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User ID: 1729



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User ID: 1729

It's hard to judge - the stats that we have generally compare members of the Stolen Generations (in Australia) typically compare them either to non-Aboriginal people of the same cohort, or to other Aboriginal people in general, rather than to members of remote communities.

These statistics suggest that an SGer is on average worse off than the median Aboriginal - but as you say, SGers were specifically selected from among the worst-off Aboriginals. Is an SGer better or worse off than they would have been had they not been removed? That's the question we don't have an answer for. AIHW's full 2018 report is here. From page 74 on they show that SGers were worse off than 'the reference group', but the reference group is Aboriginal people in general, not remote communities. We have some stats on health in remote communities here and here, but cross-referencing those is more work than I'm up for at the moment. Suffice to say that we know remote communities are significantly worse off.

For what it's worth, I'm not a Catholic, trad or otherwise.

I'd request firstly that you not make assumptions about what I know or believe, and secondly that you don't misrepresent me. I haven't ceded anything - I've merely declined to argue for a position that I don't hold.

That said, since moderation has gotten involved, and we're pretty far from anything about the top-level comment, would you like to call the conversation here?

I don't think there was ever anything in the comics at the time, i.e. the 1940s, indicating how Captain America voted? He's always been a character deliberately open to interpretation - he stands for the best vision of what America can be, but he shifts over time and is often strategically vague so that readers can project their idea of what that means on to him.


...do you think you've won a debate?


Let's recap here:

Olive: "Is there a specific religious claim you'd like to debate?"

French: "The efficacy of prayer."

Olive: "I don't believe in the efficacy of prayer in the way you've described. I do believe in other potential effects it has, but those don't seem to be what you're interested in."

French: "That's cope!"

Olive: "...I'm sorry, is your position that I ought to defend a position that I don't believe is true?"

French: "Still cope!"

Look, I don't believe I'm obligated to defend a strawman or weak-man position just because you think I ought to.

I'm not arguing to you that prayer has effects on on the person praying (in part because that's so obviously true that it'd be pointless), and in fact I explicitly acknowledged that you don't care about that.

What I'm asking you is - do you want me to take a position I don't believe is true? Why? Moreover, why should prayer not having immediate empirical results matter? Christianity or indeed any other religion isn't built on the material efficacy of prayer.

I don't see where it's cope to say that one of prayer's effects is on the person praying. At any rate, in that very sentence I said that you don't seem to care about that.

Sp to clarify - are you demanding that I defend a position that I do not hold?

Yes, I am profoundly grateful for the way that living in Australia makes so many of these arguments moot.

Turnout is irrelevant. All elections have 90+% turnout. It is impossible to win by turning out the base.

All votes must be full-preferential. It is therefore impossible to harm your own side by voting third party. All votes will ultimately flow to either the first-ranked or the second-ranked party.

The Australian system isn't perfect and it's possible to contrive weird edge cases where you get unintuitive results, but in the main it is just so much better than, well, almost any other country in the world (and especially messes like the US or the UK) that I have to feel grateful for it.

Why would that be something I need to prove?

I grant that prayer doesn't have reliable, repeatable empirical effects; at least, not on the external world. I'm not going to argue otherwise.

I'm prepared to argue that prayer has significant effects on the person who prays, as well as on communities of prayer, and I'm also quite prepared to say that God acts in the world in various mysterious ways according to his will (albeit not in a mechanistic way where chanting the right magic words always produces a particular outcome), but you don't seem to care about either of those things.

So, sure, prayer does not do the thing that you've arbitrarily decided it ought to do. So what?

The effects of prayer, if any, seem like another more specific issue than the broader veracity of any particular religion. At any rate, you can't leap from "prayer does not have detectable empirical effects" to "God does not exist". That too is a non sequitur.

As for the rest... that just seems like bare assertion, to me. If there were real 'Potterists', who believe in the literal historical truth of the Harry Potter novels, I would not find their beliefs plausible. There are a number of arguments I would make against them, from the known history of that text to its inconsistency with reality as I understand it. But Potterism being wrong does not do anything to demonstrate that Christianity is also wrong. Potterism's claims are false, but since Christianity's claims are different, refuting Potterism does nothing to Christianity. It would just be a straw man. Christianity would require refutation on its own merits. Shoot down Harry all you like; Jesus is not hiding behind him.

(I am not clear, incidentally, on why ghosts couldn't exist - personally I am an agnostic on the matter. G. K. Chesterton actually addresses the question in the final chapter of Orthodoxy - you exclude even the possibility of ghosts because, whether rightly or wrongly, you have a dogma that says that ghosts can't exist. That doesn't mean you're wrong - dogmas aren't bad; we all have dogmas - but just that it's a judgement that precedes observation.)

Anyway, if you would like to narrow down a specific claim that you object to, I suppose I could make an affirmative case for it and we could have a debate?

I'd caution you that maybe you don't know what I'm looking for in terms of my spiritual life or faith. I certainly don't perceive myself as looking for mere increasing physical mastery of the universe. On the contrary, that strikes me as a rather paltry prize.

At any rate, I don't see how anything that you've just mentioned demonstrates that any given religion is false. It's true that science is very productive, and has enabled humans to do many impressive things. None of that entails atheism or materialism or metaphysical naturalism. I'm just going to shrug and say, "so what?" You can't leap from any given scientific discovery to materialism. It's a non sequitur.

I don't underrate the value of scientific discovery, nor even the value of physical mastery of the universe. It's just not everything.

Anyway, I did not mention prayer, so I don't know why you're bringing that up. And if you think that the fact that keyboards work is 'proof of [your] world view', then... you're just wrong. "Keyboards therefore atheism" is just as wrong, and for just the same reason, as "tides therefore theism".

Let me remind you of something you just said:

The universe is a physical system that can be entirely explained by natural laws that we can discover.

This is something you asserted without evidence. Should it therefore be dismissed without evidence?

That claim broadly approximates to what I would term metaphysical naturalism. Metaphysical naturalism is a claim about ontology - about what sorts of things can conceivably exist. Because it's an umbrella theory about what can or cannot exist, it can't be empirically verified - like all ontologies, it's a matter of philosophical speculation, rather than empirical study.

(I have more thoughts about it, including more controversial ones - specifically I think that the idea of 'nature' is philosophically incoherent, and that 'natural' and 'supernatural' are words without meaning - but I'll leave those aside for now.)

The problem is that you are firstly making a bunch of evidence-free assertions while loudly condemning others for (supposedly) doing so, and secondly smugly dismissing entire schools of thought without differentiating them from each other, or even, it seems, making a cursory attempt to understand what they actually say. You say that you think "a lot of religious people know it is all fake in their heart". Please consider that you may be typical-minding.

Well, now you're back to just appeals to incredulity, and flatly asserting that religious people are wrong. You're neither appealing to empirical evidence nor to any kind of reason. Heck, you're not even replying to anything I actually said.

For the record, there's no empirical test for metaphysical naturalism. There can't be - it's not logically possible, since naturalism is a claim prior to empirical observation.

You may also want to consider that 'fantastical' is not proof that a claim is false. Maybe God sounds fantastical to you - but so what? Plenty of true things sound fantastical. "Does this sound intuitively ridiculous to me?" is not a good metric.

FCfromSSC already covered much of what I would want to - that what you take as obvious is not actually obvious. It may seem clear to you that the universe is merely a physical system, but that's actually a potentially contentious judgement, based on priors that you learned and assimilated when you were a small child. Part of the value of philosophy, not to mention theology, is that it teaches you to identify and question some of those priors. Is the universe a physical system, construed such as to eliminate any possibility of the existence of God? (Also, define 'physical', 'system', and 'God'.) The answer to that question is not obvious. Not as much as you suggest. And considering that a very large number of undeniably intelligent people have taken different views to you on it, I think it would be appropriate to take a more humble approach here. Again, you might be right, but you're not obviously right, in a way that admits of no rational questioning.

Two other side points, I think.

Firstly, I think you rely too much on a kind of appeal to incredulity here. This person hypothetically raised in ignorance of major religions wouldn't believe in 'all kinds of crazy magic'? That doesn't seem obvious to me. People often idiosyncratically come to believe all sorts of strange things. If someone were raised in the absence of any existing religious dogma, that doesn't necessarily mean they would become a hard-headed atheist. They might embrace all sorts of superstitions. Lots of people are plenty superstitious as it is, even people who aren't particularly religious.

Of course, you might mean that this hypothetical person was raised with some kind of specific education against superstition of religion (maybe they were taught rationality, critical thinking, the scientific method, etc.), but what that basically rounds to is "if someone were taught my point-of-view as a child they would agree with me". Quite possibly so! But how is that different to someone who was taught a different point-of-view, such as a religious one? The argument-from-childhood-indoctrination proves too much.

Secondly, I'm not sure what the relevance of aliens here is? Evangelising aliens might be an interesting question, but what makes it in principle different to the first contact between representatives of a religious tradition and people unfamiliar with it? Matteo Ricci or Francis Xavier had to explain Christianity to people who had never heard of it before, and the Chinese or Japanese did not automatically laugh their heads off. The ideas were taken seriously, and some people converted. Aliens don't seem any different. I'm sure any actually-existing aliens would be quite unusual and religious dialogue with them would require us to do a lot to try to understand their nature, biology, culture, mode of thought, any existing religious or spiritual beliefs, and so on. I do not see any reasonable justification for assuming that aliens would all be Dawkins-like atheists. I have no idea what aliens would believe, if anything, and neither do you, or even whether or not aliens might exist. I do not think we can draw any conclusions from the hypothetical beliefs of hypothetical beings.

I'm certainly not trying to claim a special genius or anything - on the contrary, I think the implication that being Blue Tribe is desirable or preferable to being Red Tribe is probably just prejudice or tribal bigotry. I'm just trying to be honest about being firstly a believer and secondly from a stereotyically Blue Tribe background.

As for the other half, I'm not particularly inclined to debate theism with you in this moment. If you're an atheist, well, good for you, I suppose? I disagree, and would gently suggest that if you think that atheism is so obvious that any halfway intelligent person should immediately conclude it's true, you might benefit from a little bit more intellectual humility. I'm not going to argue that theism in general or Christianity specifically is definitely true, but I would suggest that a sufficient number of undeniably intelligent and introspective people have believed that you shouldn't be surprised. Again, theism might be untrue, but it is not so obviously untrue that any intelligent and reflective person would automatically realise that. There are too many intelligent theists out there for it to be so.

Well, that's a very uncharitable way of putting it. I'm not trying to feel superior to anyone. Nor do I feel like I'm being hypocritical in any way.

I'd categorise 'relatives' differently, I think? My relatives are not the people I agree with. My relatives are something closer or more intuitive than that. I'd say it's more about where I instinctively feel at home, or what feels natural to me, and that means that things like language or custom count for more than agreement on any specific issue.

That said, you are correct that this is a semantic dispute. We would presumably both agree that in terms of custom or background, I fit with other well-educated middle-class suburban people in knowledge careers, even though in terms of ideas or substantive metaphysical beliefs, I probably fit in better with other groups.

I think custom is a better way to define the boundaries of 'tribe', and closer to the way Scott defined it in his original essay, but you can make words mean anything you like, so that's up to you, I guess.

(For what it's worth, I'm not downvoting you - I don't downvote conversations that I'm enjoying, and I don't downvote just because of disagreement. I only downvote if I believe the Motte would be better off if that post didn't exist, and you've certainly not hit that point for me.)

I think that relies on a value judgement about what 'the big stuff' is. The issues that actually divide people in terms of social class are not necessarily the most important issues in an objective sense. On one level, it's hard to think of an issue bigger than the existence of God, or the truth of a given religion - whether Christianity or Islam or somesuch is true or false would affect pretty much everything. Yet I think tribe or class sometimes hinges on much smaller things than that, like the clothes you wear, the accent you speak with, or the kinds of parties you go to. That's why, to stick with Christianity, an Episcopalian bishop from New Hampshire and a charismatic evangelical from rural Georgia are very much not the same tribe, despite ostensibly being of the same religion.

I feel I have to be careful here - Rod Dreher is an example of a thinker who's on my side, more or less, but who I am deeply frustrated by at the same time.

Some of it might just be aesthetic. I admit that I really dislike his writing style, which to me comes off as a combination of folksy, long-winded, and proud. He is the kind of person who unironically refers to his own work as 'prophetic' and that rubs me the wrong way. It also frustrates me that I think he tends to be oversimplifying and uncharitable, such that even when I agree with him, I can't help wishing that he wasn't the one making the case. At any rate, I say that up-front just to establish that I'm not unbiased, and my instincts probably direct me towards being unfair to Dreher.

So, I read Live Not By Lies in the context of The Benedict Option, and in that context what struck me most was that it makes more-or-less identical recommendations, and the primary difference is that LNBL's historical comparison is Soviet communism, whereas TBO's comparison was the Dark Ages. So I probably focused mostly on that comparison, while paying less attention to things that I felt I had already heard from him.

I am skeptical of his interviews, or the weight he places on 'post-Soviet dissidents'. There are hundreds of millions of people who used to be members of the Soviet Union or the Warsaw Pact. Many critics of the Soviet Union were religiously-inspired. It does not surprise me that Dreher was able to find a dozen or so people who said exactly what he wanted to hear. I'm not accusing him or his interviewees of being dishonest - just suggesting that he naturally gravitated to people with similar perspectives to himself.

Dreher in my reading doesn't do a great job of distinguishing his own subjective impressions from reality. Chapter eight of LNBL ('Religion, the Bedrock of Resistance') seems like a good example to me. He describes a couple of Christian dissidents in the Soviet sphere, and explains that he felt they had a kind of moral authority to them, a sense of spiritual peace and determination that other dissidents didn't have. A detached reader might be tempted to ask - is this just because Dreher likes Christians? He already had a narrative he wanted to tell, about wise and gracious Christian resistance to tyranny - did that colour his observations?

There's a lot like that, such that even when I agree with the overall point (I'm a Christian! I believe in grace-filled Christian resistance to tyranny!), I find myself retreating from his overall point.

And in other places I just find Dreher... rather hypocritical? Perhaps this reveals me as a Christian liberal, but after reading Dreher for a long time, I find it hard to escape the conclusion that he doesn't dislike ideological totalitarianism as such - he just dislikes when it's the wrong ideology. For instance, in LNBL he writes:

According to Hannah Arendt, the foremost scholar of totalitarianism, a totalitarian society is one in which an ideology seeks to displace all prior traditions and institutions, with the goal of bringing all aspects of society under control of that ideology. A totalitarian state is one that aspires to nothing less than defining and controlling reality. Truth is whatever the rulers decide it is. As Arendt has written, wherever totalitarianism has ruled, "It has begun to destroy the essence of man."

But back in TBO, he wrote about the medieval worldview in rhapsodic terms, and concluded:

Medieval Europe was no Christian utopia. The church was spectacularly corrupt, and the violent exercise of power - at times by the church itself - seemed to rule the world. Yet despite the radical brokenness of their world, medievals carried within their imagination the powerful vision of integration. In the medieval consensus, men construed reality in a way that empowered them to harmonize everything conceptually and find meaning amid the chaos.

What's the difference between "defining and controlling reality" and "[construing] reality in a way that empowered them to harmonize everything conceptually"? Both examples seem like descriptions of an integrating ideology that interprets all of reality for the subject, and which was made compulsory for the masses through the carrot and stick of education and persecution. Setting aside the part where medieval Christianity is ex hypothesi correct, and Marxism-Leninism false, what's the difference?

Or to pick one other example, when Dreher describes the totalitarian social pressures and persecutions that he expects Christians in America to face (and to be fair to him, many of which they do face, in many if not all parts of the country), his examples are things like needing to meet in secret, fearing blackmail, negative gossip among colleagues, needing to discuss their lifestyle and convictions in secret because the rumour of their lifestyle could lead to job losses, reputational damage, being ostracised in public, and so on. It surely can't fail to spring to mind that up until a few decades ago (and still now, in some parts of the US), all those pressures were faced by gay people. This never comes up.

Again, this is frustrating because I am technically on Dreher's side here. I'm not actually pro-LGBT. But I would have liked to see more perspective in the way he made his case. I don't think his banner conclusions are wrong, exactly. On the contrary, I find them almost banal - Christians should resolve to practice their faith together strongly in community, supporting and building each other up, and resisting pressures to abandon their convictions, while maintaining a deep cultural memory. Who's going to disagree with that? Overall I think I rate Dreher as a demagogue rather than a thinker. His arguments aren't particularly good, and aren't going to make much headway with anyone who doesn't already agree with him. But he writes with a lot of passion and verve. Maybe that's enough, for some.

I suppose I count myself as one of the 'religious Blue Tribers' here; or as a Violet Triber, in that terminology. I was raised in a church, embraced faith as an adult, studied theology, and now I work full-time as a religious professional; and even in terms of private devotion, I spend a lot of time in prayer and meditation. I also tend to embrace more 'conservative' or 'traditional' social values as a result. But at the same time, I'm an upper-middle-class university-educated white-collar worker in a heavily verbal field. My native language, so to speak, is Blue Tribe. I speak fluent environmentalist, multiculturalist, and therapeutic. Even though I've come to embrace an ethos at odds with my native culture, so to speak, it still is my native culture and I automatically know how to move in it. If I went to a barbeque with a bunch of gun-owning ESPN-watching blue-collar workers, I would be extremely uncomfortable and would feel out of place, whereas if I go to a wine tasting with the archbishop, I automatically know how to fit in.

It's an awkward place to be in, and even though I've deliberately made more of an effort to understand and be sympathetic to the Red Tribe, even siding with them against traditional Blue Tribe authorities, I'll never be one of them.

In Spring of 2015, journalist Rod Dreher received a call from a distraught stranger. The caller said that his mother, an elderly immigrant from Czechoslovakia, was warning him more and more urgently that current events in the United States reminded her of the emergence of communism in her home country in the 1940's. Dreher was skeptical; if the world had really been going to Hell for as long as old people have been saying the world is going to Hell, we'd have been there by now. Yet, there was something about the caller's tone that stuck in his mind and made him keep asking himself, What if the old Czech woman sees something the rest of us do not? [Dreher (2020): Live Not By Lies. p. xi].

For what it's worth, having read Live Not By Lies as well as plenty of Dreher's pre-2015 work, I am extremely skeptical of Dreher's claim to skepticism here. Rod Dreher is temperamentally inclined to catastrophism, and even in 2013 or 2014 he was writing about the coming return of the Dark Ages and the collapse of Christian civilisation and so on.

For instance, here he is in 2014 saying that America is facing a "new Dark Age that our fellow Americans embrace as Enlightenment", and here in the same year approvingly quoting MacIntyre to the same effect. Here he is in 2013 asking "are we Rome?" and predicting civilisational collapse.

He presents himself as a naive ingenue who was shocked by what the communist dissidents told him in Live Not By Lies, but I think it is far more likely that he already knew what he wanted to hear, and found a handful of Eastern Europeans willing to tell him.

I don't think he was shocked. If there's anything new in Live Not By Lies (and the several years of blogging prior to it, of which it is a condensed summary), it's the analogy to the Soviet Union, but Dreher's actual diagnosis of the cultural moment has not changed. It's just saying "this is like Soviet Russia" rather than "this is like the fall of Rome".

(It is also, incidentally, what in my view makes Live Not By Lies such a tedious and intellectually sterile book - most of LNBL is just Dreher describing something in the USSR, then describing something in 21st century America which does not particularly resemble it, and then asserting that they're the same. The Russian famine of 1892 was not actually that similar to covid, for instance - not even in the sense in which Dreher asserts it, as a catastrophe demonstrating the inadequacy of existing state institutions. It goes on and on. There's a criticism of pre-revolutionary Russian aristocracy for being sexually licentious, which may well be true, but given the Soviet comparison that is most of the text, you'd think it would be worth noting that the Bolsheviks were relatively puritanical and banned pornography. But no. Or, say, I agree that the US needs a revitalisation of religion, but the enforced state atheism of the Soviet Union seems qualitatively different to the voluntary slide away from faith that we see in America. The Soviets killing clergy and throwing the rest into the gulags just doesn't seem a great analogy for the way that kids born post-1980 tend to fall away from religion. The situation is meaningfully different. I could go on for a while. At any rate, overall the book is just a series of analogies, none of which are quite successful, because, well, 21st century America is significantly different to the Soviet Union.)

Eh, I'd argue that's not necessarily Red Tribe? To take a specific example - I think that, say, Patrick Deneen is from the Blue Tribe. He's a tradcath social conservative with loopy politics, but in terms of culture, background, education, and most importantly manner, he's Blue Tribe. He's not like, say, Jerry Falwell, who was I think clearly Red Tribe.

(One commenter on the original SSC post tried to define people like this as the 'Violet Tribe', giving people like Ross Douthat and Leah Libresco as examples. I think I would shrug and just say that Ross Douthat is Blue Tribe. He's a conservative Catholic Blue Triber.)

Being religious by itself doesn't make you Red Tribe. Heck, liking C. S. Lewis doesn't - as far as I can tell he's very popular among Christians of both colour tribes. So I'm wary of taking those things as definitive.

I just don't think moderation is the issue here. The mods as far as I can tell are generally doing a reasonable job. From my perspective the biggest problem with the state of the Motte is, well, the user base. It's this:

Every once in a while you get people from the opposite side of the political aisle, call everyone here nazis/far-right in an inflammatory manner and they get banned. I think their general sentiment is correct, though - this place is currently filled with moderates and people on the right political, and very few on the left. When I make a low-effort comment that would align with the red-tribe, I get tons of upvotes. When I see someone from the opposite side make a high-effort comment, it gets many downvotes. Now upvotes and downvotes don't mean much regarding the truth or quality of the post, but they do reveal the general user sentiment response to it.

The Motte has a culture. It even has, unfortunately, a groupthink. I don't think it's really possible to have a community of humans without one. But it means that the Motte has positions that it favours as a group, and positions that it disfavours as a group, and this is very obvious if you look at the distributions of likes. People here, just like people on Reddit, are reflexively upvoting things they agree with and downvoting things they disagree with, regardless of intellectual rigour, and the same in terms of verbal responses. Trash that aligns with the majority consensus is favoured; gems that don't are disfavoured.

I'm sure anybody who's gone against that consensus has experienced this - you yourself describe an experience that I've had as well, where low-effort posts that agree with a majority view are heavily rewarded, whereas high-effort posts that I'm quite proud of are probably found under 'sort by controversial' or even 'most downvoted'.

Now it's easy to round that complaint to "people don't agree with me", so we have to be careful with comments like that. My actual preference, for here and for every web forum, is to just eliminate upvotes and downvotes entirely. I think they usually have negative consequences on a forum's culture - in particular, they enable that kind of mindless upvoting-stuff-I-agree-with behaviour, and by providing rapid feedback on how something is received, they make every post more of a spectacle. I find them the equivalent of the studio audience at a presidential debate, cheering for stuff they like and booing stuff they don't, all the while getting in the way of a reasonable discussion or debate between the people at the top.

However, changing that can't actually change the overall landscape, which is the way it is because the user base slants a certain way.

I don't think 'Red Tribe' is the right word here. Going by Scott's original formulation, I would be very surprised if there is more than a handful of Red Tribe people here. Red Tribe is not a synonym for 'conservative' or 'right-wing'. My read is that most of the Motte are Blue Tribe, understanding that to be to do more with education and manners, but also broadly speaking on the right. Even there I want to qualify a bit, because 'the right' is quite diverse, and while we have our share of tech-y-libertarians and people-with-weird-theories-about-race, I'm not sure we have much of that pick-up-truck-driving football-watching beer-drinking evangelical-church-attending gun-owning crowd that Scott called the Red Tribe.

The Motte has very few 'normal' leftists, but it also has very few 'normal' rightists. I always find it a bit weird and refreshing to have a chat with what I think of as 'normal' rightists. I don't want it to sound like I think those people are all lower-class idiots either - they're not. But I chat with people along those lines about politics and suffice to say it does not sound anything like the Motte, even when it is very educated.

Can the Motte change, and attract a more ideologically diverse user-base, and also make its atmosphere more attractive to people with different and challenging perspectives? I don't know. I suspect probably not. Most online communities can't change that easily.

But there's also a case that maybe it shouldn't change like that. Right now this is a place for a particular kind of weirdo, and there aren't a whole lot of spaces out there for people like this. You could accuse me, perhaps not without reason, of being one of the greys from this comic. It's true, I don't love the culture of the Motte and I'd like it to be different.

But then, in other contexts, I've been the pink one, and I know what it's like to be besieged by demanding greys. So maybe I should just forebear, and let the Motte be the Motte, even if that sometimes makes me want to hit things.

I'm not particularly inclined to argue voting machines. As it happens I actually agree that voting machines and electronic votes in general are a terrible idea, and I feel glad that my country exclusively deals in paper ballots.

But I'm not sure how that specifically addresses the issue? Again, the StopTheSteal argument was premised on a number of specific claims of fraud. Moving from those claims to a generic argument that voting machines are a sub-optimal way to run an election - well, sure, I agree, I'll let you have that motte, but boy, that is a large and expansive bailey you've just vacated.

You can argue that no election conducted with voting machines should be considered legitimate. Sure - like I said, I don't like voting machines at all. But if so, then that also goes for 2016, 2012, 2008, 2004, 2000, 1996... in fact, over a century of American elections would have to be thrown out. (Half that if you restrict to computerised voting, but still, a long time.) That is not, however, the argument that StopTheSteal made.

Sure, it's possible that in a different system the results might have been different - but then you'd be hanging a claim about what the voters want, or what the voters voted for, on a pure hypothetical.

Something I've tried to be very conscious of recently is the way that ideologues construct 'the public' or 'the people' or 'the voters' in ways that agree with them, but in the absence of convincing evidence about what the people actually want or believe. This can be a communist believing that everyone will support the revolution, or a MAGA person believing that Trump in some way represents the popular will, or the way postliberal texts like Regime Change are premised on the assumption that most people on some level support the author's politics.

This is often just not plausible. We have polling on Trump over time as well, including from when he was president. He never broke 50% approval, and right now he clearly does not enjoy anything like majority support.

Like I said, there are issues where I think you can show an elite class stepping in to overrule the democratically-expressed will of the majority. But Trumpism specifically isn't an example of that. Majority popular support is something the man does not have and has never had.