Wednesday, 26 October 2011

We Are All Prostitutes

Stuffed with words, words, words, humanity eats itself.

Hearing about experiences at #Occupy gatherings is enough to put anyone off participating. In contrast to much of the modern "Right" which, now it has thrown away that pesky conservative social responsibility, cheerfully celebrates the lowest common denominator of selfishness, aggression and Mammon, the "Left" has a serious existential problem. This problem lies in the paradox of simultaneously being an individual; a human animal with urgent wants, a personal survival instinct, desire to belong, sex and sex drive, an ego, an image, and all the rest that we like to pretend we don't have, but at the same time trying hard to see beyond our selves and our own little in-group to care about fairness, equality and self-determination for everyone.

Trying to reconcile these opposing drives leads to endless, endless argument.

Here's Flavia Dzodan at Tigerbeatdown, on ideological bullying in the Left blog and twittersphere:

"Call out culture, a phenomenon that casual readers might not even notice, is to me, the most toxic aspect of blogging. Not because it is set to correct wrongs and engage in meaningful ways to actually enact change. No, call out culture is toxic because it has developed as a tool to legitimize aggression and rhetoric violence. Its intent, at the root, is seemingly positive. Constructive even. It works more or less like this: I say something ignorant. Perhaps I make a statement that can be constructed as bigoted or maybe “problematic”. A favorite word in call out culture, problematic is more often than not, used to mean “I didn’t like it” or alternatively, “I disagree with you”. But instead of saying you, the audience disagrees with me, you will call my statement “problematic”. And because we have established that we are at once consumers and producers of media content, you create a blog post or a tweet or a Facebook update “calling me out”. And more often than not, in your post, you tell your readers, other prosumers, to please join you in this call out. BECAUSE THIS IS A SERIOUS WRONG THAT NEEDS TO BE CORRECTED! Unbeknown to me, there are now ten posts in ten different blogs and social media platforms calling me a “BIGOT AND THE WORST PERSON EVER”. Each time, every one of these posts escalating in rhetoric and volume. Each new post trying to outperform the previous one in outrage, in anger, in righteousness. This performance of acrimony and reproach turns into the “pile on”. And I will have to apologize for what I said …”

It's back to the dark days of the Soviets and Cultural Revolution.

Hat-tip: Forty Shades of Grey.


  1. I wrote a post recently in which I stated that, because it is primarily concerned with submission, Islam is a bad idea. It was an intellectual point, well argued. It was a lengthy post but I made absolutely clear that I was talking about doctrine not people. I did not say Muslims are a bad idea.

    The very first comment I received accused me of racism without any engagement with my argument. That spiralled and I have lost at least two regular readers (friends) because of it. It didn't matter how much I insisted that I was referring to doctrine, those who always do so had read the word "Islam" and gone into "call out" mode immediately.

    Liberalism should be about open discussion. I find that liberals are, in fact, the most censorious and reactionary group of people in the world. I would much rather go head to head with a hardline conservative as they will invariable argue about the issue and not waste time on semantics and arguing about what you can and cannot discuss.

  2. Thanks for your comment mp. I can but fully agree with you, as it happens to me all the time, being in between the lines in the straitjacketed contemporary slanging match which passes for debate these days.

    Politics and Religion seem more similar than ever now, and far too many people seem to see an opinion divergent from their own as some kind of sin.

    I note that you say "liberals" though. How do "liberals" relate to "the left"?

    A venn diagram will do ;-)

  3. I'm an old school socialist myself. But the readers of my blog are mostly American liberals. So when I get slagged off it's usually liberals doing the slagging.

  4. RE: you will call my statement “problematic"

    Well, this one is easy. One is calling out the statement, not the person. It's a way to avoid falling into an ad hominem attack. Make sense?

  5. Oh and when MadPriest says, "I find that liberals are, in fact, the most censorious and reactionary group of people in the world," I have to say that I've noticed a lot of this too. Truth be told, I've been guilty of doing it, and I've had people do it to me as well. :(

    So one of the things I've done is been a great deal more careful about labelling myself as a "liberal" - maybe I'm NOT as liberal as I thought I was. I ask myself "does this word really, truly describe me all that well?" Maybe it doesn't...

  6. This word "liberal" is very, er, problematic. It has so many meanings depending on who's using it, what country they're in, period of history and so on.

    A classical liberal is very close to being a neo-con or a neo-liberal today.

    While in the US now I thought that calling someone a liberal was pretty much the same as calling them a socialist.

    Aaaargh .........

    Have to say, I never find any liberals, apart from Lib Dems - and what they are God only knows. No, I only ever come across people who say they are "on the left" and people who are definitely "not on the left".

    .... Apart from normal (ie non-political) people that is, who if you listen, generally express opinions that those on the left describe as "right-wing".

    We are in a mess!

  7. "One is calling out the statement, not the person. It's a way to avoid falling into an ad hominem attack."

    Well it may be, but it often morphs into being ad hom anyway, sadly.

  8. Well aren't we a mutual agreement society. I was unhappily involved in the thread MP mentioned and baffled by it. He never once said anything negative about Moslems, never made a single racist comment and never could even though we both tried as did Tracie and others, get the thread to the topic. Very sad.