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Eliminationism
January 24, 2007 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Eliminationism in America. A ten-part series by David Neiwert. [More inside.]
posted by homunculus (79 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 


Upon first glance, I thought this was about Exhibitionism in America. The true subject is much less appealing.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:46 AM on January 24, 2007


Is it just us, or is Hannity's new "Enemy of the State" featurette really heevy?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:54 AM on January 24, 2007


It's an interesting article. However, I feel Neiwert thus far has mixed some relatively specious evidence in with the legitimate stuff. Using "Borat" as an example is concerning, because let's be honest: the film was entertainment. We don't know how much of the film was set up, edited, or deliberately manipulated for effect. It's easy to dismiss a movie, and I don't think "Borat" belongs with the solid academic evidence.

Further, I don't think America has a "special" type of eliminationism unique to humanity. It's the same old garden variety eliminationism we've seen throughout time.

That said, I find it thoroughly disgusting that so many Americans are afraid of Muslims and Middle Easterners that they want them to be labelled and eliminated. The same goes with any culture or nation who engages in official or unofficial eliminationism. I'll never understand how people can spend their lives in so much fear and hate.
posted by smashingstars at 12:01 PM on January 24, 2007


Crap. Blogger's down at the moment. I haven't read Neiwert in a while. Thanks for reminding me.
posted by brundlefly at 12:06 PM on January 24, 2007


Oh my GOD! We've killed Orcinus! (damned Blogger ...)

Actually, smashingstars, American eliminationism *is* unique, as David points out because we have the governmental tools based on populist support and will.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:10 PM on January 24, 2007


I read Neiwert occasionally, and I think he makes a fundamental mistake that major media outlets have made, which is that all of the attention that bloggers get somehow means that mainstream media is on the decline it isn't, well it wasn't until it tried to become the paper version of blogging.

The reading of news and politics blogs, not so much the writing, but the reading of them became popular among a group of people on the right who did not really read newspapers or pay attention to news. The mainstream media should never have courted these people for one simple reason - they are dumb. I mean that literally, they lack the capacity for critical and analytical thought that Neiwert takes for granted.

Fox went after them because Fox News was new and needed to get an audience. Everyone knows by now that TV is programmed to the lowest common denominator ath the time it is programmed. CNN and MSNBC were programmed decade earlier around the Clinton news cycle, and the right and left's thirst for scandal. Fine, whatever.

But Fox realized it could play to the Rush Limbaugh "the media is biased" demographic by openly billing itself as the conservative news source. So Fox got big ratings by giving the Limbaugh demo skewed infotainment.

The rest of the media industry's mistake was to chase those ratings. You can never grow a large audience in television by sharpening up the content - you dumb it down simply because there are more dumb people out there and they are easier to get and keep as viewers. (Would conservatives read Ann Coulter if she were fat and black? She's the T and A of news.)

Add to this the mainstream media's united surrender to the presidency after 9-11, and you have a analysis vacuum. Nobody really has any idea what is going on in the administration or what it means because all the outlets are chasing the story that sells because God forbid Fox wins in the ratings.

The funny/crazy thing is none of these outlets want any of you as viewers (I say "you" based on a very high opinion I have of most of the mefites). You guys make horrible viewers. First of all, you don't buy every stupid thing that's advertised. Second, you live in a rarified world where people would listen to ponderous Foucault v. Chomsky debate from decades ago but will not sit for O'Reilly's low-brow hypocritical zingers.

There's no point in worrying about eliminationism because at the end of the day its people like you, i.e. lawyers, professionals, educated people, that basically make the decisions in the country. The people at freerepublic are to be ignored, no matter how much hate they harbor, because they need you more than you need them.

Finally, we know from the results of the recent election that eliminationism won't work in the long run. It may balkanize the country (perhaps even geographically), but again, that's to their disadvantage more than it is to yous, even if they don't realize that.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:34 PM on January 24, 2007


From Part I:

the hard-wired right-wing desire to eliminate, by violent means if necessary, anyone deemed the Other, or the Enemy.


This is not a "right-wing desire," it is a "human desire." Ever hear of Stalin? Pol Pot ring a bell?
posted by languagehat at 12:55 PM on January 24, 2007


He's certainly biased, but it's thought-provoking nonetheless. Thanks, homunculus.
posted by clockzero at 1:22 PM on January 24, 2007


languagehat
That same exact thing tripped me up. How is this uniquely American, specifically uniquely right-wing American? Wulfgar!, there's no other nation with a democratic government that has citizens who think like this? Really? It's just the US that has racists, xenophobes, or plain hateful/scared people? Or perhaps only in the US can these people vote, because surely in other places such feelings are properly suppressed? There's nothing unique about this at all. It's a natural human impulse to attack those that you fear or are different than you, as every society in history has shown. In fact, one might suggest that articles trying to paint your ideological opponents as hateful, bloodthirsty monsters might be an example of this urge to demonize the enemy and glorify your group.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:26 PM on January 24, 2007


This is not a "right-wing desire," it is a "human desire." Ever hear of Stalin? Pol Pot ring a bell?

How is this uniquely American, specifically uniquely right-wing American?

It definitely isn't uniquely American. What I think Neiwert is trying to say is that in the US eliminationism is associated with the right wing. Probably this is because the 'hard' Stalinist left has never really had much of a presence in the United States.
Part of the confusion comes from imprecise terms like 'right/left' which don't apply to the same people in different countries and encompass some very diverse political opinions even within one country.
Even the two axis model of political alignment is a gross simplification, but using that model there are four rough political alignments. (Nolan Chart)

The Stalinist left is in the bottom left quadrant here, it barely exists in the US. This leaves only economically right-wing groups low on the personal freedom axis.
I agree that eliminationism isn't incompatible with economic redistribution. I think that it is incompatible with a belief in personal freedom, and there is no 'left' in the US that is anti personal freedom.
posted by atrazine at 1:42 PM on January 24, 2007


Excuse me Sangermaine, but did you actually bother to RTFAs? Quite sincerely, your comment doesn't reflect that you have. Most of your questions have already been answered, and there's still two articles to go.

If you have, then it was a remarkably shallow perusal if you think that David is going after "ideological" opponents, painting them as "bloodthirsty monsters".
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:46 PM on January 24, 2007


Further, I don't think America has a "special" type of eliminationism unique to humanity. It's the same old garden variety eliminationism we've seen throughout time.

The situation of American eliminationism is unique in that compared to other nations, there is less deep-rooted cultural excuse for it. In a way, this affords us a clearer view of the monster within, for there is less cultural baggage for it to hide behind.
posted by PsychoKick at 1:49 PM on January 24, 2007


I don't think that's just a right-wing desire, either.

One could, for instance, post to the many, many MeFi comments along the lines of "RELIGION IS RETARDED! Everyone must immediately embrace atheism!" or "Let's throw the chiropractors down the well!"
posted by thehmsbeagle at 2:00 PM on January 24, 2007


Man, I cannot spell today. By "post", I meant "point". Sigh.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 2:01 PM on January 24, 2007


This article on 'eliminationism' is a good example of the academic urge to invent new concepts and discourse on these new, supposedly universal concepts at length. I like to call this 'make-shit-up-tionism.'
posted by koeselitz at 2:07 PM on January 24, 2007


One could, for instance, post to the many, many MeFi comments along the lines of "RELIGION IS RETARDED! Everyone must immediately embrace atheism!" or "Let's throw the chiropractors down the well!"

If one was mentally retarded, then I suppose one could do that.
posted by atrazine at 2:09 PM on January 24, 2007


This article on 'eliminationism' is a good example of the academic urge to invent new concepts and discourse on these new, supposedly universal concepts at length. I like to call this 'make-shit-up-tionism.'

The value of history and political philosophy is to dig through the "one damn thing after another" and try to extract trends and universals from it. If you disagree with the universalism of the idea of eliminationism, fine, but it's a bit harsh to go after academics for fulfilling their job description.
posted by atrazine at 2:15 PM on January 24, 2007


An excellent series--he's an expert on our treatment and actions and speech towards "others"--now and in the past. Thanks, hom!
posted by amberglow at 2:21 PM on January 24, 2007


Wulfgar!: "Excuse me Sangermaine, but did you actually bother to RTFAs? ... If you have, then it was a remarkably shallow perusal if you think that David is going after "ideological" opponents, painting them as "bloodthirsty monsters"."

He hasn't gotten around to talking about the present since the first article, but...

From first article: "...they all reflect the strands of the hard-wired right-wing desire to eliminate, by violent means if necessary, anyone deemed the Other, or the Enemy... Today, the right's rose-petaled enterprise has turned to shit, just as the "treasonous" bastards warned them it would -- so of course, those same bastards are now to blame. This is the way it always works for the right, the people of the party of responsibility, who seem unable to accept any responsibility whatsoever for the disasters created at their own express behest, and instead blame those with the foresight to warn against them beforehand."

This is just about 'painting one's opponents as bloodthirsty monsters.' And that's not even really that bad -- he chooses easy targets, like Coulter and Limbaugh, and the toughest opposing view he takes on is Charles 'lightweight' Krauthammer. What's silly is that he buys into the use of these supposedly intuitive words, 'the right' and 'the left.' He speaks about 'the right' extremely generally, paints them all as 'eliminationalistic' (which, as he says later on, is "genocide directed against an enemy within instead of without"); in short, he claims that every person 'on the right' (whatever that might mean) is a closet supporter of genocide. He does all this with the blithe tone nowadays associated with academia; this may mask his biases, but they're still there.

I'm not saying, by the way, that his mistake is treating the right 'unfairly.' The error is in even delineating a 'right' and a 'left;' these terms are hard to define, and, when one pays careful attention to their use, one begins to realize that they're used so much as battle-axes on the field of contemporary politics that they almost entirely lack actual meaning; they're just a reflection of whatever the person using them thinks about the other side.

As far as Mr. Neiwert's ideas in general, they seem a little hasty and unthought to me. Certainly he's accumulated a lot of internet data about historical events, but I don't think that that data is at all representative of actual history, even as we know it. At the heart of his misconception is this thesis, which runs through his musings, about the source of what he calls 'eliminationalism:"

"...the roots of America's history are bathed in the blood of an eliminationist impulse imported from Europe -- and we have never quite outgrown that legacy."

This is true, to a certain extent, to the extent that European problems and European arrogances were imported to the Americas. But it's extremely short-sighted and limited to claim that 'eliminationism' is uniquely American or even European; as languagehat pointed out above, it's a very, very old thing, and one has a hard time justifying the notion that it's exclusively ours.

Even beyond the trouble about the ubiquity of 'eliminationism,' I have a hard time believing that Mr. Neiwert has adequately delineated the origins of modern Western democratic ideology, for all his quotation of old things. This essay is so full of actual misunderstandings of history -- the notion that Christianity is inherently racist and anti-sex, the notion that so-called 'western spirituality' differs essentially from 'eastern spirituality' in a clear and definable way, and so on -- that it's hard to take its 'explanation' of 'the eliminationism of the right' as in any way serious.

I mentioned earlier that this piece seemed representative of a kind of academic bluster that's popular today. In fact, it reads like dozens of syllabi for 'sexism in western civilization' courses, and the like, that I've read. Eliminationism in America is not serious or thoughtful at all; and, like so much of the silliness in American universities today, it pretends to be thoughtful without actually being so by hiding its bias and closed-mindedness with numerous quotations and references.
posted by koeselitz at 2:52 PM on January 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ha, ha, ha. koeselitz discredits the fingering of people "like Coulter and Limbaugh" to draw conclusions about the right, then uses one person as evidence of "the silliness in American universities today." I suspect this is something he learned from the right-wing echo chamber and knows nothing of serious academic inquiry going on at American universities. He is probably unaware that most of the cool things he enjoys today started out at our silly American universities. It is exactly this "know-nothing" approach to analysis that has doomed the right wing for the foreseeable future in American politics.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:12 PM on January 24, 2007


Mental Wimp: "Ha, ha, ha. koeselitz discredits the fingering of people "like Coulter and Limbaugh" to draw conclusions about the right..."

Do you really believe that all conservatives are closet genocidalists? I felt like that was hasty, and brought about by one-sidedness. If you think I'm a right-wing flack, you should know that party republicans are one of the few things I hate more than I hate party democrats.

And there you go again using that term. Can you tell me precisely what you mean by "the right," so we can actually talk about something real?

"...then uses one person as evidence of "the silliness in American universities today." I suspect this is something he learned from the right-wing echo chamber and knows nothing of serious academic inquiry going on at American universities. He is probably unaware that most of the cool things he enjoys today started out at our silly American universities. It is exactly this "know-nothing" approach to analysis that has doomed the right wing for the foreseeable future in American politics."

My bachelor's degree is in Western Civilization, with minors in Music, Greek, French, Science, and Mathematics, from St. John's College some years ago. My Master's work was done in the Theory wing of the Political Science department at Boston College; my topics of emphasis were ancient and medieval political philosophy, including Aristotle, Plato, and Aquinas.
posted by koeselitz at 3:32 PM on January 24, 2007


I am stunned that you have spent that much time in academe and made that statement about American universities. Where, in Jeebus' name, did you study that you got that impression.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:41 PM on January 24, 2007


Maybe I've been biased by the shoddy work in my field of interest (philosophy and political philosophy) but it's more and more apparent to me that a vast number of American academics are infected with a strong disdain for the past. They spent a lot of their time talking about how people in the past were wrong, and hardly any time actually thinking about what people in the past really thought.
posted by koeselitz at 3:56 PM on January 24, 2007


but it's more and more apparent to me that a vast number of American academics are infected with a strong disdain for the past. They spent a lot of their time talking about how people in the past were wrong, and hardly any time actually thinking about what people in the past really thought.

Perhaps it's because in America, the self-styled champions of the past (ie: conservatives) tend to have a strong open disdain for academics.

/ America's getting too damn adversarial for its own good
posted by PsychoKick at 4:05 PM on January 24, 2007


(Would conservatives read Ann Coulter if she were fat and black? She's the T and A of news.)

Tits and Adam's apple?
posted by homunculus at 4:44 PM on January 24, 2007


PsychoKick: "Perhaps it's because in America, the self-styled champions of the past (ie: conservatives) tend to have a strong open disdain for academics."

Given that american conservatives and american liberals are almost identical as far as their belief structure is concerned, I doubt it, unfortunately. If that were the case, we'd only have to wait for one side to become prevalent; but this is a problem that's been growing for a long time.
posted by koeselitz at 6:40 PM on January 24, 2007


koeselitz, we have a large resurgence of people peddling violent rhetoric against all who disagree, and who reach millions daily. It's been growing these past few years too. We see persistent violence against us gays, against abortion providers, and we also see (but the media does not really report on) more and more on the right being caught with large caches of weapons. How would you characterize it? We are not identical--either in rhetoric nor in actions. You show me the equivalent of calling for 10 stories to be lopped off the UN, or bombing the NY Times building, or poisoning a Supreme Court Justice's dessert.
posted by amberglow at 7:00 PM on January 24, 2007


koeselitz : "My bachelor's degree is...from St. John's College some years ago. My Master's work was done...at Boston College."

Mental Wimp : "I am stunned that you have spent that much time in academe and made that statement about American universities. Where, in Jeebus' name, did you study that you got that impression."

You're taking the piss, aren't you?

PsychoKick : "Perhaps it's because in America, the self-styled champions of the past (ie: conservatives) tend to have a strong open disdain for academics."

Nah, the order, from my memory, is the other way around. Social science academics (history, art, sociology, etc.) began taking an increasingly adversarial view of history, hegemony, etc., in the 60's and 70's, and the conservative backlash was in disdain towards social science academics (not against, for example, engineers or chemists or physicists).
posted by Bugbread at 11:30 AM on January 25, 2007


amberglow : "You show me the equivalent of calling for 10 stories to be lopped off the UN, or bombing the NY Times building, or poisoning a Supreme Court Justice's dessert."

An equivalent by any left-winger? I know I've read quite a few, but I don't remember enough to google them. An equivalent by a high-profile, mass media liberal? Probably (er, almost certainly) there aren't any, but that says more about which political stripes can get and keep a high profile media position than which political stripes are crazier.
posted by Bugbread at 11:34 AM on January 25, 2007


An equivalent by a high-profile, mass media liberal? Probably (er, almost certainly) there aren't any, but that says more about which political stripes can get and keep a high profile media position than which political stripes are crazier.

It's about who gets the megaphone, but even more about what they say when they have that megaphone. They've mainstreamed violent rhetoric that just 20 years ago would never have been allowed on-air. They've mainstreamed David Duke and David Koresh and Timothy McVeigh style shit. Even now we have CNN hosts saying "faggot" as if it's nothing. It's not coming from the left, and it's growing every day.
posted by amberglow at 1:13 PM on January 25, 2007


amberglow : "It's not coming from the left, and it's growing every day."

It's not coming from the left, because the left don't have the bully pulpit now. It just takes a little looking around places like MeFi to realize that the left has plenty of crazy wankers as well, and whenever one side has the dominant hand, the crazy wankers gain freedom to media access. I don't see any particular reason to believe that if the left were in power, we wouldn't be listening to crazy violent leftists instead of crazy rightists.
posted by Bugbread at 2:11 PM on January 25, 2007


"crazy wankers" .NE. "violent wingnuts"
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:28 PM on January 25, 2007


bugbread: Nah, the order, from my memory, is the other way around. Social science academics (history, art, sociology, etc.) began taking an increasingly adversarial view of history, hegemony, etc., in the 60's and 70's, and the conservative backlash was in disdain towards social science academics (not against, for example, engineers or chemists or physicists).

Hm, given the time period in question, I wonder if it's due to the high number of Vietnam War veterans using their GI Bill benefits?
posted by PsychoKick at 2:31 PM on January 25, 2007


Mental Wimp : "'crazy wankers' .NE. 'violent wingnuts'"

No, but "crazy wankers" + "political power" often, but not always, equals "violent wingnuts". Witness Pol Pot, Stalin, Kim Il Sung, et al ad nauseum.
posted by Bugbread at 2:40 PM on January 25, 2007



It's not coming from the left, because the left don't have the bully pulpit now. It just takes a little looking around places like MeFi to realize that the left has plenty of crazy wankers as well, and whenever one side has the dominant hand, the crazy wankers gain freedom to media access. I don't see any particular reason to believe that if the left were in power, we wouldn't be listening to crazy violent leftists instead of crazy rightists.


If what you say is true (and it's not), we've never ever had the bully pulpit at all, even during the heyday of the civil rights era or great society or even FDR's time--which tells you about which side has always had the power, and about what's acceptable to corporate media. We have never been eliminationist, and we don't use the airwaves to accuse others of treason or say they should be dead. And you can't compare posters at Mefi to Limbaugh, Coulter, or Beck or Savage--it's not even apples and oranges--it's bacteria and king kongs.
posted by amberglow at 3:14 PM on January 25, 2007


...or Cheney or Bolton.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:51 PM on January 25, 2007


And calling Pol Pot, Stalin, or Il Sung "left" is as crazy as calling Hitler "right."
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:52 PM on January 25, 2007


And calling Pol Pot, Stalin, or Il Sung "left" is as crazy as calling Hitler "right."

Huh? What does "left" mean to you: "happy flower people who dance in the sunshine"? In your opinion, is there such a thing as an extreme leftist? If so, can you provide an example? If not, how come the "left" (as you define it) is the only political tendency without an extremist element?

Christ, I get sick of the head-in-the-sandism around here. "Left is good, right is bad, only right-wingers are bad, if anybody's bad they're not left, la la la!" It's enough to make a man turn Republican just out of spite.
posted by languagehat at 4:50 PM on January 25, 2007


amberglow : "If what you say is true (and it's not), we've never ever had the bully pulpit at all, even during the heyday of the civil rights era or great society or even FDR's time--which tells you about which side has always had the power, and about what's acceptable to corporate media."

True. America has never been an overly leftist country. Er, well, at the very start, maybe (I dunno how Revolutionary era America fits on the current "left-right" spectrum). The fact that we've never been an overly leftist country doesn't really say much about what's acceptable to corporate media, because corporate media as we know it didn't really exist back in Revolutionary times. The fact that we have never been overly leftist since the rise of the corporate media only tells you about what's acceptable if you assume that we naturally would have become a leftist country, but were only prevented from doing so by the media. Then again, if you're making that assumption, then it isn't so much that it "tells you what's acceptable" to corporate media, as much as a circular argument where your conclusion is just a restatement of the initial assumption.

amberglow : "And you can't compare posters at Mefi to Limbaugh, Coulter, or Beck or Savage--it's not even apples and oranges--it's bacteria and king kongs."

Obviously, we can compare them in some ways. They're all mammals. They're all human. They all speak English.
What I think you're saying is that we can't compare them because Limbaugh et al have so much more power and media exposure. But we were never comparing left-wing and right-wing power and media exposure, we were comparing extremism and craziness. Extremism does not require power or exposure; power or exposure just make it visible. So Limbaugh and company are some fucked up crazy non-Mefites, and we have a few fucked up crazy Mefites. The Mefites are powerless, but that doesn't make them less crazy.

languagehat : "Huh? What does 'left' mean to you: 'happy flower people who dance in the sunshine'? In your opinion, is there such a thing as an extreme leftist?"

Well, to be fair, he's also taking Hitler off the hook as a non-rightist. I think you're assuming his argument is "Leftists aren't crazy; only rightists are", whereas it looks to me to be more like: "There may or may not be crazy leftists. There may or may not be crazy rightists. However, Kim, Stal, Hit, and Pot are neither leftists nor rightists."
posted by Bugbread at 5:31 PM on January 25, 2007


Yeah, I understand that. But it's easy to make the argument that Hitler isn't a true rightist if "rightist" = "conservative"; I don't see how you can honestly remove Kim, Stal, and Pot (love the abbrevs!) from the "left" pile, given that "extreme left" and "Communism" are pretty universally considered synonymous. "No enemies on the left, comrade!" I still want to hear what he thinks an extreme leftist is if those guys aren't it.
posted by languagehat at 5:46 PM on January 25, 2007


I am trying to keep the discussion on right and left as defined in this country, where we started this. You know, politicians, pundits, that sort. We can point to historical examples of horrible people that professed all sorts of ideas and some that coincide with concepts professed by relatively mainstream political discourse in US. To use such examples to respond to fingering people on the right whose discourse runs toward the violent ("Oh, yeah, but what about Pol Pot!"), is obnoxious argumentation, especially if I turn around and say, "Oh, yeah, what about Hitler!" I leave aside the discussion about whether there is continuity between the American left and communism or the American right and fascism. So let's leave famous totalitarians out of the picture and discuss the behavior of American politics, shall we?
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:13 PM on January 25, 2007


And this is about eliminationism and eliminationist rhetoric.

Lynchings were considered acceptable family entertainment/outings (for some white families, at least) decades into the 20th century. There are still intermittent race riots--LA being the most recent, just 15 years ago, and blacks are still more likely to be shot and/or abused by cops. There have been dozens of McVeigh types caught, yet no leftists with caches of weapons--funny, no? And our government is spying on all the Quakers and peaceful protestors and sees them as a threat. There are no leftist columnists regularly accusing other Americans of treason. There are no leftist legislators doing so, as rightwing ones do. There are no leftist radio talk show hosts speaking of anyone like this, about a black guy: "the Sear's Diehard the battery cables connected to his testi*les and you entertain him with that for awhile and then you blow his bleeping head off. " or about bullseyes painted on Pelosi's face. None.at.all.

This is not something both sides do. This is not something everyone does, or is guilty of. No.way.
posted by amberglow at 9:11 PM on January 25, 2007


The only violence i actually see on the left is against property (see ELF or some animal-rights offshoots), and corporate property--Not people. It's not eliminationist, nor does to seek to kill or wound people. It's not directed at those considered "other" or "immoral" or "wrong" or "less-than". That's the difference and it's an essential one. No one is speaking of or targeting Ronald or Estee Lauder for having a cosmetics company. No one says that a home builder should be killed. No one rants about going to Detroit to kill SUV manufacturers or company owners, or going after fur coat manufacturers or KFC owners.

When people do speak against other people, it's about wishing on them what they're officially doing to others in our names--the "waterboarding, but it's not defined as torture"; the "send them to gitmo", etc. It's nothing that's actually illegal nowadays--tragically, nor is it incitement to crime or murder.
posted by amberglow at 9:19 PM on January 25, 2007


(there's not always balance, or an equivalent, nor is there always "but on the other hand, you guys do it too")
posted by amberglow at 9:22 PM on January 25, 2007


BTW and also, the people mentioned in that link above i posted have never been visited by law enforcement nor questioned, altho there are laws against what they do--while many other citizens have been visited and questioned and had homes searched for even suggesting violence against officials and others. Funny how that works too, huh?
posted by amberglow at 9:28 PM on January 25, 2007


Mental Wimp : "We can point to historical examples of horrible people that professed all sorts of ideas and some that coincide with concepts professed by relatively mainstream political discourse in US. To use such examples to respond to fingering people on the right whose discourse runs toward the violent ('Oh, yeah, but what about Pol Pot!'), is obnoxious argumentation"

Why is it obnoxious argumentation? One position is "the right is violent, the left is not". Those are examples of cases where the left has also been violent.

Mental Wimp : "So let's leave famous totalitarians out of the picture and discuss the behavior of American politics, shall we?"

The problem is that we weren't expressly discussing the behaviour of American politics, but "hard-wired desires" of the various ends of the spectrums. Unless you posit that there is something absolutely unique to left-wingism in America that prevents its extremists from having the same desires as those of extreme leftists in Russia, Cambodia, or the Korean peninsula, then evidence from places where extremist left-wingers have acted on extreme desires seems like fair grist for the argument, not just obnoxious argumentation.

amberglow : "This is not something both sides do."

And I posit that this is because majority sentiment in the US swings towards the right. It's something both sides don't do because the position of the left is too precarious, because the left is fighting to stay alive, because the left in America is really basically centrist (as non-American MeFites love to point out). Give the left the same power as the right, and the same type stuff would happen, this time aimed at different targets (the bourgeoisie, if history can be relied on).

In other words, this is not something both sides do, but it isn't because of "hard-wired desire" and the absence thereof, but because of power and popular opinion, and the absence thereof.

If, as you posit, amberglow, being violent is just something that the left is not into, and it's somehow a uniquely rightist trait, then how do you explain Kim, Stalin, and Pol Pot?
posted by Bugbread at 12:49 AM on January 26, 2007


Considering the history of left-wing and right-wing extremism, the better question would not be "do right-wing extremists have an exclusive claim to eliminationism", because world history shows that it's not exclusive, but "what is it that results in the situation, as amberglow points out, that eliminationism is much more common in right-wing elements in the US, and less common in left-wing elements in the US?"

You can't ascribe that to something inherent in left-wing or right-wing ideology, because, if that were the case, there would be no Kim Il Sungs, no Stalins, and no Pol Pots in the world. It has to be something extrinsic to left-wing-ism or right-wing-ism. Personally, I think it's due to where power happens to lie, and which end the middle-class tends to lean, but those are just what occurs to me, and I'm open to arguments for other factors.
posted by Bugbread at 4:53 AM on January 26, 2007


bugbread

You neatly skirt the main evidence here, and that is the right-wing American pundits and politicians who advocate eliminationism and the lack of their counterparts on the left.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:51 AM on January 26, 2007


I don't think it is reducible simply to who has the power, and that we're all driven to be eliminationist and violent toward perceived enemies. We're not. Cherry-picking from history to highlight nasty people on either side ignores the vast majority of leftists with all sorts of power and impact--from Gandhi, to anonymous people who set themselves on fire or hunger-striked in protest , to those people who first formed guilds and unions to protect their own, to those who simply fought for better lives throughout history.

Just because the 20th century was bloody doesn't mean that all sides use death and violence as essential tools. The essential aims of left and right are very different, and geared toward different basic results. To arrest or reverse progress and change and inclusion, people are more apt to be violent towards those who want that progress and change and inclusion--for a wide variety of reasons-- fear and hatred notwithstanding. To get progress and change and inclusion, you tend to act differently since your aim is different (and more positive). When it does include violence and violent rhetoric, it's not aimed at entire races or groups (unless they're shadowy and essentially ungettable--like "owners", "robber barons", etc)
posted by amberglow at 12:17 PM on January 26, 2007


Was Stalin an authoritarian dictator like Saddam or Mussolini or Idi Amin or Marcos or Musharraf or the Saudi princes and kings or many others, or was he a leftist first? Was it his Communist ideology that drove him to do what he did, or was it most essentially being a head of state (the power and need to control dissidents and the need to protect the system he was in, no matter what system it was)?
posted by amberglow at 12:22 PM on January 26, 2007


It's like comparing Chavez and Stalin--that's more apples and apples. What's essential to power and control when leading, and what's essentially down to ideology and goals? Nationalizing industries, or sending millions to gulags and "disappearing" them? Is it really a left/right thing, or a power/control thing?
posted by amberglow at 12:24 PM on January 26, 2007


Also, there's an important point in there somewhere about being the originator of an ideology, or just being in (or more importantly, having power and access in) a system built upon an ideology--do next-generation (or 5th generation, etc) leaders who are wholly brought up in a certain way acting out of that original idea?
posted by amberglow at 12:27 PM on January 26, 2007


related: ... The "left" isn't simply espousing a disagreeable set of policies, the left is anti-God, anti-America, and fundamentally evil. There is no pause to consider the possibility that the left simply has a different set of prescriptions to what ails us and what ails the world. This is the conservatism of Limbaugh and Colter and it is a conservatism that is frightening because it knows no ends to its means. ...
posted by amberglow at 12:42 PM on January 26, 2007


one more thing (sorry)--When you are threatened by a group's very existence and voice (and what goes along with that--your insecurity, zero-sum stuff, you wanting to be or remain on top, your selfishness, etc-- and of course many nobler impulses or goals), you act to eliminate, deride, criminalize, or marginalize all of them as a group.

If you are threatened by specific actions of members or individuals of a group and not the existence of a group as a whole, you don't tend to want to eliminate them as a group, but to stop those actions, and those specific people.
posted by amberglow at 12:50 PM on January 26, 2007


Mental Wimp : "You neatly skirt the main evidence here, and that is the right-wing American pundits and politicians who advocate eliminationism and the lack of their counterparts on the left."

Eh? The "main evidence"? My part in this discussion is just about whether eliminationism is a hard-wired right wing thing. Why would the "main evidence" be a small set of data instead of a larger set of data?

If you're talking about the "main evidence" of whether right-winged pundits and politicians in the United States advocate eliminationism more than the centrists who call themselves leftists in the United States, well, that's not the issue I'm talking about, so it is the "main evidence" for a discussion, but not mine.

amberglow : "When you are threatened by a group's very existence and voice (and what goes along with that--your insecurity, zero-sum stuff, you wanting to be or remain on top, your selfishness, etc-- and of course many nobler impulses or goals), you act to eliminate, deride, criminalize, or marginalize all of them as a group.

If you are threatened by specific actions of members or individuals of a group and not the existence of a group as a whole, you don't tend to want to eliminate them as a group, but to stop those actions, and those specific people."


Amberglow, don't take this the wrong way, but you strongly give off the vibe (and I understand that it may not be true, but it certainly comes across that way) that you are threatened by the very existence of the right. Sure, you're threatened because of specific actions of members of the group, but it comes across that this has caused you to feel threatened by the group's very existence and voice. And you certainly come across as wishing to eliminate, deride, and marginalize the right, though not to criminalize or kill them.
posted by Bugbread at 1:27 PM on January 26, 2007


Interesting that you feel that David Kuo's observations are accurate enough to quote this:
What Mr. D'Souza is offering here isn't so much insight into Iraq as insight into a conservative take on the "culture war." The "left" isn't simply espousing a disagreeable set of policies, the left is anti-God, anti-America, and fundamentally evil.
But you don't quote this part, later in that article:
To be sure there are those on the left who think that "the right" is evil and must be stopped at all costs. Those people are just as confused as Mr. D'Souza.
posted by Bugbread at 1:30 PM on January 26, 2007


. Sure, you're threatened because of specific actions of members of the group, but it comes across that this has caused you to feel threatened by the group's very existence and voice. And you certainly come across as wishing to eliminate, deride, and marginalize the right, though not to criminalize or kill them.

I do feel that way, but know that their right to speak is connected to mine. I don't try to silence them but to counter them and expose them. I don't wish them dead--i want them to stop hurting me. I don't blithely speak of treason or poisoning or drawing bullseyes on them. I don't want violence visited upon them--or me. It's Golden Rule stuff, which they don't care about or even speak of. My goals are different, and i'm not the one daily calling for violence--they actually are.
posted by amberglow at 2:27 PM on January 26, 2007


bug, it's the "at all costs" part that's incorrect and the telling and essential difference, not the belief that their actions are wrong/harmful/evil.
posted by amberglow at 2:28 PM on January 26, 2007


You would see and hear and read daily incitements to violence if we were actually like them--we're not. You would see people driving their cars into them, and bombing them, like you see with abortion clinics and gay bars. You would see actual violence against them, which you don't see.
posted by amberglow at 2:30 PM on January 26, 2007


Don't equate unless you can actually prove it. I can prove it from them--their words and deeds. You can't do that coming from the other side.
posted by amberglow at 2:31 PM on January 26, 2007


maybe i don't explain it well---if what i want is primarily and essentially to be allowed to live my life free of discrimination, violence, threats and laws passed against me (call that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"), doing those very same things to people won't stop them and makes me as evil as them. Absence from harm is different from harm.

There's no one agitating or working across the country to make it illegal for them to marry or foster a child or teach in a school, or to have straight books in libraries There's no one calling for them to be dragged behind a truck or tortured or lynched. There's no one wanting that for them, even tho they want and yell and actually do that to us.
posted by amberglow at 2:37 PM on January 26, 2007


First, fair cop, you aren't advocating their silencing, and, as I said above, certainly not their deaths. I didn't mean to equate you to them, just to point out that some of the negative traits you ascribe to them you seem to share with them, but certainly not all, and certainly not the most negative traits.

amberglow : "My goals are different, and i'm not the one daily calling for violence--they actually are."

The whole right wing? Or certain vocal and extreme elements of it?

amberglow : "You would see people driving their cars into them, and bombing them, like you see with abortion clinics and gay bars."

Once again, who are "they"? The whole right wing? The extremist right wingers? The extremist American right wingers? I'm talking about "right-wingers" and "left-wingers" in general, not about the current American incarnations of the two, and not about the centrists that are described as left-wingers in America.

So, are American self-described "left-wing" centrists more moderate, as a whole, than American right-wingers?

Undoubtedly. We totally agree on that.

Are all American right-wingers hard-wired to be violent?

No. I know some of them, and they aren't violent, which pretty much shoots to hell the idea of "hard-wiring". I would hope that you've had the same experiences; if not, you've either been insanely unlucky, or you've got blinders on, or you need to meet more people (preferably not in New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco).

Do more of them espouse violence than left-wing/centrists in America?

Yes. Far more.

amberglow : "There's no one agitating or working across the country to make it illegal for them to marry or foster a child or teach in a school, or to have straight books in libraries There's no one calling for them to be dragged behind a truck or tortured or lynched. There's no one wanting that for them, even tho they want and yell and actually do that to us."

Right. I'm not disagreeing, and have agreed multiple times up above. What I'm saying is that history shows that that isn't some sort of intrinsic aspect of left-wingism versus right-wingism, but by the particular dynamics in America. You can repeat as many times as you want "but the reality in America is that A, B, C", but you have to keep in mind that that isn't a counterargument, because that's a point we're in agreement about.
posted by Bugbread at 3:09 PM on January 26, 2007


I'm also curious what happened to the Libertarians in your assessment of the intrinsic values of the right. Libertarians are right-wing, and support pretty much every freedom supported by the left, and then some. Are we discounting them because they're not the right-wing you're talking about? You seem to be defining the left-wing as "people on the left, who don't advocate violence". Are you defining "right-wing" as "people on the right, who aren't Libertarians, or moderates, but advocate violence"?

In that case, well, sure, being violent is hard-wired into them. "Being called Bob" is also hard-wired into tennis players, if I define tennis players as "People who play tennis, and are called Bob", and "Never being called Bob" is hard-wired into non-tennis players, if I define non-tennis players as "People who don't play tennis, and aren't called Bob".
posted by Bugbread at 4:28 PM on January 26, 2007


i don't see where hard-wiring enters into it at all--i certainly never put that in. It's the equivocating and attempts at painting all sides as the same that i object to, and have tried to show you is not so.

Do more of them espouse violence than left-wing/centrists in America?

Yes. Far more.


That's the point. And it's not just espousing it, but propagating and mainstreaming it, and actually doing it.

(I don't know any actual Libertarians--you can't be one, in America, without being a criminal-- like you can't be a true Communist or even Socialist or Anarchist.)

I define people by their words and actions alone. This post is about those words and actions, their intended goals, and the weaving of this strain of behavior in our history and going stronger than ever today. Some of you felt a need to equate this and balance it somehow by saying that the left is the same and would do the same--i tell you it's not so. We're no angels, and we have the same dark impulses, but are not looking to eliminate any group of people, nor to kill those who disagree with us. We are not as absolute nor as intolerant as them, even if our rhetoric gets heated. No gay person wishes all straight people dead. No black person wishes all white people dead. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:36 PM on January 26, 2007


Just look at how common and widespread it is for people to have advocated turning the middle east into a nuclear parking lot. That's racist genocide, and it's pretty much expected to come out of people's mouth in our media weekly. It doesn't come from the left, btw.
posted by amberglow at 4:42 PM on January 26, 2007


amberglow : "I don't know any actual Libertarians--you can't be one, in America, without being a criminal"

How the hell do they keep getting their names on the ballots, if they're all in jail?

You don't get tossed in jail for being a Libertarian, because Libertarianism aims to legally change the legal system. What happens, if you're a True Libertarian, is you get your name on the ballot, you get a minuscule number of votes, you lose elections, and you never get anything done. Same with True Socialists. True Anarchists, I'm not so sure about. Depends how you define "Anarchism" and "True Anarchist", but, yeah, unlike Libertarians and Socialists, Anarchists tend to favor changing the nation through extralegal means, which is a great way to get put in jail. True Communists, likewise, are probably put in jail because the overthrow of the bourgeoisie generally doesn't include overthrowing them by changing the laws within the current framework.

bugbread : "Do more of them espouse violence than left-wing/centrists in America?

Yes. Far more."


amberglow : "That's the point."

Well, yes, that's your point. But you keep saying it as if it's a counterargument to my point. My point isn't about what the current center-vs-right is like in America, it's regarding whether violence is intrinsic or extrinsic to rightism and leftism. It's about whether it's hard-wired.

amberglow : "i don't see where hard-wiring enters into it at all--i certainly never put that in."

What?

WHAT?!

The whole goddamn reason we've been having this discussion is because of the statement in the article that says "the hard-wired right-wing desire to eliminate, by violent means if necessary, anyone deemed the Other, or the Enemy.", which languagehat and I are disagreeing with. You mean you've been presenting counterarguments all this time without even realizing what we were discussing?!

amberglow : "I define people by their words and actions alone. This post is about those words and actions, their intended goals, and the weaving of this strain of behavior in our history and going stronger than ever today. Some of you felt a need to equate this and balance it somehow by saying that the left is the same and would do the same"

Not just "would do the same", but "would and has done the same".

amberglow : "i tell you it's not so."

Yes, but you don't present evidence that it isn't so, just that it isn't happening in America, and therefore anytime it happens somewhere else is something we should ignore as anomalous, as if America were the only true barometer of what leftist and rightist thought entails.

amberglow : "No gay person wishes all straight people dead. No black person wishes all white people dead."

Waitaminute, I've heard some black people say exactly that. You're telling me they were lying for shits and giggles? I've heard the advocation of rounding all whites up in the desert and nuking them. Now, I fully realize that that's not a representative opinion. I realize that's not a majority opinion. But "no black person"? You live in New York, you travel around the world; you can't be as sheltered from the diversity of opinions out there in the wide world as you pretend to be.
posted by Bugbread at 5:20 PM on January 26, 2007


amberglow : "Just look at how common and widespread it is for people to have advocated turning the middle east into a nuclear parking lot. That's racist genocide, and it's pretty much expected to come out of people's mouth in our media weekly. It doesn't come from the left, btw."

Ok, let me restate this nice and slow. Sorry if it sounds condescending, but you don't seem to get what lh and I are getting at:

We are discussing whether or not advocating violence is unique to the right wing.
We are NOT discussing whether or not it is unique to the right wing IN AMERICA.
We are NOT discussing whether or not it is unique to the right wing RIGHT NOW.

You can keep presenting evidence of how the right wing in America, or how the right wing worldwide right now, is more violent than the centrists in America, or centrists right now. Or even the left wing in America, or the left wing in the world right now. And I can keep agreeing with you. But those aren't counterarguments, because they're not addressing what lh or I are discussing.
posted by Bugbread at 5:31 PM on January 26, 2007


show me, bug.

Don't talk unless you can prove it. I can google up 1000 links advocating death and genocide of whole groups of people in big corporate-owned media reaching millions of listeners/readers in 10 seconds for every unknown, unread blog you can struggle to produce. It's not so.

You haven't heard some black people say exactly that in any published media in the US (big or small) in the past 25 years. If you heard it in conversation, then bully for that asshole. It doesn't prove that we're all the same.

Orcinus is wrong about the hard-wiring--you have to be carefully taught, and millions are being carefully taught to hate as i type.
posted by amberglow at 5:34 PM on January 26, 2007


bug, it's only you and languagehat who felt the need to take it beyond the US. The post does not, the original series does not, and pretty much no one else here is interested in other countries and their haters. Why was it necessary to dredge up hoary examples of dictators elsewhere who killed? Did we not have enough examples in the post itself? or ordinary Americans killing and advocating elimination of whole groups? What was it?
posted by amberglow at 5:38 PM on January 26, 2007


amberglow : "Why was it necessary to dredge up hoary examples of dictators elsewhere who killed?"

Because the original post made an absolute statement that the drive to eliminate is a hard-wired aspect of the right.

amberglow : "Orcinus is wrong about the hard-wiring--you have to be carefully taught, and millions are being carefully taught to hate as i type."

Well, holy fucking bee!! We finally come to an agreement!! If you think that, what the hell have we been arguing about all this time??
posted by Bugbread at 7:02 PM on January 26, 2007


Process Notes: How Change Happens
posted by homunculus at 9:32 AM on January 27, 2007


Part IX: The Structural Legacy
posted by homunculus at 9:26 AM on February 4, 2007


BTW, the Rev. Mykeru vs. Lord Spatula incident which Neiwert mentioned was the subject of this thread.
posted by homunculus at 12:44 AM on February 8, 2007




Part X: The Human Legacy
posted by homunculus at 4:04 PM on February 13, 2007


Oops.
posted by homunculus at 7:08 PM on February 14, 2007


That authoritarian impulse
posted by homunculus at 8:37 PM on February 16, 2007


The Violence Frame
posted by homunculus at 3:44 PM on February 17, 2007


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