History's End

History will end only when Man does

Location: United States
Blogroll Me!
  • E-Mail me
  • Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    On an IM Conversation Gone Bad...

    Edit: Thanks for the link Bill!

    Dean Esmay and Bill Ardolino recently had a chat using an IM service. It can be found here.

    Some very interesting and important points were brought up during this e-conversation, which I think are worthy of a post on my part.

    [20:34] INDCBill: let me give you an example I thought of, a bit less grandiose, yet practical
    [20:34] INDCBill: that "crescent of embrace" brouhaha
    [20:34] INDCBill: while I thought it was a nice design, and found the right wing reaction overblown and in [a few] cases, racist
    [20:35] INDCBill: i also thought that the best course of action was for the architect to change any direct allusions to islam ("cresecent" etc)
    [20:35] INDCBill: just in case the symbolism was legitimately inappropriate
    [20:35] INDCBill: but this "reasonable" opinion that I had
    [20:35] INDCBill: this nuance, was lost in the furor
    [20:36] INDCBill: which was arguably more repellent and ridiculous to me than the original offense they were complaining about
    [20:36] INDCBill: but after it was all over
    [20:36] INDCBill: and it achived results (the brouhaha)
    [20:37] INDCBill: which basically achieved the practical efefct of changing the memorial just enough to avoid uncomfortable allusions
    [20:37] INDCBill: I realized that maybe they challenged just enough to be efficacious
    [20:37] INDCBill: bending the scenario without breaking
    [20:37] INDCBill: (breaking meaning turning people off so much with their outsized reaction that it was politically ineffective)
    [20:38] INDCBill: thus the change in the political "system" was managed successfully
    [20:38] EsmayDean: Yeah. What you seem to be alluding to is the fact that hyperbolic rhetoric is often effective, even if it turns a lot of us off.
    [20:38] INDCBill: yeah - the question is - to what degree?
    [20:38] INDCBill: where is the cut off? and in what cases do emotionalism and rhetoric trump reason as a practical method
    [20:38] INDCBill: and vice versa
    [20:38] EsmayDean: It's the "act shrill enough and you'll get what you want." The thing is, if you're going to do that, you'd better realize that you do run a risk.
    [20:39] INDCBill: exactly
    [20:39] EsmayDean: Any time you go that route, you turn some people off.
    [20:39] EsmayDean: It's a calculation: if you turn off more people than you rally, you lose.
    [20:39] INDCBill: thats why politics is such an exqusititely diffuicult game
    [20:39] INDCBill: and why it turns off intellectuals
    [20:39] INDCBill: and f*cking sane, honest people
    [20:39] EsmayDean: Yeah.
    [20:39] EsmayDean: The Kosites will keep losing until they understand that.

    This brings up the issue of Satisficement. Here is one definition of Satisficing. In Economics, and Politics, most people want everything, but will settle for enough. In the case mentioned involving the incident over a crescent shaped memorial, what people found satisficing was a change that removed any kind of possibility of an allusion to something they found distasteful. A complete, radical change wasn't necessary, rather just a change sufficient for the minds of those who objected. Rationally, in politics, this is the standard process. There it takes the form of compromise. When we can't have everything, we will generally accept something we consider to be a sufficient amount of what we want. What that level is varies per person. The System is thus generally stable. However, when you get a group of people, the Kosites are mentioned in this, where satisficement only comes when they get everything you want, you run into problems. Usually what happens in such a situation is that your (I use that particular address without any actual person or persons in mind who might be reading this) inflexibility will backfire, causing some of those who might have sympathized with you in the past to turn against you, because they see YOU as the obstacle in the way from them getting their satisficement.

    This is readily visible in the case of Ralph Nader. Nader had a fair amount of support up to the 2000 election from Democrats and Liberals. Some of them sympathized with his notion to try and force the Democrats to turn left with his Green Party run. Many would have perhaps preferred voting for him over Al Gore. But where they may have wanted Nader, they found Gore satisficing. He didn't offer all of what they wanted, but enough for them to be content. So when Nader turned enough of the vote in Florida against Gore, giving Bush the victory in that State, those Democrats and liberals who were denied satisficement turned against Nader. His stock is rather low now, and I don't see it rising anytime soon.

    What the Kosites and many radicals on the left, and more than a few on the right as well, fail to fully understand, or fully appreciate, is that the American Constitution is designed for satisficement. Some call it an inherently conservative document, and says that its creation and implementation represent a kind of "conservative revolution." This isn't really accurate. What the Constitution does is limit the amount of change that is possible within any "revolution" of the system, by revolution I compare the body-system politic to either the solar system or perhaps a cyclical engine. However, those same features which force compromise also make it possible so that the minority view is still heard and important, and is still able to achieve to some degree satisficement. A minority can, if it is patient and persistent, still impact the system to a great degree. Thus, in a way, the Federal Constitution has created a true "perpetual Revolution"; not one frozen in time but one moving back and forth, side-stepping and alternating to fit the public mood. Unlike other revolutions, however, ours is one with rules, rules that most understand and obey without realizing.

    I will address a later part of their conversation in a second post sometime soon.

    Update: Part 2 is up.

    Listed on BlogShares Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com