March 26, 2003
A conceptual system at work

From the Usenet newsgroup, alt.meditation.transcendental

From: (Mike Doughney)
Newsgroups: alt.meditation.transcendental
Subject: Re: OT: a war unlike any other
Date: 26 Mar 2003 04:07:00 GMT

In article <>, Judy Stein wrote:
> (Shemp McGurk) quoted some
>idiot on in message
>> One of the major issues of the addle-brained appeasement
>> protesters is civilian casualties.
>Let's examine the intellectual dishonesties in this piece.

I've long had a problem with your use of this term. Maybe it's because there's this implicit assumption that intellectualism actually counts for something with all people. Or, the implication that the speaker is consciously being dishonest in some way.

Your examples to me point up another cause, that being, that you're confronting someone whose conceptual system is something completely different from yours in this area. Shemp's system, based on his ranting and who he's quoting, is what I call the American supremacist conceptual system, and the things that you (Judy) are pointing up are just part of the fabric, the framework of thought inside that system.

The conceptual system starts with, "we can do whatever we want" and "we don't care what you think" (except for the interactions that serve to confirm and reinforce the system). Along with supremacy comes symmetry, a black-white polarization that dictates that all opponents must be lumped together into what I call the "homogeneous forces of darkness." There's also an element of "anything our opponents do or think is wrong" in this, as well as "everything that went wrong in the past can be blamed on our opponents."

>First, the term "appeasers" applied to those who oppose the
>war in Iraq. There may be a few among them who actually do
>wish to appease Saddam Hussein, but ...

The view represented by Shemp doesn't allow for any diversity among opponents, therefore the antiwar = appeasement equivalency is just part of the fabric and exists beyond (and in place of) any facts that disprove it. There is also a strong historical, cultural and massively discredited role model in the background that makes this equivalency effective as a discrediting method among some, but by no means all, people.

>The second dishonesty is the word "ignore." Note that the
>article provides no evidence of those who oppose the war
>having "ignored" the relatively low casualties that have
>been reported to this point. The term is used entirely

The value/concept of symmetry also provides for the assumption that one's opponents are just as compelled to disregard facts as oneself.

>The third dishonesty is the assumption that because the
>reported civilian casualties in Baghdad in the first five
>days of the war have thankfully been relatively low, they
>will remain so throughout the war and in its aftermath,
>not just in Baghdad but throughout Iraq.

The supremacist conceptual system provides for all of these assumptions that are contraindicated by, among many others, those who've had more recent experience dealing with such situations, and who aren't wallowing in this particular system of thought. That would probably include most of mainland Europe that hasn't willingly lived under fascist dictatorships for much of the century. (I'll skip the flamewar over what constitutes "willingly" given the current domestic situation, and the current inefficacy of protest, and the complete invisibility of any articulate, meaningful domestic political discussion, all of which reflect a whole set of American myths/concepts/assumptions biting the dust.)

While it might be tempting to try and throw facts at Shemp and others like him - unfortunately, that seems to include much of the U.S. administration at the moment - I think we all know that this changes nothing. The only thing that changes such peoples' conceptual systems of thought, en masse, is when real, live, physical consequences result. And it's an open question as to when or if that will ever happen here.

Posted by Mike Doughney at March 26, 2003 12:27 AM | TrackBack
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