ritaxis: (hat)
[personal profile] ritaxis
There's some really strange posts that get retweeted over and over on Twitter. It's kind of nauseating to watch. I'm going to try to address them all here in a cogent way, which may be feckless but it's what I can think of to do right now.

The origin of these posts is generally obscure people who present as the sort of person whose opinion one might respect--young people of color, maybe. Not always. But some of the posts are by prominent people whose opinion one might respect(1). The content of the posts is always an attack on the left in the name of ... leftism? See, "leftists" lost the election. "Leftists" are the real racists. "Leftists" are in the pocket of Moscow. "Leftists" are crazy Russophobes. Sometimes the word "leftists" is replaced with "progressives," "Sandernistas," "Berniebros," "Clintonistas," "Democrats," or rarely, prominent leftish Democrats.

Folks, don't spread this. It is fifth-column activity even if it thinks it isn't (and I don't think there's not a lot of deliberate action here). It's not principled struggle over the content and means of resistance or forward movement. It is herbicide spread to prevent the flowering of coalition.

Let me just say one thing about the election. Hillary Clinton did not lose the election. Bernie Sanders did not lose the election for her, and no he wouldn't be President now if the Democratic Party hadn't done what it did last year. "Progressives" did not lose the election. "Leftists" did not lose the election (last year).

This election was lost for us seventy-five years ago, when the labor movement and the Communist Party (at the time the biggest progressive organization in the US, and the leader in any broad coalition activities here) decided to essentially disband themselves "for the duration" in World War Two, pledging no oppositional activity "in order to defeat fascism." The result was that while the European countries, for example, came out of the devastation of World War Two with intact labor movements and left movements capable of standing up to their governments, the US has largely been dependent on the good will of its ruling class, which has just run out, as it will, as the ruling class is composed of people who think it is their right to live in privilege paid for by the privations of other people.

And also, Sanders is not "the real racist." No, he's not been perfect. "Progressives" are not the "real racists." Leftists are not "the real racists." Yes, they're all brushed with the the systemic racism of our society & they fuck up sometimes because of it, or they say or do unexamined things worth calling out specifically. But that doesn't make them the "real racists." Not when the White House is about to be overrun with actual Nazis and Klansmen and "alt-right" superstars. You're seriously going to take down & isolate somebody who used a problematic phrase that one time, or didn't show up to as many rallies as you'd like, rather than demand that they join you to fight against men who openly compare folks to animals, advocate hurting & killing them, decorate themselves with swastikas & the Stars&Bars, and express nostalgia for slavery days and the Third Reich?

We have been able to mount effective coalitions here and there over time, and that is our hope now. Lacking a deep progressive structure, we need to build the ad hoc coalitions that we've seen before (in the civil rights movement, yes the labor movement, the anti-war movement, the environmental movement). I don't mean we don't have any organizations with history and reach. I mean that we need to pull more and more people in, to coordinate activities, to stand firm and support one another.

We very much need to not play along with this smear campaign. And it is a campaign. Just look at it. Every day, there's countless tweets showing up in my tiny timeline from people who mindlessly retweet this garbage because it looks cutting-edge to them or something.

Coalition doesn't mean we make namby-pamby compromises and overlook all differences. But it does mean not letting the fifth column determine the nature of the everloving discourse.

Date: 2017-01-13 01:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joycemocha.livejournal.com
I am appalled by the degree to which I see self-proclaimed Socialists reposting the Same. Exact. Things. that Trump supporters are posting about Russia and a lot of other things. Some of it is also not-so-veiled racism and anti-identity politics wrapped in a guise of "economics is the only thing that matters."

(and no, not talking about W*ll Sh*tt*rl*).

OTOH, I'm seeing Democratic party bureaucracy mindlessly opposing reform Democrats even though it's clear their strategy didn't work....

Date: 2017-01-13 04:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ritaxis.livejournal.com
Please point me to this. All I ever see is people saying they're upset that left wing people are saying these things,

Date: 2017-01-13 05:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joycemocha.livejournal.com
Are we Facebook friends? If you are on Facebook, they've been popping up on various people's timelines. Steven Brust, John Kevin Hunt, can't remember the others...

Date: 2017-01-13 06:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ritaxis.livejournal.com
We aren't but maybe should be? I'm kinda lousy at facebook. I show up, make a cancer announcement, like a dozen posts, do three comments, rant once or twice, & disappear for a couple months because I'm pissed facebook won't let me see everybody's posts. But I never establish continuity.

At the risk of being predictable, let me point out: Brust is a Trotskyite. The usual condition of that is Too Sexy For This & everybody's too tainted to make coalitions with.

Date: 2017-01-13 06:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joycemocha.livejournal.com
Well, one person I didn't name claims to be a Trot as well (but I have heard her go off on conservative rants so I think she adopts the personality based on the mode of the times). I suspect the others are Trots too, which evokes more than a bit of eye-rolling....and check out some of the more hard core Sanders supporters...um, they might be Trots too, come to think of it...
Edited Date: 2017-01-13 06:35 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-01-13 06:53 pm (UTC)
ext_12726: Me at the computer (View from study (sunny))
From: [identity profile] heleninwales.livejournal.com
There's an extension for Chrome and Firefox called FB Fluffbusting Purity. It tames Facebook so that you have much more control over what you see. For one thing it ensures that you see all posts in chronological order instead of the"most popular" that Facebook thinks you should see. I find it invaluable.

Date: 2017-01-13 10:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ritaxis.livejournal.com
Thank you, I'm going to check that out!

I did, and I'm using it, and it's better, but I'm still missing a lot of my friends' posts because apparently "most recent" on facebook doesn't actually mean "all the most recent."
Edited Date: 2017-01-14 01:00 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-01-13 04:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] browngirl.livejournal.com
Well and truly said!

Date: 2017-01-14 07:43 am (UTC)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeborah
I agree with you that a lot of the blame isn't productive and infighting needs to be put aside while we fight the really big threats. (We especially need to be wary of potential agents provocateurs because that's a known tactic in effect.)

But to all things moderation (including moderation). We generally shouldn't take allies down as "the real racist" but if they're being racist we do need to call them out, whether that be in the spirit of friendly critique or in the howl of pain that comes out of your mouth when your friend accidentally steps on your toe. (And if someone howls at us we need to stop stepping on their toe.)

But with fascism on the rise why is this so vital? For exactly the reason you said: if more progressive/radical groups agree to disband themselves and toe the party line 'for the duration' 'in order to defeat fascism' then at the end of this, after we've defeated fascism, we'll just be left with a society run by a different set of people blind to their own different set of privileges.

I struggle with this in my head quite a bit. Because one of the (far-)right's big strengths is that they've got a strong party line (abortion and homosexuality bad, guns good, personal responsibility rah rah rah). They mercilessly squelch/shun anyone who even faintly questions it, and with everyone too terrified to do anything but pull in the same direction they win big. So if the left wants to win shouldn't we emulate that?

But the problem is that if we emulate that then we betray our principles and thereby, de facto, lose.

There needs to be a balance. Where that balance is - who gets to decide where it is - how we deal with the harm any inequities in that balance cause to the vulnerable - these are really hard questions that do in a sense distract us from our goal. But in another sense they are our goal. And so we can't stop asking them 'for the duration'.

Date: 2017-01-14 07:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ritaxis.livejournal.com
Thanks! I meant to go into this more later, but just tossed it off in that one sentence about not engaging in wimpy compromises. Yes, we need to demand high standards from ourselves & the people we work with. That's a particular thing: you do get some unfortunate callouts here&there but those are the inevitable side effect of generally demanding that people do better. I'm not even complaining about the worst of the mistaken callouts, for that reason.

The thing I'm fighting against is this narrative that our enemies are the Left, the "progressives," the "antifascists," the Clintonistas, and the Bernies. I don't think it is accidental that the people getting painted this way, generally vaguely without names or dates, are never blue dogs, or people who have actually gone to meet Trump, or people who have called for "wait and see" and "an orderly transition." They're always antifascists or the more principled kind of Democratic Party functionary. That's my point, and why I call it the fifth column.
Edited Date: 2017-01-14 07:37 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-01-14 08:22 pm (UTC)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeborah
Ah, got it. I don't think I've seen a lot of that - or if I have, only through seeing people taking it down.

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