Before I lay down what will inevitably be experienced by some as an attack, it behooves us to recalibrate expectations. There are those that will begin commenting twenty seconds after a 2000 word article has gone public, mocking positions the author has never taken in any of his/her writings, writing off anyone who dares disagree with even one plank of the orthodoxy at hand as an enemy; a member of the out-group (as social psychologist Henri Tajfel defined it).
Besides being riddled with logical fallacies, this anti-intellectualism demonstrates deficiencies of honesty, emotional maturity and good faith.
What if the author is not actually the enemy you think he or she (or ze?) is. What if you would actually be friends with this person, if you met them; if you understood the depths of their intentions and understood their rational? What if you could talk it over calmly? Learn from each other? Take the conversation deeper? Work together? Defeat a common enemy?
Attacking ideas without looking at them is worse than not-fact-checking. Knee jerk ideological reactions turn opportunities into liabilities, alienates potential allies, makes you predictable and easy to manipulate, and in some circles it will backfire completely causing you to be written off as a dishonest fool. In pragmatic terms: it reduces your chances of affecting positive change.
Attacking evidence without looking at it, is a psychological hallmark of fascism: The in-group must be protected at all costs. Ideas which endanger that group’s cultural/ideological narrative must be suppressed. Facts judged by effect rather than merit.
It’s also bad strategy. In the treacherous ideological waters that we are now navigating, traps are being laid on all sides. The nastiest traps are the ones laid from within. Jumping onto narrative bandwagons without questioning them can take you places you really didn’t want to go; holding positions you would have fought tooth and nail if imposed from the outside.
A pertinent example of this phenomenon can be found in the virulent anti-Russian sentiment that your corporate owners successfully seeded via various neoliberal collaborators. They’ve got you worked up in a frenzy, chasing windmills on social media while Donald Trump kicks off World War III.
Trump is a showman. He understands the principles of attention and distraction. He knows that if you can infuriate the right people (dividing along partisan lines of identity) he can lure you to attack a position that isn’t actually important to him; pouring all your energy and resources into pyrrhic victories (the political assassination of Michael Flynn for example) which actually play into the hands of a neocon/neoliberal war monger contingent, beholden to the military industrial complex.
Would you find it disturbing to realize that your outrage on these side issues has served as a smoke screen for what could easily be described as the most dangerous geopolitical escalation in human history? The Trump administration is stoking tension on multiple fronts, inviting confrontations which will directly and indirectly involve Russia via Syria, Iran, China and North Korea. The stakes are nuclear and Trump is holding the keys. He has already done a 180 on his anti-war campaign positions, he and his cabinet have commenced saber rattling in earnest, indicating that “steps were already underway” to take down Assad, and the left is almost daring him to pull the trigger.
Do you see the trap now? If you don’t, you are going to find yourself far, far behind the curve in the next phase of the meme war that you have stumbled into.
Unless you were among that minority (but growing) contingent that called out the covert and overt wars of aggression that the Clinton, Bush and Obama regimes engaged in (as opposed to compromising ethics along lines of partisan identity), there is a very good chance that you are working with narratives and assumptions which do not withstand critical scrutiny, fact checking, or even a basic common sense smell test. These assumptions are now serious liabilities. If you want to affect positive change, it is imperative to question them.
These are treacherous waters. Blindly signing on to explanations and strategies thought up by the same people who told you that Trump could never win, and who distilled Hillary’s loss down to an inexplicable outbreak of misogyny, white nationalism, and Russian aggression is so self-defeating, so utterly out of touch, that it would be incomprehensible if we didn’t take crowd psychology into account.
Your thought leaders dropped the ball. Your ideological bubbles led you astray. It’s time to recalibrate. Quickly.