Friday, December 30, 2005

Converting Lefties: Stealth or Smackdown

Why Bother?

It is important that we do more than rant and rave on blogs. We have to regularly engage members of the non-blogsphere public in debate, to inform and convince them. Much is at stake, so this work is vital. It is difficult but ultimately satisfying, and one of the best things that you could be doing out of uniform.
The trouble is, more often than not you run into some pretty solid leftie opposition.

Logic vs Dogma

The task of leading lefties to the truth through facts and logic is analogous to using scientific arguments to convince creationists of the folly of their ways. While the approach appears reasonable, it is fraught because you actually have no common ground.
You discover that while you hold logic and reason as axiomatic, the other side will use or discard this technique as they see fit, because a whole other set of axioms hold for them
This is why arguing with lefties is extremely frustrating and often counterproductive.
One key distinction between the Creationists (Hi Manny !) and the Lefties is that the former group are consistent, honest and clear about the intellectual framework within which they operate. The latter is only honest in that the confusion they present is a true reflection of the incoherent, postmodern leftist crap that passes for a world view in their tiny little heads that Allah hath bereft of reason.

Lefties by Default

Further, most of these will deny that they are lefties at all, and in fact that they are "centrists", who vote Labor and read the Guardian and SMH. They will also deny that they are postmodernists, feminists or under-informed. One has said to me "I do not only read left wing stuff. I read the Economist!". The Guardian is centrist and the Economist is token right wing. Enough said.

There are essentially two ways to debate these people, but before we get into that lets discuss what the debate would try to achieve.

How to do it: Objectives

We would all like to turn hippies, Islamists and Kofi Annan into Right Wing Death Beasts at the drop of a URL. But sadly things do not usually work that well.

The first thing to realise is that there is a firewall installed in the minds of most lefties (and lefties-by-default). This clever little device automatically shuts out anything that sounds politically incorrect, and challenges the holy cows of multiculturalism, "Peace", the UN, dialogue, the plight of the "Palestinians" and other more subtle forms of Western middle-class self-hatred brought to you by Moore, Pilger,Chomsky, bin Laden and the boys at the KGB.

Any penetration beyond the firewall is a victory. The target leftie is then motivated to think, research and explore. The process may be lengthy, but the results are wonderous.

How do we get past the firewall ? Well, there is stealth and frontal assault.

How to do it: Stealth

No matter how eloquent, insightful and well-informed you are, this will almost all be in vain if the firewall is activated. So go under the radar. The trick here is to become an irrefutable authority in their eyes, without blowing your cover. This one is great if you have the discipline. This is not hard either, because most middle class types in Australia at least think that the definition of intellectual is one who has read some Chomsky, or at least seen "Fahrenheit 911", and most importantly agreed with it. They will have scant detailed knowledge of anything of importance, and even less experience with original thought, or indeed elementary logic.

One axiom that many lefties follow is that there is no such thing as an intelligent right winger. I have sadly heard one say as much.
This is great, it makes it so much easier to get under their radar.

All you do is listen patiently to their crap, and then demostrate more knowledge on any given topic than them, and almost agree with them on points

Leftie: The whole war in Iraq is a colossal disaster. So many innocent people killed by Bush yadda yadda yadda.
You: Yes, it is a shame that the IED death rate has gone up so much due to the use of shaped charge explosives, and the people of the Euphrates basin are probably not having a good time what with their towns becoming battlefields between the US/Iraqi forces and the resistance, especially now that the Islamists and local tribes have turned on each other. History shows that conflicts with more than 2 sides are particularly nasty for civilians yadda yadda yadda.
Leftie: Wow, you know so much about this... Did you see "Farhenheit 911"
You: (silently : "Must..Not...Throttle... Leftie... Bimbo...") No, although I am concerned about the free pass given to Saudi Arabia by the Bush administration
Leftie: Yeah, they are totally in cahoots, did you know that Saudi oil money paid for a palestinian baby-blood powered Zionist nuclear reactor and evil mind ray machine to be built in the centre of the Al Aksa Mosque ?
You: Yes, I understand they are using this machine to brainwash unwary members of the Australian middle class, forcing them to read the Sydney Morning Herald and other right wing Zionist propaganda... We should all be wearing tinfoil-lined colanders on our heads.
and so on.

Actually, you should not pander to them too much, but the last bit was too good to resist...
The point is, you will win the leftie's respect as an educated, intelligent person with their own mind. Only then you tell them what you really think, and do so subtly.

It helps to come in from their favourite directions. Give them feminists like Ayan Hirsi Ali. Give them the multicultural angle on Saudi Arabia. Give them the fact that Amsterdam is no longer safe for gays, and that the great anti-dhimmi Pim Fortuyn was himself quite proudly gay. Give them middle eastern blogs like Iraq the model. They will wake up. I have watched it happen a number of times.

Conversion by stealth is a slow, difficult and morally challenging process. But this is the one that yields the best results. Manny is far better at this than I am. Sadly, I usually end up doing the other one...

How to do it: Frontal Assault

What can I say ? I am a sinner, and this approach is actually far less effective, but much more satisfying. This is the Ann Coulter approach. Here you go as scary, over-the top and ad-hominem as you like, and pretend to be a caricature of the right winger everyone expects, only with a fair bit of content and style.
Its only advantage is that it gets the leftie angry enough to start researching, thinking and attempting to argue. Actually, this method is usually not great at all, unless you hve an audience, who are not as far gone as the leftie himself.
Another advantage of the frontal approach is that it is important to show that a non-idiotarian opinion exists. You may not change anyone's mind, but at least you will remind them that there are still people out there with the unthinkable point of view. It is one thing for people to disagree with you. It is another thing for them to not even be able to conceive your point of view, or recognise it as acceptable.
It is also a personal approach: you get to show people that right or wrong, we have more fun while the lefties have parted ways with their sense of humour decades ago.

I leave you with an example of an enjoyable though perhaps counter-productive frontal assault.

Update 30/12/2005:

Manny is not necessarily a creationist after all! Creationist or not, I am still not telling him about the the "sheet with a hole in it" thing. Then again, he compared me to the blogologically departed Fjordman, so we should be nice to him.
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