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9:45am on Tuesday, 16th March, 2021:

Arguing with Idealogues


Here's something I've noticed in discussions with idealogues about their world views.

There reaches a point when the idealogue runs out of explanation. If they were a non-idealogue, at this point they'd normally suggest ideas or possible explanations, or possibly matters of personal taste, but they'll readily admit that they don't know how to explain their perspective further. If you ask them some detail they can't answer, or that questions their position, they'll eventually say something to the effect of that they'll have to think about it. This is a perfectly reasonable position, and is pretty well how science works.

Admitting they've run out of argument is not an option open to idealogues, so what do they do?

If they're right-wing idealogues, they'll keep repeating themselves. Their arguments are circular, so they just restate their position time after time after time. They don't offer any further explanation, they just make statements. Some of these statements may be from a small range of tracts that the idealogue believes are authoritative, but they'll still just be statements.

If they're left-wing idealogues, they'll tell you to go and read up on the subject. If you ask them what specifically you should read, they won't like it; this is because there's a danger you have already read up on the subject, or will subsequently read up on it and come back at them because you didn't buy any of the arguments you read. Sometimes, they will flat-out tell you they won't recommend anything to for you to read because they're sick of people wanting them to do their research for them.

Right-wing idealogues regard non-idealogues and left-wing idealogues as being stupid for not seeing what is self-evident. Left-wing idealogues regard non-idealogues and right-wing idealogues as being ignorant for not following doctrine. Both these attitudes are self-defeating, because no-one likes being patronised.

Right-wing idealogues can argue forever. They just restate their positions at each other. I've heard conversations in pubs and bars that follow this pattern. "I don't like that Pritti Patel." "No, I think she's alright." "I have to disagree, she's not the best." "I think you're wrong, she's doing a good job." "She isn''t likeable." "No, I think she's not bad." ...

Arguments between left-wing idealogues end up in rancour, because the closer the idealogue gets to the left pole, the more they've read and the more they've had to select as truth so as to avoid the effects of cognitive dissonance. They can't tell each other to read up on the subject, as they already have read up on it. They may have meta-level agreements about respect and intersectionality, but each inevitably has a particular, favoured priority. The result is that the further left a group of idealogues goes, the more likely it is to fragment.

I don't know why idealogues behave differently depending on whether they're right- or left-wing, it just seems to be that way. In theory, a right-wing idealogue could tell you to read up on the subject but refuse to tell you what to read, and a left-wing idealogue could endlessly repeat the same party line over and over, but this doesn't seem to happen.

Yeah, I know, either I should read up on it or it isn't true, nope, no way, that's false, it's not correct, it's wrong, ...

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