It’s a weird thing that a ideology like socialism, which is supposed to promote cooperation, can sustain such anti-social behaviour as the one I’m lately seeing in the socialist reddit. Specifically, all hell broke loose after I posted my blog-reply over there.
I do not mind people criticizing my ideas and thoughts, this is how one learns but it’s amazing how much the administrators of that reddit have gone on a power-trip even by the small power provided to them for filtering out trolls and spammers.
it’s funny that even though I didn’t agree with Larry’s request to stop submitting his articles to reddit, mostly because I always consider that among the morons there might be some who will listen and have an interest in conversation, his assessment ended up forcing itself upon me. Lazy morons indeed do not care to see or hear conflicting opinions and will happily attempt to silence them so that nobody else will either.
This has become plainly true in the comments of that last post, where arguing about my article ensued. This very quickly escalated into a flamewar since, for these “socialists” anyone who does not think exactly the same way they do, is an enemy to be labeled and assaulted. The jump from “You’re saying something wrong” to “You are a wrong kind of person” in their minds is near-instantaneous.
But this is the wrong kind of attitude. When one says something wrong, our reaction should not be to insult the person. That does not achieve anything other than alienate and drive others away. Sure, if your purpose is to have only your own voice heard, like the moderators above, this can be a good tactic, but in the long run, you have only managed to burn more bridges behind you.
But is this mentality of “my way or the highway” useful? On the contrary by refusing to discuss points, even wrong points that others raise, in favour of calling them traitors or heretics, not only does not help them understand where their thinking has gotten astray but immediately erects a wall between you, effectively making sure that they will get defensive and ignore whatever you say.
This is what happened to me in my last post, while I got in with interest to discuss, the initial comments immediately flew off the handle, accusing me of being “anti-working class” and calling me a “Maniac”. And even though I should have known better than to rise to the bait, I went on the defensive and the flamewar began. More time was spent on accusing each other of douchebaggery than actually countering each other’s arguments.
And opinions we do not agree with are important as well, especially coming from people that do not have completely opposite kind of views. Controversial ideas is how we learn either to strengthen our own opinions or we change our mind when we cannot counter them. It is disheartening that this reddit tends to reward mostly orthodox views on marxism and punishes the heretics with obscurity.
This is simply groupthink. You do not learn anything new, nor do you get to think. You only get to reinforce what you already believe in. As long as an article is well written and raises a few points on the part of the author, it should never be downvoted. Ignored perhaps, and even upvoted if the ideas are well presented, even if wrong. But downvoting simply hides the opposing view away from others. We should treasure controversy, not attempt to silence it.
If our views are solid enough, controversy is not an issue. The arguments against it can be presented and the idea eviscerated. When libertarians and *shudder* Objectivists come here to argue with me, I do not accuse them of being exploitation supporters, horribly misguided or douchebags as this would only serve to drive them away. But that would mean that I have even less people to criticize me, and that’s just hurts myself.
Especially people who label themselves socialists should have so much more tolerance to each other. If we cannot have an argument within our own ranks, how do even attempt to take on the people who outright disagree for anything we stand for? If we waste all of our time fighting each other with such ferocity, is it any surprise that no pressure can be directed towards the real culprits?
This is the most common reason why the Anarchist and Socialist movements are much more hostile towards each other, than they are towards the Capitalists. From the first time I noticed that, my initial thoughts were “But we’re on the same side?! Why are people fighting others who have the same goal in mind?”. And yet, for some of the revolutionary socialists, anyone who does not follow the rigid tactics he believes in, is as bad as the enemy. For the Anarchist1, because of the misunderstanding of how Marxists try to achieve Communism, they consider them hostile. The two opposing camps in the case, simply talk past each other, exchanging more insults than ideas and stabbing each other in the back more than lending a hand.
But back to our original subject. I do not expect to last much more in the socialist reddit. Bannination threats have already been implied and the willingness to do the act admitted, so I’m obviously on a tight rope for speaking my mind and daring to argue my position. Because of this, I decided to start my own subreddit where people like me, who value conversation and don’t fear opposing viewpoints, can meet.
If you’re tired of being bullied for not being a “true socialist” and prefer intelligent discussions over insultfests, hopefully you will consider joining me at Libertarian Socialism. It’s up to us to make it what the admins of Socialism /r/ won’t let happen.
That does not mean I’m quitting socialism /r/ just yet, but It’d be nice to have a conversation without the Marxist purists insulting everyone and then calling them whiners for pointing that out. Dogma and inability to consider progressive ideas are a recipe for stagnation and if that is what is necessary to be considered a Marxist, then I’m certainly not a Marxist.
- Just to clarify: Not all anarchists think like this but the majority of my IRL experience with them showed me that many have as much, if not more hatred against Communists as they have against Capitalists. That is probably because they equate Communism to Stalinism. There are Anarchist ideologies who do not fall into this trap, one of which is Anarcho-Communism which is very similar to my own thinking [↩]