On cutting off the drunk drivers of the left.
"Changing the way an adult thinks requires coming up with a good argument, reasoning well, and taking into account their counter-arguments."
Has anyone experienced this? I never have. Changes of mind have come from the heart, not reason. If anything, reasoned arguements have entrenched opinions, but that might just be my being crap at arguing. And spelling. And grammar. People tend to rationalise their feelings, which is why getting them while they are still malleable is better.
This makes me think of Ursula le Guin’s The Dispossessed where I loved all the ideas except the break up of the family, all the children separated from their parents -‘everyone’s children’, something I hadn’t previously known was a leftist project (my own ignorance entirely).
Also in Brave New World, but there at least it’s obvious it’s unsettling.
I'm a paying subscriber to Unherd but have struggled to go there recently, seeing their general bias, particularly among readers, regarding Israel. But it's great they're publishing you, Rhyd, and I'll be interested to see what the response is there to your work.
Just saw a link to your Unherd article at Big Pulpit, a Catholic news aggregator. What strange bedfellows these times are creating.
A valuable reminder of the dangers of extremist ideology of any kind, and I think Social Justice Identarianism is a brilliant label for some adherents of it.
But please be careful with UnHerd. I know Paul Kingsnorth has been caught up in it as he has embraced anti-modernism. But most of the writers on it are hard-right conservatives and many are outright racists, including those propagating disgusting anti-Moslem hate and propaganda about events in Gaza. This article in the Guardian sounds the alarm about getting into bed with them: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2023/oct/28/loud-and-uncowed-how-unherd-owner-paul-marshall-became-britains-newest-media-mogul
"Changing the way an adult thinks requires coming up with a good argument, reasoning well, and taking into account their counter-arguments. Children don’t have the skills or the experience to question or even to notice when they are being indoctrinated and essentially experimented upon, which is specifically why the new — and old — social change ideologies target them in the first place."
The first one is a toss-up. Some adults, not all, probably not even most, would change their minds about a particular topic or subject they may not be entirely clear on, but "changing the way an adult thinks" requires a lot more dedication and hard work from the listener than the one presenting the argument. I should know.
And children really do have a raw deal in life. It's almost too tragic to even ponder. However, I was somewhat aware as a child that I was being indoctrinated and experimented on by family and the education system. It made me livid at times and even terrified me greatly. I remember praying for Death to claim me many a time. What was less obvious to me at the time was the sinister nature consumerism and mass-media.
Great essay, and I appreciate the historical research you put into your work. I actually think these are huge reasons (abolishing the nuclear family and the creepier parts of sex positivity) why many people who support left-leaning policy around healthcare, student debt, and labor rights are wary of what is called leftism is now. It's become a counterculture of people rebelling against very specific childhood traumas involving their Christian upbringing, rather than a politics.
Also, I think it's great you write for Unherd. I don't like this leftist presupposition that if you write in a publication that features right wing writers, that you are going to catch some fascist disease and be forever tainted by association. The idea that people who read right wing publications are bad and can never be persuaded by a leftist idea feels like some kind of Calvinist predetermination thing.
I remember in the 2020 election, when it looked like Warren was going to drop out of the Democratic primary, there was some talk among my Sanders supporting friends of reaching out to Warren supporters to help with Bernie's campaign, rather than bully them online (which a lot of Sanders supporters were doing). A lot of leftists insisted that bullying Warren supporters online was justified because bullying was never a factor in influencing an already "good" person to change their mind about a political issue. At this point I became convinced that many people who identify as leftist didn't want to build a mass movement behind some of Sanders' more popular policy proposals, and just wanted a socially sanctioned way to punish others for the personal injustices they feel they've experienced.
I've been pleasantly surprised to see you on the fringes I've been residing in since 2017. And impressed that you have many of the same concerns I did. After Occupy Wall Street there was an enormous shift away from class consciousness toward race consciousness, BMI consciousness, sexual minority consciousness, disability consciousness, and pretty much EVERY form of consciousness that didn't mention income inequality.
Back in the day our rule of thumb was that just about any form of sexual deviance (in the clincal, not the pejorative sense) was acceptable so long as all parties involved were consenting adults. It's telling that we then started hearing complaints about consent and racism, ableism, transphobia, etc. And recurring comments like "so why is adult/child sex ALWAYS a bad thing?"
You're spot on regarding Wilhelm Reich and the idea that the Sexual Revolution was going to schtup its way into a new utopia. It's why we have crusaders fighting against persecution of "gender identities" that didn't exist last week. The Frankfurt School recognized that it was easier to get people excited by orgies than economic theory. (To be fair, given a choice between an orgy and reading *Das Kapital* I think most of us would choose the former... ). Harnessing the sex drive for political revolutions was a clever piece of social engineering, but one that leads to a lot of bourgeois playacting that ultimately shores up the System rather than tearing it down.
I wanted to read your comments at the Unherd site, but the'privacy' policies of that site are unacceptable to me.