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11 Theses on the Polemic

1: The polemic is a genre intended primarily to draw lines of demarcation, a style of document wagered in the midst of line struggle. As such it possesses a political function that is immediate: every polemic is primarily intended to serve the struggle to which it is attacked, to pull in sympathizers and isolate opponents, and it is written with the intention of being an organizer. The polemic is an intentional literature.

2: As an organizer, the strength of a polemic is determined by how well it succeeds in demarcating so as to mobilize support and isolate dissenters. The quality of a polemical intervention––whether it is an essay or an entire book––is located in the strength of its intervention. Hence rhetoric plays a significant role on the formal level because the polemic must engage its audience and pull in sympathizers while castigating those who would sympathize with the line it is intended to attack. The polemic's genre is located in its rhetorical form.

3: Although rhetoric…
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