Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dodged a bullet

I'm so glad I was away for the big anarchinterblog tizzy prompted by FB's post on Stop Me Before I Vote Again (which I guess I'll link to for posterity). It's not that I'm not up for a big discussion on whether or not anarchists are all dumbo-heads, as FB asserted (my answer: we're not, but then I'm biased); on the contrary, as Squigglylines pointed out, it's really weird that a lot of people's reaction seemed to be "Why are mommy and daddy fighting?" and "why would two people want to spend time exchanging ideas with one another?"

No, that's not why I'm glad I missed it. I'm glad because my god was it a whole lot of goofiness as it actually played out--and the goofiness was unavoidable from the start.

The Baronette recently took a class (don't ask me why) that involved a lot of discussion of political and social issues. The majority of her classmates fell along the itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot conservative/liberal axis that the majority of people in the US place themselves on. The Baronette, naturally, does not. One of her continual frustrations in discussion was that she had to constantly explain, and re-explain, every aspect of her views, from the ground up, starting from first principles (like, say, why we should be skeptical of power), every time she wanted to say anything. Whereas everyone else could just say "as a Democrat/Republican/conservative/liberal, I think..." and everyone, agree or disagree, would at least have a basic grasp on the thought process that led to the statement.

And even with all the explaining and explaining and explaining, she still had to get used to constant misunderstandings, mostly of the "you criticized a Republican so you must be in favor of the Democrats" type (or vice versa). Often, clarifying and clarifying and clarifying got too exhausting, and she would just have to give up on being understood.

But at least the people she was talking with had an excuse: these were ideas they simply had never been exposed to before. Their positions on the conservative/liberal spectrum weren't entirely of their own making--they weren't lucky enough to even partially escape the pervasive ideological conditioning we all go through from early childhood.

All of which is my roundabout way of saying that FB coming along with his "anarchism [is] a silly, juvenile sort of rhetorical posture...I'm admittedly not very familiar with the corpus of anarchist thought" is just the kind of irritating, ignorant imbecility that, coming from someone explicitly outside of the limited conservative/liberal axis, seems specifically designed to be provocative, not of constructive discussion, or even of usefully impassioned argument, but rather of bitter pointlessness. And, shockingly, that's pretty much exactly what he got, despite the best efforts of others to make more of it. So really, I'm just glad I missed the whole stupid thing.


Anonymous said...

Hey-- Thanks, I agree. It was just too stupid trying to tell the players without a scorecard, But even reading the comments to posts with the attitude "I don't know what I'm talking about and I'm too lazy to find out" or "I know what I'm talking about, but can't be bothered to explain it to you" left me unwilling to put out the effort to sort through the comments. Maybe some who wrote sharpened their thinking and everyone who read, learned a little. But, it's Blawgtalk right? It's what we do.


Dog's New Clothes said...

In sum:

tl;dr, or


Ethan said...

DNC: It was only tl;dr if the "d" stands for "did." Too long; did read about sums up how I feel about it.

drip: I certainly hope somebody got something out of it. "I don't know and I'm too lazy to find out" bothers me way more than "I do know but I don't feel like explaining it." We can't always have the energy to explain the fundamentals to every bozo who wanders along thinking he's the first person to be dismissively ignorant of them.

Justin said...

I tried to answer this in Ioz's comments, I found myself writing a ton, and just turned out a post instead.

I'd like to hear any reactions you have to my post and subsequent comment thread. If you want to take it private,

Ethan said...

Justin, yours was one of the "best efforts of others to make more of it" I was referring to. I liked your post quite a bit. I'll be emailing you later on today.

stras said...

I found the entire exchange kind of shitty, not in a "why are mommy and daddy fighting?" kind of way - dear christ, if I ever start thinking of IOZ as a daddy figure just put a bullet in my brain right then and there - but because really, these are people who agree with each other on 99.9% of everything that matters, and are reduced to shrieking fits over relatively minor ideological differences which ultimately don't have that much practical impact anyway. It doesn't matter to the Afghan family getting incinerated in a drone attack whether capitalism is or is not separable from the state - they're really dead either way!

I don't like the state, any more than I like capitalism, but I have no idea how to get rid of them. Fuck, I can barely manage my own life; why should I pretend that I know how to fix the world? But I do know that the U.S. government and its corporate owners are up to some really evil shit, and if I meet some like-minded lefties, I'm generally cool with them, even if they don't agree with every bit of my larger - and very fuzzy, and highly imperfect, and highly likely to change with new information! - picture of how the world works.

Ethan said...

Definitely agreed, and thanks, stras. I think all of that is why I got so irritated with FB's original post--if someone's introduced to you and says "Well, I don't know anything about you, but judging from your name alone I think you're silly and juvenile, and it's your responsibility to convince me otherwise," how cool are you going to be with them?