You deserve nothing less. February 13, 2011 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Pope guilty has gone completely off the rails in this thread. I'm done with it, but I really think that saying people in the thread deserve death is over the line.
posted by empath to Etiquette/Policy at 8:49 AM (378 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

The linked PG comment, archived here so that if it gets deleted this thread will still have context:
Or you end with Stalin, or Pol Pot, or Hitler.

Yeah, Hitler, who overthrew the despotic Weimar government. Good call there.


Destroy the village in order to save it, eh?

You are a Mubarak supporter and deserve nothing less.

(all pacifists are supporters of dictatorship)
posted by paisley henosis at 8:51 AM on February 13, 2011


Yeah, something is really wrong there.
posted by angrycat at 8:52 AM on February 13, 2011


Look on the bright side, on the list of bad things popes have done in the past, this is pretty low on the list.
posted by geoff. at 9:00 AM on February 13, 2011 [31 favorites]


Anyone who drops that hackneyed "destroy the village..." phrase certainly deserves death. Wait, what are we talking about?
posted by atrazine at 9:00 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


and none of the pacifists will spray him in the face with the water bottle.
posted by fuq at 9:01 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why don't we destroy the thread in order to save it?
posted by jonmc at 9:02 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Pope Guilty sure can be a shithead.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 9:04 AM on February 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


I don't think saying I deserve to die is acceptable behaviour, but I'm aware that that might differ from the opinions of others so I wanted to check out what people thought. I'm not sure exactly what the rules are on this in general. I'd like to say here that I think PG is an interesting guy, and I'd prefer that he be around. Metafilter is somewhere I love precisely because it's free, but I just want to know what the boundaries actually are.

PG: If you're reading this, an apology would be both welcome and accepted.
posted by jaduncan at 9:08 AM on February 13, 2011


Aggressive, yes, but seriously, the bigger douchebags are the ones who say it's better to suffer a dictatorship than to rise up in violent protest to overthrow it.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:10 AM on February 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


Who said that?
posted by empath at 9:11 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


This, to my mind, is he default level of engagement on this site.
posted by orville sash at 9:11 AM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


he=his. PG's default level.
posted by orville sash at 9:12 AM on February 13, 2011


Liberals: no different from conservatives at the brass tacks.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:15 AM on February 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


...right, no apology then?
posted by jaduncan at 9:17 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for making my point for me.
posted by orville sash at 9:17 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


PG: everytime you talk like you do in that thread, somebody somewhere becomes a Republican.
posted by jonmc at 9:18 AM on February 13, 2011 [32 favorites]


I don't care what any given person's opinions are about pacifism, violence, revolution, whatever, but people need to make the basic effort to not act like asses to each other. Pope Guilty is hardly the only person who has struggled with this on the site but, yeah, it's a recurring problem and he needs to cut it out pronto.

On preview, this was gonna be a day off for you, PG, but I see you've closed your account so that's pretty much moot I guess.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:20 AM on February 13, 2011


five fresh fish: Aggressive, yes, but seriously, the bigger douchebags are the ones who say it's better to suffer a dictatorship than to rise up in violent protest to overthrow it

I agree with this. Also, personally, I see a pretty huge difference between "these types of people are bad for society" and "we should go kill paisley henosis, that guy has to fucking die." I'm not defending either one, but there is a difference.

cortex: PG [...] I see you've closed your account

Here's hoping you just need a break. I've seen you post some things I really didn't agree with, PG, but I'd rather see you posting them then have you stop.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:24 AM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


...right, no apology then?

PG has disabled his account.

The revolutions and potential revolutions in Africa and the Middle East seem to have clarified a lot of things for certain people. Notion and PG in particular have been riding a wave of "¡Viva la Revolución!" endorphins. That's understandable. It's heady to watch these things happen in real time and feel like something is going right for a change.

But seriously, folks: We're a bunch of keyboard warriors here, whatever we do in real life. For us, here, it's just Internet spaceships. Calm the fuck down.
posted by fatbird at 9:24 AM on February 13, 2011 [23 favorites]


PG has disabled his account.

Well shit.
posted by cashman at 9:26 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


The funny thing is that all of us, afaik, support the revolutions, and the people that PG was arguing with are 100% backing the actual tactics that were just used by the Egyptians successfully, and endorse the spread of those same tactics throughout the region.
posted by empath at 9:27 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


The violent overthrow of a dictatorship is a bloody thing. Between that and the whole "if you're not with us you're against us" thing, is it really that surprising that someone would suggest that people who don't support revolution deserve death?
posted by J. Wilson at 9:28 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


What a shame. Pope Guilty was no more suggesting empath deserved death than empath really believed Pope Guilty was a steam engine.
posted by boo_radley at 9:29 AM on February 13, 2011 [8 favorites]



five fresh fish: Aggressive, yes, but seriously, the bigger douchebags are the ones who say it's better to suffer a dictatorship than to rise up in violent protest to overthrow it

I don't remember anyone saying that in thread. Cite?
posted by orville sash at 9:29 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It wasn't directed at me.
posted by empath at 9:29 AM on February 13, 2011


I guess he was...

[dons sunglasses]

Fallible.

YEAHHHHHH!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:30 AM on February 13, 2011 [43 favorites]


s/empath/anyone/ then. The point stands.
posted by boo_radley at 9:31 AM on February 13, 2011


For the record, the argument I was making was that non-violent revolution is better than a violent revolution. I in no way intended to suggest that doing nothing was better than a violent revolution.
posted by empath at 9:31 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Funnily enough, I actually do deserve to die! Between now and, say, 60 years from now, cruel Jehovah will carry out his malicious sentence - with very limited hope for appeal. I've mocked that omnipotent being for long years, so I guess he deserves his revenge, the beardy old prick. So anyway, I found the comments in question helpful and technically correct. I say we cannonize Pope Guilty, henceforth referring to him as Saint Pope Guilty XIV, patron saint of squabbles.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:34 AM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Who gets to be the next pope?
posted by fuq at 9:35 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


For the record, the exchange went like this:

PG said "Anything that results in people who think dictatorships are acceptable being killed is A-OK by me." I said that was burning the village in order to save it. I was then told I should be killed.

I am not a supporter of Mubarak or dictatorships in general, and do not think it is better to suffer under them. I would like that to be said. I also don't think that people of one opinion get to kill people merely for having another opinion.
posted by jaduncan at 9:35 AM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


all pacifists are supporters of dictatorship

This is basically reiterating some of George Orwell's essays during a particularly violent, all encompassing world war that touched everyone's lives, and in which there was no option oher than to fight, or be enslaved.

I think we (people living in stable western democracies making comments about the need for violence while observing events unfolding in different countries) have more options at this time.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:36 AM on February 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Who gets to be the next pope?

Eggs Benedict.
posted by jonmc at 9:37 AM on February 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


I say we cannonize Pope Guilty,

it's 'canonize,' actually, unless you want to fire him from artillery.
posted by jonmc at 9:40 AM on February 13, 2011 [41 favorites]


I think if it's your village burning down, you might have a different opinion on the matter.
posted by maryr at 9:45 AM on February 13, 2011


I say we cannonize Pope Guilty...

... it's 'canonize,' actually, unless you want to fire him from artillery.


NOW we see the violence inherent in the system!
posted by amyms at 9:45 AM on February 13, 2011 [38 favorites]


This is odd to me. Sure, PG can be fighty. So can a lot of people. But this seems like an odd hill to die on, so to speak. I guess PG just had enough or something.
posted by GuyZero at 9:47 AM on February 13, 2011


People asked what the limits of dialogue were in the other paralell MetaTalk thread and it might be worth talking about that some. You're expected to treat other people in the community like you have something in common with them: this community. This means that going off on a tear about people who believe a certain thing should be killed, raped to death, have their families killed, get raped in prison, be assassinated, whatever, is generally out of bounds. There is literally no way you can say those things without it becoming an ugly derail. Because we will never have a thread that says "Should soand so get raped in prison? Your thoughts?"

I know there are a lot of topics people discuss here that make them angry and frustrated and desirious of change. I get that way too. But I know the difference between impotently smashing on my keyboard and trying to effect real change in the larger world. People have their minds change on MetaFilter, no doubt, but not by other people threatening them and being hateful to them. If you can't draw a personal line between something making you angry and you responding to other people angrily and violently, we'd like you to try harder.

This isn't because we're some sort of nanny state or making some tone argument, this is because keeping the site running means that it needs to not devolve into constant arguments about how nasty you're allowed to be towards other users or other people discussed here. If you wish MeFi was a place where you could wish assassination or prison rape on your favorite shitty dictator, we're here to tell you that it isn't that place. The good news is, this does not limit your internet choices much if you want to talk that way elsewhere.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:48 AM on February 13, 2011 [51 favorites]


it's 'canonize,' actually, unless you want to fire him from artillery.

I say we cannonize him.
posted by phaedon at 9:49 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, another one of my favourite MeFites bailed, eh? A pity. Not a surprise, but a pity nonetheless.

Think I'll head out for a few beers tonight, before I say something I'll not regret.
posted by Decani at 9:51 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just how far is too far?
posted by artof.mulata at 9:51 AM on February 13, 2011


i find pg's belief that people should be willing to die to meet his standards of revolutionary zeal pretty tiresome - he didn't quite state that today, but we've had this argument before
posted by pyramid termite at 9:52 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hope he comes back. PG's one of those guys that is infuriating when he's doing the drive-by snark, but when he engages in a thread it's usually pretty interesting.

But yeah, he's been ripping on what he at least seems to see as 'lukewarm liberalism' as long as I've been here, at least. Including the 'pacifism is impotence' angle. I agree that the recent revolutionary events just finally pushed that particular frustration over the top for him.

The violent overthrow of a dictatorship is a bloody thing.

But the fact is that the overthrow of the dictatorship we've all been watching was neither particularly violent or bloody (on the part of the protestors, at least). The whole point of what we've seen is that within a given range of conditions, nonviolent methods can work.

I think a lot of people confuse the question of 'non-violent' and 'non-confrontational' methods. The protestors were not particularly violent, and when violence occurred it was nonlethal and often directed against buildings and vehicles rather than killing other humans. But what they did was, and to succeed had to be, very confrontational. Which is all to the good, because that's the core of effective protest.
posted by AdamCSnider at 9:52 AM on February 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


Pope Guilty was no more suggesting empath deserved death than empath really believed Pope Guilty was a steam engine.

But I've already brought my luggage on him, and I have to be in Poughkeepsie in an hour!
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:53 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of my favorite posters here*. He will be missed and I hope he comes back soon under that or another name.
* according to the infodumpster, I've favorited him more than I have anyone else, and the user who's favorited me more than anyone else has is him. Man, that sentence was convoluted

posted by jtron at 9:54 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nobody has to be in Poughkeepsie, except maybe that Snooki chick.
posted by jonmc at 9:54 AM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


This sucks. I hope we'll see Pope Guilty back again.
posted by koeselitz at 9:54 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


jaduncan: " I said that was burning the village in order to save it. I was then told I should be killed."

Unfortunately, that's not the case and thanks to empath's quotation above, we know it's not the case. Maybe it's because the context of Pope Guilty's words were reduced when you quoted him that it seems that way -- the idea of tallying up death tolls of violent and nonviolent revolutions is absurd and Pope Guilty's reply read to me that the dictator supporters he was talking about would be counter-insurgents; police or military opposed to a revolution.
posted by boo_radley at 9:55 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Unfortunately, that's not the case and thanks to empath's quotation above, we know it's not the case. Maybe it's because the context of Pope Guilty's words were reduced when you quoted him that it seems that way -- the idea of tallying up death tolls of violent and nonviolent revolutions is absurd and Pope Guilty's reply read to me that the dictator supporters he was talking about would be counter-insurgents; police or military opposed to a revolution."

He explicitly stated that people who liked dictators should be killed. I disagreed with that. He said I supported Mubarak and therefore deserved it. I'm not trying to be misrepresentative - I just don't see any other way to read that. I wrote my own metatalk post on this, and quoted all posts. Do you actually think I'm attempting to mislead?
posted by jaduncan at 10:01 AM on February 13, 2011


He explicitly stated that people who liked dictators should be killed.

Uh-oh.
posted by jonmc at 10:02 AM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


it's 'canonize,' actually, unless you want to fire him from artillery

I'm not sure I have the balls to disagree.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:03 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


PG has disabled his account.

Goddammit. I do not approve of this one bit.
posted by elizardbits at 10:05 AM on February 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


People asked what the limits of dialogue were in the other paralell MetaTalk thread and it might be worth talking about that some. You're expected to treat other people in the community like you have something in common with them: this community. This means that going off on a tear about people who believe a certain thing should be killed, raped to death, have their families killed, get raped in prison, be assassinated, whatever, is generally out of bounds.

I see those kind of comments (like the ones that spawned the twin MeTas) as sitting on a continuum of "Acceptable Dialogue" where one kind of comment might be "acceptable in certain contexts" and another might be "not ever acceptable. ever. never. nope not even then"... For instance, someone saying "I think people who support dictatorships deserve to die" is way less offensive than saying "You, specific mefi user, deserve to die."

The first example may not be conducive to mutually-respectful dialogue, but it's a generic enough statement of opinion/position that it can actually be discussed. The second example has absolutely no discussable (discussible?) value whatsoever.
posted by amyms at 10:05 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


PG has gone before and come back again. Maybe he was just anticipating Cortex's time out. Or maybe he didn't want to get into a fight about misrepresentation.
posted by adamvasco at 10:09 AM on February 13, 2011


PG, if you're reading the thread.... that was rather over the line, and empath was right to say something. But I hope the reaction won't drive you away from the site. MeFi is better for having you here, and hopefully you'll decide the personal benefits outweigh the aggravations.

Purely from a selfish viewpoint, I don't list too many people as contacts, and my sidebar will be poorer for your absence.
posted by Malor at 10:10 AM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't always agree with PG, but the mischaracterization of him and his comments by the usual suspects is as unfortunate as his early departure. I hope he comes back soon.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:16 AM on February 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


"I don't always agree with PG, but the mischaracterization of him and his comments by the usual suspects is as unfortunate as his early departure. I hope he comes back soon."

What the fuck? Even more explicit:

An even more relevant model would probably be a list of all revolutions, violent and non-violent and their total death tolls and likelihood that they immediately revert back to a dictatorship.

So in the end you're back to dictatorship but a lot of dictatorship supporters are dead? That's a net gain. Anything that results in people who think dictatorships are acceptable being killed is A-OK by me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:32 PM on February 13 [+] [!]

"Anything that results in people who think dictatorships are acceptable being killed is A-OK by me."

Destroy the village in order to save it, eh?
posted by jaduncan at 4:36 PM on February 13 [+] [!]


Destroy the village in order to save it, eh?

You are a Mubarak supporter and deserve nothing less.

(all pacifists are supporters of dictatorship)
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:39 PM on February 13 [+] [!]
posted by jaduncan at 10:18 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Whenever the political rhetoric gets overheated around here, I always remind myself that it's mostly college kids with nothing to do and office workers killing time and I find myself less angry.
posted by jonmc at 10:24 AM on February 13, 2011 [31 favorites]


I don't always agree with PG, but the mischaracterization of him and his comments by the usual suspects is as unfortunate as his early departure. I hope he comes back soon.

lulz.
posted by empath at 10:38 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


i find pg's belief that people should be willing to die to meet his standards of revolutionary zeal pretty tiresome - he didn't quite state that today, but we've had this argument before

I would have found that unobjectionable. He thinks people should be willing to kill.
posted by empath at 10:39 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


jaduncan: "Do you actually think I'm attempting to mislead?"

Again, I think it was a rhetorical device meant to make you reconsider your opinion. I'm not in a position to lecture you about your own actions.
posted by boo_radley at 10:40 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just how far is too far?

A bridge.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:48 AM on February 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Again, I think it was a rhetorical device meant to make you reconsider your opinion.

Is there a significant difference in online discussion between asserting that someone deserves death rhetorically vs., I don't know, literally-but-ineffectually-because-it's-on-a-discussion-site?
posted by fatbird at 10:53 AM on February 13, 2011


"jaduncan: "Do you actually think I'm attempting to mislead?"

Again, I think it was a rhetorical device meant to make you reconsider your opinion. I'm not in a position to lecture you about your own actions."

...I'm going to stop reading this thread. The grar is rising too much in me. If you think the comments c+ped above in full (just to avoid any misunderstandings) are an acceptable way to treat people here, bully for you. I don't. I think making statements that mefi posters deserve death is unacceptable even as a rhetorical device. That's it.
posted by jaduncan at 10:55 AM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


The grievance is strong in this one.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:59 AM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


whenever I read yet another comment about how old jonmc is and how uninhabitable his lawn has become, I remember deep down inside he wants to be young and loved again and find myself less angry.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:03 AM on February 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm not even suggesting that it's a position you ought to take, jaduncan, and I'm sorry that I'm essentially driving you away from the conversation.

I understand why cortex would have given Pope Guilty a timeout -- this is really a textbook thing that metafilter does not do well. Without the back and forth of a real face to face discussion, where one might ask "it sounds like you're saying you want to kill me, are you sure about that?" it's harder to mitigate people's reactions to such statements and more importantly, pull them back into the discussion.
posted by boo_radley at 11:05 AM on February 13, 2011


and certainly yes, I might feel different if I thought a threatening comment had been leveled at me.
posted by boo_radley at 11:06 AM on February 13, 2011


the characterization that PG's comments were mischaracterized is a mischaracterization

I found PG to often be unnecessarily hyperbolic and inflamnatory; I don't wish him ill, but I don't think the site is worse for his departure
posted by angrycat at 11:06 AM on February 13, 2011 [16 favorites]


"it sounds like you're saying you want to kill me, are you sure about that?"

Metafilter needs clippy, is what you're trying to say?
posted by cashman at 11:07 AM on February 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Think I'll head out for a few beers tonight, before I say something I'll not regret.

Man, did we ever dodge a bullet there. Whew!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:07 AM on February 13, 2011 [17 favorites]


I don't see where "all pacifists are supporters of dictatorship" is any worse than the "all violence is evil" trope that's repeated throughout that thread, and I agree with boo_radley as to the clearly rhetorical nature of the "threat" in question. Seeing someone get chased off the site because they weren't pacifist enough in their rejection of pacifism is pretty funny, in a sad sort of way.

Is there a significant difference in online discussion between asserting that someone deserves death rhetorically vs., I don't know, literally-but-ineffectually-because-it's-on-a-discussion-site?

Gee, I don't know. Is there a significant difference in online discussion between asserting that someone deserves to be held responsible for My Lai style atrocities rhetorically vs., I don't know, literally-but-ineffectually-because-he-was-never-in-Vietnam?

If "you and everyone like you should die" is not OK, why is "you and everyone like you are killers" acceptable?
posted by vorfeed at 11:09 AM on February 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


I found PG to often be unnecessarily hyperbolic and inflamnatory; I don't wish him ill, but I don't think the site is worse for his departure

To be fair, I think PG had really improved in the hyperbole/inflammatory department in the last while (Or maybe I just haven't been around as much, but anyhoo.)
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:09 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty, like many people who share his politics, sees most liberals as tools of oppression, just as he believes that moderate religious folks are a convenient shield for fanaticism. In both cases, the miserates are 'Good Germans' and thus enemies of freedom and equality. He also believes that such tools are complicit in violence and thus deserve violent retaliaion. After all, liberals and moderates are complicit in terrible violence every time they drink a cup of coffee or pray the same prayer as right-wing bigots.

Most people on this site are some kinds of moderate or center-left liberal. Thus, from Pope Guilty's perspective, most people on this site deserve violent retaliation.

Tell me again why we should be sad he's gone?
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:10 AM on February 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


"miserates" was meant to be "moderates." Damn you autocorrect!
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:11 AM on February 13, 2011


Pope Guilty, like many people who share his politics, sees most liberals as tools of oppression, just as he believes that moderate religious folks are a convenient shield for fanaticism.

The big question, of course, is why we should be losing any sleep over that fact. (and I say that as someone, who on a personal level, kind of liked PG).
posted by jonmc at 11:13 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


If "you and everyone like you should die" is not OK, why is "you and everyone like you are killers" acceptable?

"Burn the village in order to save it" is a metaphor about counterproductive tactics, not an assertion of worth. "You [jaduncan] are a Mubarak supporter and deserve nothing less [than death]" is a pretty direct attack on jaduncan. Even if it's hyperbole, it's pretty obviously crossing a line.
posted by fatbird at 11:17 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Before assuming that non-violence (or at least non-violence plus self-defense) is only advocated by "sheltered Western white boys" "shit-talking people who are working to effect their liberation because my tender, delicate sensitivities are offended," you might want to look at AJE's documentary of the Egyptian April 6 Movement's role January 25th uprising. (They're not a bunch of sheltered western white boys.)

Modern revolutionaries face governments with access to overwhelming force - tanks, automatic weapons, an air force - while civilians have at best small arms, rifles, knives and sticks. Violent revolutions may appeal to the fantasies of "western white boys," perhaps nurtured by novels and video games, but people actually in those situations have to be smarter than that. They have to think of ways to disrupt their opponents ability to use force and to use media effectively.

Non-violent civil disobedience is actually pretty brilliant. Power is a social construct. It depends on fear. When you threaten people, but they don't obey, you've lost control. You can shoot them, and they'll still be dead, but if they don't obey knowing you can kill them or torture them or imprison them, and people do this in large numbers, you've lost it. Your power was based on people's fear of your ability to use lethal force or cause harm. When people lose fear of that on a large scale, you've lost your source of power.

Whether this works or not depends on circumstances, whether you can get a sufficient mass of people to take this attitude, whether the government is ambivalent about using force, but this strategy was actually pretty effective in the American civil rights movement and seems to be working pretty well in Egypt.
posted by nangar at 11:19 AM on February 13, 2011 [57 favorites]


Let's not kid ourselves, he isn't going anywhere. He's doing the usual dramatic 'goodbye cruel world' thing waiting to see if the site collapses in his absence, and then he'll be back in a couple of weeks..

I assume in the meantime he'll be off to Algeria to man the barricades instead of typing angrily at nerds on the internet.
posted by empath at 11:19 AM on February 13, 2011 [19 favorites]


He's doing the usual dramatic 'goodbye cruel world' thing waiting to see if the site collapses in his absence, and then he'll be back in a couple of weeks..

Joke'll be on us when the site collapses. If only we would have will have used violence.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:22 AM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I assume in the meantime he'll be off to Algeria to man the barricades instead of typing angrily at nerds on the internet.

he won't - which is why i find his belief that others should do so objectionable
posted by pyramid termite at 11:22 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Feel free to come over and punch me in the nose if you think it will help. I can almost assure you it will not have the effect you are looking for.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:23 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tell me again why we should be sad he's gone?

Because he's a thoughtful and interesting poster whose contributions mostly make the site a far better place? Because we shouldn't want it even to seem that the spectrum of allowed-to-be-expressed politics here were becoming so incredibly narrow? It's really depressing how many people in this thread are willing to make arguments that obviously reduce to "I don't like his politics, so he shouldn't be welcome here." I thought one of the core values of that cherished center-left liberalism was open, pluralist discussion?

(And yeah, of course the comment that touched this off was crappy, and it's legitimate to find it unacceptable. I'm not talking about that.)
posted by RogerB at 11:23 AM on February 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


empath: "I assume in the meantime he'll be off to Algeria to man the barricades instead of typing angrily at nerds on the internet."

We thought we wouldn't have Pope Guilty to kick around anymore and then empath found a way!

jessamyn: "Feel free to come over and punch me in the nose if you think it will help. I can almost assure you it will not have the effect you are looking for"

Only squeaking noises. Adorable squeaking noises.
posted by boo_radley at 11:27 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's really depressing how many people in this thread are willing to make arguments that obviously reduce to "I don't like his politics, so he shouldn't be welcome here." I thought one of the core values of that cherished center-left liberalism was open, pluralist discussion?

Anyone can sit at the table as long as they aren't advocating murder and/or acting like an ass.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:29 AM on February 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


Feel free to come over and punch me in the nose if you think it will help. I can almost assure you it will not have the effect you are looking for.

There's a shortage of perfect noses in this world. It would be a pity to damage yours.
posted by loquacious at 11:34 AM on February 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


"I don't like his politics, so he shouldn't be welcome here."

You mean like PG was saying, only "here" meant the world, not just the site?

I thought one of the core values of that cherished center-left liberalism was open, pluralist discussion?

This sounds much like the old conservative strawman about how tolerant liberals aren't really tolerant because they don't tolerate intolerance.

There's a few easy-to-spot bright lines around here that don't limit the discussion politically. "Don't wish death on other posters" isn't that hard to avoid while still challenging the centre-left consensus.

I suspect PG'll calm down in a bit and come back, and that'll be a good thing if the calming down is part of the coming back.
posted by fatbird at 11:34 AM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Feel free to come over and punch me in the nose if you think it will help. I can almost assure you it will not have the effect you are looking for.

That's a weird idea for a meetup.
posted by fuq at 11:34 AM on February 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


It's really depressing how many people in this thread are willing to make arguments that obviously reduce to "I don't like his politics, so he shouldn't be welcome here."

Actually, specifics of this argument entirely aside because I don't really have any interest in wading into it, one of the things we more commonly hear folk saying to one or another vocal user—and this very much applies to Pope Guilty but not only to him—is a variant of "I agree with your politics but am really bothered by the way you argue them".

Certainly I've been more often frustrated (as a mod trying to keep this place from falling over and as just a person with my own set of beliefs) by the rhetorical shittiness of people here with whom I nominally agree politically and socially than by folks with whom I don't. It's enormously frustrating to watch someone tank a discussion with bad behavior, and it's embarrassing to have someone who clearly believes many of the same things I believe espouse those beliefs in aggro or obnoxious or otherwise totally unsympathetic ways.

This is a social space, a community full of all kinds of people with all kinds of different perspectives on the world. To the degree that finding ways to talk about those differences is sometimes bumpy, a bit of heat when folks who disagree about the big stuff is understandable though we as mods do our best (as do a lot of thoughtful community-minded users) to try and keep that stuff from escalating. Having people who are already functionally in agreement act like jerks to one another is a whole extra level of unnecessarily foolishness.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:35 AM on February 13, 2011 [34 favorites]


People asked what the limits of dialogue were in the other paralell MetaTalk thread and it might be worth talking about that some.

How about we adopt a simple heuristic : never say anything that you wouldn't say to somebody's face?
posted by Afroblanco at 11:36 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: The difference between impotently smashing on my keyboard and trying to effect real change in the larger world.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:38 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mr. Guilty has definitely disengaged from the community in the past. I believe he last did it as recently as the past few months. To his credit, he doesn't make a big deal of it. He just steps back, hits the kill-switch and gets on with his real life for a while, with no explanations offered, no spotlight demanded. I personally consider this the model for MetaFilter account disabling.

As for his recent transgressions, consider me part of the crowd that says, "Yeah, he went a little too far this time, and man, I do find him f***ing infuriating at times, but in general, I like what he brings to the site." Because time and again, his presence in a thread has challenged me to rethink my position on things, or, if required, do deeper research in order to counter him.

And then, every now and then, the guy just astonishes me, as he did with this particular comment in the Gangs hunt journalists and rights workers in Egypt thread. It's just a link to photograph. But man, what a photograph, and coming from Guilty, the last man standing in many a pro-Atheism argument, it sort of took my breath away.

Come back soon, sir.
posted by philip-random at 11:38 AM on February 13, 2011 [19 favorites]


Feel free to come over and punch me in the nose if you think it will help.

k!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:40 AM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


How about we adopt a simple heuristic : never say anything that you wouldn't say to somebody's face?

It's a nice idea as a first approximation, but in a large enough crowd there will always be some people willing to assert that what they'd say to your face is not a particularly small subset of aggressive things they'd type. "Only be as much of a jerk online as you are in person" doesn't really communicate to someone with a predisposition toward jerkiness that they need to think about their behavior.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:42 AM on February 13, 2011


You wouldn't say that to my face Cortex!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:44 AM on February 13, 2011


How about, "Don't be an asshole or a bully?"
posted by artof.mulata at 11:45 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Burn the village in order to save it" is a metaphor about counterproductive tactics, not an assertion of worth.

As boo_radley pointed out above, "you are a Mubarak supporter and deserve nothing less (all pacifists are supporters of dictatorship)" can be read as a metaphor along the lines of "sic semper tyrannis", not an assertion of worth. After all, everyone here knows jaduncan is not literally a Mubarak supporter, and that Pope Guilty does not literally wish him to die -- otherwise we'd be on the phone to the cops, not on MeTa. The idea that this is a cut-and-dried "direct attack" on jaduncan (rather than, as the parenthetical makes clear, a metaphorical attack on a certain belief system, just like "burn the village in order to save it") seems as uncharitable as everyone's accusing PG of being.

Direct attacks look like this.
posted by vorfeed at 11:48 AM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not PG's politics that I object to in any way. There are plenty of people I've disagreed with on the site - and beyond - that I'm totally fine hanging out with. However, in the case of PG...

I've made it a policy for myself not to comment on any thread where he's already started arguing as I find it becomes personal all too quickly. And not in a "I disagree with you, so you're bad" kind of way - in a "You're so bad, you don't even know how bad you are and I've got to show you FOR YOUR OWN GOOD" kind of way.

That said, I have no issue with his opinions if he could find a way to express them onsite that wasn't quite so directed at the wrongness of the people who disagree with him and how wrong we all are and how he must convince us of our wrongosity.
posted by sonika at 11:50 AM on February 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


How about, "Don't be an asshole or a bully?"

Don't be an asshole is what we generally say around here, though there are varying definitions of how much strong disagreement is assholery and how much is just people with strong feelings representing them. Bullying is likewise a hot-button term and there's not enough agreement about what bullying behavior actually is in a situation like ours [with people on multiple sides of it both accusing people of bullying and being accused of bullying]. And we have additional trouble with the aggressive jokery stuff where people who think it's clear that they're on the Side of Good make a comment that makes them look like they are on Team Asshole to people who don't know them, know their history etc.

My favorite abused construction here is the "So if I understand you right you're saying that ..." where the conclusion drawn by the commenter is some completely two dimensional assholish thing that the original commenter clearly didn't mean and doesnt agree with. But it's framed as a good faith "I'm just trying to understand" comment but it opens the doors to asshlery without the person who made the comment having to be responsible for opening that door. That and telling people to relax because they're upset about something.

Clearly not all of these are actionable offenses, we'll mostly just delete rape jokes and death threads and ironic "sorry people didn't get your joke" racism, but more often we'll send someone a note and say "Um, you might want to tone that down a little" and move forward that way. The toughest thing for me to do on this site is see people behaving like assholes on a topic I dearly care about and just walk away from it, but sometimes that's what has to happen.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:52 AM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also, seriously, what a way to start the day. And I've got 7/4 on another thread in the blue winding up here before too long.
posted by boo_radley at 11:55 AM on February 13, 2011


Pope Guilty was a steam engine

I knew it!




...but seriously, I hope PG un-disables.
posted by Mike Mongo at 11:56 AM on February 13, 2011


It's not the first time this has happened here.

happyroach: "If you believe the world should have less population than is in America, you go first. Draw a warm bath, and remember the razor goes down the block, not across the street."

obiwanwasabi: "Also, I await your pending suicide with interest."
posted by Houstonian at 12:00 PM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Direct attacks look like this.

If PG disagrees with my characterization of his position, hr is welcome to say so. He has my e-mail address and we occasionally have google chats because we know some of the same people in real life.

If you think I've misrepresented his position, you're welcome to say so too.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:02 PM on February 13, 2011


sailormom and I are taking asshat surrenders. The terms are great and ballons are involved. Love another people. Really, it makes you feel better if you have been angry or what not.
posted by clavdivs at 12:03 PM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


While he did have a tendency to froth at the mouth a bit, I fully expect him to return, Gandalf-like, as Pope Guilt-Free, the Funky Pope that it's OK to like. Also, he'll rap.
posted by Sparx at 12:06 PM on February 13, 2011


"you are a Mubarak supporter and deserve nothing less (all pacifists are supporters of dictatorship)" can be read as a metaphor along the lines of "sic semper tyrannis", not an assertion of worth

Yes, we could accept this very charitable reading of PG's comments, but why should we? The plain reading of what he said was "As a pacifist, you're as bad as an explicit supporter of Mubarak, and deserve to die just as much." Why should PG get special dispensation to be an asshole when most others don't have such a problem not being one?

Taking a timeout before being given one is actually a pretty good result. It's just not that hard not to say things like PG did.
posted by fatbird at 12:08 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite abused construction here is the "So if I understand you right you're saying that ..." where the conclusion drawn by the commenter is some completely two dimensional assholish thing that the original commenter clearly didn't mean and doesnt agree with.

I only wish the frequent over-the-top straw-man arguments were phrased so tentatively.

Some straw-man arguments are inevitable in any debate forum; eradicating them would be impossible. They wouldn't be so deeply problematic if people would (1) phrase things to admit that they're in an ongoing, back-and-forth process of understanding each other and (2) direct their points at ideas, positions, and arguments themselves rather than at commenters as individuals. This is the kind of behavior one would expect from people who are genuinely interested in having an intellectually honest discussion. When people instead (1) re-interpret others as if this were the definitive interpretation of "what you're really saying" (the left-leaning equivalent of "Why do you hate America?") and (2) focus on commenters instead of ideas (essentially, "You're a terrible person" instead of "I strongly disagree agree with what you're saying because _____"), they've given the game away. They're commenting in order to vent hostility and/or score social points (see: signaling), not to have an intellectually honest discussion.
posted by John Cohen at 12:08 PM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


disagree agree

Woops, delete "agree." (How's that edit feature coming along?)
posted by John Cohen at 12:11 PM on February 13, 2011


(How's that edit feature coming along?)

Every time someone asks about it, we reset the clock.

posted by cortex (staff) at 12:17 PM on February 13, 2011 [61 favorites]


The asshole/bully line isn't that hard to find.

I'd hope that most of us can own up to when we're attempting to badger someone down and make them feel lousy as opposed to honestly trying to expound our view or understand the reasoning behind another's.

It's also very frustrating when someone attacks then retreats behind a veil of silent static; you're left with a flailing sense of WTF-ness. It might be good for the site overall, but it really hurts to be the individual or group on the receiving end.
posted by artof.mulata at 12:18 PM on February 13, 2011


"miserates" was meant to be "moderates." Damn you autocorrect!
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:11 PM on February 13 [+] [!]


No... no... let's keep that one.
posted by nanojath at 12:19 PM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Every time someone asks about it, we reset the clock.

I'd edit it.
posted by cashman at 12:25 PM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


boo_radley: Again, I think it was a rhetorical device meant to make you reconsider your opinion. I'm not in a position to lecture you about your own actions.

There doesn't seem to be much ambiguity in the quoted comment to me. PG, having said that anyone who thinks dictatorships are acceptable deserved to die, then said that all pacifists were supporters of dictatorship. So, how else can that be read, other than "all pacifists deserve to die?" I really don't see how it can be interpreted any other way. Add in the personal nature of it ("you are a supporter of Mubarak", with all the implications that follow from what he'd just said), and you have a comment that, rhetorical device or not, was so far over the line, both from a "Metafilter community standards" standpoint and a "being a remotely decent human being" standpoint, that it couldn't even see the line from where it was. And based on what PG has said in the past, I really don't think it was a rhetorical device. anotherpanacea's description of his worldview seems pretty much accurate, from all I've seen. (I should note that I am not a pacifist, and I'm not a moderate liberal, either- I'm an anarchist myself, more or less. But I feel that the whole "anarchism can only come to pass through violent revolution" viewpoint is at best misguided, and at worst is the product of a sort of crypto-Stalinist outlook. I'm pretty much with Gustav Landauer on that topic.)

We talk a lot here about the eliminationist rhetoric coming from the American right wing, and there's no question that (in America, anyway) they are the main source of it at this time. But I don't think eliminationist rhetoric is any better or any more deserving of a pass if it comes from the left, and this was as clear an example of it as I've ever seen. I don't think it should be excused as a "rhetorical device" because we're more in sympathy with the ultimate aims of the one who spouted it.

RogerB: Because we shouldn't want it even to seem that the spectrum of allowed-to-be-expressed politics here were becoming so incredibly narrow? It's really depressing how many people in this thread are willing to make arguments that obviously reduce to "I don't like his politics, so he shouldn't be welcome here."

I don't think that's really the argument being made- personally, I always felt PG was one of those posters who very often got away with talking to others in a way that would never have been accepted by the rest of the community if he'd held different political views. A right-wing poster who argued the way he routinely did wouldn't have lasted a week here. If his politics had anything to do with what happened here, I think it was mostly just that, at least in this particular case, they'd crossed the line into truly beyond-the-pale territory. I mean, I think that as far as political views go, "all pacifists deserve to die" is on same sort of level as "Mecca should be nuked", in terms of both the moral and intellectual quality of it, and of how inherently disruptive and damaging it is to a community to express such a viewpoint. (One irony of this particular case is that that view of pacifism is something I usually associate more with the extreme right than anything.) I'm as concerned with avoiding groupthink as anyone, and I often feel that Metafilter has way too much of it- but some views really are just beyond the pale, and with that comment PG showed quite clearly that he was coming from an ideological place that, IMO, falls into that category. (Ironically, he was a big supporter of the idea that some political viewpoints are so inherently harmful that they should not be tolerated, as I recall.)

KokuRyu: This is basically reiterating some of George Orwell's essays during a particularly violent, all encompassing world war that touched everyone's lives, and in which there was no option oher than to fight, or be enslaved.

Orwell later recanted that position to at least some extent, by the way- see his "As I Please 51" essay, which unfortunately doesn't seem to be online. The gist of it is basically that he had come to conclude that the "by believing X, you objectively support Y" idea was wrong, because personal feelings and motives do matter in practice- he uses the example of a British pacifist working a job which gave him access to important military information being approached by a German agent, and says that if he was really subjectively pro-Nazi, he would sell out his country, and if not, then not.
posted by a louis wain cat at 12:49 PM on February 13, 2011 [18 favorites]


Arguments completely lacking in nuance and stuffed to the gills with hyperbole, bluster, and ad hominem aren't really worth defending at all, regardless of who they come from. Splitting hairs over whether PG told jaduncan that he should die or not (which he very clearly did) is kind of beside the issue. The central issue, to me, is that this is a pattern of trying to shut down conversation when people disagree. To borrow an analogy from recent memory, this is equivalent to packing into town hall meetings about health care and shouting so loudly that the speaker can't make any of his points.

And, as many in this thread have already said, I say this as someone who agrees essentially (not dogmatically) with PG's position violence v. nonviolence.

the support that the loudest people in the room get on Metafilter sometimes is baffling to me.
posted by orville sash at 1:03 PM on February 13, 2011 [21 favorites]


. I mean, I think that as far as political views go, "all pacifists deserve to die" is on same sort of level as "Mecca should be nuked", in terms of both the moral and intellectual quality of it, and of how inherently disruptive and damaging it is to a community to express such a viewpoint.

The ultimate irony being that that exact line of thinking was behind the neo-conservative drive to invade Iraq. Anybody who was against the invasion support Saddam through inaction.
posted by empath at 1:08 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I strongly disagree agree with what you're saying because _____"

"I strongly disagree that I deserve to die because _____"

What is the right thing to say here? "...because you're working with the wrong theory of collective agency and responsibilty," I guess.

They're commenting in order to vent hostility and/or score social points (see: signaling), not to have an intellectually honest discussion.

But isn't Pope Guilty also often commenting to vent hostility or to score social points or to signal to himself and others his own compassion, radicality, and concern for injustice?

It's strange that after chastising others for putting words in PG's mouth, you go on to attribute bad intentions to those people. It's a weird performative contradiction. On your own terms, your comment is, in part, designed to signal a commitment to "intellectually honest discussion," to signal something like: "I belong to the community of inquiry! Yay intellectual honesty! Boo signalling!"

If human interaction is shot through with signalling and status moves, even discussions that purport to be only about the issues will involve signalling. It's the half-hearted signalling theorist who points out the signalling in others but refuses to recognize them in himself. I believe that those are honest signals, but because they're self-deceptive they're not truth-tracking.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:23 PM on February 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Flameouts around here used to have a lot more oomph.
posted by delmoi at 1:35 PM on February 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


the support that the loudest people in the room get on Metafilter sometimes is baffling to me.

I support the smart Pope.
I don't support the loud Pope.

Like most (all?) of us around here, he contains multitudes.
posted by philip-random at 1:38 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I appreciated the passion in his views, and did read them in a 'sic semper tyranis' way. I don't think we should worry about being too hard on dictatorships
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:47 PM on February 13, 2011


"I strongly disagree that I deserve to die because _____"

What is the right thing to say here? "...because you're working with the wrong theory of collective agency and responsibilty," I guess.


Oh, I totally agree that once someone brings down the level of discourse to "you should die," as Pope did, respectful debate is no longer possible. The principle of charitable interpretation requires some desire all around for people to actually be nice to each other. That still doesn't suddenly make it OK to appeal to straw men; the more appropriate response would be no response.
posted by John Cohen at 1:50 PM on February 13, 2011


anotherpanacea, your link to the overcoming bias checklist is fantastic.
I can think of many occassions where that would have come in handy.
posted by artof.mulata at 1:57 PM on February 13, 2011


can be read as a metaphor along the lines of "sic semper tyrannis"

This quote seems a very odd choice for an example of "metaphorical" language. Or at least, I would think Julius Caesar and Abraham Lincoln would think so.
posted by torticat at 2:04 PM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I'm doin' my laundry on a sunny winter North Florida Sunday afternoon, drinkin' a few screwdrivers containing local OJ, and watching the 1937 version of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on ABC Family, and a commercial comes on. I get up to move a load from the washer to the dryer, and to refresh my libation, and coming back, I hear commercials still streaming. So, against my better judgement, I decide to check-in on MeFi, only to discover y'all deciding when, or when not, it might be appropriate to wish one another dead, on the Internet.

I just knew clicking this damn tab was risky to the progress of my relaxation, and yet I still clicked. Color me Dopey...
posted by paulsc at 2:05 PM on February 13, 2011


Yeah, that Gandhi guy really needed to die. Also, Martin Luther King, Jr. Stupid pacifists--they never accomplish any meaningful social change.

OH WAI

Come back when you've had a break, Pope Guilty. You've got a lot of good stuff to contribute.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:08 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


As another of the people who semi-frequently gets personal and pisses off his fellow MeFites, and someone who agrees with Pope Guilty in general, I'll agree he stepped over a line.

I can understand how and why he did. Finger wagging at people fighting for freedom is incredibly frustrating, especially when it comes from ostensibly liberal people who are, in theory anyway, on the side of right. Like PG I share a lot of anger and frustration with my fellow liberals who, all too often, seem to be liberal if and only if it involves nothing even slightly unpleasant in pursuit of liberal goals. I think that they're the people to whom MLK addressed his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. I too sometimes think they're worse than those who are ideologically opposed to me in that week allies are quite dangerous.

And PG was still wrong for wishing death on a fellow MeFite. I can see why he'd do it, and see myself doing the same, and I still think it's wrong because it violates what I try to make my cardinal rule of politics: do what is effective rather than what feels good. I violate that fairly frequently despite my best efforts because it is so very easy to do what feels good when you're in an emotionally involved argument. I always feel stupid afterward.

I'm hopeful that he'll be back.

I'm also hopeful that some of the pacifist fingerwaggers might realize just why we on the true left are so very, very, sick of their finger wagging and false support that we'd occasionally step over the line of acceptable discourse. I don't really expect that any might change their position, but I'd like to hope that they can at least understand why we so strongly object to their lukewarm liberalism.
posted by sotonohito at 2:20 PM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


He explicitly stated that people who liked dictators should be killed.

Uh-oh.
posted by jonmc


Took me a while to get that.
posted by marxchivist at 2:27 PM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


This quote seems a very odd choice for an example of "metaphorical" language. Or at least, I would think Julius Caesar and Abraham Lincoln would think so.

And the approximately umpteen billion leaders who've had it said of them and weren't assassinated might not. Sometimes phrases like this are used as metaphors, and sometimes not: this should surprise no one.

As I pointed out above, I don't think anyone here believes that PG meant that jaduncan was a literal follower of Mubarak or should literally die, and I think his parenthetical was intended to point that out. That makes his words a metaphor in this particular case, if a poorly chosen one, Lincoln notwithstanding.

For my next trick, I will explain why people who pull out that hoary old Voltaire quote are not actually sitting around the house in full battle-kit waiting for the chance to Defend Free Speech To The Death.
posted by vorfeed at 2:35 PM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Evelyn Beatrice Hall
posted by orville sash at 2:38 PM on February 13, 2011


Yes, well, I'm sure everyone would still have known what I meant if I put "that hoary old Evelyn Beatrice Hall quote".
posted by vorfeed at 2:44 PM on February 13, 2011


sotonohito, I think that your suggesting that pacifists are "finger-waggers" who are the people King wrote about in the Letter from a Birmingham Jail is pretty fucking ironic, seeing as King was a pacifist and the demonstration he was being criticized for was an explicitly non-violent demonstration.

Pacifism is not submission. Saying that pacifists are necessarily, by virtue of their pacifism, advocating submission to dictatorship is an outrage to the memory of King. As is saying that pacifists can't be part of "the true left."
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:53 PM on February 13, 2011 [21 favorites]


Pope Guilty has abandoned Metafilter? In a way I feel like shrugging and saying 'so what?', but I'd rather people didn't up and leave when things don't go their way, and I'd rather a Metafilter with Pope Guilty, than without, but not so much that I'll lose any sleep over it. God Speed Guilty Pope, see you back here in a week or two.
posted by Elmore at 2:56 PM on February 13, 2011


that hoary old Evelyn Beatrice Hall quote

EVELYN BEATRICE HALL WAS A FINE UPSTANDING CHASTE WOMAN OF GREAT REPUTE AND I'LL HEAR NO ONE SAY DIFFOHWAIT.
posted by nevercalm at 2:56 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes, they deserved to die, and I hope they burn in hell!

- Samuel L Jackson weighs in on the Pope Guilty outburst controversy.
posted by dougrayrankin at 3:04 PM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd rather people didn't up and leave when things don't go their way

That, absolutely. You enter a difficult discussion with what turns out the wrong foot first, you'll have to expect some friction. What? Gone before the fun really starts?

[[Evelyn Beatrice Hall.
God Speed Guilty Pope.
Hey. The funny usernames-thread is someplace else]]
posted by Namlit at 3:06 PM on February 13, 2011


anotherpanacea writes:

Pope Guilty, like many people who share his politics, sees most liberals as tools of oppression, just as he believes that moderate religious folks are a convenient shield for fanaticism. In both cases, the miserates [sic] are 'Good Germans' and thus enemies of freedom and equality. He also believes that such tools are complicit in violence and thus deserve violent retaliaion. After all, liberals and moderates are complicit in terrible violence every time they drink a cup of coffee or pray the same prayer as right-wing bigots.

In my secret heart, I have, since 2001, worried that this might actually be true; and worried more that I might believe it to be true when in fact it's not. So in a personal, and selfish, way, I'm glad PG has dropped out for a while. I find I live a better life when I'm not questioning my entire framing of the political and economic macro-reality.
posted by digitalprimate at 3:07 PM on February 13, 2011


I disagree with what you say, but will defend to Voltaire's death your right to say it.
posted by maryr at 3:11 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

can be read as a metaphor along the lines of "sic semper tyrannis"
This quote seems a very odd choice for an example of "metaphorical" language. Or at least, I would think Julius Caesar and Abraham Lincoln would think so.
Or the people in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
posted by Flunkie at 3:16 PM on February 13, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: "... the mischaracterization of him and his comments by the usual suspects "

Sometimes I just want to hug all of the usual suspects to death.
posted by Balonious Assault at 3:20 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, if I understand you right, you want to kill all of the usual suspects.
posted by found missing at 3:24 PM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


> Flameouts around here used to have a lot more oomph FWOOMFPH!
posted by jfuller at 3:35 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


and I'd rather a Metafilter with Pope Guilty, than without, but not so much that I'll lose any sleep over it.

Remove "Pope Guilty" from that sentence and slug in pretty much ANY other username, and it would still read the same as far as I'm concerned. I value everyone in this community, but refuse to consider any of them essential, which is what makes the site so effective.
posted by philip-random at 3:57 PM on February 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm all for robust debate on MeFi, but my problem with PG was that he seemed to go from 0 to frothing outrage far too quickly. It wasn't conducive to interest discussions. I like that he has passion behind his positions, but if he comes back I hope he better straddles that fine line between reasoned passion and incandescent rage.
posted by modernnomad at 3:59 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


As I pointed out above, I don't think anyone here believes that PG meant that jaduncan was a literal follower of Mubarak or should literally die, and I think his parenthetical was intended to point that out.

Lawyer question: It's still technically murder if you make ironic “air quotes” while doing it, right?

Telling someone that they should die crosses a line no matter how literally it's meant.
posted by girih knot at 4:00 PM on February 13, 2011


In the words of the Doktor himself:

1. Be excellent to each other.
2. If you can't be excellent, be civil.
3. If you can't be civil, be offline.

Works pretty well, in my experience.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:07 PM on February 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


"you are a Mubarak supporter and deserve nothing less (all pacifists are supporters of dictatorship)"

That's pretty much the same argument as "the 9/11 victims deserved it, because they were complicit in the excesses of US foreign policies over the years"
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:14 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Everyone loses when someone tries to win at rhetoric.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:26 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, if I understand you right, you want to kill all of the usual suspects.

Keyser Söze!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:35 PM on February 13, 2011


I was not "finger-wagging" at anybody when I said that I hoped that Algeria would reform with a minimum of bloodshed.

I don't like pain or death -- not for me, not for any of my brothers and sisters.

If PG has a problem with that to the extent that he believes this website is full of collaborators with repressive regime, I have no fucking idea why he'd hang out here.

I knew a person who ran guns into El Salvador during the civil war there, for the non-repressive people. Maybe PG is such a heroic soul.

But I would guess not. Because people who are actually out doing shit like that are, you know, doing shit like that. As opposed to just be really fucking stupid on the internet.
posted by angrycat at 4:38 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hope he comes back. PG's one of those guys that is infuriating when he's doing the drive-by snark, but when he engages in a thread it's usually pretty interesting.


Yeah, more or less. PG says stuff that makes my blood boil sometimes, even though I broadly agree with him. But shit man, the guy puts his cards on the table. He believes, he's a true believer. Ironic but true. Will he be back? Most certainly; as much as he rails against 'our' center-left-liberal constituents, deep down he needs the grounding in reality that MeFi provides. As do many of us myself included.
posted by nola at 4:42 PM on February 13, 2011


"and none of the pacifists will spray him in the face with the water bottle."

Can someone please design and mass manufacture a computer peripheral that will do this? Maybe as a birthday present for one of the mods. Then pb could program something that checks whether your water bottle is installed and operational before you're allowed to post in fighty threads. Go over the line and jessamyn or cortex press a button and you get a squirt.

It has to include a webcam to record and broadcast the discipline, of course. Think of what a great YouTube a compilation of shots of MeFites getting sprayed in the face would be.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:44 PM on February 13, 2011 [7 favorites]

Can someone please design and mass manufacture a computer peripheral that will do this? Maybe as a birthday present for one of the mods. Then pb could program something that checks whether your water bottle is installed and operational before you're allowed to post in fighty threads. Go over the line and jessamyn or cortex press a button and you get a squirt.

It has to include a webcam to record and broadcast the discipline, of course. Think of what a great YouTube a compilation of shots of MeFites getting sprayed in the face would be.
And you'll take that water-filled bottle from my cold dead hand!
posted by dougrayrankin at 5:12 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You will know the Mefite by their fantastically moisturized skin.
posted by cmyk at 5:24 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope Pope Guilty gets a beer and a hug tonight.
posted by klangklangston at 5:33 PM on February 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


You will know the Mefite by their fantastically moisturized skin.

Wrong
posted by Namlit at 5:35 PM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure if it needs to be mentioned in this thread, but by participating in the tax resistance movement, many pacifists were not supporting a dictatorship while every US taxpayer was / is.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 5:44 PM on February 13, 2011


It has to include a webcam to record and broadcast the discipline, of course. Think of what a great YouTube a compilation of shots of MeFites getting sprayed in the face would be.

Pervert.
posted by jtron at 5:58 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

Pervert
Or from the Northern Territory?
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:18 PM on February 13, 2011


It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

Then it's another game: Find the eye.
posted by loquacious at 6:19 PM on February 13, 2011 [20 favorites]


Deserve's got nothing to do with it
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:29 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

Then it's another game: Find the eye.


You laugh -- I was on a caving trip last year, when a guy on the trip lost a rather expensive glass eye as we were traversing along a steeply sloping passage above a canyon that dropped 80 or a hundred feet below us. We climbed down and looked and looked for that glass eye. Trips back in since then, people have looked some more. Still, no eye. It'll be pretty hilarious if someone stumbles across it in 20 years, with no idea how it got there.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:37 PM on February 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


The central issue, to me, is that this is a pattern of trying to shut down conversation when people disagree


Any time I see the phrase "shut down conversation" in a thread, I know it'll be a loooong and interesting thread. This knowledge of debate tactics is what makes Metafilter superior to face to face conversation.
posted by Redhush at 6:47 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I found these on the blue.
posted by clavdivs at 7:56 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope Pope Guilty gets a beer and a hug tonight.

Shit, I hope he gets a taste of his own medicine for at least a week, the insufferable zealot. He should get cornered at his favorite bar by some tightly clenched lunatic preaching at him about some black and white world they live in till his sphincter relaxes enough for him to evacuate a few decades worth of backed up bile. There, at last a tirade worthy of our own PB. On second thought I'd buy the fucker a beer but as for hugs he's own his own. Kisses, Pope.
posted by nola at 8:43 PM on February 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


You laugh -- I was on a caving trip last year, when a guy on the trip lost a rather expensive glass eye

I had a friend with a glass eye in high school. It was never a good idea to ask him to keep an eye on something. Especially your drink or something to eat.

Another time he was in a stage play for school that involved a scene where he was choking someone. On the opening night he managed to shake his own glass eye right out of his head and then immediately but accidentally kicked it like you'd kick a pebble, sending it skittering right off the stage into the audience.

Where it landed in his mom's lap in the front row. His mom palmed it and put it in her purse and everyone carried on like nothing had happened. And I don't think very many people even knew it happened unless you knew he had a glass eye and were sitting in the front row to see it happen.

The worst, though was the time we were hanging out at a Denny's (yeah, I know) and he stuck a plastic drinking straw in his empty eye socket. When he looked around and used his eye muscles the straw would flit around and follow the gaze of his good eye.

That was all well and good as far as disturbingly amusing things go, but then our waitress returned, coming around the corner of the booth we were in with our food, where she sees my friend, grinning wildly, straw sticking out of his eyehole and bobbing and flicking around like some kind of creepy human antennae. She screams, drops everything and continues screaming as she bolts all the way out the door and out into the parking lot and is running around doing that primal dance of sheer terror where you're waving your arms over your head as though warding off bats or angry bees and just running around in random directions like you're on fire.

Being a Deadhead working the graveyard shift in a Denny's where a lot of losers would hang out chain smoking and drinking endless coffee, it turns out she had dropped acid before her shift and really didn't need to see that shit.
posted by loquacious at 8:45 PM on February 13, 2011 [103 favorites]


If you're shitting bile please see a doctor. IANAD.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:45 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


When he looked around and used his eye muscles the straw would flit around and follow the gaze of his good eye.

He could've made that perfect with a good EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!!
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:50 PM on February 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


loquacious just made me consider plucking out my own eye. You know, for the laffs.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:53 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tell me again why we should be sad he's gone?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:10 PM on February 13 [7 favorites +]


Because he's a damned sight more fun, vital and interesting than the dry, tedious, terminally right-on likes of you. That's why.
posted by Decani at 10:08 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The central issue, to me, is that this is a pattern of trying to shut down conversation when people disagree

Agreed. And it is a shame to see the same handful of people getting away with it. It just happened to be PG who was their target, today. Hope he decides to come back soon, but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't, based on the actions of a few here in this thread.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:11 PM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Think I'll head out for a few beers tonight, before I say something I'll not regret.

Man, did we ever dodge a bullet there. Whew!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:07 PM on February 13


You didn't. I did.
posted by Decani at 10:16 PM on February 13, 2011


You are a silly man. I mean, I am a silly man too, but you're a silly man in far different way than I am.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:18 PM on February 13, 2011


You are a silly man.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:18 AM on February 14


Are you talking to me? If so, give me a fucking clue. Because god knows, I struggle to find them these days.
posted by Decani at 10:26 PM on February 13, 2011


"loquacious just made me consider plucking out my own eye. You know, for the laffs."

If it offends you, pluck it out.
posted by klangklangston at 10:36 PM on February 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Are you talking to me? If so, give me a fucking clue. Because god knows, I struggle to find them these days.

Yes, I was talking to you. If it looks likely that my comment is going to appear directly below one that I am responding to, I don't bother copy- and pasting their comment or linking to it.

klang had to go and make fucking work for me this time, though.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:39 PM on February 13, 2011


Oh, crap between loquacious and UbuRoivas, I think they owe me a new pair of underwear LMAO
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:40 PM on February 13, 2011


"Agreed. And it is a shame to see the same handful of people getting away with it. It just happened to be PG who was their target, today. Hope he decides to come back soon, but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't, based on the actions of a few here in this thread."

C'mon, man, you can't get — even a little bit — that PG can come across really goddamn strident and abrasive, and that it's not shutting down conversation to call him on it because it's really hard to have a conversation when one person is yelling at the other. I know that SRS BZNS!! needs yelling sometimes, but then you're not having a conversation, you're having a rally or a protest.

Sometimes the bar or the library isn't the right place to have a rally, and it's not shutting down the conversation to ask the yellers to take it outside already, so that other people can have a conversation.
posted by klangklangston at 10:45 PM on February 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


C'mon, man, you can't get — even a little bit — that PG can come across really goddamn strident and abrasive, and that it's not shutting down conversation to call him on it because it's really hard to have a conversation when one person is yelling at the other.

But that's not as true on the internet. As long as their comment isn't too long, it's easy to see who wrote it and ignore it if you feel like it. Often in a thread I'll just ignore a particular poster if I feel like they're not really adding anything. It's not that hard.
posted by delmoi at 10:50 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


But that's not as true on the internet. As long as their comment isn't too long, it's easy to see who wrote it and ignore it if you feel like it. Often in a thread I'll just ignore a particular poster if I feel like they're not really adding anything. It's not that hard.

And ignore the people responding to the yeller, and watch your well-thought out contribution to the thread disappear amongst 10 simultaneous responses to the derailer...
posted by fatbird at 11:23 PM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Total derails can be annoying, for sure. But if it's just a single person being annoying, you can ignore them.
posted by delmoi at 11:25 PM on February 13, 2011


Agreed. And it is a shame to see the same handful of people getting away with it. It just happened to be PG who was their target, today. Hope he decides to come back soon, but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't, based on the actions of a few here in this thread.

Yeah, it's not the guy who called for the death of another member of the site who's a problem, it's the people who called him out on it.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:35 PM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


We all need a goddamn hug.
(Well, I need one...)

I love you all. Goodnight.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:57 PM on February 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


PG launches these hyperbolic statements, and although I appreciate his passion, I kind of wish he knew how to de-escalate and/or apologize just a smidgen. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume I missed it though.

Yeah, it's not the guy who called for the death of another member of the site who's a problem, it's the people who called him out on it.

If they didn't use memail or meta, then maybe.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:04 AM on February 14, 2011


People who like dictators should be killed.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 1:32 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I stepped back in for a moment.

a) Ironically, I'm not actually a pacifist;
b) I wasn't feeling threatened, I just thought it was a dick move and something we should be above on mefi in much the same way as it's a dick move to say someone deserves to get raped.
posted by jaduncan at 1:39 AM on February 14, 2011


jonmc likes the dictators.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:06 AM on February 14, 2011


Dick tater-shipping.
posted by pracowity at 3:10 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


dry, tedious, terminally right-on

Wow, you're a big meanie, aren't you? I'm very impressed.

The thing is, I wouldn't be so dry if you'd use a little foreplay or lube. It is Valentine's Day, after all! *Hugs*
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:59 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Terminally right-on"? Insults that sound like compliments for $500, Alex.
posted by chinston at 4:37 AM on February 14, 2011


Agreed. And it is a shame to see the same handful of people getting away with it. It just happened to be PG who was their target, today. Hope he decides to come back soon, but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't, based on the actions of a few here in this thread.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:11 AM on February 14 [1 favorite +] [!]


Name names, BP. Stop being so coy and conspiratorial.
posted by empath at 4:42 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


CautionToTheWind: "People who like dictators should be killed"

What about dictators who like people?
posted by bwg at 4:43 AM on February 14, 2011


PG: everytime you talk like you do in that thread, somebody somewhere becomes a Republican.

I'm pretty sure that Pope Guilty's response to that would be:

"Who gives a shit? It's not like there's a measurable difference between a Republican a moderate and an American Liberal. It's like pointing out that a remark I make will make someone on the fence make a firm choice of Pepsi over Coke."

That's my reaction anyway and my politics and frustrations with the general attitudes in threads like that one are pretty similar to his.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:48 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I prefer Pope Guilty to the smug people who regurgitate NY Times editorials on MetaFilter, consider that the height of nuance and thoughtfulness, and then act as though their auditions for NewsHour are somehow less repetitive than when someone "grinds an axe" "repeating Socialist Worker editorials" or however it gets described.

There's no problem with deleting Pope Guilty's comment, IMO, since even if it's just rhetoric, it did tell a Mefi user that he deserved to die, albeit in a "If you believe this, then..." way. I do

Although Pope Guilty got pretty angry as the thread progressed, it shouldn't be off the table to not be a pacifist when it comes to revolutions (I know we've got people who are fine not being pacifists when it comes to their governments - it's the default position) and to say that in a thread. It's pretty simplistic to ascribe India's independence, civil rights, or the resignation of Mubarak solely to nonviolence. Also, I like how many people don't seem to care that the NDP headquarters got burned down, along with the use of sticks and burning - I'll remember that when people put an equals sign between property damage and violence next time. Specifically in the case of Egypt what has happened is that the people have caused Mubarak to resign under military pressure and now have a military junta. We do not know what will happen next. Possibly a civilian government under the aegis of the military, similar to Turkey. Even now the upsetting of geopolitical calculations means that countries like the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia are on edge and figuring out what to do next, including quite a bit of interference. If Egyptians want things like an end to the treaty as it currently exists with Israel, not allowing US/NATO to use the Suez Canal, economic policies that are "irresponsible" (although there are different polls, these are not unrealistic things for a majority of Egyptians to want) or simply an end to the military-dominated government, things could get violent very fast. What has happened in Egypt is not over, nor what happened to Tunisia. It's a bit early to consider them victorious non-violent revolutions, as opposed to overall nonviolent protesters depose dictators, dictatorships still in place.

Sorry, some of this probably should have gone in the relevant thread
posted by Gnatcho at 4:57 AM on February 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's like pointing out that a remark I make will make someone on the fence make a firm choice of Pepsi over Coke.

True. People who drink Pepsi & Coke should indeed die, and that extends to anybody who drinks any kind of fizzy sugar water crap, like 7-up or Dr Pepper or Mountain Dew or any similar pointless drink filled with empty calories. Water, people - you can't beat it. Your body is 80% made up of it, and there's nothing gained by polluting it with sugar & shit, because in the end it's just that sweet sweet* H2O that you really need.

* I like how the German for "fresh water" is susswasser (with an umlaut over the u), which means 'sweet water', because delicious fresh water truly is sweet, for a colourless, tasteless, odourless liquid.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:02 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Although Pope Guilty got pretty angry as the thread progressed, it shouldn't be off the table to not be a pacifist when it comes to revolutions (I know we've got people who are fine not being pacifists when it comes to their governments - it's the default position) and to say that in a thread. It's pretty simplistic to ascribe India's independence, civil rights, or the resignation of Mubarak solely to nonviolence. Also, I like how many people don't seem to care that the NDP headquarters got burned down, along with the use of sticks and burning - I'll remember that when people put an equals sign between property damage and violence next time.

You know you arguing a straw man here. Nobody argued in that thread for pacifism or total non-violence.
posted by empath at 5:11 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I prefer Pope Guilty to the smug people who regurgitate NY Times editorials on MetaFilter, consider that the height of nuance and thoughtfulness, and then act as though their auditions for NewsHour

Also, I don't know who you're talking about. I loathe the New York times, and don't have a TV, so I don't watch PBS. I've spent the last 2 weeks watching Al Jazeera non-stop. I know you guys think that the whole anarchy/revolution thing gets you chicks or whatever, but people's actual lives are actual on the line, and I'd prefer to let them make the choices that work for them. And it seems to me that non-violent revolution has a much better trackrecord than violent revolution. I'm no pacifist, Ghandi wasn't a pacifist, non-violence isn't pacifist, the Egyptians weren't pacifists, and as far as I can tell nobody in that thread was arguing for pacifism.
posted by empath at 5:25 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wasn't in that thread, but I'm a pacificist, so everyone feel free to send all pacifist-related straw men, death threats and stereotypes my way.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:45 AM on February 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


how do i get on the enemies list?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:06 AM on February 14, 2011


You know you arguing a straw man here. Nobody argued in that thread for pacifism or total non-violence.

Those who were for "pacifism or total non-violence" didn't really argue for them as much as state them as fact (or quoted). Then it moved on, mainly through your contribution, to nonviolent revolutions historically being more likely to bring about democracy and violent revolutions often having miserable ends, which is a different consequentialist argument.

I'd prefer Egyptians to make the choices that work for them, too. I just think that it's quite likely that some of those choices could involve violence by the minority who don't want those choices. Mass demonstrations and strikes are probably the most effective tools to effect those choices, but it also helps to have armed soldiers defecting to the majority, along with others who are willing to defend them. Who knows what'll happen, but I view it as tactics, "what works for them", and entirely conditional on the situation as to what the right choice is.

Now to put on my "whole anarchy/revolution thing" musk before I head out to get the "chicks". Sorry, when that cliché comes out I can't help but imagine some liberal "nice guy" fuming about how if he only talked about his love of violent revolution instead of his love of checks and balances in market democracies, that girl woulda been down, but no, she just looked at dreamy Billy "Che" Kunkel over there with his damn fool unworkable ideas about "the system". I feel like it's mainly the people who bring it up who think it "gets chicks".
posted by Gnatcho at 6:09 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Billy "Che" Kunkel

And his buddy, Joshua 'Fidel' Abromowitz.
posted by jonmc at 6:15 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Now to put on my "whole anarchy/revolution thing" musk before I head out to get the "chicks". Sorry, when that cliché comes out I can't help but imagine some liberal "nice guy" fuming about how if he only talked about his love of violent revolution instead of his love of checks and balances in market democracies, that girl woulda been down, but no, she just looked at dreamy Billy "Che" Kunkel over there with his damn fool unworkable ideas about "the system". I feel like it's mainly the people who bring it up who think it "gets chicks".

Actually it's more likely that when younger we moderates used to have very radical beliefs and also totally failed to get laid often. I was a smelly anarchist as a teenager and grew out of it. Of course it's unfair to impugn all anarchists with adolescence, some might have nuanced and widely-read opinions about politics. But that wouldn't be much fun, so we just assume everyone advocating for popular revolt is as naive and awkward as we once were.

Being a moderate means you can safely sleep with conservatives btw, which, let's just say, rawr.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:20 AM on February 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


I checked out of that thread early to enjoy a lovely spring-like day, but I see that I nailed it down solidly before I left.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:21 AM on February 14, 2011


Actually it's more likely that when younger we moderates used to have very radical beliefs and also totally failed to get laid often. I was a smelly anarchist as a teenager and grew out of it.

You're even a hipster about your politics. That's fantastic.
posted by empath at 6:30 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Total derails can be annoying, for sure. But if it's just a single person being annoying, you can ignore them.

Because that's always worked so well in the past.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:43 AM on February 14, 2011


You're even a hipster about your politics.
rofl

I also voted for John McCain way before he sold out, so suck on that poseurs!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:53 AM on February 14, 2011


I was a big fan of guys like David Gergen when he I was still in my centrist-core phase, but now I'm more into the new stuff coming out of the moderate-wave scene.
posted by empath at 6:57 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Have you heard the new Algerian Neo-cons? I saw on Pitchfox.com that this year is going to be all about Socratic-Islamo-Capitalism.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:09 AM on February 14, 2011


I was still in my centrist-core phase

I was more into centrist-metal, myself: gems like Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It (Unless You Ask Politely)" and Kiss' "Rock & Roll Till A Reasonable Hour (and Party On Alternate Weekends)."
posted by jonmc at 7:19 AM on February 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


True. People who drink Pepsi & Coke should indeed die, and that extends to anybody who drinks any kind of fizzy sugar water crap

A more appropriate analogy would be that someone was expressing their outrage over people who have weak reactions to totalitarianism, and one of the responses was "you make people decide to drink Pepsi when you talk that way."

I agree that Pope Guilty should have known that his response was not going to be well-received in these parts-- I'm reminded of the line in Phil Ochs' "Love Me, I'm a Liberal": "Don't talk about revolution, that's going a bit too far."
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:32 AM on February 14, 2011


I agree that Pope Guilty should have known that his response was not going to be well-received in these parts-- I'm reminded of the line in Phil Ochs' "Love Me, I'm a Liberal": "Don't talk about revolution, that's going a bit too far."

I'm instead reminded of the line in John Lennon's "Revolution" --

"But when you talk about destruction,
Don't you know that you can count me out."

Not wanting to use violence as a tool to get what you want doesn't make a person weak or a traitor. It only means they don't want to stoop to the level of the people they're trying to defeat.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:36 AM on February 14, 2011


> "Don't talk about revolution, that's going a bit too far."

Eh, all anyone here does is talk. It's easy to be an opinionated tough guy on a web forum while you're not really facing any real life upheaval. Perhaps it's bit more revolutionary to be able to actually say something with uncomfortable ramifications in a way that people won't find you personally reprehensible. The failure to be able to separate the two is what happened here.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:41 AM on February 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


For the record, I don't have a problem with the Egyptians using violence to unseat Mubarak (although I have the usual concerns over whether he'll be replaced with someone just as bad a la the Shah and the Ayatollah).
posted by jonmc at 7:41 AM on February 14, 2011


I know you guys think that the whole anarchy/revolution thing gets you chicks or whatever, but people's actual lives are actual on the line, and I'd prefer to let them make the choices that work for them. And it seems to me that non-violent revolution has a much better trackrecord than violent revolution.

Sensitive dudes are in it to get laid-- there's a reason one of the primary requirements for being a full-blown hippie is herpes.

Peaceful "revolution" gets you cosmetic reforms designed to mollify people long enough to make them shut up and go home. If you have a fundamentally corrupt system and you polish the surface, it gets dirty again very quickly when you turn your backs and the people on top go back on the take.

I agree with Malcolm X: "You don't have a peaceful revolution. You don't have a turn-the-other-cheek revolution. There's no such thing as a nonviolent revolution. Revolution is bloody. Revolution is hostile. Revolution knows no compromise. Revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in its way."
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:45 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Keyboard Kommie.
posted by jonmc at 7:46 AM on February 14, 2011


> Sensitive dudes are in it to get laid-- there's a reason one of the primary requirements for being a full-blown hippie is herpes.

I don't have a huge reservoir of sympathy for hippies, but what the hell are you even talking about?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:49 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm referring to empath's baiting with "I know you guys think that the whole anarchy/revolution thing gets you chicks or whatever..." The italics in the first part of that comment are a quote, as per the convention.

He's got it backwards. Anarchists KNOW they're going to be staring jealously at the people chatting it up at the Food Not Bombs table.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:04 AM on February 14, 2011


The best way to get laid is to have money, silly.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:05 AM on February 14, 2011


Peaceful "revolution" gets you cosmetic reforms designed to mollify people long enough to make them shut up and go home. If you have a fundamentally corrupt system and you polish the surface, it gets dirty again very quickly when you turn your backs and the people on top go back on the tak

What's an example of a violent revolution in the past 100 years that achieved its aims?
posted by empath at 8:06 AM on February 14, 2011


MathFact: The problem with a revolution is that you eventually end up where you started.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:06 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not wanting to use violence as a tool to get what you want doesn't make a person weak or a traitor. It only means they don't want to stoop to the level of the people they're trying to defeat.

I'm not sure how pragmatic that position is, but it's nice to know that when I get off my butt and organize my band of guerillas to impose the People's (read: "our") will on the Northeast, I can count on you not to physically resist us. If you stick to your ideals, I promise that the worst you'll get is a couple years of re-education.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:13 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's an example of a violent revolution in the past 100 years that achieved its aims?

You mean aside from the Bolshevik Revolution, the Chinese Civil War, or Ethiopia in '91? Some would say the Iranian Revolution was a violent overthrow as well, although it can be debated both ways.

Let's not forget most of Central America during the latter third of the 20th Century.
posted by Leth at 8:25 AM on February 14, 2011


The bestest thing about revolution is you can disable your account in a huff when you tire of it.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:28 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking of being keyboard warriors ... and the desire to not be ... does anyone here know how one would go about becoming an international elections monitor? I used up my AskMe question for the week already.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:30 AM on February 14, 2011


> does anyone here know how one would go about becoming an international elections monitor?

Email these people. (I used that google thing.)
posted by Burhanistan at 8:33 AM on February 14, 2011


Mayor Curley, don't be obtuse.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:33 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


What about dictators who like people?

They're the luckiest dictators in the world.
posted by DNye at 8:35 AM on February 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


"The central issue, to me, is that this is a pattern of trying to shut down conversation when people disagree"

Asking people to not piss on the carpet while at a guests home is not shutting down conversation. It's just an attempt to reduce carpet stains. And yes, I think equating successful non-violent protest to support of dictatorship is a rhetorical carpet stain.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:48 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Peaceful "revolution" gets you cosmetic reforms designed to mollify people long enough to make them shut up and go home."

You're right. Poland, East Germany, the USSR, South Korea, Czechoslovakia, the Philippines, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, they all only made cosmetic changes when faced with popular, peaceful demonstration. As opposed to Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, Chechnya, Palestine, Kashmir, Madagascar, Guinea, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Zimbabwe, Sudan… which are all flourishing democracies with wide respect for human rights and no lasting negative effects from armed uprisings.
posted by klangklangston at 8:50 AM on February 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


.You mean aside from the Bolshevik Revolution, the Chinese Civil War, or Ethiopia in '91? Some would say the Iranian Revolution was a violent overthrow as well, although it can be debated both ways.,

I would suggest that those are probably not examples that one would want to emulate.
posted by empath at 8:51 AM on February 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Compare to: Czechoslovakia, Poland, Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, Egypt, etc..
posted by empath at 8:52 AM on February 14, 2011


PG was a a political and philosophical outlier here. He lived at the edge of the normal distribution of users. His leaving (if permanent) makes our scope a little narrower. That's a bad thing whether you share his views or not.
Also, I don't like to see Metatalk used as the equivalent of running to a parent or teacher because someone on the playground said something you don't like. These are just words on the internet, people...nobody actually wants to kill you.
posted by rocket88 at 8:58 AM on February 14, 2011 [13 favorites]


"Revolution is bloody. Revolution is hostile. Revolution knows no compromise. Revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in its way."

Which is why there was blood in the streets of Prague knee-deep after the fall of communism! And why there were deathcamps awaiting demobbed military in South Korea when the democratic government finally won out over the autocrats, and a complete scourging of all KMT members from Taiwan! Portugal wouldn't be a democracy if they hadn't stood Salazar in front of that firing squad...

Pfft.

Violent revolution usually results in a regime no better, and often far worse, than the one it supplanted. Peaceful revolutions give you a fighting chance at a functioning civil society. Reform is slow, but sure. Violent revolt is a gamble, and usually just leaves an even bigger bastard at the top of the heap.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:01 AM on February 14, 2011


"You mean aside from the Bolshevik Revolution, the Chinese Civil War, or Ethiopia in '91? Some would say the Iranian Revolution was a violent overthrow as well, although it can be debated both ways.

Let's not forget most of Central America during the latter third of the 20th Century.
"

You note how none of those states are places that you'd want to live?

And let's not forget that most of Central America's violent revolutions failed miserably (in part due to America's involvement) and that the Sandinistas have been more effective now that they've won at the ballot.

It's in fact kind of hard to come up with violent revolutions that have succeeded in terms of allowing a transition to democratic politics — the Mexican revolution ended with PRI for 70 years, etc. And coup takers tend not to relinquish power unless forced (Venezuela, Pakistan, South Korea's Park).

Sorry, I just find a lot of this RAH RAH REVOLUTION incredibly naive — likely as naive as those advocating force find pacifism.

Next up: How existing international finance framework makes populist post-revolution reform nearly impossible!
posted by klangklangston at 9:02 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


> He lived at the edge of the normal distribution of users. His leaving (if permanent) makes our scope a little narrower. That's a bad thing whether you share his views or not.

I'm stating the blindingly obvious, but that's just a subjective line you drew there. What about white supremacists, homophobes, and rabid anti-abortion types. Do they broaden the scope?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:03 AM on February 14, 2011


I was more into centrist-metal, myself: gems like Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It (Unless You Ask Politely)" and Kiss' "Rock & Roll Till A Reasonable Hour (and Party On Alternate Weekends)."

What about the Beasties' "You gotta negotiate in good faith for your right to party!" We tore shit up to that one all the damned time. Politely, of course.
posted by philip-random at 9:05 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


C'mon now, comparing PG to a white supremacist is pretty bullshit. PG could be on the edge of politics and philosophy here without being that far out of the mainstream in general, and comparing him to some hypothetical homophobe or anti-abortionist is bullshit. We've had Bevets; PG is no Bevets.
posted by klangklangston at 9:08 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


> C'mon now, comparing PG to a white supremacist is pretty bullshit

That's a misread. I wasn't comparing anyone to anything; I was attacking the logic of rocket88's statement. You should know better.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:08 AM on February 14, 2011


Also, I don't like to see Metatalk used as the equivalent of running to a parent or teacher because someone on the playground said something you don't like.

The other option would have been to make the original thread a pile-on on PG for acting like a jerk. I'd rather the original thread be used to talk about the actual topic of the thread instead of about whether we think each other deserve to live or not when the revolution comes.
posted by empath at 9:10 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am so squicked out by the straw-in-eye-cavity comment, and I don't usually mind graphic imagery that much. Eee. EEe. EEE.

And no, I'm not on anything. >.<
posted by cavalier at 9:11 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan: "The best way to get laid is to have money, silly."

YO BABY I GOT A HUGE PORTFOLIO
posted by zarq at 9:14 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course I realize that, it's why I picked that particular list. It's what makes the American Revolution such an amazing exception, although we came close a couple of times early on.

I am not advocating violent revolution, by any stretch, simply reinforcing that point by answering empath's question.
posted by Leth at 9:15 AM on February 14, 2011


You were comparing him to a white supremacist in terms of where the subjective line was drawn as far as acceptable discourse, and the only way that you could justify that as an argument is by assuming that there are no standards of acceptable behavior here that PG would be on the edge of (as rocket88's argument was implicit on PG being toward the outer ends but still part of the community). Your argument could be restated as, "But wouldn't you ban Hitler?"

So your attack on the logic of rocket88's statement was built on faulty assumptions and ultimately wasn't an effective argument. Sorry if you felt like you got a good zinger in there, but you really didn't.
posted by klangklangston at 9:15 AM on February 14, 2011


> You were comparing him to a white supremacist in terms of where the subjective line was drawn as far as acceptable discourse,

Oh, that's just bullshit.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:16 AM on February 14, 2011


I agree: Your comment was pretty much bullshit.
posted by klangklangston at 9:17 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not wanting to use violence as a tool to get what you want doesn't make a person weak or a traitor. It only means they don't want to stoop to the level of the people they're trying to defeat.

You know what, I've now had it up to here with people who don't give a toss about nonviolence acting like they're the ghost of bloody Gandhi. I think the problem's partly one of equivocation; nonviolence can be one of two things:

1) A tactic, one among many, for resistance
2) A political and moral philosophy

The latter is far more far-reaching than the former. If you think that nonviolence is an ethical demand, then you don't confine this to techniques used by protesters; you won't be willing to countenance most of the trappings of the modern state. You won't believe in a police force, or the exertion by a state-type entity of anything but moral pressure; you won't believe in majority over consensus rule; you probably won't believe in locks or money or property rights.

If you believe that nonviolence is a tactic, you need to acknowledge the circumstances under which it's likely to work. For starters, nonviolent tactics have the greatest chance of being effective against an adversary who is vulnerable to shame. A lot of this depends on the tactic your adversary is using to 'get away' with whatever they're doing to you. If it's a fairly simple kind of hypocrisy, and there's a straightforward mismatch between their professed ideals and their actions, you can use this mismatch as a nonviolent lever. It worked on the British in India, it worked on the state in 60s America, because they were caught unawares by the emptiness of their own cant. It tends not to be as effective against overt dictatorship on the one hand, or advanced postmodern late capital on the other, because their defences against shame are more developed.

It's quite possible to believe in nonviolence as a tactic without really believing in it as a philosophy - I'd contrast MLK on the one hand with Gandhi on the other. But it really isn't on to advocate nonviolence as an isolated tactic - and not as a way of life either personally or politically - and then claim that you're doing so for moral reasons. It certainly isn't on to claim that nonviolence works, magically, because it is good. If you believe that it's good, you'll find a way to make it work regardless. But you do that despite the fact that it's difficult sometimes, not by pretending that it isn't. And if you believe in the modern state, you believe in the presence of violence in politics, and you don't get to say that people have 'lost the moral high ground' or are 'stooping to the level of the people they're trying to defeat'. That level is your level.
posted by Acheman at 9:17 AM on February 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


What about white supremacists, homophobes, and rabid anti-abortion types. Do they broaden the scope?

Yes, they do. And if they were here (and they may already be) we'd have a great opportunity to understand why people hold those opinions and maybe find better ways to counter them than just calling them idiots, which isn't working.
posted by rocket88 at 9:17 AM on February 14, 2011


This is a very weird MetaTalk.
posted by proj at 9:17 AM on February 14, 2011


Also, I don't like to see Metatalk used as the equivalent of running to a parent or teacher because someone on the playground said something you don't like.

The other option would have been to make the original thread a pile-on on PG for acting like a jerk. I'd rather the original thread be used to talk about the actual topic of the thread instead of about whether we think each other deserve to live or not when the revolution comes.


There's a third option.
posted by rocket88 at 9:18 AM on February 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sorry, I just find a lot of this RAH RAH REVOLUTION incredibly naive

Obligatory nod to some graffiti seen in the background of a shot in the movie O Lucky Man:

"REVOLUTION IS THE OPIATE OF THE INTELLECTUALS"
posted by philip-random at 9:18 AM on February 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Or, to put it another way, I'm sure there are plenty of homophobes on MetaFilter who simply manage to not break the rules by posting homophobic comments, and instead act as members in good faith. Ergo, yes, homophobes can broaden the community and be good members. So long as PG's not breaking the rules, his comments (even though they're not from some incredibly novel or unique political vantage) broaden the conversation here.
posted by klangklangston at 9:20 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a third option.

Eyeball stories?
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:20 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


And talking about nonviolent national revolutions is really very specious reasoning; the reason why a revolution of that scale is nonviolent is generally because it's really easy to do and nobody puts up a fight. Of course those tend to do better in the long run. You're really getting things arse-backwards if you think most of those were smooth and straightforward because they were nonviolent. But just because something's difficult, doesn't mean it isn't worth doing.
posted by Acheman at 9:21 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Hurrah for revolution and canon come again!
The beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on".
posted by adamvasco at 9:24 AM on February 14, 2011


And talking about nonviolent national revolutions is really very specious reasoning; the reason why a revolution of that scale is nonviolent is generally because it's really easy to do and nobody puts up a fight.

I'm pretty sure that standing your ground in front of a tank or a line of heavily armed policeman who are killing people around you is not an easy thing to do.
posted by empath at 9:27 AM on February 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


PG was a a political and philosophical outlier here. He lived at the edge of the normal distribution of users.

Pope Guilty? How so?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:27 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Eastern Bloc turnovers that the "Up With Capitalism" bunch are touting weren't so much revolutions born of peaceful protests, but revolutions born of sudden power vacuums left by the dissolution of the USSR. The puppets in place knew they were going to meet the wolves at the door without Soviet backing and said "Here! Take the keys!" before they were forced to hand the keys over on the gallows. And those countries were fortunate enough to have wealthy neighbors who said "I would like to enrich myself by capitalizing your nation. Let me show you how to run a government!"

It's a lot easier for a dictator to know when to quit when their primary backer is gone and all your neighbor tyrants are slinking off with their heads down. If, say, Kadar in Hungary had refused to step down he would have met the same end as Ceausescu and I don't think the subsequent future of Hungary would have been much different than it actually played out.

The lesson here is that Colonialism eats a society from the inside and a shitty country free of its oppressors but lacking assistance isn't likely to get much better whether blood was spilled or not.

Lastly, you're welcome to hold up the USSR as a beacon of positive change in a non-violent revolution if positive change means "continued suppression of free speech, but with declining living standards." At least they have a fantastic stratification between the rich and poor now.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:29 AM on February 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


And while the Egyptian revolution happened in 3 days, the organizers had been working on it for years, and many of them had spent time in prison and were tortured.
posted by empath at 9:29 AM on February 14, 2011


Mayor Curley: Name a successful violent revolution in the past 100 years, please.
posted by empath at 9:30 AM on February 14, 2011


I'm pretty sure that standing your ground in front of a tank or a line of heavily armed policeman who are killing people around you is not an easy thing to do.

I just said upthread that nonviolence is generally a very, very difficult path. The point I made later was that what goes down in history as a 'nonviolent revolution' is often just a revolution that met with less violent or forceful opposition, for one reason or another.
posted by Acheman at 9:30 AM on February 14, 2011


(Not always. But often.)
posted by Acheman at 9:31 AM on February 14, 2011


"And talking about nonviolent national revolutions is really very specious reasoning; the reason why a revolution of that scale is nonviolent is generally because it's really easy to do and nobody puts up a fight. Of course those tend to do better in the long run. You're really getting things arse-backwards if you think most of those were smooth and straightforward because they were nonviolent. But just because something's difficult, doesn't mean it isn't worth doing."

\0_o/

No, actually:

First off, no revolution is easy. Most of them are unsuccessful, and the successful ones still generally have a poor track record in the long term.

Second, non-violent revolutions do not mean that no one is putting up a fight, a weird and totally fact-free assertion. The British didn't massacre hundreds? The Egyptian police weren't just killing people a week or two ago? South Africa didn't kill Steve Biko?

Third, the mode of revolution is a tactical decision, and non-violence tends to do things like decrease foreign proxy fighting and encourage foreign aid, as well as mobilize transparently and increase overt political networks, which are much easier to transition into democratic institutions. Non-violent revolutions aren't always the best tactic, but they have tremendous advantages given relatively similar starting points, not least that it's hard to govern a bunch of armed folks who are accustomed to getting their way with force.
posted by klangklangston at 9:36 AM on February 14, 2011


"Lastly, you're welcome to hold up the USSR as a beacon of positive change in a non-violent revolution if positive change means "continued suppression of free speech, but with declining living standards." At least they have a fantastic stratification between the rich and poor now."

Dude, you said they were "cosmetic changes" to get people to go home. For better or for worse, the transition of the USSR into Russia was not a fucking "cosmetic change."

Don't try to move your MIM Notes goalposts just because you've realized your bullshit is specious.
posted by klangklangston at 9:41 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


May I remind the audience both Portugal and the United States had bloodless coups in 1974.
posted by clavdivs at 9:46 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


May I remind the audience both Portugal and the United States had bloodless coups in 1974.

I might be a fool for even trying to counter this assertion, but while 49 Representatives and 3 Senators represented good gains for the Democrats, they were elected in full accordance with the laws of the US. Nothing extrajudicial about it. Not a coup.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:51 AM on February 14, 2011


I like Pope Guilty, and he and I generally saw eye to eye on politics, but even where we agreed I found "over the line" increasingly to be his first move of the chessboard of discussion. I suppose I only called him on it in subject where we disagreed, and he tried to back me into a corner with his rhetorical nonsense and huge red-hot puffs of rage, and I shouldn't have been passive when he directed that same behavior at people who I disagree with. I hope he returns, but, if he does so, I won't have as much patience for his Tasmanian-devil approach to civil discourse.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:52 AM on February 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


What about white supremacists, homophobes, and rabid anti-abortion types. Do they broaden the scope?

If they can discuss their opinions without being dicks about it? Sure.

It's not PG's opinions that got people up in arms. It was his inability to express his opinion on this issue without being a major dick about it.

And anyway, I honestly don't understand why people don't get that that kind of tactic doesn't work in discussions: telling someone "if you don't do X then you are an asshole/deserve to die/support the terrorists" or whatever. Do people who say that honestly think that they're going to change people's minds with such an approach?

"I believe in exhausting nonviolent approaches first."
"I think that makes you an asshole."
"....Why, goodness, you're right! I am an asshole! I must off to the barricades!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:59 AM on February 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think the question is which revolutions of any kind in the last 100 years have achieved their aims (avoiding the defining of the one true revolution and what it means, such as a fundamental change in social relations or that sort of thing). Generally, the revolutions happened in peripheral or colonized areas with vast disparities and those disparities were never fully dealt with. The mostly peaceful changes in Eastern Europe ended with manyany of the Eastern Europeans got free-market capitalism of an openly gangsterish sort led by former apparatchiks with a vast decline in social services and employment and life expectancy with varying levels of democracy, but the idea was to get rid of the extremely authoritarian welfare states under which they lived and replace it with the market. The generally peaceful end to apartheid South Africa is a South Africa that is still poor, has a great wealth disparity, the whites are still economically dominant, and HIV infection rates are still high, among other problems. India is a parliamentary democracy where the vast majority live in extreme poverty, there is a Maoist belt among the "adivasis (tribals)" that is currently the target of counter-insurgencies, right-wing Hindu extremism, occupation of Kashmir, and horrible work conditions.

However, the violent revolutions ended up with authoritarian governments and only some of them provided basic welfare for their people at any point in their existence, so the only thing I guess I'm saying is, hopefully a full-scale democratic social revolution is possible. It's very silly to mention successful revolutions and then say, "Oh, but you wouldn't want to live in those countries". Well, would anyone here like to live in a third-world country as an average citizen? You have the first world, which views your country only as a place to be exploited, touristed, "aided" and maybe bombed and whose countries stole as much as they could when you were directly colonized. And if your country isn't viewed as worthwhile enough, you just need to wait until whatever is left can be squeezed out profitably.
posted by Gnatcho at 10:01 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Empath: Vietnam is one that comes to mind... Franco's victory in the Spanish Civil War... the Chinese Communist ascendance... Algeria kicking out the French perhaps... on my phone, cat on lap, don't feel like checking wikipedia but those are just a few that come to mind
posted by jtron at 10:02 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The conditions need to exist for a comparatively non-violent transition of power from one crowd (usually smaller and richer) to another crowd (usually larger and poorer). A solid example of a recent situation where this was NOT the case is 2007 so-called "Saffron Revolution" in Myanmar (Burma).

Please excuse the sloppy wording of the wiki:

When the time came activists monks successfully brought together the people of Burma to protest. These protests gave sight to many young people to witness first hand the brutality of an authoritarian government, thus making them realize the sacrifices the people had to make while fighting for political changes in Burma. Furthermore, the junta agreed to talk to the opposition because they want a win-win situation for all. The catch being that the opposition groups follow the rules of the government as of now. Despite all of the talks going on between groups, true democratic changes are still far from being obtained, making the political future of the country uncertain.
posted by philip-random at 10:03 AM on February 14, 2011


Second, non-violent revolutions do not mean that no one is putting up a fight, a weird and totally fact-free assertion. The British didn't massacre hundreds? The Egyptian police weren't just killing people a week or two ago? South Africa didn't kill Steve Biko?

Then how the fuck are they non-violent??? Supposed non-violent revolutions are almost never so, never mind the violence inherent in the systems of oppression they are trying to over throw. I am suspicious of so-called pacifists who shake their heads sadly at police brutality and state violence but the second any protestor throws a rock or a Molotov cocktail (both of which were frequent occurrences in the most recent round of violence in Egypt by the way - they don't have a wall of martyrs for nothing) out come the rounds of condemnations and hand-wring. Get a grip, keyboard hippies posting under the guise of ~realpolitik~. At least White American pacifists in the 60s worth their salt usually had the decency to know when their moralizing was not welcomed by those resisting oppression.

I guess in Bizarro metafilter world where Steve Biko is a pacifist anything's possible.
posted by dustyasymptotes at 10:04 AM on February 14, 2011


Mayor Curley: Name a successful violent revolution in the past 100 years, please.

the irish revolution - although due to the bloody events that followed, one might say it was barely successful
posted by pyramid termite at 10:11 AM on February 14, 2011


For better or for worse, the transition of the USSR into Russia was not a fucking "cosmetic change."

It was, however, absolutely true that the USSR/ Eastern Bloc transitions happened due to governmental power collapse and not because the populace had decided they had enough and revolted (Poland had its pre-existing movement, but it just moved into the power vacuum like in the other countries). They're shit examples, unless you're promoting the "sit around and wait until the government gives up" model of revolutionary change, which given the way people here work is probably the case.
posted by furiousthought at 10:23 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The People Will Decide
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:35 AM on February 14, 2011


> The People Will Decide

I'm impressed with how delicately that local news crew treaded around hirsute testicles.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:43 AM on February 14, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: "And anyway, I honestly don't understand why people don't get that that kind of tactic doesn't work in discussions: telling someone "if you don't do X then you are an asshole/deserve to die/support the terrorists" or whatever. Do people who say that honestly think that they're going to change people's minds with such an approach?"

Here on MetaFilter, the problem isn't even necessarily that "you won't change any minds that way." The problem is that "you emotionally escalate the discussion by making it nastily personal and the thread goes off the rails." And really, that is the greatest sin here on MetaFilter.
posted by charred husk at 10:51 AM on February 14, 2011


Here on MetaFilter, the problem isn't even necessarily that "you won't change any minds that way." The problem is that "you emotionally escalate the discussion by making it nastily personal and the thread goes off the rails."

No, I know -- I was speaking more generally, inclusive of offline activity too. You know -- it wasn't "why do people do that on metafilter" it was "why do people do that EVER".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:55 AM on February 14, 2011


Then how the fuck are they non-violent??? Supposed non-violent revolutions are almost never so, never mind the violence inherent in the systems of oppression they are trying to over throw. I am suspicious of so-called pacifists who shake their heads sadly at police brutality and state violence but the second any protestor throws a rock or a Molotov cocktail (both of which were frequent occurrences in the most recent round of violence in Egypt by the way - they don't have a wall of martyrs for nothing) out come the rounds of condemnations and hand-wring. Get a grip, keyboard hippies posting under the guise of ~realpolitik~. At least White American pacifists in the 60s worth their salt usually had the decency to know when their moralizing was not welcomed by those resisting oppression.

This paragraph is so full of strawmen, misunderstandings, ignorance and wrong-headedness that all I can do is boggle at it.
posted by empath at 11:05 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mayor Curley: Name a successful violent revolution in the past 100 years, please.

The examples that other folks cited weren't enough for you? Fine. Cuba.

(Yes, yes. It's a shithole and this is totally because of the armed insurrection and not because of the 50 year trade embargo with the world's largest economy?)

Want to know why it was successful? Because before the revolution the average Cuban didn't have access to medical care, education or freedom of expression. They still don't have freedom of expression, but their life expectancy and literacy rate is comparable to the United States.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:11 AM on February 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Okay, it definitely makes it easier to understand where you are coming from when you consider Communist dictatorships a model worth emulating.
posted by empath at 11:14 AM on February 14, 2011


EmpressCallipygos: "it wasn't "why do people do that on metafilter" it was "why do people do that EVER"."

Got it. I believe the response to that is, "IF THEY'RE ON THE WRONG SIDE THEN FUCK THOSE PEOPLE." "Fuck those people," being the key phrase that I've seen variations of. You're not the kind to blindly exclude whole groups of people from what I've seen, so the thought process is alien. I understand it, but think its a sad and hurtful way to live. It completely negates the day to day life that exists outside of anyone beliefs or politics.
posted by charred husk at 11:15 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Okay, it definitely makes it easier to understand where you are coming from when you consider Communist dictatorships a model worth emulating.
posted by empath at 1:14 PM on February 14
That's not what he said.
posted by jtron at 11:20 AM on February 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Okay, it definitely makes it easier to understand where you are coming from when you consider Communist dictatorships a model worth emulating.

it was an improvement over what they had - a pretty flawed improvement, but an improvement nonetheless

they could have done much better - but they could have done much worse, too
posted by pyramid termite at 11:22 AM on February 14, 2011


Careful jtron, pointing that out might mean you're a Fidelista.
posted by Hoopo at 11:24 AM on February 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Cuban government would no doubt be much different today if not for the massive economic blockade from the US that served to consolidate Castro's power.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:25 AM on February 14, 2011


It seems to me that this is pretty much a divide between people who want to see a violent overthrow of the entire western democratic, capitalist system, and those who are pretty happy with the western democratic, capitalist system and just want more people and countries to be a part of it, while reforming it through democratic means.

I think that, for example, if Egypt were to become western-style free-market democracy that they would consider that a failed revolution, and that the only true revolution would be some kind of anarchist or communist regime that stands opposed to western imperialism.
posted by empath at 11:27 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, it definitely makes it easier to understand where you are coming from when you consider Communist dictatorships a model worth emulating.

Is it 1958 or 1985 or something? You can't possibly be so unworldly that you believe "Communist" always equals "the absolute worst." Actually, you're probably not. You just wanted to move for a quick, lazy dismissal.

If you actually know anything about the situation and you're earnestly suggesting that people were better off under Batista than Castro, you're only going to have Right-wing pro-feudalism lunatics and (formerly) wealthy pro-Batista Cuban exiles on your side. Everybody else realizes that if you're not going to have freedom of speech and assembly you're still better off with healthcare and literacy.

Would I want to live in Cuba now? Hell no. Would I want to live in Cuba now as opposed to 1950? Absolutely. That's a successful revolution.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:29 AM on February 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Cuban government would no doubt be much different today if not for the massive economic blockade from the US that served to consolidate Castro's power.

I personally think that if we lift the embargo, the Castro regime would fall within a year or two. I've never been in favor of the embargo. I think embargos are a waste of time, unless you're trying to stop the regime from getting a specific good for a specific reason (ie, nuclear technology)
posted by empath at 11:29 AM on February 14, 2011


If you actually know anything about the situation and you're earnestly suggesting that people were better off under Batista than Castro, you're only going to have Right-wing pro-feudalism lunatics and (formerly) wealthy pro-Batista Cuban exiles on your side. Everybody else realizes that if you're not going to have freedom of speech and assembly you're still better off with healthcare and literacy.

Well, if you're dealing in counterfactuals, who knows what they could have ended up with if they didn't go with the guy with the guns.
posted by empath at 11:30 AM on February 14, 2011


empath: "Okay, it definitely makes it easier to understand where you are coming from when you consider Communist dictatorships a model worth emulating."

That's not what he said. Check it out:

Mayor Curley: " Lastly, you're welcome to hold up the USSR as a beacon of positive change in a non-violent revolution if positive change means "continued suppression of free speech, but with declining living standards." At least they have a fantastic stratification between the rich and poor now."

Mayor Curley: " Want to know why it was successful? Because before the revolution the average Cuban didn't have access to medical care, education or freedom of expression. They still don't have freedom of expression, but their life expectancy and literacy rate is comparable to the United States."

His metric for success is not an increase in freedoms, but rather an improvement in living standards.
posted by zarq at 11:31 AM on February 14, 2011


His metric for success is not an increase in freedoms, but rather an improvement in living standards.

Over what? Nearly everybody today is living better than they were 50 years ago.
posted by empath at 11:33 AM on February 14, 2011


Ah, the debate really needed another fork.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:34 AM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


while reforming [the western democratic, capitalist system] through democratic means.

That's working out really well, isn't it? Good thing we have corporate influence under control and the public can't consistently be manipulated to vote against their own self-interest.

Actually, I think I'm way off on that last sentence. But there sure is a lot of stuff to buy!
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:34 AM on February 14, 2011


Okay, so I didn't misrepresent you, then. I mean if you're advocating a violent revolution in America, then there's really no common ground to discuss further. I just wanted to get that clear, if that was the case.
posted by empath at 11:38 AM on February 14, 2011


Over what? Nearly everybody today is living better than they were 50 years ago.

I dare you to go yell that on a street corner in Sub-Saharan Africa. Or to say it to former agrarians living in a sprawling Asian or South American slum.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:38 AM on February 14, 2011


I mean if you're advocating a violent revolution in America, then there's really no common ground to discuss further. I just wanted to get that clear, if that was the case.

Jesus H. Christ. Is the Straw Man the only rhetorical device you know?

It's a big leap from stating that social change isn't going to happen in a reasonable timeframe through our democracy to advocating armed destruction of the system. But you know that.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:42 AM on February 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


empath: " Over what? Nearly everybody today is living better than they were 50 years ago."

You're moving the goalposts. Don't. Stick to the parameters established when you asked him the question, please. The time frame we're discussing is 100 years. Not 50. And we're talking about an improvement in living conditions as the direct result of a regime change due to a revolution. Not because conditions in a country happened to evolve over time.

The Russian revolution gave rise to the USSR. It certainly didn't improve living conditions for Russians. Not in the short or long run.
posted by zarq at 11:42 AM on February 14, 2011


The Russian revolution gave rise to the USSR. It certainly didn't improve living conditions for Russians. Not in the short or long run.

I think that's incorrect. The average Russian in 1960 was far better off than the average russian in 1910. I don't think that's because of the revolution, though.

I chose 50 years because the Cuban revolution happened 50 years ago.
posted by empath at 11:46 AM on February 14, 2011


England revolution: Cromwell
French revolution: Napoleon
Russian revolution: Stalin

So, there's that.
posted by angrycat at 11:48 AM on February 14, 2011


The Russian revolution gave rise to the USSR. It certainly didn't improve living conditions for Russians. Not in the short or long run.
posted by zarq at 11:42 AM on February 14 [+] [!]


cite please, unless by "Russian" you mean "urban elite".
posted by small_ruminant at 11:55 AM on February 14, 2011


Is the name "empath" suposed to be ironic?
posted by zippy at 11:56 AM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Russian revolution gave rise to the USSR. It certainly didn't improve living conditions for Russians.

Well, it certainly put tens of millions of them out of their misery (with a little help from Mr. Hilter).

NOTE TO ANTI-COMMUNISTS: the strength in your argument is not the part where you insist that everything sort of magically gets better for everybody in a free market economy.
posted by philip-random at 11:58 AM on February 14, 2011


>The Russian revolution gave rise to the USSR. It certainly didn't improve living conditions for Russians. Not in the short or long run.

I think that's incorrect. The average Russian in 1960 was far better off than the average russian in 1910. I don't think that's because of the revolution, though.


Actually, Trotsky demonstrated with figures and graphs in The Revolution Betrayed that the general standard of living rose for most Russians after the revolution. Notable exceptions were the nobility and wealthy landowners (obviously), and it's fairly well established that the more successful independent subsistence farmers suffered under collectivization. But the massive industrialization that the Soviets undertook lifted most of the people through access to new technologies and very, very improved infrastructure. Czarist Russia was a feudal nation that still had serfs and nearly no industrial base at the time of the revolution. Conditions had started improving 40 years before the Revolution (but stopped and regressed as WWI trashed the Russian economy) because of previous popular uprisings that had forced political and cultural reforms. But the change was absolutely unprecedented in its time and due in the most part to the new Soviet government.

Of course, Stalin was as qualified as an economist as I am a surgeon and the unrealistic, frankly insane quotas of Stalinization undid a lot of the good.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:04 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


....Can we go back to talking about wacky glass eyeball stories? That was more fun.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:05 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


There once was a man named Hilter
Mentioned today on Metafilter
His tale has no end
As the Limerick's Gowdwinned
posted by zippy at 12:06 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


They really should solve all these disputes through Dance Dance Revolution.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:12 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


He lived at the edge of the normal distribution of users. His leaving (if permanent) makes our scope a little narrower. That's a bad thing whether you share his views or not.

Also, I don't like to see Metatalk used as the equivalent of running to a parent or teacher because someone on the playground said something you don't like. These are just words on the internet, people...


The kind of tactics PG engaged in can be very effective in running people off of the site, something PG has bragged about doing in the past, and more frequently just getting the targeted people to stop participating in discussions on certain topics. This has the effect of limiting the range of opinion expressed on MetaFilter not broadening it.

The scope of political opinion and points of view on MetaFilter is pretty narrow and people like PG have played an active role in making sure it stays that way. PG and others have also been very active in trying to convince people they consider to be inferior, whose regional and occupational backgrounds identify them as "rednecks," that they aren't wanted on the site.

There are people on MeFi with opinions similar to PG's on many issues who don't do this.
posted by nangar at 12:13 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


The scope of political opinion and points of view on MetaFilter is pretty narrow and people like PG have played an active role in making sure it stays that way. PG and others have also been very active in trying to convince people they consider to be inferior, whose regional and occupational backgrounds identify them as "rednecks," that they aren't wanted on the site.

These are pretty serious charges. Are you speaking of how he presents himself in his comments, or are you suggesting there's something going on behind the scenes (via me-mail etc)?
posted by philip-random at 12:22 PM on February 14, 2011


SMOCK! SMOCK! SMOCK!
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 12:22 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


They really should solve all these disputes through Dance Dance Revolution.

Dance Dance Immolation
posted by small_ruminant at 12:26 PM on February 14, 2011


someone close to me left the site primarily because of PG (and Optimus)
/shrug. He really never got on my nerves until the YOU SHOULD DIE thing
posted by angrycat at 12:28 PM on February 14, 2011


Dance Dance Immolation

Yeah, that's the idea - like that Buddhist monk who set himself on fire for the Rage Against the Machine album cover.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:30 PM on February 14, 2011


nangar: " The kind of tactics PG engaged in can be very effective in running people off of the site, something PG has bragged about doing in the past..."

What? When and where?
posted by zarq at 12:37 PM on February 14, 2011


They really should solve all these disputes through Dance Dance Revolution.

If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your Dance Dance Revolution?

As Emma Goldman didn't say.
posted by DNye at 12:38 PM on February 14, 2011


Mayor Curley: "Actually, Trotsky demonstrated with figures and graphs in The Revolution Betrayed that the general standard of living rose for most Russians after the revolution. "

I stand corrected, and better educated. Thanks. :)
posted by zarq at 12:38 PM on February 14, 2011




The thread so far:

We must destroy Algeria in order to save it.
posted by Mister_A at 12:42 PM on February 14, 2011


Would I want to live in Cuba now? Hell no. Would I want to live in Cuba now as opposed to 1950? Absolutely. That's a successful revolution.

For some value of "successful," I suppose. I'd call it a failed revolution with some fortunately beneficial side effects. I mean, I guess if you were a Batista-era sugar cane laborer then it must be gratifying to know that your grandchildren aren't dying of malnutrition. But not so gratifying if you are a Cuban gay man who simply wants to live in peace, for instance, or if you are anyone else who wants to have the political and intellectual freedoms revolutions are supposed to deliver. So let's call that the best case for violent revolution over the last century. Is it better than dying in poverty and oppression? Well, yeah. But I don't know that I'd want to call it "successful." YMMV.

Trotsky demonstrated with figures and graphs in The Revolution Betrayed that the general standard of living rose for most Russians after the revolution.

And 9 out of 10 American CEOs will tell you, figures and graphs don't lie!
posted by octobersurprise at 12:45 PM on February 14, 2011


If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your Dance Dance Revolution?

When the Dance Dance Revolution comes, you'll be the first up against the wall.

The Wall of SOUND!
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:51 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am all for the Cuban revolution, because the Baristas who were exiled to the US brought with them a really awesome ristretto.
posted by zippy at 1:16 PM on February 14, 2011


For some value of "successful," I suppose. I'd call it a failed revolution with some fortunately beneficial side effects. I mean, I guess if you were a Batista-era sugar cane laborer then it must be gratifying to know that your grandchildren aren't dying of malnutrition. But not so gratifying if you are a Cuban gay man who simply wants to live in peace, for instance, or if you are anyone else who wants to have the political and intellectual freedoms revolutions are supposed to deliver.

Unfortunately, the situation after the revolution is mostly a story of external pressures and Castro's reaction to them. After the revolution, the US offered aid to Cuba but it was a pretty disingenuous offer because Batista had been an American prop-up and interference from US companies were a large part of the wealth disparity that caused the revolution in the first place. For example, United Fruit was Cuba's largest landowner and the private owner of the majority of the country's railroads. The aid offer was basically contingent on allowing US companies continued, unimpeded access to the Cuban economy and designed to ensure that United Fruit and other US companies' property claims weren't nationalized. And the implicit alternative was "If you say 'no,' then we, the world's largest economy will not trade with you and we will do our best to force our other trading partners to avoid you as well."

So Castro had two, shitty options: Not change the situation he had just risked his life to turn over and essentially become another Batista, or watch his country wither and die like an unwatered plant unless he accepted Soviet aid. So he took the Soviet aid.

No one can see into Castro's head and know if he always secretly imagined himself as an absolute dictator, but the broad initial reforms he made and the continued efforts to provide health and education to his citizens suggest at least to me that he had higher ideals than that. Especially in the first few years. But the constant US intervention (CIA sabotage and secret funding of insurrection) and Soviet imposition of a Kremlin-style central economy pretty much ensured that the regime wasn't going to be able to extend civil liberties or else the US would just force it's way back in and resume exploiting it and it would have been like the revolution never happened.

I reiterate-- we can't draw any conclusions about how things WOULD have turned out if the US hadn't done it's best to destabilize the Castro regime-- this might have been the track that Fidel wanted all along, or would have turned to as power corrupted him. But we don't know that because the US reaction heavily dictated the narrative of this story.

And 9 out of 10 American CEOs will tell you, figures and graphs don't lie!

There are some tangible, direct benefits that the Soviets brought that are hard to argue with. For example, building dedicated, closed sewers and fresh water plumbing is healthier than neighborhoods shitting in collective pits near their own drinking water.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:21 PM on February 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


> Are you speaking of how he presents himself in his comments ... ?

I'm totally speaking of how he presents himself in his comments. When I said he's bragged about running people off of the site I was referring to comments he's made in a couple of MetaTalk threads since I've been here (a little over a year). I guess I could dig them up - I pretty sure I favorited them - but I'm not sure that would be cool with mods.

There've been a couple of MetaTalk threads discussing whether "rednecks" should be allowed to participate on the site (where "redneck" = basically anybody from the South or Midwest of the US, otherwise from a rural area, or who holds a working class job or works in skilled trade), with a significant minority arguing that rednecks should not be allowed on the site because they're all low-class inbred bigots. Personal attacks on people accusing them of being 'inbred retarded white-trash racist homophobic rednecks,' often based simply on what state the person is from, are ubiquitous on MetaFilter, but seem to have died down a bit in the last few months. PG has engaged in lot of these kinds of attacks.

I'm not suggesting that there's any kind of conspiracy going on other than what been explicitly stated by people openly engaged in bullying.

> What? When and where?

Yeah, I guess I should dig that up.
posted by nangar at 1:24 PM on February 14, 2011


> but I'm not sure that would be cool with mods.

It's ok to post comment histories here, especially when you are making accusations like that.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:31 PM on February 14, 2011


Just to clarify:

Almost all revolutions have really mixed results. Non-violent revolutions tend to make reconstruction easier and avoid the biggest risk to everyday civilians: civil war. Non-violent revolutions also tend to make full political participation easier, with metrics like electoral fairness and lawful change of power increased.

Cuba's an exception, and just as a lot of their suffering can be blamed on the American embargo (that all right-thinking people oppose), a lot of their success comes from Soviet support. Similar revolutionary efforts throughout Latin America, with many of them based on the Cuban model, proved the limited generalization power of the Cuban revolution.

The Cuban revolution had very little state institutions to contend with, and great foreign support for reinventing state institutions along the Soviet model.

But, y'know, I'm not going to cry when Raul (or his kid or whatever) gets the hook — he's fundamentally betraying the promise of the revolution through his reliance on Soviet "permanent revolution" ideology, in which dissidents are state enemies.

Politically and economically successful revolutions are incredibly rare, and failed revolutions turning out worse for pretty much everybody is much more common, which means that advocates of revolution should at the very least acknowledge that, and be open about the fact that violence in revolution makes the resulting country less likely to succeed in those metrics in the long run. This doesn't mean that revolution is bad, or that violence within revolutions is always unnecessary, but it's riskier and can leave things significantly worse, and is maybe not the most sensitive thing to recommend for places you don't live with cultures you don't know.
posted by klangklangston at 1:44 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Personal attacks on people accusing them of being 'inbred retarded white-trash racist homophobic rednecks,' often based simply on what state the person is from, are ubiquitous on MetaFilter,"

Dude, that's, like, Mayor Curley complaining about Maine, where he lives.
posted by klangklangston at 1:53 PM on February 14, 2011


Judging from my travels, that's not exactly a region-specific insult.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:54 PM on February 14, 2011


Mayor Curley does not live in Maine. We've been trying to keep the redneck-hate and the region-specific stereotyping down here, but it's always a bit of a challenge.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:58 PM on February 14, 2011


pretty much ensured that the regime wasn't going to be able to extend civil liberties or else the US would just force it's way back in and resume exploiting it and it would have been like the revolution never happened.

Exigencies of the revolution, comrade. Funny how this happens so frequently. All those dissidents and gay men jailed decades after the revolution, why they could be CIA!

I won't argue that the US didn't, hasn't, doesn't still treat Cuba abominably, but that still doesn't make the Cuban revolution less of a failure at actualizing those "higher ideals" that may have been in Fidel's head, which is the only point I'm making here. I won't disagree either with the assertion that there were some beneficial side effects to most of violent revolutions of the 20th century, however unpleasant the regimes were that followed. But you can't call any of them a "success" unless you're willing to entirely ignore the importance of those "higher ideals."
posted by octobersurprise at 1:59 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]




When I said he's bragged about running people off of the site I was referring to comments he's made in a couple of MetaTalk threads since I've been here (a little over a year)

Now that I think about it, I do recall a META-thread (none-too-distant) where Mr. Guilty and various others were going after a particular certain somebody for the alleged bigotry inherent in their fundamentalist religious beliefs, and really not wanting to let it go. They wanted that person OFF the site, permanently.

My take on it was, ugly as it sounded, it was not an unhealthy thing: people speaking their minds, their frustrations, their loathing within the context of a moderated thread. In the end, as far as I remember, nothing in particular was decided and most (if not all) of those involved (on both sides) are still around Metafilter. And I think the community's stronger for it.

Metafilter is a darned interesting nation state. It has very few laws but it definitely has some, and if you break them in the wrong way, you get banished, sometimes for good. Fortunately, there is no law here yet against being WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.
posted by philip-random at 2:14 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mayor Curley does not live in Maine. We've been trying to keep the redneck-hate and the region-specific stereotyping down here, but it's always a bit of a challenge.

Thank you for the correction, jessamyn. I hope that's not a suggestion that I've been engaging in regional stereotyping recently because I have been careful to avoid doing it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:15 PM on February 14, 2011


Nope, just two answers in two different sentences. Now if I had used s semi-colon....
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:16 PM on February 14, 2011


Politically and economically successful revolutions are incredibly rare, and failed revolutions turning out worse for pretty much everybody is much more common, which means that advocates of revolution should at the very least acknowledge that, and be open about the fact that violence in revolution makes the resulting country less likely to succeed in those metrics in the long run.

Well, that was fairly sensible.

This thread needs more Reg Shoe.

Also, to my mind Ireland's a more interesting example of a successful violent --- heck, arguable terrorism-spurred --- revolution than Cuba, because the Cold War power structure fomented revolutionaries of all stripes as cat's paws, and it's difficult to make absolute arguments about whether violence is more or less likely to contribute to success when the question of outside sponsorship weighs so heavily on the scales.
posted by Diablevert at 2:18 PM on February 14, 2011




Getting Richard Nixon to resign the presidency is a coup in anyones book. At least Miguel liked that joke.

Metafilter is a darned interesting nation state
yes, the 2006 'Moratorium Apostrophe' was a hallmark for Plurality.
posted by clavdivs at 2:53 PM on February 14, 2011


PG seems like an all right guy, but I'd like it if he realized that rejecting the ethos of fundamentalist Christianity and wingnuts of all stripes does not make it okay to take on their rhetorical tactics. To me, a very small part of the problem with these people is that they are wrong, and the much larger problem is their propensity toward acting like assholes. I've long had the feeling that PG thinks that being right ("right") makes it okay for him to act like an asshole, and that the behavior of these people isn't really the problem, but rather their wrongness -- like, if they only thought as he did, then it would be okay for them to be as rabid and raving as they pleased. Like I said, for me, I don't really give a shit what you believe, so long as you have the courtesy not to beat me about the head with it. The way he often interacts with the site would, I think, have won him many fewer admirers if he were a Bill O'Reillian and not just a left-leaning guy who acts like one a lot of the time. Anyhow, I hope he manages to flush all that crap out of his system before he comes back.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:31 PM on February 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


The way he often interacts with the site would, I think, have won him many fewer admirers if he were a Bill O'Reillian and not just a left-leaning guy who acts like one a lot of the time.

Just pretend that all of his statements in that thread were made in 2003 in favor of the Iraq War, it's a pretty easy shift. They were the most noxious arguments made by the neoconservatives in the lead up to the iraq war -- that is, if you don't support the war, you support Saddam, you're a traitor, you support dictatorship, and so on. It's the same 'with us or against us', 'ends justify the means' mentality of George Bush.
posted by empath at 4:47 PM on February 14, 2011


it's difficult to make absolute arguments about whether violence is more or less likely to contribute to success when the question of outside sponsorship weighs so heavily on the scales.

Yes. Klang said earlier that no other Central or South American revolution managed to successfully follow Cuba's model, but my amateur reading of that history is that the US (CIA) managed to successfully sabotage & overthrow any popular uprising or government there, if it had even a hint of socialistic policy, like land redistribution or socialisation of any industry.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:50 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Supposition predicated upon pretending George Bush has true mentality.
really, it's like the Mutton being served, the back-drop, this.
posted by clavdivs at 4:56 PM on February 14, 2011


but my amateur reading of that history is that the US (CIA) managed to successfully sabotage & overthrow any popular uprising or government there

It's not even just the CIA. It's the State Department. It's presidents like Nixon. Even major US corporations get in on the disruption as was the case in Chile with ITT tapping their phone lines, starting a propaganda newspaper and more. ITT owned a controlling stake in Chile's telco/media conglomerate and were instrumental in supporting Pinochet.

It's not crazy hand-waving conspiracy, it's fact. It's in the history books. It's taught and researched in political science. You can find it all over the net and in any decent library.

Chomsky may be hard to listen to, but the man knows what he's talking about when it comes to US imperialism. We're guilty as sin with regards to meddling in the affairs of other countries, especially central and south America.

But the vast majority of the US doesn't even want to talk about it or know it even exists. Because we're supposed to be the good guys or something. It's totally foreign to the carefully cultivated worldview of most US citizens. We just don't do that.

But we do. And have. And we will again.
posted by loquacious at 5:14 PM on February 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


empath: Just pretend that all of his statements in that thread were made in 2003 in favor of the Iraq War, it's a pretty easy shift. They were the most noxious arguments made by the neoconservatives in the lead up to the iraq war -- that is, if you don't support the war, you support Saddam, you're a traitor, you support dictatorship, and so on. It's the same 'with us or against us', 'ends justify the means' mentality of George Bush.

I see what you mean, but I see one significant difference: we aren't invading any place. If the people of Iraq rose up against Saddam on their own, I would have supported them; my opposition to the invasion wasn't because I loved Saddam or thought he should rule Iraq, it was just clear that us invading wasn't going to make anything better. In this case, we aren't invading, so the people should be supported while they (hopefully) try to make things better.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:14 PM on February 14, 2011


We're guilty as sin with regards to meddling in the affairs of other countries, especially central and south America.

Correct.

In addition, Abimeal Guzman was and is a vicious, vicious bastard and the FARC at this point are no better and little different from the Medellin, though they lack the style points to import any hippopotami. All these things are true in this best of all possible worlds.
posted by Diablevert at 6:26 PM on February 14, 2011


I see what you mean, but I see one significant difference: we aren't invading any place. If the people of Iraq rose up against Saddam on their own, I would have supported them; my opposition to the invasion wasn't because I loved Saddam or thought he should rule Iraq, it was just clear that us invading wasn't going to make anything better. In this case, we aren't invading, so the people should be supported while they (hopefully) try to make things better.

Well, I also supported the hell out of the Egyptians, and the method of revolution they chose. But I don't, generally, support violent, armed revolution if there is any other choice. Just because all you are doing is replacing one group of despots with another 90% of the time.
posted by empath at 6:34 PM on February 14, 2011


I mean look at what the Egyptian organizers had to do -- they had to form consensus, make compromises, get Christians and Muslims to guard each other during prayer, settle on consensus leadership like El Baradei, convince their fellow men and the world of the rightness of their cause and so on... compared to what you have to do to have a successful armed revolution, which is get a lot of bombs and guns and smash the state. You don't need to convince anyone that your cause is just, you just need to terrify people until they flee to your protection.

Just because non-violent revolution is so difficult, it almost guarantees that a successful one will have popular support and international legitimacy, because if they don't, it will fail. There's absolutely no guarantee that an armed revolution that topples a government will have either.
posted by empath at 6:38 PM on February 14, 2011


In fact, there's no guarantee that an armed revolution will even have ANY domestic support because it could just as easily be initiated and financed by outside forces, as the united states and soviet union both did during the cold war.
posted by empath at 6:39 PM on February 14, 2011


You guys realize it's goddamned Valentine's Day don't you? So make with the hugs before midnight wherever you happen to be. And remember, if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.
posted by Sailormom at 6:41 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


South Africa was a peaceful handover of power, but the ANC waged a paramilitary battle against hte apartheid state for years, through it's armed wing, MK. Nelson Mandela was a founding member of MK.

Also, although the Indian struggle for independence coalesced around Gandhi, there were numerous armed opponents of the British regime, often referred to as "freedom fighters" by modern Indian nationals. An example of this would be S.B. Bose. It is my understanding that Bose and many of the other armed insurgents were jailed many times, and this is the reason that modern Indian politics still accepts it when imprisoned criminals stand for public office.
posted by wuwei at 7:04 PM on February 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


* S.C. Bose.
posted by wuwei at 7:05 PM on February 14, 2011


Yes, Gandhi gets all the attention but Netaji (roughly, "leader" with the honorific "-ji" suffix) Subhashchandra Bose had a strong following, and to this day you will often see his portrait hung with pride of place, alongside Gandhi's.

While Gandhi's followers were all about passive resistance, being beaten with lathis & imprisoned, Netaji encouraged Indian army units to mutiny, and even led an Indian rebel army against the allies, alongside the Japanese.

My belief is that the WWII-weakened British feared another armed conflict just as much as they feared the negative PR from Gandhiji's campaign, so Netaji's influence was as a kind of standover man, looming in the shadows behind Gandhi's back.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:20 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Now that I think about it, I do recall a META-thread (none-too-distant) where Mr. Guilty and various others were going after a particular certain somebody for the alleged bigotry inherent in their fundamentalist religious beliefs ...

I was thinking of the same thread.

The comment I was remembering was evidently this one.

I believe that people who make shitty posts should be the target of nastiness directed at them in connection to those posts; either they'll go "hey, I'm being treated like a dick because I'm acting like a dick" and change or they'll fuck off somewhere else and stop shitting up Metafilter with bigotry and nastiness. The first is preferable, obviously, but since my primary goal in such interactions is a Metafilter that isn't being shat up with bigotry and nonsense, the second's fine as well.

I simply don't see how it's a loss when somebody who posts garbage decides they don't want to post here anymore.


It's not quite as bad as I remembered.
posted by nangar at 8:13 PM on February 14, 2011


We've been trying to keep the redneck-hate and the region-specific stereotyping down here, but it's always a bit of a challenge.

I appreciate it.
posted by nangar at 8:15 PM on February 14, 2011


you missed the rest of that comment where he admits he is unable to separate people's beliefs from their value as human beings:

I do not share the apparently common belief that you can assess a person outside of their beliefs. We are what we believe and what we do. A person with reprehensible beliefs who supports those beliefs engages in reprehensible actions, and a person with reprehensible beliefs and reprehensible actions is a reprehensible person.
posted by empath at 8:33 PM on February 14, 2011


Yeah, nuance isn't really, like, a thing with PG.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:35 PM on February 14, 2011


You guys realize it's goddamned Valentine's Day don't you? So make with the hugs before midnight wherever you happen to be. And remember, if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.

I really, really don't need or want to be reminded that I'm single on Valentines, and that I'm likely to remain single for most of my life because apparently I'm too weird, too different or too intense for pretty much anyone I've ever been attracted to.

Seriously, I hate this fucking holiday. I'm supposed to be at an anti-VD party at an art loft for single losers like me, but no one was there.
posted by loquacious at 9:36 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did you remember to send out the invitations?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:46 PM on February 14, 2011


Uburovias, I remember reading that there are declassified reports filed by Auchinleck, to the effect that the Indian Army was on the verge of total mutiny as a result of the Red Fort trial of some of Bose's officers. As the Royal Indian Army and Navy were no longer politically reliable, the Raj could no longer maintain its position of supremacy over the subcontinent.
posted by wuwei at 10:20 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]



South Africa was a peaceful handover of power
I asked the same question to Dennis Brutus about a "peaceful handover", and I tell you what he told me "full of shite" not a peaceful handover.
posted by clavdivs at 11:05 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Balloons for everyone that practices their expository writing skills in metafilter, well done!
posted by clavdivs at 11:08 PM on February 14, 2011


"I really, really don't need or want to be reminded that I'm single on Valentines, and that I'm likely to remain single for most of my life because apparently I'm too weird, too different or too intense for pretty much anyone I've ever been attracted to."

It's OK. We love you. Just rub your penis on the screen.
posted by klangklangston at 11:12 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't rub your penis on the screen, it'll leave smears and fuck up the anti-glare coating.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:40 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unless it's an iPhone screen. It was designed for that sort of use.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:42 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's an app for that!
posted by klangklangston at 11:46 PM on February 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


loquacious: "...an anti-VD party...."

Just remember: A Minute with Venus, A Year with Mercury!

Oh wait... you meant... uh... nevermind
posted by zarq at 2:17 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really, really don't need or want to be reminded that I'm single on Valentines, and that I'm likely to remain single for most of my life because apparently I'm too weird, too different or too intense for pretty much anyone I've ever been attracted to.

Ah loq it's ok. I said if you can't be with the one you love, love the one your with which is totally all about masturbation for people like you and me. I've been single going on seven years now. The first 4 by choice, the last 3 or so because my daughter won't let me date. And even if she would, I wouldn't know how to anymore.

So love yourself. We all love you here on Metafilter, that's for sure.
posted by Sailormom at 4:02 AM on February 15, 2011


Happy Buy Yourself Half-Price Chocolate Day! February 15th is when the real holiday begins. :D
posted by Jacqueline at 4:06 AM on February 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm late to the Central American revolutions part of the conversation but I'd just like to point out that the 1948 revolution and civil war in Costa Rica led to Costa Rica abolishing its army altogether and becoming not only a shining beacon of democracy but one of the most prosperous countries in the region. They have a literacy rate of 95%, a longer life expectancy than the US, and Costa Rica has been named by various surveys and studies as the happiest country in the world, the most ecologically friendly country in the world, etc.

I was there for their 2006 elections and what an amazing experience that was! I caught a cab and asked the driver where I could go to see some of the election day festivities and he gave me an impromptu half-day guided tour of the capital and narrated history of Costa Rican politics. He even got me into one of the polling places and the pollworker showed me all around and explained their voting process. (I think they mistook me for some sort of journalist.) And the streets were a wild party everywhere, banners and honking and people waving flags in their party's colors. Everyone I talked to was so proud of their country and their democratic process. We USAians have nothing on Costa Ricans when it comes to fervent passion for democracy!

So sometimes it ends well.

I wish we had a better understanding of why things went so differently in Costa Rica and how to replicate their experience elsewhere.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:33 AM on February 15, 2011


My understanding is that the army and the church were on the losing side of the Costa Rican civil war: that may explain some of their experience.
posted by timeistight at 9:31 AM on February 15, 2011


Re: Costa Rica

Costa Rica's a weird case, in that the government wasn't all that repressive (though it was fraudulent), the army was mainly controlled by communists, and the church was represented by liberation Catholics. The US supported the rebels as anti-communists, but as the right wing attempted a subsequent coup after the initial civil war (which was a relatively small one), the right wing was excluded from the subsequent governance, leaving the social democrat faction as the one still standing. They then had support of the US, both economically and militarily, but didn't have the right wing government that usually came with that support in the '40s. The main atypical thing that happened was that the leader of the coup actually did step down and return power to the civilian government, which was incredibly lucky for a revolution.

I had forgotten all about Costa Rica, but it is pretty much the only instance I can think of where US meddling had exactly the outcome everyone hoped for.
posted by klangklangston at 10:29 AM on February 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


"...the church was represented by liberation Catholics."

Ah, that right there explains a lot. I'd noticed that Costa Rica did Catholicism a lot differently (and IMO better) than elsewhere but I didn't know what the actual difference was.

Thanks for the history lesson!
posted by Jacqueline at 11:05 AM on February 15, 2011


It may be more that the Liberation theologists elsewhere were executed. These priests, as we all know, generally ignored the "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" principle, and were actively involved in left wing "revolutionary" movements, on the side of the people (especially the indigenous, and farmers, who were often one and the same) against the landowners & urban power elites.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:47 PM on February 15, 2011


It may be more that the Liberation theologists elsewhere were executed.

Liberation Theology priests had a huge influence in Nicaragua as well, and Nicaragua's decent for the region. Ernesto Cardenal, a Liberation priest, was Minister of Culture for a while and took a lot of heat from the Vatican over his association with the movement. He's also a wonderful poet and one of my personal heroes.

They certainly were persecuted in El Salvador (and the Contra-controlled areas of Nicaragua), and shot with weapons and ammo provided by the Reagan administration.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:46 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Vive Romero!
posted by clavdivs at 10:13 AM on February 16, 2011


Hi Clavdivs,
You're right , I should have said "comparatively peaceful." I heard F.W. DeKlerk interviewed (on the radio) once. He said that there came a point where the heads of his security services thought the could stop the rise of the ANC but that it would have been more blood on this hands than he wanted to bear. So he said no. And they handed over power to the ANC. Maybe that's just his post hoc rationalization.

Regarding Portugal, I read an interview recently (no link, sorry, I tried to find it for the last few days but I can't) with a former Communist party leader. Recently it has come out that he met with a rightist general right before the handover, and worked out a deal-- the Communist party had already distributed weapons and was willing to start a civil war. The Communists agreed to come in from the cold and forgo violence as long as the new provisional government legalized the Communist party and allowed for free elections.

So yeah, it wasn't a violent revolution in Portugal, but it certainly seems a lot like the situation Uburovias described of a standover man in the background.
posted by wuwei at 4:50 PM on February 16, 2011


"These are pretty serious charges. Are you speaking of how he presents himself in his comments, or are you suggesting there's something going on behind the scenes (via me-mail etc)?"

Just to answer somebody's question, he (and maybe 1 or 2 others) is pretty much why I always saw any claim to metafilter being a place open to any views outside of Western liberalism as pretty laughable. Yes, he, as an individual, was often times rude and heavy handed, but the main thing was that very few, if any mefites, told him to cool it. Instead he'd get favorited. If anybody wonders why the political threads are an echo chamber, well, there's one reason.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:30 AM on February 20, 2011


very few, if any mefites, told him to cool it.

...By "told him to cool it," do you mean "told him to shut up"? Because I know I often raised dissent against what he said, but I didn't tell him to shut up, in so many words.

Because the idea behind Metafilter isn't to squelch conversation as such, and I don't believe in squelching anyone's statements. I do believe in protesting them like hell, but I don't believe in not letting anyone say them.

So you may not find many people telling him to shut up -- but I think you'll find others telling him "that's an offensive thing to say."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:33 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Empress--i mean cool it-- as in "stop being an ass".

Yeah...maybe you and others told him as much, but if it happened in a political thread, I have seen very little of this, if at all. Instead if anyone dare objects they conveniently become fodder for a pile on. It's ludicrous.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 9:40 AM on February 20, 2011


Instead if anyone dare objects they conveniently become fodder for a pile on. It's ludicrous.

I've definitely seen this happen here. But I've also seen such pile-ons called out and taken to META where the issue gets hashed out, sometimes to satisfactory resolution, sometimes not.

If your argument is that MetaFilter, in spite of claims to overall openness on all things, tends toward a left, liberal, "progressive" bias which sometimes gets wielded as a sledgehammer, that's hard to argue. But if you're suggesting that there's no consciousness of this, that there's no effort (sometimes successful) made to address this tendency, I have to disagree.

Or more to the point, find me another site that moves as freely and as fast Metafilter sometimes does that's even as remotely as "fair".
posted by philip-random at 12:51 PM on February 20, 2011


If your argument is that MetaFilter, in spite of claims to overall openness on all things, tends toward a left, liberal, "progressive" bias which sometimes gets wielded as a sledgehammer, that's hard to argue.

Oh this, definitely.

I would easily say reddit. It seems to me most of the users don't feel the need to drive a point into the ground or tell other users to get the fuck off the site, in so many words. The non-Western-liberal points I've seen, if stated in a reasonable manner, don't usually get downvoted to oblivion (here they just bring out the pitchforks.)

I've seen more political points of view there that don't fit in any particular category (and far more that are outside of US and Europe). Here I've seen very little of anything other than the standard Western liberal viewpoint, in terms of politics. Which is what most of the users seem to prefer (or the most vocal ones, anyways) so maybe it's not really a problem. The only problem I see is when a few users claim this place is open to discussing political (and religious) issues. It truly isn't, and is probably one of the least open forums I've seen.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:05 PM on February 20, 2011


It truly isn't, and is probably one of the least open forums I've seen.

It's extremely harsh on divergent political opinions that aren't well articulated. If you can sincerely make a point and cite some support, or at least articulate why you believe what you believe, then I think it's more accepting.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:02 PM on February 22, 2011


if it happened in a political thread, I have seen very little of this, if at all.

Ah. I tend to be more vocal in religious threads, rather than political ones. (I think the most i've contributed to a political thread was to remind people that "third parties do exist in the country, really").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:43 PM on February 22, 2011


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