Rhetoric

July 6, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Society

I don’t watch much TV.  Maybe an hour a month at most.  On rare occasions, I watch a TV program on a rented CD, and then buy the year.  I watched the first three seasons of Lost on tape before losing interest.  I watched one season of Heroes before being turned off.  That’s pretty much all I’ve seen since the cancelling of Star Trek, A New Generation.

These days I check in on the blogs in the early morning, noting a number of TV excerpts on mostly political subjects.  So, I’m watching TV more now that the blogs are posting snatches of Fox at its extremes, John Stewart, various speeches, etc.

So, I’m getting a view of the Right via Left blogs that often post TV of Right Wing television and radio, Right media going after the Left and Left blogs.

I used to check in on the Right blogs directly, but now I visit only my brother-in-law’s site, streetwiseprofessor.com, that takes Right economic/finance positions.  Craig is the chair of a university department in Economics and Finance, and he travels around the world to consult with corporations and trading institutions.  Craig’s specialty is derivatives.  He offers no apologies for the condition of the American economy, a proud neoliberal.

My point is that I have only one direct connection to the conversation that seems to be going on through varying media as Left and Right battle to make sense.  Craig is a high-level theoretician for the Right.  I organize nationally for the Left.  At family events when discussion begins, we both wear gracious smiles, knowing that minds are not going to be changed by what words we use.

From my perspective, Craig’s logic is faultless but his presuppositions are incorrect.  I guess if we can agree on the nature of each other’s presuppositions, we can agree.

We might also agree on some aspects of the interpretive media.

Reading the various Left blogs that specialize in opinion as opposed to erudition, for example, DailyKos, I am struck by how driven they are by tone.  When Craig has characterized some Left commentators as incendiary with a penchant for exaggeration, I would have to agree.  Of course, the Right exaggerates, behaves in ways to rile supporters and outright lies.  I’ll grant that one person’s lies are another person’s exaggeration.

Still, I expect the Right to behave in a disrespectful fashion.  For the Right, political discourse seems like a sports event characterized by winning being more important than how the game is played.  The Left often behaves like process is integral to performance.  The Right offers homage to process so long as the ends receive priority before the game is over.

Of course, there are exceptions to the generalizations that I am making.

In other words, the Right operates on classic Neo-Darwinism or Social Darwinism principles.  The Left does not yet have an evolutionary paradigm name for its cooperation/interdependence frame.

Observing some Left blogs, I find that they seem influenced by Right Wing Social Darwinism behavioral techniques.  Artful communication characterized by powerful metaphors is often replaced by incendiary rhetoric and name calling.  So there are some things that Craig has said that I agree with.  Still, whereas Craig is involved in a process not unlike a game, I feel I am committed to a process, a process integral to the game.  Whereas the Right plays for keeps, I play that play be honored, not the winner.

Watching the blogs watching the blogs watching the blogs, there is a tendency for the performers to exaggerate their positions.  The opposition only exhibits your opinion if it’s so extreme that it warrants derision.  It becomes less about process and more about scoring points in a fashion that deeply pisses off opponents.  It’s feeling more and more like Left discourse is acquiring a Right Wing flavor.  Cooperation and interdependence seem far from the process.

What does it take for a relevant, savvy and evocative exposition of the power and usefulness of cooperation and interdependence?  How do you make compassion sexy?

Asking the question is how you begin.


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