Where do we get when we come to a place where we’ve established and believe that the “other side” isn’t stupid or evil. It seems that one of the results holding that as an axiom, is that identification of who agrees with “your view” of things is the sort of person whom you might support, and that this is in fact as (or possibly) more important than competence in a political standpoint. Thus the team urgency and loyalty we see by, for example, GOP vs Democrat actually makes far more logical sense than one might think. It isn’t the same as “team loyalty” to a particular football or baseball team. You support and have political loyalty to a party which “speaks your language”, and in doing so assures you that their train of logic and their conception of the good in government is shared by you. Alsdair MacIntyre in Whose Justice? Which Rationality? writes in some length about how hard it is for those who do not share essential assumptions on the fundamental concerns defining the Good and the rational to communicate. So often those who do not share your assumptions don’t make sense. It is hard to understand why the “other” arrives at the conclusions that they do, and more often than not, we fall back on the (erroneous) assumption that the other is merely deluded, stupid, or intentionally malefic.

So often, for example, in the recent years, the GOP claims that the left is anti-American or unpatriotic. And this claim is not dishonestly meant. This claim came about because those making that claim are failing to understand the other side. They look at the statements being made by the other side, and consider that the only way that they might say such a thing, is if they were actively acting against the interests of the country. Hence the claim.

Likewise in the comments JA made yesterday here, the problem is that JA sees the statement and (it seems to me) interprets it in exactly the same manner. He figures the only way he might say and view such a thing was if he decides these (GOP) policies are meant specifically to harm the poor. That is because, if you share his assumptions, that is the only logical way he can see saying those things.

Often, following the logical obverse of a book recommended to me by progressive blogger David Scraucb (Covering), is important. Covering is a book which tries to explain the harm that can be done, when a person masks his “true” or an essential part of his identity by displaying social cues and joining social groups to achieve another political, economic, or social end which they desire more. Badging is a term I came up with in my discussion of that book, these are the specific cues by which membership in a group is displayed. Competitive cyclists for example, badge by shaving their legs an activity not normally done by men in our society. This particular activity makes sense for professional cyclists, but not so much for the amateur, who doesn’t have access to daily regular and professional massage and leg muscle manipulation which aids recovery. Other types of badging serve as shortcuts, that is a shorthand to signal to others, especially in the same group, of belonging. That this person shares the same language and assumptions in that venue. The negative reaction to those who “cover”, who done the “badge” of a particular group and don’t share in certain assumptions that the core group follows (or more often specifically hold an opposing assumption but conceal that to “join”). What is missed by those who think covering an evil is that badging is very useful in simplifying navigation in the modern world.

Much of political rhetoric really comes down to a process of semaphoring to various groups that you share the axiomatic assumptions and narratives, that is notions of the Good and the rational, with that group.

Filed under: Ethics & MoralityGovernmentMark O.

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