We think it is about the subject - about that issue being discussed. We think it is about arriving at that point of absolute truth which will tell us who is right and who is wrong. Of course, at the heart of this are two or more who are absolutely convinced that they are the ones gifted with the knowledge of what is right.
In most cases, the conflict is really about power and control. It is less about seeking the truth and more about seeking validation. Unfortunately, in most cases, that validation can only come by winning.
I liken the game to a pushing match. It generally starts by pushing points but rapidly escalates to pushing each other. Unfortunately, whenever we feel pushed, it is our human nature to push back. How do we push each other?
To describe that personal "push" I like to refer to actions or comments that prevent us from connecting and working together. In his book Living Nonviolent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg describes a comment that prevents connection as one "...that sounds like an analysis, or a criticism, or that implies wrongness on their part."
I would add to this that we push others whenever we seek to invalidate them. This is done whenever we counter with statements that make their points appear small, unimportant or irrelevant. When we invalidate one's thoughts, we invalidate the person and that feels like a push.
The question should not be who's right, or who's pushing whom. The question should be who has enough strength of character to stop pushing.