Similarities

Sometimes I despair of the Human Condition.

Why is it that given the choice, people who are ostensibly on the same side of a particular political issue but disagree on others will almost always choose to ignore their common ground and focus on their differences?   That way lies Failure, and it’s always depressing to watch it play out.

I recently joined (and subsequently left) a Facebook group supporting a certain political issue, and was dismayed to find one of these brainless pissing contests in progress.  And I wondered if our self-destructively inflated egos might be kept somewhat in check if we occasionally watched this routine by a man who was no stranger to the weirdness and dumbness of the human condition:

35 Responses to “Similarities”


  1. 1 fern hill Friday, July 16, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Crazymaking, innit? In this terrible times, one would think that the old adage ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ would prevail. Sadly, not.

    On the other hand, I may soon have some good news on this front. ;)

  2. 2 fern hill Friday, July 16, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Crap. These terrible times.

  3. 3 Torontonian Friday, July 16, 2010 at 8:10 am

    It’s a matter of power.
    So many want to win points by
    exerting their power over others
    –even at the expense of consensus
    building.

    Want to see a vivid example of this?
    Read American newspapers and see just
    how so many people (Congress, for example)
    do any- and everything to wield power
    over the others.

    Look at the injunctions issued and counter
    injunctions mentioned in daily papers in
    the Excited States.

    Another great example. The American
    voting system. Many city managers and
    jumped-up sheriffs decided that some people
    couldn’t vote because of a criminal record
    or shorter length of residence. I’ll not
    get into the matter of “caged” voters; that’s
    a thorny issues in itself.

    Imagine of a county warden or city mayor decided
    to take names of the voters lists in Canada;
    there would be all hell to pay!

    We are more consensus building in our legislation
    and group efforts than our neighbours to the south.
    The present Harper regime is the aberration of
    the traditional Canadian system. That’ll change
    soon and indeed Harper is relenting here and there.
    Just study how the concessions were made for the
    first four provinces and you’ll get the broader
    picture.

  4. 4 JJ Friday, July 16, 2010 at 8:43 am

    fern hill – You know which thread I’m talking about.

    This issue is something that should, and apparently does, concern everyone who isn’t a law & order fascist. That was a good idea you had, to try and make common cause. Really thinking outside the box. Protest that only comes from one ideologically-pure corner of the political spectrum is pretty ineffectual politically — it might make the participants feel good, but politicians think they can ignore it without paying much of a price, and they’re usually right. (Example, the fetus fetishists rally.) However: when an issue is being protested by more than one side, that rattles their cages. It also changes public perception of the issue, which is maybe even more important.

    It’s self-defeating to reject such strategies out of hand just because there’s disagreement in overall political philosophy. I’m sick of that kind of arrogance.

  5. 5 JJ Friday, July 16, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Torontonian

    That’ll change
    soon and indeed Harper is relenting here and there.

    I’ve noticed that is kind of a pattern with him, to push things as far as he feels he reasonably can and then walk it back a bit. It’s actually a pretty smart strategy, because he still ends up getting what he wants. These guys all have a car salesman attitude :lol:

  6. 6 Janus Friday, July 16, 2010 at 9:19 am

    “It’s self-defeating to reject such strategies out of hand just because there’s disagreement in overall political philosophy. I’m sick of that kind of arrogance.”

    I guess what surprises me is that this surprises you. I dunno what specifics you’re talking about here, but you know from experience over at Suzanswer’s blog that even when you and she agree on something, she will find a way to negate your view simply from spite…as if she thinks that by allowing herself to agree with you on one thing, she will open the floodgates to her little world and she will be inundated by the waters of your logic, drowning hers.

    It’s not absolutely systemic, but it happens enough to make thoughtful people wary.

  7. 7 Brian Friday, July 16, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Why is it that given the choice, people who are ostensibly on the same side of a particular political issue but disagree on others will almost always choose to ignore their common ground and focus on their differences?

    This is how progress is made.  On the things you agree on, you’re already there…

    Plus, we have this as a means of effectively interacting with the world.  There is a lot of stimulus, and we need to be ready to react to the stimulus that presages danger.

    You can feel your clothing, the pressure on you where the support is coming from while standing, sitting or lying, yet you react when you feel a bug as small as a mosquito land on you.  If your attention was drawn to that which is comfortable, you might be too overloaded to notice the mosquito.

    While driving, you take no action about the car going the right speed, and being positioned properly within the lane.  You react when the car drifts out of the proper position.

    There is a name for this behavior, but I forget what it is.  This is such an effective way of behaving, it is built into the control circuitry of things like thermostats and automotive cruise control.  It is even built into credit card companies and banks.  If your payments are on time, they take no action.  Only when the payments are late do they take the action of sending you a reminder, and charging you a late fee.  It wouldn’t make economic sense to send out a “Gee!  You’re doing great!” letter to all of their customers (huge expense in paper & postage, and would serve to camoflage the late reminders, due to people getting mail from that company all the time anyway).

    So this is the natural behavior.  We need to use our intellects and our volition to act in a different way — and we should in some cases.  There are good reasons to choose to notice the good things, and to acknowledge the areas of agreement we have with others.  But it is not natural, and we need to decide to do that.

  8. 8 Brian Friday, July 16, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Torontoan,

    Regarding:

    Many city managers & jumped-up sheriffs decided that some people couldn’t vote because of a criminal record or shorter length of residence. . .
          Imagine of a county warden or city mayor decided to take names of the voters lists in Canada;   there would be all hell to pay!
    ”,

    I don’t know which particular instance you have in mind, but I am thinking that these removals from the voter roles were in accordance with the law.  Is that right?  Were there specific stipulations viz convictions and sentences that these city managers & sheriffs were implementing?
          If that is the case, then wouldn’t any county warden or city mayor who did that — removed people who were on the voting roles who the law said were not eligible to vote — be on solid ground and not wind up having to pay hell?
          Obviously if these city managers & sheriffs removed people from the voter roles just through their own decision (as you stated), that would indeed be egregious, and actionably illegal.

  9. 9 JJ Friday, July 16, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Hi Janus – Closed-mindedness never surprises me coming from the right (although to be fair, not all conservatives are closed-minded by any stretch of the imagination). But for some reason, it’s always something that I never see coming in progressives, and it surprises and depresses me when I do.

    The thread I refer to is in the “Canadians Demanding a Public Inquiry into Toronto G20″ on Facebook. Fern hill posted a link to a recent Randy Hillier article condemning the police actions at the G20. Hillier is a far-right wingnut in pretty much every other way, but in this case he’s onside and fern was wondering — intelligently, I thought — if such an alliance could be made into something positive.

    The general response was NO. In fact, it appears that as far as some progressives are concerned, only “socialists” who support ALL the protesters’ causes can help fight for civil rights. I’m not a socialist, nor do I support all the protesters’ causes (I’m about 50-50), but I still adamantly support their right to protest and their civil rights which were clearly abused. So, my response was to go “Fuck these people” and quit the group. (No, I didn’t flounce ;) ) Maybe that’s closed-minded of me, too, but I am getting sick & tired of all this liberal “We’re better than everyone else” bullshit. It’s nauseating. *heave*

    It seems to me that those who support the protesters, and their civil rights, are having a hard enough time in the court of public opinion. It’s a no-brainer that if the civil rights abuses became an issue that transcended politics, it might get some traction & credibility with the general public and maybe something would actually get done about it :shock:

    But it seems like some would rather sit around bitching about it over cappuccino at the outdoor cafe than actually get something done about it.

    I don’t remember if you’re on facebook or not, but the thread ishere if you want to read it. It really is astonishing.

  10. 10 JJ Friday, July 16, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Brian

    This is how progress is made. On the things you agree on, you’re already there…

    Yeah but. In this case I’m talking about one particular issue — police abuse at the G20 — and how to get something done about it.

    Half the battle is public perception, which right now, is not that great. The general public is okay with the cops’ behaviour because to them it looks like a bunch of dumb hippies & anarchists got their heads bashed, and so what. But if this becomes a problem for non-hippies and non-anarchists and non-protesters from across the political spectrum, public opinion might change. And that’s the only way to get anything done.

  11. 11 fern hill Friday, July 16, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Yeah, single-issue strategic alliances. Why the hell not? And besides, it would scare the piss out of the ReformaTories to see left and right ganged up on them.

    I’m having some interesting exchanges with my Facebook bud, Connie Fournier of Free Dominion. Hopefully, more on that soon. :D

  12. 12 Brian Friday, July 16, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Yeah but. In this case I’m talking about one particular issue — police abuse at the G20 — and how to get something done about it.

    Ahh. Clearer.  That’s a case of an entirely different stripe, and my answer doesn’t apply to that case.  I see your frustration, and am simpatico.

  13. 13 JJ Friday, July 16, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    fern hill

    Yeah, single-issue strategic alliances. Why the hell not?

    You are to be commended for thinking creatively and thinking Big. That’s how things get done.

    Imagine the reaction of the powers-that-be when they realize that for once, “divide and conquer” isn’t working and people were willing to overlook their other differences to pull together on the civil rights issue. It would totally rattle their cages.

    I hope your discussions with Connie are fruitful and I look forward to hearing about it. Keep up the good work!!

  14. 14 JJ Friday, July 16, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Brian – Yeah, it’s very frustrating. I have more or less reached the end of my patience with the dumbness of the far left.

  15. 15 Cornelius T. Zen Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Good morrow, all!
    Did you ever wonder what life in the Excited States Uh Murrica would be like if George Carlin had been elected president?
    Can you imagine the Inaugural Address, or the State of the Union? The only network that could handle those speeches would be HBO. He’d probably say something like, “I’m swearing on the Bible to uphold the Constitution, not the other way around.”
    He makes more sense in one 90 minute special than any three presidents in all six terms.
    And we had to lose him all too soon. If Heaven isn’t any funnier for having him there, then Hell must be – CTZen

  16. 16 Cornelius T. Zen Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Good morrow, all!
    Some totally irrelevant thoughts:
    Gabriel: What happened to George Carlin?
    St. Peter: I had to send him to Hell. He didn’t believe in God, he kept swearing, and I couldn’t get any of the angels to tune up their harps, he had them laughing so hard.
    Gabriel: Oh. (takes phone call) Oh, hi, Lu. Yeah, we sent him down there. (listens for a few seconds, then grins) Well, Lu, we got rules, and he didn’t fit in up here. (listens some more) Yeah, I feel for ya, Lu, but, it’s not my fault people aren’t suffering down there anymore. (listens some more) I’ll take it up with The Boss, but you know what He’s like.
    St. Peter: So, what’s up?
    Gabriel: It seems that Hell is just not the same place anymore.
    St. Peter: Think maybe The Boss will spring for HBO?
    Gabriel: We can only pray.
    Like I said, totally irrelevant…or did I spell that right? CTZen

  17. 17 Bleatmop Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Here in Alberta, the Liberals have recently put an open hand out to the other progressive parties to get together and simply talk about co-operation during the next election. Liberal leaders David Swan promptly got shat on by Brian Mason of the NDP and a stiff reply from fledgling Alberta party. Then his president of the party resigned in protest (even though this outreach was mandated by a resolution at their policy convention, the president waited till Swann tried to implement the policy to resign. A move I can only think that was designed to do as much damage to his party as possible).

    But now apparently the NDP are at least willing to talk, after a public backlash from their non-member supporters in the public. Too bad they couldn’t just see the big picture. Instead their initial rejection came in the form of “We’re ideologically pure and don’t care if we lose” type of comments.

  18. 18 brebis noire Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 4:48 am

    The problem with the single-issue alliances is that you’re not all working on the same issue for the same reason. And eventually the reason will become more important than the issue itself.
    Not that it’s not worth it, when an issue has broad support like this. And when the reason is similar enough (freedom to protest, freedom to oppose…) it’s certainly worth it.
    But there are caveats, and I’d guess that some people have already been around that block before. Especially the very ideologically devoted ones, both right and left.

  19. 19 Janus Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 9:07 am

    “The problem with the single-issue alliances is that you’re not all working on the same issue for the same reason. And eventually the reason will become more important than the issue itself.”

    Wow! Did you ever just say a mouthful! I want to frame this and hang it on my wall…

  20. 20 JJ Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 9:49 am

    CTZen = :lol: :lol: :lol:

    Well done, as always.

    I loved George Carlin. I saw him live at Massey Hall (a great venue because it was very up close & personal) in 1972 or 3: I went in as a fan and came out as a worshipper. I’ve never laughed so hard before or since. He was not only laugh out loud funny, but tears-running-down-your-face-holding-your-gut-oh-my-fucking-god-I-can’t-catch-my-breath funny even then, and he only got better as time went by and he became an ever more vicious truth-teller.

    With every new and idiotic event of catastrophic human dumbness, one of my first thoughts is always What Would George Say? What would George say about the BP oil spill, reaction to the first black president, the economic collapse, the teabaggers? One can only imagine :lol:

  21. 21 JJ Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Bleatmop – Yeah. Even a cursory glance through the Progressive Bloggers aggregator on a typical day shows at least a little partisan infighting. Dissent is usually a good thing but not at the cost of taking your eye off the ball while Harper does whatever he wants.

    This is exactly what Harper and his ilk want, to keep people divided into useless little groups of ideological purity.

  22. 22 JJ Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Brebis

    The problem with the single-issue alliances is that you’re not all working on the same issue for the same reason. And eventually the reason will become more important than the issue itself.

    A single-issue alliance can’t be effective if people allow secondary issues and suspicion about motivation to dilute the main issue.

    Maybe I’m giving people too much credit, but I expect them to at least have the wherewithal to anticipate the eventuality that someone from the fringe will try to bring attention to their pet issue: “Yeah, but you don’t want to give civil rights to fetuses!!! (or the poor, or whatever)”, thereby causing a rift where the original larger issue gets lost. Be prepared for it and don’t let it highjack the main issue.

    The right to oppose government is everyone’s concern, and I think it’s petty and dumb to demand ideological purity tests. Lefties aren’t the only ones opposed to globalization. The political left’s immature egocentricity is really self-defeating.

  23. 23 Bleatmop Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    JJ – Agreed. Though, to be clear, I was talking provincial politics. So in this case, it’s exactly what Stelmach (and to an extent Daniel Smith) want. Though a form of co-operation on the national scene would be nice too.

  24. 24 Norman Rogers Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 3:12 am

    I recently joined (and subsequently left) a Facebook group supporting a certain political issue, and was dismayed to find one of these brainless pissing contests in progress.

    Typically, these are called discussions, and they do happen when people come together to discuss something.

    I suspect that you won’t be happy until everyone thinks the way you do and does exactly what you say, right down to being in charge of the doobie when it gets passed around at one of your drug-ins there in what we used to call Canada.

    If you cannot participate, and make something more thoughtful by your presence, by all means, quit and get out of the way and go hide in a funky cloud of smoke with your delusions about making the world a better place.

  25. 25 JJ Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Norman – Go look at the discussion so you know what you’re talking about — you’re making a dick out of yourself.

    You’re kind of misfiring on a few counts, dude. I suggest you have a look through this blog so you get where I’m at politically before suggesting that I’d “only be happy when everyone thinks the way I do”. Ha! The regulars must be shaking their heads at that one.

  26. 26 Norman Rogers Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 11:08 am

    You’re a hippie. I know what hippies are and what hippies do. I think I’m the one who has the tight shot group.

    You join a group–you think they’re having a pissing match–you run screaming from the room. Reading comprehension was the fourth or fifth thing I was best at when I went to grade school, sir.

  27. 27 JJ Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Norman – Don’t let the blog name fool you.

  28. 28 Cornelius T. Zen Friday, July 23, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Good morrow, all!
    JJ: you really should apologize to Norman. He’s not making a dick of himself. He’s just being true to his nature – the nature of being a faux-chrome plated PVC dildo, the kind you find in the remainder bins of the sex toy shops catering to the majority of watchers of Fixed Noise.
    To thine own self be true, and all that – CTZen

  29. 30 ck Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Actually, I remembered when we were planning the Canadians Against prorogation rally here in Montreal. We wanted and did invite Conservative senators, MPs, local prominent members of the party to join us. None of them even responded; not even to decline.

    And I do know for a fact as well as many of the commenters on this post also know that there were plenty of conservatives who were not happy about prorogation.

    As for the G20, Dan Cook of the Globe & Mail (Blogolotics) and Astral radio commentator, who can give right wingnut lessons to the best of them (another obsessive nut who overuses and misuses the word socialism) came out on the Andrew Carter morning show on CJAD denouncing Bill Blair’s creativeness with the 5 foot law. He said that no one can feel secure with a police chief we can’t trust. And of course, while he disagrees with what the protesters were protesting (remember, he too looks for socialist boogy men before bed I’m sure), he supports their right to be out there and has spoken out against the police’s handling of the whole thing & of course, supports an inquiry.

    We need more of these right wing media types to speak out the way Dan Cook did.

  30. 31 fern hill Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Blog, CK. We need the HarpoCons to get nervous about new alliances.

  31. 32 ck Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    I’ll blog on this very subject tomorrow. I think the title will be something like Conservatives stand up and progressives stop scaring those who do stand up.

    Tomorrow though. My brain is fried from the humidity and unfortunately, the A/C ain’t reaching this den.

  32. 33 JJ Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    fern hill – My hat’s off to you for pursuing this creative alliance, and logically there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work if people will keep their eye on the ball. The other battles will still be there to be fought another day, but as far as the police state thuggery at the G20, we are all on the same side. So why not?

    This is how the tide of public opinion gets turned.

  33. 34 JJ Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    ck

    And of course, while he disagrees with what the protesters were protesting (remember, he too looks for socialist boogy men before bed I’m sure), he supports their right to be out there and has spoken out against the police’s handling of the whole thing & of course, supports an inquiry.

    And that’s all that matters. I don’t support a lot of the protesters’ causes — some I do, some I don’t (I’m not at all down with the idea that capitalism is some great evil, used as directed it’s wonderful). But that’s irrelevant — the only thing that matters is that the protesters had the right to be there. I would say the same thing about the fetus fetishist march (although it’s a little disturbing to see so many gynocentric old men all in one place) — I profoundly disagree with their opinion, but they have a right to assemble and voice it.


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