In this episode I explore what happens when we find ourselves agreeing with the disagreeable and ahow identity politics is ruining critical discourse on the issues we face.
EPISODE 3 – STRANGE BEDFELLOWS
Am I the only one who feels that the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ have sort of lost all sensible meaning these days? I’m obviously talking about left and right in a political context, I’m not suggesting that we don’t know our right hand from our left hand anymore. But who knows what the next casualty of truth will be in this upside down world.
I used to be able to say with a fair degree of confidence that I was ‘on the left’ of the political spectrum, but I’m not sure that’s true anymore. Because the left end of the political spectrum seems to have become infiltrated by some rather dodgy characters with some – dare I say it – quite weird authoritarian leanings – very similar, in fact, to the authoritarian leanings of those on the far right. Go figure.
I think it’s helpful to stop thinking about left and right and start thinking about pro-authoritarian and anti-authoritarian. But if you do that, you’re going to discover some strange bedfellows.
I think I’m what’s now considered an ‘old school lefty’. I believe that government has a responsibility to protect the less fortunate. I’m for nationalized medicine and the welfare state. I’m pro unions. I’m for gay rights and protecting the environment. I’m very pro-immigration. I’m pro-choice. I’m a feminist, or at least a second-wave Germain Greer type feminist. I lived in the US for 25 years where I dutifully always voted Democrat, supported gun control, was against the death penalty and had all the good lefty credentials. I generally found myself a bit left of most of my friends. But things have changed.
Have you noticed that the left doesn’t talk about any of those things anymore really? They seem almost completely disinterested with protecting the rights of ordinary working people or bridging the gap between the rich and the poor. They rarely actually talk about social economics at all. Instead the left has descended into a seething quagmire of group think behaviour modification, name-calling, and virtue posturing otherwise known as – that lumbering bullying monster — identity politics.
So now I don’t really know what to call myself – centre left, perhaps? It sounds so awkward. My views haven’t actually changed that much, maybe mellowed a bit. But my political position has been rearranged largely without my consent. It’s like someone picked up the chair with me in it and moved me over to the Right side of the meeting hall. I still believe in all those things. But my views are now considered irrelevant to the cause of the New Left.
But it’s given me an opportunity. Because it seems to me that the Left and the Right have been kept apart. Almost as if on purpose. Like some giant Nanny reached down and said, “Now, now, you too, since you obviously can’t get along we’re going to separate you. We’ll give you your own TV news channels and some of you will have whole states to play in. We’re going to calve California down the middle – sorry the Left is going to get the beaches, they surf better than you do. The important thing is that you don’t talk to one another, but if you do talk to one another you have to do it in these public arenas that we’ll set up for you as long as you shout really loudly at one another and never agree on anything.
I never really knew anyone on the right, at least not consciously. I just assumed they were all a bit thick and kind of mean. That was until I stumbled into a Facebook group that was populated by mostly conservative women. I was a bit naïve. They were a bit mean, actually, and they had some funny ideas, but they were smart and they weren’t afraid of a real debate. They actually welcomed it. Contrast this to a lefty group I had been in that was filled with SJW’s. If someone said the wrong thing there everyone just started screaming at them and then kicked them out of the group. I was actually kicked out of the group for defending this girl who they’d decided was racist. Then I was apparently racist for defending her. She was clearly not racist, just a bit niaeve and inexperienced really, she’d taken some photos in India doing yoga poses against carved doorways. I actually have friends who’ve taken similar photos, but they were just luckier and less blonde. These people really wanted to destroy this girl. She was forced to take down her blog because of all the hate messages. The blood lust was disturbing. With the conservative ladies, at first I was like I’m out of here, your hairstyles are scaring me, you talk too much about religion, I decided to stick around because, although I detested Trump, I was curious. And I never saw anything racist there and I found them much more polite and considered than the SJW’s. I even engaged in a few debates with them. No one kicked me out of the group when I disagreed with them and they didn’t ignore me either or called me names.
I began to watch documentaries by people who talked to Trump supporters about why they supported Trump. What I saw was very different to the caricatures of Trump supporters we were being shown on late night talk shows. What amazed me the most was that in a number of regions, people were torn between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. They couldn’t be further apart. What these people articulated was that what they wanted a radical change. As Michael Moore so eloquently put it, they wanted to throw a Molotov cocktail into the political system. They were voting for Trump, they were voting AGAINST a system that they believed had failed them.
And this is really coming to the point – that it’s the system itself that needs to change, and that the people who get elected – not just in America – are increasingly revealing themselves to be nothing but cuckoo clock plastic characters who pop out and wave and then retreat back inside the machine every four years or so. And it’s increasingly clear that the parties no longer represent the interests of the people. They represent the interests of the clock. We need to stop talking so much about the cuckoos and start talking instead about the clock.
What I’ve found in putting my toe in the Realm of the Right is that they’re not for the most part Neo-Nazis with deeply racist ideologies. Neo-nazis do exist, but they’re not the majority. The majority of people on the right are I believe just more socially conservative than I am – they’re more like my grandparents. Most of them have ideas that are more old-fashioned than outright dangerous. But what happens is that each group – the Left and the Right – seem to react off and feed off of one another and become more extreme than they would otherwise be. And isn’t that interesting. Because that keeps them from uniting on anything.
But sometimes the issue transcends this political divide. I found this working in the Tibet freedom movement. The Tibet movement was a real politically diverse bunch. The supporters on the right were motivated largely anti-communist sentiments. My fellow Tibet supporters and I were happy to have support from any side of the political aisle. The more the merrier, we thought. It didn’t mean that we had to agree on everything they stood for, but we could come together on this one issue. Adversity had made strange bedfellows as the old 17th century saying goes.
Today it’s difficult to engage in any serious discussion about the issue at all because identity politics has reduced every political issue to the IDENTITY of the person or group declaring it. This creates the preposterous situation where people are criticized for holding a particular position on an issue SIMPLY BECAUSE either the group that issue effects might get offended or BECAUSE people whom we’re not supposed to like – hold that view as well.This kind of thinking has infected the discourse to such a degree that today we are in the bizarre situation where even discussing something as serious early treatment for Covid to prevent severe illness and death is considered a right-wing topic. Because Donald Trump talked about hydroxycholoroquine then it must be abject nonsense and all the science supporting its use must be wrong. You can easily see how this kind of thinking very quickly becomes absurd. Trump says orange juice is the colour orange – hang on a minute, I’m seeing orange juice as orange. I must have turned into a Trump supporter over night. Where are my sunglasses, that’s better, now its sort of a murky brown. Phew, I almost agreed with something Trump said for a minute there.
Ivermectin, same thing. Few on the left can talk about it sensibly, simply because some people who don’t like the vaccines are promoting it. The discourse around Ivermectin from the left is hysterical nonsense. Some of it’s funny, the horse de-wormer meme – but it’s completely bonkers, there’s no critical thinking at all. They’ve just ignored all of the evidence that supports and taken a stand simply to make a political point. It’s like something out of the Simpsons. It would be funnier if people’s lives weren’t at stake. We don’t care if it helps people – we only care that people we don’t like like it. That’s why we don’t like it. And if you don’t like, you can lump it.
The same thing with discussion around vaccines and vaccine mandates. No one is allowed to question anything, if the science comes to the ‘wrong’ conclusions it’s tossed down the memory hole, and drug companies are now apparently the most trusted institutions on the planet. Well, thank God there are still scientists who continue to raise questions and doctors who continue to insist on treating their patients with whatever medications they find help them in their recovery, even though they are now threated with arrest and the loss of their licences because of the politicization.
So here we are. The media doesn’t really discuss issues any more on their own merits, they just talk about which groups or their representatives is advocating or denouncing them. Even freedom of speech is apparently a right-wing issue – how come the right wing are getting all the good issues? Someone asked me how I felt being in the company of Steve Bannon because I was defending free speech. I’m like, I don’t really hang out with Steve Bannon, and I’m not sure I want to hang out with you anymore either.
But now we’re in an actual pickle. Several pickles, in fact. There are huge issues that we face collectively, and the only way we can surmount them is collectively.
We’re now seeing mass movements organizing around the world – millions of people coming together against the draconian vaccine mandates and the health passes– regardless of what you feel about the vaccines themselves, since many of these people are already vaccinated. You wouldn’t agree with everything every one of these people believed, why should you – but that shouldn’t stop you from joining them to fight for a common cause.
I remember something going around on Facebook a year or so ago, a woman had written about an anti-lockdown demonstration in Berlin that had been attended by neo-Nazis. She said something to the effect that if you demonstrate alongside Nazis you are a Nazi. No. No. No. This is nonsense. I demonstrated against the Iraq War – there were some very strange bedfellows in that crowd, let me tell you, but in no way did I feel that because they were demonstrating against the same issue as me that this made me one of them. There were probably some jugglers in that crowd in Berlin too (they’re usually are jugglers in any crowd if you look hard enough) you could just as easily argue that the neo-Nazis became jugglers by marching alongside them. That’s a nice idea. I used to be a neo-Nazi but I have rejected those ideas and now I find that chucking these balls in the air brings me a sense of inner harmony and peace I never had before.
The demonstrations we’re seeing today against the health mandates include people from all parts of the political spectrum, from the left and the right. It’s not always being depicted that way on the mainstream news because they like to focus on the extreme elements but from what I’ve seen here in Europe the demonstrations are about 50/50 I would say. I don’t see neo-Nazis – I see ordinary people who’ve had enough – but this doesn’t mean they are no neo-Nazis in those demonstrations, they seem to like to infiltrate big demos, because well it’s hard to drum up interest in neo-Nazi caused I imagine these days. People have other things on their minds. I’m sure they like to polish off the swatikas and show off their new buzz cuts. Just give ‘em a wide berth. I imagine they’re used to it.
Don’t stop speaking out and acting in accordance with your Truth simply because someone you disagree with and even perhaps detest is in agreement with you. It’s a terrible reason for not standing up for something. The vast majority of people who are standing up are not extremists, they’re not radicals, they’re just people like you and me who’ve had enough.
The young care less about all this nit-picking – they’re just like – “This sucks. I’ve had enough!” That isn’t a left or right sentiment. When you’ve had enough, you’ll stand with others who’ve had enough too.
I differ with the centre right on many things. I don’t like guns, I don’t think abortion should be illegal. But one thing I know about the centre right is that they’re suspicious of Big Government. And now, so am I. And what they fear more than anything is government over-reach, and now so do I.
So, I’ve found myself in some rather odd company. It’s odd, but it’s definitely not the oddest thing going on. And maybe it’s not a bad thing. Because maybe it’s time to come together and find our common ground. Like the alliance of Men and Elves and Dwarves who came together to fight the forces of Sauron in Lord of the Rings. Maybe if we come together to fight this thing together we’ll have a better chance of succeeding. We can always go back to screaming at each other later on.
LISTEN TO PREVIOUS EPISODES:
Episode 2 – Hypnosis
Episode 1 – Friendship