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Alithea

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Member since: Wed Oct 16, 2019, 06:43 PM
Number of posts: 99

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I don't think it was...

To my mind, "persecutorial and oppressive" implies the initiation of some action or accusation. I was defending against what I took to be your implied accusation that I lacked left-leaning bona fides.

Thanks for the graphic. That helps me understand where you thought I was coming from; - but I wasn't.

I'm familiar with the horseshoe model but I think it is too simple a representation of political reality. It never sat well with me, because there are fundamental differences between the left and right, even at their extremes. There are similarities, but they are not equivalent.

I had an a-ha moment when I saw this model some a years ago:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Political_Compass
When I say the left is becoming more authoritarian, I mean it is creeping up the vertical axis.

I like the compass representation because it disentangles two different strands of political concern, both of them legitimate. It is possible to add a third and fourth and fifth axis, (e.g. socially liberal vs socially conservative, religious vs secular, etc.) to have an even more precise representation.

Precise models are good because they get us closer to an approximation of the truth (yes, I believe there is an objective truth) and allow us to, at least conceptually, give some order to the apparent chaos, make some extrapolations from it, and have a common language so that we can discuss/debate meaningfully and without misunderstanding.

The extrapolation that I make is that there are not just two sides, there aren't even "sides". This is not a war between two tribes. There are multiple possible perspectives. It is possible for reasonable people of basic intelligence and good intentions, who desire broadly similar outcomes (e.g. "a stable, just, and prosperous society free of excessive inequality, in an environmentally sustainable world" ) to disagree on some or many policies. It doesn't make everyone who disagrees a heretic or a monster. Under normal circumstances, it means that there is a lot of common ground and opportunities for working together. I grant you that today's hyper-polarized time is not "normal circumstances". And that's the problem.

It's fair to say that the extremes of ANY axis are, almost by definition, characterized by a fundamentalist ideology and the use of extreme means to achieve it. That violence can be of an authoritarian type (aiming to impose an order that accords with one's beliefs; eg. Pol Pot, Hitler) or libertarian type (aiming to disrupt an order that one perceives to be tyrannical; e.g. Unabomber, Timothy McVeigh).

Liberal democracy is a delicate balance of these two inclinations. It provides order and stability, but with an essential purpose of preserving a margin of individual freedoms and forming a bulwark against tyranny. Seen in the overall scope of recorded human history; which was a state of almost constant violence, or tyranny, or both; this and the peace that it has brought has been a remarkable achievement; so much so that we have forgotten the horrors that can arise without it.

BUT - indisputably, the economic driver of liberal democracies (capitalism) has resulted in too much inequality in the post-Soviet era and the ship needs to be righted; substantially and urgently. But I think it's a ship that needs saving instead of chopping up as firewood. Anyway, it's the best ship we've got. I don't know of a better system. Do you?? If we jettison civilization and its institutions the only thing left is the abyss. Violent revolutions are lethal, extremely unpredictable, and potentially catastrophic. They can cause untold misery and create far more problems than they solve.

To be clear, I don't consider someone like Bernie Sanders to be a torch-the-system-down revolutionary. He has a lot of good ideas. When I worry about revolution, I'm imagining something far more extreme: marauding hordes in the streets, gun-humpers fighting the gub'mint with AK-47s, race-wars, the rounding up of journalists and other "enemies of the people", the abandonment of the Constitution by the extreme left or extreme right, and the bombing of government institutions. When I advocate for moderation in tone - plus substantial reform - this is this kind of epic disaster I imagine and want to avoid.

That's a fair question. Let me try to answer it...

I'm not sure I would describe it as low expectations, though perhaps you have a point.

Rather, I would say that:

1) If we are sincerely concerned about a problem (e.g. misogyny), we should attack it where it is worst, not where it fails to live up to perfection. Yes, I understand that we can walk and chew gum at the same time, but I don't understand why the OP would want to so virulently attack Cenk, when there are much better targets, if her concern is actually misogyny. To take an example from, oh, just yesterday, this asshat:

2) I am less bothered by frat-boy crap said 20 years ago because:
(a) I was an adult 20 years ago and it was not that shocking then and much of it was in jest;
(b) I've seen frat-boys become grown men and I know that almost zero % of them went on to become progressives trying to fight the good fight, so if one of them does, I notice it as an exceptional move and I'm wiling to cut him some slack and forgive.
(c) I've worked in male-dominated environments where there was real discrimination against women; discrimination that impacted not only feelings and sensibilities, not only relative earnings, but also the continued ability to work and provide for one's family. There, I stood and spoke up and defended others, even when it was unpopular, and even at a cost to myself. These types of problems continue to exist, and I think we could more usefully turn our energies to trying to fix these real things, than in attacking someone on our side for having said things 20 years ago that no longer accord with his or society's standards (and cherry-picking the worst of what he may have said, as if this defines him as a person forevermore).

3) My comment was not really about trying to defend Cenk in particular (I don't feel strongly about him either way), but rather to voice some opposition to the almost fundamentalist fervor and atmosphere of vitriolic persecution that seems to have crept into the civic space in the last few years, and which leaves little room for reasoned discourse of ideas and policies on their merits. I find it chilling, and ultimately unhelpful towards our common goal of building a better society.
I'm reminded of this warning by Nietzsche: "But thus I counsel you, my friends: Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful. They are people of a low sort and stock; the hangmen and the bloodhound look out of their faces."
On a lighter note, this too:


4) "trash talk about our Democratic leaders"
Firstly, I wasn't aware of this, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. Secondly, now that I am aware, I still tend less towards blindly circling the wagons than I do towards learning what the differences on policy are, to see whether I agree or disagree. If I believe the ideas are better ones, that they would serve the Dems and the country well, I would support them. If I don't, I'd pass. (BUT, if we would lose the election with ideas like that, I'll reject them even if they sound good, because these are not times when we can afford to lose seats.) That said, I do think it's bad for him to criticize Democratic leaders too much if he intends to join the party. Infighting leaves us all weaker.


Well, that was long. I hope it wasn't too boring and that it provides some context. Thanks for posing the question; it gave me the opportunity to reflect and tease out my thoughts on this.

Why isn't anyone calling this by its correct name?? "SOLICITATION of a bribe"

It is much easier for people to intuitively understand that "solicitation of a bribe" is a crime, is morally objectionable, and is harmful to the public, rather than "attempted bribery", which (incorrectly) sounds like a mere attempt at a crime.

"Solicitation of a bribe" is - and sounds like - a crime. It is a crime regardless of whether the thing of value was ever received. People understand this.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/bribery#
"Bribery refers to the offering, giving, soliciting, or receiving of any item of value as a means of influencing the actions of an individual holding a public or legal duty. [...] Solicitation of a bribe also constitutes a crime and is completed regardless of whether the solicitation results in the receipt of a valuable gift."
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