how to debate without seeming uninformed?

34 posts / 0 new
Last post
jbd5
Offline
Joined: 28-01-10
Jan 28 2010 20:37
how to debate without seeming uninformed?

in my school(im 16 years old) there are sadly many many BNP supporters and other views similar and when they ask me about politics and i answer that i am an anarchist communist they get all offensive and i try to stay civil and then it comes down to a conversational debate. They have pre written arguments and all follow the same patterns i could argue buyt they always close their minds and ask questions that arent easy to answer as they are so closed minded which is frustrating. my question is how can i talk with these majority (i am as far as i know the only anarchist in my area) without seeming naive and unintelligent?
thanks

arminius's picture
arminius
Offline
Joined: 11-08-06
Jan 28 2010 21:37

I'd say you can start by reading this:

http://libcom.org/library/what-is-anarchism-alexander-berkman

as well as some of the introductory stuff on Libcom

Good luck, you'll get better with practice.

jbd5
Offline
Joined: 28-01-10
Jan 28 2010 21:43

cheers dude

Yorkie Bar
Offline
Joined: 29-03-09
Jan 28 2010 22:13

Get the facts. If you're better informed than them, they probably still won't be convinced, but they'll definitely look bad. Libcom.org has an excellent library, and is a good place to start. What exactly are their "pre-written arguments" about?

This is a pretty good pamphlet on asylum-seekers/immigration, now somewhat dated but still useful.

This is a pamphlet published last year by the Anarchist Federation criticising nationalism in general.

You might also find these helpful:

http://libcom.org/tags/race
http://libcom.org/tags/british-national-party
http://libcom.org/tags/fascism

If you need anything else specific, just ask around or have a look through the library or elsewhere on the net; there's plenty of information out there showing categorically that the BNP's politics and those of their fellow travellers are utter shite.

~J.

JoeMaguire's picture
JoeMaguire
Offline
Joined: 26-09-03
Jan 28 2010 22:52

Most important thing is going to be your ability to develop a learning curve, ie lose an argument and develop your ideas in accordance to your short fallings. Otherwise good luck. Spent my youth dealing with some real racist fuckwits and that really ironed out the flaws in my thinking.

martinh
Offline
Joined: 8-03-06
Jan 28 2010 23:06

One useful thing would be to find some other anarchists and talk to them (and TBH not just anarchists - you can learn loads from people you disagree with but whose ideas and activities you respect).

If you live near an existing group get in touch with them and arrange to meet up, tell them you have questions and talk about the issues you are facing. Chances are they may have encountered similar arguments. Try and get along to discussions and other face to face meetings. Avoid ones where it's all business try and stick to ones where actual politics gets talked about.

You probably won't convince people at your school now, but it's still worth making the arguments because at some point those people may come to question what they believe. Many years ago we had a member in the DAM who had been an NF youth organiser. He told me that what changed him was an anarchist at his school who kept on arguing with him and didn't give up and write him off as a lost cause.

Good luck,

Regards,

Martin

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Jan 29 2010 10:47

hi, and welcome

One thing which often helps getting in arguments with people, rather than just theoretical knowledge, like some of the texts above, it is helpful in general to stay on top of current affairs.

From your political views, I imagine that you know how the mass media distorts or just makes up "facts " about various subjects, particularly immigration. So critically reading newspapers on a regular basis is very helpful, having a look across the spectrum from the Guardian to papers where probably your classmates are getting some of their views from, like The Sun.

a good leaflet rebuffing common myths about immigration is here:
http://libcom.org/library/you-are-being-lied-to-about-asylum-seekers

And like someone said above the anarchist Federation pamphlet against nationalism is a great one demolishing nationalism from a more ideological point of view.

If there are any arguments in particular that recur but you don't know how to respond to, do feel free to ask here, because some of us have probably come up against them as well

jbd5
Offline
Joined: 28-01-10
Feb 2 2010 19:59

their arguments are always along the lines of "if we were under an anarchist regime some people would go around hitting people around the heads with iron bars and eventually someone would get fed up with it and kill the person and then that persons family would kill them and eventually there would be a war" that was used against me today. or along the lines of the school in its assembly readings using statements like "that would be chaos or anarchy". "if a country was under anarchy we would be invaded and killed" all along these lines. or just abuse taking the lines of you believe in anarchism-you stupid idiot cant you see it will not work.

Yorkie Bar
Offline
Joined: 29-03-09
Feb 3 2010 13:30
Quote:
if we were under an anarchist regime some people would go around hitting people around the heads with iron bars and eventually someone would get fed up with it and kill the person and then that persons family would kill them and eventually there would be a war

Just explain to them that if someone behaved like that in an anarchist community they would be locked up or made to leave. We're anarchists, not idiots!

Quote:
if a country was under anarchy we would be invaded and killed

I don't see any reason why that would happen, unless they're talking about a sort of separate anarchist area surrounded by capitalist countries. And that'd never happen anyway.

gypsy
Offline
Joined: 20-09-09
Feb 3 2010 15:05
BigLittleJ wrote:
Quote:
if we were under an anarchist regime some people would go around hitting people around the heads with iron bars and eventually someone would get fed up with it and kill the person and then that persons family would kill them and eventually there would be a war

Just explain to them that if someone behaved like that in an anarchist community they would be locked up or made to leave. We're anarchists, not idiots!

Quote:
if a country was under anarchy we would be invaded and killed

I don't see any reason why that would happen, unless they're talking about a sort of separate anarchist area surrounded by capitalist countries. And that'd never happen anyway.

Kinda did happen during the spanish civil war?

jbd5
Offline
Joined: 28-01-10
Feb 3 2010 22:44

yes. but now teachers are involved. i have been told that communism is wrong and bad and kills millions. and that laws are definitely needed. that was by a teacher. a cease and desist if you will and that if i dont change my view i will not see another break or lunchtime. this was by a teacher who has nothing to do with me. why does this petty fear make me laugh so much the teacher in question is a history teacher

The Outlaw's picture
The Outlaw
Offline
Joined: 6-12-09
Feb 3 2010 22:57

Explain to that history teacher that communism hasn't existed....

Where do you live btw?

jbd5
Offline
Joined: 28-01-10
Feb 4 2010 08:04

powys, wales

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Feb 4 2010 08:58

Well a history teacher should know that 'communists' fought against libertarian communism in Spain. George Orwell wrote a famous account of the revolution there, and ended up being chased for his life by Stalinist secret police who were rounding up revolutionaries for execution. That said, knowing more than your teachers on their own subjects is a surefire way to get into trouble (speaking from experience wink ), so sometimes it's worth picking your battles. If it comes up in an assignment/essay, your best bet is to use extra references on top of your textbook. GCSE history is meant to teach you to be critical of sources and seek out opposing perspectives. The library in this site is full of good texts, and I'm sure people would make specific recommendations.

Yorkie Bar
Offline
Joined: 29-03-09
Feb 4 2010 11:51
jbd5 wrote:
i have been told that communism is wrong and bad and kills millions.

Tell them that what they mean by communism isn't what you mean; explain the difference between anarchist-communism and Stalinism.

jbd5 wrote:
and that laws are definitely needed.

Depends what you mean by laws, of course, but there's no reason there couldn't be laws in an anarchist society.

jbd5 wrote:
that was by a teacher. a cease and desist if you will and that if i dont change my view i will not see another break or lunchtime.

I'm pretty sure that's illegal; teachers aren't allowed to try and make their pupils adopt a political view, and they definitely aren't allowed to punish you for your political ideas.

jbd5
Offline
Joined: 28-01-10
Feb 4 2010 21:12

exactly.

madashell's picture
madashell
Offline
Joined: 19-06-06
Feb 6 2010 11:32
BigLittleJ wrote:
Quote:
if we were under an anarchist regime some people would go around hitting people around the heads with iron bars and eventually someone would get fed up with it and kill the person and then that persons family would kill them and eventually there would be a war

Just explain to them that if someone behaved like that in an anarchist community they would be locked up or made to leave. We're anarchists, not idiots!

It might also be worth pointing out that people don't usually resort to mass murder the second they're not being watched.

anarchyalex's picture
anarchyalex
Offline
Joined: 6-02-10
Feb 7 2010 11:43

so glad i stumbled upon this! jbd5, it makes me so happy to hear other students getting greif for their beleifs.....trust me we all go through it! im 17 and im in my second year at college. at the moment people can tolorate my views but back in school i would get alot of hassle (particularly from teachers) about the way i thought. i would go on for hours during politics lessons and RE lessons just telling everyone that the textbooks are lying!! etc. point is youve just gotta hang in there and stand up for what you belive in! have a look in your history lesson at the spanish revolution (not civil fucking war.....revolution!) and see if you can find any info on the anarchist aspect of the whole event....theres nothing in there!!! if there is there is very little. the school is also a oppresive environment and if u want your grades your just gonna have to grit your teeth. and as for the BNP supporters tell em to FUCK OFF!! lol

keep resisting my friend smile xxx

jbd5
Offline
Joined: 28-01-10
Feb 7 2010 22:57

cheers anarchyalex. strange thing happened on friday, i was in english reading what is anarchism? by berkman was a feat to hide from my 'friends' who totally and violently oppose my views but yeah i was reading it in english as i had finished some coursework and was waiting for it to be marked and my english teacher asked what i was reading and i told her and she replied with "so youre interested in anarchism. thats good" was a good day andf the book is still in one piece but i wont be reading it in form! as thats were the main closed minded opressors are.

anarchyalex's picture
anarchyalex
Offline
Joined: 6-02-10
Feb 7 2010 23:05

hey man dont be scared to wave that book around its part of who you are (its also a fuckin classic!) thats kool about your teacher, sum teachers are real cool about it if they know about anarchism being a well thought out political philosophy. but if all they've heard are punks yelling caos! in the street then thats where alot of the oppressers will look down on you (or in my case just not take you seriously)...peace n love xx

anarchyalex's picture
anarchyalex
Offline
Joined: 6-02-10
Feb 7 2010 23:11

YEEEAAAHHH BOIII! haha!

jbd5
Offline
Joined: 28-01-10
Feb 8 2010 08:05

yep. thats great. see how they react today as i have been doing research on their question of "has a country ever managed anarchism?" and they will be pissed to hear that yes they have and that there are some areas that practise anarchism if they ask for a source wikipedia. still not waving the book around as i dont want it confiscated.

thegonzokid's picture
thegonzokid
Offline
Joined: 23-07-09
Feb 14 2010 14:34

I'd probs tell them that it's pretty unimaginative to express your concerns for the state of the nation by supporting a gang of backward, narrow-minded, fascist losers.

I'd then explain why direct democratic control of workplaces and local communities (along libertarian communist lines) is a much more inspiring prospect than seeing Nick Griffin, an utterly pathetic example of the 'master race', in charge of the country.

This article from the last Direct Action is pretty good.

Jason Cortez
Offline
Joined: 14-11-04
Feb 14 2010 14:45
jbd5 wrote:
yep. thats great. see how they react today as i have been doing research on their question of "has a country ever managed anarchism?" and they will be pissed to hear that yes they have and that there are some areas that practise anarchism if they ask for a source wikipedia. still not waving the book around as i dont want it confiscated.

Could you post a link?

jbd5
Offline
Joined: 28-01-10
Feb 21 2010 23:59

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_anarchist_communities

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Feb 22 2010 15:56
weeler wrote:
If anyone touches your books tell us and we will come around your school and batter all the toughest kids there.

"ANARCHISTS ABUSE SCHOOLCHILDREN" - are you trying to get someone to get you a new headline?

jbd5 wrote:
their arguments are always along the lines of "if we were under an anarchist regime some people would go around hitting people around the heads with iron bars and eventually someone would get fed up with it and kill the person and then that persons family would kill them and eventually there would be a war" that was used against me today.

That's a pretty stupid argument - some people hit other people around the head with iron bars now. In an anarchist society you could still lock-up psychopaths who were a danger to other people.

But what we should really try to do is eliminate as far as possible all causes of premature death. And deaths caused by violent psychopaths are extremely low compared to all the various ways capitalism kills millions of people every year right now.

For example, in the UK there are something like 300 murders per year. Meanwhile, 10 times that many die in road accidents - while much road travel is related to socially useless work. Another 25,000 mostly elderly people are killed each winter by the cold, many due to not being able to afford to heat their homes properly. 20,000 people in the UK are killed every year by their work.

Globally, 100,000 every day from hunger and preventable diseases while enough food is created for everyone, etc.

Often in these sorts of discussions with people who are pretty stupid, it can be worth flipping the question round on people - if they are saying that communism can't work for whatever reason you can point out how capitalism currently doesn't work.

Good luck!

jbd5
Offline
Joined: 28-01-10
Feb 23 2010 00:08

recent text message transcript follows.
him: bloody commie, think poverty is good, fuckin twat!
me: im an anarchist not a communist
him: communist scum! You want to fuck up the place where you live, put everyone into poverty! Idol fucker!
i then get super angry as he is not listening and phone him he blanks me so i leave a voicemail.
school today he incorrectly paraphrases me.
haha such fun. got beyond talking it is now at a point of me ignoring all politics in school to become disspassionate which is sad but is something i will do until i leave for sixth-form next year.

radicalgraffiti
Offline
Joined: 4-11-07
Feb 23 2010 09:44

He's clearly an idiotic troll and not worth talking to.

you should be a communist though, http://libcom.org/thought/anarchist-communism-an-introduction

Jason Cortez
Offline
Joined: 14-11-04
Feb 23 2010 19:28

What a weird list, some of those 'communities' are clearly not anarchist and most could only at best be said to being anarchic. And most that are in some sense are very short inserrectionary periods.

jbd5
Offline
Joined: 28-01-10
Mar 9 2010 15:01
Jason Cortez wrote:

What a weird list, some of those 'communities' are clearly not anarchist and most could only at best be said to being anarchic. And most that are in some sense are very short inserrectionary periods.

doesnt matter. my friends dont check. just tell them this and i am ok

yourmum
Offline
Joined: 9-03-10
Mar 9 2010 20:58

hi dudes!

making a good discussion is not possible without being informed. a discussion is always about something in the world and being informed about that issue is a necessity if you want to explain something. this also goes for people running around with iron sticks and beating up others. why do they do it? the only suggestion you got is because they are psychopath. now what does that say? they are not normal... not much information in there. there are actually reasons to go out and slap around iron bars.. im not saying they are valid reasons for us, im saying they do it for a reason. if you want to explain why they do it, you have to get involved with their reasoning. you will not only be able to criticize their thinking, but also explain where it comes from.. why does everybody here seem to think slapping people with iron bars is something that would still exist in an anarchist society? the only explanation i can find is that people here think psychopaths are somekind of natures necessity. i dont think so.

the argument of people with iron bars aims to show a necessity for law & order. the counter is already given: obviously the law & order doesnt prevent people from going around with iron bars, how should it? it is actually that they think people dont go around slapping other with iron bars because it is forbidden, not because there is no reason to.

about the "make everybody poor"-thing: you need to tell him that poor isnt but the opposite of rich, that if he doesnt want poor people he shouldnt want rich people aswell. by the way: of course the rich have their money because others are poor, they pay them wages and make a profit with their work... you can read all the details in marxist publishments. about communism killing milions: besides that national socialism, the thing they call communism, is not anarchism, quite the opposite in fact - capitalism is killing milions too, but they dont want to count it. every day there is a 100'000 people or even kids (not sure, google it) dieing from hunger only in capitalist economies. more are dieing from other stuff, but nobody wants to hold capitalism responsible for its deads.

p.s. its very well worth it to take a closer look at the thing they call "communism", the history of russia and the revolution 1918. in fact those guys made the state the only capitalist and thought this a way to give workers what they deserve. im not an expert so i dont want to go in details here, but this is an interesting topic.