On Polemics

It is, indeed, no easy task to give novelty to what is old, and authority to what is new; brightness to what is become tarnished, and light to what is obscure; to render what is slighted acceptable, and what is doubtful worthy of our confidence; to give to all a natural manner, and to each its peculiar nature. It is sufficiently honourable and glorious to have been willing even to make the attempt, though it should prove unsuccessful.

—Pliny the Elder

The world is full of worthy ideas, noble customs, and useful inventions, overlooked because they proved unworkable a hundred years ago, or because some now-unpopular people favoured them. Universal basic income is perhaps the best example, especially because it’s finally enjoying a small revival.

As Pliny said, there is great satisfaction in finding the right argument to back an unpopular but sound idea. Now if I could just convince everyone that the right generic, genderless word for fellow citizens, instead of Mr, Mrs, Ms, and so on, is obviously comrade, a  friendly word implying friendship and cooperation. But, well, that’s going to take some convincing.

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