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January 06, 2016


Luis Enrique

isn't it usually assumed that hypocritical shilling for the rich by libertarians etc. has actually successfully spread neo-liberal ideology? i.e. that it has been productive, not counter-productive? At least, I often read people attributing the fact that a plurality of people hold ghastly right wing views to successful advocacy/propaganda.

But I think counter-advocacy is really might be something to worry about, I am thinking particularly of climate change. Of course what turns some people off is going to turn others on - I'd be really interested to see, for example, good research into how people react to stunts by climate campaigners. Some people are bound to react by thinking that climate is something that only twats worry about, but the question is how many?

I personally think that the way a lot of what people in these parts might think of as real left wingers (as opposed to the hated centre-left) put their case is counter productive, but I'd be really interested to learn more. After all, the left really really needs to figure out how to be righteous *and* popular


I believe studies have been done in the creationism/evolution 'debate' (such as it is). Arguments for evolution were presented in the scientific, evidence based style, and in the emotional, often fallacy ridden style creationists use. Guess which one was more successful in convincing the public?

Deviation From The Mean

Look Liz Kendall lost, get over it or fuck off.

If you are a Marxist I am burning my books!

Your outlook rarely stretches beyond the City of London and your political truths come straight outta the bubble you keep rabbiting on about.

Still, despite all that, occasionally you are worth reading.

Luis Enrique

your closing paras and Hansen remind me of Popper who I think said that if we want to make progress, that is improve on what we currently think, we want to look for the best arguments our opponents have and the weaknesses in our own, whereas what we mostly do is look to defend our existing views and attack others.

you are one of the few bloggers who explicitly tries to do that - kudos to you - even if it means real Marxists like DFTM disown you.

Dave Timoney

I'm sceptical that there ever was a golden age of "proper political debate", so the idea that it has vanished recently smacks of the nostalgia more readily associated with the likes of Oliver Letwin ("In Brixton, you used to be able to leave your money on the doorstep. I saw it wiv me own eyes, guvnor!").

Preaching to the choir (or the converted) has been going on for some time (there's a clue in the idiom), and any practising politiciam will confirm that 80% of their effort is about maintaining support, not seducing the open-minded. Even when proselytising, the rhetorical technique is more likely to be akin to flogging soap powder than a tutorial in political philosophy. Lovers of the latter (i.e. readers of this blog) have always been a marginal market segment.

If there has been a qualitative change in recent years, it is most likely to be the product of evolving structural pressures, notably the impact of new media on old (the reductiveness of the soundbite, the outsourcing of scepticism, the terror of the Beeb etc). I imagine Marx ("All I know is that I am not a journalist") would have been fascinated by the political economy of the modern media.

Bill Posters

I got called for jury service once when living in a run down house on the edge of a middle class post code. I explained to the court clerk the last time someone with my Y chromosome had a fair shake from the British Legal system was probably at a saxon shire gathering some time before 1066. In truth the only reason I had a clean record at the time was my natural speed over a half mile. For some reason I was excused the service.

A much more random selection of people can be found on speed awareness courses. You get sent on one of these if you get caught on camera doing a few mph over. I was amazed by such a diverse group of UK citizens, grandmas, teenage girls, various stripes of criminal, disabled, rich men. The only reason we were all in the same room was a desperate desire to keep points off the license.

Lets forget elections. Just draft the next 650 sent on speed awareness courses and send them to Westminster. Could they do a worse job than this lot?

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

I once worked in a building where speed awareness courses were held. It would have taken a heart of stone not to laugh at the people who, overcompensating, drove too slowly and arrived late for their course. Evidently still not aware of sppeed then.

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