The Misanthropic Left

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Aflwydd
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Jun 3 2011 22:53
The Misanthropic Left

Talking to people in my town and on forums, the general impression I get from a lot of people who claim to be 'left wing' is that they don't really like people. To me, such a misanthropic attitude is entirely incompatible with left wing politics, and will always justify the need of a state to control the masses, but strangely, when I say that misanthropy hampers any attempts by the left to gain support, I am met with a bemused expression (or reply in the case of online interaction).

One group of journalists in particular come to mind: the guys who write for The Exiled online publication. You may know of it, but if you don't, here's the link:

http://exiledonline.com/

Now, I realise that they are not part of the radical left, and seem to be social democrats at most, but they are certainly associated with the left and write pretty good articles about the corruption of the American political and financial system. However, they have a very negative view of human beings on the whole, and are constantly stating that the majority of Americans deserve all the suffering that can come their way due to their lack of resistance to the despoilation of the people that has accelerated in the past thirty years.

While they are constantly expressing amazement at the inability of Americans to rise up against the regime, surely they must realise that sneering at the stupidity of people and making fun of them is not the way to gain support? It amazes me that there are elements of the left that don't understand this. The general reaction to somebody calling you an idiot is 'Fuck you!', and you will naturally oppose whatever message the person is trying to convey, even if that message is beneficial to your welfare.

This is obvious I assume. So obvious that you have to wonder whether the misanthropic left actually want a better society. As I see political leanings to be based a lot on a particular view of human nature, I can't understand the misanthropic left. Of course they can counter my view with a simple retort: "Just because I don't like people doesn't mean I believe they should suffer." That's true, but with the guys at the Exiled especially, they seem to find the suffering of the 'herd' quite funny. The journalism is quite clearly satirical in nature, but their contempt for people who have been brainwashed into believing in ideas that are detrimental to their welfare is undeniable.

Yes, we all feel frustrated when people won't listen to us, or don't see what is as clear as day to us, but that shouldn't translate into a contempt for the mass. It's hard sometimes to keep holding onto the optimistic view of human nature, but what makes a good 'leftist' is surely the ability to not let that view slip away. You can read about the Nazis, you can listen to the views of racists, sexists, misogynists, jingoists, and every other 'ist', but you realise that there's always a societal reason for such beliefs and are willing to show some understanding for people whose views may disgust you.

I wanted to write a lot more but i'm quite hungover so i'll pose a few questions and hopefully a good discussion will arise:

Do you think misanthropy is a big problem for the left?

Is misanthropy prevalent even in Libertarian Communist circles?

Do you disagree with my view entirely?

Can the left ever achieve anything while a belief in the ignorance and stupidity of the mass is still present?

If any better questions come to mind, post them and I'll include them here.

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888
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Jun 3 2011 23:59

Primitivists and deep ecologists surely are the paragons of the misanthropic left. Although they will pretend otherwise, their origin in and broad association with the left is undeniable.

Aflwydd
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Jun 4 2011 00:15
888 wrote:
Primitivists and deep ecologists surely are the paragons of the misanthropic left. Although they will pretend otherwise, their origin in and broad association with the left is undeniable.

I'm amazed that primitivism is even known. Any movement that advocates the death of 90% of the world's population should be ignored by anyone who's interested in serious discussion, not stupid 'utopias'

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Jun 4 2011 00:19

I'm not sure if thats misanthropy or pessimism? the 'left' (whatever that may be) has lost a massive section of its popular base in euro-america. The tradition of resistance has massively receded post 1960s, I guess the left is feeling pretty bruised right now because they/we? don't have many friends to play with right now. However exciting things are certainly on the horizon!

As for your examples (jingoism and racism), I'm not sure about this attitude I read in some sections on the left that we should just 'understand' why a person is thus and accept them for it. I can't swallow. For a start I don't think racism is necessarily easily divided into left/right responses, secondly I'm not sure if we should just absolve the individual of responsibility. I understand certain sociological reasons for why someone may be racist, but I'm not sure we should just pat them on the head for their false consciousness. The sort of resurgence of racism we are seeing in Europe right now is not a good sign, i don't think 'the left' (what ever that may be) should be so passive in their response to it. Of course young white men are caught up in the excitement and ideology of it all, and the left needs to think seriously about that, but its bollocks to just say 'oh but they are working class'. I guess it depends what you have in mind by 'racist views'.

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Jun 4 2011 00:26

There's also Maoism-Third Worldism, which writes off the entirety of the working class of the first world, and praises third world capitalists. It's only misanthropic to a minority of the world's population though.

Both of the ideologies I mentioned are peculiar products of American social/political alienation.

Aflwydd
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Jun 4 2011 00:53
Arbeiten wrote:
I'm not sure if thats misanthropy or pessimism?

Not liking people is misanthropy. If it was simply a lack of faith in people, it wouldn't bother me as much, even though pessimism is a problem too.

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As for your examples (jingoism and racism), I'm not sure about this attitude I read in some sections on the left that we should just 'understand' why a person is thus and accept them for it.

I have noticed that and also disagree with that attitude. Understanding is important but acceptance shouldn't be contemplated when it comes to racism, sexism and other prejudices.

When you hear people say that the treatment of women in countries such as Saudi Arabia should be seen through the eyes of Arabs who consider it to be 'normal practice', it's hard to compute how someone could be so silly.

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I can't swallow. For a start I don't think racism is necessarily easily divided into left/right responses, secondly I'm not sure if we should just absolve the individual of responsibility.

Again, I agree. People do have to take responsibility for their actions and beliefs, but sociological factors can't be ignored either. The fact that the EDL for example is made up of the 'underclass' isn't a coincidence.

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The sort of resurgence of racism we are seeing in Europe right now is not a good sign, i don't think 'the left' (what ever that may be) should be so passive in their response to it.

Not passive, but not hateful either. The best way to preserve racist movements is to patronise, abuse, and treat the members as lesser humans than yourself.

What i'm saying isn't meant to be surprising as it's ridiculously obvious, yet a massive number of people either don't realise or don't care.

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Jun 4 2011 01:12

yes ok, but i will restate what I initially said, I don't think you have made the case for misanthropy, this is a strong term that you have yet to prove is applicable to the left. Primitivism yes, Nihilism yes, but the left in general? no way! being critical of certain things people do or say is not misanthropy. Misanthropy is not the same as just not 'liking' people, it is an active distain and hatred for *humanity* in general.

As for the sociological reasons for the EDL, well, as I said, I know they exist, but I'm not letting people off the hook for it. I don't think it is patronising, I actually think this God position of 'I see your societal constraints' as more patronising. I don't see a robust response to racism as necessarily patronising or inhumane? Perhaps your not so aware of the inhumanity with which these people treat their victims? i don't know why these two views necessarily have to be diametrically apposed either. I have many friends and a few family members that have been on the brunt of racist abuse and though I can see the sociological view, a sociological pat on the head just does not cut the bacon. There is a difference between your old grandpa who thinks brown people smell and throwing a brick through someones window because you think they might be a muslim (and therefore an extremist who is hell bent on poisoning your beef with alien prayer and making your wife wear a veil). On the other hand I don't think we should just sit there and laugh at the stoopid young white men for saying 'Muslamic ray guns' or the many other examples there are out there of idiotic statements made by EDL members.

Aflwydd
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Jun 4 2011 02:12
Arbeiten wrote:
yes ok, but i will restate what I initially said, I don't think you have made the case for misanthropy, this is a strong term that you have yet to prove is applicable to the left.

I wasn't trying to. The whole point of the thread was to ask if misanthropy was a problem in the left, not that it was a problem. If I knew the answer, I wouldn't have asked questions. Maybe I should have added a question mark to the thread title.

Quote:
being critical of certain things people do or say is not misanthropy. Misanthropy is not the same as just not 'liking' people, it is an active distain and hatred for *humanity* in general.

There's more than one definition. As the dictionary shows, alongside the 'hatred of humanity' definition:

a disposition to dislike and mistrust other people

Quote:
As for the sociological reasons for the EDL, well, as I said, I know they exist, but I'm not letting people off the hook for it. I don't think it is patronising

You don't think it's patronising to call someone an uneducated idiot? You don't think that calling someone an idiot doesn't trigger the siege mentality? The Republican right in America feeds off it. There's no better propaganda tool in America for the tea party than The Daily Show. The more Jon Stewart satirises, the more stubborn and extreme the far-right in that country becomes.

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I actually think this God position of 'I see your societal constraints' as more patronising.

But dismissing them as 'scum' and not even trying to have a serious discussion is productive? I get the feeling that there are people who like having these 'idiots' around to make them feel better about their own moral standing.

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I don't see a robust response to racism as necessarily patronising or inhumane?

There's a difference between denouncing racism in the strongest terms, which I agree with completely, and dehumanising the individuals who hold such beliefs. I was in Swansea a few months ago for the confrontation between the EDL and anti-fascists, and what I saw was intolerance on both sides. Those anti-fascists did more to reinforce the bigoted beliefs of the EDL members than any racist propaganda could have, and I know this because I know people who hold such beliefs.

There are many bigots who will actually say, "It's great that I piss off liberals so much." Doesn't that concern you?

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Perhaps your not so aware of the inhumanity with which these people treat their victims?

Of course I do. But dehumanisation is always bad. After World War II, people dehumanised the leading Nazis, and even many German citizens, because the reality that those people were the same as us was too terrifying to bear.

The dehumanisation of the Nazis meant that instead of really confronting what happened, we buried our heads in the sand, content with believing that they were subhumans.

If you want to deal with racism, you can't dehumanise the racists, because that's exactly what they do! How can you seriously criticise a group of people using the same rhetoric? It's ridiculous.

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i don't know why these two views necessarily have to be diametrically apposed either. I have many friends and a few family members that have been on the brunt of racist abuse and though I can see the sociological view, a sociological pat on the head just does not cut the bacon.

Did you just ignore my reply? I told you that I didn't consider a 'pat on the head' to be an appropriate response. I didn't even write that in my first post but you interpreted it that way for some reason.

There has to be a balance between a 'pat on the head' and dismissing them as scumbags who aren't worthy of attention.

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There is a difference between your old grandpa who thinks brown people smell and throwing a brick through someones window because you think they might be a muslim (and therefore an extremist who is hell bent on poisoning your beef with alien prayer and making your wife wear a veil).

I know. I also know that no problem can be solved unless the root is discovered. Finding that root should be the primary objective of anti-racist campaigners, but it isn't, especially amongst students. Instead, calling them names and trying to ignore them seems to be the preferred tactic.

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On the other hand I don't think we should just sit there and laugh at the stoopid young white men for saying 'Muslamic ray guns' or the many other examples there are out there of idiotic statements made by EDL members.

I'm glad you agree that the Jon Stewart approach to serious problems in society is counter-productive.

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Jun 5 2011 19:55

OK, a lot of this has already been covered, so lets not do it again. What I will say is I think its problematic to flit between American racial politics and British. I don't believe there is any general theory of racism, only racism in its particular context. So what the tea party may or may not say about someone (I don't even know who Jon Stewart is) is not really going to help us (it is also worth noting not all tea-partiers are racist, it is a broad coalition of right-wing issues, personally i think the so called 'libertarians' should choose their bed partners more wisely, but its a different kettle of fish to the EDL). We don't even have this funny liberal/republican dualism in Britain.

I also think its problematic to use the biggest racial crime in history (Holocaust and the Nazi's) to speak about the EDL and anti-racism in Britain. Especially how you have flagged it up here. perhaps a more fitting way we could bring Nazi-ism in this debate would be the ways in which the signs of anti-Nazi/fascism are mobilized by the extreme right to justify their own action. I have never called the BNP or EDL nazi's because there is no point. There core identity is based around the idea that they are the descendants of WW2. Anti-racism in Britain is really on the back foot right now, I don't think we are in the position to talk about the EDL or BNP as if they are recently defeated Nazis. In the current context I think its a bit crass to say EDL are being dehumanized. Even wings of the labour party have began talking about conversing with them.

As for the root of racism, I don't think it will be discovered any time soon, it has to be taken as it begins to bud so it may not flower.

Your Swansea example is interesting, I'm not going to denounce it, but just out of interest, how do you think it could have turned out better?

Aflwydd
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Jun 6 2011 00:12
Arbeiten wrote:
What I will say is I think its problematic to flit between American racial politics and British. I don't believe there is any general theory of racism, only racism in its particular context.

So what the tea party may or may not say about someone (I don't even know who Jon Stewart is) is not really going to help us (it is also worth noting not all tea-partiers are racist, it is a broad coalition of right-wing issues, personally i think the so called 'libertarians' should choose their bed partners more wisely, but its a different kettle of fish to the EDL). We don't even have this funny liberal/republican dualism in Britain.

I agree. The example of the American far-right wasn't an example of a different kind of racism; it was an example of how ignorance is proliferated by ridicule and abuse in a lot of cases.

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I also think its problematic to use the biggest racial crime in history (Holocaust and the Nazi's) to speak about the EDL and anti-racism in Britain.

Dehumanising can never be justified in any situation. While using the Nazis as an example is extreme, you sometimes to provide an extreme example to make people realise that treating a particular group as 'less than human' (such treatment is meted out to 'chavs' especially. The 'rough' areas in my town are basically thought of as ghettos and the people that live there are dismissed out of hand. It disturbs me.) is dangerous.

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Especially how you have flagged it up here. perhaps a more fitting way we could bring Nazi-ism in this debate would be the ways in which the signs of anti-Nazi/fascism are mobilized by the extreme right to justify their own action. I have never called the BNP or EDL nazi's because there is no point. There core identity is based around the idea that they are the descendants of WW2. Anti-racism in Britain is really on the back foot right now, I don't think we are in the position to talk about the EDL or BNP as if they are recently defeated Nazis. In the current context I think its a bit crass to say EDL are being dehumanized. Even wings of the labour party have began talking about conversing with them.

There are a group of people, mainly students in my admittedly limited experience, who see these skinhead football fans whose education may not have been substantial, and wish death upon them. And not as a joke. For some people, there is a genuine want for these people not to exist.

Rather than bothering to find out their past and what drove them to endorse such extreme views, they prefer to dismiss them as being 'scum' plain and simple, while feeling wonderful about their superior moral standing.

Seeing as I used to be this type, I know it's not a tiny minority by any means.

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As for the root of racism, I don't think it will be discovered any time soon, it has to be taken as it begins to bud so it may not flower.

I don't think racism is that complex. A cursory study into the mass racist groups and political parties in history don't offer up anything surprising.

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Your Swansea example is interesting, I'm not going to denounce it, but just out of interest, how do you think it could have turned out better?

Well, what bothered me about the event is that both sides knew what would happen: the EDL would get drunk and start shouting abuse at 'the liberals'; the anti-fascists would shout abuse at 'the racists'; and then both sides would go home satisfied that they had annoyed the other.

What I would have liked to have seen is a public forum, with the most articulate representatives from both sides engaging in a civilised (as far as can be expected) discussion. I don't know about you, but I know people who were more sympathetic to the BNP after the question time farce. Such idiocy from the 'anti-racists' actually lets racists take the moral high ground!

PS: The Swansea event was barely even a confrontation either! There was barely 50 EDL guys there, so unlike the Cardiff confrontation which I wasn't around to see, there was no potential for any sort of trouble.

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Jun 6 2011 11:06

Yeah, I don't know anybody who wishes death on the EDL, but I do know people with quite a 2 dimensional view on 'them'. I do know 'British' Muslims who have lived in East London all their lives who have quite strong opinions on the matter though.

Similarly I don't know anyone who actively 'sympathized' with Griffin (he practically admitted he was a holocaust denier, didn't he speak of there being no chimneys in the death camps on prime time TV?), but most recognized its farcical nature and thought it was used as a witch hunt rather than a discussion in a public sphere. However people like Griffin make me really uneasy. I just don't see how 'rational' discussion is going to work with the man. He is not stupid after all, he is a Cambridge graduate. I also know someone who has met him and discussed with him, he said it was the most unconstructive discussion they have ever had.

I would say racism is actually a very very complex phenomena. The racist movements throughout history in different countries all have their similarities and differences. Even Italian fascists and the Nazis did not agree on everything in relation to 'race'. But these movements are quite different from what we see across europe at the moment. You have your proper not jobs like Griffin, Geertz Wilder, Jorg Heider. Then you have your dodgy moderately racists like your Tebbits and your Thilo Sarrazins, but then there is a plethora of non-politically articulated 'grass-roots' movements like the EDL and non-group aligned racial violence. Racism is chameleon like and works in conjunction with class, gender, etc, etc.

I think on the left there is this popular front mentality like we are on the eve of Hitlerite fascism. Thats obviously just romanticism. But I am not going to criticize street level opposition when you have groups openly spouting racism in the streets. Also, did you know the EDL have recently been known to come and bust up anarchist meetings?

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Jun 6 2011 11:25
Aflwydd wrote:
Can the left ever achieve anything while a belief in the ignorance and stupidity of the mass is still present?

I've heard lots of people, not necessarily anarchists but lefties, talking about how people need to "wake up" lately, which always makes me have a little lefty-cringe cos it's so often followed by the word "sheeple" at some point. Like you say, massively patronising and very much justifying vanguardism and top-down leadership.

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Jun 6 2011 11:32

I see wake-up placards at marches quite a lot. it's always a cringefest to be sure. But just to flag this up because i think its important, the EDL are not 'the masses' (though I think 'the masses' is a pretty out dated term anyway).

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Jun 6 2011 11:58

A lot of it has been said already, but I think the reason we see such pessimism on the left (not to mention lifestyle and primitivism in the anarchist movement) is from such a sense of defeatism. If there is no active workers movement, people who want see immediate change (or at least want to take steps to begin actively changing the world for the better), look for other options. "Activism" often leads to a sense of activists being the ones who will change the world, instead of understanding communism as a "real movement" of the entire working class "which abolishes the present state of things". So activists are awake, while the masses are slumbering dreaming of iPods and big screen TVs. This is made all the more stark by the fact that activists are often young and come from (at least) middle-income backgrounds. They can dedicate hours and hours to each week to 'social change', get jobs in co-ops or working for NGOs--things that aren't easy for the majority of working people. If one sees such measures as the keys to social change, one can see how such a dynamic leads activists into feeling disheartened with the state of the 'movement'.

On that note, however, we shouldn't underestimate the small acts of rebellion that occur all the time across the working class--after all, action often precedes consciousness. In my workplace for example, all my workmates (only the minority of whom are even union members) have created a system by which we all tick each other in the morning to avoid anyone getting hassled for being late. It's not revolutionary, but it does speak to workers supporting each other in the material interests of the class. It's something to build on and I have no doubt it occurs in countless other workplaces, everyday, across the world.

Also, Jon Steward = Scab.

Aflwydd
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Jun 6 2011 21:26
Arbeiten wrote:
Similarly I don't know anyone who actively 'sympathized' with Griffin (he practically admitted he was a holocaust denier, didn't he speak of there being no chimneys in the death camps on prime time TV?), but most recognized its farcical nature and thought it was used as a witch hunt rather than a discussion in a public sphere. However people like Griffin make me really uneasy. I just don't see how 'rational' discussion is going to work with the man. He is not stupid after all, he is a Cambridge graduate. I also know someone who has met him and discussed with him, he said it was the most unconstructive discussion they have ever had.

Just a question on BNP economic policies would have sufficed. Nothing else would have needed to have been said.

Quote:
I would say racism is actually a very very complex phenomena. The racist movements throughout history in different countries all have their similarities and differences. Even Italian fascists and the Nazis did not agree on everything in relation to 'race'. But these movements are quite different from what we see across europe at the moment. You have your proper not jobs like Griffin, Geertz Wilder, Jorg Heider. Then you have your dodgy moderately racists like your Tebbits and your Thilo Sarrazins, but then there is a plethora of non-politically articulated 'grass-roots' movements like the EDL and non-group aligned racial violence. Racism is chameleon like and works in conjunction with class, gender, etc, etc.

What I mean is that if you've ever asked a racist why they are racist, you never get an answer that makes you think, "Well, that's complex stuff right there."

Quote:
I think on the left there is this popular front mentality like we are on the eve of Hitlerite fascism. Thats obviously just romanticism. But I am not going to criticize street level opposition when you have groups openly spouting racism in the streets. Also, did you know the EDL have recently been known to come and bust up anarchist meetings?

Nothing wrong with opposition. Nothing at all. I just think that opposition can be more intelligent, more creative, and can actually make a difference rather than going out to shout at the racists.

About the EDL busting up anarchist meetings: I wasn't aware they cared so much!

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Jun 6 2011 23:15

dare I say you have lacked a little bit of intelligent oppositional creativity yourself here? First you accuse all the left of treating people as if they were just ignorant, then you turn around with the wonderfully thought out ideological quip 'ever asked a racist why they are racist'. If you read carefully what I said, I did not say 'racists make complex arguments' I said 'racism is a complex phenomena'.* Racism is not reduced to a rational argument that one can just demystify through a more rational argument. if that were the case I don't see why there would be any problem. There has been a pretty comprehensive 'liberal' version of multiculturalism been taught in this country for about 20 years. All colours are the same, all cultures are of equal worth, learn a bit about the deity etc, etc. Hey look, some people even have friends who are black! and look, there is even a few black and asian EDLers!

Also imply if everyone knew Griffins unworkable economic policy they would stop having sympathy for him? Racism is only tangentially connected to class and the economy. The idea that people vote with their wallets only holds so much sway, thats pretty one dimensional view of politics and that episode of Question Time.

Chilli Sauce, I like your approach to small acts of rebellion, really underestimated (especially in some work places!). I think we should develop (or maybe not even develop, just look out there and see) small acts of anti-racism as well!

* As an aside this is my general approach to racism. Not to deal with *racists* but to deal *racism*. If you accuse someone of being A racist, your going to get a load of apologies and blah, blah, blah. After all, nobody is a racist [sic], not even Mr Griffin! If you talk about certain ideas or statements and institutional structures (global division of labour is a good one here) that have detrimental effects to other ethnicities (regardless of their intent), I think we can get a bit further.

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Jun 7 2011 18:03

I think theories of 'false consciousness' and more simply that working class conservatism is primarily a result of 'capitalist brainwashing' has a lot to answer for in so far as it assumes we pro-revolutionaries have somehow miraculously overcome all that by a simple act of will and are perhaps somehow therefore 'better than the rest of the herd'.

This kind of thing is more prevalent in the traditional left than in libertarian communist circles but it can affect any of us from time to time and I have met a few individuals in some of the political groups I have been involved with in the past who seemed particularly misanthropic in their attitudes and behavior.

Pessimism is another matter alltogether - I tend to be be more pessimistic about the potential for revolutionary change these days whilst at the same time seeing much in individuals I meet from many different courses of life who have a genuinely generous and human attitude to their fellows, so perhaps all is not lost.

Aflwydd
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Jun 7 2011 18:42
Arbeiten wrote:
dare I say you have lacked a little bit of intelligent oppositional creativity yourself here? First you accuse all the left of treating people as if they were just ignorant

Reading what you want to read? If you really thought I was referring to 'all the left', even though I never claimed to know 'all the left', and in fact based this thread on a question that asked the members on here.

Quote:
then you turn around with the wonderfully thought out ideological quip 'ever asked a racist why they are racist'.

It wasn't an 'ideological' quip; I was referring to what I meant, not what you meant. Yes, racism is a complex phenomena, and I wouldn't claim otherwise. But racism in itself, the reasons given for discriminating against a race, are not complex. We're on entirely different wavelengths. I write something and you think i'm writing something completely different.

Quote:
If you read carefully what I said, I did not say 'racists make complex arguments' I said 'racism is a complex phenomena'.

If you had read what I had said, I wasn't accusing you of making such a statement, hence why I started the sentence 'What I mean is ...'

Quote:
Racism is not reduced to a rational argument that one can just demystify through a more rational argument. if that were the case I don't see why there would be any problem. There has been a pretty comprehensive 'liberal' version of multiculturalism been taught in this country for about 20 years. All colours are the same, all cultures are of equal worth, learn a bit about the deity etc, etc. Hey look, some people even have friends who are black! and look, there is even a few black and asian EDLers!

I agree. We probably agree more than you think but keep getting our wires crossed!

Quote:
Also imply if everyone knew Griffins unworkable economic policy they would stop having sympathy for him?

No, but the more politically adept may realise how shit their policies are. Most of the people aligned to the BNP for racist reasons wouldn't be paying much attention to their other ideas anyway.

Not just economic policies of course. Just general political questions. It would have been fun seeing him have to explain every facet of their beliefs to a wide audience.

Quote:
As an aside this is my general approach to racism. Not to deal with *racists* but to deal *racism*. If you accuse someone of being A racist, your going to get a load of apologies and blah, blah, blah. After all, nobody is a racist [sic], not even Mr Griffin!

I've had the post-accusation of racism reaction directed at me. Not much fun is it? I thought I was going to get lynched.

Quote:
If you talk about certain ideas or statements and institutional structures (global division of labour is a good one here) that have detrimental effects to other ethnicities (regardless of their intent), I think we can get a bit further.

Aye. I do try and point this out when people are blaming Polish immigrants for the level of unemployment in Britain, but Poles are public enemy no. 1 in the eyes of some. After all, they're having so much fun working like slaves, being paid lower wages and being forced to toil for more hours than a British worker. I've worked with a few Poles and I have nothing but sympathy for them. But, according to my Mam, I'm not living in the 'real world'.

Spikymike wrote:
I think theories of 'false consciousness' and more simply that working class conservatism is primarily a result of 'capitalist brainwashing' has a lot to answer for in so far as it assumes we pro-revolutionaries have somehow miraculously overcome all that by a simple act of will and are perhaps somehow therefore 'better than the rest of the herd'.

Yep. Not knowing any Libertarian Communists (one self-described Libertarian Socialist but not really political), but quite a few students on the social democratic/ Bennite Socialist left, this attitude of being better than the others for 'getting it' is prevalent.

The split is so obvious in my town, which is as 'working class' as any town in South Wales, that you wonder how there can be a reconciliation.

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This kind of thing is more prevalent in the traditional left than in libertarian communist circles but it can affect any of us from time to time and I have met a few individuals in some of the political groups I have been involved with in the past who seemed particularly misanthropic in their attitudes and behavior.

This is what I assumed as I have always assumed that one of the vital necessities for being a Libertarian Communist is a belief in human beings. When I was going through my teenage existentialism Mencken reading period, my beliefs veered to the right without me realising it. Then I discovered art, which did more to strengthen my belief in the fundamental goodness of people than anything I witnessed in my everyday life, mainly because I was blanking that goodness.

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Pessimism is another matter alltogether - I tend to be be more pessimistic about the potential for revolutionary change these days whilst at the same time seeing much in individuals I meet from many different courses of life who have a genuinely generous and human attitude to their fellows, so perhaps all is not lost.

Pessimism grips almost everyone with 'radical' beliefs at some point. It's hard to fight through that pessimism sometimes but keeping the faith is vital. Without it, how could you cope? The day I give up on people is the day I give up on myself.

mklatsia
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Joined: 30-04-13
Apr 30 2013 20:58

I read your article about the misanthropic problem. Below are my personal notes about Matt Taibbi. To answer your question, if we are going to accept that people are irrational and therefore recommend an aristocracy (or rule of the wise) then we need to address their approach of rule and in order to remain an open society, the ruler would have to rule very little and not suppress the weaker elements of society. I therefore think that Taibbi's views in particular, his misogyny and contempt for the "underclass" deem his views incompatible with the radical left but not necessarily all forms of misanthropy. It comes down to ethics.

Matt Taibbi: Rebel Without a Cause

As a left wing radical and anarchist, I am appalled to have such a figure represent our cause. It is almost as if he were planted in order to give us a bad name.

In particular, I came across his article on the price fixing scandal and commented, that it was,

"Really badly written. I'm surprised that Rolling Stone would publish this. It is an ongoing battle for critical thinkers who analyse current regimes and organisations to distinguish themselves from right wing extremism and their conspiracy theory propaganda. Scientific and rational analysis of the facts is enough to discredit capitalism and colonialism revealing injustices inherent in the system. Only this type of analysis should provide the basis for recommendations of social change. Suggestions of hidden forces only discredit our plight."

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/everything-is-rigged-the-bigge...

I received a barrage of complaint for my commentary (by people who incorrectly assumed that i was a shill for the bankers.) and have come to realise how important it is that somebody bring to the attention of the public his unethical intellectual dishonesty posing as liberalism.

http://workingclassstudies.wordpress.com/tag/matt-taibbi/
http://prospect.org/article/errors-matt-taibbi

Matt Taibbi is a left impostor. peddling urban myths in substitute of rational study undermines the efforts of critical thinkers and appeals only to a frustrated middle class in view of the imminent revolution. He is not anti-capitalist he is anti democracy.

I understand decadence but it seems that he really is amoral. i.e. more of a hedonist than an anarchist. It's becoming clearer that his exposés are not about a revolt against capitalism. I mean what working class person cares about the financial sector? We never had any money invested in the first place so essentially it's not us that are going to lose out. We didn't take out loans for mortgages and credit for cars. We had nothing and we still have nothing. Economics are a set of tools that are available to inform players on best actions to take for profit. Often cooperation beats competition in terms of payout. Knowledge of these processes is one thing and the application of them in contextual practice is another. Everything has a moral implication and this is what Taibbi should be concerned about.

I think Taibbi wants the status quo of the system so as not to lose his privileges so we shouldn't mistake him for an activist and expect any more of him. Essentially Rolling Stone is about rockstars or an ethos of "sex and drugs and rock n' roll" (and who doesn't enjoy that for entertainment value?) so we probably shouldn't have expected any ethical responsibility in their publications.

You think you're so clever and classless and free, but...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njG7p6CSbCU