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"If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all." - An activist criticising activism

twokidsmanybruises

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"If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all." - An activist criticising activism

Why this radical activist is disillusioned by the toxic culture of the left | The Independent

If you’ve ever worked with oppressed groups, such as people who are homeless, abused, addicted or suffering from mental health problems, there's one thing you learn straight away. They usually don't frame their worldviews in terms of academic theories students learn in gender studies classes in university. For the most part, they tend to not analyse their experiences in terms of systemic power and privilege, concepts such as “the patriarchy”, “white privilege”, or “heteronormativity”.

While many of these folks know that they're directly impacted by class inequality, they don't sit around pondering capitalism, reading Marx, or tackling the effects of “problematic behaviours”. They are not concerned with checking their privilege. No. They are busy trying to survive. Getting through the next day. Meeting their basic needs. They don't bother with policing their language and worrying about how their words might unintentionally perpetuate certain stereotypes. They are more concerned with their voices being heard.

Yet I witness so many “activists” who ignore the realities of oppression despite saying that they care about those at the bottom of society. They think that being offended by something is equal to experiencing prison time or living on the streets. They talk about listening, being humble and not having preconceptions. Yet they ignore the lived experiences of those who don’t speak or think properly in the view of university-educated social justice warriors, regardless of how much worse off they really are.
It's an interesting article at the end of the link above, and one that'll look familiar to p.ie, as the same arguments have been made here time and time again.

What makes this article a little different is that it is a left-leaning activist criticising the methods and tactics used my modern activism, and not the causes that activism is nominally standing up for.

So, it is NOT an anti-minority, anti-feminist, anti-anti-capitalist article. But it is very scathing towards activists in these areas.

Two main points are raised:

1. The language and rhetoric used by activists alienate and patronise the people the activists are claiming to support.

2. A tactic of silencing those opposed to the "issue" are silenced by any means possible.

So, what do others think. I'd be far more interested to hear what people say about their own sides, and the people who hold the same views as themselves, rather than just food-fighting with the "opposition".
 


RodShaft

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It's very true. I see it a lot. Not least in my own party..,
 

Mercurial

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1. The language and rhetoric used by activists alienate and patronise the people the activists are claiming to support.

2. A tactic of silencing those opposed to the "issue" are silenced by any means possible.
I think that the first is a real issue, but not the second, and that the first applies just as much to the author of the article linked to in the OP (which displays almost all of the behaviours the author aims to criticize) as it does to other activists on the left (myself included).

I won't get into the free speech issue, as I've already spent a lot of time discussing that on other threads. I don't value freedom of expression as much as some on the left, because I think the kind of freedom of expression that actually exists in the world is miles away from the kind that exists in the heads of those who view certain strands of left wing activism as a threat to freedom of expression. Real freedom of expression would be great, but we're a long way away from it, given the world in which we actually live (which is one reason why I think the author would benefit from looking a little more closely at the lived experiences of marginalized people).
 

loaf

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Not much to truly engage with here unfortunately.

It's certainly heartfelt, but the whole piece just reads like someone who has come across a few too many pretentious lefty egos (yes, we all know a couple), and decided they embody a 'toxic culture of the left'.

This is a leap so big that it renders the whole article a bit meaningless. The sheer number of straw men it contains should get anyone's trigger warning throbbing.
 

farnaby

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Reminds me of the radical Weather Underground group in the 60s.

They were at one point supposedly leaderless, and used a technique of group sessions that took it in turns to viciously criticise each individual in turn so no one got above themselves and everyone recognised their flaws.

What actually happened was that the strong-willed assumed de facto leadership; brushed off criticism while weaker members crumbled; and enforced "free love" which gratified them while psychologically damaging others.

I.e. supposedly egalitarian groups are anything but.
 

farnaby

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Not much to truly engage with here unfortunately.

It's certainly heartfelt, but the whole piece just reads like someone who has come across a few too many pretentious lefty egos (yes, we all know a couple), and decided they embody a 'toxic culture of the left'.

This is a leap so big that it renders the whole article a bit meaningless. The sheer number of straw men it contains should get anyone's trigger warning throbbing.
It could do with specific examples alright (why not name names?), and evidence that such examples are representative. Otherwise you're right, it comes across as blanket condemnation requiring justification.
 

eoghanacht

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Its the bane of the Irish left, it was founded by working class for the working class but like elsewhere it has been taken over by the uni grads, who lets face it won't have first hand clue about any of the topics facing the Irish underclass then or now
 

GDPR

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Not much to truly engage with here unfortunately.

It's certainly heartfelt, but the whole piece just reads like someone who has come across a few too many pretentious lefty egos (yes, we all know a couple), and decided they embody a 'toxic culture of the left'.

This is a leap so big that it renders the whole article a bit meaningless. The sheer number of straw men it contains should get anyone's trigger warning throbbing.
When the Left in general believed that homosexual activity was bourgeois degeneracy in the UK it was strong and moving forward, now look it...Anybody who knows anything about contemporary Universities knows that extremely often the all this PC bunk is a weapon wielded against those from working class backgrounds by those hailing from more fortunate in worldly terms circumstances. Indeed "Social Justice Warriors" very often have a deep contempt for the indigenous British working class and have managed to alienate a significant proportion of them from what was once their Party. The "Trendy Left" promotes various nihilistic and destructive agendas that are actually favoured by Post-Fordist Capitalism that undermine working class life and the ability to fight back over actually being concerned about genuine Social Justice.

Here is a brilliant article that ties into what the OP was saying;

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2011/01/let-them-eat-diversity/
 

former wesleyan

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" We are entering, in politics especially, a post-factual era in which it is apparently permissible for public figures to assert things without evidence, and then to justify their assertions by adding “Well, that’s my opinion” – as though that in itself was some kind of justification. It isn’t. And such charlatans need to learn it isn’t. "

David Hare. Playwright.

" …and there are more examples to come of my belief that the further left you go the more fascist you become. And I'm not going to apologise for that. "

Alan Bleasdale. Playwright.
 

loaf

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When the Left in general believed that homosexual activity was bourgeois degeneracy in the UK it was strong and moving forward, now look it...Anybody who knows anything about contemporary Universities knows that extremely often the all this PC bunk is a weapon wielded against those from working class backgrounds by those hailing from more fortunate in worldly terms circumstances. Indeed "Social Justice Warriors" very often have a deep contempt for the indigenous British working class and have managed to alienate a significant proportion of them from what was once their Party. The "Trendy Left" promotes various nihilistic and destructive agendas that are actually favoured by Post-Fordist Capitalism that undermine working class life and the ability to fight back over actually being concerned about genuine Social Justice.

Here is a brilliant article that ties into what the OP was saying;

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2011/01/let-them-eat-diversity/
I'm always troubled by the idea that there is a fundamental opposition between class-based leftism and the 'liberal left' (anti-racism, pro gay rights etc.)

Yes, the liberal left in many ways compliments global capitalism, and does little to undermine it. But for me it does not follow that one should therefore reject its ideas. Why should I have to choose between resisting neoliberalism via a class-based politics, and resisting discrimination and repression of minorities? Are the two mutually exclusive?
 

talkingshop

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I think that the first is a real issue, but not the second, and that the first applies just as much to the author of the article linked to in the OP (which displays almost all of the behaviours the author aims to criticize) as it does to other activists on the left (myself included).
How is the author of the piece patonising the people activists are claiming to support? (You said he/she was as guilty of this as the people he/she is criticsing?).

I won't get into the free speech issue, as I've already spent a lot of time discussing that on other threads. I don't value freedom of expression as much as some on the left, because I think the kind of freedom of expression that actually exists in the world is miles away from the kind that exists in the heads of those who view certain strands of left wing activism as a threat to freedom of expression. Real freedom of expression would be great, but we're a long way away from it, given the world in which we actually live (which is one reason why I think the author would benefit from looking a little more closely at the lived experiences of marginalized people).
This seems to imply that some people in the world (let's confine it to the western world) are currently being denied the freedom to express themselves. I don't see any evidence whatever of this.
 

Irish-Rationalist

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Why this radical activist is disillusioned by the toxic culture of the left | The Independent



It's an interesting article at the end of the link above, and one that'll look familiar to p.ie, as the same arguments have been made here time and time again.

What makes this article a little different is that it is a left-leaning activist criticising the methods and tactics used my modern activism, and not the causes that activism is nominally standing up for.

So, it is NOT an anti-minority, anti-feminist, anti-anti-capitalist article. But it is very scathing towards activists in these areas.

Two main points are raised:

1. The language and rhetoric used by activists alienate and patronise the people the activists are claiming to support.

2. A tactic of silencing those opposed to the "issue" are silenced by any means possible.

So, what do others think. I'd be far more interested to hear what people say about their own sides, and the people who hold the same views as themselves, rather than just food-fighting with the "opposition".
These problems are very much characteristic of the left in the UK and Ireland today. As a life-long Socialist it makes me sick to see young, idealistic, naive, middle class, University educated, so-called "Socialists" get involved with fringe Socialist parties out of bourgeois guilt, then patronise and condescend to real working class people about their socio-economic situation, whilst climbing the internal power structures of their respective parties in order to gain positions of power and influence at the top of a socio-political hierarchy.

The same charlatans are supportive of EU membership and mass immigration, as in their simplistic world view they feel to be opposed to mass immigration is to be racist. The actual fact of mass immigration negatively impacting indigenous employment by permitting greedy capitalist employers to import large numbers of cheap immigrant labour and pay them pittance thus lowering indigenous workers wages and making indigenous workers unemployed and unemployable doesn't seem to register with them. The same phony, middle class, guilt ridden, leftists are also sympathetic towards Islam, despite Islam being a fascistic, brutal, misogynistic, politico-religious ideology with aspirations of world hegemony, and the ludicrous numbers of terrorist attacks and murders being carried out in its name.

George Orwell defiantly sustained his Socialism and abandoned and criticised the Soviet Union for what Stalin and others perpetrated in Socialism's name. Contemporary Socialists would be wise to emulate Orwell and make a fearless re-appraisal of the direction the left is heading, and with a view to correcting its trajectory.

.
 

GDPR

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Why this radical activist is disillusioned by the toxic culture of the left | The Independent



It's an interesting article at the end of the link above, and one that'll look familiar to p.ie, as the same arguments have been made here time and time again.

What makes this article a little different is that it is a left-leaning activist criticising the methods and tactics used my modern activism, and not the causes that activism is nominally standing up for.

So, it is NOT an anti-minority, anti-feminist, anti-anti-capitalist article. But it is very scathing towards activists in these areas.

Two main points are raised:

1. The language and rhetoric used by activists alienate and patronise the people the activists are claiming to support.

2. A tactic of silencing those opposed to the "issue" are silenced by any means possible.

So, what do others think. I'd be far more interested to hear what people say about their own sides, and the people who hold the same views as themselves, rather than just food-fighting with the "opposition".

The so called Left don't read Marx either. The are too busy binning threads written by those of us who do.
 

Mercurial

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How is the author of the piece patonising the people activists are claiming to support? (You said he/she was as guilty of this as the people he/she is criticsing?).
It's patronising to suggest that such people don't care about theory as well as practice - many of them do, but find it difficult to make their voices heard because the conversation tends to be dominated by people speaking on their behalf (like the author of the article).

This seems to imply that some people in the world (let's confine it to the western world) are currently being denied the freedom to express themselves. I don't see any evidence whatever of this.
I see a lot of evidence for it.
 

Eire1976

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" We are entering, in politics especially, a post-factual era in which it is apparently permissible for public figures to assert things without evidence, and then to justify their assertions by adding “Well, that’s my opinion” – as though that in itself was some kind of justification. It isn’t. And such charlatans need to learn it isn’t. "

David Hare. Playwright.

" …and there are more examples to come of my belief that the further left you go the more fascist you become. And I'm not going to apologise for that. "

Alan Bleasdale. Playwright.
Like Enda with his bud down the pub stories?
 

Lúidín

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George Orwell defiantly sustained his Socialism and abandoned and criticised the Soviet Union for what Stalin and others perpetrated in Socialism's name. Contemporary Socialists would be wise to emulate Orwell and make a fearless re-appraisal of the direction the left is heading, and with a view to correcting its trajectory.
Orwell's attack on socialism, 'Animal Farm', won him the undying praise of the financial oligarchy and he has served them well ever since, even to the extent of being on the curriculum of Irish schools. Those 'wise ones' who emulate him, such as Tony Blair and Brendan Howlin, are the enemies of socialism, a philosophy and political theory that advances the interests of the working people.
 

GDPR

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Why this radical activist is disillusioned by the toxic culture of the left | The Independent



It's an interesting article at the end of the link above, and one that'll look familiar to p.ie, as the same arguments have been made here time and time again.

What makes this article a little different is that it is a left-leaning activist criticising the methods and tactics used my modern activism, and not the causes that activism is nominally standing up for.

So, it is NOT an anti-minority, anti-feminist, anti-anti-capitalist article. But it is very scathing towards activists in these areas.

Two main points are raised:

1. The language and rhetoric used by activists alienate and patronise the people the activists are claiming to support.

2. A tactic of silencing those opposed to the "issue" are silenced by any means possible.

So, what do others think. I'd be far more interested to hear what people say about their own sides, and the people who hold the same views as themselves, rather than just food-fighting with the "opposition".
I hope Merc sues him, the cheeky git.
 

GDPR

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It's patronising to suggest that such people don't care about theory as well as practice - many of them do, but find it difficult to make their voices heard because the conversation tends to be dominated by people speaking on their behalf (like the author of the article).



I see a lot of evidence for it.

Of course you do - you and your mod team have prevented me from expressing myself several times in just this week.
 

DavidCaldwell

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I see a lot of evidence for it.
I see a lot of evidence that ordinary people have much greater opportunities for free expression that ever before.

Internet-connected computers and phones are affordable by almost everyone (or, indeed, accessible for free in many public libraries). These allow anybody (even a nobody like me) to publish their thoughts to the whole world - via sites like this, newspaper comments section, or (with a little bit of work and a little expense) one's own web-site.

This makes expression and dissemination of one's ideas much easier and effective that ever before.

You can argue that anti-extremist legislation and policing limit this freedom, but the fact that Anjem Choudary was convicted only after many years suggests otherwise.
 


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