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Guest Post … Build Mass Movements continued.

Written By: - Date published: 12:09 pm, January 24th, 2016 - 63 comments
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This is a repost of a comment from Incognito on the Building Mass Movements post, with some editing. It’s also linked to one of my points on the Fisiani Gets it Right post yesterday; how does the left with it’s vital and diverse components achieve a unity of purpose, while sustaining the integrity of it’s components? Especially for those energised by feminism and race/cultural concerns. RL.

>>
We all seem to be guilty of linear one-dimensional and dichotomous thinking from time to time. The kind of you’re wrong-I’m right black & white thinking. In principle, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with this.

Do you think it is possible to be Left and Right at the same, politically speaking? This seems like a stupid question, doesn’t it? Of course, you cannot; you’re either on the fence or on either side of the fence, right? However, you could also briefly pause and think about this seemingly simple and straightforward question. You may then come to realise that there may be, or better: could be, more to the question. You may, for example, realise that by simple left-right polarised thinking you limit the number of possible different viewpoints and miss relevant context. In short, it limits your thinking options and thus your decisions & choices.

Again, I think there’s nothing fundamentally ‘wrong’ with this way of ‘viewing’ things but my point is that it is not the only possible way.

Why is it so hard to take different viewpoints and possibilities into consideration? Well, it takes time to think things through, from different angles, and we don’t want spend time on something unless it is really important … But I think another major reason is that we’re not used to this kind of thinking; we haven’t been taught and we have learned it. A third and possibly the biggest reason is that we resist it. We’re attached to our views, we associate with like-minded folks and this defines who we are, our identity; the way we view ourselves and others and how we’re viewed by others. This is not a huge step away from Identity Politics, is it?

Because we tend to limit our viewpoint & thinking it is much harder for us to acknowledge that other people have different views, and respect let alone consider these. In fact, we might fear them, the other views and thus the other people. Or we may fight them because they upset our cosy little world and threaten our identity and fragile little egos that could shatter at the slightest. More often than not we simply swat them away saying that they’re wrong or that something is impossible.

Similarly, we reject ideas about ourselves outright as impossible or ridiculous without really examining them or giving them due consideration. All this can lead to a self-limiting and/or self-defeatist attitude …

A tell-tale sign of this kind of thinking is the use of those nasty ‘sticky labels’ and ‘narrow small boxes’. You know what I mean?

By choosing a single point of view we don’t give ourselves a chance to gain better understanding of or deeper insight into an issue or other person’s thoughts and feelings; there will be much less room also for empathy and compassion and there seems to be a shortage of these while ‘demand’ is rising. And no the price won’t go up because these are already priceless.

I believe this will also hamper calls such as “building a mass movement” or “unite Labour” or “unite the Left” or “a non-partisan approach”, for example, or creating a socio-economic & political system that will provide better outcomes than the current one. It is like herding wild cats. My thesis is that this is largely due to our limited & limiting ways of thinking, about issues, about others, about ourselves. …

… To affect a change we have to change ourselves, start with ourselves, and become more open-minded about other viewpoints. We would not lose our identity, nor would we become spineless or soft, weak, flip-flop or a lesser person or anything else that we might consider negative or ‘bad’. On the contrary, we would become ‘a bigger person’ with much less ‘investment’ in and attachment to personal idiosyncrasies and therefore more free to choose from a smorgasbord of options & possibilities that we would never have known about – because we were blinkered, blind & deaf – or even contemplated previously.

I’d say: try a different viewpoint, look at things from a different angle, literally and figuratively. It doesn’t mean you must or will give up your perspective or your opinions even but I reckon you just might do that occasionally – would that be such a bad thing?

What do you reckon?

Incognito

63 comments on “Guest Post … Build Mass Movements continued. ”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    5. Has anyone gone out of the way to disprove the claim, or has only supportive evidence been sought?

    This is the confirmation bias, or the tendency to seek confirmatory evidence and to reject or ignore disconfirmatory evidence. The confirmation bias is powerful, pervasive and almost impossible for any of us to avoid. It is why the methods of science that emphasize checking and rechecking, verification and replication, and especially attempts to falsify a claim, are so critical.

    Michael Shermer.

    You can check and re-check your facts until the cows come home: until they pass independent scrutiny they’re of little use to anyone else.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Except outside the ivory tower fuck all day to day decisions in society have been, or are, or can be, made in the way that you suggest. And despite your unproven and grand assertion that “until they pass independent scrutiny they’re of little use to anyone else” those daily decisions ARE of utility to many people, much of the time.

      TL:DR society generally doesn’t need or want an elite class of self proclaimed experts to tell it what works and what doesn’t.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1

        Are you ok?

        Good luck getting ideas heard without risking a poor reception. You have to tell someone about them whether you’re doing science or politics.

        In political terms, that’s what Parliaments are supposed to be for.

        I can spend a lot of time missing a crucial fact that anyone else might notice straightaway: far from self-proclaimed expertise it’s a simple acknowledgement of ignorance.

        Love how it got you all bent out of shape though. Don’t go changing.

        • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1

          The real world doesn’t run on some continuous independent expert review of every event and every fact that you think is so important in the ivory tower.

          Good luck getting ideas heard without risking a poor reception. You have to tell someone about them whether you’re doing science or politics.

          What? I never said anything like this.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1.1

            Incognito says By choosing a single point of view we don’t give ourselves a chance to gain better understanding of or deeper insight into an issue or other person’s thoughts and feelings.

            My point is that if we do choose a point of view and get it out there the resulting discussion is a good way to inform our own opinions, given confirmation bias’ tendency to obscure.

            So I’m not talking about science, you wanker. Nor do I live or work in an “ivory tower”, shit for brains. Now fuck off.

            • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Are you OK? You seem to have gotten all bent out of shape.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Nope, just displaying calculated hostility towards a diversionary troll. You want to discuss the topic of the post? Now’d be a good time to start.

    • Incognito 1.2

      Dear One Anonymous Bloke and Colonial Viper,

      If I understand the two of you correctly then I think you’re both right!

      Yes, make a choice and choose a PoV as a starting point. Most people leave it at that, which is fine, in principle.

      OTH, some people realise the limitations of this mind-set and are curious to find out more – scientists like to put things to the test and call this validation (e.g. through falsification) although many tend to opt for confirmation, which is different. IMO, the only really effective and most efficient way to find out more is to communicate with others and listen & learn. NB this only applies to curious and open-minded people – according to some curiosity is a very strong evolutionary driving force.

      Does this apply to daily life and mundane decisions and brief encounters in the office or in the street? Well, that’s the underlying message of my comment/post: it sure does! It is not just reserved for the ‘big things’ but it equally applies to the ‘little things’ – big and little also depend on your PoV; close up little things look big and far away big things look little. Why not give it a try and find out for yourself?

      I hope I got the gist of your exchange but if not, please clarify your comments or correct me.

  2. Stuart Munro 2

    An advancing army has better morale than a garrison.

    If the Left can set and pursue a few objectives they might get somewhere.

    But they’d better be real objectives – neo-liberalism was designed to exploit non-confrontational fabian societies. Graduated surrenders merely pass greater problems on to succeeeding generations.

    What the various branches of the Left think is less important than what they do.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Indeed. Interesting then that some on the Left insist that Labour’s main problem is that their PR skills, media resources and public “narrative” aren’t properly sorted yet. Maybe it goes deeper than that?

      • Stuart Munro 2.1.1

        The argument can be made – but the ‘flawed narrative’ theme is also a preferred rightwing attack meme. I doubt Savage’s or Lee’s views were without critics – we do not remember them for their narratives but for what they achieved.

        “Look on my works ye mighty and despair” – not ‘look on my words’.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          we do not remember them for their narratives but for what they achieved.

          Then by this criteria one only needs to ask – what things has Labour in government done in the last 30 years which has changed the face of the nation – and you have your answer.

        • McFlock 2.1.1.2

          lol
          ISTR the point of that particular poem is that

          Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
          Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
          The lone and level sands stretch far away.

          i.e. the only thing remembered about Ramesses II at that stage was the narrative. They hadn’t even translated hieroglyphs when the poem was written, and even then hieroglyphs are nothing but narrative.

          • Stuart Munro 2.1.1.2.1

            Well oddly I actually like the other Ozymandias better – it is a reflection on his own society, not that of Ramses, of which he really knows little:

            Where London stood, holding the wolf in chace,
            He meets some fragments huge, and stops to guess
            What powerful but unrecorded race
            Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

            Which was always the point for me – I guess this is Keynes’s “In the long run…” Smith was beginning to question the presumptions of British hegemony, which under Castlereigh (stop traveller, and piss) was not the best of places.

            But a healthy critique for empires is not of necessity a healthy critique for growing political movements. My experience of many political voices in NZ is that they speak their critical ‘truth’ to the disempowered, not the powerful.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    There is much wisdom here in what Incognito writes. People in the provincial areas of NZ are amongst the most caring, practical and community minded of all Kiwis. And many will never ever vote Labour or the Greens as they exist today. The gap in culture and perspective is just too wide.

    Thanks for putting this up, RL.

    • Tautuhi 3.1

      National and Labour have been equally useless over the last 40 years No 1 in the OECD to No 23 in the OECD, is not a very good performance by my reckoning?

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        A total fucking disaster. And despite these outstanding results, MPs on both sides of the House are more than happy to bank their top 2% pay packets and all the rest of their perks.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2

      That’s as good an example of confirmation bias and binary thinking as you could hope to find anywhere.

      Incognito’s message is to try and see things from other people’s perspective, so you respond by re-iterating your inability to do exactly that vis-a-vis Labour MPs.

      It isn’t so much the opinion that’s toxic, it’s the fact of being so sure you’re right.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        Feel free to performance review me like the boss you think you are, when you are paying me my hourly rate.

  4. Matthew Hooton 4

    “We all seem to be guilty of linear one-dimensional and dichotomous thinking from time to time.”

    Exactly what the median voter was saying the other day.

  5. fisiani 5

    If you asked a visitor to NZ which party would raise benefits dramatically and extend free health care to all primary children what would their answer be? They would be surprised when they discover it was National.
    Labour spend hours trying to think of possible bribes for groups of voters. They believe that votes can be bought and that might win them election in 2017.
    For instance Labour might want to cut tertiary fees to all students, even those from millionaire backgrounds.
    National could offer student scholarships based on merit.
    Do the Left actually object to such scholarships?
    There are so many moles in Labour now that National know their plans before the Labour caucus know the plans.
    Given that Labour are now controlled by the unions, and the unions are out of touch with the aspirations of New Zealand I cannot see how Labour can have a charismatic leader able to thwart the unions.

  6. madtom 6

    I think this post is right on target, but I don’t know if the bullseye can ever be hit here in New Zealand.

    Natural selection has always acted by pitting two different ways of doing something against each other and letting the better survivor survive. Not necessarily the nicer one, or even the smarter one. Human culture has continued this pattern. For tens of millions of years before we humans even evolved, our simian ancestors lived in groups.

    They evolved patterns of group behavior that look as strong as any instinct anywhere in the animal kingdom. And we still have those instincts in our own operating systems.

    Look at Donald Trump, doing everything a chimp does to become alpha male of his group: making loud noises, shaking the branches, posturing, attracting everyone’s attention, challenging the leaders and other contenders and laughing off their attacks on him. Facts, truth and logic don’t matter nearly as much as showmanship, and *can* be laughed off.

    We live instinctively by the rule: “Be in a group and be a loyal conformist; other groups are your enemies”.

    Some of us are clever enough to consciously take advantage of this. How far back does “divide and conquer (or “rule”)” go in history, anyway? Many rulers have known how to promote division in the ranks of their competitors, getting them to form subgroups.

    That’s who’s ruling us now. And we will remain divided and ruled as long as otherwise thoughtful people fail to feel this in their guts, where other instincts operate.

    There are so many subgroups already in existence in the opposition, each with its own reasons not to like the others much – well, what would we predict from that?

    Is there a way to form a unified supergroup? Unless we find a way, relax and enjoy the ride toward the Right. Appeal to intellect and idealism? Suure! It is *so* much easier to get people to join a group whose main aim is to make money and dominate others. Lowest common denominator wins.

    • Incognito 6.1

      Thanks for the feedback!

      Yes, to some extent this is driven by instinct and to some extent this simply learned habitual behaviour. I’ve got too many thoughts on this to fit into a short & quick reply right now, unfortunately. Evolutionary speaking, empathy and cooperation, or group solidarity, are part of our instincts but so are selfishness and competition. It all depends on the environmental context which of the two ‘traits’ dominates (check out the work by primatologist Frans de Waal). This is now manifesting in the socio-politico-economic dilemma of liberty versus equality. I believe there is no real (!) difference between people that vote for the left or the right; they fundamentally and intrinsically all want the same. In other words, the so-called “division” between left and right is a human-made artefact or an illusion. Need to stop here, sorry.

    • Like most people that talk about Darwin, I think you’ve a misunderstanding of survival of the fittest.

      In Origin of species he is very clear; It is variation within species that is key to survival.

      It’s not the strongest member (Alpha male) of one variation that drives evolution, it’s variation which allows the species to survive when conditions change and one variation (including that alpha male) gets wiped out.

      A better analogy for politics is mating behaviour among mammals – the alpha runs off all opposition in order to rule unopposed.

    • Yes realpolitick is powerful and ugly – yet I would argue most human progress has been made when people are able to put aside rugged tribal allegiances and look over the fence to create something better. Sometimes that happens following a tragedy or disaster – the German constitution is a case in point as is the League of Nations formed after the 1st WW and the UN and Universal Declaration of Human Rights following the Second WW.

      On other occasions it happens when enough people see new possibilities under conditions that allowed wide ranging debate. Perhaps the intent of the Treaty partners was one such example. The social legislation of the Liberal governments of the 1800s, New Zealand’s important role in the decolonisation movement, early adoption of Universal Suffrage, the break-up of big land-holdings that were causing huge inequality and stifling agricultural development and the legislation of the 1935 NZ government in creating a just society are others.

      The other aspect of these progressive initiatives is that they are not driven by the accumulation of power, by money or the market but by the desire to make things better. None were inevitable and to a large extent deciding ‘what to do’ was a discussion that included many perspectives and choices.

      The danger under current conditions (secret negotiations, diminished democracy, un-named austerity, diminished 4th estate) is that the use of “power over” is seen as inevitable and the natural order of things when it is not. There are other kinds of power – power with people and power for people that embody service to humanity and the planet.

      I also think that there is much interesting thinking taking place here in NZ of this kind exploratory and experimental – either effective at the moment or awaiting times that are more beneficent and fruitful for pro-people rather than pro-corporate leadership. There are huge problems to solve – climate change being the most urgent – and it is important to include perspectives and the talents of many to create enduring solutions.

      These and other initiatives are the fragments which I see as cutting across political divides as well as building a livable future. The Wise Response & UBI campaigns, Co-operative movement, Living Wage Campaign, Social Enterprise initiatives, the Transport Blog (whose solid work on Auckland Transport over years is about to bear fruit this week I hear, having made the city rail link a no-brainer even for a government that was not keen), as well as innovative work on diversified local power generation, media funding, waste management and many other issues.

      • Incognito 6.3.1

        Hi Jan, have you got any specific websites or links regarding the ”interesting thinking taking place here in NZ of this kind exploratory and experimental” you were referring to?

        • Jan Rivers 6.3.1.1

          Without going overboard I see everywhere constrained good ideas in development that speak to New Zealander’s idealism and desire to shape the future rather than have the market shape it for us. Also to”do the right thing” for other people and the planet. This is our territory, progressive territory – the politics of human potential, co-operation and planetary survival. There are many things already in chain that a progressive government could readily take up and adapt into quality legislation and policy settings.

          Here is one I heard about today. Rod Oram was speaking about low carbon transport and it seems a research unit at Waikato University have looked at what would be required to support battery powered vehicles in NZ which could make an significant reduction to transport carbon intensity. http://www.waikato.ac.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/278080/Electric-Vehicle-Policy-New-Zealand-in-a-Comparative-Context.pdf

          Free market / winner takes all economies will never deliver outcomes like this.

          There would be a hundred, perhaps a thousand, pieces of work like this waiting to be incorporated into a broad based, popular progressive agenda.

          More importantly though for me these 2 posts & discussion has lit a flame for a different kind of debate about NZ. The debate about engaging hearts and minds to human-sized and not corporatised, market led future is the only one worth having. What will help that happen?

  7. gsays 7

    well done again rl and incognito,
    i must put my hand up and acknowledge that i have shifted a few attitudes after reading some of the discussions here and elsewhere re: rape culture.
    i have been guilty of being insensitive in the past and have been concious of my words and thoughts since.

    this doesn’t mean that i agree whole heartedly with all that is said along these lines but my attitude has clearly been moderated.

    • Incognito 7.1

      Your comment mirrors my personal experience here on TS. It is not about agreeing or disagreeing; it is about willing to step into the other person’s mind, so to speak, and see things through their eyes for a moment. And then to act on that accordingly, in word and deed.

  8. weka 8

    Very good post Incognito.

    I wonder if the whole unity thing is part of an outdated dichotomy. Calls for unity seem to go hand in hand with accusations of betrayal or not behaving well enough for the cause (and thus creating disunity). I tend to think that more than unity we need diversity, and that being able to have tolerance for diversity enables us to work together whether we all agree or are united or not. That’s one of the things you post speaks to for me, because that degree of tolerance, and respect, is dependent on us being willing and able to see other people’s point of views and value them even if we disagree.

    The other thing it sparks for me is the culture here on ts of being so anti-right that we often never move past the rhetoric. It bothers me because a big chunk of NZ people are conservatives and how can we have a progressive society if we perceive them as being evil? It also bothers me because it frames the problem as a progressive/conservative conflict and that’s not NZ’s problem (it probably is the US’s). NZ’s problem is that the conservatives have been hijacked by the neoliberals and National has been turned into a proto-fascist party. They’re no longer traditional conservatives and we’re fighting the wrong battle when we keep talking as if they are.

    I get that there are people for whom antipathy towards the right comes from serious political and personal experiences, and that to suggest taking a different tack is going to be anathema. But we’re no longer in the old world of successive government changes between conservatives and progressives (which at least maintained some degree of balance). The world we are in is much much worse, and it’s what I think Red was pointing to yesterday, that the ground beneath us has shifted and we haven’t yet adapted.

    If you look at how ecosystems function and thrive, it’s all about the relationships between the different parts of the ecosystem. If diversity is valued the system becomes much stronger, and where diversity is reduced you create instability and loss of resilience (consider the stability of a forest compared to a crop of wheat). Building relationships is critical to this and being able to work with differing viewpoints is critical to building relationships.

    I think we should be building relationships with conservatives, not the likes of Hooton or BM, but the NZers who still care about other people but do so from traditional, stable position that complements the push for change that comes with the progressives. We also need to build relationships with people who simply see the world as existing largely outside of that frame. They’re the ones who are going to increasingly decide who becomes government.

    • Incognito 8.1

      A very good comment!

      No time right now to provide a long in-depth reply but when thinking about “unity” I’d be much closer to unity as in your example of “ecosystems” and the necessary (!) relationships between the parts. The same can be said for the brain: it contains parts (centres) that are connected (relationships) for the overall functioning of the brain, that make the brain into what it is. The basic units are the individual neurons but if you focus on one single neuron, or just one or two centres, you’re missing the whole of the brain! A similar parallel can be drawn for our society.

      If the parts don’t communicate properly we’ll have a problem and that’s what I think is going on right now in our World and I don’t believe I’m the only one feeling like this. I also like to be a critic in the original meaning of the word and think of a way forward – there is a way forward, there always is.

      I’d like to take this a lot further but that would also run the risk of starting to sound like a ‘nutter’ so I prefer to develop my thoughts slowly over time and bounce off some ideas as they take form.

      • weka 8.1.1

        Nice analogy with the brain. I’m tempted to say let’s replace ‘unity’ with ‘synergy’ except I’m sure the word synergy is too loaded from middle management/new age speak for some here 😉

        Synergy – the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects

        Unity on the other hand implies oneness, and often that comes across as a monoculture rather than a diversity eg the standard is divisive and not promoting unity because it allows so much criticism of Labour. So under unity you get a range of organisations being lumped together as ‘one’ without much thought for how that might actually work given the differences (other than stfu). The diversity model allows for each organisation to be a discrete entity with its own agenda because it’s the relationships and how they are done that create the working together, not some enforced structure of agreeing with each other or being under some umbrella.

        So if we look at synergy instead instead of unity we need to look at the relationships between Labour and say the standard and how they can be built and sustained in such a way as to help the left.

        I like your approach and I agree that this is a good one to explore to see if it’s going to help us out of the mess we are in.

        • Incognito 8.1.1.1

          Hi weka, I liked your considered comments 8 and 8.1.1 and I agree that (our) relationships are the key. I’d love to elaborate on all the points you made but instead I prefer to pick up on one in particular and which connects to my hasty comment to madtom @ 6.1.

          Personally, I believe that our socio-political system is not based on or caused by inevitability but entirely man-made. Similarly, the concepts of conservative & progressive or left & right are human constructs. They are associated with certain views of and attitudes towards the world and others and influence our approaches to ‘problems’, e.g. unemployment & social welfare.

          All this is shaped (and conditioned) by our upbringing, education, personal experiences, and so on, but to be left or right is not in our DNA, it is not inevitable, and is simply a label that covers most (but not all) of our views and perspectives. As such, it ought to be relatively easy to assume a different PoV, for a brief moment or as a ‘training exercise’, and even build relationships with others that have a different PoV.

          However, for one reason or another the differences between left & right, for example, have been exaggerated and entrenched as if they are real fundamental differences that even have a quasi-biological basis. When intelligent articulate people such as George Monbiot do not seem to counter these kinds of perceptions (e.g. see The right’s stupidity spreads, enabled by a too-polite left) you know we have a problem that has gone too far.

          So, now we treat people at the opposite side of the political spectrum as our arch enemy, our Nemesis, with much disdain, disgust, and hostility, almost as if they are from an entirely different species that needs to be exterminated, politically speaking, of course.

          Yes, we need to build relationships with left & right but first we need to realise that we are not really all that different!

          • weka 8.1.1.1.1

            I pretty much agree with all of that. The whole all righties are evil rhetoric that plagues the standard commentary is a block to us getting out of the mess we are in.

            I wonder if the age of the internet and exposure to US politics has made this worse. Because their political divides are much more entrenched (and frankly, weird). I also think the neoliberal betrayal of the left is a factor, and this is another block to finding solutions – too much we think we are still fighting conservatives, but we’re not.

            Where we probably disagree is that I think we are different and that those differences are bigger than when I was younger. That’s the real damage that neoliberalism has done. The turning of NZ into The Nasty Country, and the divide between those who are and those who are motivated primarily by self-interest, those things were created, they didn’t just happen. And now I think they’re intentionally reinforced.

            I’m pretty sheltered in my life presently from people who think very differently from me. If I went off what I see on ts, I’d be very down about the whole thing 😉 So I can probably be convinced that NZers still have more in common with each other than not.

            • Sacha 8.1.1.1.1.1

              NZ’s right deliberately imported the US right’s destructive ideas about how to conduct politics. It sure hasn’t helped.

              • weka

                Any thoughts on how to redress that?

                • Sacha

                  Beef up the left’s strategic nous about how to use ways of organising and communicating that reflect our values. See those recent posts here about building mass movements and add muscle. This is not some game.

                  • weka

                    Sounds good, although the left in that case is too broad a term. I’d say the Greens already do that (organise and communicate from their values), that Labour are a hopeless case at the caucus level, I’m unclear at the membership level (I read varying things) and outside of that we’re still not any closer to cooperating. The standard always seems a good proving ground or place to practice, but it’s like hearding cats. I hope the recent posts start to shift things somewhat.

                    It also begs the question of what are our values?

                    • Sacha

                      diverse. 🙂

                    • Incognito

                      Yes, values are important but so are motives and not many people seem to question their own motives.

                      When I see the sheer volume of comments here on TS I often wonder how people have time to read and write all these comments let alone think about them. I know, a lot of it is good old banter and that’s essential too. Over time I’ve also come to ‘know’ a few commenters for their idiosyncrasies.

                      I believe that reflection and examination of my own values and motives change my perspectives, slowly. I do have to watch myself continuously – I’ve deleted so many comments before posting them mainly because they added nothing and were just to confirm my ‘attitude of the moment’.

                  • Incognito

                    I’d like to add to this great discussion thread.

                    I’ argue that “redressing” things might not be very effective as, for me, it has a ‘corrective’ sound to it; it also feels like an action-reaction way of dealing with issues.

                    I don’t think there are right or wrong answers or even any answer at all for some of the socio-political issues that we’re currently facing. We simply (!) have to find new (!) ways to conduct ourselves and move forward. If we keep doing the same thing we’ll get the same results so we have to charter new ideas, ways, and territory. That said, I don’t think we lack any specific ‘tools’, ‘skills’, or ‘info’ to move forwards and onwards; these are excuses to hide our fears and uncertainties. To use an analogy: you cannot learn to swim till you jump into the water. Yes, you may drown, or you may swim.

  9. Papa tuanuku 9

    Editing tips. Put the explanatory note at the end of the article. I felt that it took about three quarters of the article before you started talking about the subject heading, which means you will loose people. The article could have been written in half the words used. Opening paragraph does not seem to reference the topics hope this helps.

  10. Tiger Mountain 10

    an old left saying is “work with, and struggle against” which is really an expression of how dialectical thought, action and reflection can operate

    or in other words;
    –determine your main enemy
    –don’t burn bridges with potential allies (which is most people in some situation)
    –tactics and strategy are not necessarily the same thing

  11. Sacha 11

    I’d vote for words like “cooperation” over synergy any day. Most people already know what they mean.

    • Incognito 11.1

      In my vocabulary “cooperate” is quite a ‘weak’ verb. For example, when Police question a person about a committed crime this person is often said to “cooperate” with the Police. Frequently the same person is later arrested and charged with the offence. You can bet your house on it that the alleged offender did not “collaborate” and they certainly did not “synergise” with the cops.

      I think TS is an example of synergy: the interaction between Posters and Commenters is more than the simple sum of the individual posts and comments.

      Synergy can mean different things but generally it means something like the whole is greater than the parts simply added together.

      • weka 11.1.1

        Cooperation and synergy aren’t synonymous (in how I was using the term). But I agree the word synergy is a problem and I can’t think of anything better because they’re all like that. Gestalt? There’s probably something to be said about why that is.

        • Sacha 11.1.1.1

          ‘work together’?

          • Incognito 11.1.1.1.1

            Pedantic as it may sound, I’d use the word that best describes what you mean. I strongly believe “synergy” is an under-utilised and perhaps misunderstood word that ought to be used more frequently in political discourse and discussions about our society.

            A nice illustration of a meaning of synergy is the chemistry between (lead) actors on-screen (often between a man & woman) that gives it an almost magical touch that goes beyond simply good acting and directing, etc.

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