Placing Focus 01/15/21

Actually, fuck it. I will keep going. Thanks to Jay for this incredible link, which helped me organize exactly what I’m trying to do here.

And besides, I woke up feeling like I needed to blog about something.

As some of you may know, I got off of Twitter about a month and a half ago. December 4, 2020 to be exact. Since then I have dipped back in for weekly peeks. The way it works, is I google four or five names that I find interesting (usually right-wing people) and go through their tweets. The whole process takes about a half hour or so.

I can already feel some of your hackles raising up. Why do you only go to Twitter to look at right-wing points of view?

Well, because I get the left side of things from my daily life. My wife tells me about what’s going on during the car rides home from work. When I go to pick up my lunch gyro, the old woman behind the counter has lib news on, going full blast. All my friends are libs, pretty much. I see it. I get that side.

I also find it more interesting to engage with the side that is clearly losing. They lost the presidency, they lost the support of corporations, they are losing the culture war. There’s something to be gained by attempting to understand how the losers frame their loss.

It goes, so broadly it might be worthless, like this: the government is attempting to gain full control over the rest of the population. They want you dependent on them, atomized from your family, eating processed food, your will completely sapped by nonstop Netflix and Xbox. “The government,” in this case, should be understood as lib politicians, woke corporations (read: all of them), and social media platforms. They are doing this by stifling any dissent, and labeling people “white supremacists” when they question the current dominant narrative.

The issue, of course, is that there is plenty of white supremacist thought sprinkled throughout this right-wing discourse. You find it here and there in these profiles, the mask slipping every once in a while, the anti-Semitism rearing its head. In some accounts it’s more blatant: you have spinning Sonnenrads over pictures of idyllic Hyperborean homes, you have Hitler speeches set to hardcore techno, you have anime avatars posting the n-word over and over and over.

Accounts that are largely not problematic sure do seem to follow plenty of accounts that are. Is this implicit approval of the Nazi content on those pages? Frankly, I don’t have it in me: I can’t say one way or the other. It brings me back to the Twitter purges I’d see back in the horror days of doomscrolling: friends telling friends to dump friends because those problematic friends liked a tweet from someone who once had a problematic guest on their podcast, etc. The bloodline of the movement, ironically enough, must be pure.

Back to the losers, though: like I said, they’ve lost the election(s), they’ve lost the propaganda war, they’ve lost the culture war. They lost, and in the coming years, they’re only going to lose harder. If you think about it, they’ve kind of been losing for quite some time now.

Now that we’re largely just mopping up this thing, here is where I’d like to see the next culture war go: I’d like to see a laser-like focus on wealth inequality, health care for all, the end of ICE, and greater protections for immigrants. I’d like to see politicians held to account for their actions. The squabbling that we recently saw on both sides of the aisle over whether or not people whose income was destroyed through no fault of their own deserved checks is a perfect example. Everyone involved in that stalemate needs to be held to account. Doesn’t matter if they’re your fave or not.

I’d like to see less celebrity and pundit worship. I’d like to see less dogmatism when it comes to the progressive narrative. These are largely cosmetic. They are a waste of time.

But more importantly (and most difficultly) I’d like to see a little mercy for the losers. Specifically the ones without any real power. I’m not talking the Republican fucks who’d tell you to rot if you can’t pay for your health insurance. I’m talking about the real losers here, the ones who lost not just culturally, but materially. They are a community that has been just as fucked by the system as most poor progressives that I know. Their families have been torn apart by outsourced jobs and opioid addiction. They are killing themselves at an exponential rate every year. They can be mean-spirited, bigoted people, but unless you personally are willing to pull the trigger, I don’t think that they deserve to die.

Conversely, I don’t think they have the right to kill us, so stay safe out there. The truly psychotic wing of this party is going to be highly volatile in the coming months. Just keep in mind they’re a minority of a side that already lost, and please stay safe.

What do we do? I heard about a popular podcast second-hand. They were talking about the storming of the Capitol, and the host felt let down. “I wanted to see bodies in the streets,” he says. He wanted to see them dead.

Once we win, how do we choose to wield our power? Now that our “enemies” have their faces in the mud, do we keep pressing the boot down? Do we exterminate them like cockroaches? What about their families? Should we round them up? Put them in camps? How far are you willing to go to really make sure that every last trace of racist or bigoted behavior is wiped off the face of the earth? I know what some of you might say, and it creeps me out.

This might seem hyperbolic. I often see thoughts like this dismissed on Twitter, in a very 280-character type of way. These tweets do numbers. It’s a thing. But really, think about it: if you were dictator of the world, what would you do? Because there actually are dictators of the world. And they’re listening to what you think. You’re the winner, you have the buying power, you have the numbers. They’ll listen.

Do we really start to do some soul-searching about how our narrative celebrates corporate power, about how our politicians continue to dangle health-care in front of our faces like a carrot, about how our consumption of tech is complicit in actual children dying in African cobalt mines? We won. We have the power. Do we start looking inward? Or do we wake up every day and get online to hunt a new Nazi, or maybe not a Nazi per se, but definitely someone who said something foul. We can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Life is too short. Where do we put our energy?

What’s it gonna be?

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