I appreciate the irony of what I am about to tell you, but the truth is the truth. We are constantly being told by either side of the tribal joust of a menace, a threat to our very existence that needs to be removed by whatever means necessary. Everybody is scared, apparently we're all under attack, we're all gonna die at the hands of 'devils' on the other side of the proverbial road who wish us personal harm. Nobody merely disagrees with us, these are 'bastards', our 'enemies' who need to be stopped from whatever it is we've got into our heads that they intend to do to us. We're in a state of war and so...by any means necessary, understood?
This is the psychology of extremism - my good mate John Priest prompted some activity round my grey matter last time we spoke when we discussed this powerful requirement most of us have to construct a narrative in which we are the good guy. Everything good in the world is down to people like us and everything less good is the work of our enemies who are not just mistaken but loaded with ill-intent. Now if only those enemies could be removed from the picture (by censorship, demonisation, incareration or, if needs be, murder) then the damage they have done can be repaired and all will be right with the world.
Extremism isn't a question of right or left, it's a question of right or wrong. It boils down to how you look at 1) power and 2) people you might profoundly disagree with. Sane, liberally-minded people accept that power is temporary and sometimes in life you lose. Extremists refuse to accept the result of votes that go against them and yes, I am of course referring at least in part to the post-referendum Remoaners. Let's be clear that there's a difference between saying "look, I still think Brexit is a mistake" (absolutely fine and I wish some Brexiters would stop saying otherwise) and throwing the proverbial toys out of the pram in an attempt to sabotage the thing (go away).
Their 'protest' was nearly as hysterical as that which followed the result of the 2015 General Election. It's worth repeating that rather than accept that we lose sometimes, these (mainly young, it should be said) people protested the result of an election for no other reason than because their side hadn't won.
Wow. Just wow.
The non-retarded amongst us also accept that a person who takes an opposing view on something (even a radically opposing view) is just, er, a person who takes an opposing view on something. They don't 'hate' us, they're not our 'enemies' who want to break our legs or anything like that. Unless...we manage to either 1) project our anger at not being validated onto the person refusing to do the validating or 2) genuinely 'convince' ourselves that they ARE a menace to our life and liberty. Now we're in a state of war, so peacetime rules can go out of the window. All in the name of self-defence since, well, they started it didn't they? See how this game works?
Off the top of my head - serious attacks on freedom of expression and association, the use of all range of smears in political discourse from racist/misogynist/homophobe on one side through 'race traitor' and 'fifth column' on the other, imposition of 'safe space' in higher education to protect young adults (it's worth remembering they are supposed to be adults) from opinions which might offend them. Ridiculous and casual uses of significant words like Fascist, Nazi and genocide. The cultish use of 'climate change' to raid people's pockets by and the cries of 'conspiracy' by the other who issue not inquisitive scepticism but equally cultish denial. This is 'state of war' stuff.
And I don't think I'm scaremongering here - if enough of us keep acting as if we are in a state of war then that is exactly where we will end up. Disagreement is morphing into dehumanisation, genuine nastiness and restrictions on the personal liberty of those deemed to be 'against' us on the other side of the road. That they might be against our ideas rather than 'us' seems to have gone over so many heads I'm concerned that this might have now become a permanent state of mind. Winning, and then persistently keeping your foot on the throat of your 'enemies' until the life is squeezed out of them appears to be absolutely everything.
Maybe the most frustrating aspect of this is that I know many people who are genuine, honest and intelligent in every other respect, while happening to possess nasty, dishonest and utterly retarded politics and views of the world. Whether it's on the toddler left or the toddler right, there's an inability or wilful failure to recognise that person A's Utopia is person B's living nightmare, and that person B's freedom (both economic and personal), let alone their ability to breathe, are not 'a price worth paying' for the construction and maintenance of that Utopia. Not only is this selfish and cruel, it's bound to come back on you and be reversed at some point. And you'll deserve it.
Those of us on 'no side' (i.e. the sane, rational and reasonable) in this pantomime might have varying worldviews of our own. Whether you're a small c Conservative, small l Liberal, a mix of both, a moderate Civic Nationalist, a Christian Democrat or a Social Democrat really doesn't matter in the context of what I'm saying. I'm willing to leave those differences at the door, at least for now, while we take on the real battle lines - questions on which if the wrong side wins, we are truly in a world of pain. And no, I'm not scaremongering. Let's have a look at those battle lines now and make sure we're all on the same page:-
1) HONEST vs DISHONEST
When you use sophistry, linguistic dexterity or flat out lie/cheat to win, everyone suffers.
Losing is part of life and a highly necessary one.
In time, more is gained in honourable failure than will ever be in tainted victory.
And once you've had that 'fuck it' moment in your own head then you really can't blame other people when something similar happens in theirs.
2) RESPONSIBILITY vs VICTIMHOOD
Being beaten up, bullied, harassed, abused, people stealing your possessions etc. gives you a legitimate claim on some sort of grievance and I'm sorry to hear about it.
Having 'a sense of persecution' simply because 'the other lot' won the election and you don't like some of the things they're about to do cheapens and demeans those who have had real shit done to them in real life.
Meanwhile, blaming 'the rich' and 'bloody immigrants' are two sides of the same toxic and authoritarian coin.
3) RESPECT vs MUDSLINGING
A person who disagrees with you is attacking your ideas, not you.
Attacking their person (verbally or, god forbid, physically) in response to them attacking your ideas is pathetic.
And calling someone a Nazi or Fascist when you know they're not isn't very clever. In fact it's ever so slightly, er, Fascist. See what I did there?
4) SENSE vs PARANOIA
You are not under attack. We are not in a state of war.
What makes you think 'they' would target you anyway?
5) INDIVIDUALS vs GROUPS
Groups are a construct - there are no 'group rights' and advocates of 'group rights' on all sides of the road need to be told where to get off.
Rights are for the individual - protect the individual and groups take care of themselves.
At the heart of collectivism is the pursuit of the unearned (Ayn Rand).
Just because there are 51 of you and 49 of them doesn't make you, or anything you do, right.
6) REASON vs EMOTION
Every last one of us (well, apart from psychopaths) has feelings and in 'real life' we should strive to be as sensitive to the feelings of others as we reasonably can.
However, feelings are subjective and so you cannot make important decisions which effect others on that basis.
If you reward the angry and hysterical you'll just create more angry and hysterical people. Who wants that?
7) OPPONENT vs ENEMY
Wishing harm on others for the crime of 'being on the other side' is the fuel of totalitarianism.
Power is temporary and if you use it to punish your 'enemies' then you can't complain on the day they turn the tables on you.
If you always agree with me, you should get a mind of your own. If you never agree with me then then you've probably set yourself up in opposition to whatever. Tribalism is for overgrown toddlers.
If you're on the right side of the line in these key areas of territory then straight away we have more in common than either the toddler left or the toddler right (which, rather like conventional Fascism and conventional Communism, have rather a lot in common with each other - oh, the irony). Besides calling this stuff out when we see or hear it, and writing/talking about the subject as often as we can, I'm interested in any peaceful, lawful suggestion as to how we can flush this toxicity out of our public discourse. While both 'sides' in this wargame wallow in passive aggressive victimhood and claim that 'the other lot' attacked them, the reality is that both are attacking the rest of us.
Whoever 'wins' here, those on no side will not be treated any more favourably than those who were on the losing one.
We need to find a way of ensuring both 'sides' lose.
Anyway, that concludes the last installment on Rabbit Island in 2017.
Thanks to every last one of you for reading and I hope 2018 becomes a significant year in your lives for all the right reasons.
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Here's some relevant music and I'll catch up with all of you in the New Year.