Not too long ago, I came to an undesirable, if not shocking, realization.
And that realization was that more often than not, people’s opinions, thoughts, experiences, viewpoints and actions are quickly discredited or slandered based simply on the identity of that person. Certain stigmas and preconceived notions unfortunately carry so much weight, that a decision is made about the veracity of a statement before the speaker has even uttered a single syllable. When I say “identity”, that obviously is a general term that can be replaced with any number of things. Race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social class, profession, political party affiliation, nationality, age, etc.. As much as I don’t like it and wish it weren’t so, it is undeniably true: The only thing that matters in a debate, discussion, or conversation is your identity. As much as i’d like to think that there are people out there who will listen, in an unbiased fashion, to all information, I’ve become very skeptical that such is even possible.
Rather than bore you with a long-form example or explanation about my coming to this realization, let me rather explain to you what this knowledge has pushed me to do. It has motivated me to run an experiment. An experiment where people are given information from an unknown source and see if they’ll agree or disagree with the information based simply upon the information itself. A socialist would never take seriously the argument of a capitalist (and vice versa). But would they be more open-minded about certain ideas and theories if they didn’t already know that the source of the ideas and theories was a socialist? I’m not naive enough to thinks that not knowing the source would change someone’s mind about a certain topic, but instead of being turned off immediately by the identity of the person, they would be turned off by the idea itself.
That’s when the idea for Modern Publius started to develop in my head. When the founders of the United States of America were in the process of drafting and ratifying the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay wrote a series of essays published in newspapers trying to convince the public and fellow leaders of the necessity and importance of the document. Each of these essays, however, was published under the pseudonym “Publius”, from the Latin root publicus meaning “the people”. There are a handful of theories about why they published these essays anonymously. But the simplest, and best one is this: By concealing the identity of the author, the reader was forced to focus on the quality of the argument, as opposed to the the reputation, or identity, of the writer. It’s harder to get ad hominem about a writer you can’t identify.
So that’s what Modern Publius is all about. Being able to voice opinions, thoughts and stories without the biases inherent in our identities. For now, I will be the lone writer and will make great effort to conceal as much about my identity as possible, although I anticipate a few things will slip through the cracks. But because my identity will mostly be hidden, I will also have removed the disincentive to say what I truly think or feel. I’ll speak freely, openly and maybe recklessly about my thoughts and views, without the fear of rejection or vitriol being thrown my way.
I can handle my views being rejected, but it’s different when it’s your identity.