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Re: [xmca] critique of pure tolerance

I like your emphasis on the Bakhtinian cross-difference discourse.
I am alarmed by the over emphasis on argument in first year composition courses and the new language arts core standards.
The emphasis on argument:
Eliminates narratives of individuals.
Promotes binary thinking.
Asks us not to reflect on our life experiences.
Sets us up to be one issue voters.
Makes the world a safe, uncomplex world of simple decisions.
Creates enemies from difference.
Makes peace into oppression.
Prefers logic rather than ethics.
Polarizes emotion as the opposite to logic.
Prefers discourse that badgers rather than communicates.
Disrespects different world views and philosophies.
Divides us into winners and losers.
Privileges dogma over openness.
And so on.


----- Original Message -----
From: Jay Lemke <jaylemke@umich.edu>
Date: Monday, December 28, 2009 10:14 pm
Subject: [xmca] critique of pure tolerance
To: XMCA Forum <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>

> On the ethics of engaging respectfully with positions you really 
> strongly disagree with.
> Recap: some of us are trying to figure out effective ways to 
> challenge conservative/oppressive discourses about education and 
> other matters in ways that are not as likely to be marginalized 
> as many left rhetorical strategies have become in many places 
> and for many audiences.
> One strategy might be to see what the core values and discourses 
> of those to whom our opponents appeal might say that is more to 
> our way of thinking. For example, what Christian discourse may 
> say that is in favor of critical thinking, or against the 
> priority of decontextualized learning, or just against the 
> "gospel of prosperity" (which, if you haven't seen recent news 
> interest in this is an explicit movement in fundamentalist US 
> christianity that says God wants you to get rich).
> In doing so, however, we tread the slippery slope. Historically 
> the Anglo-Saxon left has been rather purist, and its internal 
> squabbles have mainly been over who is more perfectly 
> marxist/democratic/etc. Leaving not much room to develop 
> discourses that overlap or penetrate those of the non-left 
> majority (who in the US are also mostly non-right). Something 
> different happened in Latin America, where a fusion of Catholic 
> populism and left communitarianism did a much better job of 
> appealing to both rural populations and university intellectuals 
> (Freire as a case in point, but he is part of a much larger 
> discourse tradition). As I recall a few popes have actually 
> condemned Latin American bishops for being too leftist. So they 
> must have been getting something right. :-)
> Nonetheless, the fear is that we might lend credibility to 
> oppressive discourses by speaking partly within their discursive 
> worlds. That is probably a justifiable concern, given Bakhtin's 
> close linkage in the notion of heteroglossia (diversity of 
> discursive worlds, or "social voices") of ways of describing the 
> world and ways of valuing it. But to my mind communication is 
> not about conversion, nor indeed even about being right. It is 
> about establishing new cross-difference discourses that produce 
> surprising ideas and values. I have always thought that there 
> was rather too much missionary spirit in leftist discourse, that 
> it remained uncomfortably close to christian messianic and 
> evangelical models. The problem with this being that it assumes 
> an end to history, that answers are known, and so there is no 
> real incentive for a dialogue in which one is open to learn with 
> one's interlocutors. 
> So, yes, there is risk, but there is also much to gain. 
> BTW, is there a good history of "critical thinking"? someone 
> must believe it was invented in the Englightenment, or in the 
> Renaissance, or by the 400 BC Greeks, by the Jews (when?), by 
> the Chinese (when?). If we are going to claim that Jesus or 
> Buddha exemplified critical thinking, are we also going to 
> believe it's true?
> JAY.
> Jay Lemke
> Professor (Adjunct, 2009-2010)
> Educational Studies
> University of Michigan
> Ann Arbor, MI 48109
> www.umich.edu/~jaylemke 
> Visiting Scholar
> Laboratory for Comparative Human Communication
> University of California -- San Diego
> La Jolla, CA
> USA 92093
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