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.


  1. noochinator said,

    February 23, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    What do you think of this quote, from the novel Homeland by Paul William Roberts: “Some people want a world of peace and love, others just want to be rich. The positions are irreconcilable. One must exterminate the other for either to succeed.”

  2. thomasbrady said,

    February 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    I don’t know whether I agree with the quote, since wealth, or the acquiring of wealth, doesn’t necessarily have to include hate and war. But the dual thinking of the quote itself does point to irreconcilable duality.

    • noochinator said,

      February 23, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      Decades ago I used to hear propounded quite a bit the idea that America avoids dictatorship by letting those with dictatorial temperaments make huge piles of money in the private sector, thus keeping them out of the public sector.

      I don’t hear this idea bandied about much anymore.

      In fact, on the TV series House of Cards, several characters explicitly state that having political power is a lot more fun than having nigh-unlimited sums of money. After all, government pays “enough,” and there are always ways for those in power to get more money by “shaking down” the rich.

  3. drew said,

    February 23, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    [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. ]

    Very true. In the current PC race-carding culture I am not allowed to dislike him primarily because of his leftist agenda – they have to force their preconceptions on me and paint me as racist. And if I say I like a conservative candidate or politician “of color” the same accusers tend to dismiss these politicians as “sell-outs” or “paid stooges of the Right” or “shameless opportunists” etc,etc.

    These are situations I encounter all the time, among peers as well as family.

    Left/Liberal Democrat-types seem to be easily infuriated by dissent. For example they get almost apoplectic over the mere existence of Fox News – which is barely right of center! One wonders – would they be happier in a one-party state? I sometimes see this country developing into a situation similar to Spain in the years leading up to the Civil War, but I hope I am wrong.

    Now I need to read this post again a few times…

  4. drew said,

    February 24, 2014 at 12:13 am

    [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.]

    Dialectics vs. Polylectics (?) Either/or vs both/and…

    Duality putting everything in chains sounds familiar: assault the thesis with an antithesis, then radicalize the inherent contradictions to reach synthesis.
    Sounds good on paper, and great fun for philosophers – but results in Totalitarian horror show.

    Hmmmmm. Need to keep reading.

  5. Rob said,

    February 26, 2014 at 2:06 am

    Pace the wave particle duality mentioned above, you surely recall the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle wherein if the precise position of a particle is known it’s energy state is unascertainable, and vice versa. Perhaps contained within this principle is also an analogy pertaining to polemics but alas I am uncertain.

    • thomasbrady said,

      February 26, 2014 at 1:53 pm


      The analogy works for me: when people talk about ‘a climate of morality’ they are talking ‘wave’ energy states, and when people talk of an ‘individual’s freedom’ they are talking the ‘precise position of a particle’ which is an “unascertainable” energy state, since ‘freedom’ is hard to measure: what if that ‘freedom’ is used for ill? Yet we feel that the individual (the particle) is sacred. The ‘climate of morality’ has similar, but different issues: we know that morality in general eases traffic flow and brings a certain amount of peace, and yet ‘morality’ often doesn’t jibe with individual rights, at least in controversial topics.


      • Rob said,

        March 4, 2014 at 7:52 pm

        I had a little time to kill…

        • thomasbrady said,

          March 5, 2014 at 8:42 pm


          I love the links to yin/yang and Frost.

          Is this the inevitable binary? “This is where my cousin and I part ways…”

          But perhaps I can mend.

          I did not mean to imply the controversial binary effect was a mere “tennis match” which has no impact in the real world. These various controversial issues certainly do matter; they matter very much, and to the extent they do matter, this, I might say, feeds into the energy of the controversy, or paradox, itself. Nor is the paradoxical, as a matter of course, separate from what matters. If this seems to be my meaning, I stand corrected.

  6. thomasbrady said,

    February 26, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Alec Baldwin is now neither a particle nor a wave:

  7. drew said,

    February 26, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    This thread should have been golden.

    It should have been a better party than “Top 100 Hippie Songs” ! (sigh…)

    • thomasbrady said,

      February 27, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      People don’t like to think too hard about things, Drew. Look at articles on other sites, researched articles that took years to write—they’re shallow, inconclusive, blah. Maybe in the hard sciences there’s some interesting stuff going on: in the arts and social sciences it’s pretty feeble, right now. People are over-worked, overwhelmed by data, overwhelmed by their personal ambitions, overwhelmed by their networking…so when published articles are crap, you can’t expect visitors to engage with thought-provoking responses to Scarriet too often. I don’t worry about it. The history of thought involves a small amount of people; the rest are ants carrying pebbles around. This is a place to dream, to think, to be a monk in contemplation, even as we provoke and try to stir the popular imagination. I don’t worry about it. Everything will take care of itself.

  8. drew said,

    February 28, 2014 at 1:25 am

    I like these words. Encouraging.
    I may have to go on unravelling that Top 100 Hippie Songs thread for a while…

    Speaking of overwhelmed by Data, here’s some data-driven poetry for ya:

  9. noochinator said,

    November 7, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Fascinating piece on the White House castrato program, which dates back to 1798:,37396/

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