Dear too many people on the left: Yes, you’re better than everyone else. Now get over yourselves.

head-deskI get so frustrated, and on a nearly daily basis (thank God for Shabbat, mirite?) with the never-ending carping that happens on my side of the political map regarding the lack of purity of those who would dare condescend to communicate with the vast middle of human opinion.

Yes, it would be nice if everyone on earth believed as I believe about women and rape and Palestinians and human rights and LGBTQ equality and gun violence and whatever whatever whatever, but you know what? They don’t. They really, really don’t.

And there are a lot of people out there doing excellent work, either on the ground or in opinion advocacy (or both) who — gasp! — have the temerity to speak to all those millions of people who have yet to see the wisdom of my great and marvelous mind. To speak in terms that most people will understand. To draw comparisons that are not perfect, but are informative to those who are unfamiliar with the facts. To speak in broad terms, because they only have 800 words, or to deal with a single aspect of a struggle, because they only have 24 hours in a day. To favor immediate needs over long-term goals, or to favor long-term goals over immediate needs. To, on occasion, fall prey to human error or — heaven forfend! — to have once held a different opinion to the one they now support.

And there are a lot of people out there who invest a lot of time and energy in dogging those other people, for not being good enough, or for being too nice to the bad guys, or for failing to fully comprehend the enormity of What Must Be Done and All That Is At Stake.

Fuck that noise.

You cannot organize people where you want them to be – you can only organize them where they are.

You will change no minds and win no hearts by accusing your allies of perfidy – you will only exhaust your allies and convince them to ignore you.

Anger is not sign of sincerity, patience is not a sign of weakness, and purity is unattainable. And snooty sarcasm (to quote Rat, of Pearls Before Swine fame) is never prudent.

Here’s what does help: Talking to people. Raising questions. Thanking them for their commitment, and offering additional information. Assuming that people who identify with The Cause are not, actually, trying their level best to screw you. Most people are mostly decent, and if you don’t believe that to be the case, why are you even trying to live among us? I am going to fail you, I promise you that, and so will everyone else.

And now I’ve yelled (again), and convinced no one. But I feel better. Which is pretty much all that yelling can do, anyway.

And PS: You’re not the only ones who are angry. I am too. Always.

 

 

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8 Comments

  1. It’s me again. I completely agree. I have been a daily reader of http://www.commondreams.com and whereas I am really interested in the news stories and opinion peices; when I get to the follow up comments, honestly like they politicals cats in a sack. If someone’s comment is slightly off message (not sure who’s message that might be) then pow! Out come the actusations of revisinism, bolshovicism(SP?) et al. The thing is that so many of the live their readers seem to live their lives sitting on the edge of the pit of Haddes with their legs dangling in the sulphur fumes. One’s opinions are inadequate, if you think this then you can’t belive that. So often we think the old cronnies of bygone years think that all modern life is gone to hell in a hand cart – you should try the left. I don’t mind their stark views (although hope seems to have died in their words) but it is the sheer negativity. It saps my soul and then I have to stop visiting for a while.

    In october 1968 I wandered into the lobby of the London School of Economics. The student bopdy had taken the place over and was busy turning it into a field hospital because the next day was going to be the big demonstration against the Vietnam War. A field hospital? There would be punches thrown, trunchons used and a genral melee. But Kent State it was not. A sign on the wall said “We have occupied the LSE – if you do not agree with this action then you are against the march – this means you agree with American Imperial aggression in Vietnam”

    Seat of progressive economic and political thinking, and this was all the students of the LSE could come up with?

    • “so many of the live their readers seem to live their lives sitting on the edge of the pit of Haddes with their legs dangling in the sulphur fumes.” <- That. Exactly that.

  2. Lu Froz

     /  January 14, 2013

    Well said. In a decade where we can all very easily find our tiny niches of people who agree with us, dialogue is ever rare.

    • And it’s not even that I am opposed to strident position-taking. Some of my positions are *very* strident, in fact! It’s the way we talk about it, drives me nuts.

  3. Darth Thulhu

     /  January 14, 2013

    In uncharitable moments of cold glee, I deeply enjoy watching the circular firing squads of the Left in action. “Go ahead,” I silently tell them, “keep attacking your leaders for not being complete partisan ideologues, keep making feminism sound psychotic, keep ditching equal rights to take joy in the suffering of people you hate. Karma is instant in the age of the Intertoobz, and you’ve sabotaged your goal and deservedly made most people decide to let your priorities languish for another generation. Great work! Keep it up!”

    I more frequently project these thoughts Rightward, more deservingly, because that side is more generally involved in sabotaging and corrupting positive things *that already exist*, rather than merely delaying future improvements. Either way, though, the icy judgment doesn’t accomplish anything, and I heartily wish more people would take your example to largely push positive advocacy for positive improvements over vomiting hate all over people trying to make a difference.

    • I tend to get pushback for my approach – it’s not angry and unforgiving enough, I think. There’s a very strong whiff of how my friends and I used to talk about bands and their fans to the whole thing….

  4. If there was ever evidence that served as an indictment of political parties, it is the ridiculousness of Republican and Democratic clown car sycophancy. While it is perhaps more glaring on the “Right,” it is inconceivable how prevalent it is on the Left (and yes, I do know what the word means).

    Who, exactly, wants to sign up with a group that eats its own at the slightest provocation? Bad enough we elect people to Federal government who hate Federal government (Republicans), but why would we elect, and/or listen to, people who back their candidate to help him get elected, only to spend their time tearing away at him (Democrats)?

    Solutions to our problems lie in the middle; they always have. Extremism in the name of governance is a vice. The “Right’s” rabid need to push America back into the 1950’s is reprehensible enough; the Left’s vilification of President Obama because he is not a saint, pushing solely their agenda, is mind-numbing.

  5. Excellent!!!!! Bravo! You speak for me here Em.

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