As previously stated, my political views are largely moderate: I see some things from a left-leaning perspective; I see other things more from the right. I tend not to have any fixed ideologies; I focus more on moral imperatives. I do not think that this makes me better than anyone else. Thinking that you are better than other people seems to be a common trait amongst people at both ends of the left-right spectrum: they all seem to cling to angry justifications that they, and only they, are correct.
I don’t know why, but recently I’ve started watching some pretty right wing commentary vlogs on YouTube. It started out as a discussion of various science fiction ideas, which is always fun. But then I had some stuff recommended to me that I wouldn’t normally watch, and I’ve got a bit hooked. The commentator I started watching – and I won’t name him here – is at the tamer end of the right-wing vlog scale. He’s not indulging in the frothing at the mouth conspiracy theorising of some of the true nutters out there, but he has fallen wholesale for much of their language and verbal weaponry.
I had to look a lot of it up, just to work out what he was saying. Let me offer you a few examples:
Cultural Marxism: This is a real thing. It started out as a jolly jape amongst some learned academic folk to apply the principles of some left-leaning political theories to areas where such things would be absurd: for instance, the class struggle of boson-boson interactions. It was fun while it lasted, but it fundamentally went nowhere. Now, the term has been re-appropriated by right-wing conspiracy theorists to label any progressive tendency in TV, film or other media. i.e. When any film-maker ever deliberately hires a cast of colour, or gender swaps an old story, this is Cultural Marxism. And “bad”.
Virtue Signalling: This is the notion that people who do and say things which are socially progressive are only doing so in order to look good. My preferred example of this is a horny twenty-something who says things they perceive their opposite sex like, in order to curry favour, and so get laid. That’s the level on which I see this behaviour, but there are myriad commentators out there who apply this model to anyone in the public eye who takes a progressive line. They are only doing so to appear as if they are nice: really they are a racist, sexism dinosaur underneath. Apparently we are all racists.
Identity Politics: This is one of those terms I had heard bandied about, but had never looked up. It refers to people joining together under a group – gender, race, sexuality, etc. e.g. Campaigning for womens’ rights would be identity politics and so is held in disdain by the right, because it sounds like Marxism to then. In fact, identity politics has replaced Marxism on the left as the common language. There are commentators of all stripes who feel identity politics is limiting, locking people in to silos.
I didn’t have to look up SJW – Social Justice Warrior – because I’ve already witnessed these nutters and their stifling pomposity on the internet before. The right attack them for many reasons – some of them absolutely valid – and they have become the personification of pure and ultimate evil to the right-wing keyboard warriors filling the internet with hate. Which would all be very easy to shrug off had there not been quite so much evidence that the SJW community are a bunch of fucking babies who need to grow the fuck up. Here are some of their terms, which I also had to look up:
Cultural Appropriation: This is when a powerful group uses the styles and activities of a group with far less power, which results in that group being marginalised. Except that it doesn’t always. A white person with dreadlocks is not marginalising anybody. Then again, posh white kids pretending to be Rastafari in order to smoke lots of grass is not just vulgar and stupid; it is also quite offensive in its misuse of concepts they fail to understand.
Safe Space: This is one of those ideas which started off as a very simple, noble, idea, but which has been misused too often, and is now a totem for the far right. The concept began as a place where people could open up about their experiences without fear of ridicule. They have been co-opted in public spaces to shut down discourse. The original usage helps us have constructive conversations.
Trigger Warnings: And this is where the image of the easily offended millennial has come from: in the same way that spoiler alerts are made if we are about to discuss the plot of a film, some people feel that a warning is necessary if sensitive issues are about to be discussed, lest people be returned to past pain. The people who call for such things claim to suffer from PTSD if no such warnings are given, which is unimaginably crass. I fully agree with not making rape jokes around rape victims, however.
I’m a plague on both your houses kind of guy: I’m too busy working hard and raising a family to pay too much attention to what the nutters on either side are doing today. But then got dragged in, and now I just keep watching. I’ve already seen videos on how different sci-fi properties are being ruined by leftist conspiracies, and how the UK is ruined, because we crack down on hate speech. I’m only two clicks away from a diatribe about how we’ll all be under sharia law by Christmas, at this point.
Both extremes are accusing each other of utter intolerance, and it is hilarious. They all have paper thin skins, sensitive to any perceived transgression by anyone who disagrees with them, resulting in reams of angry gibberish, based more on what they think people are saying; less on what they actually mean.
I’d like to sit both ends of this phony Culture War down together for a nice cup of tea and a chat. It would be great. I envisage pairs of them trotting off in to the sunset together, hand in hand, one left-wing, one right-wing, to live in peace and make dozens of babies together, never bothering anyone ever again. At least they’d all be having sex, which is what I think they’re all lacking in the first place.