"The world is perishing from an orgy of weasel-words."—Linz. The explanation for this is:

administrator's picture
Submitted by administrator on Sun, 2010-03-28 10:44
Linz is wrong. The world isn't perishing at all, from anything. No explanation required.
5% (1 vote)
Gramsci/Alinsky: the "long march through the culture," dispensing sugar along the way.
35% (7 votes)
Social metaphysics. It's "cool" to talk in weasel-words.
5% (1 vote)
Innocent ignorance. Folk are so brainwashed they don't know any better.
10% (2 votes)
Headbanging and associated drug-taking. Folks' brains are addled from it all.
10% (2 votes)
Parts of all/some of the above (explain).
10% (2 votes)
Other (explain).
25% (5 votes)
Total votes: 20

The Power of Logic

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Lindsay wrote: "Your post is logically incoherent. You profess to oppose weaseldom yet embrace two of its most egregious practitioners: Parille and Sciabarra. You endorse the fallacy that to call someone what he demonstrably is is ad hominem, while using actual ad hominem against Ayn Rand, whose insights you're happy to plagiarize without attribution. There's a non-weasel-word for that: parasite.

"Please do not profess any sympathy for me in the trouble I get into for my refusal to use weasel words ... while you champion weasel-worders. There's a non-weasel-word for that too: hypocrite. The justice of its use is reinforced by your protestations of hatred for Islam while you cheerlead for Islam's most disgusting appeasers."

A remarkable series of unsubstantiated claims evidently derived from the clear blue sky! At the very least, it would be interesting to hear how I plagiarize AR, and cheerlead for Islamic appeasers.

I'm certainly unaware of how Chris Sciabarra and Neil Parille use weasel words or make weasel statements. They almost always seem like impressive gentlemen of solid learning and high education who consistently make accurate and exact scholar-like statements. Altho' they're extraordinarily courteous, they stick to their intellectual guns and don't back down when confronted, as far as I can tell. Their only apparent "sin" is being unusually respectful and polite to all, including many who clearly don't deserve it. But this is probably because they frequently participate in the Objectivist milieu -- a world where censorship and excommunication of dissenters is the rule, not the exception.

My notion of weasel statements is that they're mostly confined to the mainstream media and high-level academia. These folks know little of objectivity and neutrality, as well as genuine respect and courtesy, which should be applied to honest, brave, high-integrity, open, free discussion and debate -- but not to the morally low or their advocates.

Without a doubt, the best arguers are those who successfully destroy the arguments of their opponents -- not merely assert derogations regarding their opponent's intelligence and virtue. To just issue insults and crush debate -- without offering actual arguments, and lines of reasoning -- is as weak and weaselly as one can get.

Federal Government Owns Much of Utah

Luke Setzer's picture

Per http://www.denverpost.com/brea... much of Utah belongs to the U.S. government so I cannot make a fair assessment of it as a "Mormon State."

Luke...

Marcus's picture

"I cannot comment about how prosperous a whole Mormon state would be."

How about the state of Utah? Shouldn't we just compare their economy with the rest of the US states?

It's not one of the top ones is it?

Well Said

Doug Bandler's picture

I still would not support a theocracy in any form even if it meant forfeiting some material prosperity in exchange for spiritual freedom.

Well said.

Mormons

Luke Setzer's picture

The Mormons I have encountered have all been industrious, prosperous, and religious, so obviously they can co-exist in a subculture. I cannot comment about how prosperous a whole Mormon state would be. Perhaps someone familiar with Mormon history can comment. I still would not support a theocracy in any form even if it meant forfeiting some material prosperity in exchange for spiritual freedom.

Marcus

Doug Bandler's picture

How about the Roman and Greek Empires? I believe skepticism and sexual freedom was alive and well during their golden age.

I can't claim to be an expert here, but I think the counter argument would be that Rome was strong when it had greater allegiance to its traditions and its religion and that it started to weaken when Greek skepticism spread (and it spread in many forms). Christianity would ultimately benefit from this but I don't think it is accurate to say that Christianity killed the Roman world. It just profited from the fall.

I'm not trying to defend social conservatism but it does seem that societies can thrive while being socially conservative and moderately religious. Also, from what I know of history, it seems that the pattern is that a moderately religious, tradition oriented society grows in strength and prosperity and then it becomes increasingly collectivist, decadent, skeptical, nihilistic and ultimately it collapses or is conquered. This is most clear in the ancient world with the Roman Republic. America seems to be going down that same road.

Some Asian countries seem to be like 19th century America in that they are embracing some elements of economic liberty but combining that with socially conservative and traditional attitudes toward sex and family. I don't know how they will turn out. If the West should kill itself, will Asia become the bearer of the torch of liberty? Hard to tell.

Andre

Brant Gaede's picture

"Andre" is Kyrel.

--Brant

Linz, who is Andre?

Marcus's picture

Has he posted here?

Doug,

"Also, no society has been able to survive once it permitted a high degree of sexual and personal freedoms...What history has shown, I think, is that a society can survive with some mix of the objective and the intrinsic (i.e. religion/mysticism) but it can not survive for long with any significant degree of subjectivism/relativism/skepticism. Skepticism and subjectivism are civilizational killers."

How about the Roman and Greek Empires? I believe skepticism and sexual freedom was alive and well during their golden age.

The Roman Empire only collapsed after they abandoned their sexual freedoms in exchange for prudish Christianity.

Andre

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Your post is logically incoherent. You profess to oppose weaseldom yet embrace two of its most egregious practitioners: Parille and Sciabarra. You endorse the fallacy that to call someone what he demonstrably is is ad hominem, while using actual ad hominem against Ayn Rand, whose insights you're happy to plagiarize without attribution. There's a non-weasel-word for that: parasite.

Please do not profess any sympathy for me in the trouble I get into for my refusal to use weasel words ... while you champion weasel-worders. There's a non-weasel-word for that too: hypocrite. The justice of its use is reinforced by your protestations of hatred for Islam while you cheerlead for Islam's most disgusting appeasers.

Fiscally Conservative Socially Conservative

Doug Bandler's picture

Indeed it may be they're just embracing the colonial values they inherited from the British Empire towards 'Free Trade' and that without the proper ideology of liberty and freedom to back it up, it will eventually collapse. Only time will tell.

This raises a subject that I think about frequently. It seems that some of the Asian Tigers are, what I would call, fiscally conservative & socially conservative. Or, stated another way, they allow for a high degree of economic liberty but restrain social or personal liberty (personal/sexual freedoms). But couldn't we say that Britain and America were like that for a couple of centuries and that social conservatism eventually came to an end with the 1960s?

In the Robert Kocher thread I pointed out that the entire PaleoConservative movement essentially blames our present descent and the modern Leftist hegemony on the sexual and personal liberation movements (along with multi-racialism which they see as part of the same "permissiveness" ideology). I disagree with this entirely but the point remains that a nation can be prosperous and powerful without social freedoms.

In fact it seems from the examples of Rome and England that, historically speaking, once conservative and traditional morals break down then civilization starts its path towards its end. I think what is happening is what Dr. Peikoff is getting at with DIM; namely intrinsicism gives way to subjectivism and vice-versa. What history has shown, I think, is that a society can survive with some mix of the objective and the intrinsic (i.e. religion/mysticism) but it can not survive for long with any significant degree of subjectivism/relativism/skepticism. Skepticism and subjectivism are civilizational killers.

Also, no society has been able to survive once it permitted a high degree of sexual and personal freedoms. The conservatives constantly use this fact to argue that not only Leftism but Libertarianism and Objectivism are therefore destructive ideologies with no basis in historical fact. I disagree but it will be for some distant future society to prove that sexual freedoms are not the path to hell. Believe it or not, if the modern West should fall, many old-school conservatives are working night and day to lay the blame at the feet of individualism/libertarianism/secularism/"unrestrained" capitalism/"too-much-freedom", etc.. We Objectivists have our work cut out for us, not only to prevent the fall but to explain it properly if the end should come.

As for Singapore and the Asian world, it will be interesting to see what direction they go. A friend of mine just came back from China and he said that for the first time in the 20 years he has been going there for business he saw fat people and especially fat teenagers. Looks like they too are going the way of Rome.

Good point Doug...

Marcus's picture

The west back in the 60's may be a good illustration of the mentality Singapore has today.

But it may illustrate something else as well. Capitalism or mercantilism (if you prefer) could just as much be a product of cultural values as a flow on effect of personal liberty.

In general Chinese people believe that in order to be honourable one must be hard working and industrious. That wealth is not a bad thing.

Of course, they may become flabby like the west has become, to get back to the topic of Weasel Words causing the world to perish. However, one would expect that a dumbed-down western culture will use less weasel words. The effective usage of such words actually requires a degree of education and intelligence. Not everyone can have the golden throat of a politician or a sophist.

People were arguing with me recently that an authoritarian regime can only lead to misery and collapse. It would be fair to call China, India and Singapore semi-authoritarian regimes.

Indeed it may be they're just embracing the colonial values they inherited from the British Empire towards 'Free Trade' and that without the proper ideology of liberty and freedom to back it up, it will eventually collapse. Only time will tell.

However, the interesting anomaly is that Singapore has been embracing authoritarianism while still prospering, whereas China and India have been becoming more liberal from a previously more centrally planned economy and society.

The New Left

gregster's picture

I gave away my copy of The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution to someone who may or may not get it. So I've had to re-borrow the expanded edition, Return of the Primitive twice since from the library. Bloody great book. As Luke said, education is the key and that's been hijacked a long time ago. Philosophy then education then philosophy into action. So the Gramsci one is most close. As put here for example. This subject/thread demands expansion as often as possible.

Marcus

Doug Bandler's picture

Interesting description of Singapore. Many cultural Conservatives would like to do that with America - return to the pre-1950s world of traditional moral values; i.e. public respect for Christianity, undoing the entire post-60s sexual revolution, gays back in the closet, women back in the home, modest public attire, no porn, no bikinis, restrictions on all the "sins" (sex, cigarettes, alcohol), etc.. The only difference is that they would like to reinstate a Mercantilist / Nationalist economic policy. They would argue that America should be more like Singapore.

But it is interesting to me how compartmentalized a people can be. They just don't understand what genuine liberty really is. Who does at this point?

Pragmatism

Doug Bandler's picture

I would say that Pragmatism is what is chiefly responsible. Today, Pragmatism is the chief form that skepticism takes. Pragmatism has destroyed the ability of anyone infected (nearly everyone) to think in principle. Thus Weasel words are the result as no one is certain of anything so how can you speak in absolute terms with a moral passion to boot. Further, Pragmatism has created an environment where anyone who doesn't use Weasel words is a potential target for the accusations of "fascism", "racism" and just being a big old "meanie". Pragmatism in many ways is a more formidable enemy than Communism.

Decimating the Argument, Not the Person

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Weasel words and statements are pretty awful. I avoid them more than any other Objectivist, I think. And I pay a price for this, as does Lindsay, and a few refreshing, invigorating, inspiring others. I think the world is suffering from weaseldom considerably -- but I don't think it's perishing from it. The great world-destroyer here is mistaken words and arguments.

The opposite of weaseldom, however, isn't gratuitous judgmentalism, inappropriate moralizing, and hostile pychologizing -- a seriously erroneous legacy of Ayn Rand and Randroidism. Still less is it name-calling, insults, and ad hominems.

The great disideratum, in my view, is stating your views strongly and clearly, while still giving a fairly full explanation of why you think thus. Hopefully you're being highly rational, intelligent, educated, and perceptive as you speak or write.

I think it's almost always best to refute the other person's arguments and destroy his logic -- not attack him personally, or seek to annihilate his good name and reputation. If you're a truly superior person -- or at least have truly superior arguments -- the conversational opponent involved will indeed have his intellectual and moral qualities assaulted and diminished. It isn't necessary, and usually isn't proper, to attack him directly. A respectful, sophisticated, uplifting, indirect attack -- mostly or completely confined to addressing the issues at stake -- is far the most effective way to cut another person down to size -- if that's your goal.

When discussing the issues, I think it's hugely possible -- albeit not always easy -- to make your point strongly and clearly, while avoiding both weasel words and personal insults. I'm even willing to jump directly into controversy here by citing who I think are some good models: William Dwyer, Gennady Stolyarov, Robert Bidinotto, Chris Sciabarra, and Neil Parille.

Government Schools

Luke Setzer's picture

I selected "Parts of all/some of the above (explain)" because of the mass production mentality of government schools. Traditional schooling adopts a factory mentality and treats children as empty vessels to fill or blobs of wax to mold. By contrast, Montessori treats the child as a self-directed learning machine with a natural hunger for knowledge. Visit http://www.montessori-science.org to learn more.

Yes, I know private schools have the same "factory" mindset. My point is that the repeal of compulsory education laws and the withdrawal of government from the education racket would lead over time to radical reforms in the culture. Hence my poll selection because the current system of uniformity and compulsion from kindergarten forward encourages social metaphysics, "cool" language, ignorance, headbanging, etc.

Other....

Marcus's picture

...I don't know specifically what Linz is referring to. I would need more of an explanation. As I've just been away on holiday I may just have missed something on SOLO.

Food for thought: One of the countries I visited was Singapore. You could tell that their lives are regulated beyond even what we have in the west. There is virtually nowhere you can smoke in public and sale of tobacco products is highly regulated. They didn't need the smoking lobby for those laws to come in - they are way ahead of the west in that respect. I am sure you are aware - it's famous. It is also a big "no,no" to criticise the government in the press or in book form. You never see that anywhere. I'm not even sure they are allowed to be critical of Lee Kuan Yew. His son is now Prime Minister. People in Singapore live happily in this state and genuflect to the Government being very law-abiding.

Yet, this country is far more capitalist than NZ or UK. There is an island in the harbour called Sentosa. It is basically run by a conglomeration of companies, transport, hotels, beaches - everything. When you go there you sort of get taken into their care, and they do a hell of a professional job. You can't imagine something existing like this in the west. Someone would have demanded some public access or "rights" of the commons by now.

When you enter shops in Singapore and ask for advice, it costs - in the sense that they will happily refer you on to their own businesses. However, if you want just free advice on directions to something they don't sell, they will give it only very begrudgingly. In the west, people regard such a mentality as just being rude and greedy.

So my question is this. How can this country be so capitalistic in mentality and yet have no qualms about living under the laws of tyrants that restricts their personal liberties?

Quote: In 2009, "President Barack Obama introduced Lee Kuan Yew as:
"... one of the legendary figures of Asia in the 20th and 21st centuries. He is somebody who helped to trigger the Asian economic miracle."

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