Godwin’s Law; A Critique of Intrinsic Arguments and Paraxdoxes

Quite honestly, my mind has been doing cartwheels over this paradoxical subject for a long time now and I felt the time had come to gather some opinions about this “law”.

What is Godwin’s law?

Mike Godwin first promulgated his law in 1990, and this is how he puts his rule;

“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler or the Nazis approaches 1”

Godwin himself is Jewish and had the best of intentions with this statement; he wanted to remove flippant references to Hitler or Naziism from educated debate, because it takes away the impact of genuine comparisons. What he says is true in many ways; flippant terms like “feminazi” and “grammarnazi” are a disregard of the horror afflicted during the holocaust and should probably be avoided in serious debate.

The other way, which is slightly different, that Godwin’s law is used, is to end a discussion prematurely (often immaturely) with a phrase like:

“Hitler was an animal lover, you are an animal lover. Therefore, you are like Hitler”

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It’s a childish argument, and Godwin wanted to rid us of it. With the best of intentions, creating Godwin’s law was supposed to do this. Unfortunately, the solution may actually be far worse than the problem and lands us in a much more complex and paradoxical position.

The fallacies

First, I must point out that somebody who makes an argument like that is hardly a debate-worthy opponent. If you don’t want to have a serious debate, you don’t have to, but you “lower the bar” if you mention Hitler…or Godwin.

This is actually known as “Godwin’s law’s law” and is merely the idea that Godwin’s law lands us in a paradox, because, as soon as anyone mentions Godwin’s law, the debate ends with no more justification than the person who referred to Hitler had for ending the debate. It is not morally superior to point out that your opponent is not morally superior.

We already have a logical term for the suggestion’s made by those who invoke Godwin’s law. The fallacy is known to logical philosophy as “A minore ad maius” or from small to large. The idea that all animal lovers are like Hitler is, of course nonsense, because you cannot take one example and say that it applies to the majority.

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That aside, the very idea that if you say a certain phrase you lose the debate is, in itself, childish and irresponsible. I myself am 17 and capable of seeing how immature this element of Godwin’s law (not outlined by Godwin himself) is. If you want to have a serious debate no topic can be censored based on the previous use of that argument.

The nature of Godwin’s law does not actually reveal anything about the debaters either. I would not justify flippant references to Hitler, but the term “agree to disagree” can be applied to these terms too; it is a term meant to end a debate, whilst making yourself appear morally superior. However, there is no law which demonizes the use of “agree to disagree”.

Why is this? Because the holocaust should not be taken lightly. But does it not follow from that, that a flippant reference to Godwin’s law could, in a much more serious way, lead to people “taking the holocaust lightly”?

Actual Nazis

I don’t need to explain how horrific the holocaust was, nor do I need to remind you that there are many people who saw it as “justified” who are still alive today. There are Nazi-supporting morons in almost every country on earth.

A satire piece on the BNP that comes perilously close to the truth in some cases

A satire piece on the BNP that comes perilously close to the truth in some cases

“Hitler done it right” is the sort of appalling comment you will find on a Britain First or BNP page. And I would argue that these people are the ones who present a true threat to decent society. By comparison, fools flippantly making references to Hitler is a minor problem. And, despite the fact they may be a fool, they spotted that Hitler was wrong, which makes them considerably better than the “Hitler done it right” views.

Far from being helpful for anti-fascists, Godwin’s law has left the fascist modern nazi sympathizers in stitches, as the best display of fascism in modern history becomes a taboo subject.

Micheal Rosen put’s the truth about fascism brilliantly;

I sometimes fear that people might think that fascism arrives in fancy dress worn by grotesques and monsters as played out in endless re-runs of the Nazis. Fascism arrives as your friend. It will restore your honour, make you feel proud, protect your house, give you a job, clean up the neighbourhood, remind you of how great you once were, clear out the venal and the corrupt, remove anything you feel is unlike you…It doesn’t walk in saying, “Our programme means militias, mass imprisonments, transportations, war and persecution.”

The threat does not come from those who flippantly regard Hitler, but those who forget the type of person he was and how naziism came about.

It is for this reason that I have come to the conclusion that Godwin’s law could potentially have done more harm than good; the one thing that the Jewish people wanted after the war, was that the holocaust be remembered in all it’s horror, so that it could never happen again. This is why the museum at Auschwitz was set up. If you have ever spoken to anyone who has been to Auschwitz, you will know that the place is deathly quiet, with large walls that make you feel trapped. The air around you feels cold.

Is Godwin’s law a direct contradiction to this idea? Let me know what you think; I still haven’t decided myself.

How can the Conservatives claim Labour are reckless with the UK economy?

The conservatives (Tories) should be being considerably more modest than they currently are. It is a complete joke that they are still trying to pin our economic troubles on the last labour government. If you are a conservative voter, please read the article (in full) before you judge that statement.

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It is quite common now to hear that Labour cannot be trusted with the economy. A lack of trust has been perpetuated around Labour and the economy. The “news” papers called The Sun and The Daily Mail, usually start these ideas, as you can see above.

For a while, I too began to buy it; I convinced myself that there were things that matter more than economy. Judge that statement if you want, but I will openly admit that I was mistaken- after doing my own research, I found that Labour can be trusted with the economy…Yes…more so than the conservatives.

I am aware this is an earth- shattering view for many people who have been listening to political news in the last five years, but hear me out.

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS, who are completely independent) growth in 2010 when Labour left office was at 1%.

Growth, after 5 years of Conservative- Lib Dem coalition, is at 0.3%.

For five years of austerity and cuts, the conservatives have very little to show.

The usual comeback to this is “Well, they’re not depending on borrowing to prop up the economy”

But this is completely wrong; in 5 years, the conservatives have borrowed (according to ONS) £417 billion.

To most people £417 billion is just a number, so let’s put it into perspective; in 13 years of Labour government and an economic crash in 2008, Labour borrowed £407 billion pounds.

In 13 years of Labour government, they borrowed £10 billion less than the Conservatives did in 5 years…and the economy is worse off for it.

Here, I feel that Labour should admit that their record is not unblemished. Those who ask for confessions off others, should be willing to do so themselves. Gordon Brown’s government did seriously overestimate the state of the economy in the economic boom. Spending and selling were both done recklessly.

But not one serious economist predicted the economic crash in 2008. Looking back, it’s all too easy for the conservatives to blame the economic situation on Labour. But I would ask you to remember that George Osborne (Conservative chancellor and shadow chancellor at the time) stated in 2007 that he would match Labour’s spending plans, and increase spending on public services. So he wouldn’t have done anything different.

You can see the promise yourself http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6975536.stm

Not only was the 2008 collapse started in the American markets, but it was also completely unpredictable. Ben Gummer (Conservative MP) admitted it in front of a live audience, where I happened to be present, that “no one could have predicted the crash.”

So, if the conservatives would have had the same spending plan, what exactly are they saying?

It seems to me that all the argument “Labour f*cked up the economy” comes down to is “A government who couldn’t have predicted the crash, didn’t predict the crash.”

It’s not actually saying anything. It’s an empty statement. “All bachelors are unmarried men.” “All cubes are cube shaped.”

It’s usually at this point that the argument becomes “But Labour did so badly that we could have been in the same situation as Greece.

Not even close!

The comparison between the UK and Greek economy is completely facile.

The comparison between the UK and Greek economy is completely facile.

Ignoring the above argument, Greece was absolutely full of corruption- particularly in the form of tax evasion. We are two completely different countries in that sense.

But also, we have extra roads open to us in times of economic crisis. Greece cannot boast the same advantage.

Because we control our own currency (£), we have a central bank that links directly to our government. Having a central bank allows us to control our bonds in times of economic crisis and create a “lender of last resort”. This would allow us to create a macro-economy to ease us into a slow, painful, but manageable recovery.

The last line of the argument is usually distraction- “Yes, but we’ve improved GDP.”

I have to congratulate the conservatives here. GDP has risen, according to ONS, to 1.2% below the pre-crisis levels. They do deserve credit for this.

But their victory is short-lived I’m afraid.

GDP measures what we (in Britain) produce as a nation. It doesn’t tell you where that money goes.

It will come as no surprise to you that the vast majority of wages are frozen due to austerity measures. In fact, even back in 2012 National Net Disposable Income (NNDI is how much of the produce the average working citizen keeps) has remained at a constant 5% below the levels prior to the 2008 crash.

In short, what this means is that we are producing more, but keeping less.

This is because the Conservatives are interested (for both good and bad reasons) in big business. International business, to be more precise.

From ONS.gov.uk

From ONS.gov.uk

In 2012, according to ONS’ report “Ownership of UK quoted shares 2012”, there was a huge rise in the amount of shares that overseas companies (who are always a question in tax) own, while the amount of British-owned shares took a dive.

So, in fact, too much of our produce is going to international companies, while the number of food banks in this country has risen by 536.4%.

Benefit fraud (which costs us £1.2 billion per year according to the DWP) is being viciously tackled, and sanctions are being imposed on ordinary people, while tax avoidance, evasion and failure to collect tax (costing us £120 billion per year according to Public and Commercial Services union [PCS]) is being taken as a lighter issue, and largely ignored.

It is a joke to continue to blame Labour after 5 years of government.

What isn’t a joke is the suffering of people due to the mistakes of the Tories and their bias towards the rich. Give as many tax cuts as you like, until a sensible economic policy is adopted, where money is put in the hands of the consumer to create growth, we’re not going anywhere.

To put it simply, until then, the economy will be as devoid of energy and compassion as Katie Hopkin’s heart.