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    Problems within the "left" II: We lost a battle

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    • I feel like maybe you've taken away a message I wasn't trying to convey; if people want to be in a group they're free to identify how they like. If the group wants to accept them, that's between them. There's no attack on community except for if the community attacks itself.

      I'm talking about when people try to categorise others in a way the others don't want any part of. For example if you say you're a feminist and I characterise you as a straw feminist just because I've seen some feminists who DO think that way and that's what I (in this scenario) mean when I say "feminist".

      IMO the language being used, and more generally, the way we communicate about these issues, is confused because labels and buzzwords are too easily hijacked into meaning too many differing and sometimes even contradictory things. Example: you call somebody "racist", and maybe you mean simply that they make some of their decisions based on an undue consideration of race, but what they'll HEAR is "bigoted", and they'll think you're accusing them of secretly being in the KKK. This is why many people are expressing the feeling that "political correctness has run wild", as well-meaning people who want to be allies and raise awareness of problematic issues are using ill-defined words and language that implies that they're accusing people of being the same as Hitler. To the point that many now feel that it's impossible to express even moderate views like "I think Mexicans are decent folk but illegal immigration causes a lot of problems for the host country even in the most benign cases, could we maybe just limit immigration to the legal, regulated kind?" without being treated like they were a Stormfront extremist. The left doesn't MEAN to send this message (well, some of it does, I guess...), but due to a lack of care in its message, it sends a lot of unintentional sub-messages that alienate potential allies. Example: #NotAllMen being used sarcastically to criticise anyone who takes issue with blanket statements. If someone said "men are rapists" and I said "well, SOME men are, sure, but...", depending on what community the conversation was taking place in, I could very well expect a sarcastic response of "oh another #NotAllMen concern troll", like my point was unreasonable. I find a lot of people expressing irritation at being asked to be clear about exactly what they mean.

      As Randall Munroe said:

      "Anyone who says that they're great at communicating but 'people are bad at listening' is confused about how communication works".

      If you're interested, I can explain what I think would be a good way to communicate the ideas of "the left", especially in an online format.
    • well yeah you should definitely do that!

      But what i was getting at is that the usage of terms like individual can be taken as an erasure of the values that many indigenous cultures have. There is a lot of tension in that for native americans who seek self determination for their nations for instance and thr individualist philosophies of many branches of feminism that push back against the patriarchal structures of many indigenous communities. For many of these cultures they identify as groups and resist individuality because it undermines their social organisation. In such a sense, perhaps resosting induction could be seen as an erasure of their values.

      Likewise a sociologist may, through your langauge resist your message because you argue against for instance, statistical trends being useful for people's induction.

      I am not disagreeing with you, i just want to know how you would respond to those positions.
    • I'm not aware of any culture that outright denies the existence of the individual to the point that stressing the importance of not judging individuals based on the rest of the group would be considered an erasure. I'm not entirely sure that if such a culture DID exist I would consider it a priority to appease its demands for me to also deny the existence of the individual.

      As for sociologists, as I've said before, statistics (or at least the simplistic kind that gets thrown around in political debates) should be the BEGINNING of an investigation, not the end of one. If you had a rural community, A, of which 30% of the population developed a specific type of cancer which only affected 0.01% of the population in other communities, you would be well within your rights to say "something odd is afoot here" and investigate further, but you most certainly could not say WHAT the phenomenon was. Is it simply a function of proximity to some local source of contamination, and moving away removes the risk? If there is a contamination, is it natural or artificial, and can it be removed rather than forcing people to remove themselves? Is it a genetic susceptibility that is concentrated in one area due to local intermarriage, and even if residents moved away they'd still be at the same high risk? Et cetera. No way of knowing without further investigation, is my point. Drawing conclusions at that point would be drastically premature.

      And that's just for a phenomenon that's relatively quantifiable. As soon as you start applying the same methodology to questions of what people think and why, you encounter many additional problems such as survey subjects being unable to objectively assess their own behaviour or report honestly, the myriad ways in which the questions in a study could be unintentionally leading, or conversely too vague and open to interpretation to the point that attempt to sort the answers into categories is virtually meaningless. It's not impossible to be rigorous but it IS a lot easier to fail to be.

      Example: you'll remember the survey last year by Deakin University in which almost 60% of 304 Australians surveyed said they would be "concerned" if a relative married a Muslim. What it didn't elaborate on was what it meant by "concerned". Concerned that their loved one had married a possible terrorist? Concerned that their loved one might be considered by her husband to be his property? Concerned that the next family reunion barbecue couldn't have bacon? Concerned that the new family member might see their "Je suis Charlie" tweet from a few years ago and it'll be awkward? Who knows.

      Would it be a deep-rooted concern causing them to disown the relative, or would it be a passing concern that would last only as long as it took to get an answer to the question "what's he/she like?"? Who knows.

      The survey did ask other questions, in which the number who thought Islam represented "a threat" to Australian society (again, pretty vague with a broad spectrum of possible interpretations) dropped to just above 40%, and the number who thought Muslims should be searched more thoroughly at airports than other ethnicities dropped to 36%.

      This came on the heels of another survey in which almost half had said Muslim immigration should be banned altogether. Clearly, the numbers in those two surveys suggest either that at least one of the two was not properly representative of Australian opinion, or that Australian opinion had a sudden MASSIVE shift. And even if we assume that the 60% "concerned" result was exactly representative of Australia as a whole, that still leaves us unable to draw a generalisation about Australians that wouldn't be completely wrong about more than 40% of them.

      Which is a pretty high failure rate.

      So in answer to your question, I would respond by saying that I support rigor and that if they do too then I'm not sure what the problem is. It's possible to solve a problem in a way that accounts for the 60% AND the 40% instead of treating the 60% as if it were 100%, and if they pursue this type of problem-solving then I'm in favour of them. I see no problem with the lights at a traffic intersection being timed to give the busier road more time on green (since it will also give the other road a proportionate amount of time as merited), so in principle I absolutely agree that statistics have their place and can be used correctly for societal benefit. However, we are talking in abstractions which is why I'm answering in conditionals. Give me a more concrete example of "this person here doesn't like what you said, Leo" and I can probably give you a more concrete answer.

      As for my ideas on communication, let's wrap this sidebar up first before moving on.
    • i was more or less just asking to see what you thought:
      the individual vs. community was actually a focal point of debate in the human rights arena of the 1990s

      Asian values - Wikipedia

      the asian valued debate (highly contested) was part and parcel of what made up some the foundations for cultural relativism and the defense of indigenous communities against the values of western human rights regimes.

      i don't care to comment on the statistics or revisit my points on australia however
    • I'm not trying to revisit points already made about Australia; I'm answering a question about sociologists who might not appreciate my opinion on the use of induction, using, as an example, a few studies from recent memory that have notably contrasting results (in one, only 40% consider Muslims to even be a threat whereas in the other, 50% support a ban on Muslim immigration - these results COULD be reconciled for a logical explanation but no such model was ever suggested) to illustrate my point that human thought/behaviour is a complicated subject that resists induction. However different methodologies may produce better results so I acknowledge that a definite answer would be conditional upon the circumstances of a specific example.

      As for Asian values (thank you for linking that, btw), I have no problem with people adhering to them if that's what they want to do.

      To be honest, even in Western society the existence of law means that sometimes the will of the individual must and should be overruled by the group. This does not, however, remove the fact that the individual still exists as an individual. So I still assert that individuals should not be judged based on the actions of whatever percentage their group, unless that percentage is 100%.
    • Well... here are my general observations on what helps

      1. Identify who you're trying to communicate with. Sometimes someone is unaware of an issue or misunderstands a problem, and you can educate them. Sometimes a person understands your POV perfectly well but simply holds monstrous beliefs, and you won't want to discuss things with them so much as not let their hatred and lies go unanswered. In that case you're not trying to communicate with THEM, you're trying to communicate with third parties who might have listened to this person.

      Both of these situations require a completely different approach. It's important not to treat one like the other. It's important to know when you've given up on communicating with the person you're disagreeing with. When you have, it's important to not rise to their every bait (which will often be moot points), and stay focused on communicating only what's important to convey to the "audience", who will be watching to see (among other things) which one "rises above". In this election if Donald Trump had said water was wet there would have been those who would have argued the point because allowing him to be right on ANYTHING was unacceptable to them. However by making everything about him a battlefield, it obscured to voters the actual important points and focused on stupid things like what size his hands were and whether that was a wig. Moot points that made the Left's argument look weak.

      2. Don't use buzzwords and slogans that can be hijacked to mean something different than originally intended; use phrases which encapsulate the meaning in the saying. "Mansplaining" may be quicker to say than "talking down to a woman patronisingly as if she were just a silly little female", but people who don't need the word explained to them are people who are already on board with your message anyway, and people who aren't on board will memetically twist the meaning until it's unusable for meaningful communication. For example, the very act of my presuming to give my opinion on "communicating the message" at all could be called "mansplaining", and I couldn't honestly contest the usage of that word since it bends to encompass any act of explanation that the user wants to apply it to. The word means nothing definite and therefore the opposition can make people think you're implying things you're not, or worse, once the confusion about the word is ubiquitous, they don't even have to try anymore; you can accidentally make yourself seem like you are, all on your own. It's not worth it.

      Additionally, buzzwords and jargon can make anyone sound like a teenager. It alienates the audience before they even have a chance to absorb the message. As a corollary to this, I should note that many in "the Right" and "the Centre" have a respect for the general precepts "the Left" espouses, but also a strong suspicion that many in the Left are overly-rabid about the more "trivial" aspects (like what are the proper social niceties when dealing with a minority) because it's easy to post Facebook memes about those aspects without ever having to actually do anything. To people with this view, the use of buzzwords like "woke", "mansplaining" etc is a big red flag. Bear in mind I'm not saying this view is correct, but it's worth being aware of it.

      In any case, bear in mind that my use of "you" is the general "you" and not directed at anyone in particular. Also, these opinions are just my own observations. They could be right or wrong and if you deem them wrong I don't intend to debate that; I will accept that. I just thought I should contribute my viewpoint on "where the Left might be losing people" since that was the thread premise.

      The post was edited 3 times, last by LeoBravo ().

    • I don't want to be dismissive or anti-intellectual, but I think some of these comments have gone off track and the discussion has become about really abstract observations that are of limited relevance. Everyone has their theories, but simply, the left lost the battle because they didn't communicate with middle america enough.

      LeoBravo wrote:

      Well... here are my general observations on what helps

      1. Identify who you're trying to communicate with.
      2. Don't use buzzwords and slogans that can be hijacked to mean something different

      I strongly agree on both counts.

      On #1, yes, it's vital to make sure you don't tolerant disrespectful behavior, but many people are willing to change their views if someone just had a nice rational conversation with them. In that case, we shouldn't only remove our grudge after they remove theirs. I try to be nice to everyone that I can in these conversations, and like you said. If they're still, rotten, I give up on them. I myself, about 5 years ago, was the type of person who held onto many little racial/gender biases I grew up with ; never was I a racist or misogynist, but just someone who needed a rational person to talk to who didn't accuse me of anything just because I used a word incorrectly or something minor.

      I avoid buzzwords. Good for twitter, I guess, but as you mentions, it comes off as either high school slang or pseudo-intellectual academic jargon. I never say the word patriarchy because my definition of it may be different from someone elses. If someone thinks patriarchy means all men are enemies, then I shouldn't use the term.