New years eve 2018 will go down in history as “that one time i got high on adderall and spent 3 hours ranting about various topics surrounding leftism for three hours.” Originally a twitter thread, I decided to turn it into something that’s a bit prettier to read.
The thread is formatted as a “stream of consciousness,” so it’s difficult to turn it into something intended to be thought-out in advance, but I did my best, and even managed to add a bit.
The average person does not understand leftism
Freezing cold take but if the average person knew the difference between liberals and leftists, the right would have basically no arguments. SO MUCH of what i see from the right falls apart as soon as you realize the difference between democrats, “communist” russia and actual libertarian-leftists, and most of the rest of their crap is explained when you realize socialism isn’t “the government doing stuff.” the right is basically just a misinformation campaign.
The question is, how do we educate the average person? The answer: I don’t fuckin know! My experience with debate is being a teenage nu atheist, you think I can convince people of anything????
And the worst part is that fascists have PERFECTED convincing people that bullshit makes sense. Their strategy is essentially:
- boil things down into their most basic form, so that it makes sense if you don’t look into the data too much
- once you convince people of that, convince them of more bullshit that only makes sense if you have the foundation of previous bullshit
“Well Ezra, just do that!”
- it’s arguably unethical
- fascism makes sense within capitalism, ya know, that system that we exist in. leftism requires a HUGE shift in worldview that can’t be distilled as well as fascism can
The only reason I’m a leftist is because I got to 90% nazi, realized I was a nazi, and overcorrected on purpose. I went into this knowing that there was no way I was going to be a leftist, but i learned about it anyways because i felt i had a duty to stop what I almost became. My entry-point into the left was, of all things, antifa.
now, I haven’t read anything that marx wrote, or engels, or whatever other leftist writers exist. (i tried to read the bread book but i just can’t focus on something for that long).
I learned the basics of leftism from PhilosophyTube’s series on marx. so yes, these concepts /can/ be distilled, but you have to have an open mind and be willing to listen, and in my (very limited) experience, most people just don’t.
Capitalism functions in a similar way to religion, but worse
Most people have lived their lives under capitalism, and therefore understand (the public-facing parts of) capitalism. Everything good and bad in their lives is explained within the framework of capitalism as they understand it. For most people, if they understood how the world works behind-the-scenes, that would seriously fuck with how they view their life.
It’s extremely similar to religion actually, only worse
As a child, religion is presented as undisputed fact. Then later on in your life you discover that religion is disputed fact. The difference is that every religion is a minority, while capitalism has the vast majority of people on its side.
A majority of people think capitalism is why the world is so awesome, and a lack of capitalism is why parts of it aren’t (read: Venezuela) and the right knows this.
Democrats and liberals want capitalism just as much as the right does, they just want a slightly different capitalism, slightly further to the left. For the right, “the left” is venezuela, the USSR, china, and north korea.
For the right, not only is every direction left, every direction is so far to the left that it’d be insane to concede an inch. Democrats seemly have some moral obligation to concede, and the right gets whatever it wants.
Don’t forget, because the right lumps actual libsocs together with liberals, they also get to combine “special snowflakes” and violent revolutionaries.
It is essential that they maintain this cognitive dissonance.
Religion does the same thing. For christians, people of other religions (and even other denominations of christianity) aren’t just non-christians, they worship satan. This even applies to atheists. No matter how much you tell a christian, “I’m not saying I believe god doesn’t exist, just that I don’t believe god does exist,” you will still be branded as someone who
- Hates god
- Insists god doesn’t exist
- Worships money
- Worships satan
- Participates in lots of orgies
And unless they decide to listen and believe what you say, there’s no convincing them otherwise.
Then we get to “moderate” conservatives. You know, people who vote republican, but aren’t fascists (yes, they exist). People that only listen to two radio shows, both right-wing (and are proud of that), but also think that trans people should be allowed to exist.
These people would probably vote democrat, except they’ve been told that democrats are literally Stalin.
Any time democrats say something like “trans people should exist and be protected against discrimination”, these people get excited for a minute, until they remember that democrats are insane leftist gender-communists and if you give them an inch it won’t be long until 2 year old boys who like barbie dolls are getting their penises cut off.
Yes, that’s insane, but this is what they’ve been taught to believe.
And of course, the right has caught on to the whole “going out into the world can expose you to new ideas and burst your bubble,” so college is demonized.
“College turns you into a feminazi! all these stupid liberals are getting degrees in gender studies and hating men!”
So most moderate conservatives end up isolating themselves from anything vaguely to their left, which means they’re only exposed to ideas to their right.
This is what happened to me. I was brought up conservative, dismissing everything to my left, hearing everything to my right, and slowly i inched towards full-on neo-nazi.
I didn’t even realize that was what was happening. All i knew was “capitalism good, capitalism is the right, these people are on the right”
It didn’t help that i was brought up racist, but not explicitly.
I remember a specific instance (I was about 10 years old) where i was in the passenger seat of the car, with the window open. We stopped at a stoplight, and the car to the right was being driven by a black woman. I rolled up my window, and my mother asked, “did you do that because she was black?”, to which I responded, “noooooooooo”.
She said “you’re not supposed to do that”
Did you notice the problem? it’s subtle.
She didn’t teach me to treat people of other races as equal, she taught me to act like they were equal.
In a more recent case, a man came up to our door with a 5 gallon bucket and asked for some water. I took the bucket, shut and locked the door, and started filling it up. My mother asked what I was doing, I explained the situation, and her first question was, “was he black?”
My whole life I was taught that racism is ok, as long as you do it in private.
This is how most people on the right think (in my experience). Racist jokes are bad, IF you’re around other races. This is summed up pretty well with a phrase that has been uttered hundreds of times in our house: “don’t do racist stuff, because you might get shot”
From what i can tell, the only reason my mother isn’t an all-out racist is because she is scared that she’ll get shot
Which is, ya know, racist
The problem with explaining leftism
If you want to “convert” someone to the left, they have to hear and understand the basics of leftism. The problem is that leftism can’t be easily distilled into a couple of sentences without leaving out crucial context. So the real problem is getting people to listen to a full explanation.
The best way is to make them curious, but how?
- We could distill leftism into a paragraph, but that’s really difficult.
- We could wait for people to get curious on their own, but that’s pretty unlikely
The answer: i don’t fuckin know, my debate experience is being an edgy teenage nu atheist
do i need to read some theory? probably do i need to talk to more people in real life? yes are either of those things going to happen soon? pfft no
The problem with spreading leftism
As much as we hate the marketplace of ideas, most people operate under it. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to have some leftist thought leaders? I mean, we sortof do already. Leftist twitter/youtube works sortof like that, but because of how social media works, everything tends to stay within the bubble of “leftist twitter/youtube”
People that function as proper thought leaders for “the left” tend to be social democrats, which is a problem because social democrats aren’t very far left at all.
Somehow the message of leftism has to get out to a wider audience, which is a problem when the methods of communication to a wide audience are very unfriendly to leftism.
The people who own tv stations are rich, rich people and leftists don’t mix.
We need a proper leftist in the public eye, getting proper attention, but nobody who can give it to them will ever do so.
Leftists are too far left, social democrats aren’t far enough left. Is there a middle ground that will work? Once again, I don’t know, i’m just somebody ranting on the internet! you think i have the answer to this shit?
Leftists can’t agree on anything
So much of all of this. It doesn’t help that the left is seriously fragmented, and different groups see other groups as worse than the right. It’s hard to convert people to a viewpoint when they look at it and see nothing but bickering and infighting.
this is a problem because:
- most people like capitalism, and the few who don’t don’t really agree on anything else, which makes capitalism look better than it should
- the right gets to pick and choose from every part of the left to discredit us
so “the left” is simultaniously:
- special snowflakes living in their parents’ basement
- edgy anarchists (how the average person thinks of anarchists)
- edgy anarchists but not white and also living off of welfare, in their parents’ basement
- people who like stalin
- people dressed in black who hate the n word
- people dressed in black smashing store windows because orange man bad
- triggered feminazi man-hating baby-killers
Fascists have good PR
‘We Must Protect The Pure Aryan Bloodline,’ Says Child After 9 Minutes Of Unsupervised Facebook Access
Don’t forget, this is our competition. People that haven’t learned to notice fascism are easily drawn in.
(yeah it’s the onion but this is basically what happened to me and it’s not a damn joke)
Fascists are excellent at optics. They’re so good that they don’t even need to make you a fascist for you to help them.
I forget who i was listening to on this subject but: Gamergate
Most people actually believed that gg was about “ethics in game journalism” or whatever, and those people covered for the misogynists ruining people’s lives.
If you’re a centrist, looking at gamergate, you see the “ethics in games journalism” people and not the real problem. “Those people are outliers, the movement is /really/ about ethics in games journalism,” and the Rational Skeptics™️ support a movement that destroys lives.
So the overton window slowly shifts to the right, until eventually it’s far enough that DONALD FUCKING TRUMP IS ELECTED PRESIDENT.
Fascism has become normalized
Fascists are so good, not only is donald trump president, but donald trump is a fascist and he doesn’t even know it.
It’s normal for a conservative to hate mexicans.
It’s normal for a conservative to want mass deportation of an ethnic group.
This is a thing.
Centrists are a gateway to fascism
Basically, the world is fucked, i don’t know what to do about it, we’re all slowly dying, and OH GOD DAMMIT I ALMOST FORGOT ABOUT THIS AND IT JUST HAD TO GET RETWEETED ONTO MY TL
Are you offended?
The Finders of the Rational Middle
“Not only am I an edgy atheist, I’m also an edgy anti-feminist! Yay! I’m so intelligent and edgy!”
Fuck 👏 off 👏 please 👏
“I reject both sides, fascism and gender-communism, and somehow find a polite middle ground that somehow manages to be even worse than fascism because it’s a gateway drug to fascism that looks rational”
It’s been said a million times but i’ll say it again:
Fascism is incredibly effective against liberalism because “muh free speech” lets fascists spread their bullshit and anyone who challenges them is just trying to censor them.
Absolute free speech for everyone
If anybody on the right reads this, guess what?
I’m a free speech absolutist, and I also think nazis should be deplatformed.
“So you believe in absolute free speech except for nazis?”
No, i believe in absolute free speech, for everyone.
Hate speech is censorship, therefore stopping people from spewing hate speech is actually part of absolute free speech.
“If you’re offended by what i say then that’s your prob-“ shut the fuck up.
It’s incredibly difficult to put ourselves in other’s shoes
Telling a trans woman that she’s “really a man” isn’t just “initiating debate,” it’s a statement that you don’t view trans people as real. You are putting yourself at odds with her existence, and therefore if she responds, she is putting herself in danger.
Not just physical danger, but also the very real threat of you making her so angry that she gets mad at you (rightfully so), and someone will pull out a cell phone and put the video on the internet.
It works the same way for any other minority. Hate speech is hate speech because it is dangerous, and that has the effect of censoring opposing viewpoints. Therefore, to have absolute free speech, you cannot have hate speech.
That’s an extremely interesting point. heck, it’s kind of a solution to the famous “paradox of tolerance”, isn’t it? resolve it by showing that the premise itself is wrong…
Various points from others
There’s a whole host of problems, socially, that contribute to these issues, but I think a large part of it is extreme tribalism. People want to fit into a group that agrees with how they identify. Then as they interact with that group they become more extreme to fit in better.
Then they look for the most extreme examples of people they disagree with and lump everyone that agrees even the slightest bit into that group. That’s what gets hard for moderates. Someone who is center right is going to agree with the extreme right more than the left.
But as they interact with the far right more and more they adjust their views to fit in better. It leads to the issue of people focusing only on sound bites that agree with their views than researching views they disagree with.
Yes, all of this
This problem is compounded when they look at the most extreme of any group and just assume that everyone who thinks differently must be part of that group. I mean, we’ve gotten to a point where there are people on the left who think everyone on the right is a Nazi, and everyone on the left are antifa terrorists.
That’s even worse than it sounds, because “everyone on the left are antifa terrorists” really means
- Everyone left of donald trump is antifa
- All antifa are terrorists
- Because antifa are terrorists, and everyone to the left of donald trump is antifa (and therefore a terrorist), the only “reasonable” position would be to take the opposite side from antifa. Fascists.
Another example are “gamers.” There are people out there that think all gamers are toxic, anti-social, asshats. Yeah they exist, but in the US alone more than half the population play video games on a regular basis. When did hundreds of millions of people agree on anything?
Until people can break out of their bubbles and realize that people are more complex than sound bites and clickbait that villainizes those they disagree with, this will continue to be an issue.
Exactly, the question is, how do we break people out of their bubble enough that they’ll seek out more information but not so much that they stop listening.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” - Mark Twain
I believe this is truly the answer based on my own personal experiences.
Which is why the right demonizes things like “talking to the left” and “going to college”
I would add, one doesn’t even need to travel far. Go around your town, try new things, talk to people, and learn from their’s and your own experiences.
The whole “if you say the wrong thing around the wrong people you’ll get shot” isn’t just racist, it’s another way to keep you within your bubble
i’ve actually kind of been thinking about this idea, that “rightism” is, perhaps, an expertly-crafted delusion to protect capitalism; an ideological weapon against the proletariat
A great idea, until you remember that if you ever say this to anyone you will immediately be branded a conspiracy nut
Capitalism accomplished its goal
Here’s one idea i had: leftism is based on the idea that “justice serves the weak”, whereas rightism is based on “justice serves the strong”
The rightist thinks that righteousness to success, wealth, prosperity is determined by strength. the most honorable, noble, hard-working people are most deserving, while the lazy, immoral, and “inferior” deserve nothing, and our systems should be built to promote the strong
Whereas the leftist thinks that justice ought go to the weak, as an extension of the weak to make them strong. our world is uneven; evil men are born in high golden palaces, while the charitable are made to roam the streets. our systems should be built to promote the weak.
IMO it’s more complicated than that, and it depends on the person.
Capitalism seems to fundamentally be based on the idea that “if you don’t contribute, you don’t get anything,” which made sense back in the day, but nowadays, as we get closer to automating everything, that’s less and less true by the day.
My christian mother points to the bible and says “if you don’t work you don’t get to eat,” and my refutation of that is “it’s a ceremonial law that doesn’t apply anymore.”
Back then, 99% of people were farmers for 1%. Now, 1% of people are farmers for 99%. The idea that “if you don’t work you don’t get food” is fundamentally flawed in the modern day.
FFS, modern homeless people eat better than serfs did. I can’t think of a better example of the fact that NOT EVERYONE NEEDS TO WORK IN ORDER TO EAT ANYMORE
Capitalism relies on supply and demand being roughly stable. At this point, the supply of what people need to survive outpaces the demand by a huge margin.
IIRC the world produces enough food to feed 10 billion people, and it’s thrown away because it’s too expensive to ship.
To me, leftism is the realization that capitalism accomplished its goal. The world is prosperous, everyone can live happy, and yet most people don’t. The system has been exploited by those with power so that the system continues, even though it doesn’t need to.
now that we have automation, now that we have instant global communication, now that we have /everything we need/, we don’t need the power structure that got us here.
In a way, it’s similar to marxist-leninism. Give people power, they lead us to our goal, then we take the power back. Just like marxist-leninism, it got fucked up along the way, because that’s what happens when you give people power, they use that power to give themselves more power.
It’s so bad that there really isn’t an excuse for most of this shit.
“we can’t ship the food (for 10b people) to africa” “what about people here, who will gladly come to you to get the food” “what food oh you mean the food that we pour bleach on before we throw it out?”
They could give this food to people for ZERO COST, but they’d rather people starve, because giving food away doesn’t raise profits
It is not necessary to read theory
I’d like to point out that i have read ZERO theory
but i have read /nothing/, so I’m probably wrong about a lot, but on the other hand, I’m an example of how much can be understood without reading tons of books
Saying “the working class has to read theory” doesn’t help anyone. Theory can be distilled (to a point), and it has to be, because most people just won’t read theory.
This isn’t to say “the working class is stupid and can’t read theory”, more that “capitalism has caught on and made it so that reading theory isn’t something that you’re incentivized to do”
You aren’t paid to read theory, and the folks that are most affected have to weigh the pros and cons of reading theory against getting another job, sleeping so you’ll be more effective at the jobs you have, or anything else they could do with their time that helps them survive.
Yeah, ideally people read theory. On the other hand, DISTILLING THEORY INTO 20 MINUTE YOUTUBE VIDEOS IS EXTREMELY HELPFUL FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T OR WON’T READ THEORY AND THESE VIDEOS ARE NOT A BAD THING!
In my case, I am effectively unable to read theory because ADHD makes it impossible to sit thru, reading books or even listening to audiobooks.
If the answer to “what’s leftism” was “read books”, I would not be a leftist