Monday , September 21 2020
The concept of tolerance appears to lie at the very heart of the anarchistic thesis.

The Anarchist’s Dilemma; Part One

We’ve come to crossroads, and a climax as well. If some sort of federalism, presumably the ideal form of government, management, administration, whatever, spanning the entire globe stands for the climax, the pinnacle of what’s ultimately achievable in the realm of politics, where do we go from thence is our next question; hence the crossroads.

In particular, the first is a necessary condition, the essential aspect of any anarchistic thesis that’s worth its salt: a measure of peace and relative stability must be secured worldwide and without fail as a necessary precondition for any of the smaller units which comprise the greater whole to be able to pursue their unique, self-determined futures without undue interference from any of their neighbors, near or far. And the second, the direction this inquiry must take.

Lest you wonder, we’re talking about a world government, a kind of government that would command ultimate authority if and when push comes to shove, a government that would serve as a court of last appeal if and when need be, both authorized and empowered to resolve any and all differences that might possibly arise between any of the smaller units. For indeed, if a network of constantly warring and competing nation-states represents the greatest obstacle to attaining human happiness and justice, not in any personal, isolated or idiosyncratic sense, apart from the life of the community but as an essential part of such a community (and that’s the gist of the anarchistic thesis as best as I can understand it!) then surely, a world government of one kind or another is the only way to go, if for no other reason that it renders the very idea of nation-states, ever warring and competing nation-states, obsolete. Problem solved

Keep in mind, however, this is a conceptual analysis by and large, a Gedankenexperiment of sorts, and as such, it has no direct bearing on what is or is not likely to transpire in the immediate or near future; it merely outlines the possibilities, nothing else. Nonetheless, it does stand to reason that, whether due to the kind of global challenges facing  humankind or simply by virtue of our self-preservation instinct (or, if we really want to be magnanimous about it, our evolutionary potential), better sense will prevail and we shall escape relatively unscathed, ready to face a brighter tomorrow. The motivation surely abounds and it’s one basis for hope. Meanwhile, we can’t help but tend to the thereafter, the aftermath, the likely or the unlikely eventuality that, even in the best of all possible worlds, with a world government firmly intact and in place, we’re not exactly over the hump. Problems remain.

To name but one, how exactly are we to envisage the nature of the would-be relationship between such a government and any of the lesser units? More specifically, perhaps, in what administrative capacity ought it serve? What should be the proper sphere of its jurisdiction (i.e., the extent of its authority), and what powers must it command in order for it to be able to enforce its decisions in the event that all efforts to amicably resolve the seemingly irreconcilable differences came to naught?

I take it as axiomatic that some such government, if we are ever to get to that point, would have to command sufficient power and resources in order to overcome all manner of resistance from the less cooperative members; otherwise, its authority would be vacuous, more in the realm of fiction than fact. How exactly would the requisite kind of power be amassed and maintained in a state of readiness? That’s a logistical and, from the strictly conceptual standpoint, uninteresting question.

I suppose one fair solution would be for each and every member to be required to contribute manpower and related resources to the common pool, not unlike the situation whereby the Greek city-states were required to pay a tribute, as good a term as any, to Athens (the hypothetical government we have in mind) in order ensure protection from any and all enemies, foreign or domestic: that was the explicit purpose behind the Delian League, the first recorded experiment with federalism, and a successful one at that, until Athenian hubris took over and perverted the notion. Needless to say, the combined force of the federation would have to exceed that of any of the coalition’s members in order for it to be decisive; and the whole concept would have to be predicated, besides, on a mutually agreed-upon disarmament down to the bare minimum, however you’d care to define that minimum. So here is another precondition!

For better analogy, think of the UN, for instance, with the capabilities of NATO, both idealized, of course, to form an incorruptible body or organ, either beyond any and all challenge. A tall order, I hasten to add, but then again, not an inconceivable one. The decisions would be reached by a show of hands, and they’d be final and irrevocable.

But as I said, that’s a logistical problem and not all that interesting from the conceptual standpoint. What is interesting, however, and what is of far greater import, are the limits to which we would be prepared to go when it came to defining the proper sphere of some such body’s jurisdiction, its proper and rightful authority, an authority we could all go along with and agree upon. For surely, the idea of mutual protection guaranteed to each and every one in order to stave off all manner of aggression from any and all quarters, a Hobbesian idea if there ever was one, is one thing; and in this respect, the concept of world government is not only justifiable but a necessary one as well. But it’s another thing entirely if we were to go beyond, beyond those limits, that is.

All of which brings into sharp relief the question of justice. How so? Because if we do go beyond the auspices typically associated with a dominant protective agency, its intended role and function, a concept that has been invoked time and again in order to justify the existence and the perpetuity of the state(see Nozick, for instance, in particular, Anarchy, State, and Utopia). Except that this time we’re talking about the world at large, the one and only state, and if we’re to go beyond, into areas and concerns which are clearly beyond the purview or the intended objective of guaranteeing protection, then we’d surely be on shaky grounds; and the reason again would be, the anarchistic thesis!

For indeed, if we take the main gist of the anarchistic thesis to mean that we shouldn’t ever interfere with other people’s lives, or put another way, that live and let live is the anarchist credo and motto; and further, that any interference that would go beyond the express purpose of offering protection would surely count as a flagrant violation of said principles and creed, then surely, each and every community (the lesser unit, in a nondescript, undifferentiated and generic sense) must have its say, no matter how abhorrent or morally repulsive it might be.

To take things to extreme, even a community that would thrive on the institution of slavery, surely an abomination if ever there was one, couldn’t be interfered with because of the anarchistic principle. Each community, for better or worse, would thus be entitled to write its own ticket and determine its own future, right or wrong. And there’d be nothing the central government could do to alter that future except by persuasion, cajoling, bribery, the kinds of things we usually resort to if we want to have our way yet can’t do so forcefully, since use of force would be out of the question (again, because of the anarchistic principle). In effect, therefore, what we have here is an extreme argument for states’ rights (except in a wider, all-encompassing context), and for federalism at a bare minimum.

All of which seems to suggest that the anarchistic thesis takes the concept of justice for granted; and furthermore, that since rules relating to human conduct, the laws, cannot be enforced from top-down so as to become the law of the land but must be left to the discretion of each and every community to do as it sees fit, a correlative assumption attaches to the anarchistic thesis as a rider: all questions pertaining to justice will, if not sooner than later, whether by hook or by crook, be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, case closed!

But surely, while we may entertain such lofty ideals, hope and pray for their realization; and we may draw here on a variety of sources, from our belief in human evolutionary potential, to Christ’s pronouncement that the Kingdom of God is (already) at hand (or the Kingdom of Ends, on Kant’s rendition of the concept), it’s too much to take for granted here and now. The bottom line is, justice is problematic on the anarchistic scheme of things, especially on the macro level.

And so, if there is anything to take home from these investigations, it has got to be that the concept of tolerance appears to lie at the very heart of the anarchistic thesis: tolerance pure and simple, tolerance beyond question, absolute tolerance. This is rather disturbing though not exactly unexpected; disturbing in light of a great many cogent arguments against “pure tolerance” (see, for example, a joint effort by Robert P. Wolf, Barrington Moore, Jr. and Herbert Marcuse, A Critique of Pure Tolerance); and “not exactly unexpected” . . .

Well, it’s not all that easy, at least in the popular mind, to dissociate anarchism from the live and let live philosophy. So surely, we must examine the main thrust of the anarchistic thesis in light of these and other texts, in particular, the extent to which the stress on tolerance, or more precisely perhaps, the inability of the anarchist thought to dissociate itself from tolerance, may hamper its eventual development so as to make it ineffectual.

All told, we have a great deal of work cut out for us. First, we must try to restore anarchism to a position of respectability as a serious contender among competing political theories of the state. In particular, if the concept of tolerance does indeed figure in, and in a major way, as an indispensable aspect of the anarchistic thought and action, then it surely behooves us to try to set limits to what kind of tolerance are we talking about, how far should it extend, which things exactly should be permissible and therefore protected by the tolerance principle and which should not. Surely, we can neither subscribe to, nor endorse, the idea of tolerance without limits, the anything goes kind of stance: after all, we can’t have the concept degenerate to a kind of licentiousness, not only in the interest of ordinary language but, just as importantly, in order to salvage what may yet end up to be a viable political theory of the state. And so, that’s one cluster of problems we must deal with.

What’s further down the line? Well, perhaps in the interest of clarity, we may have to distinguish between two different moments or phases of the anarchistic program and thesis, the macro and the micro: label them “A” and “a” if you like. In any case, and this is just a hunch, perhaps the kind of tolerance that might be justifiable at the macro level would be out of place when applied locally, to any of the lesser units.

To put this query into sharper focus, perhaps another question is in order: In what exact sense are the objectives and concerns of the larger, all-encompassing community, a confederation of states, all “states” in this instance, different from the objectives and concerns of any of its lesser units?

Offhand, I should think the two sets of objectives and concerns would be quite different if not incomparable. Why so? Because in the first instance, the object would be to keep the respective sociopolitical units at arm’s length if need be (so as to prevent any and all acts of potential aggression), again, the main function being to serve as a peacekeeper, which surely doesn’t include or justify meddling with anyone’s internal affairs; and in the second? Well, now we’d be talking about securing good will and cooperation from humans, real humans, presumably each and every one a willing member of a human community. Quite a different set of objectives, I daresay!

There isn’t much more that I can say at this point about the anarchist program at the macro level to make things any clearer. In any event, since the devil is always in the details, we’ll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, I’d be perfectly happy to leave the matter of general housekeeping (or peacekeeping, if you prefer) to a dominant protective agency, duly empowered and represented of course. But surely, there’s a great deal to be said about the anarchist thought and program at the micro/local level, about anarchism with a small a, about the nitty gritty and the nuts and bolts of it, about the philosophy of a community, an anarchistic community of all things. And it is here, in this and no other context, that the question of tolerance must ultimately be resolved if we’re ever to come to terms with some such community and rescue anarchism from the kind of disrepute it suffers today in order to restore it to its rightful place as a viable contender among alternative political theories of the State.

About Roger Nowosielski

I'm a free lance writer. Areas of expertise: philosophy, sociology, liberal arts, and literature. An academic at a fringe, you might say, and I like it that way.

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165 comments

  1. “If some sort of federalism, presumably the ideal form of government, management, administration, whatever, spanning the entire globe stands for the climax, the pinnacle of what’s ultimately achievable in the realm of politics, where do we go from thence is our next question; hence the crossroads.”

    Federalism-over-time looks very different from what the small constituencies initially signed up for. The framers of our government were concerned about the accumulation of power over time and tried to check it, but 200 years later the guard-rails look flimsy and in some places are gone altogether.

  2. “Keep in mind, however, this is a conceptual analysis by and large, a Gedankenexperiment of sorts, and as such, it has no direct bearing on what is or is not likely to transpire in the immediate or near future; it merely outlines the possibilities, nothing else.”
    I am a huge fan of this process. It is a way to ask questions without using question marks. It harnesses playful creativity, which, when well informed, can go farther than asking a series of questions.

    • Since my enthusiasm for thought experiments is so great, and since my post above only partially reflects it, I must respond to my own post!
      Direct questions have a their use. I have a science back-round, and am well aware that the more precisely a question is asked, the better chance your process will establish a valid conclusion. In the legal process… the same. But think of the atmosphere that must surround the process in both cases, how it shuts out all other possibilities and variables in order to establish one narrow fact. Think of how the human brain responds to that narrowness: it is unnatural, stilted, and frankly people don’t like being so confined. It conjures childhood memories of being grilled by a parent who wants to know exactly who spilled the milk. It shuts down gestalt and creativity unless one is trained for it. It has to be learned, and even if it is learned it is of very limited usefulness in day to day life. Even those of us who are good at it probably only use it 5% of the time.

      A thought experiment about a history or a future human society invokes creativity. The folks involved are invited to play and it lights up the entire brain. This atmosphere shuts nothing out, and the interesting result is that hundreds of hidden questions are discovered, questions that the inventor of that thought experiment was unaware of.

      Now those hidden questions, once discovered, deserve to be narrowed, confined, and researched directly. I am not against that. But you wouldn’t find them without the thought experiment!

      This is what the author of this article was trying to do. The response by some commenters seems to say: “there is no time for such foolishness”. I couldn’t disagree more.

      I am no anarchist, so I don’t have much right to criticize. But it seems to me that anarchists, more than anyone else, would want discover and ponder the unforeseen pitfalls of their idealistic project, in order to guide the reality(if it ever occurs) to the most solid ground.

  3. “Meanwhile, we can’t help but tend to the thereafter, the aftermath, the likely or the unlikely eventuality that, even in the best of all possible worlds, with a world government firmly intact and in place, we’re not exactly over the hump. Problems remain.”
    I liked the way the last sentence corrects the happier one a paragraph earlier. That was well written.
    But more important it was very wise. The more you rub on “Problems remain” the better off you will be if it ever comes to pass. Maybe I am wrong, but if I was a revolutionary I would give a lot of thought to the process of getting there in order to minimize the “problems that remain”, because how you get there is a pretty good indicator of what sort of result you will get. For example, if your process involves deception, then deception will be an ongoing and adherent part of the new arising structure. if some people have inordinate influence while ‘lesser beings’ have second class status, then that will be embedded in whatever institutions prop up the new regime. If some ideologies must be suppressed during the revolution, one can imagine that suppression continuing for some time after the revolution has succeeded.
    Mine are not comments about the evils of revolution, but merely human nature. Thinking about these things is very wise. recognizing it in oneself… more so.

  4. “For better analogy, think of the UN, for instance, with the capabilities of NATO, both idealized, of course, to form an incorruptible body or organ, either beyond any and all challenge. A tall order, I hasten to add, but then again, not an inconceivable one. The decisions would be reached by a show of hands, and they’d be final and irrevocable.”

    Please consider the implications of “final and irrevocable”. I perceive that you take solace in the idea that the long history of squabbling and competition will be firmly and irrevocably broken, but please think this through. Those few who would make such decisions already have tremendous power over multitudes all over the world, do you really want them to have that power infinitely multiplied by making their decisions apply to all the generations to come?

    Now I will be a stickler about something that is hidden in my last question. It might be advisable to have a less faith towards the future god-like virtue of the world governing body. In my opinion this is a major problem upon which your discussion sinks under the weight of heavy premises. You mention “incorruptible body”, but human beings are corruptible in all sorts of ways, and remarkably adaptive in new situations…of creating new ways that are unforeseen by idealists.
    Do not give up on your idea. Merely recognize the pitfalls and then your idealism might figure ways to overcome them

  5. I think I will interrupt my bombardment of questions with a disclaimer, and a friendly lecture for roger, and anyone else listening.

    There is a limit to how much you should feel bound to answer against opposition. If you submit anything you believe to everyone’s approval before you act on it, you will never make a move towards your goal.

    To put it more sharply: if you expect that conversation will eventually move an opponent will approve of what you are doing, you might be in for a very long wait. Because the very thing you propose that opens the way to your success, will be the one thing his heart will object to the most, and his mind will follow his heart, looking with a microscope and finding “great flaws” in your plan. Even if he is a friendly, intelligent, well meaning fellow he will object the most… to your most effective plan.

    That is not evil or deceptive on his part, its just human nature.

    I don’t want to talk you out of listening to me. Every person who proposes something should certainly listen to opposing views, and consider if there are some adjustments to make. “As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another” I think its a wonderful thing, and I do not approve that you feel gradually shallower connection with folks who disagree with you. One reason I don’t like it… is that I find myself doing the same thing and I don’t approve of myself that way either. Is that really how we will all get along better? To totally segregate ourselves further into small like-minded cliques? Even my Amish friends don’t go that far.

    • roger nowosielski

      Got to give me some time, Michael, to respond to your comments. I’m still active on the other thread, but I will return to aspects of this article shortly.

      • I am 4 months late to this, so I can wait a month or two before you answer.
        So don’t hurry or worry

  6. roger nowosielski

    Just noticed this very interesting post.

    However, as I’ve been googling for the phrase, most every entry I’ve come across is already co-opted, like this one, for instance.

    Look it up yourself if you don’t believe me.

  7. roger nowosielski

    Michael,

    The first known experiment with federalism was in ancient Greece, the so-called Delian League, with Athens in charge, and the purpose was to form a united front against the Persian threat. For the time being, the Greek city-states were all accorded a relative measure of autonomy until the Athenian hubris took over. Kitto had some interesting things to say about it in The Greeks, but I can’t seem to locate his book at this point.

    In any event, what I had in mind is something which would approximate the United Federation of Planets, the original Star Trek series. The underlying idea is doing away with the ever-contentious nation-states. Each planet (political entity) is under obligation to abide by the decisions of the interplanetary council to settle all disputes. In addition, the Federation has a right to intervene in the internal affairs of each polity if and when there are reasons to believe that some of its constituents are routinely dealt with unjustly. (By no means do I mean to suggest any kind of micromanagement.) My thinking is, only under the conditions of relative geopolitical stability will each polity be able to determine and forge its own future. The “final and irrevocable” clause was a hyperbole. The idea is that the Federation would serve as a court of the last resort.

    So this is a partial response to some of your comments. More to come.

  8. roger nowosielski

    A number of interesting articles on the subject of federalism, as per the following links:

    (1) “Federalism” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences

    (2) “Federalism: The best solution for developing societies”

    (3) The Ashgate Research Companion to Federalism

    (4) “Greek Federal States and their Sanctuaries: Identity and Integration” McGill University, Classical Studies

  9. When I hear ‘this as a thought experiment not as a claim about reality’ I understand that I am being invited through the looking glass into the world of the experimenter’s predilections and biases. Without significant agreement at that level, the experiment fails, imo. Here’s a recent piece on the structure of the thought experiment game (pdf) – indication that it’s not a technique to be trivialized.

    • I have always been taught that as a conservative I have too many biases, prejudices etc. So I submitted myself to whatever lessons they had for me, in whatever form the lesson came, including thought experiments. If what they say is true, i would like to know. If what i believe is true, it will stand up to it. I am completely willing to try.

      To address your article(and thank you for it): I disagree with what I read so far. The antecedent of a thought experiment is not a trap. It is laid bare, and there is no need to “feign belief” as the article says. I consider thought experiments to be a great learning tool. From within the experimenters bias, we question our own bias. And theirs. Yes, that is crucial.

      It is possible to indulge in the thought experiment wholeheartedly and from within it sees the questions more clearly. Perhaps one finds unsuspected truth there. Or unsuspected danger. So it is worthwhile to suspend dis-belief and personal bias, and submerge in the experimenter’s bias and perspective.

      One questions from within the Other standpoint, both oneself and the Other. Its all good

      • I did not intend to throw the technique out with its analysis. However, as I see it, the bias precedes the antecedent and is not laid bare in it.

  10. ozarkmichael, your comments rely heavily on the idea of human nature. So that readers can get a better idea of what you mean, a list of a few actions that humans perform that are not in accord with your notion of human nature would be instructive.

    • With very few words you put your finger on a foundational issue. The whole project(and not just world federalism but my own philoshophy, as well as yours) rises or falls based on the answer to your question, one which I took for granted and thus wasnt really aware of.

      I wasnt aware that i was relying heavily on the idea of human nature, but you are right. Oh, and it is wise to rely on that idea… if i truly know what the heck it is, which I dont.

      Maybe instead i merely have a portion, or a method, a constrained sort of knowledge, for I do not know the parameters of human nature but i have a pretty good idea of what we ought to count on instead of ignore.

      So for me human nature is not understood by making an exclusionary list of things-that-are-not. Instead i merely try to account(and not forget) for our bad outcomes. One more thing: I do not think human nature changes, therefore i dont think that some humans, just by taking up a new philosophy, have evolved above the foibles of the common man.

      troll, that was an uncommonly excellent question, and very kind of you to read me and then ask a hard, deep question like that.

  11. ozarkmichael, I’m now going to ask you to consider the possibility that one might choose to avoid taking part in a thought experiment premised on the necessity of a world totalitarian government (one with “ultimate authority”) for reasons both tactical and principled. I’ll read with interest what you deep thinkers come up with as you mark the requirements of such a State.

    • You say that you will “read with interest”, but last week I already opened up some questions on the topic:

      “Federalism-over-time looks very different from what the small constituencies initially signed up for. The framers of our government were concerned about the accumulation of power over time and tried to check it, but 200 years later the guard-rails look flimsy and in some places are gone altogether.”

      and

      “Please consider the implications of “final and irrevocable”. I perceive that you take solace in the idea that the long history of squabbling and competition will be firmly and irrevocably broken, but please think this through. Those few who would make such decisions already have tremendous power over multitudes all over the world, do you really want them to have that power infinitely multiplied by making their decisions apply to all the generations to come?”

      and

      “It might be advisable to have a less faith towards the future god-like virtue of the world governing body. In my opinion this is a major problem upon which your discussion sinks under the weight of heavy premises. You mention “incorruptible body”, but human beings are corruptible in all sorts of ways, and remarkably adaptive in new situations…of creating new ways that are unforeseen by idealists.”

      • ozarkmichael, I read your comments when you posted them and found lots of areas of possible agreement – that doesn’t establish a requirement for me to add my two cents.

      • roger nowosielski

        Michael, a couple of points with respect to one of your posts:

        First, I do respect the views and opinions of such commenters as Anarcissie and troll, even though I may not always agree with them. We’ve been communicating online for quite a few years, and I can vouch for their integrity. They’re anything but “shallow.” They do read my stuff even when they don’t comment as often as perhaps I’d like to.

        Two, having said that, I must also say that I’m my own person and don’t lack any confidence in my own views, even when confronted with considerable difference of opinion. Witness for instance my bout with Anarcissie on the most recent thread concerning the concept of justice, still unresolved. So no, I don’t easily buckle under, and I’m certain either of them can attest to this.

        And lastly, cross-posting and cross-referencing from one thread to another, a matter you recently referred to on my latest thread, is an acceptable procedure, IMHO, especially since none of these articles are standalones but form a continuum, as it were, and the interlocutors I cited are surely aware of that. As a matter of fact, posting on the most recent thread makes just as much sense as posting anywhere else, especially since the Disqus system we’re laboring under makes it rather difficult to keep track of any and all comments, especially when they’re posted on separate threads.

      • just to clarify, that last post of mine was an answer to troll. and I am already seeing how Discuss is very confusing as to who is answering whom

    • roger nowosielski

      Would it necessarily be a “totalitarian government”? What conditions would have to obtain to make it so? What conditions would have to obtain to prevent it from being so? The mere act of forging a union doesn’t qualify as a necessary condition of totalitarianism. In addition, many thinkers regard the idea of federation as one powerful antidote to centralization of power.

      • My 8 ball says that the chances are good.

      • …more seriously, you established the condition with your phrase “ultimate authority” – if there’s no outside, the environment is total.

        • roger nowosielski

          a hyperbole – court of last appeal to adjudicate disputes, a happier phrase. The council is made up of the representatives of confederated polities. The council’s interests are limited to the interests of preserving peace and stability, not the interests of privileging one polity over any other. As to “the outside,” being part of the federation need not be mandatory.

          • Wake me when we get to the point of considering each voluntary organization its own “ultimate authority”.

          • re: voluntarism,autonomy, freedom, and the like…. What conditions would have to obtain to make a society so? What conditions would have to obtain to prevent it from being so?

          • roger nowosielski

            Don’t you agree with the article’s hypothetical, that in order for each and every community or polity to be able to exercise their own autonomy and write their own future, they must be, relatively speaking, free from outside aggression so as not having to devote most of their energy and resources to fending all such attacks but inwards? As to practical considerations, how feasible it is that some such conditions (or relative peace and stability) may obtain, one can think of any number of scenario that might lead to it– “an external threat posed to all,” for one.

            As far as I am concerned, mindless pursuit of power and preoccupation with accumulation of power, unless it is necessitated by practical considerations of securing safety and ensuring the community’s survival, is a pathology. Eliminate the conditions, I say, which make accumulation of power on behalf of polities or communities a matter of practical and dire necessity, and you have eliminated for all intents and purposes the concern with power. You of all people who believe in the malleability of human nature should see the point

          • People have tried the government approach to peace and stability for some time now, and it fails rather miserably in each case I’ve looked at. Perhaps such a peace is a matter of personal responsibility and choice requiring a culture shift at that level.

            Just say No to killing Syrians, boys and girls.

          • Actually, I’d best limit my last to ‘we Westerners’; some indigenous cultures appear to have persisted in relative peace and stability for thousands of years.

          • I like the way you wrote in the article. Your hyperbole invited us to think about the possibilities, and to question the pitfalls. You know, when people write so much more carefully than Roger, they can cover over/obscure all sorts of potential problems.
            I havent read the federalist articles you sent yet. Please pick one that is best for me

          • roger nowosielski

            You have a point there, Michael. It’s precisely leaving the meanings open and subject to varying interpretations which makes for “strong writing” and multi-layered texts. It’s the beauty and forte of natural languages that the meanings are not too well-defined. It allows for flirting with the boundaries.

            As regards your question, the article I linked to first is the most comprehensive; the second linked-to article offers a decent summary.

          • A problem with such a hyperbolic style is that some readers might mistake you for saying what you mean.

          • I think roger does mean it. Such bold strokes firmly establish the direction of thought while creating room to critique the thought.
            Hyperbole has usefulness, including remarkable brevity. It is a sort of honesty that folks like myself, and yourself(troll), don’t use.

          • ozarkmichael, I agree.