Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Markos Meltdown

I have been watching the events surrounding a feud between The Daily Kos and The New Republic with some interests. Lee Siegal has posted some thoughts on the subject which spawned a few thoughts of my own that I thought I might jot down here.

While I would agree with Siegal to some extent, I believe he is painting with too broad a brush in his criticism of blogs and blogging. To use my particular case as an example, I am not a writer but I do have opinions and blogs provide me with a forum to express them, feeble as my attempts at it might be. Not being a wordsmith, what I build will not be as pretty nor as durable but it will convey the general idea.

Now I do agree that there is a certain herd mentality when it comes to certain blogs and bloggers. But I would also say that there are many who do read blogs that hold different views because that is how one learns. And there are those of us who would offer debate when we encounter differing opinions as it is how we plumb the ideas behind those opinions and behind our own opinions as well.

There is one thing that I will agree strongly with, though. There is a group which when encountering an opinion which differs from theirs, seems to take the difference of opinion as some kind of personal invalidation. They respond to a different opinion as if they have been personally attacked and often get defensive or worse, feel a need to launch a "counter-attack" when no attack on them was intended. I believe this is a result of one holding one's opinions too closely to their sense of self. In order to be healthy, one must be able to learn and allow their opinions to adapt and change as we evolve over the years. If we stand our personal identity on our opinions, we become rigid in our thinking and changing of opinion shakes the foundations of self identity and can cause emotional problems not the least of which is irrational behavior when confronted with alternative points of view. In that case, one must defend one's positions tooth and nail even in the face of clear information that our opinion might be wrong. We would become angry at the one who would show us our conclusions are incorrect and lash out at them. One would then either submit to the new information, accept its validity, and become lost as their former sense of self has been shattered and flail about seeking some new way to define their identity or they simply close their minds to the new information, gang together with others holding the same view, stick their collective fingers in their ears and throw rocks at anyone who dares threaten their conclusions. At this point their conclusions and opinions become religion. They are held in faith without any basis in logic.

The opinions at Kos are really religions beliefs rather than logical conclusions and the reaction you are witnessing from them is the same as that when someone's religion is attacked. I challenge you to go on any of the blogs in that circle and speak "heresy". Blasphemy will be punished swiftly with excommunication and you will be banned from the blog and your comments deleted. They are not interested in debate, they are not interested in defending or evolving or learning. They believe they have it right and anyone attacking their beliefs is attacking them personally and they respond as such. There is plenty of evidence of this behavior both on their website and on the blogs of others who would criticize them.

In fact, should one of them read this they might well feel a need to attack me and I have not even called their beliefs into question. They might want to ponder why that is. I suspect that by saying that they are operating on faith rather than logic they might believe I have somehow belittled their beliefs when all I have done is note the existance of the behavior and not passed judgment on it. I am willing to bet, though, that it caused a limbic reaction because their beliefs are a very tender spot to them, it is their very self identity and people are naturally protective of that. In other words, one would possibly get the same reaction from any other "fundamentalist" in any other belief system when their beliefs are commented on by an "outsider". I submit that the Kos Kids are "Fundamentalist Liberals" and react the same as a religious (or any other) fundamentalist does when their beliefs are argued with logic.

I am interested in seeing Markos answer one question. The question I would ask him is "What are you?". I would, if asked, say "Dad" or "an engineer". My identity doesn't reside on a foundation of political opinion so I can adapt a lot easier, accept criticism, engage in debate, leave a debate alone, modify my position, learn things. I suspect Markos' answer might be "A Liberal". And that would explain a lot of his behavior when his political views are challenged.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please do not insult actual liberals by insisting that Markos Moulitsas is one of them. Moulitsas is an apolitical opportunist masquerading as a centrist Democrat. He has managed to alienate any number of actual liberal constituencies (gays, women, anti-war activists, verified voting proponents) with his interminable stranglehold on online discourse on the left. Most real liberals are watching his spectacular implosion feeling a great deal of relief. Now we can get serious.

5:52 PM PDT  
Blogger crosspatch said...

I see the same thing on the right. There will the self-appointed who would bestow the title of "conservative" or "RINO" on people according to their particular "purity test" and if you dare defy them, become hostile and do the same things you see the moonbats do. There are "Fundamentalist Conservatives" too. I believe it is important for people to weigh their positions on issues according to what works best for them, not what is the "proper" position to be one of the "cool kids" and hang with a particular group.

That is one reason why so many people are independent. I believe we have a huge population of people that are agnostic on the gay-rights and abortion issues or at least wanting the federal goverment completely out of that issue and for it to be decided at the state level but side with the Republicans on matters such as defense, taxation, and social welfare approach.

They don't fit with either the Democrats or the Republicans but share some basic values of both. They could even be welcomed into one of the parties or another but are intimidated by the "fundies" in both parties.

That is probably one of the reasons I admire Rudy. I don't like his stand on gun control but otherwise he would be my perfect Republican candidate. He would be able to work with both parties. His pro-gay-right and pro-choice stance would capture a lot of the center independents and his stand on personal responsibility and against "Robin Hood" and "nanny state" government policies appeal to many.

What is going to win this country going forward isn't a pure "Liberal" or a pure "Conservative" ... they are going to be more of a zebra going by the name "Democrat" or "Republican"

Debate is good. Sharing ideas and picking them apart is good. It is what makes us stronger as a nation.

12:21 AM PDT  
Anonymous Oyster said...

I can't tell you how many times I've altered or completely changed my opinions because a good argument has caused me to reevaluate my stance on a particular issue. I may not say so at the time because often reevaluation takes the form of an inner argument in order to reconcile the idea before that can occur. But never do I take it personally unless the opposing person has made it personal with ad hominem attacks. When they reveal that tactic, I know they're not at all interested in debate or listening, preferring instead to call into question perceived motivations of their opponent refusing to admit when their argument is weak.

8:11 AM PDT  
Blogger crosspatch said...

In my experiance people get ad hominem when they feel they have been personally attacked and feel a need to issue a personal counterattack. This is what happens when one's opinions are close to one's sense of self.

For example: I might explain to someone why I don't share their position on the issue. They could experiance this as an attack on that position. If their self-identity is based in part on their position on that issue, they could experiance this "attack" on their position as an attack on themself and retaliate.

An example of that might be the immigration issue and "amnesty". There might be people who identify as a "conservative" and if you are a conservative you must be anti-amnesty with no compromise. If you argue for a compromise, say allowing citizenship to illegals in 10 years time if they stay out of jail and maintain a good work record and learn english, they will say "no, it's still amnesty". Because if they accept "amnesty" it would mean they are no longer a "real" concervative and that is what they are most interested in maintaining ... their label of "conservative" and they look to others in that movement to define what the proper positions are for "conservative" then adhere to those positions in order to maintain the label.

If you mention that you believe that position makes no sense, that blindly not allowing amnesty will in the long run hurt Republicans more and that the 10 year compromise is, in your opinion, reasonable, they could take that as being themselves called unreasonable when you are calling the POSITION unreasonable.

What really bothers me is when they, either liberal or conservative, argue their positions, they parrot the official "line" of their groups without much original thought. And if they are still unable to convince you, they ban you from the group and delete all your arguments (lest someone else see them and stray).

1:15 PM PDT  
Blogger FrauBudgie said...

Markos Malarkyous is into himself. Over at the Kos, he is not interested in trying to find common ground, but in firing up what he considers to be his "base," which is nutsy -- he said as much in a recent blogging book.

What has been a hoot is watching Harry Reid and Democrats suck up to him, thinking that the dailyKos is going to save them ;)

BTW, Crosspatch, I linked ya in my sidebar!

2:50 AM PDT  
Blogger crosspatch said...

Gosh, thanks!

9:40 AM PDT  

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