Re: Society
Tue, 30 Dec 1997 10:21:42 -0800 (PST)

On Mon, 29 Dec 1997, Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> I don't see politeness as optimism at all; I see it as capitulation
> to irrational standards. Learning to use the dribble glass, as it
> has been put so eloquently. And the expectation of politeness gets
> in the way of plain no-bullshit communication.

Politeness can be optimistic, as when you assume that a person who is
behaving unreasonably (or even simply disagreeing with you), will behave
more reasonably when treated with patience and dignity. Politeness can be
pessimistic, as when you assume an irritating situation might devolve into
violence without it. Politeness is no more an irrational capitulation
than "obeying" gravity is. Unless you subscribe to the fantastic Randian
assumption that there are no irrational conflicts among people, you will
have to admit the world is peopled with a number of beings at cross
purposes. There are indefinitely many versions out there of just what
constitutes "plain" "no-bullshit" communication, many of which will
register to others as anything from tedious to outright provocations to
violence. Civility is a spontaneous order hacked to minimize the
humiliations and discomforts provoked by this plurality of beings and
projects. I would expect Extropians to champion good manners if only
because in the absence of them people tend to make recourse instead to
litigators and legislators.

Dale Carrico |
University of California at Berkeley, Department of Rhetoric

If you want to tell people the truth be sure to make them laugh.
Otherwise, they will kill you. -- George Bernard Shaw
State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. -- Nietzsche