Debating Styles, Rhetoric

—–Original Message—–
From: J
Sent: Thursday, December 27, 2018 11:30 AM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Rhetorical Style

Walter —

In the libertarian movement, there are many different ways to approach rhetoric. Your tone, calm and instructive, differs from (say) Tom Woods, who is snarky and direct, and Tom DiLorenzo, who is opinionated and forceful. All three styles are effective, especially to specific ears. So, in your post, Trump, Afghanistan, Syria (https://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/donald-trump-syria-afghanistan/), are you implying that we libertarians need to always adopt your tone in debates. Isn’t their a place for snarky and forceful, without giving ever opinion a thoughtful hearing? J

—–Original Message—–
From: Walter Block
To: ‘J
Sent: Thu, Dec 27, 2018 3:54 pm
Subject: RE: Rhetorical Style

Dear J:

What evidence do you have for the claim that I think that “(all) libertarians need to always adopt (my) tone in debates?”

Best regards,

Walter

From: J
Sent: Thursday, December 27, 2018 1:14 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Re: Rhetorical Style

Walter —

Based on both your and M’s comments regarding Tucker and his unwillingness to openly debate issues.

Please do not take this as a defense of Tucker’s changing views — I agree with your position. But is it the case that libertarians, such as myself, need to openly and actively engage debates on social media? In other words, can’t we sometimes — a la Tucker — say, “Shut up, moron”?

J

—–Original Message—–
From: Walter Block
To: ‘J
Sent: Thu, Dec 27, 2018 4:41 pm
Subject: RE: Rhetorical Style

Dear J:

Ah, now I see your point. It is not a totally unreasonable one. We are not now discussing praxeology, or deontology, or, even, general utilitarianism. We are confining ourselves to the limted question of, How best to convert people to libertarianism? Some few masochists might be open to a libertarian dismissing a socialist on the “ground” of: “Shut up, moron.” But, surely, there would be precious few people who would be convinced by this sort of “argument.”

Ayn Rand was surely one of the most acerbic spokesmen in terms of converting vast numbers of people to libertarianism (she didn’t consider herself a libertarian, but that is another, irrelevent, matter). But even she never came within a million miles of saying to, or about, the socialist, “Shut up, moron.” Instead, she carefully, thoroughly, exhaustively, gave REASONS why socialism was a moral and economic disaster. I think that if she had contented herself with “Shut up, moron” she wouldn’t have converted a single person to our banner; ok, ok, maybe one or two masochists.

But Jeffrey Tucker’s position is far worse than that. He is not in effect telling a socialist “Shut up, moron.” Rather, he is saying that to me, a fellow libertarian, a fellow member of the Austrian movement he himself, presumably, subscribes to.

Murray Rothbard has been properly very critical of Milton Friedman:

Rothbard, Murray N. 2002. “Milton Friedman Unraveled.” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 16, No. 4, Fall, pp. 37-54; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/16_4/16_4_3.pdf

How far do you think Murray would have got if instead of penning this brilliant critical and rational essay, he limited himself to saying to Milton: “Shut up, moron.” Murray would have been a laughingstock if he had come anywhere close to saying that. Tucker said precietly that, in so many words. QED

Best regards,

Walter

From: J
Sent: Thursday, December 27, 2018 2:17 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Re: Rhetorical Style

Walter —

Thanks for your clarification. I did not have all the background on Tucker.

I do think social media tends to regress to variations of Godwin’s law. And in frustration, I have resorted to, “Shut up, moron,” rhetoric, but only when all hope of conversion (in my opinion) has passed. Almost exclusively when the debate is no longer a discussion, but repetitions of undefended positions.

Seems I need to reconsider my approach. Since debates in social media are not timed / refereed events, how do you walk away without “shut up” rhetoric?

It is an interesting thought to consider what Rand would have done if anyone could tweet a response to a debate she thought had played out.

Hey, keep up the good fight!

J

Dear J:
Just say something along the lines of:
“We’ll have to agree to disagree.”
Best regards, Walter

Share

1:41 am on December 28, 2018