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Gender: Male
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Home country: Canada
Current location: Toronto, Ontario
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 04:34 PM
Number of posts: 3,012

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What's really going on here?

There's been a larger-than-usual amount of vitriol being spewed around here lately, combined with a stronger and stronger us-vs-them mentality within the left. What's going on? What's happening here? A couple of things, as I see it:

Among progressives and liberals, our best attribute is also a weakness, not a strength. Part of what makes progressives progressive is that we're all progressive in different ways. We've all got our pet causes and we're trying to improve things for everyone. This is laudable, but is also a weakness. When you face an opponent like the right that maintains rigid ideological purity, a movement that doesn't have one head or one direction seems like an unfocused mob. The difficulty comes when one group becomes single-mindedly focused on just one issue. It is inevitable that clashes between groups will happen. Sometimes this manifests as the "Social Justice Warriors" who will explode and belittle another group over even the tiniest slight, however unintentional. Please, use those moments as "teaching moments" and don't attack. And please don't insert your own anecdotes to invalidate others' experience. We all need each other to go forward. I'd love everyone to be a perfect ally, but there aren't any of those.

Also, the left is bad at being in charge. We're very good at looking at leaders in the movement (politicians and civilians both) and seeing what they're doing wrong, but we're very bad at giving them kudos for what they're doing right. In some ways, it's almost as though we feel we don't deserve to be in charge. Honestly, there's not much to be done on this from our side. It's another attribute of the left that I think is important, but also a weakness.

As well, we are listening to the press releases of the other side... and believing them. It's not our fault, really. It comes back to ideological purity. The right has this in spades, and they're always on-message. They're organized and they've got conviction behind what they say, even if (especially if) it is utter bullshit. Sadly, it's easier to believe something that is repeated over and over and over again. It's how human brains work. We may not believe it, but still, that constant repetition induces little dark doubts into our minds. From there, one or two well-placed little trolls here and there can foment the worst kinds of infighting. Pro-Obama, anti-Obama. Pro-Hillary, anti-Hillary. Doesn't matter.

But here's the thing, even if it's a weakness, it's still our best attribute. We need to gather the ragged flag and wave it proudly and say, "Yes! It's ragged and a little threadbare, but it's the best part of me. I want to make things better for everyone. The poor, the dispossessed, women, new immigrants, LGBT, at-risk youth, every colour of the rainbow, EVERYONE!" It makes us hard to love, it makes us hard to find, sometimes, but it makes us who we are. We have to struggle a bit to get by with our weakness, but it makes us stronger, while the right glides by on their most loathsome attribute, their ideological purity. It is by their strength that we will pull them down.
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