HAROLD WASHINGTON LIBRARY
6TH FLOOR NORTH STUDY ROOM
** BYO SNACKS **
LONG FORM TOPIC PROPOSAL
The goal of this discussion is to answer a very specific question that seems to come up frequently: is it OK to punch a Nazi? But more pragmatically: what are the effects of punching a Nazi?
This question is a stand-in for a more serious question about communication. Some people think it's a important to communicate angrily, loudly, adversarily, essentially as if we're in a war with the other side, because we have to win. Some people advocate civil discourse, because they think that adversarial communication is counter-productive, pushing the sides further apart and making things worse The first people counter that silence validates and supports oppression. The second people counter there is something between silence and war. And so forth quite ad nauseum.
This is my poor summary of a frequently recurring argument with, I think, very real practical implications. So please bring your own versions of the debate.
I suspect that a lot of rationalists will favor the civil-discourse side, so I want to give a bit of a boost to the other side so that we carefully consider both possible answers. Social movement theory (history) suggests that change often occurs only after violence, and that changing social conventions in particular requires being disruptive and making people uncomfortable. I.e., people need to be pushed past their tipping point: an equilibrium cannot be exited slowly. It's the revolution vs evolution problem. Malcom X vs MLK. There is really no easy answer.
I couldn't find any rationalist-sphere readings on this specific topic, so the readings I recommend for this discussion deal with polarization and conflict more generally.