Yes, honest debate requires secrecy.
Yes, honest debate requires distance.
No, honest debate requires trust.
No, honest debate requires closeness.
Honest debate does not require anonymity, no.
But sometimes it helps.
Politics involve a lot of issues, and the people of a society all have values different from each other. Sometimes those values clash. So some people feel better discussing some issues with anonymity.
Take, for example, discussions on religion. I refuse to talk about atheism and such in my hometown because there are so many fundamentalist Christians there. I mean we're talking about people who think that anyone who's favorite color is black means they are in the thrall of Satan. This means that I cannot have a real, honest discussion regarding atheism with them. And even if I don't talk about atheism with them if I talk about it with other people it could get back to them, and they could try to act against me for that reason.
So sometimes, yes, honest debate does require anonymity. This is because we don't always know how other people will act towards us on some issues. And some people have some extremely strong feelings on some issues. And they may act quite crazily on those issues. So anonymity shields and protects them from such things.
If there was a guarantee that people wouldn't suffer harsh consequences in an honest debate, people wouldn't care so much about anonymity. But, unfortunately, there's many ways of striking out at a person because of their beliefs. Anonymity helps to protect against them.
Also, we need to legalize recreational drugs and prostitution.
Honest debate requires allowing for the ability of the other party to actually change your mind. Without that, debate is merely an exercise in time wasting, unless, of course, you win. ;-)
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself.
Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” ― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman
I was talking about actual debate with implications. Many people seem to bias their positions based on what's convenient rather than engage in universal principles.
If they like it, they say yes. If they don't like it, they say no.
one could argue that a truly honest debate, allows all to know about who they are debating.
but the danger of obsessive wackos finding you and killing you and your family, or harrassing you at work or home, is too great a risk.
I don't think it's necessary to give names and address and be standing at a podium next to someone. Online it's true that on American forums there tends to be a huge amount of ad hominen and posts not even seen cause of ignore lists and such. Personal attacks that distract from the issue happen in RL debate too though. Anyone who's had to sit in say a classroom and defend an unpopular position knows it quickly no longer resembles a debate.
I know on Japanese forums usually all posters have no handle, so there's nowhere near the same level of derailing, or where someone not well liked makes a decent thread but gets no serious replies. I try to not look at someone's "lean" or if they're a mod or whatever, because I prefer to reply to the post itself only.
Much "dishonesty" is ignorance. Honest debate requires reliable information.
The better question might be:
"Is it possible to have an honest discussion of ideas using your true identity without fear of reprisal from the PC police?"
Yes, just not in this world, at least not now nor in the near future, not even in America (which is a damn shame).
In any case, I do not need to know with whom I am conversing in order to discuss ideas with them, honestly or otherwise.
It's like you're dreaming of Gorgonzola when it's clearly Brie time, baby. Step into my office.