So I had a chance to have a political discussion with a couple of educated and well informed individuals over the last few days, something which I was really looking forward to since people generally can't hold a discussion outside of whether or not they think Palin's daughter secretly had a kid.
After getting into a heavy discussion primarily with the male, what I discovered, rather than the intellectual comparison of ideas I had hoped for, was the same arguments offered by every half wit redneck that ever ventures to oppose something I say, but wrapped in prettier language.
First, on the subject of Libertarianism, which neither could define other than that they had this idea that it was no government anywhere, which is already known as Anarchy. I attempted to explain to them what my ideal form of government would be, which is socialist libertarianism, and also that to be fair, that there was no clear definition of Libertarianism. There are some basic tenets, but as to how a Libertarian government should be composed, there are a wide range of opinions ranging from as little government as possible on any level, to a government which has socialized programs such as health care and welfare, but which are administered on a state level.
Not that I ever got to that point, as upon trying to explain the varying definitions and understandings of Libertarianism, I was told that I didn't get to define what Libertarianism was. Which I wasn't, I was just trying to explain the brand of Libertarianism I espouse, but that didn't matter. Their argument, which had nothing to do with the subject at hand, was that I was trying to define Libertarianism for everyone, and anything I actually tried to explain was disregarded.
The other argument was that Libertarianism as a form of government is unworkable because Libertarians were mostly white kids. I'm not sure how that works exactly, but somehow the fact that it's mostly white males that go out to campaign for libertarianism and against the war, who despite trying to make a difference for something they cared about, were simply being foolish. Apparently because they had never been pulled over for being brown they didn't have the right to protest the administration or the war.
The other argument against libertarianism was that apparently it's responsible for slavery. Libertarians support smaller federal government, the federal government was responsible for abolishing slavery, and therefore all Libertarians are racists who just want to own slaves. I wonder how they would feel on that issue if the south had won the civil war and slavery had become a federal mandate. Not to mention that Libertarianism doesn't have anything to do with slavery, but that's no reason you can't make a false correlation then argue against it.
Again, at no point did they display any understanding of what libertarianism was, nor did they feel they had to, since clearly all libertarians were racist uneducated white kids who didn't appreciate the stability our imperialism offers in that we can eat better out of a garbage can here than people eat in Somalia. I kid you not, that argument was actually proffered. Apparently as long as we can eat Big Macs out of the garbage, war, wiretapping, imperialism, reduction of civil liberties, and torture are all ok.
The final arguments, if you can call them that since they were never arguments against anything I was actually proposing. Instead they were either straw man arguments, or arguments based on what kind of people supposedly shared those beliefs, or rather, what kind of people they decided shared those beliefs based on some stereotype they created. That is much easier after all than trying to understand or listen to the ideas they're proposing. Why listen when you can label and dismiss.
Anyway, the final argument seemed to be that thinking that you in any way could imagine a better form of government. That any individual could suggest an area where clearly we are doing something wrong and suggest an improvement was just them being a hopeless idealist and elitist. This for example was applied to the idea of libertarianism as a form of government, or Anarchy, which is what they decided was my belief because it was easier to argue against and faster than actually listening to me describe my belief. The suggestion was that I believed that we should have a libertarian government, and immediately there would be no such thing as the FAA, and we would start rounding up brown people and putting them into cages.
Now, as far as my idealism goes, what I actually believe is that even if we somehow got a libertarian candidate into the presidency, they would be able to accomplish absolutely nothing. What is clear is that we need to reduce the power and scope of the federal government, and in addition we need some sort of counter influence to our two corporatist parties who both support greater federal powers, which essentially translates to greater power for their corporate influences and supporters. That's why I voted for Ron Paul in the primaries, not because I thought he would change our entire form of government, but because he would have at least been an opposing voice, and spoken truth to power and the need for less federal control over our lives.
Clearly any kind of realist knows that government is never an ideal representation of it's basic principles, and that it will always be a struggle between opposing forces such as the struggle between populism and corporatism, between more taxes and less, those who think we should have more socialized programs, and those who think we should have less. The problem now is that we don't have that opposition, we have varying degrees of corporate support with very little representation of the people themselves on any level. The solution is to set up some kind of actual opposition party to keep this corporatism in check. Getting a Libertarian party in power would not result in a libertarian state, it would simply serve to help balance the currently existing fascist one.
Personally, I think the idea that you can just vote for Obama and hope that changes things is hopelessly naive and idealistic, but as he put it, Cynthia Mckinney has crazy eyes, and Nader is obviously crazy too. Clearly he had spent a lot of time comparing and weighing the value of their policy ideas.
So altogether wholly disappointing, stupid, and no different from arguing with anyone else who has no real understanding of the issues. Me suggesting any kind of change that would benefit people as a whole was me being an elitist. Which is actually a Neo Liberal argument that comes from the same people who redefined fascism, a form of government where the federal government doesn't regulate corporate power, but does support it, as the free market. Anyone who is famliar with the principles of the free market knows that what they are prescribing is nothing like the free market.
This happened in the early 1900's when corporate and banking interests created arguments which switched populism and corporatism by arguing that populists were just elitists who thought they knew better than everyone else what they needed, and that corporations were the true populists, because they offered the public so many democratic choices and therefore more freedom. That is you have a much freer democracy from corporations than voting because you can choose whether to buy pepsi or coke, cheddar cheese or monterey jack, Reebok or Nike shoes on a daily basis.
But the overriding argument was that there was no need to argue any of my ideas or present their own because what did I know anyway. No one should have opinions because that makes them an elitist, and we should in general just accept the way they are, regardless of how bad they get, because proposing anything different is simply the individual being an elitist and trying to impose their beliefs on others. Again, a perfect example of neo liberalist thought.
A great deal of time would have been saved had they simply presented their arguments in entirety right up front. Namely, "What do you know?", and "This is Amurca, if you don't like it, move." Hyuk Hyuk Hyuk. Whether it comes from a flannel jacket, or a tweed, it doesn't sound any less ignorant to me.
My question is, if you dismiss any opinion which differs from your own, not based on the merits of the ideas themselves, but because anyone who presents ideas is immediately labeled an elitist, then who's really being the elitist?