Friday, March 22, 2013

Political Reasoning and Cultural Conflict

All political reasoning is of this general form:

Given that we agree that X,Y, and/or Z are valuable and worth pursuing, the evidence suggests that policy A is the best attainable policy for promoting X, Y, and/or Z. This is my evidence. Now join me in supporting policy A.

True political reasoning is, truly, reasoning. It is a job solely of seeing how elements relate to one another. Reasoning in an of itself can not dictate a course of action, that reasoning requires value judgments to be made as well. Only once people are on the same page with regard to what is desirable can policy questions become mere questions of science and the relation of elements.

Culture conflict is what occurs when one party considers X valuable and the other party considers Z valuable. Or more likely, when one party values X and Z but holds X in higher regard whereas the other party places Z before X in their own hierarchy of values. Science and reason have their place in such a conflict, but they are secondary to the primary difficulty of getting the two parties to agree to which values they are going to pursue in what proportion.

The way to deal with this situation is a little reasoning, a little negotiation, a little compromise, but at its essence, through sheer conflict. Both sides must try to force their way via the mechanisms of the political system and amassing the collective wills of their power bases. To expect unity and understanding between the two parties is to misunderstand the nature of the divide between them.

Consequently, to produce converts, one must not target the mind of his mark, but rather the heart. Steer his will in another direction, arouse a new desire in him. You can fine tune his efforts with reason, but the efforts gain their general direction and their force from his will.

We can complain about the absence of rational discussion in national, political discourse, but that betrays a misunderstanding of what is most fundamental to agreement.  

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