

Go ahead and shout down whomever you wish. I don't think that really impresses the sort of rational egoists needed for a more rational society. In fact, I would approve of some genuinely intelligent and proper humiliation of the perpetrators irrationality. It would help if we had a more public exposure accompanied by a charismatic spokesperson. Such is not the case at present.

Not sure what you mean by impresses an egoist. I mean, there is no enjoyable or fun way to deal with irrationality, so it's not impressive that way. But if it is a genuine way to not let irrationality overwhelm you, it's impressive that way.

If you do approve of some proper humiliation, we seem to mostly agree. I'm not suggesting it's a first step, or it supercedes educating people as well. At the same time, it is an important element of political action to at times deliberately ignore manners and social norms. I don't think big emphasis on freedom of speech as an ethical principle works at all for Objectivist ethics, and Don's talk of optics is mostly a strategy discussion. So I'm trying to argue about political action as specifically related to virtues of justice and integrity.

"We may hold a shared opinion that Trump, the Pope, and Vladimir Putin are irrational. Yet, it is merely a subjective opinion until proven otherwise"

What do you mean? It doesn't take arguing with them to really know.

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Eioul,

To be sure, we can agree on a few things, maybe more. We may disagree on the proportion of emphasis on public displays of outrage, as opposed to more gradual and cerebral persuasion. To your first question, I wanted to place the emphasis on persuasion of more rational thinkers to take a closer look at Objectivism. One of the best means of communication is through comedy, so for example, we would be better served with a front-man/woman able to host a regular nightly comedy-news program-just an example. Hopefully, we may see a talent able to deliver "proper humiliation."

17 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

If you do approve of some proper humiliation, we seem to mostly agree. I'm not suggesting it's a first step, or it supercedes educating people as well. At the same time, it is an important element of political action to at times deliberately ignore manners and social norms.

We can agree that educating people is critical, I would say, the most important. As for protocol or etiquette, I really don't care; anything goes until it breaks down into a name-calling contest.*

To call any opponent "irrational" without providing evidence is little more than name-calling. Even if we can judge, let's take your example, Trump to be irrational, there are apparently a great many more people who judge him to perfectly rational. And the fact that he has such a fortune made through legal means helps their subjective opinions. But if Trump is the specific object of your opposition, I'd rather not construct an argument around this unfortunate success story. My primary concern is lending support to people who, like myself, had some vague idea of what is wrong with the world, and had no supporting comprehensive philosophy, nor a collection of thinkers, egoists, with which to exchange ideas, not for any other noble purpose than my own satisfaction.

*Incidentally, I would be insincere if I were to suggest that I've never engaged in a bit of bad manners, even on this forum. But if there were a chance of finding the common ground, I tend to more restrained.

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3 minutes ago, Repairman said:

As for protocol or etiquette, I really don't care; anything goes until it breaks down into a name-calling contest.*

But what if you knew that certain forms of "protocol" or "etiquette" lent you a greater chance at convincing a rational opponent -- or the undecided? What if you knew that flouting such norms of civilization meant that otherwise rational people would tune you out, or increased your chances of getting into a "name-calling contest," and destroying the possibility of rational discourse?

Would you care then?

3 minutes ago, Repairman said:

Incidentally, I would be insincere if I were to suggest that I've never engaged in a bit of bad manners, even on this forum. But if there were a chance of finding the common ground, I tend to more restrained.

I don't think there's a person on this forum (or possibly on the Internet) who is innocent of occasional lapses; I am unusually sensitive to this subject, not alone because I've been the recipient of "bad manners," but because there are times when I lose control of my emotions and let myself fly, to some greater or lesser degree. And when I have done, I've made an effort to study the impact of such on myself, and on those with whom I've conversed, and on third parties, and the results I've witnessed suggest to me that it is typically a failure in every way. Where I've let my manners lapse -- and where I've seen others do the same, whether as an emotional outburst or some supposedly rational calculation -- I have yet to see some productive, positive outcome as a result.

At the same time, maintaining "good manners" doesn't promise good outcomes... but I have come to believe that it at least allows for that possibility.

(For the record, Repairman, you are among one of the more pleasant posters, in my experience. Thank you.)

Otherwise -- and I don't plan a full response on this point, but just to note -- I am dismayed that we are discussing "humiliation" as a positive tactic.

And one last thing, on the subject of the "irrational" (meaning: those who cannot be reached by reason, though I think the term has been equivocated a few times over the course of this thread), and the uselessness of persuasion in those cases, here's an interesting little tidbit I'd come across recently. Once again, this is far short of a full argument, but I think it's an illuminating story, and worth reflecting upon.

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DonAthos,

If I may clarify: I am less concerned with the tactics used by others, and try to maintain my own standard. If there were to be a measurable spike in public interest of Ayn Rand, I certainly hope anyone speaking on behalf of "our side" reflects the highest standards of intelligence and wit. Having seen the rise of movements come and go over the years, I know of few that have the body of well-reasoned literature to guide such a movement as Objectivism. There are established institutes, of course, but I truly would hope to see the beginnings of a popular movement. From that, my only hope is that the participants maintain the dignity commonly seen on this forum. The conduct of a crowd can get ugly, so I'm not too favorable toward mobs of demonstrators, unless they've assembled orderly and purposefully. All said, I still see the greatest barrier to progress will be religion; one doesn't have to be a religious fanatic to distrust or even hate atheists, (not saying all Objectivists are atheist, but many are), especially if they form a mob. That fact alone puts me on notice to conduct myself with a higher standard.

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First, about irrationality. I'm not speaking of irrational as in wildly mistaken, or wildly ignorant. I mean what Rand means by at, as in evasive of facts. This is not from simple error, but a systematic failure to reason. Providing more facts will not dissuade them. Pointing out a contradiction will not matter, since reason does not motivate them. For sure some KKK members are mistaken and able to be persuaded by reason. By and large, though, they are purely irrational, a reasoned discussion will go nowhere. Those are the people that require a different response besides reasoning. All this talk about reasoning or communication is critical to political action, but I do not see how it is going to answer the proper response to irrationality when you have political goals. I see this as a starting point for figuring out a deeper theory of political action.

Next, yes, it is fine to feel dismayed that tactics besides reasoning or communication need to be discussed. But it makes me feel dismayed that any people are deeply irrational. We're not pacifists, yet it would be fine to feel dismay for needing to retaliate at times. Similarly, ugly actions from others may require ugly response, even if non-political contexts I'd opt to ignore the person. In particular, political disagreements of opponents often lead to real action taken against you if it's bad enough. But if a huge portion of that political disagreement is due to deep irrationality, what do you do?

Generally, I'm a fan of mockery if I know the side is not one of reason. Not just poking fun, but going further to demean them. I do not see it as different than loud protests, disregard of an oppenent, or overwhelming a side so it can't be heard. This is all possible without subverting your dedication to individual rights. What tactics would work, and follow important virtues?

Also, I'm still interested about responses to my claims about "reflective equilibrium". I'm saying that if we aim to let all people be heard fairly, even irrational people as I described, we'd be following a liberal playbook of liberal premises. I don't mean non-liberal leftists - I mean more people that talk all about "we just need a discussion where all sides are heard!" I linked to an article on it, so it's fine to argue that I didn't quite understand your (Repairman and Don) position.

By the way, I'm interested in other aspects of political action. For example, is voting really a useful political act anyway?

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4 hours ago, Eiuol said:

But if a huge portion of that political disagreement is due to deep irrationality, what do you do?

Apologies for these abbreviated replies; I haven't had much time of late.

But look. Taking "reason" or "persuasion" as an abstract -- one of many possible tactics for achieving political change -- we should favor it because it is our key strength and advantage. We are not guaranteed of success on the battlefield, having the mightiest warriors or arms; we are not guaranteed of success when it comes to contests of "mockery" or "humiliation," or comparing numbers of adherents, or wealth, or etc; the one arena where we are guaranteed success is when it comes to a rational assessment of arguments and evidence.

Therefore tactically -- again in the abstract -- I would advise that we try and try and try to bring whatever battles we face back to that same battleground. The irrational everywhere (including on this website, and they're not hard to find) LOVE shouting matches, and insinuation, and insults, and mockery, and humiliation. They revel in it as swine in shit. And the reason why is because that's how they avoid the contest of reasoned discussion, where they are at an insuperable disadvantage.

By moving ourselves away from reason or persuasion, generally, and towards the typical tactics of the irrational, we cede our natural advantage and play instead where others may well best us. (And we further make ourselves indistinguishable with the irrational from the outside/to some third party observer.)

In this world of ours, characterized as much as it is by irreason, I believe our best course is to promote reason. And this is where we must consider "reason" and "persuasion," not simply as abstract tactics, but in their full measure. Objectivism is the philosophy of reason, and we demonstrate our belief in its power by suiting our means to our ends. We say that we believe that men should deal with one another by persuasion, and this alone; let's prove it.

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31 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

By moving ourselves away from reason or persuasion, generally, and towards the typical tactics of the irrational, we cede our natural advantage and play instead where others may well best us. (And we further make ourselves indistinguishable with the irrational from the outside/to some third party observer.)

Okay, so what do you do? Ignore them, as they make a pigsty of your world? I honestly don't see how this makes sense, to say reasoning and calm persuasion would do anything at all to an irrational wave of Trump style populism for example. You wouldn't be indistinguishable from those people if you also employ reasoning and persuasion as well. Most of the time, reason and persuasion is superior. It must be promoted. But if you want a theory of political action, it requires deciding when persuasion alone isn't going to work, even if it usually works - you need more tools in those cases. This is easy to decide in dictatorships. With representational democracies, it's a lot harder.

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Eiuol, I don't see a middle ground between persuasion and force. Ultimately you're trying to do one or the other. If you're trying to use force, but to limit it to be within the realm of individual rights (e.g. going around trying to disrupt things), that's at best going to be an ineffective strategy, just because people have rights to their property (including throwing you off of it) - and at worst you're going to start justifying violating people's rights just because they are being irrational. If instead you're trying to expand on persuasion by being provocative and trying to seek attention (e.g. flipping over tables and denouncing people), then that could make more sense, if you actually had a compelling case to make and your actions were appropriate (though extreme) pursuant to making that case. The problem is that a lot of these attention-seeking types don't have a compelling case, or are taking extreme actions that really aren't appropriate (or are actually rights-violating), and they just end up coming across as crackpots/jackasses/criminals (see your RATM example).

Edited by epistemologue

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