The etiquette lessons are a good idea. For starters, if RKs coming back,
there ought to be a gentlemens agreement that the Nazi comparisons be
tossed aside. This pertains to RK in particular.
It is entirely ridiculous for either side to equate the other to Nazism.
Nazism was a product of the contradictions of German society, within the
context of Germanys political culture, German traditions, the peculiarities
of the various actors, and the capacity of Germanys material development.
It was not the product of a mutual, mass-based conflict between Jews and
gentiles in Germany, whereas the Israeli-Palestinian matter is an us versus
them conflict, which escalated in such a way that bred hatred. If one were
provide similes, the suicide bombings and targeted assassinations would be
analogous to a couple of old, bitter enemies finally having enough, and
lashing out violently against each other. The final solution, on the other
hand, would be analogous to a serial killer, such as John Wayne Gacy, Ted
Bundy, or Jeffrey Dahmer, acting out his frustrations and arbitrarily
picking out certain types of people in a killing spree.
At this point, we can still set some informal agreements to avoid having
peoples feelings hurt. We could firmly set limits on the more outlandish
hyperbole, such as the historically groundless use of the Nazi tag as a
means of rhetoric.
Now, let me address the issue of mass-based conflicts (not the Holocaust
which was no mutual conflict, but sheep being led to the slaughter house)
played out on Wikipedia flame wars. In general, among the parties involved
in an escalated conflict, the conceptions of reality (vis-à-vis the other
party) start taking on ideas that have little basis in reality. Conflict is
never primordial, but when they take on a mass-based element, and escalate
ideologically to a certain level, easy settlements (e.g., carrot and stick,
incorporation, concessions, separation, or coalition) become extremely
difficult. Attrition, more conflict, or total defeat of one group, are the
only realistic outcomes.
Thus, its no coincidence although other factors are certainly involved
that the total wars of the past century coincided with the modern age of
mass culture, nationalism, and mass society. While cleavages breeding mass
hatreds certainly predate modern times, the capacity for mass hatred between
peoples was certainly facilitated by advancements in communication and
transportation, the rise of the nation-state, and new social contradictions.
As an aside, Israels leaders were not skillful enough to handle the
Palestinian matter before generations were born and reared in refugee camps.
For good or for ill, a free online medium like Wikipedia will inevitably
become a form for anyone with internet access who has found the site to play
out these strong tensions. And any attempts to avoid this, so long as we can
stop anyone from SUCCESSFULLY using the site to promote an agenda, will be
futile. Anyone can log in; and if we start banning people in droves, and
developing committees to keep the RK-types and proxy wars out, then we no
longer have a free encyclopedia. Furthermore, with Wikipedia more popular
than Britannica, oversight committees and planning becomes impossible.
Let me use another analogy. Rationalized planning worked well in the Soviet
Union until a point: achieving the fastest rate of industrial development
ever, fastest rate of social mobility ever, and incredible advancements in
living standards (between the period in which the Soviets started reaping
the benefits of industrialization and the onset of stagnation in the 1970s),
but it eventually exhausted its capacity. Eventually, it was the victim of
its own success, creating complexity (e.g., technological development, an
intricate division of labor, so much diversification, such a high degree of
occupational specialization) that the planners couldnt handle. It worked
when for the Soviets when they had a lot of peasants and a lot of
hard-to-extract resources (not a humane combination
) in the beginning; and
regulating things to avoid partisan flame wars on Wikipedia might work for
us in the beginning. But this site is growing so fast that ability for all
these conflicts to be managed by a tight community will be exhausted. Its
time to accept that were going to have to deal with a more de-centralized
approach. RKs rivals will do a better job managing him than committees,
mailing lists, and developers.
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