The Escalation from Polarization to War

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War is not the macho fantasy of insecure conservative men. It is the reality of children being burned alive.

Reasonable people have long lamented the increasing polarization of politics, an escalation from disagreement to outright division largely fueled by a few extremists who refuse to accept diversity, and the masses of gullible idiots who buy into the latest outrage on their “side”. It can be seen in the botched reconstruction after the Civil War, the mass exodus of racist white southerners from the Democratic party during the civil rights movement, the “pro-life” movement which was manufactured for political gain and has done more to harm and kill than to protect life, and so on.

Our current problems have their roots in an ancient and ongoing struggle with our own animal natures. But this phenomenon of bitter polarization, with different “facts” on both sides and no room for compromise, is far more extreme and dangerous in the modern world of social media and nuclear bombs.

Today I read one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen all year, even counting Trump’s offer to destroy the career of a Democratic politician for opposing the practice of “civil asset forfeiture” (police stealing private property from citizens who haven’t been convicted of a crime). The article is so disturbing that I will not link to it, because I don’t want to have any part in spreading it further. Instead, I’ll address a few quotes and talk about the overall issues with it.

Quote: “Leftists don’t merely disagree with you. They don’t merely feel you are misguided. They don’t think you are merely wrong. They hate you. They want you enslaved and obedient, if not dead.”

Right from the start, this author fails to specify what he means by “leftists”. There are libertarian leftists who hate all forms of slavery, and authoritarianism in general…like me. There are anarchist leftists who want to eliminate government entirely. In fact, the most fundamental defining feature of the left is support for a democratized economy in which nobody has the power to force you into wage slavery and obedience to their whims. How authoritarian someone is has nothing to do with where they fall on the left-right spectrum. So from almost the very first sentence, this author is attacking “leftists” for features that are present only in a handful of extreme authoritarian ideologies, and which are completely opposed to the philosophies on which liberalism and socialism are founded.

Quote: “They will tell you that Christians are idiots and vets are scum. That normals are subhumans whose role is to labor as serfs to subsidize the progressive elite and its clients.”

The “progressive elite” are state capitalists who the majority of Americans–and an even larger majority of leftists and liberals–have been fighting for years. Trump is one of them. They are not progressive, they are financial parasites who pay lip service to the values held by the majority (or a conveniently ignorant minority when they need votes), while maintaining systems of corruption that serve only the interests of the rich. In fact, progressives are the ones leading the fight against this crony capitalism, while my conservative friends continue to make excuses for greed and massive wealth inequality and exploitation of workers. The view of laborers as serfs is a capitalist problem, because capitalism is simply a modernized form of feudalism. In other words, the right wing is the one treating laborers as serfs. But this is conservative projection as usual.

More alarming to me is the use of the word “normals”. Normalcy is an ill-defined concept, and when applied to people serves only one purpose: to draw lines of tribalism and dehumanize the “others”. Nobody wants to be abnormal, so if you persistently paint the group you hate as abnormal, and those who agree with you as normal, more and more people will join you in your hatred.

Quote: “Understand that when they call Donald Trump “illegitimate,” what they are really saying is that our desire to govern ourselves is illegitimate. Their beef isn’t with him – it’s with us, the normal people who dared rise up and demand their right to participate in the rule of this country and this culture.”

Actually, they’re probably referring to the fact that Trump lost the popular vote by a significant margin, and benefited greatly from a massive propaganda campaign initiated by Russia, as he gleefully spewed lie after lie to con you idiots into voting for him. The main issue, however, is that Trump is not demanding the right to participate in rule, but rather the privilege of acting as a dictator. The same criticism extends to his legion of misguided followers, who make excuses for his clearly stated intentions to restrict free speech, his insistence on perpetuating lies about crime in order to scapegoat immigrants and Muslims, his warmongering attitude toward the rest of the world, and so on. Our beef is with a man who proudly proclaims his desires for violence, authoritarianism, and oppression. Claiming that opposing Trump means opposing his supporters’ desire to govern themselves is insane; governing yourself does not mean “oppressing everyone who doesn’t agree with me”, and that is the reason we oppose him. Such a claim is every bit as backward and stupid as Trump saying the murder rate is at a 47-year high.

Trump and his supporters don’t want to govern themselves, they want to govern everything. They want to imprison, deport, and oppress people just because of their religion, or the color of their skin, or where they were born, or who they love. Trump and his supporters want to cover up the enormous crimes committed by their allies, and magnify the lesser crimes committed by the groups they’ve chosen to irrationally blame for all our problems. This author has clearly chosen leftists as a scapegoat on which to project all his insecurity and fear.

Quote: “Then there are the pagan weather religion oddballs convinced that the end is near and that we must repent by turning in our SUVs. Of course, the “we” is really “us” – high priests of the global warming cult like Leonardo DiCaprio will still jet around the world with supermodels while we do the ritual sacrificing of our modern comforts.”

There is no need to sacrifice modern comforts in order to make rational choices about how we interact with our planet and everything else on it. The end is not “near” in the sense that we will be wiped out by an apocalypse of global warming, but great hardship is certainly in order for a species that fails to adapt. It has already begun, and those who deny it have no excuse for their ignorance.

Quote: “You wonder why the left is now justifying violence? Because they think that helps them right now. Today it’s suddenly OK to punch a “Nazi.” But the punchline is that anyone who opposes them is a “Nazi.””

Anyone who lumps everyone who opposes them into one group and demonizes them is contributing to the problem. Nazis are Nazis…they advocate genocide, and therefore deserve no less than absolute ostracism from society. If you don’t advocate genocide, then you’re not technically a Nazi (you may still be a fascist, which to many people is just as bad). However, decades of hyperbolic insults (feminazis, anyone?) have led to a culture in which such blanket condemnation of the “other”, under an extreme label, is normal. Case in point: this disgusting anti-leftist propagandist who clearly has no idea what “leftist” even means, and claims to offer the perspective of “normals”, while spewing the most exaggerated and hateful nonsense I’ve seen in a long time. There is nothing normal about him; he represents a small and vile minority that is angry about being told “no” when they attempt to tear down democracy and set up a fascist government.

Quote: “…their only principle is what helps the left win today. That’s why the media gleefully, happily lies every single day about every single thing it reports. Objectivity? When that stopped being a useful thing, it stopped being a thing at all.”

The irony of this ridiculous piece of projection should be obvious. “The media”, a vague term that technically includes the author himself, cannot possibly lie about “every single thing” when there are numerous sources saying completely opposite things. The right-wing media puts their spin on it and publishes a lot of lies and some truth, and so does left-wing media. A handful of sources on both sides are more reliable, but everyone sometimes make mistakes, and everyone is biased.

There isn’t a single shred of objectivity in this entire miserable article, and I know that because it attacks me, and every “leftist” I know, for things we repeatedly and unequivocally condemn in the strongest of terms. There is no objectivity in lumping the majority of Americans into a group defined by the actions of a few malevolent and self-contradicting extremists. And yes, I said majority…because the principles of liberalism and leftist economics are supported by the majority. Which is probably why Trump lost the popular vote, and why insecure warmongers write these insane articles accusing anyone who opposes their orange fuhrer of all the same disastrous flaws his administration exhibits on a daily basis.

Quote: “Understand that this must get much worse before it can get better. We may wish to stop the cultural/political struggle, but they can’t stop. Their religion tells them we are greedy, racist, sexist, homophobe morons who hate science and love Hitler. How could they tolerate us? How could they ever allow us power?”

If you’re a rich guy giving huge tax breaks to the rich while taking support away from the poor, you might be greedy. If you repeatedly characterize people from a certain ethnic background as inherently lazy or violent, and make a proud racist your most important adviser, you might be racist. If you brag about how you’re able to exploit your status to sexually assault women, you might be sexist. If you stand before a gathering of men who have made no secret of their desire to control the lives of gay people through legalized discrimination and oppression, and promise them political power, you might just look like a homophobe. If you attack every scientific discovery that conflicts with your beliefs, rather than changing your beliefs to fit reality, you might be seen as a moron who hates science. And if you defend the man described, how are you any better than him?

How could we tolerate you? Maybe if you stop supporting and making excuses for evil men who proudly and openly express their desire to harm, oppress, and kill those they consider unworthy of freedom. Maybe if you stop projecting your authoritarianism on those of us who vehemently oppose it. Maybe if you actually believed in freedom, we would have some common ground.

Quote: “So the only outcome is that one side wins and the other loses. There’s no truce to be had, no possibility of a tie. And the frightening thing is that the Left is so foolish, so stuck in its bubble that it has no understanding that it can only push so far before the people with all the guns and all the training push back. That’s the problem with kids who were raised on participation trophies and who never got into a fistfight – they don’t consider the possibility that they will lose, and lose hard. We must ensure they do. Understand your enemy. Understand that the Left will exploit your principles and morals to make you disarm yourself – figuratively and literally.”

Trump exploited the principles and morals the right wing has professed for decades, all the while demonstrating in his speech and actions that he has nothing but contempt for them. And still you idolize him. You willingly abandoned your principles and morals on the alter of political power.

You think you’re the ones with guns and training? Perhaps so, but you are enormously outnumbered, hopelessly stupid, and plenty of us have guns and training too. Come after me with a weapon, and you might get a .357 magnum slug in your brain. I was forged in the fire of conservative Christianity, trained to fight these “culture wars” from your side, and so were many of my peers; we left because of your authoritarianism and hatred. Go ahead, come after us. You’ll just find that you created your own enemies, and we can beat you at your own game.

By making me your enemy, you are responsible for the escalation. You are responsible for turning polarization into bloodshed. I stand only against those who are enemies of freedom and peace, those who label me their enemy who must be defeated. There is no possibility of a truce because you are incapable of compassion for those different from you, incapable of change or compromise, incapable of understanding the grave danger of your warmongering and hatred. Even as you engage in slander and call for more division, progressives like myself are looking for ways to reach out, to let you know we care, to find common ground and compromise. That is the sort of thing we discuss during our monthly meetings of local Democrats; not how to oppress you, but how to help you understand our real intentions, and how to improve life for all of us. That is what we’ve always been about, even as our own families insult or shun us for failing to agree with their narrow-minded dogma.

I will remain in my “bubble” of reality, where I fight for the freedom and rights of all humans, and I think you might be surprised at the outcome when your outnumbered forces of violent fascism break against my reality. It is possible that millions, perhaps even billions will die in the war you obviously yearn for, but if modern science survives it, society will once again take a leap toward progressive and liberal ideals. If it’s war you want, you may get it, but you will lose in the end because your real battle is against reality, and you refuse to adapt.

That is how these things go. The conservatives launch a fascist movement because they can’t handle change and refuse to let go of false beliefs, and then we pick up the pieces of their apocalyptic self-destruction.

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