Four Pleasant Discussions with Political Opponents: Discussion #2

(25 months later….)

Can I ask you a question about socialism?/Can I ask you a question about capitalism?

(sighs out loud this time) OK.

I really wish you wouldn’t sigh.

We all wish a lot of things, get to the question.

How is it that people to your left/right can support an economic ideology that is proven, over and over again, to kill millions and millions of people.

I don’t know. Why am I supposed to be the person who speaks for people I disagree with?

I’m just trying to understand what they’re thinking.

I don’t know what they’re thinking, I don’t know what you’re thinking.

What am I thinking?

That’s the point. I don’t know.

What do you mean, “I don’t know what you’re thinking?”

Well, if you insist on having this conversation, I don’t know how you can exonerate any ideology that has the blood of at least as many millions on its hands as it ever helped.

But that isn’t capitalism/socialism!

Isn’t it?!

That was a perversion of it. It has nothing to do with the real thing!

Oh… OK then, so what then would the other side of the argument say?

But the other side is wrong.

And you’re right?

Yes!

And why is that?

Look at the statistics! The USSR killed 60 million people alone/white imperialism in the 20th century killed 50 million people alone!

Those statistics are disputed.

Alright, 50 million!/40 million!

Some experts say 20 million.

That’s still an astronomical number!

It’s also the difference of tens of millions of people still alive.

Alright, well I’ve read different statistics!

Alright, well even if you read different statistics, many of the deaths are attributable to the fact that the Soviet Union was retaliating to an invasion by the Nazis/Alright, well even if you read different statistics, many of the deaths are attributable to the fact that much of the 20th century’s imperialism was perpetrated by the Soviet Union.

What’s your point?

My point is that you can’t ascribe the problems of the world to an ideology when the problems of the world are due to the nature of humanity itself.

But that’s the whole point! My ideology is the one that takes human nature into account!

And how does it do that?

It says that human nature is inherently bad/good, and so we need institutions to protect us from ourselves/and so we need institutions to free ourselves from the institutions that keep us enslaved.

OK, I disagree with what you say, but I suppose I understand what you believe when it comes to social issues and maybe even foreign policy, but since you insist on talking about socialism/capitalism, how then do you justify your beliefs about money and economics?

What are you talking about?

If human nature is bad, why do you insist on freeing human evil from every economic constraint? From where I am, it seems that what you’re telling me is that your ideology says that human nature is bad, so we should give human beings the ability to indulge the full badness of their human nature./If human nature is good, why do you insist on good humans being regulated as much as possible? From where I am, it seems that what you’re telling me is that your ideology says that human nature is good but institutions corrupt it, so we should set up as many institutions as we can to corrupt human nature.

That’s unfair!

What’s unfair about it?

Individual people still know how to spend their own money better than the government does!/It’s because human nature is good that people should want to comply with things that work for other people!

Even if what you say might be true, it’s still a contradiction to what you believe.

No it isn’t!

Look around you for a minute. If individuals know how to spend money better than the government does, how the hell are there always more economic bubbles that lead to recessions when regulations are lifted?/Look around you for a minute. If people want to share their prosperity with other people why is it that every time people are asked to take on new responsibilities for others they behave in ways that Nazis would recognize?

You know the answer to that as well as I do.

I really don’t. Please, enlighten me!

It’s because our culture…

…Oh god…

…rewards irresponsibility/is racist.

Here we go again…

Our culture tells us every day that we don’t have to be responsible for ourselves./Our culture tells us every day that brown people are undeserving of our respect.

So let me ask you this: if human beings are inherently evil, why would it matter if our culture teaches irresponsibility or not? They would be irresponsible anyway./So let me ask you this: if human beings are inherently good, wouldn’t they be able to see racism for the ignorance it is? If people were inherently good, they wouldn’t be racist.

This is why we need the right education to combat the culture!

Oh, and what do you think education will do about it?

Education is what civilizes us and teaches us responsibility./Education is what teaches us helps us overcome ignorance about each other.

Civilize us the way old Europe did so that they kill millions of non-Europeans and then millions of each other?/Overcome ignorance the way the Soviet countries did so that everybody who might have stood in the way of their promised utopia for thirty seconds had to be killed?

That’s nothing like what I’m saying!

It’s almost exactly the same.

Your problem is that you keep equating what I believe with what extremists believe!

So far, the precedent I just cited is the only thoroughly documented historical precedent for educational institutions like what you’re talking about, so as far as anybody who doesn’t agree with you, that’s the only precedent for you’re proposing.

What planet do you live on that conservatives are the same as fascists?/What planet do you live on that socialists are the same as communists?

Once you decide that problems are so enormous that nothing can wait, it’s a very, very slippery slope to believing that we have to take measures as extreme as the people you hate.

I’ve never believed that in my life!

You might not have, but you’re giving cover to every single person who does.

And you don’t give cover to the other side?

Why don’t you ask a person on the other side of the debate whether they think I give them cover?

I’m not asking them, I’m asking you if you don’t think you give cover to socialists/conservatives.

I give them no more cover than I give you.

You’re no different than they are!

And there we are. Now you’re saying what you really think.

Oh, please, enlighten me, what do I really think?!

You just said it! That liberal/neoliberal sheeple like me are just socialists/conservatives with a more presentable disguise.

(sighs) Alright, yes, that’s exactly what I think.

And that’s why for all your talk of not changing the world, you want to change everything about it. You want revenge on people you imagine are the reason the world isn’t better than it is and you want to turn everything about the world upside down by mowing down millions of innocent people you think are trying to rob and kill the rest of us when they’re doing nothing of the sort./And that’s why for all your talk of changing the world, you want to change nothing about it. You want revenge on people you imagine are the reason the world isn’t better than it is and you just want to turn everything about the world upside down by mowing down millions of innocent people you think are robbing and killing the rest of us when they’re doing nothing of the sort and just replace them with a different set of robbers.

You are presuming so many things about me that are not remotely true!

What’s not true about any of that?

You have no right to make these kinds of assumptions!

Oh really? I guess that means you think you have the right to make assumptions about other people because you believe the right things and I believe the wrong ones.

That’s not what I think!

Prove it.

Why am I the one who has to prove it?

Because you are the one who already presupposes that one ideology is more mendacious, more dishonest, more dangerous, than another group of people’s ideology.

And what do you, this smug arrogant liberal/neoliberal, with condescension oozing from your pours, think of us?

I don’t hate conservatives/socialists any more than I hate socialists/conservatives.

But you think you don’t subscribe to an ideology? You’re one of the most ideological people I’ve ever met! You pretend like you’re so above it all, and then the person who disagrees with you is so out of bounds that you attack the person rather than the idea!

Yeah but again, if liberals like me are hypocrites, we can live with it. We don’t think the world is quite so dangerous/unjust a place that every moment is an emergency.

How do you live with that hypocrisy?

What’s more hypocritical? Saying that you believe in freedom of expression and then getting angry sometimes at people who disagree, or hating the government you rely on every minute of every day to keep you safe?/What’s more hypocritical? Saying that you believe in freedom of expression and then getting angry sometimes at people who disagree, or hating the businesses you rely on every minute of every day to keep you clothed and fed?

I still think you’re the bigger hypocrite.

Then you’re delusional!

And you think I’m the one that gets angry…

Well, I’ll tell you what I think. I think that for all your protestations that government can’t control anything, you are trying to control an infinity of things about human nature that cannot be controlled. And the reason you’re doing it is that you believe in an ideology whose standards are too high for any human being to conform to them./Well, I’ll tell you what I think. I think that for all your protestations that people can be inherently good, you’re doing everything within your power to stop the true nature of humans from revealing itself. And the reason you’re doing it is that you believe in an ideology whose standards are too high for any human being to conform to them.

And you don’t?

Not really. But even if I do, I don’t think as you do that every moment wasted is a moment evil people come closer to killing us all./Not really. But even if I do, I don’t think as you do that every moment wasted is a moment people in positions of power perpetrate thousands more acts of oppression without objection.

What’s your point?

I’ve been making this point over and over again. My point is that if I’m being a hypocrite, it’s not nearly as big a deal to me as your hypocrisy should be to you. I might get angry at what other people say, but you view people who disagree with you, people you love, as impediments to life itself. You’re the ones who think that the problems of the world are too urgent to never stop responding to them. If I’m a hypocrite, I’m the one who can live with it.

And that’s exactly what I hate about people like you. (the political opponents spill a glass of water in my face, storm out of the room, we don’t talk for two years.)

About the Author
Evan Tucker, alias A C Charlap, is a writer and musician residing in Baltimore. He is currently composing music for all 150 Biblical Tehillim. A Jewish Music Apollo Project - because "They have Messiah, we have I Have a Little Dreidel." He is currently on #11. Eight of the first ten are pretty avant garde, but they're going to get more traditional as he gets further in. https://accharlap.bandcamp.com/ Evan also has a podcast called 'It's Not Even Past - A History of the Distant Present' which is a way of relating current events to history and history to current events. https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/itsnotevenpast Most importantly, he is also currently working on a podcast called Tales from the Old New Land, fictional stories from the whole of Jewish History. The podcast is currently being retooled, the link to the new version will be up in the next month or so.
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