May 10·edited May 10

How rude is Bessner. How uninteresting his arguments. It's a pity Shadi wastes time and energy arguing with this angry, ill-mannered man.

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It's called The Disagreement, not The Agreement.

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Bessner's pessimism here is off putting.

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I dont hate bessner but is he capable of not interrupting? i am more inclined to his view too but this is frustrating to listen to.

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Put another way—I find Shadi, Damir, Christine, Sam, Santi and most of their guests to provide a fantastic example of how to disagree.

Bessner, not so much.

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Daniel Bessner reminds us why socialism may always have limited appeal.

Socialism not only takes too many nights and weekends, it also requires acceptance—as Bessner insists but never explains—a completely alternative view of history and human nature. Perhaps more importantly, socialist intellectuals are often as tendentious as Mr. Bessner, whose scoffing interruptions of Shadi were just plain irritating. These interruptions also elucidated very little about Bessner’s utopian dreams of a world without capitalism or great powers like the United States.

Sadly this means that those of us liberals who take the world as it is, but nevertheless are inclined to put a thumb on the scale for social justice, are perpetually left wanting for lack of an effective advocate for the socialist side.

Perhaps Shadi and Damir can find a better interlocutor next time. But I wouldn’t hold your breath. Socialism appears to encourage exactly this kind of strident incivility.

Which raises a final point. This “debate” was strangely billed as a model for how to disagree. I found this discussion to illuminate very little about socialism (except its annoyances) and it revealed hardly anything at all about how to disagree—except for Shadi’s seemingly limitless patience for obnoxious interruptions.

Is there really no one other than Bessner to make the case for socialism?

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I'm not sure this quite worked. I remember the first pod with Dan and I think he strikes me a little like an undergraduate who just won't let you finish. Sorry if that's too personal but it did remind me of a few students who I've taught in the past and at times I felt exasperated for Shadi listening to it. Perhaps though that was because I was severely hungover listening to it so maybe I'll give it another go when in a better state. Too many interruptions and also I think when Danny struggled to disprove something he didn't like (such as what countries constitute democracy) he just kind of threw it aside as if it didn't matter.

Relying largely upon a historical understanding of the world as a way to see today strikes me as a little flawed. Sure, history can be a window into the opportunities we have today and the past mistakes today, but it's also highly contentious. Yet, some of Danny's lines of historical thinking struck me as highly idiosyncratic and his desire for a pulled back America force as one which is highly problematic in a more multipolar world that is beginning to emerge. Even a brief look at conflict in the past, Danny's worldview strikes me as a recipe for disaster tbh more than anything else.

Indeed, one could have asked would Russia have invaded Ukraine in 1998 or 2005? Likely not because American hegemony was still obvious. It's only because there's a slight shift in power dynamics that Putin thought he could perhaps get away with it. That alongside a more withdrawn America from Obama, who failed to enforce red lines in Syria also contributed to this. It's also obvious why Russians regard the 1990's as terrible... the economic nightmare they went through was something we in the West can only imagine. So, it's only normal they look back with rose tinted glasses when the USSR was a big, important world power compared to what they were reduced to in the 1990's.

Also saying we can't accurately measure democratic involvement in nations strikes me as a bit odd. It's pretty possible to do so even if you have a somewhat 'thicker' view of democracy such as Danny. I also felt like I didn't get a full degree of Danny's view of the world either. It struck me he was a bit too responsive at times. Now, in the first pod you did I felt that was a bit different so perhaps it's merely a different format?

Sorry for the disorganised thoughts :)

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Shadi’s numbers on Iraq war are bunk:

between 280,771-315,190 died from direct war related violence caused by the U.S., its allies, the Iraqi military and police, and opposition forces. - Watson Institute

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In fairness it really does depend on which figures you use and they are highly contestable. I've read from the iraq body count (officially registered deaths direct from the conflict) that it's 250,000 including all 'war casualties' which covers deaths from every side.

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When Shadi Hamid was writing about the need for liberals to come to terms with "difference" regarding Islamic nations and political structures, I found his analysis eye-opening, cogent and valuable.

When he wears his jingoistic cowboy American hat, he turns stupid.

The debate here didn't happen because one participant, Hamid, denied the relevance of the "difference" between how Americans view, measure and judge the world and how people from outside the American sphere do the same.

And that is either "evil" or stupid.

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Difficult to sit through one.

I got interrupted halfway through, can’t say I will return for the remaining portion. Why?

Was it too many interrupted lines of thought? Are they to far apart?

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Thanks for listening and sharing, Alden!

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