"Are we political allies, or enemies?" is rather orthogonal to that - your political allies are those whose actions support your goals and your political enemies are those whose actions hurt your goals.

For example, a powerful and popular extreme radical member of the "opposite" camp that has conclusions that you disagree with, uses methods you disagree with, and is generally toxic and spewing hate - that's often a prime example of your political ally whose actions incite the moderate members of society to start supporting you and focusing on your important issues instead of something else. The existance of such a pundit is important to you, you want them to keep doing what their do and have their propaganda actions be successful up to a point. I won't go into examples of particular politicians/parties of various countries, that gets dirty quickly, but many strictly opposed radical groups are actually allies in this sense against the majority of moderates; and sometimes they actively coordinate and cooperate despite the ideological differences.

On the other hand, a public speaker that targets the same audience as you do, shares the same goals/conslusions that you do, and the intended methods to achieve it, but simply does it consistently poorly - by using sloppy arguments that alienate part of the target audience, or by disgusting personal behavior that hurts the image of your organization. That's a good example of a political enemy, one that you must work to silence, to get them ignored and not heard; despite being "aligned" with your conclusions.

And of course, a political competitor that does everything that you want to do but holds a chair/position that you want for yourself, is also a political enemy. Infighting inside powerful political groups is a normal situation, and when (and if) it goes to public, very interesting political arguments appear to distinguish one from their political enemy despite sharing most of the platform.

Allies are those who agree to cooperate with you. An alliance may be temporary, limited in scope, and subject to conditions, but in the end it's all about cooperation. A stupid enemy who makes mistakes certainly benefits your cause and is a useful tool, but he's no ally.

9Vaniver5y! That's not how other humans interpret "alliance," and using language like that is a recipe for social disaster. This is a description of convenience. Allies are people that you will sacrifice for and they will sacrifice for you. The NAACP may benefit from the existence of Stormfront, but imagine the fallout from a fundraising letter that called them the NAACP's allies! Whether or not someone is an ally or an enemy depends on the context. As the saying goes, "I against my brother, and I and my brother against my cousins, I and my brother and my cousins against the world"--the person that has the same preferences as you, and thus competes with you for the same resources, is potentially an enemy in the local scope but is an ally in broader scopes.

Rationality Quotes Thread March 2015

by Vaniver 1 min read2nd Mar 2015235 comments


Another month, another rationality quotes thread. The rules are:

  • Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)
  • Do not quote yourself.
  • Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so here.
  • No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.
  • Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.