Sunday, June 11, 2006

TROLL LORE previously seen in a thread on Kevin Drum's blog

The trolls here are trying to take advantage of several traits that the left uses to defeat itself.

1. Liberals, leftists, Democrats have to be 100% pure or they are lepers. Any Democrat who is only 99 44/100th percent pure must be dumped. The reason I wouldn't mind seeing Joe lieberman dumped isn't because he's dirty, it's because he's an ineffective traitor.

2. People on the left tend to be very intelligent and creative with wide ranging interests. It's easy to get us off track and off message. That's the meaning of the sudden departure in the thread below to gay marriage. Let me blow that part of this concerted Republican effort for you. The trolls are using a strategy written for them by someone higher up which plans to change OUR subject.

3. When all else fails, call the leftist hysterical or something else and hope you can use our anger to get us off message. Now that you know that they can't do it to you anymore. (Let me add here that "conspiracy theorist" will be used against me for #2.)

I've done the threads of leftist blogs. I've seen them in action. They're not that hard to figure out.

Just because you're a conspiracy theorist doesn't mean there aren't plenty of conspiracies to go around. (I ought to know; I'm hip-deep in studying three or four of them, at least three of which were ruled as such by various US courts.)

The second point is that the right, with its fondness for mudpuddle rhetoric, doesn't distinguish between actual conspiracies and plain old garden-variety concerted action. There's no shortage of those around, either.

By the way, I just saw your "They'll kill themselves at us" comment at Digby's. That's brilliant, laugh-out-loud ultraviolet humour -- kudos!
interrobang, I am highly flattered. Thank you.
I agree with your list of "traits that the left uses to defeat itself". What I find odd about these traits in general (if I weren't in weekend rest mode, maybe I could think of more) is that they were not always considered "bad". Indeed, an argument could be made (and has been made, e.g. by Washington) that organized political parties are a bad thing (cf. Will Rodgers on the Democrats): there used to be some within what the arbiters of opinion considered the mainstream who considered, e.g., the Democrats' disorganization to be a feature, not a bug.

Perhaps indeed the greatest triumph of the political right over the last few decades has not been their ability to work the refs in the media or their framing of particular issues or even their ability to convince people to vote against not only their economic best interests but even against their own ideologies in favor of a "moral" platform, but the right's recasting of political debate (with the help of the rise of the pundit caste) as something not of substance but in terms of which side has the most coherent, organized and one-tracked approach. They have managed, with the help of those who prefer to rehash talking points rather than deal with the complexities life presents for governance, to redefine a simple-minded, "on-track" approach to political debate and party organization as something that is desired. No longer is it the side which has the better way of doing things that is considered by the opinion makers and those who look to the opinion makers for their opinions (which are more and more people as the middle-school, follow the kewl kids mentality further grips our electorate who are supposed to be adults) to be the "best leaders" but it is the side which is the most on-track and most capable of political organization and most likely to win the horse race that is considered deserving of support.

This would be well and good if it were the case that effective political organization translated to effective governance, but in fact, it is not: the ideology which allows for the most effective political organization dismisses good governance as futile if not perversely bad (cf. The Rhetoric of Reaction regarding my usage) whereas, in keeping with the idea that the only market for which the optimality results of free market theory holds is the market of ideas, the side which encourages in its ideology "off-track" thinking while considering good governance to be a good thing is the side which is most capable, contra its political disorganization, of running a government effectively.

It used to be that at least some people understood this distinction. Nowadays, though, it seems that, following the lead of a punditocracy which cares not about good governance but only about politics that are easy to follow 'cause they stay on a certain track, too many people think that on-track political thinking leads to good governance even though the very heart of democratic ideology is that the two are often anti-correlated.

So how do we undo this, and related, triumphs of the right in affecting political discourse in a way favorable to them but anti-thetical to a healthy democracy?
Interesting as always, alberich. I've come down to encouraging what will actually make peoples' lives and the enviornment better. Some of the theoretical stuff has to be delt with and that's sometimes very interesting but it can also be a trap. I've seen too many people start out good and get trapped into a theoretical principle. I've done it myself. But I'd really like to see some of the agenda of the left actually be put into effect before I die. So getting as much as we can of that is my chosen work.
Politics in the USA has become nauseatingly simple in recent years.

Among the two big parties, one may either vote for the party that is expert at marketing itself, but terrible at governance, or vice versa.

But you are correct in noting that it's the arena of public thought (or lack thereof, in some cases) that has gotten tricky, because the political right has learned a peculiar form of rhetorical jiu-jitsu in which every liberal virtue is taken as a failing, whereas every conservative flaw is a sign of strength.

Able to analyze a complex situation and draw multiple, finely-graded conclusions of varying relevance? Dismissed as mere "nuance", which is conservospeak for "wishy-washy" or perhaps even "namby-pamby".

Capable of allowing one's own point-of-view to evolve over time, or perhaps correct course after learning from a previous mistake? "Flip-flopping."

Acknowledging multiple points of view, particularly with regard to being aware that even our most distasteful enemies *may* have actual grievances that motivate them? "Moral relativist."

I could go on, but you get the point.

Meanwhile, forming an opinion on gut instinct and sticking to that position with complete disregard to the facts, changing circumstances, or the rights or viewpoints of others who do not share one's goals are all lauded as "certitude".

I could deal with a lot less "certitude" in govenment these days and a lot more asking intelligent questions. In particular, these two: why are we doing this, again, and is it really a good idea to keep doing it?
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