A while back, a friend suggested that I subscribe to the podcasts of Michael Brooks as one of the few on the left who combine a clear recognition of the wilderness we are now inhabiting with an understanding of the path that we must take to escape it.
The particular reason for the referral was based on Brooks’ having referenced a “dum-dum left.” This, as my friend noticed, overlaps more or less exactly with what I have been categorizing here and elsewhere as the “idiot left.”
That we have both hit on two slightly different terms for the same thing is apparent at around 9’30″ in this recent segment where Brooks calmly and systematically defines what the dum dum left is and why it is deeply harmful to the left’s prospects:
There is, unfortunately still, a dum-dum left who confuse moral posturing with revolutionary fervor. Who confused ahistorical throwing anything at the wall and endless whining about the Democrats for a real radical stance towards politics and who confuse a couple of irrelevant protest votes for a marginal candidate for a serious committment to revitalizing power-to actually seizing power in this country. And I get why that’s emotionally appealing to people because we live in absolutely disgusting times and the governing class of this country and the globe is disgusting. It’s abusive, it’s cruel, it’s abusive, it’s stupid, it’s arrogant, it’s insular and they need to be mocked, ridiculed, debunked, and they need to be taken out, to keep it simple.
But not too simple.
We need to keep it as simple as it can be, but not simpler than that.”
Brooks then proceeds to examine a notable expression of “youtube dum-dumism,” an attack on Brooks’ defense of strategic voting issued by notable left dum-dum, comedian Jimmy Dore who asks incredulously “You should have voted for Hillary because of DACA?”
How dumb can you be? Still defending voting for Hillary even though it was Hillary who propped up Donald Trump. She completely rigged the primary to make sure the only person who could have lost to Donald Trump lost the primary. And you still want us to vote for the person who cheated us out of Bernie. We got Donald Trump because Democrats got in power and fucked everyone over, you dummie. And if we didn’t get Trump this time, we were going to get a worse Trump next time. Because your inability to think past one election cycle is why you’re a dummie and no one listens to you.
Well, you could have voted for a third party and made a difference. But you voted like a stupid corporate neoliberal, you did the lesser of two evils.
As Brooks points out, among the “dummies” and “corporate neoliberals” Dore has in mind was Noam Chomsky who, as everyone should know, urged a vote for Clinton on the most elementary moral grounds: one should work to elect a lesser evil candidate because the lesser evil candidate will be . . . . less evil. Brooks cites a BBC interview where Chomsky states what has become obvious to anyone who is not, well, an idiot: “the most dangerous organization in human history” in unchallenged power has been a complete disaster.
As is generally the case, Dore’s addled conclusions are a reflection of shoddy reasoning or really none at all. This becomes apparent when, as Brooks observes, Dore immediately runs away from DACA, the issue which provides the impetus for his rant. Dore correctly observes that those who support strategic voting point to the millions who will be deported by Trump as indicative of how quasi-fascism differs from Clintonite neoliberalism. But after recognizing that that’s what Brooks and others say, Dore completely ignores it, obsessively returning to the only subject which he is able to focus on: hatred for Clinton and unnamed Democrats without noticing that by failing address it, he has effectively conceded Brook’s argument.
It would be interesting to know how Dore’s thousands of fans respond to this. Do they recognize his obvious failure to address the issue and recognize that, when they themselves confront those who aren’t already inclined to agree with them, that they will have to do better if they are to succeed in convincing them. Or do they simply assume that the absence of facts and logic don’t matter given the righteousness of their cause?
My strong suspicion that it is the latter is based on routinely receiving on my social media feed forwarded clips like that above. These are generally accompanied by comments along the lines of “Watch Jimmy Dore destroy corporate whore Noam Chomsky and other lesser-evil scum” entirely oblivious that Dore does nothing the kind but only hurls insults.
Of course, the inability to apply elementary logic, accept as fact what is self-evidently true and distinguish between good and bad arguments is not limited to Jimmy Dore fans. That elite high brow Marxists are as prone to idiocy as trailer park inhabitants of the left was apparent in a recent attack on right wing media phenom Jordan Peterson appearing in Jacobin. Its embarrassing lack of substance was noted by Peterson himself, who dispensed with it in a few words on twitter-to roars of approval.
The elegance of this writer’s title matches the profundity of his intellect… https://t.co/VrJtsSgamP
— Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) February 7, 2018
These derived, unfortunately, not just from tens of thousands of his followers. Also doing so were those who have not yet been won over to Peterson’s camp but simply value clear thinking, basic attention to factual accuracy and minimal standards of argumentation. It is that constituency which the left has been losing for generations now.
The presence and active promotion of idiot left elements will ensure that it will keep doing so.