Harries, Owen
April 1962
Foreign Affairs;Apr62, Vol. 40 Issue 3, p443
Academic Journal
This article presents information on six ways of confusing issues in politics. Anyone wishing to master the art of confusing the issues, scoring effective but unfair debating points, and persuading others to miss the point, should make a study of what is widely accepted in the West today as enlightened, liberal discussion of international politics. Many politicians, some of whom perhaps agree with a proposition that to be understood is to be found out, make no sustained or imaginative effort at clarifying issues and explaining policies; and many intellectuals seem to consider marching, sitting, signing, visiting, going to jail and attending conferences as more important political activities than attempting to raise the standard of public discussion. The first technique is to confuse ends and means by insisting on treating a disagreement about means as if it were a disagreement about ends. This involves the initial tactic of appropriating some widely accepted goal to the particular means being advocated. It is seen in operation in Great Britain at present in controversies about disarmament. The second technique is to dismiss good arguments on the grounds that they are capable of being abused, or, closely related to it, to regard the imputation of motive as a sufficient reply to such arguments. These methods are frequently encountered by someone who points out the difficulties and dangers attached to a course of action.


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