"It is impossible to reason someone out of something that he did not reason himself into in the first place"
Jedmunds, jumping off of that Jonathan Swift quote, crafts a superb response to Ezra Klein's thoughtful post a few days ago wondering what the point was of spending so much time and effort mocking the other side, and suggesting that perhaps we should be engaging them in more constructive debate instead.
You cannot reason with people who could give a fuck about being wrong. Reason has been tried. And it has been tried. And it has been tried. And it has been found lacking. This country is not being run by so called “reasonable conservatives.” It is being run by that 43% of the population who actually sincerely believe that there is a fucking war on Christmas being perpetrated by secular liberals. Ponder that. All the nice little bon-mots and civil conversations with your David Brookses and your George Wills are merely self delusion. Pretending it is not so might feel good, but I don’t really think it’s solving anything, or moving your agenda. It’s nice. But it’s not changing minds. Does open mockery change minds? Is that any more effective? Maybe not. But I’ll try to make the case that it is.The rest is here; I think jedmunds is, as usual, spot-on.
Those with a herd mentality respond to shunning, and they respond to being welcomed back into the community. It’s the carrot and the stick of social control. The Republicans have been selling they’re herd-mentality for decades by playing up the “I’m just a simple-minded regular joe with a pitchfork and a third grade education, but I got two things no liberal will ever have and that’s common sense” schtick. Why do you think they go to the trouble of demonizing liberals? Why do you think not a single one of them cares when they are proven wrong on any given fact, but they go apeshit with outrage when someone makes a picture calling the red states “dumbfuckistan?”
It’s cause they know that human beings are fucking pack animals. And they’re gonna flock to the herd that’s not a fucking joke. We’ve got to market our herd just as hard they do, and the open mockery of the other is the most effective way to do it. We don’t expect to browbeat Townhall into discovering the enlightenment. We expect to convince the spectator that he is like us, normal, reasonable, sane and that Townhall is the other, and deserving of open mockery. For twenty years, conservatives have been convincing people that liberals are the other. And it’s been successful. It has fuck all to do with logical reasoned arguments.
Incidentally, similar sentiments were at the core of the Dada 'movement' back in the day. Dada is often misinterpreted as nihilistic, when in fact it was the exact opposite. Its embrace of absurdity and ridiculousness wasn't as much a rejection of the very notion of rationality as it was an acknowledgment that the "square little reason" (Nietzsche's words) of humanity was leading us into some horrific territory. The statement implicit in the ludicrousness of the Dadas was that "gadji beri bimba" wasn't nearly as absurd or irrational or stupid as trench warfare. 'Civilized' people were repulsed by Dada, but what they didn't realize was that Dada was just presenting them with a mirror, and that therefore their disgust with Dada was actually a disgust with themselves.
Of course, all the efforts of the Dadas didn't prevent World War II, and bloggers' mockery of the GOP didn't prevent the election of George W. Bush. But this is hardly surprising, since mockery then and now is relegated to the fringe. The respectable element of society solemnly considers the fine print, and the world burns.