The one thing that unites us all these days is political controversy: gays, race, gender, abortion, climate, congress, the courts, the president, the media, and it seems to be getting more divisive every day, family members and potential friends divided in all walks of life, almost as if there were a great negative force operating in direct ratio to the new unifying force of computers and communications technology.
Now maybe there isn’t a problem at all: there’s just more to argue about, more buzz words attached to arguments, and more advanced communication vehicles to carry on those arguments.
Argument, and even controversy, is healthy in a democracy: imagine if there were no debates, and instead, police state silence.
So maybe this is all a good thing, and the uniting quality of controversy is the great non-controversial thing we should expect in a vast, technologically advanced democracy.
But there’s also a nagging sense that all this controversy is a symptom of ignorance and oppression, that all the political controversy is from heat and not light, and the elevated temperature is not due to healthy argument, but rather resistance by reactionary forces to progress.
If you believe this, you may still be a part of the healthy debate outlined above, or you may have correctly anticipated why the debates are generally not healthy, or the debates may not be healthy and you are the problem, by assuming you belong to progress, and, because of this assuming you are always right.
The counter-position is, of course, the conservative one, arguing political controversies are damaging storms by progressives pushing divisive, self-interested, agendas, masked as moral crusades.
But the existence of these two positions (that political controversy is unhealthy because of the other side) merely reinforces the idea of a healthy democracy.
Unless one of these two positions is correct.
Controversy always leaves itself open to speculation that it is not healthy, and yet, if debate is healthy in a democracy, even unhealthy debate is healthy.
If this sounds contradictory, it should, for it makes sense that the whole nature of political controversy should be contradictory, and, as we move in closer to examine the controversial issues themselves, we may see that the political controversy of the day is not due to the nature of the questions involving the issue itself. The issue is controversial only because it is first contradictory. The paradox creates the two sides of the argument; the motives and reasonings of each side are not authentic in themselves, for they exist only because the paradox exists.
It will help us to see how the particular controversy plays out along a particle/wave nexus: neither side is right or wrong; they merely exist within the context of the irresolvable conflict itself, a conflict better understood if we view its argumentative sides expressing themselves in terms of: particle or wave?
The “particle” argument is scientific, verbal, and common sense, while the “wave” argument is religious, moral and non-verbal.
Take this example.
Why shouldn’t Republicans oppose mass immigration on the grounds that immigrants will vote Democratic? The only reason the Democrats want mass immigration is because they know immigrants will vote Democratic.
If this country were the same demographically today as it was in 1980, Romney would have won a bigger victory in 2012 than Reagan did against Carter.
This is Ann Coulter in a recent column, and it is stupido.
Ann Coulter’s position is the height of common sense, argued from the practical, strategic standpoint of the Republican party.
This is a classic “particle” argument, logical and easily articulated: Immigrants vote Democratic, so Republicans should oppose mass immigration. One can see Coulter counting each Democratic immigrant particle as bad, completely oblivious to the moral, “wave” repercussions of her argument.
Just as Newton’s laws of particle physics are applicable, and make sense up to a certain point—but fail to apply everywhere, so the “particle” argument falls short in a wider context: how can the Republicans be seen as a viable party choice in a democracy if they openly court exclusion? If immigrants are not voting for you, you ought to wonder why this is so—instead of barring them.
The “practical” argument is too “practical;” it is not really practical at all; the attempt to define reality only in terms of particles destroys the coherence of even that definition of reality.
Another classic “particle” argument (to choose one on the Left, now) is the one which jokingly equates sperm to “life” which is “sacred,” to imply (oh so cleverly) that prenatal life is not viable.
Morally, conception is life; in the “wave” view of reality, which is moral, rather than practical, there is a certain non-verbal understanding that life is that which has a future, and will become life; detecting the “particle” as that which is life, or not, makes the concrete, scientific decision for the time being, and rejects the moral plea of the Pro-Lifer. On the flip side, defining life as a tiny thing with a heartbeat could be seen as a “particle” argument, and the moral counter-argument, the “wave” argument ( life coming into the world needs a context), is the pro-abortion one.
Advocates of either side will attempt to make it seem their argument applies to reality as both “particle” and “wave;” but this crashes and burns against the whole concept of wave/particle and it is why these controversies will not, and cannot, be resolved.
It is important to understand here that by advocating the particle/wave principle, we seek to explain the contradictory nature of the controversy itself, not the arguments themselves, or the paths of argumentation which applies to each case; to any advocate of any particular case, the arguments are added up, pro and con, or a principle is found (you shall not judge a man by the color of his skin) which is so irrefutable, that it resolves the case as an argument to their satisfaction.
Many controversies are not, in fact, verbal arguments alone; the arguments spring from behavior, behavior based on power, let’s say, or custom—moral persuasion or logical argument had no part of the controversy before it became a verbal argument. And here, too: original behavior versus subsequent verbal refutation, particle and wave, apply, in the same irresolvable manner.
The universe, at its very core, is divided, and argument participates in this division, ironically, as an attempt to resolve division; but argument is divided right down to the bone against its own argumentative, problem-solving will, and what it attempts to loosen, by the law of division itself, becomes tangled even tighter. Argument, by its very nature, argues against itself.
We should be scientists and make ourselves examine this scientifically, if we can.
Is every controversy dual? If all political debates persist in existing as two-sided, no matter how much a third point of view attempts to enter the picture, we will be in a better position to conclude that the contradictory nature of the political controversy problem is binary in a profound sense. I think if we examine actual controversies, we do find duality putting everything else in chains.
Let’s look at two common and popular controversies:
A classic argument is: if you dislike president Obama, you are racist. This automatically sets up the duality: I like Obama because he’s black versus I dislike Obama because he’s black. Everyone would agree that this is the core debate and it’s a stupid, shameful debate and the person who genuinely judges Obama simply on his performance as president is not allowed anywhere near this argument. And further, if the third, neutral point enters the picture, it will become tainted by the ugliness of the debate and forced into its irresolvable duality merely on account of whether it is perceived to be pro or anti Obama. It does not matter if 99% of the American population belongs to the third position—it doesn’t fit the duality and therefore it doesn’t exist as an alternative, third position. The 99% cannot, no matter how kind and reasonable, quell the controversy, which casts its lunacy over all.
The gay debate is just as absurd. We have the three basic views of homosexuality: 1. Ewww 2. Gay rights! Gay rights! 3. I couldn’t care less whether someone is gay or not, and the less I hear about it, the better.
Inevitably, the third view collapses into the first two. It doesn’t matter how hard it resists the pull of the universe’s dual nature. Number 3 is either a homophobic bigot or a Sadean pervert; the neutral, non-controversial, “third” position becomes the truly monstrous position, on a vast, all-encompassing scale of horror and evil, which dwarfs the first two in its dishonesty and the intensity of its passion, so much so, that it falls off the radar and ceases to exist, the binary the only argumentative reality which can possibly be official. It’s like an evil thought experiment: if you don’t think about the problem, you are safe, but the moment the issue confronts your mind, you must choose. The enlightened are forced to cover their ears.
What is ironic is that gender itself is a duality and gender is defined by its duality and this is the awful truth which nature—always dual, like passionate controversy itself—presses upon even the most modest and austere and chaste of souls, no matter how much they tenderly resist the lewdness of the thrusting universe.
Lewd, but necessary, despite the protests of holy and virginal hearts. For the duality of gender is responsible for the whole world. Heterosexuality is why we exist. Homosexuality is why the drapes match the couch—though even this is dubious.
To throw oneself into the duality of the debate in earnest, and champion heterosexuality and to cry out, “No gender is an island!” is to succumb to the “wave,” and miss the “particle,” the actual homosexual who feels the sting of the heterosexual’s remarks.