‘Left-wing’ Twitter can often be a miserable, dispiriting zone. Earlier this year, there were some high-profile twitterstorms, in which particular left-identifying figures were ‘called out’ and condemned. What these figures had said was sometimes objectionable; but nevertheless, the way in which they were personally vilified and hounded left a horrible residue: the stench of bad conscience and witch-hunting moralism. The reason I didn’t speak out on any of these incidents, I’m ashamed to say, was fear. The bullies were in another part of the playground. I didn’t want to attract their attention to me.In Exiting the Vampire Castle, Mark Fisher finds two recurrent bad dynamics in online left-politics debate: identity-essentialist witch-hunting and neo-anarchist fatalism. Jodi Dean agrees with the diagnosis:
[T]he left finds itself attached to practices that undermine solidarity. Perpetually suspicious and mistrustful, it eats its own.Other left bloggers, though, have leapt to condemn Fisher's piece, calling it a "spectacularly pompous" "castle of bollocks", an "infantilising" "fantasy", and an example of "brocialism" (which last is also discussed, along with "manarchism", in a recent conversation between Laurie Penny and Richard Seymour).
There are multiple versions of this mistrust. Sometimes it manifests as a preoccupation with process. Sometimes it manifests as critique and "problematization" before anything has even been carried out. For those who engage in social media, the left-liberal press, and left academia, it appears as a set of predictable responses and snarky one-liners, which then devolve into debates over tone, and various accusations, most of which are mean-spirited, many of which demolish rather than build. [...] What would the left mediapelago look like if we treated one another as comrades?
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