[lbo-talk] The Planet is Fine

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Tue Dec 20 09:30:45 PST 2011

Interesting. But my point about addressing those already in agreement was in reference to agitation and mobilization. When (say) the core members of BNCPJ (i.e., those who attend meetings) are discussing a proposed activity, we share a concrete purpose but may differ over ways to achieve that purpose. Or we many disagree over the concrete purpose because it, after all, is itself instrumental, designed to advance some more general purpose, and someone may question whether it does or not. So we may argue vigorously, but we do so within a framework of respect for all engaged in it since we share fundamental goals. So the disagreement is not seen as exhibiting a character defect. Now I assume that "the righteous," like Doug, share a goal of controlling carbon emissions: the disagreement is over whether a certain proposal will serve that common end. Referring to the opponents of the carbon tax with a negative _personal_ characterization is therefore the most serious ethical error any leftist can make: it breaks solidarity. My post, however, did not raise that charge but merely identified the argument as childish, which it was.

But back to the realm in which one speaks only to those in agreement (mor e or less), i.e. agitation. (I'm assuming Kautsky's differentiation of three types of rhetoric: Agitation, Propaganda, Theory.) Let's take the anti-war effort as our example. Half a dozen people, known to each other previously, get together to launch an anti-war effort. What is the purpose that controls their thought here. It is NOT to end the war; they know better than that, but to expand the number of people enghaged in anti-war activity, to contribute to the building of a nation-wide anti-war movement. Now the initiators may all belong to some political organization and hence share some detailed premises, or they may just be unified by their common opposition to the war. That doesn't matter to begin with, since the only basis of action at this point is precisely that opposition, not the grounds for it. Hence if they send out an announcement calling for a first meeting of a new anti-war group, they aim it only at those who already oppose the war. But they very definitely do NOT presuppose any other agreement -- ie.e they want anti-imperialist, pacifists, those who think the war is against the interest, what have you. Hence the Call they send out for the first meeting will NOT include any specific arguments against the war: that would be a sectarian error. And the presence of those with conflicting "analyses" of the war in the anti-war group will be the main constraint on the nature of its actions. (This is probably what the attorney quoted by FHP meant by "paralysis of analysis." Their sneer at him was itself anti-intellectual.) And in fact, internal discussion in the movement will be energized precisely by the different (tacit or explicit) analyses different members bring to it. That would be lost if the initial call attempted any particular argument against the war.

All debate is grounded in _some_ agreement of course. It is that common ground that the participants in the debate ground their arguments on. That common ground gets obscured if any of the participants indulge themselves in juvenile wisecracks at anyone who does not accept their position.


-----Original Message----- From: lbo-talk-bounces at lbo-talk.org [mailto:lbo-talk-bounces at lbo-talk.org] On Behalf Of shag carpet bomb Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 10:09 AM To: lbo-talk at lbo-talk.org; lbo-talk at lbo-talk.org Subject: Re: [lbo-talk] The Planet is Fine

heh. he's got a point Carrol. If the point of sneering at unnamed others is to simply yuck it up among your buddies who already agree with you, then it's a confession of agreement to your point, no? IOW, it's a confession that the interlocutor has ceased trying to convince anyone other than the already convinced or those who were going to be convinced anyway. Which, IYAM, has often been one of your arguments - or do I have it wrong.

At 10:57 AM 12/20/2011, Andy wrote:
>On Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 10:51 AM, Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu> wrote:
> > Damn it -- can't you debate a point in a straightforward way without
> making
> > some stupid moral sneer at unnamed parties that disagree with you. This
> > juvenile.
>Could you explain what the point of debate is?

-- http://cleandraws.com Wear Clean Draws ('coz there's 5 million ways to kill a CEO)

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