The dialog didn’t, doesn’t and won’t die peacefully. Yes, it is still kicking, it is still getting up to feed on the brain of whatever is still alive. The dialog is zombified.
The censorship, the lawfare, the protests, the riots, the shouting down of speakers, and the firing of those who get out of line are NOT dialogs. The vilification and distortion of our opponents, the “are you saying that…” straw-men arguments and a host of other logical fallacies are all designed to kill the dialog, not to keep it alive. The zombified dialog is pushing us toward a zombified reality.
The arguments are dead
In the early years of the Obama administration, when Glenn Beck was still aspiring for mainstream acceptability, he often played a clip of Andy Stern, then still president of SEIU saying:
“We are trying to use the power of persuasion, and if that doesn’t work,
we use the persuasion of power”
That was about eight years ago. As it turns out, the power of persuasion did not work too well.
The classic Marxist arguments, the class struggle and the workers of the world unite arguments lost their appeal for what remained of its natural audience, the ‘working class’. Sure, some Marxist university professors and their brainwashed acolytes are still buying it, but the argument is not persuasive where it would matter: the traditional power base of the left. Class struggle gave way to identity politics.
Identity politics is losing.
The appeal of feminism is in decline; gays have nothing left to fight for; the transgender movement is quickly losing the attention of the mainstream and Islam has to face a growing opposition to its demands all over the globe. Identity politics is fracturing the left. When you have to put the Muslim barber against the lesbian customer or the Black Lives Matter activists against the gay policemen, you are witnessing the revolution devouring its own children.
The centralization of power argument is losing. The EU, the UN, NATO and a host of other supra-national organizations may have had some appeal when they were created, but that appeal is slowly fading as the costs are becoming more apparent. Any of the international organizations could collapse. The EU is already breaking up (see Brexit) and a financial or monetary crisis could easily end it. The UN and NATO are heavily dependent on the US. A binding referendum could end both. The question is not whether such referendum could or should happen, but the fact that these institutions do not have popular support in the countries they depend on for their existence.
With centralized power comes centralized control and an ever-increasing loss of not only individual but communal and reginal freedom and self determination as well. For most people, the costs are increasingly evident and decreasingly tolerable.
The diversity argument is losing. The left’s framing of the notion as equal outcome makes it a code word for obedience, submission and conformity.
It is also pitted squarely against the notion of merit. Justin Trudeau’s cabinet selection after his election was a spit in the face of the concept of merit.
Multiculturalism is a joke and mass immigration is getting increasingly unpopular. Diversity is NOT a strength.
The income inequality argument is losing. Pickety’s book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” has the dubious (albeit arguable) honor of being the most unread book on amazon. Arguments against income inequality are so poorly formulated that they cannot be taken seriously.
The climate change hysteria is slowly running out of steam. It is dead last of people’s concerns in any number of polls. The science is getting unsettled with a slew of books questioning the ‘settled’ wisdom. Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Sequel” is so desperately bad that it made me feel sorry for him. The environmentalists just cried wolf too many times.
I could continue with a long list of examples, but I am sure you get the point. The problem is that as the left is compensating for the loss of the arguments by becoming increasingly shrill. Instead of becoming more reasonable, it is moving the arguments ever further into the extremes, turning ever more emotional and confrontational, ever less willing to compromise. Ideology is becoming tribal. In this new, tribal world, conflict resolution has to move to a different plane.
The transmogrification of the dialog
By now, the left is way past the power of persuasion, they are relying exclusively on the persuasion of power.
The debates transmogrified into political power-games.
The first battlefront is the Media. Lies, distortions and projections; selective reporting, cover ups and manipulative propaganda are the tools to avoid actual dialog.
The media is partisan, and disproportionately one-sided. Ben Shapiro’s “Primetime Propaganda” would be a good introduction to the subject. While bias in itself is not warfare yet, the active exclusion of opinions and the shunning of people holding them is a betrayal of their supposed principles. The media is supposed to be independent. IT IS NOT.
The world of science and the arts are also hopelessly politicized. The world of science is peppered with taboo subjects, verboten views and a broken peer review process. Certain dialogs cannot take place, certain research subjects cannot be funded and results cannot be published. Professors with certain views do not stand a chance of employment or advancement in academia.
Censorship is not an exclusive domain of the media. Companies and government organizations actively censor the expression of unacceptable opinions within their domain. In some cases, these domains can be quite sizeable. Google, YouTube, Facebook, etc. The worst of these are operating entirely in the dark where the subjects of the censorship do not even know what has been withheld from them.
Lawfare is the most dangerous, as it is already a path to violence. Human rights commission and sharia courts are above-the-law adjudicators of very poorly articulated rights and obligations. “Human rights” laws are fuzzy on purpose to accommodate a wide range of interpretations based on the prevailing political winds at the time of their applications. Their processes provide none of the safeguards of proper legal procedures.
All of the above distortions favour the left. The right (whatever that means) is ready for dialog, it is ready for debate, it is ready to engage, but the goal of the left is not to win the debate – any debate – but to win the war.
When Jordan Peterson made his first few videos protesting the university administration’s re-education requests, the essence of his message was a plea for rational dialog, pointing out that without talk we will be left with violence as the only tool to resolve our conflicts.
And violence we got. Antifa, Black Lives Matter or the Black Bloc are just the tip of the iceberg. Soros is financing about 200 organizations actively sowing discord. Soros wants war. He knows how profitable it can be. He learned it as a teenager in World War II working with his stepfather liquidating the assets of Jews taken to concentration camps.
Leftists don’t seem to understand that using ‘the persuasion of power’ is playing with fire.
They have a patchy record of success, and even their successes are ultimately failures. Yes, they had several successful revolutions and coups, but just as many failures as well. The communists succeeded in underdeveloped countries (Russia, China, Cuba, Vietnam, etc.), but failed in the developed world. The most spectacular failure happened in the Weimar Republic in the period 1920-1933. Two books illustrate the story well: “The Coming of the Third Reich” and “Beating the Fascists?” There was a low intensity civil war in Germany and at the start of the conflicts, the left had the upper hand. The parties to the actual physical combats were the communists, the social democrats and the fascists. The communists started it. The fascists won. It can be argued, that the fascists owe their success to the communists. “Liberal Fascism” also have a good chapter on this.
The left is ready for a war. I don’t think they understand the odds, but maybe they do.
I just don’t like my odds of getting caught in the middle of some serious upheaval. I do not want war, I do not want a revolution and I don’t like to see our world moving in that direction.
Only a dialog could save us, but the dialog is zombified.
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