The Toxicity of the Vocal Left
Most people don’t want to get into heated and unpleasant political discussions. The result of that is that the most toxic personalities dominate online discourse. Yeah I know, this sounds really dark, but apart from writing about microprocessors I am quite passionate about politics and society. And lately some of the debates I see on twitter just got me into ranting mode. So you will have to excuse me that I write with a certain hyperbole and exaggurations. I am probably not as angry as I sound 😉
Anyway in our gallery of unpleasant social media personalities we got the right represented by Trump droids, dog whistling racists and misogynists.
While over on the left side we got the radicals who see the heterosexual white male as the embodiment of all things evil. Especially if he is old.
The Useful Idiots
Each side serve as useful idiots to the other. The loud uncompromising male hating leftists serve as proof to right-wingers that there is no place for white males on the left. Or rather there is a place, but only if you are as narrow minded as them or completely shut up, parrot their ideas and don’t have opinions of your own.
The losers are those of us on the left and right who at least try to make a halft-hearted attempt at not being dicks.
As someone worried about the rise of fascism, the alt-right and Trumpism, it is becoming clearer that hate mongers on the right whether that is people like Alex Jones, Gavin McInnes, Milo Yiannopoulos, Stefan Molyneux or Donald Trump are not the only source of their growth.
In fact they get a very big helping hand from the toxic left. When every minor disagreement with them is met with “white privilege” or your opinion doesn’t count because you are a “heterosexual white male,” then merchants of hate cheer on the sideline and ask for more. They want you to feel disregarded, hated and marginalized by the nutty left. Who needs enemies when you got allies like that?
Read more: Why White Privilege Is a Bad Term
Sure one could argue that a lot of this isn’t real. As a white male, you still enjoy every possible advantage in society. However it is human nature to want to belong ideologically. To be able to express yourself. Sometimes you see moderate people radicalized into right-wingers by toxic leftists. After enough rejection, the alt-right siren song becomes alluring. They tell you that, it is okay to be a westerner. It is okay to be white. Hey it is even okay to be a heterosexual male. Who knew? You don’t even need to apologize for it. Gradually people get roped in.
You can call these people anything you want. Weak, crybabies, spoiled whatever. That is usually the reaction from a toxic leftist. But this is what I have come to learn about the alt-right personalities I have engaged with: They are not all some embodiment of evil. They are simply angry and bitter about being shut out. But is that only their problem? Or is it actually our problem as well?
Why I Care About Reaching Right-Wingers
Ever since my fellow countryman right wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik murdered 77 Norwegians because they where too open minded towards muslims immigrants, I have wanted to make a difference. I read his manifesto. I am about the same age as him. I recognize a lot of his life experiences. I can to some degree understand how people slide into darkness. He may have been mildly racist at some point, but by being completely rejected and marginalized he eventually slid further and further into extremist territory.
My belief is that a lot of people can be saved if you give them a chance. Do they deserve it? Nope, but who cares? Don’t we want less right-extremists?
But the toxic left has the attitude, that if you don’t pass their ideological purity test, you are immediately shut out and verbally abused. You never get anybody to listen to you if all you do is to verbally abuse them. The first path towards getting someone to listen to you, is by showing some empathy towards the person you want to change the mind of.
Ideological Carpet Bombing Will Never Yield Victory
The toxic left employ about as sophisticated tactic to meet their goals as America throwing napalm all over Vietnam hoping that would get rid of all the communists. No matter how many communists they killed it seemed like they always produced more of them. It reminds me of a story from Afghanistan about a family of six brothers. One joined the Taliban with a rusty AK-47. He got killed. To avenge his dead brother, he next brother picked up his rusty AK-47 and joined the Taliban. He died too. This I believe continued until the father picked up the rifle and got killed. In the end only the mother was left.
It shows the futility of the belief that you can somehow carpet bomb the “bad guys” out of existence. Instead you must show a positive alternative. Find common ground. Yelling abuse at each other on social media is about as effective as trying to bomb Taliban out of existence.
A lot of this is simply intellectual laziness. Many simply don’t want to engage with racists and disprove their racist theories. That requires work. It requires reading. It requires knowing biology, history and many other things. It is much easier to simply scream racist. That may feel really good, and you don’t think you owe the other guy to say anything nice. After all, he or she is the problem. Not you, right?
But it really isn’t about who is right or wrong but about moving society forward in a positive direction. Ultimately screaming racist is simply a selfish act. All it does is make you feel better, but it doesn’t actually improve society in any way.
One thing I have learned over the years debating leftists and alt-righters is that many on the alt right are actually willing to engage in a deep discussion. Sadly my ideological brethren on the left, frequently have no such patience. If you fail their litmus test you are quickly dismissed with some paternalistic suggestion about reading some book. Some kind of self hating book like “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo. It is the modern version of the monks going around whipping themselves on their back. Somehow a lot of these toxic leftists cannot feel good about themselves unless they hate themselves.
Make Friends Not Enemies
I have struggled hard to convince many alt-right people that we are not all like that. The toxic left poison the well for the rest of us on the left. There are reasonable people on the right one could have won over. But they have come to believe that being a leftist means you need to hate yourself. That independent thinking is not tolerated. What we need is a more vocal moderate left which makes it clear that we tolerate a wider variety of opinions and differences.
The key point is that we are trying to work for a more equal society, with equality between men and women. Where you should not be judged by the color of your skin or your sexual orientation.
What Makes Me a Leftist?
It might be useful to clarify what I mean by leftist. I am basically somewhere on the socialist spectrum, but not the crazy kind. I don’t hate rich people. I am not against people starting companies or owning companies. Twitter socialists are frequently of the uncompromising kind who view all aspect of capitalism evil. But I used to be close to a libertarian and if you completely abandoned all previous views, then your views never had much solid foundation.
I do in fact think free market economics is a brilliant invention. On paper under ideal situations it is a work of wonder. That I ventured into socialist territory isn’t because I have somehow rejected everything I believed about markets. Rather I have supplemented my knowledge. I have come to understand all the myriad of factors that make markets fail in different circumstances.
- Failures of Capitalism: The Prisoners Dilemma
- Failures of Capitalism: Incomplete or Asymmetric Information
- Failures of Capitalism: Manufactured Needs and Planned Obsolescence
The key missing piece of the puzzle I simply forgot to take into consideration as a quasi libertarian was that wealth is power and influence. My initial naive view was that whether a private individual or the state owned a factory made no difference. Sharing a factory between people I reasoned doesn’t give them more to eat or shelter. You cannot eat the bricks a factory is made of, or use it as dwellings. Yet somebody has to own it.
Read more: Why Libertarianism Can Never Work
Yet the key part of ownership is power. Who decides what is produced, how production is expanded and how the profits are shared? In a free wheeling capitalist society that is left to a tiny elite, which will seek to perpetuate their oligarchical power, thus developing a crony capitalist system.
This produces what at first may seem like a contradiction: That Nordic countries despite their heavy dose of socialism have some of the best operating capitalist economies. Yet this is not a contradiction at all. Because is these doses of socialism which counters the development of crony capitalism. Even fanboys for capitalism will agree that crony capitalism is not a good thing. Yet they have gotten the fundamentals wrong. They believe a minimalist state is the way to avoid crony capitalism. Reality is counter intuitive. It is a larger socialist inspired state which allows one to counter the formation of crony capitalism.
This is the irony of capitalism. Unchecked capitalism is highly self destructive. It will begin to kill its own population by stuffing it with fast food, opioid pills, cigarettes and turn people into gamblers. Unchecked capitalism prays on the worst of our inclinations. It will drag us down into to the darkness.
However social democracy has proven itself as a powerful antidote to this. And this is the direction I believe one can take much further. We can let the interest of common people guide the economy rather than what is frequently the selfish needs of a small rich elite.
That is what makes me a leftist.