Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
The Value of Complaint

By sasha in Op-Ed
Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 12:56:51 PM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

complaint:

n. 1. An expression of pain, dissatisfaction, or resentment.

I would like to invoke this particular connotation of the word in making a -- you guessed it -- complaint about a certain characteristic of political discussion on Kuro5hin that concerns this subject.


ADVERTISEMENT
Sponsor: rusty
This space intentionally left blank
...because it's waiting for your ad. So why are you still reading this? Come on, get going. Read the story, and then get an ad. Alright stop it. I'm not going to say anything else. Now you're just being silly. STOP LOOKING AT ME! I'm done!
comments (24)
active | buy ad
ADVERTISEMENT
There is no question that complaint is a vital instrument of bringing change. There is broad historical evidence that the airing of grievances occasionally seems to encourage collective thought on the object of these grievances, and sometimes even makes the resolution of them a reality. When people are individually or collectively unhappy about something, there is a natural tendency to cry on each other's shoulders.

I'm being facetious of course.

It is my observation that in the course of their lively and usually thought-provoking debate on a given subject, some K5 readers tend to run out of effective, well-reasoned counterarguments.

How does one know this? Because suddenly the tune from such a party in the discussion becomes of the following inflammatory flavour: "You're just complaining for the sake of complaining. When you find a plausable alternative, we'll talk." The other permutation is "who are you to talk about what's going on in X, or encourage course of action Y, unless you're on the front lines, literally in X, doing Y - literally participating."

This seems to suggest that to complain (topically) is somehow a vice, and that everyone who merely complains without offering "alternatives" or "solutions" is a waste of oxygen (or bytes, in this context, I guess). Such things can be aimed either at actual K5 users, or some other source of lamentation that is relevant in some way to the discussion.

The first vivid, concrete example of this that I can cite can be found in the story "Chomsky on 'The New War Against Terror'." (No link is given, because at this time it sits stagnant in the moderation queue.) I do not feel it is polite to point any fingers or call any names, but I also recognise that sometimes people and what they say are necessary casualties (or catalysts) for social change. Therefore I will cite a comment that appears somewhere in the story that reads somewhere along the lines of: " When is our dear friend Noam flying over to Pakistan to volunteer to drive trucks for the aid agencies? Until that happens I don't give a damn about what he says about my compicity. Those who can, do; those who can't, bitch." Make your own conclusions as you will, dear reader, but it is my profound conviction that this is a counterproductive, ineffective genre of response to a given situation.

Why exactly is complaining bad? There is a very large number of people in the world who are very well educated about a given social or political problem, especially in the way in which it directly affects them, but cannot offer an academically plausable solution, alternative, etc. that will make remedy to the problem. Many people know what they're talking about when they complain, and can articulate it very well, but can end up damaging their own credibility in the eyes of others when they attempt to suggest remedies for the problem that may seem stupid to their audience. For example, many people in the world are directly affected in a negative fashion by a given policy X of given country Y. They can explain plausably to you why the brutal enforcement of X by Y has burdened them with intolerable hardships. But they are insufficiently educated about the internal political apparatus of Y, and are unable to provide a plausable suggestion for how this problem can be disposed of from the top down. Is one to hold this against them? That they understand their problems, but perhaps not their solutions?

What is wrong with being a political philosopher - a theoretician? In the example of Chomsky, is it inconceivable that he might in fact be educated enough to make an academic analysis of a situation -- I'm not saying whether he is or isn't -- without being right there on the front lines, in Pakistan, driving aid trucks? Does his unwillingness to do this somehow undermine his credibility as a political commentator? Think about the other instances where people have said such things, when they have been quick to dismiss someone by such a rigid, dogmatic path of (un)reasoning. Does that make them wrong, or undermine their knowledge of their field - even if abstract/theoretical.

It seems to me that this is really another manifestation of illogical attempts in social convention to silence non-conformist people. But it's really unfortunate to see this intolerance manifest itself in a relatively educated readership like that of K5. Why must someone who merely has a grievance also be responsible for conceiving a "viable alternative", regardless of their own circumstances and knowledge? Everyone has problems, but not everybody can be the architect of the sometimes sophisticated, detailed, and multi-faced solution. In the case of world politics, it seems to me that to hold them responsible for doing this is, in most cases, engaging in perverse, nauseating oversimplification of the issue.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
To complain about political issues ...
o Is to be an utter fool - silence all dissent! 6%
o Is to be human 76%
o Is implicitly entering into a binding agreement requiring you to also create a solution out of thin air 10%
o Is something left to the uneducated, for the wise always have solutions 4%

Votes: 47
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Kuro5hin
o Also by sasha


Display: Sort:
The Value of Complaint | 74 comments (68 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Best advice I ever got was this... (4.71 / 14) (#1)
by aidoneus on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 09:48:19 PM EST

My freshman year at the University of Michigan, my Chemistry Professor made his first lecture on this topic. His advice? "When you bitch, bitch effectively. Don't complain to your roommate about my last exam, complain to me. He can't help you, I can." How is this relevant? K5ers love to complain, but for the most part they do so very ineffectively. Rather than write letters, fax or call a representative or Senator (or MP on the other side of the pond), they write a trite story here, and ask, "why isn't anyone doing anything?" Personally, I write, fax, and call (email really hasn't worked) on a regular basis. I donate to organizations that are trying to make a difference. I bitch effectively. Now if even 15% of people did this instead of gripe to someone relatively unimportant, I'd wager we might have a much better world.

Too simplistic (3.25 / 4) (#7)
by greenrd on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 10:25:16 PM EST

If I write to my MP/senator/whatever, that's one person. If I submit a story to slashdot on a political issue, that's potentially hundreds or thousands of people motivated to write their reps. Doesn't matter if they are "unimportant" people - it's still 100 letters versus 1 letter. If I'm Noam Chomsky and I do non-stop talks and interviews around the world for weeks, I can reach a hell of a lot of people. It's a matter of leverage.

Of course even the above paragraph is still very simplistic. There are vexing unsolved philosophical issues here, going right to the heart of rationality. How can it be rational to vote or write your MP or protest if you are only one person amongst a sea of thousands or millions doing the same thing? What meaningful difference can one person make?


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

I agree - and... (3.50 / 4) (#11)
by sasha on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 10:49:37 PM EST

The entire notion of writing to your MP/senator/whatever rests on the premise of some kind of faith in the effectiveness of your political system.

You really think that if you are in the clear minority, critical of American foreign policy, and that you write a letter to your senator/MP/whatever, you are going to get an audience of any kind? Hell, depending on how you phrase it, the FBI might show up at your door. Who knows .. these days.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

Well isn't that the point? (4.00 / 3) (#31)
by decoy on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 04:56:01 AM EST

You really think that if you are in the clear minority, critical of American foreign policy, and that you write a letter to your senator/MP/whatever, you are going to get an audience of any kind?

If you're clearly in the minority, who ever said that anyone in government had to do anything along the lines of what you want? You're in the minority, that means that there are more people who disagree with you than agree with you, what about them? Don't they matter?

[ Parent ]

Which is why you complain (4.00 / 4) (#44)
by Dlugar on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 05:32:17 PM EST

If you're in the minority, and the majority is complacent about such things (right now I would certainly say they are), then a convincing argument would be requisite in getting the minority's opinion to be voted by the majority. However, if the majority is very well-informed and simply disagrees with what you say, then it is not likely that your complaining will do much good.

Dlugar

[ Parent ]
True, perhaps I was unclear. (4.00 / 3) (#17)
by aidoneus on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 11:13:30 PM EST

What I was driving towards was the concept that perhaps one should act on an individual level initially (writing a letter, etc) prior to going to the K5 queue. K5 is a great tool for reaching a wide audience, but more often than not, I see it (along with many of the comments posted to articles) turn into either mutual griping, or "preaching to the choir."

As to what difference one person can make, very little (unless you happen to be a lobbiest (sp?) with a large bank account), but I still hope out some hope that enough people, acting together, can make a difference. What this means, at least in my mind, is to take action and then inform others (on K5 or elsewhere) of what the problem is and the action you have taken. As opposed to what usually happens, wherein someone notices a dangerous law and he simply points at it and says, "the (DMCA|SSSCA) is bad!" This usually results in a cacophony of "me too!" posts with a handful of insightful calls to action.

And as for the faith in government question, I am holding onto a shred of naiveity that an "elected" official would be a fool not to listen to an outcry of his constituency. The reason we haven't seen this yet is because we have yet to reach the critical mass of outcry.

[ Parent ]
What I don't get (4.33 / 6) (#2)
by Zeram on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 09:50:35 PM EST

is the dogmatic belief that many people hold, that if your not part of the solution your part of the problem. If you then narrow your feild of view on the issue, well wars have been started over less.

Sometimes the greatest service a person can offer is to bring a problem to light so that others can weigh in with solutions. Is it just me, or is that a relitivly easy concept to grasp?
<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
Non solution is a problem (4.40 / 5) (#10)
by jasonab on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 10:41:11 PM EST

is the dogmatic belief that many people hold, that if your not part of the solution your part of the problem. If you then narrow your feild of view on the issue, well wars have been started over less.
Except that in many cases it's true. You cannot always sit on the fence. If non-action leads to furthering the problem, you have to make a choice.

The environment is one example: every action you take has some environmental impact. You can choose to help the environment or hurt it, but ignoring it will only make things worse.

Terrorism is another. If a country does nothing to deter terrorists from operating in that country, they are helping the terrorists. Ignoring terrorists is a negative action, not a neutral one.

[ Parent ]

thats not (4.33 / 3) (#15)
by Zeram on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 11:00:37 PM EST

what I meant. What I meant was, there are some people that sit out side of a situation and look at it objectivly. They are neither part of the problem, nor part of the solution, they are simply there.
<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
WTF? (4.28 / 14) (#3)
by Carnage4Life on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 09:51:11 PM EST

This article wasted a lot of time and words simply to defend the right to bitch without offering a solution.

The problem I've had with most of the people who've been bitching without offering up alternatives is that they make moral judgement calls without providing a viable alternative that is as moral as they would like.

Some radical Middle Easterners have targetted the US for destruction and no solution to this current situation can avoid the loss of more lives. The only question is how many lives and which country will they be from? No matter what solution is picked, somebody is going to bitch about it.

I can understand complaining if an alternative is actually evident that would stave off the loss of life, liberty and property. But since most of the complainants are simply disagreeing based on moral grounds then no solution will please them and they have no solution to offer meaning that there is no point in even entering a discussion with them.

Misunderstanding (3.00 / 4) (#4)
by sasha on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 09:56:12 PM EST

My article does not defend the right to unconditionally bitch without offering a solution. There are many people who bitch ineffectively and offer no real enlightenment on the problem except that the way things are suck. I do not condone that, and am not making a philosophical advocacy for it in my article. Please excuse my lack of clarification.

Pointed, academic complaint, however, deserves merit. Only by complaint have various issues come to light in the course of human history, and trying to curb it with "well, what do you propose we do to fix it, Wise Guy?" is just counterproductive. That is what I am trying to say, in a somewhat crude, uncomposed way.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

Alternatives (3.60 / 5) (#9)
by greenrd on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 10:38:37 PM EST

Long-term adjustments to US foreign policy are a viable strategy, they could reduce hatred against the US, and I honestly can't see how they could be expected to cause more deaths than if we pursue our present course.

Al Quaeda and their funders are international, highly decentralised, and in hiding - they can't be stopped by killing a few leaders. If it were that easy the IRA would have been destroyed long ago. At best you slow them down at a price of hundreds of thousands of innocent Afghan lives, at worst you create 1000 more bin Ladens. Of course increased security and clamping down on funding of terrorism and moneylaundering etc. etc. is essential, but we can't get security by 24-hour bombings and killing some figureheads and leaders. It just doesn't work like that.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Again, no alternatives mentioned. (4.66 / 6) (#12)
by Carnage4Life on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 10:49:56 PM EST

Long-term adjustments to US foreign policy are a viable strategy, they could reduce hatred against the US, and I honestly can't see how they could be expected to cause more deaths than if we pursue our present course.

This is a prime example of an alternative that isn't an alternative. The Al Quaeda is opposed to the US interfering in the affairs of the Middle East, specifically
  1. US Support of Isreal: The major factor that's preventing that area from disintegrating into genocide on the parts of both parties (Isrealis and Arabs) is the balancing effect of the US.

  2. US preventing Saddam Hussein's running unchecked: If not for the US and the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein could have conquered the entire Middle East using tactics as nasty as chemical and biological weapons.
Please, can you tell me how acqueiscing to these demands won't cause more deaths. Or is the fact that they are not going to be American deaths nullify the potential loss of life?

[ Parent ]
Not like that! (3.25 / 4) (#16)
by greenrd on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 11:08:35 PM EST

Well Bin Laden wants nothing less than a world theocracy, so we obviously can't acquiese to all his demands. That's clear. But what I'm suggesting is some middle ground option to address those greivances that are in my opinion reasonable (and are shared by large numbers of people in the Arab and Muslim nations) - greivances like repression of Palestinians, sanctions on Iraq, and the US supporting repressive regimes in exchange for control over oil etc.

Israel: Here's a start. Push for Israel to agree to a Palestinian state, stop ignoring international law, stop shooting at Palestinian kids, end apartheid.

Saddam: Well maybe we shouldn't have supplied those bloody weapons in the first place, eh? Mighty bloody stupid of us, wasn't it? Besides, the fact is the US does exist and Saddam is not going to be able to conquer the entire Middle East for precisely that reason. Anyway, end non-military sanctions and get the weapons inspectors back in there.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Palestinians (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by Ender Ryan on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 01:53:05 PM EST

The U.S. HAS been pushing for a Palestinian state, and Israel has accepted this as well. The Israeli Prime Minister proposed allowing a Palestinian state, with joint control over Jerusulem with Israel, and the offer has been turned down repeatedly.


-
Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

We are Kuro5hin!


[ Parent ]

palestinian state (3.00 / 1) (#68)
by eudas on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 09:57:44 PM EST

do you have any supporting links that i could read to learn more about the subject of your comment?

eudas
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
yes (5.00 / 1) (#73)
by Ender Ryan on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 01:45:40 PM EST

Here are a couple URLs, they're not nearly conclusive. There have been many offers batted back and forth, with both sides refusing to budge much.

http://more.abcnews.go.com/sections/world/dailynews/mideast001221b.html

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/world/DailyNews/mideast001130.html

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/world/DailyNews/mideast000725_1110.html


-
Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

We are Kuro5hin!


[ Parent ]

Here's a viable solution (2.40 / 5) (#21)
by M0dUluS on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 01:03:38 AM EST

[...]no solution to this current situation can avoid the loss of more lives. The only question is how many lives and which country will they be from?
I can understand complaining if an alternative is actually evident that would stave off the loss of life, liberty and property

Here's a solution: Stop the bombing!
It is very probably killing more people. It will very probably lead to more being killed. NOT bombing IS a solution.



"[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
[ Parent ]
It is a solution (4.66 / 3) (#24)
by roystgnr on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 01:38:50 AM EST

It may or may not be viable. But what leads to cries of "but what is your alternative" (and part of what is causing me to vote this article down as -1, Whiny) is the recognition that there are a lot of people who do think that bombing Afghanistan is wrong, but who think that doing nothing is more wrong, and so is not a viable solution. To these people we want to force the recognition of the fact that we are faced with a choice between a number of undesirable alternatives, and choosing "inaction" as the default alternative may not leave us with the least undesirable of the bunch.

And to people like you, who do believe that "Stopping the bombing" is preferable to "bombing", even without any alternative means of imposing justice to replace military action, we'd like to get that belief out in the open so that it can be debated with full consideration of the negative consequences of both possibilities.

[ Parent ]

And to people like you....forsooth! (1.25 / 4) (#29)
by M0dUluS on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 03:07:44 AM EST

To these people we want to force the recognition of the fact that we are faced with a choice between a number of undesirable alternatives, and choosing "inaction" as the default alternative may not leave us with the least undesirable of the bunch.

You should really provide some reasoned analysis or discussion of how it is that you expect the murder of innocent civilians, the flouting of international law and the creation of a new martyr for Islamic fundamentalism to be the "least undesirable" alternative. Seriously, how can this course of action lead to less deaths? What are you actually proposing to do? Are you just saying that you go along with the government? Do you have a specific set of proposals that you expect the government to follow? What is your course of action? How many people do you expect do die from this current course of action? What number of deaths are you prepared to accept? Are you aware that G.W.Bush has declared a war on terror? Do you accept that too? What does it mean? Do you agree with that? What if anything are you proposing?

And to people like you, who do believe that "Stopping the bombing" is preferable to "bombing", even without any alternative means of imposing justice to replace military action

I've never advocated that. If you check my posting history you'll see that I argue for the temporary, stop-gap solution of an ICC, or for the UNSEC to receive the evidence and then lay out clearly exactly what measures and by whom they should be undertaken in order to bring whoever is responsible for the WTC/Pentagon bombings to trial. I don't like doing this because I believe that the U.N. , and even moreso the UNSEC, is an undemocratic body that places too much power in the hands of "Western" countries. However, one must have short-term goals as well as long-term. In the short term I desire that if possible the perpetrators of the WTC/Pentagon terrorism be brought before some sort of legally constituted international legal body. If that has to be a special tribunal of the UN a la Milosevic, then fine. I'm not dead set on the specific form, just as long as it is international (read not dominated by the US or Europe) and acts in accordance with what international law there is.

If you had actually read some of the discussions of these topics which you so decry you could never have made your accusation.



"[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
[ Parent ]
Hot Damn! (4.22 / 9) (#5)
by physicsgod on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 10:09:10 PM EST

First I'm the inspiration for a diary, now an actual story in the queue. I must be doing something right.

In case you haven't guessed it, I am the author of the abovementioned comment. And I shall use this occasion to expound upon my rationale.

Actually the whole thing can be compressed into a well known aphorism: Talk is cheap. To get at your argument the vital instrument of change is action, nothing has ever changed because people complained about it, only when people decide to do something different does anything happen. An effective political philosopher not only exposes a complaint, but provides one or more solutions. I guess I'm just much smarter than Mr. Chomsky, since I was able to find a solution to the Starving Afghai problem: Namely volunteer to drive the trucks into the warzone. Now this might not be a valid solution, but you can't say "Afghanis are starving so we should stop the bombing" until you demonstrate why volunteering is less valid than cessation of bombing.

It occurs to me that I might be underestimating Mr. Chomsky. After all the only parts of his work I've read are those quoted by the K5 Left. He might not be a whiny milksop, just quoted by them.

In conclusion wearing ribbons, cloaking artwork in black every tuesday, and smashing the windows of a Starbucks hasn't accomplished anything, instead it's the people researching protease inhibitors, running battered women's shelters, teaching agriculture in the third world, and those like them that have made the world a better place throughout history. Don't like something? Either try to change it or shut up.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary

Speech Is Action (4.00 / 4) (#13)
by greenrd on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 10:50:43 PM EST

Either try to change it or shut up.

You appear to be incapable of understanding the point that complaints are an attempt to change things. It's called efficient division of labour - something that capitalism excels at in terms of production of physical goods - overexcels at, in fact - but when it comes to political arguments, somehow it becomes that people pointing out problems also have to get stuck in to solving them, even if the knee-jerk solution might actually be counterproductive (charity can mislead people as to the real causes of a problem).

Did it not occur to you that it might be more sensible to have people doing what they are most suited for and what they can have most impact doing? Do you think that politicians should spend 50% less time campaigning in order to volunteer in their communities when elections are close at hand? Nice idea but just not realistic - they can have much more of an impact by investing all their efforts in campaigning.

Noam Chomsky is one of those people that bypasses party politics entirely and talks directly to the people, but he is in a similar situation. As other people have already noted in this discussion, he can do more good by focusing on his talks and interviews, rather than driving aid trucks or some dumb idea like that (heh).


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Interesting. (3.00 / 4) (#26)
by physicsgod on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 02:20:49 AM EST

You appear to be incapable of understanding the point that complaints are an attempt to change things.
When the hell did I get transported into a Tolkein novel? In the world I come from words don't do anything. Saying "That house is going to fall down." is not the same thing as keeping the house from falling down. If I hired a structural engineer to assess my house and he told me it was about to fall down, without telling me what to do to fix it, I would not only not pay him, I'd also kick his ass for wasting my valuable time.

But the thing that pisses me off the most about the Chomsky quotes I've seen is that they're not even useful criticism. Nothing I've seen indicates any awareness that there might be more options than the one he's latched on to. Instead it's a repetition of "X is bad, X is happening because of Y, therefore Y should be stopped." with no regard to the possibility of Z that would also stop X.

Since most K5ers do programming I'll try an example: Imagine you're contracted to write a program. You write the program and present it to the client, who says "I don't like it." Did the client actually do anything to further the project?

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

Goebbel's best customer ... (4.66 / 6) (#33)
by StrontiumDog on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 05:16:52 AM EST

In the world I come from words don't do anything.
On this planet, words work so effectively that totalitarian states have entire ministries devoted to propaganda, and devote considerable effort to preventing the influx and spread of seditious ideas.

There's a saying we have back West ... the pen is mightier than the sword.

[ Parent ]

You're getting your causes mixed up. (5.00 / 1) (#50)
by physicsgod on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 06:23:45 PM EST

Words cannot be the efficient cause of anything in the real world. Propaganda can affect final causes, but all the propaganda in the world is useless unless it's accompanied by action.

As for the saying I'll take Damascus steel of a Cross Century ballpoint anyday. ;)

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

Three useless statements in one go. (3.00 / 1) (#58)
by StrontiumDog on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 07:08:44 AM EST

Words cannot be the efficient cause of anything in the real world.
Words can make or break elections. Make or break leaders. Rouse rabble, or calm them. Inspire religious fanatics to fury, or angry men to calm. In fact I will turn it around: without words there can be no communication; without communication there can be no action. The human being is a social animal. On his own he can accomplish little; he must move the herd into action and that can be better accomplished with words than with whips.
Propaganda can affect final causes, but all the propaganda in the world is useless unless it's accompanied by action.
Bullshit. Propaganda can prevent or redirect action, usually far more effectively than weapons can. You cannot force me to hit my neighbour but you may trick me into doing so.
As for the saying I'll take Damascus steel of a Cross Century ballpoint anyday.
I'll take your keyboard. You can have your sword. The net effect will be positive all round; I can continue to discredit you on this board, and you can try to stop me with your sword. We will both feel more effective. Only one of us will actually be accomplishing anything, though.

[ Parent ]
Cognitive dissonance? (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by physicsgod on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 02:57:13 PM EST

without communication there can be no action.
Patently false. The actions of me typing on this keyboard require no communication. My building of a bookshelf require no communication. Also, elections are made and broken by VOTES, words can effect votes, but they aren't the same thing and the votes are what is fundamental.

Bullshit. Propaganda can prevent or redirect action, usually far more effectively than weapons can. You cannot force me to hit my neighbour but you may trick me into doing so.
Congratulations, that's what I just said. So is it bullshit or is it your argument? You really should pick one.

I'll take your keyboard. You can have your sword. The net effect will be positive all round; I can continue to discredit you on this board, and you can try to stop me with your sword. We will both feel more effective. Only one of us will actually be accomplishing anything, though.
The end result of this little experiment would be your head seperated from you body by a few yards, me with my keyboard typing merrily away. Maybe you could use your words to call the police, but unless they take action, i.e. shoot me, I'll just go right past them. I'll say it agian: words are useless without action.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
No communication? (4.00 / 1) (#65)
by pyramid termite on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 07:47:02 PM EST

The actions of me typing on this keyboard require no communication.

So, one morning, you got up, recognized that thing on your desk as a computer and those funny little blocks on front of it as a keyboard with letters on it and just started typing away on it without anyone ever having communicated to you what any of it meant? Wow.

I'll say it agian: words are useless without action.

You can't make words without action. The mere act of speaking or typing is an action, isn't it?
On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Programming (4.40 / 5) (#43)
by Dlugar on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 02:50:39 PM EST

Imagine you're contracted to write a program. You write the program and present it to the client, who says "I don't like it." Did the client actually do anything to further the project?
Yes. And if you, the programmer, start saying things like "Well, fine, I don't see you writing this program!" or "Fine then, as soon as you come up with an alternative you let me know." If you start saying things like that, you're going to be out of a job pretty darn soon.

The correct response is this: "All right, I understand that you have some problems with this program. What specific parts should be changed? What particular things ought to be different before you will consider it satisfactory?"

And guess what: once you make those changes and come back, the client is still going to be whining and complaining about various things. I promise. And if you get a snooty attitude about it, "Talk is cheap, buddy. Start doing something to change this program, 'cos nothing is going to change just because you're telling me what's wrong with it." I promise you're not going to have that client for much longer.

Dlugar

[ Parent ]
your missing the point (4.25 / 4) (#14)
by Zeram on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 10:55:14 PM EST

The point is that in order for something to be done about a given situation someone has to say something about it. Now at this point you maybe saying that most people in the US can see damn well what is going on, by watching CNN or reading cnn.com (or insert favorite news outlet here). Except (without getting into the can of worms that is poltical/business machine in America) that the media will never tell the whole story. Just accept it, we will never get the full truth from the media. So somebody has to be there to bitch, and moan, and pull out the full truth into the light of day. We need that. You say that nothing has ever changed because people complained. Oh yeah? Go dig up Thomas Paines' bones and tell him that! If the right people bitch at the right time, in the right place, it can incite people to action. Also keep in mind that often the greatest teachers in the world, are not fully capable of practising what they teach. It is not such an impossible idea to think that you could be taught by someone who knows very little about the subject of your education. Being so stubbornly caught up in the concept that action is all there is to life, only shows how unwilling you are to learn.
<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
Yes, that's real likely (2.50 / 2) (#22)
by sasha on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 01:22:16 AM EST

Unfortunately, there are no K5 users that I know of that have any actual political and otherwise logistical clout. It'd be nice if somebody could actually take some action, but there's no way to put it more succintly - we can't.

The next best thing to do is call for action through speech. Perhaps you will influence somebody who can be conducive to your agenda.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

What's stopping you? (3.33 / 3) (#27)
by physicsgod on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 02:25:37 AM EST

What is keeping you from hopping a plane to Pakistan to drive food to the starving people? My impediment is finacial, but I'm US$10 closer to getting there thanks to Arkady. What's your excuse? If you don't have one why do you have the right to bitch about things you aren't willing to change yourself? And if you do insist of bitching what are you willing to do to solve the problem? If the only thing you're willing to do is bitch you need to stop wasting my oxygen. Right now. Seriously, I mean it.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
The bombs. (4.16 / 6) (#34)
by StrontiumDog on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 05:20:50 AM EST

What is keeping you from hopping a plane to Pakistan to drive food to the starving people?
The bombs raining down on Afghanistan are stopping me, and everybody else incidentally, from hopping on a plane to Afghanistan and driving food-aid trucks. I have the cash. Make the fighting stop, so that I can go. You're in favour of the bombing, you stop it.

Oh, you can't stop the bombing, you say? Well, hell, quit bitching then.

[ Parent ]

And thus we see the REAL problem. (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by physicsgod on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 12:43:37 AM EST

Ignorance coupled with cowardice. In the entire history of the bombing campaign I know of only one instance of a civilian vehicle being bombed, and zero instances of such a vehicle being bombed outside city limits. Not only that but a large number of Afghani refugees are crowded along the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier, you wouldn't even be in the combat zone long. So I ask again: what's stopping you?

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
You're dodging the question. (3.00 / 1) (#60)
by StrontiumDog on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 07:15:36 AM EST

Whether you think I'm ignorant or cowardly is completely irrelevant: I've told you the conditions under which I will go, and hold you personally responsible for ensuring that these conditions are met, just as you have told me the conditions in which you will take any criticism of the WTC bombings seriously. My heroism or cowardice is totally irrelevant to the issue at hand, as is my race, creed, and skin colour. The condition has been stated. Meet it, or admit failure.

[ Parent ]
Your conditions are bullshit. (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by physicsgod on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 02:46:39 PM EST

I've told you that your conditions have no rational basis. Continuing insistance upon them indicates that these conditions are contrived to achieve a rhetorical point. Congratulations, you've managed to win the game when you get to write the rules. Forgive me for not being impressed.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Rhetorical? (2.00 / 1) (#64)
by sasha on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 04:52:49 PM EST

Unfortunately, it is your stipulations, physicsgod, that are contrived in order to advance a rhetorical point. What you are saying has no practical value to anybody - "go out and change it yourself!" - you're just parroting mindless idealistic garbage.

Now, drawing attention to a social problem on K5 and encouraging people to go about it differently, that's something that serves a clear purpose.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

You're deluding yourself. (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by physicsgod on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 11:34:54 PM EST

Posting to K5 is not getting anything done. All the posts in the world, all the "awareness" possible is completely and utterly useless in solving problems unless someone actually rolls up their sleeves and DOES SOMETHING!!!!!!!!!! Communication can facilitate that action, but in the final analysis it is always action that gets anything done. Now the question that started this whole mess: Given the problem you've identified why the fuck should we do anything if you're not willing to take action yourself? If you don't care enough to take action why should I? Until you can answer those questions I'm going to look upon this whole topic as a self-congratulatory circle-jerk.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Oh, for fuckssake are you so stupid? (3.00 / 2) (#72)
by StrontiumDog on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 01:02:27 PM EST

Or are you dragging this shit on and on because you're too fatheaded to give up?

Nobody gives a fuck about your opinions in the real world. On this board you have proven yourself willing to engage in lengthy discourse with people, regardless of whether they drive aid trucks in Afghanistan or not. Not that there is any fucking way you could verify anything, anyway. Which proves the stupidity of your original demands.

Put simply, if you don't want to listen to Chomsky or anyone else unless he or she is driving food trucks in Afghanistan, fine. Fuck off. Go read some other forum. Go read the Reader's Digest or something. Above all, don't hang around here.

But on this board, if you wish to discuss anything, as opposed to simply spouting your opinion and refusing to listen to any replies, you are not in any position to make silly, unverifiable, irrelevant demands. You can't enforce them, you can't verify them, so why the fuck do you persist making them?

If, on the offchance you are serious about your demands, then put in your sig: "I will not listen to your arguments unless you are a food truck driver in Afghanistan". That will save us the bother of reading or replying to your postings.

And otherwise learn to discuss issues without throwing tantrums or refusing to listen until your mindless, one-sided demands are met. You are not a child any more.

[ Parent ]

Read much? (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by physicsgod on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 02:31:15 PM EST

Like the title of the article perhaps? You know, the part where it says "the value of complaint". Since you obviously have some form of mental defect I'll put this is simple language.

Complaint without action is useless.
What are you doing to solve the problem you are complaining about?
If you aren't willing to actually do anything why should I(or anyone else) do something to solve the problem? In fact why should I even listen to you?

That was what I was trying to convey in the comment that started this whole damn thing. If you think this "demand" is unreasonable I have a question. If you aren't interested in having people listen to you what is the point of posting a complaint, other than to see your own words in print?

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

In spirit... (3.75 / 4) (#41)
by sasha on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 01:39:57 PM EST

I am quite willing to solve the problem.

In practise, there are logistical obstacles to me personally going out and fixing all the problems in the world.

By your logic, all theoreticians and commentators out there are useless, oxygen-wasting shitheads, since they aren't on the front lines, driving aid trucks. Does it really detract from their understanding of the political implications of the situation? No. That's the entire point of my article. Driving an aid truck, living in Afghanistan, or having tangible means to address problems on the microstructural level, all are NOT qualifiers that makes me able to criticise American foreign policy. These things are not prequisite to credibly speaking of such atrocities.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

Yes and no. (5.00 / 1) (#54)
by physicsgod on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 12:55:02 AM EST

I understand about logistical problems, being faced with them myself.

However I would disagree about your statement on theoreticians. An ideal theoretician would use a theoretical framework to describe the available actions to achieve a specified result (or would describe the results of a specified action). I can even see the use of pedagogical commentary. What I find useless are the pundits such as Noam Chomsky and the talking heads you find on CNN et al. Calling the bombings an atrocity is not getting anything done. Calling Clinton a liar didn't get anything done. This post to K5 is not getting anything done.

Instead of posting this article (regardless of how flattered I am) you would be better off spending the time it took trying to figure out alternative problems to the starving Afghan problem. If you could find no solution more viable than stopping the bombing and were to post on the possible solutions and thier pitfalls THEN you would be performing useful commentary. Simply posting "Noam Chomsky says Afghans are starving so we should stop the bombing" isn't useful. An incomplete theory is usually worse than no theory at all.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

Words (4.00 / 2) (#57)
by kaatunut on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 05:05:21 AM EST

you would be better off spending the time it took trying to figure out alternative problems to the starving Afghan problem.

And then implementing it myself?

--
there's hole up in the sky from where the angels fall to sire children that grow up too tall, there's hole down in the ground where all the dead men go down purgatory's highways that gun their souls
[ Parent ]

My answer (3.00 / 1) (#67)
by pyramid termite on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 08:09:01 PM EST

What is keeping you from hopping a plane to Pakistan to drive food to the starving people?

What's keeping me is that I'm working for a living and paying taxes so my government can have more qualified and equipped people drive the food to the starving people. See? I am contributing to the solution.
On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
K5's built for talk, not action (4.00 / 2) (#23)
by tudlio on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 01:36:59 AM EST

K5 is a communications medium. We all read and post on K5 because we want to communicate, that is we want to talk about an issue.

Driving trucks in Afghanistan is an action. If you were driving trucks in Afghanistan, you wouldn't be posting on K5. (At least not without a satellite link).

So, IMHO it's not only unproductive, but just plain silly to use K5 to criticize someone for talking instead of acting when the whole point of K5 is talking.

Or did I miss the K5 volunteers' induction ceremony?




insert self-deprecatory humor here
[ Parent ]
I have no problem with communication. (4.50 / 2) (#28)
by physicsgod on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 02:33:33 AM EST

But discussion needs to be turned into action. It's the people who insist that they're doing something productive even when they're only swapping bytes that pisses me off. They're parasitic. They don't get anything done except annoy/amuse those who make the world go 'round.

Also, I find your comment about Pakistan rather unsettling. Computers and Technology are not confined to the Atlantic and Pacific rims. Believe it or not Pakistan has heard about the light bulb, and some enlightened souls have even heard of a computer, and the internet.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

Apologies to the Pakistanis (4.00 / 3) (#42)
by tudlio on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 02:42:26 PM EST

Believe it or not Pakistan has heard about the light bulb, and some enlightened souls have even heard of a computer, and the internet.

Oh, come on, it was a rhetorical flourish, not an insult thrown at the Pakistanis (or the Afghans for that matter).

Picture the scene: you've got one hand on the wheel of a huge Mercedes truck, lumbering with a load full of MREs through the Khyber pass, the other on the keyboard of a laptop sitting on the seat beside you. Moonlight casts a silvery gleam on the towering peaks around you. Your attention is split between keeping to the path outlined by the UN jeep in front of you and trying to decide between "0 Don't Care" and "-1 Dump It".

Isn't that just a little bit amusing? Doesn't it justify perhaps a little bit of rhetorical license?




insert self-deprecatory humor here
[ Parent ]
Talk can be the greatest weapon. (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by bil on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 07:20:18 AM EST

Consider this:-
I go to Afghanistan and drive an aid truck.
I stay at home, give money to the aid charities (here and here for a start) and then shout loudly about the problem in an attempt to persuade people to aid in anyway they can. (PLEASE SUPPORT THE AID EFFORT IN AFGHANISTAN!!)

Which is helping more? Bear in mind when answering that I cant think of a single aid effort that failed due to lack of truck drivers, but money to buy food is always usefull.

Talk can be cheap, and people can bitch for no other reason then to hear the sound of their own voice, but it is the only way of building a popular consensus on an issue, and through popular consensus can come actions far greater then any single person can acheive.

bil


bil
Where you stand depends on where you sit...
[ Parent ]

There's a problem. (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by physicsgod on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 01:07:54 AM EST

The point of failure isn't at the money stage. The aid agencies have all the food they need, what they need is people to drive it across the mountains. If the switch is open you can't light the bulb by applying more voltage.

So the question becomes which does more good? Driving the trucks themselves is a "first-order" act of good. You know you're doing what needs to be done. Sending the money is a second-order good. The money could be used for "hazard pay" to get locals to drive the trucks, but you can't know for sure that's what will happen. Telling others to send in money is a third-order good. Others could send money (a second-order good) but you can't know for sure that will happen. The best possible act would be to go over and drive trucks (first order) while imploring people to come help (second order) or send money (third order). The question is whether sending money and imploring others is better than helping in person. In my mind it isn't. No amount of possibilities could outweigh an actuality.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

I've got a better idea (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by pyramid termite on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 07:52:07 PM EST

I guess I'm just much smarter than Mr. Chomsky, since I was able to find a solution to the Starving Afghai problem: Namely volunteer to drive the trucks into the warzone.

That's SO old-tech. Why don't either of you invent a matter transmitter that will instantaneously send the food that is needed to the people that need it? Or a nanobot that will turn rocks into goat-cheese? You and Mr. Chomsky are slacking! Get to work!
On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
Already done. (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by physicsgod on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 11:37:31 PM EST

The plans for the matter-transmitter are complete, all I need to build the prototype is 500Tonnes of five-9's gold. Please send your contribution to the following address.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Dare I respond? (5.00 / 10) (#6)
by theantix on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 10:09:40 PM EST

I'm sure that you are responding to me, at least in part. I am among those who are frustrated with people, such as yourself, who are complaining in the current unending debate over the course of action that the US has taken in Afghanistan.

But you are 100% right when you say that complaining (an oral or written form of protesting) is a good social activity, and has done more benefit than harm in our modern society. While I haven't been agreeing with you in the recent debates over the bombing in Afghanistan, I certainly appreciate that there are people such as yourself who are critical of the US, because it keeps the government on its toes. It benefits us all to have complainers in our midst, even if it does get annoying at times. Hell, if people hadn't complained we would have missed or delayed many important social rights including women's suffrage and the end of slavery! I don't agree with the person you mention that thinks it has no value to complain but not act... because (s)he was dead on when they said: "Those who can, do; those who can't, bitch." Noam Chomsky can do much better for his cause complaining than he can trying to drive trucks in Pakistan... and I think everybody know this. You are right that it is counterproductive and ineffective response.

Now, back to K5. Since I defend the right to complain and promote its importance... why do I get annoyed today in the face of complaints against the American actions? Two answers:

  • Personally, I'm impressed that the Americans have been restrained as they are. I expected to be among the protesters as America decided to flatten the Muslim world, consequences be damned. When I saw the coalition building and targeted approach that took place I was so surprised that I can't fathom complaining myself.
  • It's been beaten to death, so I'll vote against complaining postings or stories that bring nothing new to the table. A perfect example is a recent article that got beat down really quick, that seemed like nothing more than a useless ranting complaint. I can't link to it because it's gone, but it was called " The War: What's So Complex About It?" There was some comment about how terrible the bombings were with some links to a Noam Chomsky speech. We all know the complaints, and there are existing forums for it already in place on K5. If people want to re-hash the existing items we can use the posted articles.

    For the record... I would not consider the following article a complaint: "The American action was wrong, they should have done [x] that was more constructive and solved the problems facing them". I would consider this article a complaint: "The Americans are bombing again, Noam Chomsky says that they are bad, and that the media is evil because they don't talk to him". The complaints get very stale over time and get annoying, while the constructive criticism is still useful, in my eyes. So despite the fact that it is counterproductive ineffective to dismiss the complaints -- the complaints themselves become counterproductive ineffective and ineffective over time.

    So as I see it... you have the right to complain, and it's a good thing. But don't expect to be liked for it when it's repetitious, and you are in the clear minority!

    --
    You sir, are worse than Hitler!

  • With the greatest respect (2.92 / 13) (#19)
    by M0dUluS on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 12:02:22 AM EST

    your post is incredibly irritating. Example:
    Personally, I'm impressed that the Americans have been restrained as they are. I expected to be among the protesters as America decided to flatten the Muslim world, consequences be damned. When I saw the coalition building and targeted approach that took place I was so surprised that I can't fathom complaining myself.

    You call it "restraint", I call it "murdering civilians". You're impressed? What exactly were you expecting? That they would go in and drop tons of munitions on innocent people? Oh wait they're doing that. That they would act without the sanction of international law? Oh, wait they're doing that. That they would interfere with the distribution of food by international relief agencies? Oh!, wait they're doing that.

    It is posts like yours that trumpet untruths as fact that provoke complaints. You assert falsehoods without analysis or reference. Worse, they're the lines that are spouted so freely in the media which a skeptic would automatically assume were suspect.

    Basically you are complaining about an alternate picture being presented - one that you don't agree with.



    "[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
    [ Parent ]
    Alright, buster. (3.50 / 4) (#30)
    by decoy on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 04:47:13 AM EST

    It is posts like yours that trumpet untruths as fact that provoke complaints. You assert falsehoods without analysis or reference.

    Alright, lets assume that they're falsehoods. Prove it to me. I want to see your evidence that the Americans are intentionally targeting civilians.

    Worse, they're the lines that are spouted so freely in the media which a skeptic would automatically assume were suspect.

    I bet you've been saying some pretty suspect things too.

    Basically you are complaining about an alternate picture being presented - one that you don't agree with.

    Have you realized that you're doing the exact same thing?

    [ Parent ]

    Kind of depends ... (4.60 / 5) (#36)
    by StrontiumDog on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 05:27:13 AM EST

    I want to see your evidence that the Americans are intentionally targeting civilians.
    We all know they're nasty folks, but are the Taliban military or civilian?

    [ Parent ]
    As someone else said... (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by physicsgod on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 01:10:37 AM EST

    "If they've got a gun, and they're trying to kill you, they aren't civilian."

    --- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
    [ Parent ]
    So (3.00 / 1) (#59)
    by StrontiumDog on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 07:09:58 AM EST

    when did the Taliban last try to kill you?

    [ Parent ]
    oh, right around... (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by physicsgod on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 02:42:54 PM EST

    October 12th of this year. If you harbor someone who's trying to kill me anything that happens to you while I get to him is your own damn fault.

    --- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
    [ Parent ]
    Intentional red herring (3.25 / 4) (#40)
    by M0dUluS on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 01:14:47 PM EST

    You make a point of emphasizing intentionally in your challenge as though that made a difference. I don't believe that it does make one: if in order to kill your neighbor I drop thousands of pounds of bombs on his house in the knowledge that I will possibly kill you as a side-effect then I am intentionally killing you. If I drop thousands of pounds of bombs on your neighbor in the sincere belief that there is no one around for a radius of miles, that's different. The point is that in the former case I intend to take your death as an acceptable possibility.

    In an earlier post I quoted from the mens rea analysis. This concept of criminal law (yes I know that this is war, international etc. but the point is that it is a moral judgement which our country has enshrined in our law code, so it should have some consideration in a debate concerning morality and legality) states that this type of killing is to be considered murder.

    I bet you've been saying some pretty suspect things too.
    I bet I have. I've been hauled up pretty short on them and I am happy about that. If I am un-informed or mis-informed then, although I do feel reluctance and resistance, I am ultimately happy to be corrected. Ego, does of course get in the way.
    Have you realized that you're doing the exact same thing?
    No, I'm rejecting the argument that an alternate picture should not be presented. I'm not saying that the poster should not present his argument. I'm saying that it is wrong.

    "[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
    [ Parent ]
    intention (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by jajuka on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 07:36:44 PM EST

    Your use of the word murder, as opposed to, say, killing, implies intention.

    [ Parent ]
    Ummm (3.00 / 1) (#52)
    by M0dUluS on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 07:47:27 PM EST

    in the post you are replying to I repeatedly use the word "Kill" in conjunction with the word "intentional". The point is that in criminal law (as the link I provided argues) taking an action that knowingly results in someones death is considered to be killing them intentionally. Killing someone intentionally is "murder".

    "[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
    [ Parent ]
    Ah.... caveat.... (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by loucura on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 03:43:31 AM EST

    This is a military action, which is war. Name to me one war that civilians were not directly or indirectly affected. Although I don't personally agree with it, or care on either side, calling the accidental death and injury of civilians, due to awry munitions, murder seems a bit irrational.

    [ Parent ]
    Restraint (4.66 / 6) (#37)
    by Simon Kinahan on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 08:54:10 AM EST

    I have to say that the current US action is, in my view, one of the better possible outcomes. Its not good. I think they've missed opportunities to find a purely diplomatic solution that would have been less destructive, and might even have served to bring the Taleban back into the international community. Such efforts would not necessarily have worked - Osama bin Laden has done a great deal to help the Taleban, and I there is no gaurantee that they'd ever give him up. However, I would have been much happier had the effort been made sincerely, rather than, as it seems, as a token gesture.

    On September 11th I was reasonably sure the USA was going to attempt an all-out invasion of Afghanistan, and probably Iraq too, and that Israel would get carte blanche to walk all over the occupied territories. Now, maybe I was excessively cynical, but there do seem to have been pressures within the administration (from that **** Wolfowitz among others) and in the media for precisely such courses of action. I believe it is to the credit of Bush and Powell that they have resisted those pressures. I don't like what they have done, but I do believe in giving credit where it is due.

    The other thing that has to be considered is what would have happened had the administration opted for a purely diplomatic response. Well, you can bet they'd have to have given the Taleban a good deal more than politeness in order to get them to hand over bin Laden, and especially to try to get them to act as the kind of "broad based government" the USA could feel good about supporting. That would have infuriated Noam Chomsky, and a wide range of feminist and human rights groups, to at least the same extent as the current course of action. Thats not inconsistent on Chomsky's part: he's an anarchist; he couldn't consistently support any government action. Not only would the left have been at least as mad as it is now, but the administration would have lost the support of the right and most of the population for being "soft" too. It would have been a courageous course of action, but not, I think, a practical one.

    Given that the US administration - and my own government, which has less excuse - are engaged on a millitary campaign, we need to accept what millitary action means. Even with the best of intentions, it is impossible to fight an effective war without killing civilians. I don't believe civilians are being deliberately targetted, but some millitary targets are in civilian areas, and, of course, accidents also happen. There are two consistent attitudes to that: either you accept that its an inevitable, but regrettable, consequence of the right course of action, or you believe that it shows the course of action to be morally wrong.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    You know (4.75 / 4) (#46)
    by wiredog on Mon Oct 22, 2001 at 09:11:15 AM EST

    You just proved his thesis concerning unending repetition with no new content.

    If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
    [ Parent ]
    Well, since you decided to make a topical argument (2.42 / 7) (#20)
    by sasha on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 12:45:27 AM EST

    We'll treat it as an extension of this debate.

    Personally, I'm impressed that the Americans have been restrained as they are. I expected to be among the protesters as America decided to flatten the Muslim world

    When presented with such inflammatory extremes and blatant statements that profess ignorance and oversimplify the issue exponentially (whether intentionally or sarcastically), people will complain. You are in no position to indict them on those grounds. If your nature is provocative like that, than, reap what you sow.

    Kind of like the US is doing nowadays.

    Whoops, inflammatory afterthought ...


    --- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
    [ Parent ]

    Complaints and Solutions (4.81 / 11) (#18)
    by Dlugar on Sat Oct 20, 2001 at 11:43:13 PM EST

    I have been having political and various other discussions with my extended family, mostly via email, and inevitably I get hounded about being "too negative" or complaining about everything without offering golden solutions. A few things I've noted that I think would be helpful for those who feel the same way about posters on K5 (or Noam Chomsky or whomever).
    • If you feel that people are complaining simply for the sake of complaining, all you have to do is one thing: agree. No, really. Say this: "Hey, you're right. That particular thing is a big problem. What do you think we can do about it?" And then throw out a few possible solutions of your own. Example:

      Hey, you're right. The US policy is pretty bad quite a lot of the time, especially regarding things in the Middle East. What sort of things can you and I do to influence people to change, and convince our government leaders to act differently in such matters?

      If the person is a person with legitimate beefs, likely you will succeed in turning the discussion to productive aims. If the person is simply a "rabid anti-American" who has decided to bash everything under the sun, he or she will likely move along to find more argumentative types, and not even bother responding.
    • If you've gotten into the habit of complaining habitually about everything in a particular topic (be it DMCA and copyright, or US Foreign Policy, or how corrupt politicians are), try and come up with at least some sort of solution or "thing we could try differently" whenever you start bashing. This not only helps you appear more rational (even if you really aren't), diffuses a lot of unproductive arguments, but it also might actually make a difference.
    • Please, never make the mistake of telling someone that he or she has no right to complain about something because he or she has not been in a certain war, is not fighting on the front lines, is not in a particular country, is not old enough to know what he or she is talking about, or for any other such reason. This doesn't encourage any productive responses, only links to that "logical fallacies" page or flamage or worse. Please, just don't do it. If you feel the person is talking out of his or her nether region, simply point out the most glaring error (with references, preferably) if you don't feel like writing a detailed rebuttal to the whole thing. And while you're at it, try and make some attempt at throwing in one of those "solutions" to turn the conversation into a more productive thread.
    Simply some of my observations. Hope someone gets some use out of them.

    Dlugar

    wow. thanks. (4.00 / 1) (#25)
    by stfrn on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 01:42:57 AM EST

    i think i will try your first sugestion, as i have never thought of that before. I had thought of the second point before, i phrased it more like, the best way to prove an argument is to try to disprove it, or the other way around.

    "Man, I'm going to bed. I can't even insult people properly tonight." - Imperfect
    What would you recomend to someone who doesn't like SPAM?
    [ Parent ]
    A touch of calm (4.50 / 2) (#38)
    by svampa on Sun Oct 21, 2001 at 10:44:39 AM EST

    11 Sept. has touched deep emotions and K5 is not an exception (me neither) and sometimes we critize with absurd arguments, we should slow down a little

    Talking about your comment, you are right, arguments are true of false, no matter who is the speaker, an angel or a devil. But sometimes speach has good arguments subtlely mixed with exposition of facts. Unlike arguments, the credibility of facts exposed depends on the credibility of the speaker.



    The Value of Complaint | 74 comments (68 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
    Display: Sort:

    kuro5hin.org

    [XML]
    All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
    See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
    Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
    Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
    My heart's the long stairs.

    Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!