Monday, September 11, 2006

The Shorter olvlzl
much shorter

This is the first response on the comment thread at Echidne's blog to my You Don't Have To Believe It post below. It truely does say exactly what I meant in two lines.

My wise former cow-orker,
Steven Alexander, once gave me advice
about a rather inflammatory memo I
was writing — advice so trenchant
that I remember his exact words some
25 years later. I think of it as
“Alexander’s Law”:

You cannot simultaneously influence and antagonize; you have to choose which of these two goals you’re pursuing. You can either change peoples’ minds, or tell them off, but not both.
Joel Hanes | 09.09.06 - 3:25 pm | #

I had a response to this, but blogger seems to have ate it.
alberich, does the back button work on this when a comment gets eaten? I know it does on HaloScan. Saved many a comment that way. GWPDA told me about that one.
I believe it does work that way, but not if you've closed the window in the meantime.


Anyway, the gist of my comment was that you can simultaneously influence and antagonize people -- the Republicans do it all the time (indeed they count on people being so mean spirited that antagonizing one group of people will automatically cause others to be influenced) -- it's just that (excepting that antogization is a form of influence) you cannot both antagonize and influence a given person, which is a useful lesson to remember in office politics, blog debates or even police interrogations.

But it is not such a useful lesson in politics writ large where being antagonistic and divisive can be a winning strategy (as the Republicans have shown).
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