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On Why I Often Do Not Discuss Politics - The Mad Schemes of Dr. Tectonic [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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On Why I Often Do Not Discuss Politics [Jun. 1st, 2010|05:17 pm]
dpolicar posted about the ridiculousness of the Israel-Gaza situation, and commenting on it led me to some more conscious awareness of how I think about problems. And rather than threadjack, I thought I'd make a post out of it.

The situation is, indeed, completely ridiculous, and now that I read up a bit and know more about it, I suspect that I probably can't talk usefully much about it.

I get this way with topics where it seems clear to me that there's an underlying root cause of which most of the issues that concern people are symptoms. Once I feel like that has been identified, I want the discussion to shift focus to dealing with that, and I get impatient when it doesn't. Because it's... I want to be diplomatic and say that it's inefficient or sub-optimal to work on fixing the symptoms when you could be addressing the actual core problem, but the truth is that really how I feel is that it's fucking stupid not to move from symptoms to cause, and there's a part of me that gets seriously offended that we're sticking with the initial issue and not switching to What Really Matters™.

Note that I'm not against being told that I'm wrong about what the root cause is, or that yes, we all KNOW what the real issue is, but it's intractible or all the solutions are infeasible, which is why we're dealing with symptoms. Or that dealing with symptoms, or even just talking about our feelings about the symptomatic issues, is a necessary prerequisite to dealing with the real problem. That offended little problem-solving bit of me recognizes all those kinds of things as valid reasons not to refocus.

The thing is, the rest of me also knows that it's not really about solving the problem in the first place. Usually, we're just talking about something of common interest. This is what people do. So I try to keep my mouth shut and give others space to talk, because when everybody is having a fruitful discussion about X, unless we've explicitly set out to do serious problem-solving on the issue, it would be pretty damn rude to demand that we redirect to Y just because I believe that's more central. Especially with general politics and philosophy kinds of topics, because it's not like anybody involved is going to be setting national policy, or anything like that. It's more like the people talking are collectively thinking aloud, examining the subject as a group to see what we think about it and what that says about us. Which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

But always, always, always, there's this part of me champing at the bit to yell "fine, yes, that's all very interesting, but are we just going to blather on about all this, or do you want to actually figure out how to FIX the dang PROBLEM? Forget about X! X is irrelevant! X would vanish entirely if we dealt with Y! Y is what matters here! Now please to be examining my exceedingly lucid analysis of Y and admiring the brilliance of my proposed solution, or at least helping me to be brainstorming such a thing."

And the thing is, from there? It's not far to insisting that everyone accede to my demands, more power to the device, they called me mad, cower before my might, activate the ray, et cetera et cetera and it always ends in tears and explosions. Or at least in everyone thinking I'm tiresome and annoying. So instead, I just keep quiet.

From: detailbear
2010-06-02 12:08 am (UTC)
There are like-minded people out there. The problem is finding them.

Also, in starting such a discussion, it is important to declare "The Intent of the Discussion" before you jump in. I, for one, would love to have such a discussion.
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[User Picture]From: goddessdster
2010-06-02 12:47 am (UTC)
Hmmmm. I love your insight, and nothing you've said here surprises me much given what I've learned about you. But I am curious as to what you perceive some of the solutions to be. Because most of the things I get really worked up and symptomy about rarely have a solution beyond People Need to Treat Each Other With More Decency and Respect. Or perhaps I've become jaded because, in my line of work, I see too much entanglement. One problem's solution fucks this other system up, and so on.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2010-06-02 03:08 am (UTC)
Usually it's something off to the side. Consider, say, abortion. I would argue that the real problem isn't our collective inability to reach agreement on when and whether it should be legal, but simply that involuntary pregnancies are not vanishingly uncommon. Fix THAT, and the whole issue vanishes. And we could easily make vast progress in that direction if we focused effort there instead of fighting the perpetual impasse the issue has become...
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[User Picture]From: bluebear2
2010-06-02 04:08 am (UTC)
Yeah, the people usually against abortion also tend to be against sex education. Either they are really messed up or they actually want more unwed mothers.
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[User Picture]From: shirtlifterbear
2010-06-03 04:46 pm (UTC)
I always say I'm Pro-Contraception.

No pregnancy = no argument about abortion.

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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2010-06-02 01:02 am (UTC)
Yeah, pretty much.

So, what really matters?
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2010-06-02 02:50 am (UTC)
In this particular case? I would say the expansion of Israeli territory in the Six Day War in 1967.
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[User Picture]From: dcseain
2010-06-02 10:50 am (UTC)
I agree.
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[User Picture]From: goobermunch
2010-06-03 01:53 am (UTC)
Is it relevant that Israel offered to return the Gaza Strip to Egypt in 1978 but that Egypt politely declined?

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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2010-06-03 02:39 am (UTC)
Yes, although I think that's a somewhat leading characterization of the history.

Of course, Neal has now convinced me that the root cause is deeper still, so there ya go.
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2010-06-02 03:29 am (UTC)

Wankiest Generation

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From: thetarnishedowl
2010-06-02 03:57 am (UTC)
In most conversations I find myself wanting to get to what's underneath or beyond what's being discussed. I share your frustration.
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[User Picture]From: eto_theipi
2010-06-02 04:25 am (UTC)
Wasn't this why we elected you God-Emperor of Xrth-Q3?
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2010-06-02 05:23 am (UTC)
Sadly, the inhabitants of said planet continue to fail to recognize my divine authority.
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