Category Archives: Politics

How the Right Goes Viral: Jonathan Cook on Jordan Peterson

A useful piece by the always excellent Jonathan Cook shows how the alt-right icon Jordon Peterson was able to make mincemeat of a typically clueless British channel 4 interviewer in much the same way that Glenn Greenwald does: by exposing the bankruptcy of the premises of corporate media which all on air personalities reflexively accept. Channel 4’s response to their humiliation was to retrospectively “no platform” Peterson by disappearing the clip from their site.

Interestingly, this mirrors the approach which much of the Marxist/authoritarian left here is pursuing with Peterson: those giving him a platform are shunned and marginalized, an apparent social media fatwa having been declared on those engaging with him. The reason is likely the same as that of Channel 4. Those who would have to confront him lack the intellectual capacity to address his arguments and they know it. Doing so does not require that much beyond the ability to deploy basic logic and a minimal knowledge of the facts: as Cook notes, Chomsky would easily dispense with Peterson’s more outrageous claims but so would many other lesser profile leftists (e.g. Norman Finkelstein and Nathan Robinson).

But as Angela Nagel points out, much of the left, while congratulating itself on its command of Hegelian dialectic and cult stud “theory”, is incapable of holding its own when its core assumptions are interrogated. And so they flee from the challenge, insuring that Peterson’s frat house Nietzscheanism will continue to gain an increasingly solid footing in popular culture.

Marketing the Idiot Left Brand

Everyone would prefer to have more people rather than fewer pay attention to what they say. So by the same token, those of us who have not achieved large internet followings will find themselves asking of those who have: how do they do it? What’s the trick?

Having been barraged by thousands of viral postings over the past years, we all know that there is no trick: one sure way of getting people to pay attention to you on the internet is the same way you do it in a public place: you pull down your pants and shriek-or produce the electronic text equivalent of the same.

Left politics is no exception: you don’t attract attention by calmly evaluating strategies through which left candidates compete in and win Democratic primaries or run as third party candidates where they have potential to win while making sure that far right Republicans are ejected from power as soon as possible.

What will get attention is to scream “burn it down”, the “it” here being the Democratic Party, and to advocate active “sabotage” of its candidates, particularly in the presidential election, even when this will result in, as it did in 2016, four years of a living nightmare.

The arsonists associated with this tendency, Paul Street, Jeffrey St. Clair among others appearing at Counterpunch, advocated for just that and continue to do so now, though it’s worth noting that it’s not just establishment Democrats who they reject: Bernie Sanders failed to meet with their approval despite the fact that virtually every establishment institution hated and feared him-and did everything in their power to take him down.

Given that Sanders didn’t make it over the anti-establishment bar, their logic dictates that neither would other radicals who actually succeeded in getting elected to office as Democrats. For example, Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner who is carrying forward a wholesale purge of the vicious prosecutors who have fueled the mass incarceration epidemic in one major city.

Or Chelsea Manning, now a newly declared Democratic candidate for senate from the state of Maryland would also deserve rejection as would Chokwe Lumumba, the newly elected Democratic mayor, now following through on his pledge to make Jackson, Mississippi “the most radical city on the planet.”

And they would also sabotage Democrats-anti-establishment, and in most cases otherwise-whose victories will be required to begin to remove from power the “most dangerous organization in human history”.

***

At this point, the nihilistic absurdity of their non-strategy becomes so obvious that it hardly merits comment.

But the question remains. What accounts for the thousands of clicks and hundreds of “likes” of their postings?

To understand why requires recognizing that they don’t go viral in spite of their being idiotic. Rather they go viral *because* they are idiotic.

And that’s because most of those reading idiot left content are not actively searching for ways in which they can effectively participate in politics using it to address the almost inconceivable suffering those in power are inflicting on those who don’t have it.

Rather, those waving a crufix at any consituency developing behind left wing Democratic like Sanders, Lumumba, Manning and Krasner have no interest in doing that. Ultimately, they look to politics as repository for their fantasies where they can inflict random violence, burn, rape and pillage without consequence.

Of course, it’s fun to engage in video game fantasies, as any parent of a 12 year old knows.

But doing so has nothing to do with advancing politics which has any chance of helping those who desperately need it.

If recognizing that means my posts don’t rack up thousands of likes, it’s a small price to pay.

Note: Thanks to FAIR’s Steve Rendall for noting mistakes on a draft version of this piece.