Litkicks Message Board Archive


Posted to Poetry and Politics

when i read descartes 'meditations' a few years ago i was baffled when i realized that descartes sets out doubting his own existence and finally reaches the conclusion that god must exist. i won't get into the details. read the meditations yourself.

the point that i feel is important in the context of this discussion is the idea that for descartes everything begins with doubt, in his case with self-doubt. i believe that what is being confused with self-hatred here, is actually a questioning of so-called truths and certainties. to doubt 'absolute' values only reflects the knowledge that the world is more complex than categories of black and white can explain.

we seem to be living in a time when people are expected to either be for or against certain things. such positions can be portrayed in the media much easier. ambiguous opinions don't sell.

if the world starts to fall for a rhetoric that functions on the basis of 'you're either for or against us' then that is how the world will become. such a stance will divide this planet and not bring any peace. the lines along which such divisions can be envisioned are diverse. left-right, rich-poor, western-eastern, 1st world-3rd world, male-female, black-white, etc.

in the oed polemics are defined as 'the art of controversial discussion'. i believe that this 'art' is the basis of a democratic process of opinion-making. this means that it is the democratic duty of people to partake in such discussions. and to doubt and to criticize. who else, if not the people of a country or members of an ethnic group, are in a legitimate position to criticize their own country or group? this has little to do with self-hatred. calling this self-hatred is even dangerous. it is a pure disqualification of your opponent and demagogical self-aggrandizement. it just translates as : 'i'm not listening to you and i don't give a fuck about what you think'. democracy does not work like that. people can only live together if controversy is understood as the first step towards consensus. or if it results in the acceptance or tolerance of the other viewpoint.

i think the most important thing is that for the viewers/listeners of controversial discussions it must be possible to take a position in between. because that is where i suspect the majority of people stand. but such positions are much more difficult to explain: 'uhm, yeah, maybe, i don't know, ...'. you can't start a war feeling like that.