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Semiformalishmaybe

People have two feet

In more than one area of my life, I've taken what might be a radical position by some standards. I try not to be too in-your-face about this with people I know - it's not that I wouldn't be pleased if people found my conclusions or my reasoning good, but rather that with my other leg, I have a second position. That second position is one which is less specific than my actual position, less radical, safer, and one to which I either might retreat to if I must or feel more comfortable moving other people towards. I consider the "other leg" a "good opponent" in discussions, a "virtuous without being devoted", and a reasonable thing to move others towards without making them the radical that I am (and hey, if they happen to come to my radicalism for good reasons, I'd be happy).

I am an atheist. I won't generally nudge people towards atheism, but I will nudge them away from Christian belief and towards a kind of vague, philosophically-aware agnosticism that still has a solid commitment towards doing good things. I'll usually be satisfied with building/encouraging the things I see as virtue in people, whatever their specifics beliefs.

I am a socialist (I'm not sure if I *really* fit definitionally as a communist, but I don't really care either way - I know I'm not an orthodox marxist). With my other foot, I'm interested in exploring the possibilities in making an ethical, for-the-people mixed-market system out of what American and/or Europe have.

I am (or at least was) a radical environmentalist and remain one of the "mental space" anti-advert, anti-consumerism lot(I probably fit within the 「Adbusters」 consensus). As I properly feel, I think Al Gore was probably too cautious with the level of change we need to protect the biosphere, and think we're probably headed towards disaster with consumerism versus the environment (as well as that advertisements and consumerism pose serious threats to the mental well-being of society). With the other foot, I'll take what I can get and suggest much more moderate reforms than what I think we really need.

I think part of it is also that I'm afraid of manipulating people, or afraid of converting them, or even afraid of the burdens of being respected - if they begin to respect me, or change their beliefs because of me, I'd feel obligations coming from that, I'd feel that if I have some other radical ideas that they see for the first time their (possibly fragile) belief in whatever they've come to see might come apart, etc. Maybe I'm more comfortable with good opponents or companions anyhow - there have been a few times in my life (not many) when people read some things I had written and came up to express admiration - few things invoked such horror in me as that (certainly a horror I didn't understand until I had the time to prod at it - still not sure I do entirely). The last thing one should want is groupies when one is trying to inspire the whole world to deep, careful thought (even if one can only provide a tiny amount of such inspiration to a very small number of people). I guess it's not really much of a problem anymore (maybe it's because of emotional breakdowns, or maybe it's because my arguments are for a different philosophy than they used to be, or maybe it's because seeing me in person for more than a few seconds is a very rare event for anyone who might possibly be interested in these things)

Unrelated, I am slightly surprised that Wean hall is closed right now because of a bomb threat. Oh well, off to Crêpes!

I was going to sketch my general intuitions for how people can keep wikis and other "new media" working socially.. might yet do that. I might also post a newer version of my OpenVPN-manager - substantial improvements since last week's tarball. I'm not sure if anyone is interested in such things though - I don't think there were downloads apart from search engines. Little point in posting it if, like the webcomic I posted for awhile, I'm the only one who cares :P

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