On the Contrary (Part 1)
#1 – 15 things about the left that may or may not undermine the left
1. How can people be so heartless, how can people be so cruel?
We assume that because our intentions are good that this automatically means people opposing us politically must harbour malign intentions. This creates a paranoid world view in our community mind in which the people we disagree with are also tricksters getting off on keeping us down. Not content with the burden of reality itself, we are quick to add new layers of fantasy on top of an already confused, cherry-picked picture; leaving us over-wrought and trapped in an exhaustive state of perpetual outrage.
2. Fixing the Ruth while the sun is shining
Our compassionate liberal lefty values stop at posh Tories. In this we find a central contradiction of the values we so espouse. The Tory, in our mind, wakes up with a hard on for doing evil things. It’s a simplistic way of looking at a large section of our society. We struggle to confront the irritating and thorny fact that many Tories also believe in social justice but feel strongly that it’s achieved without liberty-impeding state interference. By all means disagree but don’t dismiss out of hand; recent data shows there are Tories everywhere and they are, in fact, human beings too.
3. Yes, but obviously I’m right
We begin from a position of assuming we are right and listen with intent to reply and not with intent to understand. This makes us infuriatingly smug to debate. We see our mission as one of gradual persuasion but inadvertently create resentment; arousing prejudice in those we’d like to convert. When people aren’t interested we conclude it’s because they are morally deformed. There is no real recognition of the intellectual and moral validity of the opposing point of view. It just becomes another immoral interference in the white noise of our imminently imploding reality.
4. La, la, la…I can’t hear you!
We tend to block, report or publicly shame people we don’t agree with; further entrenching ourselves in the impenetrable echo chamber where rationality goes to die – loudly. It’s the intellectual equivalent of putting our fingers in our ears. People get fed up talking to us because we don’t take incoming calls. Opposing points of view are explained away in binary terms and we rarely afford others the same leaps of faith we routinely gift ourselves and our allies.
5. I am extremely offended by how touchy you are
We tend to minimise the things we say and do that offend or upset others while aggressively holding other people to account for behaviour of a similar nature – if they hail from ‘the other side’. We only seem to detect foul play when we are on the receiving end of it. We take a defensive, almost paranoid, position regarding the Michelle Thomson property fiasco and fail to realise that the SNP gained much of its early momentum in the Scottish parliament by forcing the resignations of high profile Labour politicians over what were, arguably, trivial matters. It’s the culmination of all of these instances in which we failed to smell our own bullshit that has led to a culture of mutual contempt masquerading as public discourse – where we are always justified in whatever we do because indy ref.
6. Sit down and shut up while I persuade you that you’re a fucking idiot
Our enlightenment values are enforced in a really unenlightened way. Who ever adopted a new opinion or belief system because they were shamed, embarrassed or humiliated into doing it? Whoever turned around and said: ”You know what you;re right I am a bit racist. Thank you for hounding me on Twitter and helping me see the error of my ways. What a swell person you are.” We completely fail to realise the outrage and hector culture we indirectly promote serves only to push people away from us – and our values. When we hector other people we might feel like we are making progress or raising awareness. We may get the sensation of being active and principled, but really it’s just an ego trip.
7. Stop the press
We give The National a free pass to ratchet up constitutional hysteria while demanding a new kind of journalism from every other media outlet we haven’t yet boycotted. We live in denial about our own audience bias and dismiss valid critique of our position as partisan hackery. A healthy press is one that both informs our point of view and challenges it. We also fail to confront the fact The National is owned by the same company that own The Herald – so, based on our own troubled logic where The Herald is our enemy, what is so moral about one of its sister papers cynically cornering another area of the print market?
8. You shared a platform with who?
‘We conflate attempts to try and understand certain perspectives as ‘apologising for them’ and launch online crusades against people we believe need reigned in for associating with the wrong type of person. Just because you were in a room with someone doesn’t mean you endorse their view. Some people need to remember that they spent 20 years hanging around with Tommy Sheridan before his personal shortcomings became public knowledge. While I have a lot of time for people who were burned by Sheridan, it’s only fair you allow others to turn the same blind eye you did and afford people the time to be as naive as you once were. After all, there was a time when Sheridan’s most vocal critics would have defended him against any accusation. (Also, please don’t lynch me for pointing this out)’.
9. Even my passing thoughts are virtuous
We are dishonest with ourselves about our own prejudices. Finger wagging doesn’t work because we are actually lying to ourselves. Sometimes we are motivated by our prejudices. We weren’t born with liberal values we adopted them over time. Finger wagging is to live in denial about how we, ourselves, used to think. (Or still do beneath the trend-ridden facade).
10. It’s the right thing to do
We fall into the trap of thinking our particular form of force is legitimate. We don’t even identify the often aggressive manner in which we promote our values, as a form of force. This despite constantly drawing from the nebulous well of cultural Marxism – where violence is symbolic and ubiquitous – to back up our many assertions regarding the unforeseen externalities of hierarchical social constructs. (Also, see the previous sentence for examples of wanky, exclusive language which is as much about being seen to be smart as it is about making a point.) It never crosses our mind that we may be the troll in someone else’s world. That we may be the bully, the aggressor or, God forbid, the idiot. We lack insight into our own behaviour while constantly policing the behaviour of others yet expect to be taken seriously at all times.
11. These days…
One day it will seem barbaric and quite stupid that surgeons used to cut open the human body with a knife to repair it. We look back at electric shock therapy as obvious cruelty. But that was a cutting edge treatment in its time. We see ourselves at the apex of ethical evolution when in reality we may have already committed an unspeakable crime in the eyes of someone from the future. In a morally neutral universe how can we really be so sure of ourselves?
12. There’s no easy way to say this but you’re poor and therefore stupid
We assume we know more about certain issues than the people who experience them. We pontificate from all Caucasian suburban communities about why people in disadvantaged areas need to accept immigration is good for the economy. That immigrants give back more than they take out. We dismiss all talk to the contrary of an open-door policy as xenophobia. Then we go home and close our doors and wonder why people give Farage the time of day. Our own economic privilege prevents us from seeing that the communities most adversely affected by immigration rarely – if ever – feel the economic benefits people cite when justifying it. For people living in densely populated, under-resourced, culturally confused, violent drug-addicted communities there are no palpable benefits – only negative effects. We can’t, on one hand, rubbish the notion of trickle down economics but then use the same argument to defend ceaseless immigration into chronically stressed communities. We need to listen more and stop imposing our values in a top down manner.
13. Why don’t you come and say that to my face
We use the internet to confront people in ways we would never dream of in real life. This is quite pretentious. Its much easier to call out a racist on twitter than it is in a cue at an airport. It’s the doing it in real life part that’s courageous – the online stuff is for passive aggressive posers.
14. Those hacks over there
We see ourselves as exceptions to an otherwise corrupt, easily-led and self serving political culture. Naive.
15. How We Won And How We Will Win – even though we lost
We rationalise democratic defeat as mass public hypnosis by monolithic political conspiracy. This is rooted in the core assumption that we, above all else, are right and just and that anything to the contrary of our position must be some kind of callously coordinated fix. This is a coping strategy that, unfortunately, has become second nature for some of us and is utterly child like in its naivety. It is possible to both hold strong beliefs and fight for them passionately whilst accepting, in those quiet moments, that you could be wrong about many things. It infuriates No voters to know you think their decisions are based solely on fear or self preservation or that only a willing fool could adopt such a view as theirs. They find it deluded and dismissive. Again, our tendency toward self exaltation and away from rationality only serves to undermine our objectives.
In summary, I feel we can only draw people to our cause by making our values visible, not simply by shouting about how much we believe in something I’m guilty of everything in this list and every day I remain as vigilant of my own bullshit as I do of others. It’s terribly easy to train your critical ear on everyone else’s words and fix your critical eye on everyone else’s actions. We run the risk of becoming another version of the same old rabble.
When was the last time you just accepted you were wrong and changed your mind?