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Author Topic: Why Are We So Angry?  (Read 1402 times)

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Offline RetributionTopic starter

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Why Are We So Angry?
« on: July 16, 2013, 03:16:17 PM »
I pose this question after some reflection and looking back at myself and admitting I get way too angry and dramatic over the political. Also from watching those on E that are from other countries it is pretty easy to tell that many look at us Americans and have no small amount of wonder at how we are at each other’s throats or come up with wild conspiracy theories about those who just well happen to not agree with us. I mean do not get me wrong I have seen those from other countries get just as agitated as Americans, but as a nation I have decided our real problem, after some reflection is an anger issue.

It does not really matter the issue and both sides of any issue are guilty of it so please do not respond here along the lines of “it’s their fault!” That just illustrates what I am asking about. But generally speaking you can watch the discussion start out civil and then it escalates and escalates and soon those involved are at knife points with one another. In fact those of opposing political views also come up with all sorts of secret agenda conspiracy theories concerning the other side. Even if someone in a discussions will say “you know this is getting a bit heated and hostile I think I will bow out” you can see the others side come back in raw anger saying they were not angry and the other side is scum for just saying “okay we do not agree.” I am paraphrasing here but you get my point I hope. Heck, I have been guilty of and seen others do the same in that I will pipe up and say I am out and then I see something that further irritates me and I just have to get the last word. One more post, what have you.

I mean there has always been conflict but this degree of pure and raw hostility seems new to me as I ponder it. It is a them versus us POV that has gone toxic. And honestly in the US I do not think anyone political view has a monopoly on truth. So a little compromise would go a long way but BOTH SIDES seem utterly incapable of that. In fact if you can recall things from more than a year or so ago one will often times see say the respective political parties switching sides on issues pretty much just for the sake of opposing one another. And the fights over such things are utterly venomous and we common people seem to mirror that just completely enraged that someone might have a thought that is different than our own.

In the US if you look at elections and hell most polls you will find the say Democrat/Republican, Liberal/Conservatives are split right around 50/50 when it comes to population. The election between George W Busch and Al Gore really illustrates this for example. So then you toss in this absolute hated for and hostility to the other side and it becomes utterly paralyzing. It makes us all in short very dysfunctional. This all occurred to me while watching things on E and other blogs. Even in an accepting environment like here the anger and hatred is overwhelming. And as I said both sides and I include myself in this are guilty.
So I look at this and wonder how to fuck we got here. As I ponder I will toss out the only thing I could come up with and that is that in this information age it is very hard to get away from the other side so to speak. You cannot just walk away from the conversation and agree to not agree and go on with your life. That other view that you do not like is always there right in your face with the click of a mouse and it just makes us crazy. That is pretty thin I know, but I would like to hear what others think because I honestly think this absolute anger that kills compromise or even the ability to work together on issues is paralyzing us and ruining our political process. Hell it applies to religion or lack thereof as well.

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2013, 03:43:50 PM »

Well...  I've noticed over time that people who have opinions tend to take the personally and feel a strong need to defend them.  That defense can take the form of reiterating your points and reasons for your opinion and leaving it at that or it can take the form of attacking those who disagree.  I really don't feel the need to have everyone agree with me and I do like listening to the other points of view out there and how they were formed. 

Now, if you are going to take the route that you know best, your opinion is the only valid one and you must convince me of the error of my ways nine times out of ten I'll shrug and walk away because I find that monumentally boring.  Don't get me wrong.  Intelligent conversation can be highly stimulating on many levels but ranting and arguing and devolving into name calling is not intelligent nor is it conversation.

Once people can accept that and learn to share ideas much of the anger will stop.

Offline RetributionTopic starter

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2013, 03:49:35 PM »

Now, if you are going to take the route that you know best, your opinion is the only valid one and you must convince me of the error of my ways


See what I am perceiving possibly in error is that  there is a greater tendency to do the above at present. Now I could be wrong but I just feel discussion has gone from "lively" to down right hostile in recent years. Again am not trying to convince you my perceptions are correct. In short the quote I cut out of your response seems to be developing into the norm from what I see and we are at each other's throats like a pack of wild dogs.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2013, 03:59:57 PM »
I agree that it seems harder and harder for people to bow out of heated discussions.  It may be that, because this is the Internet, the people choosing not to bow out 'know' that the retiring individual is still going to see what's said, regardless of their participation.  There's also a perception in some people's minds that if a statement is left unchallenged, it means that the person who made the statement 'won'.  (Although I have yet to see any of the fabulous prizes that must be involved.) 

So, for example, if I go out and make a single post saying 'Dinosaurs didn't go extinct.  They developed space flight and left the planet,' it's more likely than not that - instead of relegating that statement to the pile of 'binary digits to be recycled' - someone is going to post a response.  Even if it's a response of 'What the hell's wrong with you?! GTFO!'

If I made that same statement on a street corner (leaving it to stand or fall, 'single post' style), chances are that most people would ignore me.  My crazy outburst would be forgotten in a matter of minutes.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2013, 04:30:43 PM »
As far as North American politics goes, two trends are dovetailing:

1. Modern movement conservatism. In the Late Sixties, politicians on one side of the political spectrum noticed something: what with black people increasingly refusing to sit quietly in their Third World ghettoes, "freak" and "hippie" kids starting to act like they actually believed all the guff they'd been fed over the previous two decades about how their generation was going to change the world, the Vietnam War somehow bafflingly not turning into a triumphant romp, and various other things seeming to go wrong or become baffling... there was a golden opportunity. They could set themselves up with a perpetually terrified and angry constituency that could be convinced the right wing was protecting them from Communism (which was code for all the above evils combined), and use that constituency to create policies that would line their pockets.

They did so, gradually building a whole parallel universe -- with its own "news" network, even -- in which their voting base was taught that their fellow-citizen were traitors and liars and commies and tools of the one-world-government Illuminati and that the only way to fight them was to keep giving their votes, and their money, to the movement. Eventually this separate universe became so hermetically sealed that by the end of the Nineties its inhabitants were living in a Bizarro World in which none of their movement's policies had any contact any longer with reality... and therefore that reality was to be disdained. The tactic is starting to hit the point of diminishing returns, but jacking up the rage level and trying to shout down opponents is still a core tactic of this movement and its constituents.

2. Anti-movementarian backlash. It took a long time for others to figure out what was happening, in part because the prospect of a conservative movement that had totally taken leave of its senses was too frightening to contemplate. As late as the Nineties, it was still commonplace to see liberals trying to "debate" with people who were openly taunting, insulting and reviling them and clearly had no interest in debate (this was the dynamic of any exchange that any professor ever had with David Horowitz, for example). But then came the election of Dubya and the disastrous period of misrule that followed... and suddenly, especially with madness of the Iraq War and the non-response to Hurricane Katrina, it became obvious to more and more people what a clown show almost half of the political spectrum had turned into. Gradually, disillusioned conservatives started defecting -- often they were the harshest, angriest critics of the movement they'd spent years upholding, and one could see the bitterest rants prefaced by the words "I was a card-carrying Republican for more than [such-and-such number of] years" -- and liberals started to get fed up with the nonsense.

This latter is an ongoing and very slow process, in part because many liberals are addicted to the exercise of dialogue -- there's a certain endorphin high that comes with seeing oneself as the most even-handed and level-headed person in the room -- and in part because many people genuinely and justifiably fear what could happen if dialogue breaks down completely. But the intransigence of the movementarians is guaranteeing that the anti-movementarian coalition will lose patience at a greater and greater rate... and although this part of the spectrum hasn't been as quick to develop a leech class of propagandists (it has to concern itself with workable policy instead of just demanding that the poor be screwed and taxes be cut for the rich as the solution to every problem), it too is developing an ecology of outrage-brokers, some of whom deal in wares similar to those of the conservative rage-machine (like conspiracy theory, and the holy trifecta of "Be Afraid! Despair! Now Buy My Book!").

As trend 1 is gradually wearing itself out, trend 2 is on a steady rise. Et voila. Here we are.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2013, 04:33:39 PM by Cyrano Johnson »

Online Neysha

Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2013, 04:32:56 PM »
Maybe on the internet but I don't see that at all in personal life. I find Americans far more outwardly happy and casual and positively extroverted in general in my limited experience. At least in comparison to Western and some Eastern Europeans in general. I was genuinely surprised to see upon clicking this thread that one of the main themes is how toxic and antagonistic and angry Americans somehow are because I don't see that to be the general case at all. If anything it seems like a news media driven concept.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2013, 04:34:08 PM by Neysha »

Offline SakamotoHD

Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2013, 04:34:34 PM »
I think, Retribution, you're perhaps taking the media very seriously. You realize that most countries think that about half our population is minorities? It's really not true, you just see more of them in the news. Because we talk about them. I doubt everyone is as angry as you say.. though if you want to know the reason why we seem more angry, it's this.

We are all connected, even moreso then we ever would before. I am talking to you from an undisclosed location. You don't know where I am (Florida :3), yet here I am, sharing my thoughts with you. I'm not blaming technology.. you already know my profession. But it's rising so quickly, and so fast, that we as human being are having trouble keeping up with it. twenty years ago, a thing called skype never even existed. Now everyone owns a mic of some sort, and a way to speak to someone 5000 miles away. With being connected, so closely together, we know everything, and see everything. It's incredibly difficult to hide big things now.

My experience has always been that real life is calmer then offline. People online can say anything they want and get away with it. But stick a face in front of them, and you'll get a whole different story. Call me an asshole on here, and you can step away from the computer. Call me an asshole to my face, and we can duke it out.. and you can't leave. You can try and get up and walk away, but that's your physical being.

Of course, I'm a bit more amiable then that.. Most people are. I'm not going to smash you cause you say something I don't like. At the very least.. I'd ask why you thought I was.

But yes I see what you're saying. My only words are to give it time. We as humanity will need time to adjust to this sudden connectivity throughout the world. One of my beliefs is the world is self-correcting. We aren't much different. So we'll go to being happy again. Then we'll be sad for awhile.. but we know the happiness will come back.

Offline RetributionTopic starter

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2013, 05:03:59 PM »
Cyranod Johnson -> I am not going to dispute any of your arguments that is outside the scope of what I sought in this thread. But well you kind of illustrate the hostility I was talking about in your post.  If you will go back to my original post you will find I said –both- sides do it. What I read in your post is well it is all the side that opposes my POVs fault is in essence what you are saying or at least what I am hearing. I could be misunderstanding you. And well that shows my point that we are at each other’s throats.

Other three posters *smiles* I do not like using quotes much it gets tiresome wadding through them. From what I am hearing from you, your perceptions are much like mine. The electronic age lets one be faceless and anonymous so we get more, well hostile. Then take into consideration so much of our political process is influenced by media and away we go to rabid dog stage. I just wish I knew how to fix it since you never or at least seldom see the rational person in the media electronic or otherwise. Of course that does carry over into face to face life also. I am kind of thinking the media hypes us all up then we go out and rage at one another to some extent because I have seen some arguments that have nearly come to blows. Hell, I have gotten so angry I could not see straight and there are a few people I refuse to speak to anymore over well silly things as I ponder them.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2013, 05:12:20 PM »
Cyranod Johnson -> I am not going to dispute any of your arguments that is outside the scope of what I sought in this thread. But well you kind of illustrate the hostility I was talking about in your post.  If you will go back to my original post you will find I said –both- sides do it.

If you read my post, so did I. But if you want to actually understand what is happening, you can't indulge in a pretense of fake symmetry; "balance" is useful for saving face at cocktail parties, but it's the idiot cousin of objectivity and is largely useless for ascertaining facts, and I'm long past caring whether it offends one side that I hold it "more at fault" for the current state of affairs than the other. Fact is more important if you want to actually understand and change the dynamic.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2013, 05:19:19 PM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2013, 05:33:20 PM »
It's not just the anonymity, but the permanency and persistance.  Right now, I can look back through my post history and find things I wrote years ago - things that if I had merely verbalized them would have been well and truly forgotten by now.  There were (and are) certain threads that I wish I'd never posted in, because they keep showing up in my new replies.  True, most of them are Forum Games, but I'm sure you can see how a PROC topic might go the same way.

Someone trying to bow out of a topic is going to be hit with the reminder that the argument is still going on every time they hit up their new replies.  It's like that telemarketer that keeps calling at dinner:  You see the number on the Caller ID, and you ignore it five or ten times, but it doesn't go away.  Then, if you actually answer it (and confirm they have a 'live' number) you get even more calls, no matter what you say to them - including 'don't call anymore!'

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2013, 07:25:33 PM »
If you read my post, so did I. But if you want to actually understand what is happening, you can't indulge in a pretense of fake symmetry; "balance" is useful for saving face at cocktail parties, but it's the idiot cousin of objectivity and is largely useless for ascertaining facts, and I'm long past caring whether it offends one side that I hold it "more at fault" for the current state of affairs than the other. Fact is more important if you want to actually understand and change the dynamic.

Cyrano Johnson, with all due respect, I am more of an economic conservative.  I realize my perspectives are in the minority here, but I also realize that everyone is entitled to have different interpretations and applications of how economic and political theories work in the real world. 

I am always more than happy to have a civil discussion.  But as Retribution said, it is important to realize that biases exist in the mainstream media for both liberals and conservatives.  Unfortunately, American politics is notorious for using dirty propaganda tricks (on both sides of the aisle) to galvanize support.  I don't think it does any of us any productive good to begin a discussion by blaming a news network, or labeling all conservatives as "conspiracy theorists." 

Why not focus on the issues, and let the political landscape of the United States naturally adjust, as more and more intelligent people keep their focus on having a civil discussion?  We can't transform things on a national stage as one person, but we can change how we go about interacting with one another.  All of us, I am assuming, are in the 99%, and all of us hold our views because we feel they are in the best interests for the average family.  We may differ in our reasoning, but our economic goals in living a middle class life are undeniable the same.  It's easy to loose track of this when very passionate, social issues are mixed into this discussion.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2013, 07:26:38 PM by ValthazarElite »

Offline alextaylor

Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2013, 07:37:59 PM »
Why?

I think it's because we take a lot of those issues seriously. Someone else taking an opposite stance is seemingly attacking the validity of our beliefs.

Personally, I take corruption seriously. I don't like liars and thieves. So, when someone defends a corrupt politician saying that we should be grateful of the progress he brought (even if it is true), they're arguing that corruption is fine and that everyone who hates corruption is silly.

I take health care and life seriously. When someone says that we're spending too much on health care, I feel that they're dismissing the importance of life. Even though in reality, it's a slider between two extremes.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2013, 07:38:30 PM »
Well I don't think it was any one thing.

-With the removal of the Fairness Doctrine and the growth of 24 hour television, the news media moved towards catering to one opinion. Fair and Balanced went out the window.
-Around 1995 there was a pivotal movement away from bipartisan cooperation between the two parties. The GOP has a fair share of blame in this but the other side isn't much less culpable in not rebuilding relations. Both sides could do a lot to fix it but don't.
-The growth of the Tea Party only exaggerated this animosity between the parties.

Hell you could blame it on global warming or the introduction of 'PC' behavior making more folks frustrated. 

Net result.. folks are more prone to blame others than go 'we need to talk this out and fix it for everyone'. Now it's 'mine first..then yours.. if it doesn't hurt me'. We've become incredibly selfish and self centered.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2013, 07:38:54 PM »
Val, I'm more than happy to have serious discussion with reasonable conservatives. I've already made clear that I don't believe the conservative movement speaks for all conservatives, and you will note that my comments above reflect that.

Having said that, I will not pretend that I regard movement conservatism as a normal, healthy entity with which it is possible to have polite and reasonable policy debate. Pretending so is a lie. "Balance" is a lie. Automatically pretending that "both sides" have equivalent cultures that are "equally" guilty of every flaw is a lie. We need fewer lies, and a commitment to having fewer lies needs to be part of any conversation that aspires to any kind of serious and responsible content.  That is one of the issues, and I have little patience for people who suddenly start blowing smoke any time it is focused upon.

I get that a lot of Americans grew up mistaking "balance" for intellectual rigor because they heard the media peddle that fallacy constantly; but it's time for people to break that habit. Someone who looks at a mugger and a serial killer and says they "both do the same thing" isn't being responsible or realistic, and they are not contributing positively to a serious debate.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2013, 07:41:51 PM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2013, 07:51:56 PM »
the other side isn't much less culpable in not rebuilding relations. Both sides could do a lot to fix it but don't.

AFAICS the opposite of this is true. It's pretty hard to "rebuild relations" with someone whose partisan culture is built around regarding you (or at least portraying you to their voters) as The Enemy. If you look at the record of the Democrats, their problems have mostly stemmed -- owing to the inability to construct a truly unified front due to huge ideological rifts within the party -- from caving repeatedly in the face of non-negotiation from the other side in the quest to find a "center" that their opponents have successfully dragged rightward over time. This is true even today, with the Dems futilely trying to conduct the old style of deal-making and negotiation politics with an opposition that openly seeks to simply break that system.

The parties don't have equivalent cultures, or equivalent problems. It's long past time to stop pretending that they do.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2013, 07:55:55 PM »
My main concern is that you are grouping social issues along with economic ones.  I remember a thread a while ago on Dominionism where this topic had come up.  Unfortunately, we live in a society where people feel they have to "choose" between liberal ideology or conservative ideology - regardless of the fact that one may be more liberal or conservative with regard to many different issues.

For example, many young people, as they grow up, are not very aware of economics and current events.  Many people "choose" an overall ideology based on social issues - pro-choice, pro gay-marriage, anti-racism, etc, despite the fact that these represent purely social-liberal ideologies, and not economic or foreign policy ones, for example.  I do believe that this represents the case for many, many uneducated Americans, who tend to choose an overall political ideology because of easily relatable social issues.  For example, Americans who choose to be 'overall' conservatives because of socio-cultural factors (a.k.a a church pastor who encourages voting for a particular candidate due to abortion issues, etc.).

For example, I am more of a social liberal, but with regard to economic issues, I tend to be more conservative.  I believe that if more Americans were educated, they would have the awareness to become aware of these divergences in their political beliefs.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2013, 07:56:59 PM by ValthazarElite »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2013, 08:00:10 PM »
AFAICS the opposite of this is true. It's pretty hard to "rebuild relations" with someone whose partisan culture is built around regarding you (or at least portraying you to their voters) as The Enemy. If you look at the record of the Democrats, their problems have mostly stemmed -- owing to the inability to construct a truly unified front due to huge ideological rifts within the party -- from caving repeatedly in the face of non-negotiation from the other side in the quest to find a "center" that their opponents have successfully dragged rightward over time. This is true even today, with the Dems futilely trying to conduct the old style of deal-making and negotiation politics with an opposition that openly seeks to simply break that system.

The parties don't have equivalent cultures, or equivalent problems. It's long past time to stop pretending that they do.

I recall a press event where Nancy Pelosi basically shamed six GOP members of the house for failing to participate in a vote, pro or con, while four democrats did the same. She did that in public, on tv. That is the sort of attitude that goes down on both sides.

The Democrats are more willing to try, I'll give you that but I've seen public and private demonstrations of both. One other example that comes to mind would have been the pre-GOP take over of the NC government. The GOP came to the (then) Democratic majority and tried to discuss a more equitable reapportionment of voter districts. They got told to basically 'get bent'. So when the Democrats lost control of the state legistlature (both houses) the Republicans saw no reason to suddenly cooperate with the Democrats.

Now that the Civil Rights act redistricting portions have been tossed out, we're going to see even less compromise/courtesy on the state level.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2013, 08:00:39 PM »
[This is in reply to ValthazarElite above]

And I don't think those issues are separate, as I explained to you last time. The conservative movement uses social issues to shore up support for the economic policies -- and upward distribution of wealth and power -- that are its actual purpose. It is quite open about this by now, so artificially separating the two things is not an honest appraisal of what's going on any more than the automatic demand for "balance" would be; we're just not going to get very far if we're not allowed to describe the actual real-life dynamics of the movement.

I get that perhaps this makes you feel uncomfortable about your support for certain economic policies. But I'm afraid that really can't be helped. That a fact may make us uncomfortable does not change its content as fact.

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2013, 08:03:35 PM »
And I don't think those issues are separate, as I explained to you last time. The conservative movement uses social issues to shore up support for the economic policies -- and upward distribution of wealth and power -- that are its actual purpose. It is quite open about this by now, so artificially separating the two things is not an honest appraisal of what's going on any more than the automatic demand for "balance" would be; we're just not going to get very far if we're not allowed to describe the actual real-life dynamics of the movement.

I get that perhaps this makes you feel uncomfortable about your support for certain economic policies. But I'm afraid that really can't be helped. That a fact may make us uncomfortable does not change its content as fact.

Why would it make me feel uncomfortable?  You are confusing having conservative views, as being a member of the Republican party, which I am not a constituent of.  I am pro-choice, I support gay rights, but that does not mean I agree with liberal ideologies on ways to improve job creation.


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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2013, 08:05:47 PM »
Why would it make me feel uncomfortable?  You are confusing having conservative views, as being a member of the Republican party, which I am not a constituent of.  I am pro-choice, I support gay rights, but that does not mean I agree with liberal ideologies on ways to improve job creation.

Same here.. and I have some serious conflicts in economic policies that some 'conservatives' push. I don't see how empowering outsourcing and hiding cash overseas is better for the country than putting in tax breaks that develop our infrastructure.

Pro-choice forever.. since my mom told me about the 'good old days' that the anti-abortion types bring up.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2013, 08:10:11 PM »
[This is in reply to ValthazarElite above]

And I don't think those issues are separate, as I explained to you last time. The conservative movement uses social issues to shore up support for the economic policies -- and upward distribution of wealth and power -- that are its actual purpose. It is quite open about this by now, so artificially separating the two things is not an honest appraisal of what's going on any more than the automatic demand for "balance" would be; we're just not going to get very far if we're not allowed to describe the actual real-life dynamics of the movement.

I get that perhaps this makes you feel uncomfortable about your support for certain economic policies. But I'm afraid that really can't be helped. That a fact may make us uncomfortable does not change its content as fact.

I dunno.  Without disagreeing with a word of the above, I do think Valthazar has a point.  You're saying the two are conflated in practice and, yeah, you seem to know what you're talking about.  But even in that case that's not to say there is an inherent link, and by Valthazar and the like insisting on pointing out that there are actually two separate issues here that are only being made to look like one, surely it can only weaken the "shoring up" - by showing one is not a necessary counterpoint of the other.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2013, 08:16:18 PM »
To add on to Kythia's statement, I actually also agree with Cyrano Johnson about how social issues are used as an avenue to attract uneducated Americans to the political and economic ideologies of both the Democratic and Republican parties.  Pro-life, anti-gay marriage ideologies discussed in churches and small towns are used to feed people into the Republican voting block, and pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, anti-racism ideologies are used as a way to feed people into the Democratic voting block.  I am not saying there is anything wrong with holding views on these social issues, but it is important to remember that it is not healthy to have to "choose" between political parties based purely on social views. 

I like to believe that intelligent Americans have the ability to think empirically about economic and foreign policy issues without falling into this trap.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #22 on: July 17, 2013, 12:25:43 AM »
I am pro-choice, I support gay rights, but that does not mean I agree with liberal ideologies on ways to improve job creation.

I'm sure that's true, but nevertheless, if your ideologies on ways to improve job creation dovetail with the movement's ideologies, then criticisms of the movement and of the goals of its economic policies -- which goals are its fundamental purpose -- are pretty much guaranteed to make you uncomfortable. And I'll be honest: I have a bit of trouble believing you if you tell me they don't make you uncomfortable: I watched you leap to the defense of Fox News, as thoroughly and completely indefensible an instrument of movement propaganda as could be imagined, at the end of the Trayvon Martin thread. That sort of thing really is a kind of a dead giveaway.

Don't mistake me. There are areas where conservatism of various stripes still has very worthwhile insights -- including the economic -- and things to teach. During the run-up to the Iraq War, for instance, I saw clearly how liberal ideology could be as easily manipulated to serve warmongering and war profiteering as "conservative" ideology could be, and though I differed with conservative fellow-travellers about the reasons, I respected that their reasons, however disagreeable I might find them, had led them to a sane conclusion. There are other areas where this applies, some of them social: many conservatives decline to just placidly accept a society with sky-high divorce and abortion rates, for instance, and though I agree with them for much different reasons than the ones they claim, the fact remains that I agree with them. In the economic arena, Obama's healthcare plan is a conservative plan -- originally Mitt Romney's before he adopted the party-line hostility to it -- and I agree with it. Even within the movement, there are some figures who are worthier than others: I'd rate Chris Christie a relatively honest sort by comparison with his confederates; Nixon, for all that he was the ultimate godfather of dog-whistle politics and the progenitor of many a destructive trend in conservatism, also managed to midwife an entente with China that is the effective bedrock of the modern economy.

I also agree that the Democrats use social issues to mobilize the base... in favour of relatively conservative ideologies. I don't agree that the dynamics are the same as those of the Republicans, because they quite simply aren't. The Democrats  feel free to pursue a fallacious "centrism" while taking their progressive wing for granted, because they know perfectly well that the progressive wing has no-one else to go to who isn't even worse. In the meantime, many of them also quietly profit from the prison-industrial complex, the firearms industry, the endlessly empowered security state, the gains of foreign adventurism. That's  really the story of Obama's Presidency: his policies would have been well at home in Reagan's White House. They're only supposed to be the policies of the Socialist Enemy today because of partisan happenstance and right-wing movementarian extremism.

That said, there is only one party that chooses to play games with the debt ceiling, to the point of downgrading their own country's credit rating, in order to further what it imagines to be its short-term political advantage. There is only one party, and one movement, that seems to think demanding capitulation with their every demand constitutes "negotiation." The identity of that party is precisely why the Democrats have been able to fortify themselves with conservative defectors. The policies of that party, and that movement, are inextricable from the pursuit of the specific goal of empowering the already-wealthy at the expense of all other sectors of the economy.

For this reason, I think it takes a lot more in this day and age than trotting out the typical libertarian claim to being a "social liberal" but an "economic conservative" to command respect. And it should take a lot more: most libertarian pieties that lay claims to being genuinely different from liberalism also happen to dovetail with the exact same economic policies that have brought us to this point.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 12:28:51 AM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #23 on: July 17, 2013, 12:57:56 AM »
And not to concede credit to the "balance" meme or anything, but I will also say that my summary of the Sixties and movement conservatism above is incomplete. "Liberal" society is as much in thrall to the Sixties as "movement conservatism" is, but in different ways: "liberals" are still conditioned to believe that sporadic theatrical protest, and not an organized effort to gain electoral power, ended the Vietnam War and is the default paradigm to which liberals should aspire. In fact, the conservative movement would not have been possible if "progressives" on the other side of the aisle hadn't alienated the unions, who were the bedrock of the liberal agenda prior to the Sixties. There are still people today who think that having fatuous dorm-room bull sessions about "the revolution" and participating in the occasional, purely reactive, theatrical protest constitutes political engagement. I think those people are wrong -- and have lost some friends over this -- and that until they start learning from conservative power-oriented activism that they will remain doomed to failure, marginalization and being taken for granted.

That I don't regard the two sides as equivalent doesn't mean I regard one side as flawless and pure. I don't. Not at all.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 01:01:57 AM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Why Are We So Angry?
« Reply #24 on: July 17, 2013, 01:05:41 AM »
I'm sure that's true, but nevertheless, if your ideologies on ways to improve job creation dovetail with the movement's ideologies, then criticisms of the movement and of the goals of its economic policies -- which goals are its fundamental purpose -- are pretty much guaranteed to make you uncomfortable.

I still don't understand why I should feel uncomfortable, or what "movement" you are referring to?  I don't affiliate myself with any political party - and I think you are assuming I am a Republican or Libertarian because I hold conservative economic views.  With regard to the Fox News comment, I do try to keep statements of overt bias out of a discussion.  I don't think it's healthy to generalize individuals into one of two political parties - and if someone had made a similar zinger about CNN or MSNBC that detracted from the conversation, I would have pointed that out.  I really don't think discussing issues as a duel between 'liberals' and 'conservatives' accomplishes anything, because as I said earlier, it leads to generalizations, and premeditated, canned responses.  My posts in this sub-forum are more often than not regarding specific issues and ideas because it encourages fresh discourse.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 01:06:47 AM by ValthazarElite »