It is as much a puzzle as an irritation that no one on the left ever wishes to discuss any of their absolute conclusions about the world, whether it is socialism, open borders, global warming or the deadly potential of the CoronaV. Since each of these seems empty and without merit, there is no doubt that in entering any of these topics it is the start of a discussion about the relative merits of our different points of view. Since all of these issues seem clear as a bell to me, as they also seem to be to them, you would think that it might at least lead to each of us clarifying our own points of view for ourselves. At least I might learn something, and you never know – actually you do know – I might change my mind. Still, there was a time when discussion was just interesting in and for itself.
The reality now is and has been for some time that no one is interested in engaging. The last time I had such a discussion was over why this woman, who was a guest in our house, was voting for Obama over Romney (ie 2012). We have virtually not spoken to each other since, nor to her husband. And all she would say is that since she is not an American, she doesn’t vote in the American election which was insulting and stupid and of course, since neither do I, was of no relevance to the question why she would prefer Obama to Romney. Since then, there is no one who has been open to what used to be part of life’s entertainment. Discussing with others our particular political points of view.
So perhaps this article by James Lindsay will provide the answer: No, the Woke Won’t Debate You. Here’s Why. All should be read, but here is a part of it.
I often get asked specifically if there’s some paper or book out there in the Critical Social Justice literature that prohibits or discourages debate and conversation with people who don’t already agree with them. I honestly don’t know. I’ve looked in a cursory fashion and haven’t found one, but, then, Critical Social Justice scholars are also rather incredibly prolific (an undeniable benefit of having no rigorous standards to meet and a surplus of ideological zeal, as it happens). That is to say, there’s a lot of Woke literature out there, and maybe someone has explained it very clearly and at length with a lot of specificity, but if so, I haven’t seen it. So far as I know, there’s not some specific piece of scholarship that closes the Woke off to debate, like a single paper or book explaining why they don’t do it. It’s just part of the Woke mindset not to do it, and the view of the world that informs that mindset can be read throughout their scholarship.
To me, the answer is that the modern left has abandoned argument because they cannot find one that will even begin to convince anyone else. They might end up winning the political wars within our own societies but they will only surrender the gates to others who will enslave them.
Lindsay’s argument is also summarised here by John Sexton. I will merely repeat two quotes from Lindsay which are well selected. First
There are a number of points within Critical Social Justice Theory that would see having a debate or conversation with people of opposing views as unacceptable, and they all combine to create a mindset where that wouldn’t be something that adherents to the Theory are likely or even willing to do in general. This reticence, if not unwillingness, to converse with anyone who disagrees actually has a few pretty deep reasons behind it, and they’re interrelated but not quite the same. They combine, however, to produce the first thing everyone needs to understand about this ideology: it is a complete worldview with its own ethics, epistemology, and morality, and theirs is not the same worldview the rest of us use. Theirs is, very much in particular, not liberal. In fact, theirs advances itself rather parasitically or virally by depending upon us to play the liberal game while taking advantage of its openings. That’s not the same thing as being willing to play the liberal game themselves, however, including to have thoughtful dialogue with people who oppose them and their view of the world. Conversation and debate are part of our game, and they are not part of their game.
And then there’s this.
Debate and conversation, especially when they rely upon reason, rationality, science, evidence, epistemic adequacy, and other Enlightenment-based tools of persuasion are the very thing they think produced injustice in the world in the first place. Those are not their methods and they reject them. Their methods are, instead, storytelling and counter-storytelling, appealing to emotions and subjectively interpreted lived experience, and problematizing arguments morally, on their moral terms.
I don’t take any of this seriously since the people who spout such nonsense are the least worldly, knowledgeable people around. They know nothing that adds value to a conversation. If all you know, surrounded by modern technology is that sometimes what people have believed has turned out to be untrue then you know nothing worth knowing at all.
Also by Lindsay is this: The Complex Relationship between Marxism and Wokeness.
And another by Sexton on Lindsay is found here: Does 2+2=4? Woke Academics Say Not Necessarily.
Amazingly for some, 2+2=4 is an open question. The absolute certainty is there is nothing to learn from these people whatsoever, other than to do what you can not to allow these people to make the political rules where you live.