To have a discourse there has to be some shared notion of reality, rationality, cause and effect, logic. Lacking some common parameters for the understanding of the universe there can be no discourse. Unless it is considered “discourse” to babble along with the mad in a madhouse.
This is said in reference to the idea that, "...if each side could restrain its radicals, then 'moderates' could dominate the discourse."
As the astute commenter notes, discourse requires certain fundamental shared notions. Indeed, this is the nub of the crux of the gist of the matter.
Gagdad Bob [note: corrected my error since Bob does continue to blog!]once tackled this important metaphysical issue. He wrote:
There is no question that reality is "ambiguous" and subject to multiple interpretations. However, that should not be taken as an excuse to believe that all interpretations are of equal value. Nevertheless, this latter belief is the hateway drug into the various pneumapathologies of the left, e.g., multiculturalism, moral relativism, the "living Constitution," etc.
Again, if there is no objective way to arbitrate between competing versions of reality, then it comes down to a matter of raw power. Or, as Obama put it, "I won."
This is obviously how political correctness has slithered its slithery way into every corner of reality. In the world of political correctness, it is always 1984. Take the example of Miss California. Because even beauty pageants are run by tyrannical leftists, all points of view are of equal validity. However, if you voice the incorrect truth, then you are punished. You see? Perfect nonsense -- not the liberating kind, but the oppressive kind, AKA hell.
And it is hell, quite literally, for hell is anyplace that is beyond the rule of reason -- where reason, quite simply, does not apply. ...
Actually, it is possible, so long as you create an impossible world. And the world of the left is most assuredly an impossible world, since it is literally detached from its source, its archetype, its origin, and therefore its purpose. To put it even more simply, the "absolutely relative" is an ontological impossibility, and is therefore guaranteed to generate absurdity.
This metaphysical confusion which trashes objective reality and truth has all sorts of consequences, because all the branches of philosophy are dependent on Metaphysics, which describes existence. Metaphysics leads directly to Epistemology, which concerns itself with knowledge.
METAPHYSICS (What is existence?)----> EPISTEMOLOGY (How do we know it?)
The answers derived from these two branches lead directly to the Ethics (how should we behave?) that one chooses to adopt and to the Politics (what degree of force is permissable?) that one practices.
For those of you who think all this philosophy business is too esoteric, abstract and irrelevant to your life; you are very very wrong.
These ideas have everything to do with your life and how you live it. They are also the crux of why the world we live in seems to be more and more incomprehensible and insane. When you start off with the belief that reality doesn't exist outside your own head, then, it is just a very short--and minor--leap to accepting that words don't matter and can change meaning; or that it doesn't matter how you behave; that everything is relative anyway, including truth and morality. It is only a short step away to using coercion, force and ultimately violence to enforce your beliefs, since they do not conform to reality. All who point this out must be silenced or eliminated.
As Bob points out, just because reality is ambiguous and sometimes difficult to determine; it hardly gives us carte blanche to say that every interpretation is of equal value and should be treated as such. That way lies madness...and madness is exactly what we are dealing with in today's world.
Here is a perfect example of how the postmodern political left deal with reality:
And, here is how Islam and the jihadist mindset deal with it:
An individual ignores reality at the peril of his own life. Many people prefer to hold onto ideas that are anti-reality; anti-truth; anti-reason--even if it means death. Truly, they prefer to die rather than abandon their sense of superiority and the accompanying moral preening and power they exert over others. And, when a society becomes mostly made up of individuals like this; that society will always find refuge in violence and coercion directed toward those who point out their irrationality by having ideas that threaten their view of the world. In their world view, you simply silence the critics. For them, truth does not matter; all that matters is that people believe something is true. Thus it becomes necessary to destroy all those who do not believe as you do.
Beheading is actually the perfect metaphor for this ultimate betrayal of reality, since it demands that you suspend your rational mind and disconnect it from reality. The only difference between the postmodern left and these Islamic fanatics is one of degree--most of these Western pseudo-intellectuals on the left live in an ivory tower and haven't quite figured out what they must do to impose their own intellectual sharia on others--but do not doubt that they are working on it. And they will eventually come to the same conclusion as the Islamists.
UPDATE: The madness begins, and it demonstrates exactly my point that metaphysics (one's basic premises about reality) determine politics--in this case, a certain type of political strategy we refer to as terrorism:
With European governments paring back the social safety net, and businesses blamed for creating a crisis, left-wing terrorism in Europe is on the march, according to a new report from EuroPol (the European Police Office).EuroPol:
Spain, Greece and Italy reported a total of 40 attacks by left-wing and anarchist groups for 2009. This constitutes an increase of 43 % compared to 2008; the number of attacks more than doubled since 2007.
As in previous years, most attacks were carried out successfully and mainly targeted government and business interests.The majority of these attacks were arsons, reported by Spain, and caused only property damage.
The percentage of IED attacks decreased from 43 % in 2008 to 20 % in 2009; the majority of these bomb-ings occurred in Greece. In Greece, six left-wing terrorist organisations carried out a total of 15 attacks in 2009.
As this chart shows, left-wing terrorism dwarfs right-wing terrorism in Europe -- perhaps surprising given the attention paid to Europe's far right. Islamist and Separatist terrorism, however, remain the largest categories.
Read it all. Then examine your own premises about the initiation of the use of force to coerce others to accept your ideas and beliefs. Here is an example of our current administration doing exactly the same thing to try to prevent the catastrophic consequences of their own irrational policies. The next step for them is to begin to act like a third world dictator-controlled state, since reasoned argument is forbidden on the topic. These two links are examples of same false metaphysics in action--both ignore external reality and both are examples of the use of force to shove misbegotten ideas that cannot work in the real world down the throats of others.