Deliberate Obtusity

Often people get the concept of communism wrong, and then people like me try to set things straight. Occasionally we’ll bump into a person so thick where comprehension is just not an option.

Secodontosaurus obtusidens head
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I’ve recently started monitoring the twitter stream for keywords relating to Anarchism, Communism and Libertarian Socialism, just so that I might see what others are saying about it and perhaps intervene and clarify a thing or two. I expected of course rampart hatred on Communism by ignorant US Americans but I didn’t expect it on this scale. Not a minute passes that someone won’t make a snide remark on it while talking about anything. From complaining about China (I honestly can’t believe that people still consider the PRC communist at this point), to whining about the US Gov and Barack, to urging Iran not to become communist, to simple ranting.

It’s insane really. It’s reached the point for some people that anything not Neoconservative can simply be labelled Communist. I mean, of course I can imagine that people like this exist, but I expected, dunno, less of a magnitude.

In any case, I replied here and there and I was pleasantly surprised that some people at least were willing to listen when I basically explained that they have it wrong. Those at least are open to the possibility that they may have things wrong. However there are others…

Looking back at it, I should have known that someone who puts Communism and Fascism in the same context can’t be very intelligent, or honest for that matter, but I didn’t expect GlenBradley to not only stand by his statement when corrected but to insist that he made no mistake. And thus, this clusterfuck of a conversation began.

Needless to say, it didn’t end well. For all my attempts to explain what Communism really is about, it felt like talking to a brick wall. Not only that, but the discussion¬† kept going in a random ad-hominem direction where eventually I ended up having to prove “I’m not an Elephant”.Whatever argument I made, was either ignored and was called “rhetoric” just so that Glen wouldn’t have to acknowledge it.

In retrospect, I should have known what to expect when I noticed that this guy is running for office. However the idiocy here is the interesting part. I mean, at some point, when you say to someone “You’re misunderstanding the theory” you expect them at least to pause and see why you are saying this. Can it be possible that yes, you are misunderstanding it? Apparently not.

I mean, I’m not asking people to suddenly be convinced, throw away their previous allegiances and become comrades, but I at least expect them to be capable of comprehension. This is not just to humor me, it’s in order to be able to have a rational conversation about the subject. When I discuss about Communism as a stateless, classless society and the other person means a totalitarian bureaucracy, then we’re obviously going to be talking past each other.

But when after all attempts to get on the same level, the other person refuses to budge, then I can only call this either Egregious Stupidity, or Deliberate Obtusity. In the case of our wannabe politician, I can only surmise that it’s the second, especially once he started calling me a “sophist without integrity” because he refused to understand a sentence, no matter how much I explained it.

But this obtusity is not only dishonest, but it really hold people back. Even if I am wrong about Communism, how do you expect to convince me if you simply refuse to understand what I’m saying? How can people decide on anything more than their current bias if both opponents act like this? It just becomes¬† a shouting match.

And unfortunately this is the sad state of politics everywhere. It seems much more beneficial for Politicians to misrepresent their opponent’s position and attack a strawman instead of actually discussing the subject. I guess this helps to retain their voting block as people who are content to vote once per 4 years (and call this farce “democracy”) don’t really want politicians who *gasp* actually change their minds.

And so, a kind of natural selection happens, where politicians act like this because people expect them to, and people start copying the debating style of politicians, because it seems “successful” (As in: you can say the last word in a debate). And this deliberate obtusity leads only to intellectual stagnation.

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3 thoughts on “Deliberate Obtusity”

  1. Thanks for posting that twitter conversation – it was really interesting to witness it from the third-person perspective. What I find most interesting is how the argument alternates between ideological and utilitarian. You clearly believe that there has never been a true modern communist society (at least one that has lasted) so you can only argue ideologically for your side. Fair enough. The problem is that the other side (in this case, not the most worthy opponent) is left to defend actual implementation of the capitalist system beyond ideology. And no implementation is as perfect as an ideology, so he was waging an uphill battle from the start and never got traction.

    Plus, 140 characters at a time does not facilitate a reasoned argument of complex principles. A natural shortcoming of the media, I suppose.

    1. It's not an ideological VS practical implementation though as he kept arguing for something he called "Republic". I wouldn't have a problem to argue against an ideological concept of Capitalism either (as I do very often with Rothbardians).

    2. Plus, 140 characters at a time does not facilitate a reasoned argument of complex principles. A natural shortcoming of the media, I suppose.

      I think I may start inviting people over here on a custom topic just to be able to discuss sanely. I don't expect people like this guy to come but some of my later conversation opponents might be willing ot

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