Defeating the Left in argument

Thoughts on socialism and leftism generally

Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Gavin » 23 Feb 2013, 16:22

To go along with the thread on culture denial:

Liberal: "There's no such thing as English culture."


Conservative response 1:

"Would you say the same thing to an African about African culture?"


Whether they answer "yes" or "no" we can then accuse them of racism - if in the affirmative then against Africans and if not then against English.

Conservative response 2:

"Our culture comprises of common memories, nostalgia, over past popular culture, TV programmes, pubs, tea, a sense of what our ancestors did for us, continuity, law, identity with Britain above and beyond some other country, heritage, classic British style, food, language, nuances in humour. So many things. Not all of them good, but certainly not al of them bad, either."


Because culture is quite nebulous and the liberal will attack wherever they can, I'd go for option 1. This should highlight their hypocrisy very quickly.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Elliott » 24 Feb 2013, 02:18

Here is a page containing several counter-arguments to leftist defences of the EU - including the banana "myth".
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Gavin » 25 Feb 2013, 21:41

Regarding the "Hitler was a Socialist" remark, in today's Nazi-like state a Deputy Police Commissioner has disgracefully been forced to resign simply for retweeting this! So we should surely all, "I am Spartacus"-like, never miss an opportunity to make the point henceforth.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Elliott » 26 Feb 2013, 06:35

This from a Telegraph comment thread...

Liberal: Do you have any evidence to back up those claims? I mean, being a guy (I presume), you must have cold, hard facts to back up what you just said, right? Some research? Some evidence? Or are you just going on your own personal observations that represent less than 0.00001% of human experience?

Conservative: Do you have any cold hard facts to back up your own views on gender relations? (some research and evidence).... or is just that your views are so resolutely orthodox, bland and politically-correct that you believe them to be exempt from the standards that you require of all dissenting opinions? In other words, how self-righteous can you possibly get?
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Gavin » 16 Mar 2013, 01:48

Inspired by me watching G.I. Jane and by this discussion.

Liberal feminist: Women should be allowed in the army and in the infantry, too.


Conservative: I'm shocked that you are so war-mongering and that you value women so little that you want to put them in the line of fire. But let me ask you something. Is rape a particularly nasty kind of crime?


This should be a move akin to asking a multiculturalist whether it is right to displace Africans in their own country.

Liberal feminist: Of course it is. Rape is the worst thing that can be done to a woman.


Conservative: And you are aware that female captives are often raped repeatedly by conquering forces? What kind of a person would increase the amount of rape in the world in this way and put women at such risk?


This is just one of many arguments that can be used against the idea of women in combat roles, but it seems to me a good one to start with. Whenever we can use the Left's arguments against them and expose their internal contradictions as a means of illustrating our point, we should do this first, I think. It's slightly Socratean, but should shake their automatic sense of righteousness, at least, then we can move on to other arguments.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Elliott » 16 Mar 2013, 02:07

Conservative: I'm shocked that you are so war-mongering and that you value women so little that you want to put them in the line of fire.

The trouble with that argument is that it could be used to argue that men also shouldn't be allowed into the army. The only other interpretation is that we should value women higher than men - I don't know if that's what you meant, and I wouldn't necessarily disagree with the idea.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Gavin » 16 Mar 2013, 02:17

Well this is just a preamble to the rape issue, but re. the latter part of the sentence, I am slightly banking on the idea that the feminist believes women to be more important than men. I'm sure many do. I believe women are precious and should be protected from harm. In either case I think this works.

When you say this could be used to argue that men shouldn't be allowed in the army, do you mean the former part about war-mongering (the liberal will usually be "against war") or the rape issue? In either case I would argue back to the feminist on grounds of realism. If we don't put men in the army other countries certainly will and we'll certainly be beaten.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Elliott » 16 Mar 2013, 02:43

I was envisaging something like this:

Liberal feminist: Women should be allowed in the army and in the infantry, too.


Conservative: I'm shocked that you are so war-mongering and that you value women so little that you want to put them in the line of fire.


Liberal feminist: I'm shocked that you value men so little that you want to put them in the line of fire. And anyway, I don't "want" to put anyone in danger. But if we have to do it, the genders should be equally put in danger.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Gavin » 16 Mar 2013, 09:58

Right, yes, that is a likely reply. Maybe best to miss out that first part altogether, though there are replies that could be made.

Conservative: In times of war someone has to be in the line of fire, agreed, but it should be the better killer and the physically stronger individual.


We could go on to the other arguments Mr Taylor produced, but the main one the occurred to me is the rape one.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Nathan » 03 May 2013, 11:52

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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Michael » 03 May 2013, 14:34

I'm coming late to this forum discussion (great stuff, everyone!) and wanted to ask what our larger purpose is in trying to defeat the Left in argument? Do we want to just feel good about ourselves for stymying and alienating people (people who were likely alienated from us in the first place) or to produce change?

I ask because I have noticed, working in advertising, that argument is nearly completely ineffective - exciting people's passions is more important. Argument can be effective, but it is only effective when people share common ground (premises).

If a leftist believes that perfection is possible, and that no other realm exists where perfection is/can be achieved (the afterlife), then they will conclude that perfection in this world is possible, with all its awful consequences. The belief that perfection is possible is a passionate belief, not a consequence of some other premise. No argument for the necessary imperfection of human nature will ever succeed against someone who has that belief, nor will arguments that improvement is often trading one evil for another, and that our choice is between evils, not between absolute evil and absolute good.

My interest is in where these passionate beliefs come from. Clearly they come in part from culture and upbringing, with some influence from innate character and experience. We've discussed it before, but I think a large part of why so many people are liberal-progressive today is because they have objectively speaking suffered less hardship than any generations before in the history of humanity. They've also noticed nothing but improvement in technology since they were born, and have natural reason to believe that progress is both real and inevitable (partly because they don't understand how hard research and implementation are, that part being hidden behind laboratory and workshop walls).

Believing that argument is largely ineffective in swaying opinion (on a one to one level) I wonder what the purpose of our vast "commentariat" in the West is. We believe that all these columnists and commentators arguing back and forth are part of a free society, and they are; they are signs of vigorous public debate. However, they do precious little to sway people one way or the other: they are almost exclusively consumed by people who are already fixed in their opinions and want to enjoy having their views confirmed. So we have the spectacle of advancing issues and contradicting each other, a phenomenon the world of online blogs* has raised to the Nth degree, where X comments on Y's comment on Z's comment on X ad infinitum.

In my more sardonic moments I believe that the purpose of any individual columns or commentary is next to nil - it is their weight that is important. The columnists and essayists compete for attention (about which see more here) but their overall point is to supply metaphorical weight to one position or another. It doesn't matter whether one side or the other is right, but how many voices are chanting its truths at the top of their lungs. The quality of argument mostly does not matter, just its repetition, volume, and stridency.

Perhaps the commentators on each side of an issue are closer to armies defending territory (territory in this case being valued beliefs). Just try and raise a skeptical comment on a religious blog, or a religious comment on a skeptical blog.

In my most sardonic moments I think that the whole of the commentary apparatus in the West is just entertainment for those who like to read.

I am not denying that genuine enlightenment does come from interacting with and considering arguments, just that the truth seeking kind of argument is both rare and little appreciated. Everyone here must have had the experience of trying to introduce Theodore Dalrymple's essays to liberal-progressive friends and having the seed fall on barren ground.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Mike » 04 May 2013, 00:32

Agree on all of that, Michael. Political blogs and the influence of social media have accelerated the trend, but certainly here in Oz the political commentary is rigidly polarised - the new left on the one side, and the neoconservatives on the other. Someone like TD wouldn't have much of a look-in, in that he tends not to parrot the line of either side automatically. A good exmaple was his assessment of Margaret Thatcher's legacy, which was even-handed to say the least; it was just about the only piece written in the wake of her death, to the best of my recollection, that didn't present her as either a saviour or a spawn of the devil.

Political commentary today, either in the mainstream media or elsewhere (and the two are rapidly converging) is 95% windbaggery.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Elliott » 04 May 2013, 03:41

Lots of good points, Michael, and I agree with Mike about the coverage of Mrs Thatcher's death.

Michael, your post takes us into the territory of whether political beliefs are "hard-wired" and we are psychologically (or even genetically!) bound towards liberalism or conservatism. I don't know. But I do agree with you that a lot of people just can't be persuaded and really only engage in debate (or read blogs etc.) in order to have their views confirmed. I have often been in the situation of debating people who, it seemed to me, wouldn't change their minds no matter what I said; what I said wasn't really of interest to them, it wasn't really "sinking in". In order to persuade them, you'd almost have to destroy their view of the world first, for it is that, not reason, which insulates them from the truth (see the very last few paragraphs of this post).

Now to the question of whether, given the above, it is even worth coming up with arguments to defeat the Left. I think the first thing to say is that it can do no harm. It might be futile, but it won't be harmful and it could be helpful.

As for persuading people, I think this really depends on whom you are trying to persuade. Are we talking about committed liberal-leftists? Possibly, insofar as it's nice to see them unable to answer an argument. But more likely we're talking about the broad mass of people who may be watching a conservative debating a liberal. These people will often be undecided. (I think you agree that there are politically undecided people, otherwise there'd be no point in any persuasion techniques, including emotional ones.) Actually I think there are an awful lot of people - perhaps half the population, perhaps even more - who are politically undecided. They're not intellectuals, they don't like high-falluting arguments but they do like the simplicity/comfort that comes when one debater is beaten by an opponent: it probably means that the truth just made an appearance. So, by defeating leftists in argument, we almost certainly won't persuade the leftist but we will make a good impression on the observers.

There is another reason for defeating leftist arguments: personal satisfaction. Even if one does not go in for sadism (FWIW, I don't) it is surely preferable to be the winner than the loser in a debate, particularly if you are being swarmed by leftists. In that situation, as you walk away from a "debate" having been torn to shreds by smug, lying, insincere, deluded, oh-so-superior leftists, there is great satisfaction in knowing that you actually defeated their arguments, and only their arrogance prevented them from admitting it.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Gavin » 05 Jun 2013, 21:09

Liberal: What you conservatives don't understand is that a lot of the people who come from the third world to the UK are very capable. They are very industrious when they get here!

Conservative: Even supposing that what you say is true, if you care about the third world why on earth would you encourage these productive people to leave it? How is it going to benefit their society in the long run for them to do this? They are exactly the people who are needed there. You are depriving those societies of the people who they most need if they are ever going to stand a chance of changing. At the same time people are coming here to do jobs that we really ought to be training (and obliging) our own unemployed youngsters to do. Quite apart from the social and cultural effects, economically your strategy is not helping anyone. You really are immoral.
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Re: Defeating the Left in argument

Postby Michael » 10 Jun 2013, 20:41

I am setting up a reading group on the forum to read through Kenneth Minogue's The Liberal Mind. I would like to invite the participants in this discussion topic as I believe Minogue's insight into the origins and nature of the liberal point of view provide grounds both for understanding, critiquing, and defeating liberalism.
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