Russell Taylor: Ducking the Debate

Each generation throws up its share of people arrogant enough to believe history has nothing to teach them, as well as those wise enough to appreciate the limits of their own knowledge. The inevitable conflict between these two visions means we are destined to have the same arguments, and make the same mistakes, over and over again. In the fullness of time, this leads to exhaustion. People become tired of the endless naysaying and hope for some sort of resolution. They wonder why the decision-makers can’t stop their bickering and come up with a plan they all agree on.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Like settling a dispute over what to order in a Chinese restaurant. Can’t decide between rice and noodles? Screw it, order both. Except it’s not like that at all, because people’s differences are sometimes irreconcilable. What if the mere sight of rice gives you ‘Nam flashbacks? Suddenly the ‘order both’ approach is not a happy compromise, but the trigger for a psychotic episode. Okay, so maybe you shouldn’t be visiting Chinese restaurants if you have a rice phobia, but you get my drift. Asking people to be more tolerant of each other doesn’t resolve their differences; it just ignores them.

You find this argumentative leapfrogging in the abortion debate. Pro-choicers want pro-lifers to budge on their hard-line position, and think they’re being reasonable in offering to meet them in the middle. But pro-lifers don’t see any room for manoeuvre, because they consider abortion to be murder. Calling for them to compromise is the same as asking them to be less uptight about killing babies – and that’s a non-negotiable position as far as they’re concerned. By taking this approach, pro-choicers are trying to fast forward the debate beyond the nub of the issue, which is whether abortion is actually murder.

The political version of this ploy comes when someone says something like, “We all want public services to be run properly and our politicians to be responsible and honest. Let’s stop this Left versus Right nonsense and come up with a plan.” What this voice of reason has done is skirt around the dispute over the size and role of the state and start a discussion about how the government can best use all its money and power. Conservatives aren’t interested in having this conversation, because they don’t think the government should have all that money and power in the first place. It’s the equivalent of a guy with a wrecking ball trying to get past your objections to having your house demolished by asking you which part you’d like him to knock down first.

This is what we on the Right mean when we talk about not conducting the debate on the Left’s terms. Whether it’s done knowingly or not, leftists assume that all reasonable people must agree with them on the important issues, so any grown-up conversation can skip to the part where we decide how best to achieve them. Equality of outcome? Unless you’re a mouth-breathing redneck, it’s a no-brainer, so let the equalising commence. High taxes? Only toffs and bankers would object to them, so let’s decide how they should be spent. Global warming? We all know it’s real and can only be fixed by the government, so let’s get regulating.

The moment you try to haul the debate back to the point of divergence, the other side rolls its eyes with despair and accuses you of being unhelpful or, worse still, an ideologue – ideology being anything that stops them from getting their way. The repercussions of being an ‘ideologue’ are so severe that many people decide it’s not worth the hassle. When politicians, civil servants, the courts, the media, and all the so-called experts, are left-leaning, it’s easier to raise the security barrier and let the trucks of progressivism roll through, than endure the head-splitting racket of blaring horns and revving engines. Political correctness has been key to this process. It’s like a klaxon that goes off in your ear the moment you utter an erroneous thought. It drowns out honest debate and shifts the conversation further up the road, to where the big questions have already been settled in the Left’s favour.

The idea that ‘unhelpful’ opinion deserves to be silenced is what the impending regulation of the press is about. The media outlets most supportive of it are also the most liberal (in the American sense of the word). They assume – correctly, as it happens – that the regulators will be sympathetic to their beliefs and will gun down anyone who tries to escape their ideological Alcatraz. If they suspected for a minute that the regulators had conservative sympathies, press control would be the last thing on their minds.

Leftists see no hypocrisy in their position, because they are blessed with absolute moral certainty. That’s why their desire to fast forward the debate makes perfect sense to them. If you know you are in the right, then conversations about what ‘rightness’ looks like are a waste of time and those who insist on holding them are a nuisance. The worldview presented by the Daily Telegraph (yuck), the Daily Mail (oh God) or Fox News (Der Sturmer and The National Enquirer rolled into one) is beyond the Left’s comprehension.

When in power, New Labour avoided open debate by taking a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing approach. They marketed themselves as friends of freedom, while quietly sticking thousands of progressive laws on the statute book, with scant regard for the democratic process. To use the ever-popular war movie analogy, NuLab were like the German soldiers in The Eagle Has Landed, who infiltrate an English village disguised as Polish paratroopers, as part of a devilish plot to assassinate Churchill (war film aficionados will recognise Went The Day Well? as the superior model for this story). They are only exposed when one of their men rescues a child from a water mill and his jacket is torn, revealing the ill-considered SS uniform beneath. In a similar way (well, not that similar), Labour’s true intentions only became fully apparent when Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair and his ghastly Big State tendencies were revealed. Until then, we’d lived with the illusion that NuLab were responsible, fair-minded and largely committed to the free market.

This is why I was initially pleased to see Ed Miliband come out of the closet and announce himself as proper socialist. No creeping around in Polish uniforms for him. His Panzers came roaring out the treeline, all guns blazing. But then an impudent Tommy shouted something rude about his dad, so he drove to the nearest village and got on the phone to the Geneva Convention committee. Even with an avowed old-school socialist at the helm, it seems the Left still wants to avoid a fair fight, preferring subterfuge, deceit or setting up sympathetic authorities it can run to for help.

In the world of Internet blogs, this kind of underhandedness is evidenced by the ‘concern troll’, who claims to be on a particular group’s side, but works against it by questioning its goals and tactics, and urging it to change tack in a way that will harm its interests. A troll might say for instance, “I’m against press censorship, too, but why are we getting hung up on this issue when there are bigger fish to fry. It just makes us look like we’re sticking up for liars and rogues.” In this instance, his aim is to persuade opponents of press censorship to give up their fight and move onto something else.

If these shenanigans were the preserve of blog-dwelling misfits who still live with their parents, it wouldn’t really matter. But the same tactics are used by influential people in the press and in politics, with considerable effect on government policy. Take, for example, the so-called bag tax, which was in the news recently. Its media advocates dismissed it as being so trivial that only parochial NIMBYs would object to it, thus discouraging any opposition and paving the way for its introduction. Similarly, gay marriage, which many consider of little consequence to the majority of people, has been conflated in importance by persuading its opponents that it would be small-minded of them to stand in its way. This is classic concern troll behaviour.

This isn’t about brainwashing us into holding particular opinions (I don’t believe people are that gullible); it’s about avoiding honest debate by disrupting it or avoiding it altogether. Most people are inherently peaceable and would rather not have to argue their way through life, so it’s easier for them to believe that progressive reforms pose no threat than to constantly argue the odds. The Left counts on us becoming so war-weary that we’ll step aside and let them carry on their merry way. Well, we did that for thirteen years under New Labour, and it left us with a ruined economy, a bloated state, vandalised schools, runaway immigration, a rise in violent crime, a surveillance state, codes of speech and thought, and a culture of dependency and entitlement.

Debating the issues of the day can be tiresome and complicated, but it is necessary if truth and justice are to prevail.

8 comments on “Russell Taylor: Ducking the Debate

  1. rjmackin
    October 16, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    In Ireland the Children’s Referendum was a perfect example of how the Left subverts debate.They framed the question in such a way that you were either for children or against. Anyone that attempted to initiate debate on the issue risked being condemned as a child-hater, when in fact they were expressing genuine concerns about the state’s right to interfere in the private sphere and undermine the sanctity of the family unit.

    • Russell Taylor
      October 16, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

      Or the “Have you stopped beating your wife?” tactic, as it’s otherwise known.

  2. therealguyfaux
    October 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Re: tripping up the imposters–

    There’s the classic case, seen in WWII films, of the German impersonating an American, and by his inability to answer questions about baseball, is thereby detected.

    One wonders what the “baseball” questions are, to trip up a Blair before a Brown emerges.

    And, Re: the “we all agree” bit of business–

    One is put in mind of the old Max Miller joke about the “Dirty Old Man” and the “Nubile Young Lady,” the punch line of which is “Now, it’s just a matter of price…”

    (Oh, you nasty-minded person! What gutter did you crawl up from? I’ve a nerve to report you, I do!)

  3. Simon Roberts
    October 16, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    Nearly every news report I’ve seen about the US Debt Ceiling negotiations have confused failure to raise the debt limit with debt default. You’d expect this from organisations with a vested interest in big government but it’s also been presented that way on Fox News, RT and even a Daily Telegraph editorial!

    In line with your theme Russell, failure to raise the debt ceiling merely means that Obama will have to make choices about spending as he won’t be able to fund everything. Instead of the ever-onward expansion of government he would have to cut one of the bad (and I would argue unconstitutional) programs such as medicare, medicaid, social security etc etc.

    Of course, the left in the media (those intelligent enough to know the difference) gleefully buy into this “default” nonsense as it bypasses the whole conversation of whether the US should live within its means. Anyone who thinks the US should live within its means is demonised and Peter Foster in the Telegraph even referred to them as ‘lunatics’.

    Now, I can understand the left pursuing this tactic as it is in keeping with the practice that Russell describes. What is really annoying me though is people who should know better – Fox News and the Telegraph – parroting the same nonsense.

    Which leads me to the question regarding Russell’s piece – how many of these people are deliberately maneuvering the conversation to give the impressions that there is only one choice and how many are just too damn stupid to realise what is happening?

    I can understand an everyday person not seeing the difference, but journalists and the editor of the Telegraph!?

    Sorry if this is a bit ranty, but this has really been getting on my nerves over the last few days 🙂

    • John B
      October 17, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      The younger generations have been brought up in and with institutions infiltrated by the Left, so they learnt the ‘truth’ according to the Left, all their lives.

      Thus brainwashed, to them ‘the Right or Conservatism’ v Left is just a matter of degree.

      Notice too how ‘Socialism’ is seldom used, replaced by ‘liberal’ a word Trademarked by Socialists, or just Left, which has no strong identity.

      Note too that the horrors of Socialism… Mao, Stalin… have been glossed over, and that hideous manifestation of Socialism, National Socialism and Fascism, are attributed to the Right.

      True conservative values are outside what has become the norm, the so called ‘Centre’ ground of politics on which the political parties mill about.

  4. Anthem
    October 17, 2013 at 5:55 am #

    I knew this article reminded me of something. It was The Rumble 2012 – a “mock” debate between America’s Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly.

    (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPqXIfDYlZg)

    I’m afraid I can’t remember exactly where in the one and a half hours he says it but at one point Jon Stewart says something along the lines of: “Why can’t we all just accept that we live in a social democracy and work from there?”

    Wow.

  5. kevinsmith2013
    October 17, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

    The left just love polarity, everything is either black or white.

    If you don’t agree with immigration your’e a racsist

    If you disagree with the EU your’e a Xenophobe

    Your either with us or with the terrorists (that was Dubya, so not just the left if it suits their purposes)

    They also like to call us names and give us labels, we need to find effective ways to fight back and negate their purile name calling.

  6. silverminer
    October 17, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    This is Saul Alinsky tactics, “Rules for Radicals”. Something Ed Miliband’s dad would have known a thing or two about.

    They can’t argue from logic as it isn’t on their side. So, they attack “the man not the ball”, demonize you, shut down the argument. It’s working quite well. But it can be turned back on them.

    Notice how UKIP now have an Asian immigration spokesman, excellent man he is too. Totally destroys their “being for controlled immigration is racist” argument, makes them look like fools (which they are).

    I keep pushing the thorium molten salt reactor for the same reason. It’s brilliant technology and will give us cheap, safe, clean energy for evermore. It’s also CO2 free, not that we care, but it shoots their fox, totally destroys their argument. Delingpole should do an article on it in the Telegraph. Much more acceptable than fracking, which can then be sold as a stop gap while we roll out the thorium reactors (which are about 10 years away). Wind turbines are redundant.

    Another example. EU open door immigration is racist, because most Europeans are white. The black and brown people in the rest of the world have to suffer immigration controls. Leave the EU we get rid of this racist policy which favours white Europeans. Throw it back in their faces. They are the ones with the racist policies.

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