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The end of public debate?

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The end of public debate? Empty The end of public debate?

Post by wodouvhaox Tue May 07, 2024 11:46 am

By Joel Pinheiro da Fonseca


Each opinion leader speaks almost exclusively to those on the same side

As much as progressives wish and dream about it, almost 50% of valid votes will not disappear anytime soon, and a large part of them will be transferred to a candidate who has the other side support. It remains to be seen whether it will be as extremist as him or whether it will be more moderate.

Regardless of who it is, the very discussion about whether it is possible for someone close to the other side to be less extremist than he has already highlighted an inescapable fact: polarization will continue to rule the roost in the public debate. In other words, the view of the other side as irremediably evil — or, in the most charitable hypothesis, stupid — is here to stay. Any reaction other than unrestricted combat against everything the other pole represents is considered suspicious.

The effect of this polarization is that there is less and less real debate. Each opinion leader — a concept that is increasingly fluid, given that today everyone can make themselves heard on the networks — speaks almost exclusively to those on the same side. His role is less to raise arguments and more to play for the fans. Delivering to the fan ingenious reasons why their side is always correct and — even more importantly — the other side is perverse. As it succeeds, it gets applause and engagement.

On the few occasions when content generated for one side of the polarization reaches the opposite side, it is only to serve as a scarecrow. One of favorite resources to avoid discussing any important topic is the confusion between labeling and refutation. The insinuation of perverse intentions is enough to disqualify an argument without having to respond to it.

By classifying an opponent as belonging to an undesirable category, it is no longer necessary to directly refute anything he says. On the left, the cursed groups are bourgeois, neoliberal, reactionary, fascist. On the right, elitists, globalists, woke, communists. In both cases, what moves the opponent are undeniable interests and not any fact of reality. Just paste one of these and the target audience will know how to react accordingly.

Behind this type of argument is the presupposition that reality is already known, you just need to be on the good side to accept it. And whoever belongs to the bad side will continue to commit the error that suits them. With this logic, convictions become increasingly extreme; political positions becoming less and less negotiable. And the prospect of the opponent's victory increasingly apocalyptic. Ultimately, words lose any ability to persuade, leaving only the final resort to weapons.

And yet, we cannot give up words. It is necessary not only to win, but to be right and to show that you are right. Is there a reality that can be to some extent known by human reason? If it doesn't exist, then words are nothing more than a deceptive device and there is no point in wasting time reading, speaking and writing. If there is, then the identity or even the supposed interests of the interlocutor will never be enough to evaluate an argument, and it may well be that the person we consider the most perfidious is right at some point and we are wrong.

In the past, the adjustment and moderation of public debate depended on editors able to assess what was and was not worthy of reaching the masses. Today, everyone is their own editor and nothing will change that. And the only thing that can prevent complete social disintegration is the willingness of each person not to give in to the charms of moral certainty.



The end of public debate? Tudism17

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