Defeating the Left in argument

Thoughts on socialism and leftism generally

Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Gavin » 10 Feb 2013, 12:00

Some writers on the forum have recently mentioned that they are not actually very adversarial people and don't much like having to argue with liberals, especially when the liberals tend to react to uncomfortable truths with personal offence (or possibly feigned personal offence). I think it's true to say that the conservative will generally be measured and calm, the liberal emotional. This should mean we can out-argue them effectively, providing they don't start shouting, use many of their underhand tactics or strop off.

But, like many others of us, I don't like arguing in person either. I've become a lot better and faster at thinking on my feet, but I prefer the written word, where I can think carefully about how I want to put things. TD mentioned recently that conservatism is hard to defend (or even define) in a short time. It is subtle and subtlety is perhaps even required in the listener in order to be able to appreciate it. Superficially it seems more negative than liberalism, because it calls for caution whereas liberalism calls for less. So to a person who doesn't think very well or who has never experienced the darker side of human nature, we might seem like "the baddies". Being the "less permissive" ones, we're on the back foot to begin with.

This problem has been raised in other threads on this subforum. I think it's a really important one. I think it would be useful for us, some time, to define prepared responses to all of the typical arguments the Left produce, so that we who actually don't like arguing very much, are ready. Elliott's excellent article defines, widely, the tactics the Left use. We could also prepare precise retorts.

For example:

Liberal makes claim:

"We should let anybody into our country and it is right for them to be able to keep their culture."


Conservative responds:

  • Was it right for Australians to displace the Aborigines, then?
  • When we colonised countries they benefitted greatly and many will admit that now. The drains in the Bahamas are made in Sheffield. Most of these countries (e.g. Haiti) have still not moved on from this point. In what similar way have we benefited from wide-scale immigration?
  • Why do liberals who instigate multiculturalism then typically move from those areas into large houses among their own kind?


The second answer may even be too long. I'm looking for short, sharp, memorable retorts to key typical liberal arguments. On the family, capitalism, etc. etc. It doesn't have to all be now, and we do range across these subjects in our longer posts. If we can distil some of our core arguments here though it might be useful for situations where we find ourselves with a self-righteous liberal.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Elliott » 10 Feb 2013, 15:07

A very good idea, Gavin. I've actually been thinking about something like this for a while. My idea would be a specific thread for each major topic, solely for people to present such arguments so that other people could use them.

The Left has used guilt for 60 years to resolve (shut down) debates, basically "shaming" conservatives into giving in. Somebody (I think Michael?) said, a long time ago, that we should now use the same tactic against the Left. After all, there is plenty for them to feel guilty about. Fifty years ago, to an extent fifteen years ago, the Left could "claim" moral superiority because the effects of their ideas were yet to materialise. But not now. You also wrote a similar thing in this thread, Gavin. Finally, John's post here is good.

Now, without actually going into the mechanics of any particular argument, here are some ideas for how we can defeat the Left in debate. I will use the word "you" to address any conservative who might be reading this.

  1. The first, and most important, thing is do not assume you are wrong. This sounds banal, but in fact I think we, as conservatives, often carry a certain assumed guilt around with us. It has been bashed into us over the last 60 years and now, when we debate a leftist, we feel it at the back of our minds and it weakens us, makes us paranoid. As soon as the leftist taps into it in some tiny way, we assume we've been "unmasked" and we crumble. That has to stop. I am not saying you should assume you are correct about everything or anything, but if you are sure about something, if you have thought it over and listened to the counter arguments and really are sure about it, then do not be ashamed of this conservative belief. On the contrary, take pride in it. Love it. Protect it. Defend it. Articulate it. Spread it throughout the public domain.
  2. Do the obverse of (1). If you believe a liberal idea is bad/mistaken/unwise/damaging, do not assume you are wrong to believe that. Once you have listened to the arguments, if you still disagree with a left-wing assertion, take pride in disagreeing with it. Hate it. Attack it. Destroy it. Stop it spreading throughout the public domain. Do not be embarrassed or ashamed that you have the temerity to disagree with a fashionable idea, especially one that comes loaded with the smug approval of the Left.
  3. At every opportunity, point out things that the Left should feel guilty about. Name not only the thing itself, but also the left-wing mindset that defends it, because that will show how the same mindset defends other silly things. The Left are guilty of doing huge damage to Western civilisation. They damned well should feel guilty about it. Their smugness about it all is repulsive.
  4. Be careful about appealing to emotion or in coming across as emotional. While the Left forgives both of these in itself constantly, it is very quick to denounce them in the Right. How many times have you heard some leftist say "you are far too emotional; if you relaxed about this issue, you'd see it's nothing worry about" or "your argument is irrational, and motivated by fear, anger and paranoia"? You can be as rational as you like, but the leftist will always try to dismiss you as irrational, and any emotional "content" to what you say will help them do that.
  5. At the same time, do not be afraid of showing that you are an emotional creature, not some Commie calculator or capitalist robot who sees people as units. You do have an emotional attachment to your homeland, you do have emotional (and psychological) needs that feminism proscribes, you do hate to see a church turning into a mosque, you do hate your tax money being spent on wastrels, etc. Why shouldn't you feel any of these things? Show that it is up to the leftist to explain why these things are good; let them tie themselves in knots defending the indefensible. Without going overboard with it, you could even show how the leftist is actually victimising you, by depriving you of your culture, forbidding you from being masculine/feminine, forcing you to entertain and finance aliens who despise you, and taking your money away from you. As I say, don't go too far with this otherwise they will use it as a "woe is me!" argument and say you're playing the victim.
  6. Show curiosity. As a thinking conservative, you are (presumably) curious about the world. Yet the opposite claim (that we are unthinking idiots) is perhaps the central pillar of the Left's attack on us. It is a character assassination more than a response to any actual arguments, but it is very effective because it means that, before we've even begun articulating an argument, we have been labelled as incurious, immovable and blinkered. Quietly, calmly, show that that is simply not true.
  7. Ask questions. This is perhaps the best way of changing anybody's mind, because not only does it compel them to examine their own arguments, it also puts them on the back foot. (And best of all, it means you can only be denounced as guilty of asking questions, not actually stating anything.) In practice, rather than articulating your full argument, just voice some questions which conservatism offers an answer to but liberalism prefers to brush under the carpet. And keep asking questions, constantly, until the leftist runs out of places to hide, runs out of silly trite phrases to throw at you.
  8. Arm yourself with evidence. Leftists love to claim that they argue from evidence whereas conservatives argue from emotion. Well, show them they're wrong. Take time to familiarise yourself with key facts about key issues. Every little bit will help you to defeat the leftist. And, strangely enough, for some issues you actually don't need very much evidence. For example, when a leftist tells you that there's no conspiracy to change the West, or that multiculturalism enriches us, or that mass immigration being out of control is not the government's fault, every one of those statements can be refuted with two words: "Andrew Neather". That's all you need!
  9. Just talk. Voice your ideas wherever you can. I am not suggesting you behave like a conservative jukebox, spouting arguments everywhere, but I am suggesting that you, and all of us, need to calmly take it for granted that we have as much right to voice our ideas as everyone else. Don't go mad about it, otherwise the Left will certainly accuse you of being mad; be joyful about it, be open, be calm and happy to "come out" as a conservative. You will probably find that the only people who attack you for doing so will be avowed leftists, and by attacking you they will show themselves up in the eyes of any disinterested third party. But don't give them the "pleasure" of unmasking you as a conservative: do it yourself, from the off, with the proviso that, while you are a conservative, you are not a robot.

All in all, I would say the best approach is to be warmly detached. Let the leftist hang themselves by attacking you with their usual vindictiveness, and when they do attack you, show up every single hole in their argument.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Gavin » 10 Feb 2013, 16:20

I agree with that, especially with the part about asking questions. Many Leftists are very keen to do this, they seem to think that their position is the default one and it us up to us to defend ours. They must be shown that we can play that game too. The whole conversation could, instead, consist of us making them qualify themselves. Pretty soon they won't find this easy to do, especially if we have a range of core rebuttals stored here.

I also agree to get it on the table early that you're a conservative, without shame. I don't want to patronise readers - I'm sure most of you know well how to handle these situations, but allow me to make up a conversation as I go along, and provide some tips anyway, now:

Liberal: Hello. I like these events but I can't stand the amount of right wingers about, can you? [Note assumed agreement, alienation from the start - we should do this too]

Conservative: Right wingers? I've met a few members of the Conservative Party, but I wouldn't call them right wingers, really. UKIP are the new right wing. You should see the support they're getting in The Telegraph. David Cameron has deserted his core vote now. [We are hinting our approval, are informed, but haven't brought out any big guns, as it were, yet]

Liberal: UKIP? They're just a bunch of weirdos aren't they? [Character assassination, vagueness, ignorance, spoon-fed from BBC]

Conservative: UKIP are ahead of the Liberals in polls. Do you know some members personally then?


At this point the air will begin to go frosty, as you are having the cheek to show that you don't automatically agree with the liberal as they assume you will. You will be blamed for souring the atmosphere, when actually it is they who have done so with their crass assumptions. You are also making it difficult for them not to make themselves appear stupid and uninformed: this will be held against you too. So at this point the liberal might make an insulting remark and walk off. For example:

Liberal: Oh f**k, I might have known.


They will behave as if, with this, they have won the argument, although there wasn't one. Let's continue for a little bit, assuming they don't walk off.

Liberal: Who cares about The Telegraph? That's just a right wing rag, no better than The Sun.

Conservative: Did you know it sells three times as many copies as The Guardian? [We phrase this as a question, so that the liberal must admit they didn't know or defend themselves in some other way]

Liberal: It doesn't matter how many it sells. It's still all right wing rubbish.

Conservative: Well, I agree with democracy and the opinion of the majority, personally. [Thus we embarrass the liberal on one of their core grounds] But I agree that the journalists are not always great. They are quite politically correct. I always jump straight to the comments. They don't censor as heavily as The Guardian. I believe in freedom of speech. Don't you? [Question. Always a question - play their game.]

Liberal: I hate hate speech!

Conservative: Yes, like the Islamic preachers and some of these feminists. Did you hear that Macy Gray said women are better than men recently? And Diane Abbot's comment on white people. Disgusting. [Use any stories you have, anything. Precisely quote people and things you have read on this forum]


From this point I would probably mention some of the many left wing organisations responsible for terrorism and maybe the Muslim pedophile gangs. On the underclass you can also take Dalrymple's angle that they are being terribly deprived of the right to work and determine their own lives, because we give them so many benefits. Produce stories of self-made millionnaires, too (and the employment they provide). On crime and law and order produce examples of people killed due to care in the community. There's a wealth of material here on the forum, actually.

Most of all, though, I think we must play them at their game and make the position of the left the one that should expect to defend itself. It's not easy when you're on the spot, especially if you are actually the kind of person who likes to seek agreement rather than adversity, but we must stand up to the typical arrogance of the leftist. Hopefully this thread will help more as it develops. I think it might still be worth suggesting precise rebuttals here.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Nathan » 10 Feb 2013, 17:41

Some very interesting ideas here! The fact that in my experience Leftists do tend to get emotional and the fact that we do often feel like the "baddies" or having to play the role of the responsible parent denying their children the fun of an idealistic world view does make me reluctant to speak out when they do the Leftist thing and mouth off in an attempt to drown out any potential dissenting voice, particularly when it's people in my life who it's in my interests to stay on good terms with, but I fully recognise that we do need to start destroying these people, and doing so intelligently and thoroughly.

We have a woman at work who fits the liberal mould to a tee who thinks she has a divine right to have her views considered the default. I'm on relatively good terms with her, but I suspect the next time our conversation turns to politics it's only a matter of time before she rants on about the rise of that horrible UKIP, ignorant, racists, pathetic Little Englanders, etc. She has no idea that I am a member. I would love to see the look on her face if I did the Sacha Baron Cohen thing and tricked her into saying more and more ridiculous things just to tie her up in knots when I'd then tell her that I was a member and then start being serious in knocking her arguments down, only I'm not sure I could think on my feet fast enough to pull it off. I'm afraid I'm generally one of those people who can be relied upon to think of the perfect thing to say after the time has passed.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Gavin » 14 Feb 2013, 12:19

Liberal speaks:

"We white people should take every opportunity to apologise for the terrible slavery we inflicted on blacks over the ages. To be honest we can never really apologise enough for what we did."


Possible conservative replies:

"Slavery has happened all over the world, not just to black people and not only by white people. Black people sold and traded in their own people, and whites have enslaved whites. Why do you fixate on colour so much? That makes me uncomfortable and seems a bit racist." [Always nice to be able to return the racism smear to a liberal]


"Yes, what about the hundreds of thousands of people who were enslaved and forcibly converted to Islam by the Ottoman Empire? That was terrible, wasn't it? Arguably many of the women are still enslaved by their husbands today." [We strike at the liberal's sympathy for Islam]


"It doesn't make any sense for us to apologise for things we didn't do, and to people who did not have it done to them - especially to do so ad nauseam. This makes us sound unduly ashamed and, worse, encourages a victim mentality in the other. Obviously the slavery was wrong. Everybody knows that." [We deal with the issue head on]


"Yes, slavery still goes on in some countries to this day. For example in Niger, where it's estimated that Africans have enslaved almost one million of their own people (it's possible that some black people would enslave white people too if they ever could). This is when it matters, isn't it? Do you campaign against this?" [The liberal sees themselves as a do-gooder, we show they're not as good as they think]


"Thank goodness for the Christians, the Conservative Party and for William Wilberforce in particular who pioneered the banning of slavery in 1807. If the whigs had been in control who knows what might have happened. Also we mustn't forget that we have the famous capitalist Adam Smith to thank, don't we? He made arguments to show that slavery wasn't even economically the right way to go." [The liberal may dislike this one most of all: we defeat them with knowledge of the facts and manage to praise the conservatives and capitalism at the same time]
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Elliott » 14 Feb 2013, 14:53

Liberal: You conservatives argue from personal experience a lot. I prefer spreadsheets, statistics, actual data, you know?

Conservative #1 Personal experience is the best defence we have against bad research.

Conservative #2 Do you believe statistics, then?

Here's a more extended "conversation" that could very well happen:

Conservative: Social scientists, and their funders, can be biased and working for a specific result. I think it's a bit naive to place much trust in them, to be honest.

Liberal: So you just ignore objective data?

Conservative: But it's never really objective, is it?

Liberal: It's more objective than personal experience.

Conservative: I doubt it, to be honest. Look, I just find it much easier to trust when it chimes with my own experience.

Liberal: So you only believe stuff that backs up your own prejudices?

Conservative: No, I'm just not an idiot. I mean, do you believe everything you read?

Liberal: Of course not.

Conservative: Well then, we're in agreement. [i.e. they've lost the argument]
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Elliott » 14 Feb 2013, 14:54

Liberal: It's horrible that some people are rich and some are poor. We need to spread the wealth around.

Conservative: Whose wealth? Yours?

Liberal: Well, err, no. Erm... the rich. Yes, we should spread the rich's wealth around.

Conservative: So just people you're jealous of, then?

Liberal: No. People who can afford it.

Conservative: Can you afford that jacket you're wearing?

Liberal: Of course.

Conservative: Right, so give me it.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Elliott » 14 Feb 2013, 14:55

Liberal: A welfare state is a great thing. It is the institutionalisation of kindness.

Conservative: It's not kindness at all, because it's compelled. Do you fear that, un-forced, you wouldn't give much of your money to charity?
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Elliott » 14 Feb 2013, 14:56

Liberal: I would never send my kids to private school. I want them to mix with all types.

Conservative: Haven't they got all their lives to mix with "all types"? Shouldn't their time at school be for getting educated?

Liberal: No. It should be a social experience too. It should stretch them by forcing them to learn to get along with people less well-off, less comfortable and, yes, less well-behaved.

Conservative: In that case, will you be sending your kids to the worst possible school you can find? And if not, why not?
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Elliott » 14 Feb 2013, 14:58

Liberal: Private school should be abolished. It gives children an unfair advantage.

Conservative: What about intelligence inherited from their parents? How is that any less of an unfair advantage?

Liberal: We can't abolish intelligence.

Conservative: But would you, if you could? If you could make all kids equal at birth, would you?

Liberal: No, that would be monstrous. We need intelligence. It's a good thing.

Conservative: Isn't the education kids get at private school also a good thing? Why do you want to abolish a good thing?

Liberal: Because it's not fair that other kids have a bad education.

Conservative: Well, life isn't fair, but I agree there are things we can do to alleviate the situation. However, wouldn't abolishing private education be counterproductive and also, in a way, shooting the messenger? What we should be doing is improving state education, surely?

Liberal: Well, no, because we might never bring it up to the standard of private education, so privately-educated kids would still have an unfair advantage.

Conservative: I'll never run as fast as Mo Farah, be as intelligent as Stephen Fry [use an example they'll fall for] or as handsome as Johnny Depp. Those people did nothing to deserve their advantages. Should they be hobbled, lobotomised and disfigured?

Liberal: You're just being stupid.

Conservative: Not at all. I am holding up a mirror to your own stupidity.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Elliott » 14 Feb 2013, 14:59

Liberal: Selective education is cruel, segregationist and disgusting.

Conservative: Don't the most intelligent deserve to be stretched as far as possible? Don't you feel guilty advocating that they be punished for being the best, and their potential be squandered?
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Elliott » 14 Feb 2013, 15:01

Liberal: The BBC is a good thing.

Conservative: In principle, or in practice?

Liberal: Both!

Conservative: So how does BBC3 enrich people?

Liberal: You're picking the worst possible bit of the BBC. It's not all like that.

Conservative: True, but the vast majority is, or is equally bad in other ways. For example, when did you last see something genuinely good on BBC1 or BBC2?

Liberal: Oh I don't know - a wildlife documentary, something like that.

Conservative: But they're available on commercial channels, aren't they? Are the BBC's offerings any better?

Liberal: Okay, the BBC is good in principle, then.

Conservative: So has it not lived up to those principles in practice?


A variant of the same conversation:

Conservative: Isn't BBC3 just absolutely awful?

Liberal: Personally I agree, but the BBC's remit is to cater for all tastes, and I know that some people like BBC3.

Conservative: Idiots?

Liberal: Well, I don't like that word, and I suspect you're a bit of an intellectual snob, but yes: I think it's good that our national broadcaster caters to idiots.

Conservative: Do you think that people on housing estates etc., with no books in the house or whatever, should get a cultural diet from the State that keeps them in their low cultural condition?

Liberal: Talk about a loaded question!

Conservative: Not really. It's factual. Do you or do you not believe that the poor are incapable of improvement?

Liberal: I believe they are capable of improvement.

Conservative: So why should the State broadcaster be pandering to them, stopping them from improving, keeping them in a low cultural condition?

Liberal: Well, I don't believe in "low culture" or "high culture". Everything is equal.

Conservative: So what, then, would "improvement" look like? And also, if you believe everything is equal, why did you agree at the start of this conversation that BBC3 is absolutely awful?

Liberal: You're twisting my words. I don't know how. But you are, somehow.

Conservative: I'm not. Your ideas are contradictory, self-defeating and platitudinous.

Liberal: "Platitudinous"?! Where did you hear a word like that?

Conservative: Not BBC3.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Gavin » 14 Feb 2013, 16:21

Liberal:

"Apple are a wonderful company and that Steve Jobs was a genius. I love the way that Apple have those trendy adverts, what with the black person going out with the Oriental person. They show that we can all be happy together, that everyone is the same. I hardly even need to look at a new Apple product - I know it's the best. I feel like I'm friends with Apple."


Conservative:

"Yes, Apple do make some good products. Their OSX is pretty stable and the hardware generally good too. However, they are an aggressive capitalist organisation, determined to lock you into their way of doing things so as to maximise their market share and profit. They frequently release minor upgrades using great hyperbole and sometimes incorrectly representing the offerings of their competitors - this has become known as their reality distortion field.

Steve Jobs was a marketing man who, as Steve Wozniak said, "never wrote a line of code in his life" - nothing like the founders of Google, for example. By many accounts he was quite objectionable to be around. Apple isn't known for its charitable donations either (unlike the Microsoft which it is apparently trying to emulate).

Apple also makes nearly none of the constituent parts of its machines, those being made by companies like Samsung and Foxconn (where there have been claims of human rights abuses among the factory workers). Apple also has draconian rules on employees blogging (they're not allowed to) and has been accused of "trying to patent the rectangle".

As for Apple's advertising, it sounds like it sure worked on you! You've lost the ability to independently evaluate products. The race of people using things, or what colour clothing they're wearing, has nothing to do with the quality or usefulness of the products. You're a gift to Apple. Furthermore, the engineers who assemble these products are nothing like the lip-ringed, eyebrow-studded users who like to go on about the products all the time.

Now, I'm an Apple user, but please, try to keep things in perspective. They're a capitalist company. I don't have a problem with that, but you might."
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Paul » 14 Feb 2013, 21:37

Highly amusing conversations.

Just to add, with the slavery tag - Saudi Arabia only abolished slavery in 1973. On paper that is - though you may not want to add that last bit.

It's been repeated on Classic FM news all day that Ed Milliband has announced the grand Labour strategy of returning the 10% Income Tax rate if Labour get in government. This is so as to make 'society fairer'. And also - to reverse the mistake made by Gordon Brown (when he abolished it).

So Gordon Brown made a mistake then? I must have been asleep Ed. And isn't it great to be able to make the world 'fair' by simple legislation? Fair for who is another matter because there'll be yet more stealth taxes to pay for it.

Cameron says Labour hasn't thought it through and it sounds like a policy 'cobbled together overnight'. It's not a very robust or statesmanlike reply, though to be honest what does one say to Milliband - without laughing at him?
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Charlie » 14 Feb 2013, 22:12

Just adding a minor point here, but when taking on the left in debate, I think it's also the right's duty to read as much about economics as possible. That's because it's amazing how so often those on the left are just illiterate when it comes to this topic. Here's a clip you may well have seen before - it's quite well known now:



I can't claim to be a fan of the current Tory Chancellor, but it's often the left who accuse him of not knowing what he's doing. Yet we have Owen Jones above, giving us his analphabetic droolings - and this guy is supposed to be one of the main voices on the left in this country? We should perhaps be thankful that we have such clueless people prepared to put their economic ineptitude on show.
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