David Swindle on how to argue with a progressive

by CynthiaYockey on May 13, 2011

David Swindle is the editor of David Horowitz’s blog, Newsreal, and he recently had some very instructive fun with a progressive who applied to blog for Newsreal. I commented:

David, I recommend always starting from axioms. The axioms of fiscal conservativism/classical liberalism are that individuals generate wealth from their own ideas when they can operate in a system of free markets and social mobility based on achievement under a government structured to preserve individual liberty and provide a strong defense and secure borders. The axioms of Leftism/progressivism/socialism are that wealth comes from rich people who got it by exploiting the poor and/or cheating, wealth must be re-distributed because the individual is ultimately helpless and hopeless, and re-distribution of wealth can be done best by an all-controlling government which will ensure prosperity for all regardless of whether or not people bother to make the most of their talents.

Another problem that has to be taken into account is that the Left does not understand individualism and is outraged by diversity when it is a diversity of ideas or philosophies. Thus they find the Right hopelessly confusing, especially since it has two groups whose ideas cannot prevail simultaneously: social conservative/fiscal liberals and fiscal conservative/social liberals. It becomes even more confusing when you take into account that the majority of social conservatives will identify themselves as social conservative/fiscal conservatives when they are out of power, and fiscal conservatism will deny tax monies to their enemies, but when they are restored to power on the basis of their pledges of fiscal conservativism, they become social conservative/fiscal liberals again on account of how much good they can do with all those tax dollars.

My comment hasn’t been published yet, but my reputation score as a commenter through Intense Debate was -43 when I submitted it. So I will note that I object to reputation scores because they are a tool for mobbing. Facebook just signed a deal with Web of Trust, which is being used to tar a friend of mine via reputation scores. He has absolutely no recourse except to ask his e-mail list to counter all the lies the people opposed to his ideas are telling about his website, and, by extension, him. Avast!, the anti-virus program, now also shows its own reputation scores in Google search results —  I hope they haven’t licensed them from Web of Trust. I am expecting that reputation scores are a new front in the wars of ideas and mobs will rule until the whole concept is scrapped. In the meantime, since I am in the minority on the Left as a fiscal conservative and on the Right as a lesbian advocating for gay equality and for social conservatives to stay in the realm of persuasion rather than seek to impose their ideas through government, the realm of coercion, I am going to have to accept that my reputation score is going to be negative.


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Rose May 14, 2011 at 12:42 am

 One need look no further than Little Green Footballs to see what this scoring system can do to bring out the worst in people. The gangdingers swarm and descend upon the target of the day, people dare not upding or downding the wrong person and they begin adapting their behavior – and their comments – accordingly. 

It’s a bad idea. It started with the best of intentions, give people a way to say “amen” or “I disagree” without cluttering up the threads, it quickly devolves.

Good luck with your score .

Liz May 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm

“…as a lesbian advocating for gay equality and for social conservatives to stay in the realm of persuasion…”


Sorry, couldn’t resist. I know it’s serious but it makes me laugh.

For all my respect of the socons in my family and friends, they do need to concentrate on the private sphere for the main part, because it makes the fiscal conservatives, the sane socons and the good parts of social conservatism look really, really stooopid.

If a gay judge ruling *for* same sex marriage is an an agenda, so is a straight judge ruling *against* it. If it’s a gay agenda to have the gay age of consent brought down to the same age as the straight one, then it’s clearly a longstanding straight agenda to have kept the same sex age so low.  

Havewatch May 15, 2011 at 12:13 am

I wish people would judge ideas based on merit rather than the little number next to them.  Thanks for commenting anyway, and I’m sure that some people will still come away grateful for your insight.  

The socons can’t keep this up forever.

Peter Davis May 15, 2011 at 7:27 pm

 Oh, hell, Cyn. You have a high score with those of us with guns. So what if the collectivist dweebs hate us?  You’re slimming down and getting fit, come the big fight (And I do believe it will come to a big fight) you’ll wipe the floor with ’em.

Liz June 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I thought you’d get a kick out of this. Here is Megan McArdle explaining, very slowly, why marriage is *not* just a private institution but the foundation of society. It’s in the context of Weinergate, but still:

“But I also don’t think it works to say that it’s nobody’s business but the couple’s whether people keep their marriage vows.  Andrew has been a great proponent of gay marriage–not civil unions, but marriage.  Why was it so important to call it marriage, if everything about it is entirely private?  Why not stop with legal equality and leave marriage to the heterosexuals?  If all the benefits are private, then a combination of legal visitation/property sharing rights, and whatever private arrangements the two parties choose to make, should be more than sufficient.
“But it wasn’t, because gay couples wanted public recognition of their commitment.   And well they should.  But the public recognition exists for a reason–marriage is a great deal more than just saying “We like to sleep together and pick out bathroom tile.”  Did she show up at his campaign events?  If she did, they were both happy to have the marriage be part of a very public persona.  You can’t use your marriage to shore up your political position, and then complain when people get curious about your performance as a husband–particularly when you piqued their interest in such a public way.

“Society takes a greater interest in marriages than in other relationships because society, as well as the individual, has an interest in strong marriages.  Strong marriages support a strong society.  And society supports the marriage by encouraging people to do the very hard work of keeping their promises.  One of the ways in which society ensures strong marriages is by tut-tutting (or worse) at people who don’t keep to their vows: who abandon spouses, treat them badly, or yes, violate their trust by engaging in covert sexual activity.  I’m a big fan of sexual privacy.  But you cannot have a public institution that rests in part on fidelity, and also complete privacy on those matters.”http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/06/private-lives/240152/

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