The power of bad arguments

Bad arguments and insults do not really win you any converts, no matter how many arguments you “win”

Coffee Argument
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I’ve spent the better part of last week arguing in length with a Pareconist in the comments of the Division by Zer0 about, what else, Parecon. The discussion grew enormously large with multiple threads and arguments all over the place, to the point of having around 10 replies per day, per person. As it progressed, it became increasingly frustrating because of the way the other person went around arguing his point.

You see, when I entered into this conversation, I was cautiously neutral about Parecon, I considered that it’s unnecessary and most likely unworkable on a large scale but didn’t have any other particular issue with it any more than I have with mutualism. However after I finished this discussion (I’ve simply stopped wasting my time) I am now pretty much hostile to the idea of Parecon.

And it’s one person’s arguments that managed to do this.

To be precise, it wasn’t just the arguments themselves. Those were simply wrong most of the time. It was the sheer amount of bad arguments which gave me the distressing impression that I was wasting my time arguing with someone who was fractally wrong and therefore this discussion could only grow longer and longer with no end in sight. But if that wasn’t enough, that person had some of the worst ways to put his point forward. Uncharitable interpretations of what I said. Jumping to conclusions on what I suggested or what my ideas are. “Scare quotes”. Unbased assertions. Red herrings. Parecon-lingo (which I assume makes perfect sense to those familiar with their terminology but not for me) used as a definite argument etc.

The most blatant example was when I was classified as a Mutualist as soon as I pointed out the distinction between Private Property and Possession. This persisted even after I explicitly explained that I was in fact, a Anarcho-Communist and I do not support money or markets. This was then used to argue against Mutualism, over my continuous explanation that I might not be the best person to defend it.This was just the top of the iceberg.

If you’ve ever been into such a debate, you certainly know how frustrating it becomes to have to constantly correct the assertions and interpretations of the other person every time you reply. You get the feeling that they’re just interested in “winning” the argument rather than understand your position; throwing half-thought conclusions at every step is only a way to make people give up.

Perhaps this might have made some sense in a public forum where people are watching the discussion, although I’m pretty certain that the audience would quickly see through those tactics. However it makes even less sense to do this in the comments of private blog. A discussion held here is unlikely to be seen by anyone other than the blog owner and thus the only possible point would be to make that person rethink their position. Does anyone think they will achieve this by frustrating them? In my case, it brought the completely opposite reaction. I am now hostile to Parecon and have a really sour taste of Pareconists. In any future discussion on this issue, I’m very likely to (even subconsciously) recall the experience I had last week and take immediately the anti-Parecon side.

The way that that Parecon was argued for gave me the distinct impression that it’s very badly thought out and will lead to even worse results than what I originally expected. I got the impression that those promoting it have far more in common with Social Democrats and other ideologies which take a very bad view on “human nature” and then use to to argue for authoritarian measures as a way to limit those bad aspects. Some of the arguments sounded downright horrifying, especially coming from an anarchist, such as the idea that all productive means should be collectivized forcefully if necessary, for “the common good”.

I thus have to wonder, what can people arguing this way be possibly thinking? Are they trying to create vocal opposition to their ideas? If you’re going to go to another person’s blog to argue your ideas, at least try to be convincing instead of frustrating.

This goes doubly as much of course to my actual Anarchist peers. I’d hate for people to get the wrong idea of our movement just because we can’t avoid misrepresenting their position for emotional effect to the invisible audience. Also it’s very important to¬† keep oneself grounded in science. The owner of the blog may make unbased assertions on “human nature” for example, but you won’t achieve much by simply stating the opposite. Rather, point to the empirical evidence that counters humans as being inherently greedy, egoistical, crass individualist or requiring hierarchies. Keep a few links handy in your bookmarks or make your own little groups. Even if the blog owner denies the evidence, it might still convince anyone reading the comments in the future.

It also makes little sense to argue in length with people in denial and reaching the point of insults. It will only make them more hostile and nobody else will see the argument anyway as very few people bother to even start going through comment wars. It’s far better to make your point as concisely and factually as possible and bow out once you notice that no actual progress is being made. Not only will you be able to find another discussion which will be more constructive, you’ll save yourself quite a lot of annoyingment.

And as much as this applies to commenters in other people’s blogs, it doubly applies to blog owners themselves. I care very little to convince commenters who do not wish to be convinced and I will not waste my time countering endless bad arguments while being annoyed by how much my position is misrepresented instead. The people arguing this way may end up “winning” the argument by driving their opponent away, but it will only be a Pyrrhic victory in the grand scheme of things.

PS: As for Parecon, I’m still fairly ignorant of it, but needless to say, the latest discussion did not make me eager to learn more, any more than frothing at the mouth creationists make me eager to learn about Christianity. However I did look around for some LibCom opinions on Parecon and it basically seems that they are mirroring my own sentiments. I suggest you check out this debate between and which has been abandoned by the latter. The last salvo from libcom is exactly where I stand currently.

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Anarcho-Capitalists, pay attention! I will not tolerate your bullshit.

I’m getting sick and tired of the same ol’ fallacies and the same ol’ unwillingess to listen, and the same ol’ strawmen. So listen the fuck up!

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To all anarcho-capitalists, Libertarians, Ron Paulites, Randroids and whoever else comes here to defend your idols and your ideologies, take heed of what I write here so that our discussions will be pleasant.

I have had enough twisting of truths, covered insults, elitism and outright lies to last me a lifetime so the buck stops here. Either shape up and follow the reasonable rules I lay here, or GTFO.


This is a big no-no, alright? The last thing I want to do is correct your blatant disregard for (historical) facts when you wish to make a point. This quote is sample of this cancer.

History has proven me correct in both instances. The freest country on earth became the most prosperous and every country that ever had communism or socialism has suffered great losses in productivity and the rise of authoritative forces. What has happened to Cuba since the revolution? What happened to Russia and China. Each of these countries was once considered wealthy and then they became communist. The systems broke down.

I can live with honest mistakes that come from simply being ignorant of some historical facts but phrases such as the above are unacceptable. The fact that it is painfully easy to verify its falsity only means that you are being deliberately dishonest in order to propagandize. And I do not care for that. If that’s what you’re after, go find out some Ron Paul drones to talk to.

Outright lies such as the above will be served with a warning the first time, and a ban the second. And even the warning is too much but I’m prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt in that you’re simply that ignorant. But be aware that if you are really so ignorant, you’d better get a clue. Quickly.

Finally get it into your thick heads that Correlation does not equal Causation

Yes I know that you think that everything good comes from Capitalism and everything bad from Socialism and the government but you have to understand that the world is a complex place. Your arguments simply boil down to “Any place that prospers must be because of Anarcho-Capitalism and any place that falters must be because of the government” and then look for facts to support this.

I have seen this more than enough times and I’m not impressed. Especially when someone points out a nation with a neoliberal policy which you’ve been praising for the last couple of years which when it failed, now suddenly you find out that the government did it. Why didn’t you say anything before?

This applies to the reverse of course, when you rush to blame Socialism (or whatever the fuck you think Socialism is) and the government for any failure, disregarding any and all external factors. Dictatorships in Africa? It has nothing to do with the US funding the dictators and everything to do with Socialism. US Economy failing? It has nothing to do with the last 30 years of neoliberal economics and all to do with Socialism/The Fed/The Government/Any other boogeyman.

You’re not convincing anyone but yourselves. If you’re going to make such an argument, you’re better off not commenting at all.

Read what I write, not what you think I mean.

When I say that Communism requires no government, I do not really mean “Communism requires government”. If you cannot understand how something might work without a government or another authority then ask! Do not assume that in this or that argument I must mean the government, jump to that conclusion and then accuse me in the same breath of being an authoritarian.

I have had enough of this shit.

If you show a failure to grasp this simple concept, once again you will get a warning and then a ban. I do not care to repeat myself all the time to someone who is unwilling to even read what I write in favour of his own preconceptions.

Know thy enemy

If you come here with the purpose to argue against Communism, you’d better have a clue on what it actually is. I have no intention of educating you as I go and there are quite a few books you can read. If all you’ve read is the Communist Manifesto, a propagandistic piece with as much detail as the Declaration of Independence, then you do not know Communism.

If you do display a blatant lack of knowledge of this aspect, I will most likely direct you to an article on my Misunderstanding Communism series that hopefuly dispels your misunderstanding or at least gives you my take on this issue. If you come after that and use the same goddamn argument you should have just read my refutation of, then you will get a warning. If you do not want to read what I’ve written on this subject, then you’re not here to discuss or learn, but to evangelize and you should GTFO!

I laugh at your courtier’s replies

When I criticize any argument you or one of your idols might make, I do not attempt to argue against your whole worldview. I simply refute what has been laid in front of me. If you then start quoting books that I should read before I can argue, I will just ignore them.

I can just as well suggest that you read anything I have in order to be able to argue with me, but this is simply absurd and we would never be able to converse. If you think an argument I make I wrong, point out the errors, do not suggest books and claim that they will convince me. I will not look at them.

The only way you can get me to possibly look at a book is to make coherent arguments which actually make sense so that my interest in raised in this topic. Then you can suggest a book that goes into detail on this matter and I will have an reason to check it out.


Since all of the above seem to be the bread & butter of anarcho-capitalists, a link will go to the Comment Policy to hopefully stop the inanity that has been spreading around here lately. If you do not like them, feel free to GTFO as you wouldn’t be adding anything to the conversation anyway. If you choose to ignore them in order to evangelize, then your hypocricy knows no bounds, you stalwart protectors of private property.

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