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Nap Time!!!

Friday, February 29, 2008

This Daily Cal editorial is dripping with ignorance. It's a bunch of whining about how those protesters are too loud or something. The killer line is this one:
Whatever their cause, protesters serve it best when they allow the undecided to weigh both sides of the question.
I can only assume that the Daily Cal is simply blind to what motivates these protesters.

First, it's important to understand the philosophical underpinnings of what they do when they shout their political opponents down, or attack them, or riot, or whatnot. Their view is largely one of "democratization," which is that political power should be exercised by "the people."

"The people" is in quotes because their view simply doesn't recognize that some people might disagree with them. Those people are mentally ill, or paid for by the evil corporations, or have some other property which makes treating their beliefs as actual beliefs unnecessary.

"Democratization" is in quotes because it isn't the kind of democracy that the Daily Cal is imagining, where people go out and vote for something. Here it means gathering a large number of people to exert force and exercise power until everyone else submits. One could just as easily call it "mob rule," and the moral issues of controlling other people through mob action are swept under the rug because they aren't real people (see previous paragraph).

In this view, Jane Z. Undecided doesn't really matter. She doesn't need to be convinced. Even if she agreed, it's not like she'd join the mob and do the things that help make change in this manner. To these folks, she's basically a sheep who has to be shorn of taxes and productivity to support the ideological goals of the mob, without deserving any real control.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 2/29/2008 05:48:00 PM #
Comments (1)
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While I think the narrative you are imposing on these people is pretty overblown (it's usually--in this case and others like it esp the World Cant Wait crowd--disconnected from any substantial political platform, ideas, movements, etc, and just a number of people wanting to scream at somebody they call a criminal), I agree that the Daily Cal is pretty naive in this respect, and that it is employing more or less arbitrary standards of "cowardice"--as if you are "brave" if you try to convince somebody to agree with you (the idea of "what college is supposed to be" gets to too many people's heads).

Mainly, I think the Daily Cal is crazy for thinking that politics is a practice whereby you are supposed to change people's minds. That's called a number of things, like debate, argument, demagoguery, discussion, dialogue, and evangelism. It's one thing to say that this is what our political institutions should be like (that it should reproduce the academy), but I think that's arbitrary too--and wrong, because our political institutions are rarely like that.

The real politics is a conflict between people who are already decided (if there's even a "decision" involved; sometimes your mere existence somewhere as a certain type of person or with a certain kind of belief places you inescapably within a conflict)--it's about taking over or re-forming or building those political institutions.

And that is why most Daily Cal editorials on public issues are lame. They are basically creative (actually, not really) ways to say "play by the rules" ad nauseum.
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