There are many definitions of "dialectic." Plato thought only educated men talking to each other about ideas can reach an ever-higher level of understanding of True Being. More specifically for Plato and his followers, it was the process of defining terms and ideas and how they interrelate and have to do with One ultimate idea, which emanates from an Ideal World of Perfect Forms. Dialectic was spotted being used in English in the 14th century, in a sense that we would now call "logic." It had migrated rather scholastically into the art of discussion and debate, or argument...among school-churchmen who assumed Aristotle and the Bible were the ultimate wellsprings of Truth. <cough>
Plato, looking stoned, from file photos. This was obviously after a night on the town. The wine
those guys drank was ultra-strong, and who knows what drugs were used for
the Eleusinian Mysteries. Man, I've heard of bloodshot eyes, but whiteshot eyes?
Sometime around the early 18th century, in or near present-day Germany, the term dialectic began to be discussed in terms of contradictions and disputes not only in discussions but in "reality." I will not go into an excursion of the term in Kant, Hegel, and Marx. I am using the term in this particular blog post in a rather grandiose way that persnickety scholars might call debased, but aside from that I mean something like: clashes of political ideas in late 2011 Unistat between what I consider people in what one George W. Bush official told journalist Ronald Suskind was the "reality-based community,"(Suskind's) and...whatever the Birthers and right wing billionaires/Americans For Prosperity and Heritage Foundation and Tea Party rank-and-file and John Birch Society, et.al call their "reality."
(I'm guessing they'd call their "reality" the One True Reality, but that's only a guess, and I am being unfair in lumping all those people together, as no doubt we will find at times substantial differences among all those who'd self-identify with one of more of those groups. They all seem to hate Obama, though.)
First up: A wonderful post from earlier today by a Maryland-based blogger-colleague of mine, Annabel Lee, denizen of the reality-based community, who tells us of her surprising experience at a Tea Party rally in Durham, North Carolina very recently. There's also something not-very-surprising. In the context of dialectic this speaks to a down-and-dirty overall story about the current state of beastly mundane and debased political discourse in Unistat, late 2011:
When a Liberal Visits a Tea Party Rally,What Happens? from Annabel Lee's razor-sharp blog Double Dip Politics. Of all the dialectical clashes in this OG post, this one from DDP contains a kernel of hope for something truly revolutionary: Occupyers and Tea Partiers (and those cheering for either group, from the sidelines) making common cause. (Note I said a "kernel.")
Co-Founder of the Yippies, self-described Investigative Satirist Paul Krassner.
He did LSD with, among others and at different times, Groucho Marx and
Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme. Read his books!
Next up: Somehow Playboy got Paul Krassner and Andrew Breitbart into a conversation. It seems to me the more one knows about Breitbart and Krassner the more fascinating this exchange seems, but all I'm perhaps biased because I know Krassner's books, his biography, his history so well, and I love him. Krassner's one of my favorite Unistatians of the 20th century, born in 1931, if memory serves, and the founder of The Realist, and by dint of that, often introduced as "The Father of the Counterculture,"or "Father of the Underground press," for which he'd always yell out, "I demand a paternity test!" All I know of Breitbart is his appearances on TV, and he just seems like another Angry White Male with deep emotional issues. There's my bias. At any rate: primo dialectico!...but are the two of them really trying to get to the truth? Or uncover a new layer of truth? Your call...
Third - these things come in threes, as Pythagoras and Plato and Jeanne Dixon always asserted - comes what appears to be an editorial by Keith Olbermann, heaping vitriol on Michael Bloomberg while interspersing the castigation with ironic gratitude. There is a basic strong rhetorical style - immanent critique, comparisons, use of a thesaurus, clipped rhythms, about Olbermann. He's witty and angry and righteous and seems a justified heir to his broadcasting hero Murrow. (And Olbermann has a voice and seasoned telegenic mannerisms that shapes his rhetoric in a way that shouldn't be underestimated.) But within the context of dialectic please take Olbermann here and consider almost everything you see and hear tonally from the mainstream corporate electronic media about WHO the Occupiers are and what they want, and how the laws and Constitution comes into play. I invite you to consider this special comment-rant as a dialectic with, say, what Fox News is saying about the same situation:
I'm sure everything will work its way onward and upward, towards some Golden Mean of grace and empathic understanding and then we will All realize our common humanity and there will be no hungry, no homeless, no jobless, no health-insurance-less and everyone has access to World of Warcraft. Just as Plato and his dialectic said it would.