fighting ideology

Paul Henry Rosenberg rad at
Sun Apr 11 10:57:39 PDT 1999

Miles Jackson wrote:

> On Sat, 10 Apr 1999, William S. Lear wrote:
> > The strength of our case must lie in the truth. Refusing to recognize
> > that very often the truth can coincide with the most depraved of lies
> > is to, I think, yield to a temptation to see our case as thereby
> > weakened --- that somehow since the truth does not exist solely on our
> > side, our side must have somehow lost this conserved quantity to the
> > bad guys, which it has not.
> >
> > In fact, let me go further: *unless* we recognize the elements of
> > truth in "ideological regimes", we cannot adequately fight them. We
> > must recognize that we are battling with human beings --- who can be
> > very adept at mixing truth with falsehood --- not comic-book
> > incarnations of pure evil.
> >
> >
> But here is the sticky point: how are we able to tell if a statement
> is an "element of truth" or specific group's definition of reality?
> The debate about what is true is far more contentious than you seem
> to assume (e.g., the Kosovo debate). It is not a question of
> demonizing the enemy; it is a question of not allowing your enemies
> to frame the issues in a way that requires you to play their
> rhetorical games. Example: social security reform. We've lost the
> whole debate if we accept the definition of the social security as
> an investment plan rather than as a form of public economic support
> for the elderly and handicapped.

I'm with William 100% on this. You don't have to accept an ideological framework to recognize an element of truth expressed within that framework. In fact, that CAN be one of the most effective ways to expose the constradictions or absurdities of the framework.

In fact, you can go even farther: It's possible to STIPULATE to a given "fact" for the sake of argument and then use this to show how the framework is logically self-contradictory.

Doug has done this on a number of occasions, pointing out that if you assume the growth rates that the median assumption does, then you can't get the stock market returns the privatizers promise, and visa versa.

So, if you can STIPULATE to a "fact" that may not even be a fact and triumph by doing so, how can you be doomed by stipulating to a "fact" that actually IS a fact?

-- Paul Rosenberg Reason and Democracy rad at

"Let's put the information BACK into the information age!"

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