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You do not get moral results from immoral means
on March 13, 2014
The first thing I did when starting this review is to look at the price printed on the front cover — $1.95, and Amazon is asking $15.98 for a list price of $25.00? Is that right? I also don’t remember the pages of my copy being so tan colored.
There are many war stories in the book, and that’s what turned me off. If all you want to do is to get political power and you don’t care how you do it, these tactics can bear fruit. But watch out, in winning the battle, in the long run you can lose the war.
I read years ago a history about one town’s efforts to integrate where there was so much bitterness over the tactics used, that when finally one of the top prizes to be integrated, the public swimming pool, was to be opened, there was no public swimming pool. The battle was won, the order sent out to integrate the public pool, but the war lost because the pool was no more. This history is not recounted in the book.
On another level, these tactics can backfire. If you are one of those like me who has no political power and no desire to get it, where the main conflict is the battle of ideas, the most powerful weapons mentioned in the book and the ones most central in the war stories recounted in the book — ridicule and personalization — will cause you to lose the war. Those are the tactics to make personal enemies who will hinder efforts to get ideas accepted. Those tactics listed in the book are tactics of hate, dishonesty and depersonalization, but the acceptance of ideas demands that people be treated with honor and respect as persons, even when arguing against them, and the ideas presented honestly and truthfully.
The problem with ridicule is that central to ridicule is dishonesty, in short, lies. When a person is lied about in such a way as to make fun of him, there’s a special fury that results that he will do anything in his power to thwart the acceptance of your ideas.
The problem with personalization of the conflict is that the target is often put in a position where he is unable to come around and support your ideas. In other words, creating an enemy out of someone who could be an ally, or at least a neutral bystander.
The tactics listed in the book are tactics designed to get political power. But ideas are not politics. When ideas are imposed through political power, they often engender a backlash from below because “a person convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still” to use an old English proverb. When people are victimized by politically imposed ideas, that only makes martyrs that spread opposition to those ideas.
For those on the receiving end of such tactics, when the battle is one of ideas and not political power, they now count the use of such tactics as signs that they have won. Ridicule with its hate and dishonesty, shows that the one who uses ridicule has no sound counter ideas to the ones presented. Personalizing the argument as listed on page 130 of my copy of the book, and illustrated in the war stories following, is recognized for what it is, namely what is called a “red-herring logical fallacy” and its use only encourages people on the receiving end of such abuse, because again it’s a sign that the battle of ideas has been won and those who use such tactics have no good counter ideas.
Even in the acquisition of political power, many of the tactics work only if the enemy has a book of rules, the fourth tactic mentioned. Gandhi was successful only because his enemy was England, which had a book of rules. Had he gone against a Stalin who had no book of rules, the chances of him surviving long enough to do anything would have been about nil.
To give a personal experience of being on the receiving end of such abuse as listed in this book, there’s a reviewer going by the name “alberino” who has been attacking me as being a member of the Tea Party (I’ve had zero personal contact with this group, but have had personal contact with Occupy Wall Street), has lied about them being racist (contrary to news reports, used as a red herring logical fallacy to turn people’s attention away from the historic close connections between the Democrat Party and the KKK), he has repeatedly lied about me personally, but I’m encouraged by such tactics, because they show that “alberino” is morally and intellectually bankrupt, having no viable ideas to counter the ideas that I present.
In closing, I give the book only one star because of its narrow focus, namely the acquisition of political power, that it actually gives advice that hurts and is counter-indicated in other fields, such as the propagation of ideas. Secondly the tactics mentioned work only within societies that have books of rules that limit their reactions means that there are only few places in the world where they have a chance of working. I give the book only one star because in the end, the tactics used and illustrated in the book are immoral by their use of lies and personal attacks. I give the book one star because while the ideas presented in the book may work to get political power in the short run, in the long run they can lead to a reaction that hurts one’s cause more than it helps it.