Monday, October 29, 2012

Is MLM about substance or power?

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When one have an argument (not necessarily a heated one), one should be aware of one's goal, vs. the opponent's goal. Is it over actual matter of substance, or merely vying for power? The problem here is making sure which one is your opponent actually vying for, as it will affect how s/he frame the arguments, and how you approach it.

More relationship arguments are over power, not substance. Sometimes capitulation, even when you know you are "right" (substance), may not be worth the effort.

However, most financial or business arguments are over substance, unless you're talking about corporate power struggles.

You need to know what are you fighting over. If you attempt to go for power, but your opponent is talking substance, you'll sound rather dumb in avoiding the issues (of substance).

And that brings up one of the fundamental problems of MLM... is it about substance (making money), or power (controlling people)?

When critics of MLM talk about MLM, we generally talk about substance, about how many people win, how many people do NOT (and how many people LOSE), how profitable is the product, the business model, and so on.

When PROponents of MLM talk about MLM, they sound like they are talking substance too. However, often they are not. They are usually talking about power.

That illustrates one fundamental dichotomy about MLM... a fundamental contradiction of its role.

Jeremy Sherman on Psychology Today put forth 7 signs that the arguer is just vying for power, and seems every one of them fits a MLM defender (or scam defender):

1) Ladder dancing:  the "defender" refuses to acknowledge your analysis, but will analyze "around" it, thus implying that your analysis is wrong, but will not refute it directly.

In my experience, most "defenders" of a scheme do NOT refute analysis, but will simply dismiss it as "negativity", and the more serious ones try to pick holes *around* the analysis.

2) Trick bagging:  the "defender" uses various fallacies, red herrings, and rhetorical tricks to dismiss your analysis and argument but still "sounds" reasonable

This entire blog is an attempt to document such tricks, used to defend such schemes, that sounds reasonable, but not so at second glance. For example, offering "character testimony" about how great a company is does not in any way refute the explanation that its compensation model is a pyramid scheme.

3) Double-standard hypocrisy:  whatever trick(s) he used on you does not apply to him

Please see [ whatever I said doesn't apply to me ]. This is very often used in random 'refutation' articles and/or websites.

4) Moral absolutism:  the defender believes he has the moral high ground, and you don't

The "defender" of the scam often act as if s/he is defending a way of life, instead of a scam. This is where they try to link their scheme to something really emotional, like "the 1%", the "rich conspiracy", the "American Dream", and so on and so forth.

5) Moral policing: the defender believes you are a liar and thus he's out to "save" the world from you

Here's an actual comment, slightly redacted:
... However, at the same time, you are misinforming and misleading the public about companies like [redacted] that are legitimate and say all bad, regardless whether or not they’re legit.
This gentleman did not bother listing what exactly was misinforming and misleading though, but his intent to cast the critics as "villains" is clear. There are plenty of other examples where they claim they are "outraged" at your "lies" or "misinformation" or "half-truths" about whatever you're talking about.

6) Vested interest: the defender has vested interest in supporting whatever he's supporting

This can be said for every scheme "defender". After all, they are in the scheme, thus they have a vested interest to defend it, right?

It's gotten so pervasive, they invented two counters...
1) Lie, that they are not really involved, or
2) Wild claims that *you* the critic have some sort of vested interest in something else, like "getting hits for your blog" to "you really work for our competition, company Y!"

7) No empathy: the defender refuses to see your side of the coin at all

Sincere arguers will analyze your point, and acknowledges that it has some merit (then try to pick some hole in it). Most "defenders" act as if you are not even on the same planet. "You just have no idea what we are" is an often used retort.  This is often followed by "contact me for the 'real' details" or "why don't you call up the company, here's the number."

It's clear defenders of scams are about power, not substance. That's how they exert power over others, i.e. their downlines and prospective downlines.

So is MLM about power over people, or actually improving people's lives through commerce? If it's actually about commerce, why are its defenders acting as if they are about power?

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