After scandalizing his advisors by reaching out to dialogue with Richard Nixon, Mao countered that he rather liked talking to leaders from the Right since they always just tell you exactly what they think while leaders from the Left rarely tell you what they are planning to do. The comment might well have been said with a wicked irony – this is the same Mao of “let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred different schools contend”, i.e. Mao made what we now call a plea for “dialogue”, but then used it to identify his rivals and promptly kill them all.

All the pleas for dialogue I have heard came from the Left, and all of them beggar belief. However sincere the Leftist might be – and I’m not a mind-reader in any position to decide the question – I can’t get beyond the fact that the Leftist himself never follows his own advice by just giving the reasons of his opponents. Why give a speech that “calls for dialogue” when you could give a speech that presents, without comment or judgment, both your own reasons and those of your opponents? Why are calls for dialectic so reliably non-dialectical?

So you want dialogue? Great. You first. Explain the arguments of the other side without continually relating to them as things to be refuted. I can’t do this, even after many years of criticizing my own thoughts and trying to find real insights in opponents (each of whom are sure believe, with some justification, that my thoughts are far more narrow than they seem to me.)


  1. Loreen Lee said,

    September 25, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    This is ‘incredible’, in that I have been pondering this question for the last couple of days.. the last example being a reading of some ideas of Thomas Merton, following the Pope’s address to Congress. Was there dialogue I was asking within the Thomistic/scholastic question and answer situation? Or were these ‘set’ questions and answers. Does not dialogue ‘demand in some way’ the ‘ability to stay open’ – to possibility, to the prompting of the Holy Ghost. (whatever that is), – to a reconstitution of the neurons within our brain????? To keeping ourselves ‘open’ to a great degree of the ‘active’ rather than the ‘passive’ as you so brilliantly expressed. Potentiality vs. possibility. Your articles certainly give one something to think about- the only difficulty I find is that my ‘thinking’ is below the level of my consciousnesses, somehow? Is this what Christ meant when he said to think not before hand what you will say or something, but within the particular situation you will find the words you need (a paraphrase). Perhaps we really do depend too much on the ‘pre-thought’ of thought- on what one plans to say, on generalities, or pre-formulated solutions and goals, etc. Today I actually considered I might be better off if I were closer to the animals than to the angels in some cases!!!! But then I’m out-thinking myself again. As Heidegger said, we still have to learn how to think. Thanks for your posts.

    • Loreen Lee said,

      September 25, 2015 at 7:03 pm

      Didn’t comment on Dialogue Post #2. It just made me think again how terribly difficult it is to have a ‘real’ dialogue.!!!

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