Thursday, May 12, 2016

You're the problem with the left

Ever wanted to tell someone that the left (however defined) would be better off without them? That they aren't simply wrong, but actually make the left worse than it would otherwise be? Here's a handy guide.

(This was originally written in blog comments somewhere. George Scialabba wrote that I should turn it into an essay, but I don't really do essays, so it's here as is. Someone else thought it was a list of "wrongthinks", and it wasn't intended to be: each of the kinds of reasons below can sometimes be true, but more often they're just rhetorical ways of amping up one's disapproval of someone.)

I’ve arranged the various types of reasons in something like what I consider to be increasing order of attempted rhetorical force, though this ordering probably tells more about me than anything else.

1. Unintended consequences. “X is a sincere revolutionary, but X can’t see that trying for a revolution is what the state wants and they’d just use it as an excuse to crush us.”

2. Structural / continuing consequences. “X believes that the left-liberal order is a good thing and I agree that left-liberals have made some progress, but X doesn’t see that preserving the liberal order is what keeps us from having real socialism.”

3. Ignorance / non-reflection. “Poor X still can’t see he writes using white male privilege. I wish that he’d take the time to educate himself before he keeps going.”

4. Personal motivation. “Yeah, X has done a lot for social democracy, but who benefits from that? Mostly social democratic bosses like X.” “If only those purists weren’t so eager to get radical cred that makes them feel good about themselves, they’d see that we have to accept the lesser evil because it does real good for people.” (the LGM special)

5. Collective motivation. “X knows what’s going on when they talk about how good the New Deal was. They’re trying to preserve a system that’s sort of on the left but really it’s mostly good for people like X.”

6. Neener neener. “X is too chickenshit to be a real radical.” “Sure, X says they’re a radical, but they’re just looking for an excuse to hurt people.”

7. Bad seed. “I’ve seen ambitious attention seekers like X, and they really want to be one of the enforcers for the ruling class.”

8. Factual. “X is a police provocateur.”

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