Un-Cocooning


by Shariq
27th February, 2009 at 11:45 pm    

Glenn Greenwald endorses Marc Ambinder’s suggestion that bloggers should interview or have online discussions with people from the other side at least once a month.

I think we do a pretty good job of engaging with the arguments of those we don’t agree with, especially in the comments section. However, I think this is a great idea and would take the dialogue to another level.

So who would you like us to engage with more? Tim Worstall, Tim Montgomery, Nick Cohen, Melanie Phillips (:p)? Suggestions welcome.


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  1. On debating with swivel eyed loonies

    [...] Pickled Politics is debating the idea of online debates with swivel eyed loonies. [...]




  1. Leon — on 28th February, 2009 at 1:30 am  

    Tim Worstall the best of your suggestions; the guy has integrity, intelligence and from what I can see isn’t dogmatic to the idiotic extreme like the others.

  2. dave bones — on 28th February, 2009 at 3:11 am  

    Go for it. This has been a central part of my blogging since I started in 2003. I talk to republicans a hell of a lot more than I talk to people who agree with me. I can’t see the point of everyone baaaing in the same key all the time.

  3. billericaydicky — on 28th February, 2009 at 9:08 am  

    Wy are Melanie Phillips and Nick Cohen regarded athe other side? Cohen’s “What’s Left? How Liberals Lost their Way ” sums up for me what I have been saying about the left and the PC race relations industry for years.

    The fact that Cohen and Phillips disagree with some of the holy cows of the left doesn’t mean that they are wrong. There is more clear thinking coming from these writers on issues like asylum and immigration than from the left which cannot think for itself and if something is not in the sacred writings of Marx/Lenin/Stalin/Trotsky then it cannot be said.

    I was in a left wing bookshop recently and saw an SWP pamphlet on how to defeat the BNP. The conclusion was that we needed to read what Trotsky had written about Fascism in 1937!

  4. Riz Din — on 28th February, 2009 at 10:59 am  

    Unlike a science, where there are lots or ‘right-ish- answers, or even a psuedoscience such as economics where there is a fair degree of consensus, many would argue that politics doesn’t really have an absolute right or wrong but that the ideas are built largely on subjective grounds, on views of how the world ‘should be’ versus how it ‘is’. I wonder if this is why many political debates quickly degenerate into a shambles of personal attacks, where participants just end up throwing biased fact bombs at each other (see watch Newsnight for evidence of the above). Because of this, I think having a really effective moderator or Chair would be invaluable in providing balance and control to said discussions. Also, if one side invites the other over for a ‘discussion’ you can imagine their sense of forboding, a feeling that they are entering a nest of vipers. So perhaps as well as a high-quality, unbiased moderator of a discussion, the debate needs to take place in a third space, a kind of ‘bridge’.

    Yes, imagine, you don’t know anything about politics, or some other subject, but and you want to learn without blindly following one school of thought. Come to the Bridge, where you can form your own opinion. After coming to the bridge and learning about both sides, you could follow links to PP, or some right-wing site, for example. The Bridge could hold debates about all subjects, not just political hot potatoes.

    I will sell the idea of the Bridge for 50p.

  5. Tim Worstall — on 28th February, 2009 at 3:22 pm  

    “So who would you like us to engage with more? Tim Worstall”

    Well, you’d have to find something that we actually disagreed upon….in some ways I’m a great deal more liberal than you are.

    “the guy has integrity, intelligence”…clearly you’re talking about the other Tim Worstall the world holds….a sysadmin in California.

  6. Leon — on 28th February, 2009 at 4:49 pm  

    Nope talking about you. The others wouldn’t actually engage in any meaningful sense, where as I believe you would.

  7. Leon — on 28th February, 2009 at 4:51 pm  

    Oh yeah Shariq, what happened to the idea of using the live blog software to interview people (I seem to remember author interviews being one idea?)?

  8. Laban Tall — on 28th February, 2009 at 6:53 pm  

    This used to happen a lot more in the early days of blogging (2002/3ish) – where lefties would have righties on their blogrolls and vice versa.

    People are in their silos a lot more these days.

  9. dave bones — on 28th February, 2009 at 8:04 pm  

    Really? I was part of a fad? It died out? I must have missed a meeting.

  10. persephone — on 28th February, 2009 at 9:53 pm  

    A good idea. What about Nick Griffin?

  11. Sunny — on 28th February, 2009 at 11:32 pm  

    lol at persephone.

    There is more clear thinking coming from these writers on issues like asylum and immigration than from the left which cannot think for itself and if something is not in the sacred writings of Marx/Lenin/Stalin/Trotsky then it cannot be said.

    Go on Bill – tell me which part of Mel Phillips and Nick Cohen’s agenda you agree with!?
    Keep in mind though right, their whole agenda, not just one part of it. So by that I mean you can’t just agree with Mel Phillips’ agenda about… say that we need to repel ‘Islamic fascism’ or whatever her term is, without then also agreeing with her view that what we need is a return to strong, conservative ‘Judeo-Christian values’ and a society that respects authority and rights are denied to people who don’t follow “British values” etc etc.

    Tell me, I’m interested on how a leftie such as yourself thinks think is all good leftie thinking and there’s a sacred cow somewhere that needs killing. Which one is it? Should I be converting to Christianity?

  12. shariq — on 1st March, 2009 at 9:14 am  

    Maybe it would be worthwhile getting a full-blooded conservative rather than a classical liberal which i’m guessing is how you would classify ureself as tim. and with liveblog software it could be quite interesting

  13. Katy Newton — on 1st March, 2009 at 11:08 am  

    So by that I mean you can’t just agree with Mel Phillips’ agenda about… say that we need to repel ‘Islamic fascism’ or whatever her term is, without then also agreeing with her view that what we need is a return to strong, conservative ‘Judeo-Christian values’ and a society that respects authority and rights are denied to people who don’t follow “British values” etc etc.

    You can’t be against Islamic fascism without wanting a conservative Judeo-Christian society instead? Since when?

  14. Refresh — on 1st March, 2009 at 12:55 pm  

    Katy, I wish you would find a less offensive term than the one coined by islamophobes.

    As for the term judeo-christian, it is a relatively recent invention, politically loaded it was mined by Norman Tebbit to express division rather than seek common ground.

  15. Katy Newton — on 1st March, 2009 at 1:04 pm  

    I directly quoted Sunny, Refresh.

  16. Sunny — on 1st March, 2009 at 3:50 pm  

    You can’t be against Islamic fascism without wanting a conservative Judeo-Christian society instead? Since when?

    No no, my point is that if he think Melanie Phillips speaketh tha truth then he has to buy her entire philosophy, not just one part of it. You can’t buy one aspect of their attack without accepting why they’re saying that.

    Hey, I don’t want Islamic nutjobs terrorising this country any more than I want nutjobs of any religious stripe doing that. And that includes Christian ones. Hence why I don’t buy her philosophy. Oh and the fact that she’s bigoted.

  17. Refresh — on 1st March, 2009 at 5:09 pm  

    Katy, I thought you had, but for the missing quote marks.

  18. Katy Newton — on 1st March, 2009 at 7:30 pm  

    Oh. Well, they were there in spirit. It’s not a phrase I would usually use.

  19. David O'Keefe — on 1st March, 2009 at 7:54 pm  

    “No no, my point is that if he think Melanie Phillips speaketh tha truth then he has to buy her entire philosophy, not just one part of it.”

    Oh No, he doesn’t. He can be a magpie and just take the parts of her philosophy that he agrees with. To take an example, I agree with Marx’s analysis of capitalism, but not that communism mumbo-jumbo.

  20. Jai — on 2nd March, 2009 at 10:40 am  

    So who would you like us to engage with more?

    Anjem Choudary or anyone similar from Islam4UK.

    I also second Persephone’s suggestion in #10.

  21. Leon — on 2nd March, 2009 at 11:43 am  

    Ok if Tim is seen as too sane enough, how about Peter Hitchens?

  22. Mark Wadsworth — on 2nd March, 2009 at 3:05 pm  

    Riz Din says at comment 4:

    “[political] ideas are built largely on subjective grounds, on views of how the world ’should be’ versus how it ‘is’.”

    That is how traditional left-wingers argue with traditional right-wingers, which centuries later has got us nowhere.

    However, there is a third strand, the small government libertarians, who have no particular strong views on how things “should be”; the point being that left to their own devices, people would arrange things in the manner that suits them best, so there’s no need for a self-appointed class that tells them how things “should be”.

    The SGL’s don’t even have a strong view on how things “would be”, merely a belief that it would be preferable to whatever it is that we have now, by simple dint of the fact that that is what people choose for themselves.

  23. Swivel Eye — on 2nd March, 2009 at 5:30 pm  

    Just came here for a quick swivel.
    That’s better – bye for now!

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