Postmodern classic?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

'Perverse of the Converse', or the price of Hypocrisy

The Converse of an argument, not to be confused with Converse shoes, is not the exact opposite of an argument, but the inference of that argument if it is reversed. For more, see the referenced Wikipedia article.

The converse argument is important to me, as it sort of represents the direction my line of thinking has traveled over these past few years. Not to bore you with all that, my stultifying boring and navel-gazing psychodramatic analyses, I'll try to focus on political arguments.

I had a funny conversation with some family members the other night about 'fascism', which has to be one of the most overused and underdefined words in contemporary English. Somehow it's okay to call Bush one, but not head-chopping Arabs focused on restoring some half-baked delusions of a religious-based 7th century dominion. Being so cheapened by rhetorical excess, the shock and shame that one should associate with something like 'fascism' has predictably diminished. So I grasped the converse argument, that if politically braindead people are still using 'fascist' as invective, then it must be a good thing. By being called a 'fascist', this must mean you are a focus of hate for the like of such impotent activistists (not a misspelling), or equivalent political representatives. If these people dislike you, then you must be doing something right. You not only reject their argument, but their assumptions and inferences. What else are they misleading you about?

As you can see, this is not restricted to those who scream 'fascism' at everyone who disagrees with them. This starts to get problematic when you consider other portions of the emotive criticism that certain people fling at their opponents. Epithets like 'racist' seem to no longer hold the definition of 'apartheid-like supremacists bent on maintaining their rule by oppressive violence' but fast approach the popular joke that a racist is merely 'a conservative who won an argument with a liberal'. What a 'Liberal' is I'll have to hold back to later, now is not the time for a discussion of 17th and 18th century British economic philosophers.... but it's the same principle (Anti-semitism is another, but don't have time for Mel Gibson and Hezbollah this evening, thanks for asking).

The people constantly using these epithets are only barely veiling their sophistric hypocrisy, or unwillingness to fairly argue. 'Anti-war' is another favorite. I think 'on the other side' is a little more accurate, such as the case of Orwells' conclusion that those who were anti-war during WW2 must therefore be objectively pro-fascist (in the true sense of the word). I know quite a few readers will object to that, even if they know I'm not questioning their patriotism or free speech. Most also know that the military man with a classic perspective realizes that to maintain peace, one must be willing to wage war. A temporary cessation of hostilities is never static from the military POV.

Obviously, it's harder to sit down and formulate a rational critique. So much easier to yell some inflammatory rhetoric, as those who frequent here know quite well I am also prone to at times. But if only we can step back from this and have an honest dialogue... and with some (if not most) people, we can. Witnessing the radicals in our midst, from both sides even though I focus the majority of my contempt for those of the left, we must condemn them for cheapening the dignity of this process and polarizing the national debate.

Words mean something. Save them for the appropriate time. Maybe some day they'll mean something again.


  • My solution is to avoid reading or listening to them, except maybe to monitor their growth or decline in influence. Arguing with them is boring from an intellectual standpoint, and only gets your blood boiling if you take them seriously. Actually, it’s impossible to really engage them, because they seem incapable of digesting a viewpoint that is not on their extreme side or the other. Let the freaks on either side of the aisle scream at eachother (which is all they really want to do), and seek out the grownup conversation.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:13 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home