January 30, 2006

The Clash of Extremes 

I was reading the latest piece by Dennis the Peasant in his series of harsh but hilarious criticism of Pajamas Media, and I found some comments by hard-left types (that Dennis did not deliberately take on board).

What I found is: all Little Green Footballs readers are arab-killing-fascisto-jingoists-greedy-capitalists. And fat and stupid, of course.

Pajamas Media? It cannot be an amateurish business, but it must be Rovian Propaganda.
Tech Central Station is paid to write "war propaganda".

You know what, it's true that there is a number of despicable folks on LGF who fit quite well the description given above. And I've been in many comment board dust-ups with them. But there are also folks who are quite pleasant, and I can get along with them despite opinion differences. However, I'm not much there anymore: the battle against the fanatics is futile, and the flame wars and chit-chat take up a lot of space nowadays. And I actually have other things to do.

I read PJM only seldom, and my opinion is that it's pretty much average as portal/blog aggregator - but nothing like the media and advertising revolution its founders envisioned. Propaganda? Well, it's not really a mistery that Charles Johnson, Michelle Malkin and Wretchard (just to name a few) have certain political positions. So one can take their opinions critically - as one should always do. But the theorem:

PJM is "pro-Bush" and They found financers therefore PJM is financed by the Bushes

does not work. It's just another conspiracy.

I read TCS often, and in the light of my scientific and technical knowledge their papers are generally sound. The fact that some author over there may be receiving money from a chemical corporation does not make his or her statements false; it takes some real proof to conclude that.

The right wing isn't untainted, anyway: cruelty, whacky memes, exaggerations and even conspiracies are common occurrences. And something I cannot really stand is the frequent rabid opposition to evolution and whatever science doesn't fit a fundamentalist christian worldview.

But a simple Left-Right (monodimensional) model isn't enough to explain properly the political landscape; one needs at least a bi-dimensional plane if not a three-dimension space. That's why people like me (indipendent ones, I daresay) sometimes closely agree with the "right-wing", but other times not. I rarely agree with the "left-wing" because their main memes (socialism, egalitarianism) have consistently failed. Everytime, everywhere. And even when my proposals have a lefty flavour, generally my motivations are deeply different.

However, whatever axis you are considering the extremes tend to clash. And the more whacked out they are, the strongest the siege mentality becomes. The other side is seen as a monolithic block with no consideration for the individual particularity; then accused of every problem (See: Bush and Katrina; Clinton and the TWA800 accident) and finally dehumanized to the point that "Exterminate those cockroaches" is not a cry of frustration anymore, but rather a serious proposal. In this climate also apocalyptic views flourish: the idea that once the other side (the Left, the Right, the Islamists, the Infidels) is crushed, the Golden Age will return. And this inevitable battle between Good and Evil will cause enormous death and destruction, but it's something that we mere humans cannot avoid, and anyway for those who will survive the world will be full of fluffy bunnies and chocolate rivers. So let's happily push the red button and let the nukes fly. Fanatics on all sides are different only as a matter of degree but they're all of the same kind, this much I know.

This stuff is crazy and not a little worrysome.

Extremization is also a vicious circle: each side becomes more and more radical, often pointing at the other side's radicalism as a justification. Being and indipendent becomes very difficult, because you have to weather brutal attacks from both sides. I've been called fascist, communist (yes, it happened), sexist, dhimmi, arab-hater, anti-semite, racist, warmonger, limp-wristed, phallocrat (sic) and simply stupid or evil only because I refuse to jump on a certain bandwagon. And because I am European Italian - like I was responsible for Mussolini and Hitler. My parents weren't even born in those years, for God's sake.

I try to stay out of all this, but sometimes I'm dragged in - my damn hot blood. And I'm not a patient guy, so when a commenter here started throwing leftist axioms (and ad hominem) at me I rapidly shut down the discussion. Why? Because it wasn't productive in any way; we only discovered that we had no common points to reach a synthesis of our positions.

Will the Left-Right struggle reach a breaking point and become physical? That wouldn't be pretty to watch.


This is a great post that incidentally gave voice many of my own same feelings on the subject. Thank you very much.
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