deletedJun 26, 2021Liked by Rhyd Wildermuth
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Jun 26, 2021Liked by Rhyd Wildermuth

Okay, I'll make a start.

I can only talk about the internet left because that is admittedly my only actual experience, but then, I think super-wokeness is an internet phenomenon in the first place.

I think that the difference between 'actual left' and the 'liberals' is what applies here. I know its not original, but I think its applicable anyway.

The actual left still speaks to the material concerns of everyday people and is not circling the wagon by alienating the not-as-woke by refusing to talk to them. They are (important!) anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist with a keen understanding of propaganda and narrative management.

Prominent media/internet figures that I count among them are Lee Camp and Eleanor Goldfield (who says she's pagan by the way), Jimmy Dore, Graham Elwood, Caitlin Johnstone, Aaron Mate, Glenn Greenwald, Danny Haiphong, Briahna Joy Gray, Katie Halper, Ryan Knight, even people like Russell Brand and of course their many many guests whom I can't name all. I think you called them the dirtbag left a while ago.

Now, liberals are different. Liberals are the pretend left that has been bred by publications like the New York Times or the Huffpost. They are preoccupied with the most infinitesimal distillations of ephemeral wokeness (while at the same time, fuck them, willing to use misogyny, xenophobia and homophobia when it suits them) and use these as a cudgel to silence both the population and the actual left. These people are journalists and authors with contacts to power OR ambitions to well paid careers at these publications and all the well-off people who read newspapers like that and are actually quite comfortable with the status quo.

And of course there are just many many non-wealthy propagandized people who make up the liberal left. The New York Times is the absolute plague.

I suppose this is a fairly non-spiritual and not super original analysis but I guess it can start us off with some basic thoughts...

I'm German by the way, so from an American perspective this is an outside view. But I feel like the discourse is even deader and more boring here in Germany, and even more hopeless, so I follow the English language one. As long as, frankly, empire exists in its current form, nothing here in Germany will change anyway, in my opinion.

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Jun 26, 2021Liked by Rhyd Wildermuth

Things have changed a lot since I got involved in the left. In the mid 2000s I was involved in an anarchist activist scene in Canada. At that point there wasn't a woke left. There was a student movement left and labour left who were entangled with parliamentary politics. There were also some ancient Stalinists and anarchists of various descriptions. At that time I was reading folks like Freddy Perlman, Feral Faun, Gilles Dauve, Alfredo Bonnano, Zig Zag, Federici, etc. Most of the leftists I interact with today only know Federici. I think they are really into Donna Haraway, bell hooks, and whomever else they were told to read in school. No one at the time apologized for reading books by men or white men. Life happened and I ended up back in the US and now in Europe.

In the US my connections with the left were slim to nil. I listened to Chapo for a few years before losing interest during 2020. I was involved in a failed attempt to organize grad students with the SEIU. I also went to a few BLM protests in St Louis where I was told that I was supposed to be a human shield for black and other non white protesters. I thought this was both strange and stupid. It would never have happened a few years before. No one seemed to care about your race at an anti-globalization protest.

Today the folks I know on the left in Europe are former squatters and are either fully absorbed in woke politics or find it obnoxious, humorless, and puritanical but are politically estranged from struggle. It seems like the folks involved in the woke left are more likely to have gone to university and studied something like gender studies, anthropology, fine art, etc (no surprise). Some of them are also now involved in parliamentarian politics via a new identitarian left party. I tend to think (like many) that wokeness has its origin in the American university system. However, I also think there is a connection between an increasingly identitarian woke left and the world of therapy and mental health. I personally think the identitarian woke impulse is fueled by a sense of victimhood and resentment an impulse that seemed largely absent from the anarchists scene of the mid 2000s. Folks weren't talking about their traumatic experiences with white cis het men or whomever. Folks weren't involved in politicizing the bathrooms of art spaces. Folks were more likely to be fantasizing about autonomy from the state and capital via ecovillages or building working class organizations to fuck with landlords and politicians.

Today, my politics are mainly centered around my hatred of work and my desire to live as I choose. I'd probably identify as a Leftist if asked but I'm more likely to read Ernst Junger than Karl Marx most days of the week. I didn't vote in the last US election. I haven't voted in the last twenty years. My girlfriend also still identifies as a leftist if pressed but she would rather talk about UFOs than woke shit (which she has little time for, more than me but that aint hard).

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Jun 26, 2021Liked by Rhyd Wildermuth

Came here to repeat my comment on your "Declining Sperm Counts" essay:

This is tangential to your main point, but you mention that mens' movements are considered enemies of the Left. Do you think that studies and discourse in the vein of the "Mythic Masculine" (Ian MacKenzie) or "Inner Throne" (Eivind Skjellum) type of thing might have the future potential to reclaim a model of masculinity for the left? Right now my impression is that those viewpoints are so obscure that Centrist Leftists have not bothered to notice them, let alone critique them. On the other hand Charles Eisenstein -- he is not exactly a famous figure, yet he is an ascendant leftist viewpoint. And even he had a Mythic Masculine course at some point. It wasn't one of his most popular ones, but it was there.

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Some very good observations here. I would only add that as a *practical* political matter, universal programs are always popular and targeted ones never are. For example, in the US, Medicare and Social Security would be hard to mess with (though our neoliberal overlords really want to) but "welfare" was an easy target. The latter being means-tested and targeted to "the poor" -- nobody, of course, wants to be poor or considered poor -- and the former being universal. Idpol of course by nature turns away from the universal.

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I don't know how to classify my politics anymore. I think I'm sympathetic to the idea of being a "LeGuinist Anarchist", but I am definitely feeling further and further estranged from woke thought.

I'm black and middle class. I've never been poor but I spent a large part of my childhood in a poor/working class, multicultural neighbourhood. My family was definitely more comfortable than most of my friends, including the white ones. I bring this up because, based on my experience, a lot of the stuff that the "Woke" attribute to racism/anti-blackness seems to be more linked to poverty.

I used to call myself Woke. I think things started to change in 2016 when Trump was elected. It seemed to me that there were real, material reasons driving people to vote for him but almost no one in my real life circles wanted to hear that. Instead it happened because all white people are irremediably racist and because...**RUSSIA**. I still had some hope at that time though because that was when Bernie Sanders entered the spotlight, and I was hoping that eventually we would get to a place of the left centring material conditions, and pushing for policies that could benefit all working/middle class people.

The so called "racial reckoning" that started last summer has been a turning point for me. I think if there is any way I could describe how I feel about what has happened, it's that I feel gaslit. Suddenly my social media was inundated with posts about how much the world is against me because of my race. This did not match up with the world that I actually live in. Have I experienced racism? Yes. But is it a factor in every single breath I take? Absolutely not. I'm educated, I've had a lot of opportunity to travel, I don't lack materially - overall I would say that I live a very privileged life. And yet my phenotype is supposedly some sort of unescapable caste, that will doom me and my kin for eternity.

Anyways, I don't really know what my politics are any more. I found myself drawn to reading right wing twitter threads critical of Critical Race Theory just so I could see **something** that would rebut what to me seems like utter insanity. I'm glad to have found your writing, and AngieSpeaks videos for counterpoints from a left wing perspective. I am not interested in being part of a Left that can only see me as a downtrodden victim with zero agency.

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I have a somewhat... complicated relationship to the whole "woke"/"anti-woke" discourse. I don't really see a conflict between identity-based and class-based politics. For me the adoption of, say, feminist critique (a la Federici) isn't a retreat from class analysis, but rather an essential part of the understanding how capitalism and class reproduce itself. Same goes for race. For me the question of whether "race" or "class" is more important borders on nonsensical—they're all part of the same machine.

I do think that there is a somewhat interesting story about how identity politics—which is something that came from Marxist thinkers like Fanon, Davis, Lorde, the Combahee River Collective, etc.—got co-opted by liberals—but also I think the solution isn't to abandon identity altogether, but rather to show that leftists are the ones who have a better, more comprehensive solution, because we do. "Everyone deserves to have their needs met" is always going to be a more appealing story than "maybe if you elect a Democrat we'll give you a tax credit for doctor's visits so long as you fill out this mountain of paperwork and can prove you're searching for a job."

For me the most interesting side is the personal side: given that we all live in a deeply cruel, unjust world, how do we make the most of the one life we have to live? The idea that we must constantly burn ourselves out fighting for justice that will never come strikes me as some sort of vestigial Christian belief. But striking the balance between apathy and zealotry is hard.

There's also the interpersonal side of things, too. Something I think a lot about is how social justice rhetoric gets weaponized in personal interactions. There are a lot of genuinely abusive people out there who are all too happy to co-opt social justice logic as a tool of abuse. I don't think it's anything unique to social justice—abusers can craft whatever is around into a tool for controlling others—but it's sad to watch. What hurts the most is that, inevitably, it's always the marginalized and oppressed using it to abuse other marginalized and oppressed. Hurt people hurt people.

Somewhat related to this is the absolutely bizarre intra-community queer discourse. My partner is a writer and so I'm privy to the gossip of the trans literary fiction world, and every week there's somebody getting dogpiled and harassed because they made uncomfortable art, or because they had the temerity to disparage YA, genre fiction, fanfiction, or popular art. But in those cases, I think it's less an insidious ideology and more just the fact that the people running these harassment campaigns and doing this discourse are literally just children. The perennial problem with the queer discourse is that two years after you come out you're not really interested in talking about being queer online anymore, and so the discourse is entirely dominated by those least qualified to speak.

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Yes, I am deeply at odds with many leftists of all kinds (hardcore Stalinists, postmodern liberals, raging angry anarcho-punks, insecure white wokes, etc.), and yet I can't consider myself anything else. What I simply can't stand anywhere is just good old fanaticism and dogmatism. The feeling I have with these cliques is that gods help you if you happen to either counterargument a Woke about an overcomplicated theory, a hypocritical Stalinist about the guy's despicable behaviour, or a liberal about their rampant pro-capitalistic attitude. And that's not healthy. And that's the very reason why the left can never agree or build a coherent and cohesive front. The right also has its inconsistencies and infighting, but they are usually so dogmatic that they'll prioritise one absolute truth. On the left, being critical is the basis of a healthy political attitude, but at the same time there's still a political need to gather and unify in order to pursue certain goals. Although, as mentioned above, not as consistently. Meanwhile, this pointless emphasizing of two sides where one is the chosen path leads those who disagree with certain individuals in both sides to be mislabeled either as an adversary (a "dirty cuck commie" or an "oppressive fascist") or worse, as an "equidistant" (a term we use in Spain nowadays), i.e., a careless moderate or unengaging simpleton that tolerates the other extreme.

I'm always going to be an anti-fascist and I'm always going to align with leftist concerns, but I refuse to be set on a scale or a graphical measure of any kind, cos these bloody categorisations are ruining humanity and our place in existence (which is outside of our hubristic and egotistical minds).

Urbanites and people with that mind need to meet more farmers, native peoples, and traditional cultures and stop pretending to represent or understand their history from a room.

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