Is there anything on which we can agree?

Saturday, July 01, 2006
Back in mid June, contributor knucklehead posed the question "should we start plankin' out a platform" for the "Strewnaround" party - Strewnarounds being neither "liberal", nor "conservative", but not really the center either - "there really is no 'center'; there are just vague piles of various body parts strewn around the playing field".

Being a big believer in/fan of self-organizing systems, I thought the idea of "Strewnaround parts" was a golden insight. With all those body parts just looking for an appropriate group to which to attach, the huge number of body parts ought to be able to join up in some way to create a millipedinous/Frankenstein's monster-like center analogue, but one that was outside the experience of the major parties, with which most Strewnarounds are presumably disaffected.

Seneca's post seemed to me to reflect one possible plank for the Strewnaround party, which is this - while we may disagree over its propriety, we are reluctant to read into an article on lifestyle an intent to encourage the assassination of public figures.

In other words, we use aluminum (or aluminium, depending on our origin) foil, not tin, and generally only for covering food.

I think this explains both the "centerness" and "strewnaroundness" of those of us who might self-identify as strewnarounds. Issues aren't so simple as "that person disagrees with me more often than not, therefore his intentions are pure evil, and he wishes to destroy everything I wish to preserve, so I damn well better disagree with him". So we're kind of center - willing to agree and disagree with the same people (depending on how we view the issue, weigh the probabilities, value the alternative costs and benefits, and so on), without regard to their affiliation. Yet we're also isolated, with no set of positions on which we all agree, unable to work together at the level at which policy arguments take place - the "we should adopt this position, and I'm sticking to it regardless of what I learn later" level.

Understanding, therefore, that there are probably no particular policy position on which all the contributors and commenters at YARGB (or is it Flares?) can unanimously agree, I wonder if there are meta-position on which we might. You've got one of mine above - the rejection of the tinfoil assumption of evil intent on the part of others (if you have evil intentions, you've got to prove it). And I'm looking for additional suggestions in the comments.

I realized some time ago that I'd rather talk to, work with, and align myself with people who generally agree with me regarding the rules of a debate than people who agree with me regarding its outcome. Which is why I still think this is a Really Great Blog.


Seneca the Younger said...

At the risk of going all New Age here, I think these insights from neurolinguistic programming are very useful.

1. The map is not the territory. The representation is not the thing in itself.

2. Every behavior has a positive intention. It may be completely mistaken, but nobody does anything thinking it won't do them some good.

3. The meaning of your message is the response you get.

Seneca the Younger said...

Oh, one more:

4. People are always making the best choice they have.

Rick Ballard said...

Abolition of the Department of Education might gain a consensus. Even if it doesn't, I'd like to hear the argument for retention.

Syl said...

while we may disagree over its propriety, we are reluctant to read into an article on lifestyle an intent to encourage the assassination of public figures.

Propriety? How PC.

It was dumbass stupid.

And quite frankly, I don't care how people characterize it.

I don't agree with Ann Coulter on a lot of things. I do agree with her on others. But I'm not going to pretend I'm a better person by disavowing her.

There are strewnaround parts in both parties, but everyone's priorities are different.

chuck said...

1. The map is not the territory.

Lifted from Korzybski. I never thought it amounted to much more than a forerunner of Scientology. Didn't produce anything useful that I know of.

2. Every behavior has a positive intention.

We might simplify this to say most behaviours have an intention. Rationalization serves to put a positive gloss on those behaviours that may not in fact have a positive intention. See also Van Der Leun's essay on perversion.

3. The meaning of your message is the response you get.

Too postmodern for me. The meaning of my message is what I intend it to be. If the content of my message is misunderstood, then I must needs send it again.

4. People are always making the best choice they have.

Would it not be more accurate to say they chose what looks the best. Is it not the case that many of us must balance mixed desires? How then does one define best?

As you noted, going all New Age is a risky business here.

chuck said...

4. People are always making the best choice they have.

To make my objection more precise, did Bill really choose the best when he chose Monica? Was she the best he could get?

terrye said...

Well Rick, other than the fact that you hate big government why do you want to get rid of the Dept of Education and why do you think most people would agree with you on this?

On the broader question posed by Morgan I think I tend to be strew around because I reject the paranoia. I really do. For instance immigration is only a big deal to me because there are people out there passing around theories which seem to state that people who do not support the Tancredo view of things are bad people who want to the US cede the southwest back to Mexico.

It is simplistic and arrogant and annoying. this sort of thinking is one manifestation of the rigid thinking I can not abide.

Katrina, for instance, was a natural disaster and for people to take a natural disaster and use it for political reasons while creating all manner of melodramatic, hysterical, end of the world scenarios to go along with the sad mess, well that just pisses me off.

So perhaps we could agree that it is not all about us. In other words, whatever happens we are not at the center of it. Nothing is that simple. The question the lefties like to ask is "Who benefits?"

My answer is "Why does that always matter?"

Organized crime benefited from Prohibition, that does not mean the temperance movement was in league with Al Capone.

By the same token the fact that George Bush's approval rating went up to about 90% after 9/11 and he was given broad authorization to use the US military to combat terrorism does not mean he was in league with Osama Bin Laden.

I reject this sort of inverted logic. Maybe that is something many of us agree on.