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Culture War Roundup for the week of October 3, 2022

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I'm using standard definitions of left and right here.

The rules here have always been designed to promote the kind of discussions the modteam wants. We should, then, rightly conclude that the rules, the justifications for the rules, and the endurance of the rules serve to support the vision of this community('s leadership).

Why has this community always prioritized tone policing over anything else?

Why has this community had an HBD moratorium?

Why has this community schismed and broke apart multiple times over 'witches', which are only ever right-wingers? The immediate prior incarnation had two entirely separate schisms over it: most of the right-wingers left because the mods were silencing them (or got banned, same thing), and the left-wingers left because a mod was angry they didn't get enough of them -- and then he stayed as a mod! Incredible.

Why does this community have essentially no one we'd acknowledge as bona fide Red Tribe?

The values of this community have always been the values of Scott Alexander last decade. Scott Alexander is unambiguously a leftist. Furthermore, he is even a progressive, in openly progressive-coded relationships, supporting openly progressive groups and organizations, in an openly progressive neighborhood in an openly progressive city in an openly progressive state.

What Scott considers "good, healthy discussion" is discussion not too upsetting to his progressive sensibilities. What this community considers good, healthy discussion is what Scott (before he went full greengrocer) did. It's "sane progressivism", but it's progressivism all the same.

You should understand at least a little. For all your frequent talks on honor cultures, I'd expect you to recognize that a mandate to "be kind" even when kindness is not deserved (for instance, someone is trolling in bad faith, but skirting by a banning) is anathema. It's also a prog staple.

I know you recognize it, because you frequently cop time-outs and naughty no-no's over it.

Why has this community always prioritized tone policing over anything else?

Because "multi-polar internet politics forum" is like one of those exotic nitro-saturated compounds that really, really don't want to exist. It takes considerable effort to keep it from blowing itself apart, or even to slow the fatal reaction down. Tone policing moderates runaway exothermic reactions to a level that is theoretically survivable. It still doesn't quite well enough in practice, but it works well enough that considerable value can be extracted before the probably-inevitable collapse.

Why has this community had an HBD moratorium?

Because specific users were flooding the threads with non-stop arguments about HBD, with a great deal of repetition and very little useful result. I'm not convinced the Moratorium was actually a good way to handle things, but I see little evidence that there was a better way. People do the best they can.

I think the problem you're pointing to is real, and I have an effort-post I've been trying to finish for years on the subject. Again, this forum is aiming to be something that does not want to exist, and that fact has regrettable and unavoidable consequences. Where I don't agree is the claim that there's anything approaching a better way. It's this or nothing, and it's questionable how long even this can be maintained.

Why does this community have essentially no one we'd acknowledge as bona fide Red Tribe?

As regulars? I put forward both myself and HlynkaCG, at absolute minimum. If neither of us satisfies this requirement in your view, I think you need to provide a more detailed definition of Red Tribe.

The values of this community have always been the values of Scott Alexander last decade.

The values this community started with were those of Scott Alexander from last decade. The values of Scott and this community have both drifted considerably since then, and pointed criticism of Scott and his arguments has not been rare.

What this community considers good, healthy discussion is what Scott (before he went full greengrocer) did. It's "sane progressivism", but it's progressivism all the same.

What this community aims for is conversations across the tribal divide. That can't happen if one tribe or the other simply leaves. That reality necessarily shapes the way this place works, and not always for the better. Still, the fact remains that conversation is the point, and other approaches work a whole lot worse. I'm posting here and not on CWR because there is pretty much no conversation on CWR. I'm posting here and not on The Schism because I have no confidence I'll be allowed to prosecute a conversation worth having on The Schism, whereas those conversations are still possible here.

You should understand at least a little. For all your frequent talks on honor cultures, I'd expect you to recognize that a mandate to "be kind" even when kindness is not deserved (for instance, someone is trolling in bad faith, but skirting by a banning) is anathema.

It's not ideal, but useful information can still be extracted from it, particularly when the masks come off.

Speaking of you and the schism, any thoughts about what can or should be done about this troll?

It looks like you're beating him without even participating, which is pretty impressive. But he can still pull the "Choose carefully; wrong answers merit a ban" card in the end, with trace's blessing apparently.

Is it best to just leave the place as an example of what happens if you let that kind of thing take over a discussion forum, or so you think there's something worth salvaging there?

Yeah, I got a notification for this one. It's somewhat bittersweet to be infamous.

The Schism is TW's garden, so obviously whatever he says goes. I dropped by there once and had a brief, pleasant conversation with one of the people from the old country, and then abruptly found myself being lectured about the efficacy of Gulags as a social policy by an apparent Gulag enthusiast. Combined with TW's statements about his forum's founding and his own modding philosophy, I decided the neighborly thing would be to find somewhere else to be on a fairly permanent basis.

I've always been a big fan of holding people accountable for their previous statements, and believe that tracking conversations long-term is a good and necessary part of these forums. Of course, it helps if you can actually understand what you're reading. @Iconochasm was gracious enough to hit the high points in his own reply, for what little good it did.

this post was not a call for violence. The point was that norms against political violence only apply to Reds, that Blues have been calling for and encouraging political violence for years if not decades, and that the country cannot survive this hypocrisy long-term. Given the ubiquitous Blue Tribe arguments in favor of political violence, it was no longer possible to make a general argument against Red Tribe political violence, and this fact was likely to result in disastrous outcomes no matter what myself or anyone else in the Motte did or said.

"Numbers" states that the people I was arguing against "weren't in the room", but he is dead wrong. Here's Darwin being Darwin, arguing that rioting and arson are useful tools for progressive politics, and responding to pushback with his usual Who, Whom. Here's @Ymeshkhout, one of the Motte's own mods, arguing at length that rioting and arson are flatly preferable to the status quo. Here's @ThirteenValleys responding to a now-deleted post that argued that rioting and arson were necessary, and that the Motte's general condemnation of the riots demonstrated a "lack of empathy". These are all from the first night or two, but there were plenty more where they came from; further elaboration will unfortunately have to wait for the long-delayed Riot Thread Retrospective megapost. Maybe TW and "Numbers" never saw these or any of the many other similar arguments endemic to the Riot threads. Alternatively, maybe they just didn't care, because it's only bad when Reds do it. All I can say is that support for the rioters was not hard to find, a lot of the old-timer Blues participated, and I note that none of their arguments made it onto the Schism's benchmarks of the unacceptable. Only when such arguments were made from a Red framework did the monocles begin to pop.

this post, which I'm amused to see is apparently now one of TW's top-three examples for speech he considers unacceptable, was likewise not advocating violence. The first two paragraphs are a Modest Proposal, applying the logic of the endemic pro-riot arguments employed by Blues to a Red Tribe issue. The "one" who was "absolutely fucking brain damaged" refered to in the third paragraph was of course myself: I was an idiot to have spent years arguing against political violence and in favor of the possability of understanding and reconciliation, because such arguments utterly failed. Political violence has, in fact, been normalized, and there's no plausible way I can see to unscramble that egg. The final paragraphs are a bitter note of the DARVO applied to my sub-tribe by Blue society at large, and the resentment engendered when I contemplate that even within the Motte, it will never, ever stop.

In any case, the mods gave me a reasonable tap with the hammer, and while it was annoying to see an obvious point be missed so thoroughly, lack of clarity is the author's responsability, I have a strict policy of never arguing with mods, it was probably a good and necessary move for the long-term survival of the forum, and in any case I was furious enough that I needed a break. Happily, the mods provided, and that mod note was a pivotal turn in my own personal journey here.

On the other hand, I actually do believe that serious political violence is a likely outcome of our current trajectory. I actually do deeply hate Blues as a group, a fact that I've admitted on a number of occasions, agree is not a good thing, and am making some effort to manage. I do believe that large-scale political violence is, from a generalized perspective, likely preferable to an uncontested Blue victory in the culture war, as I believe that an uncontested victory is likely to result in large-scale misery as people like me are abused without consequence or recourse. All the arguments I can actually make against such violence presuppose Christian faith, which most people on either side here aren't really interested in, and which I often find myself wishing I could find a way around. I am a right-wing extremist, and while I put effort into keeping it on a leash, I can entirely agree that I have little constructive to contribute to TW's project, given their preferences. Our last several conversations were not cordial ones, and while one of those was my own fault for failing to remember their preferences, the rest were not. In particular, this conversation made it pretty clear that our values were fundamentally incompatible.

I don't expect any of the above to be even slightly persuasive to TW or "Numbers"; I imagine the later will be quite certain that I'm trying to weasel-word out of his accusations. I do not think setting off truck bombs is a good idea. I intend to enjoy what peace my family and I can find, and will continue to pray for the miraculous doom-bypass none of us actually deserves.

For what it’s worth, I expect you and I can or could still have plenty of good conversations—but when people tell me they don’t want to share a society with me, I take seriously the need to build alternate spaces alongside those who do.

Is the ability to have a conversation based on having something to talk about, or not having something you can't talk about?

People talk about anger as though it's a force of nature, utterly irresistible, but our actions are chosen. Still, what happens when the only workable, non-disastrous option you can work with is to close your mouth, turn around and leave?

I regret a number of things I've written in these threads. It might seem stupid, but I very much regret the time I called you blue tribe when you'd previously made it clear your internal identity is red. I'd straight-up forgotten, and it was clear that it came across as a personal attack, and I wanted to apologize but it seemed wrong somehow, like I was trying to justify it. For what little it's worth, I'm sorry for that and for any other needless offense I've offered, intentionally or not.

I think peace requires some level of agreement on which losses get redressed, and which get written off. So what happens when one side says "write it off", and the other side doesn't? What happens when the other side says "redress it", and the first refuses? What's there to do, but fight over it until everyone who remembers why is dead and gone? And who would that benefit?

You and I have a fundamental difference of values. Your right and wrong are not mine, mine are not yours. I don't think either of us is under the impression that the other is missing crucial information. The disagreement is not tangential or peripheral, and it sure doesn't seem reconcilable. You don't like being told that I don't want to have to vote with you, but I don't think it's reasonable for me to vote for my own survival. I don't like being told that an innocent getting their head stomped on by a mob is a regrettably preferable outcome, but you don't want to see lesser violence spiraling inexorably into greater violence, into death, maybe even into many, many deaths. Or maybe I totally misunderstand. If so, it's a misunderstanding that appears immune to correction, because that was charitable to the point of dishonesty from where I sit. Dialing it down that far has required three four passes, and the strangling sensation of swallowing mouthfuls of necessary truth, the lies by omission I keep choosing that curdle any joy of discourse.

You mentioned in one of those past conversations that you took the things people were saying really personally. On this point, you should rest secure in the knowledge that I sympathize to a profound degree. The arguments you made, I read them then and now as applied to me, to my wife, to my family and friends. The things that happened, the arguments made not in the abstract, but while watching it happen, live and in color... The knowledge generated is indelible. There is before, and there is after. I get the impression that it's the same for you. I haven't actually changed my views much, and I get the impression that it's the same for you. So... There it is.

I hope your alternate space goes well, for what it's worth, and if you ever want to come back here I'll make it a point to stay out of your way unless you'd explicitly prefer otherwise.

Last word on this one's yours if you want it, sir. Scout's honor.

FWIW, I think 895158 is being extremely dishonest in that thread and this isn't the first time I've found @TracingWoodgrains judgment to be questionable, for all that I think he is a very smart and sincere guy with noble intentions.

That said, he's not wrong that you are pretty explicitly on the accelerationist side of things. The difference between you and some of the other accelerationists is that you seem sad that it will come to that, whereas the people I think of as genuine bad actors are cheering for it. I suspect 895158 doesn't make such distinctions, so to him, someone like you who very carefully lays out your principles and why you think it's going to come to violence and why you think it's the only pragmatic solution for your side, even though you might wish it were otherwise, is no different from the people who just can't wait to start murdering their enemies.

You and I have had, as you put it, "very frank" differences of opinion. So I'm going to say that two years ago, you were clearly in a very bad headspace and a lot of what you were posting really did read like someone who was one push away from getting behind the wheel of a truck bomb. You seem to have calmed down a bit since then, or maybe you're just better at moderating how you express yourself.

FWIW, I think 895158 is being extremely dishonest in that thread

I, on the other hand, believe “Eights” is seeing Nazis because they’ve trained to see Nazis. They even compared us directly with Stormfront. Not Kiwifarms, not 4chan, not, Stormfront.

I started to listen to Behind The Bastards and another anti-real-neo-Nazi podcast, and had to stop because they kept lumping in literally any support for President Trump. It’s disheartening, knowing the best President in my lifetime is treated as either Zaphod Beeblebrox or Adolf Hitler, sometimes both in the same sentence.

I deleted a paragraph or two, because it seemed a bit too navel-gazey, but you've captured the general thrust.

2020 was not a good year. I'm fortunate that I got back into the Church and got married before it arrived.

You're a good egg, sir.