A few polytheist tumblr users have angered and terrified the anti-tumblr polytheist crowd again – what else is new?
A few bitter young leftists are preparing themselves for a fight and using typical radical tactics to do so – again, what else is new?
Tumblr is talking the tough guy talk but the odds of actually accomplishing anything beyond maybe getting someone fired are not in their favor – you get the idea.
I am not a third positionist, a centrist, or someone so confused that I can see the “validity” in any and every sort of position so long as it at least approaches coherence. I know what I want for the world, but I also know enough to accept things that I do not want to happen. Violence, anger, and ignorance are some of those things.
And from where I’m standing, I see both sides of this debacle exhibiting a lot of anger and a lot of ignorance. Whether it is excusable or not is irrelevant to this post, because this post is about things I find interesting.
- I find it interesting that bloggers who have previously advocated enlistment in the armed forces for spiritual reasons (let’s call a spade a spade here: the army/navy/AF/marines is a demographic of state-sanctioned murderers and accessories to murder) are appalled in that these polytheists aren’t calling for murder, or air striking, or carpet bombing, or aiding in coups of democratically elected foreign leaders, but because they are advocating for… what? Making some noise? Being irritating and disrespectful? For “starting a war” in which no one is probably going to get killed? Here, I see certain kinds of violence being praised as Good and Necessary and others as Heinous and Senseless. Here, I see hypocrisy. (See also how white supremacists use the US military to their advantage.)
- I find it interesting that the tactics in question are seen as supposedly originating with G&R or Tumblr, when in fact they are as old as fucking dirt, and that they have been used by every political flavor under the sun at some point or another to accomplish what they feel necessary to accomplish. “Our enemies do this” is a pitifully weak excuse to denounce an action that scares you. Our enemies don’t cannibalize their own children either, but you don’t see anyone waxing political about reevaluating our stance on baby-eating because of it. I can turn my head right now and look at a book on my shelf called The Failure of Nonviolence by Peter Gelderloos, a man much smarter than I, and if your knee-jerk reaction to violent political action is horror and disgust, then I suggest you read this book and familiarize yourself with some real, actual history of what political action looks like, because it is rarely pretty, rarely painless, and rarely blood-free. Moreover, those calling for a more peaceful, less agitative approach because it might inspire violent retaliation: MLK was as peaceful as they came, and he was still murdered. Pacifism is no shield against hate; it never has been, and it never will be. To recommend pacifism as a survival tactic is patronizing and ignorant.
- I find it interesting that the reaction to this tiny handful of proponents – forgetting that an even tinier fraction of those proponents will actualize any of those recommendations, and an even smaller fraction still will be successful in making any sort of impact – at times approaches the very sort of political purity mindset that G&R has been accused of perpetuating. More hypocrisy.
- I find it interesting that a few randos on Tumblr terrify and anger polytheists more than the actual right-wing extremists do – while their ubiquity might be a little overblown recently, their existence is not up for debate. The fact that words on a screen have a way of raising the blood pressure more than this or this or this, frankly, confuses me. (These are the least violent pictures of violence I could find – I wasn’t about to link to pictures of charred or beheaded bodies, though there were a few of those too.) I encourage everyone to weather ten minutes of reading on Stormfront before they take to their keyboards to rebuke the methods of anti-racists.
- I find it interesting that there appears to be an assumption that the leftists calling for the implementation of these (rather pedestrian, in the scheme of things) tactics are immature, bloodthirsty, or otherwise not as cognitively robust as their detractors. And you know what? That may very well be true. But what nobody seems to understand – nobody who has more than a cursory knowledge of history and politics – is that violence just doesn’t come from nowhere. This sort of violence is perpetuated by people who either have a lot to gain, like despots, or people who perceive that they have nothing left to lose. And in the current political climate, more and more people are falling into the latter category whether you or I agree with them or not. Should we be reprimanding a cornered animal when it lashes out? Or should we try to figure out how to not make the animal feel cornered and so vitally threatened? Or should we accept that the animal does not want to be here at all, whether truly cornered or only perceiving such, and that it is going to do what it feels is in its best interest to do irrespective of what we want?
I leave you all with an excerpt from Gelderloos to maybe ponder or maybe grumble at:
Many of the proponents of nonviolence were drawing on a rich if somewhat flawed history of peaceful movements for change, like the Latin American solidarity movement in the US or the anti-militarist and anti-nuclear movements in Europe. […] In the face of its defeats, nonviolence nourished itself not in the experience of social movements, which repeatedly counseled against it, but rather anchored itself with the support of the mass media, the universities, wealthy benefactors, and governments themselves.
[U]nscrupulous supporters of nonviolence have spread the accusation, often without any evidence, that [violent] members of a social movement are police provocateurs, and they have done this precisely because they are afraid to debate. They have to rob their opponents of any legitimacy and prevent bystanders to the debate from realizing that there is indeed any debate going on, and that the social movements contain conflicting beliefs and practices. And by spreading false rumors of infiltration and dividing the movement, they expose those they accuse to violence, whether that is the violence of arrest of the violence of fellow protesters.
Once we accept that a struggle has different moods, we can create spaces for distinct forms of struggle by restroring and further elaborating these traditions of resistance. This won’t work if confrontational people never go to vigils and peaceful people never go to noise demos or May Day celebrations. […] There will always be others in a struggle whose politics we find despicable, and often with good reason. But it speaks volumes about our own weaknesses if the only people we respect are those we share a perfect affinity with.