Someone asked me (again) today, why I waste my time on some silly online political debate group. And that’s a good question. But I know the answer. It’s a choice.
First, it’s not really very useful to argue with people who agree with you. I spent a good half hour last night at a dinner table overlooking the Aegean, arguing core libertarian ethical theory with Stephan Kinsella, who relies on preference and moral argument for his theories. If I agreed with him, what would I learn?
You know, it’s like this: The Athenian orator Demosthenes, who had a soft and stammering voice, said that he filled his mouth with pebbles and practiced over the roar of he waves until his speech was perfect.
I have a tendency to speak in high abstraction, making leaps between concepts that are too far apart in causal relation for most people to follow. About a decade ago, two friends, Ali from Iran, and Frank from the USA, abused me daily for this kind of lazy communication. I began to view this tendency as ‘my problem’. A form of impediment. And so for ten years I have worked, as Spinoza suggested, to “speak in a manner comprehensible to the common people”. Unfortunately, the common people will not debate, and are happy in their ignorance. But motivated ideological opponents, regardless of their motives, mental ability or character defect, are convenient foils for the improvement of one’s arguments.
So, this group, like most online forums, is my mouthful of pebbles.
I don’t seek to convert anyone. Although I do find friends occasionally. I simply seek to improve my argument. If others learn in the process than that is find with me. But my purpose is to improve my ability to express ideas.