Dragon Angel wrote: ↑
Simon_Jester wrote: ↑
See, I get that. But at the same time, if we can't move past that we're eternally blinding ourselves to important parts of history, and that willful blindness is likely to cost us if/when we stop losing
so damn much. So in part, I want to try to persuade people to be mindful of the history without
treating 'communist' as a fnord. If we can't learn from what happened to Kerensky, we miss something important.
I mean ... one of the examples I cited literally involves
people who would do exactly what you're afraid of. It's not like people were afraid of bringing up the subject. Tankies expressed no disgust at and spouted apologia for Stalin's purges, Tiananmen, you name it, and people did not let that pass
Who is campaigning against smoke detectors?
From my point of view, being comfortable talking about Stalin's atrocities* isn't the issue.
Talking about Stalin's atrocities is like pointing to the smoldering ashes of a building and saying "welp, that building sure burned down." To which I can only reply "it sure did." But that's not the end of things. That's first-order thinking: we know the building burned down.
From there we go to second order: saying "okay, let's not burn down our building." And this is good. This is the equivalent of leftists telling each other "okay, don't literally form death squads, don't infiltrate a coalition leftist government and betray it to set up a left-wing autocracy, and so on." So far, so good. But it's only enough if everyone consistently follows the rules, and the reason this is tricky is that the rules themselves evolve over time. There are ways to be an unholy terror today that simply didn't exist in 1978, and there will likely be ways to do so in 2058 that don't exist today.
So we go to third order: "if someone else tries to burn down our building, how do we detect and counteract that? If an accident ignites our building, likewise? How do we identify fire hazards and remove them?
To address that
we need to be able to study the history and dynamics of left-wing movements of the past, with an eye to examining what they did right, what they did wrong, how to improve on them, and what analogies and lessons-learned we can extract.
And that's where analogies about smoke detectors come in. Now, I can answer your question, but do you feel okay with what I'm saying so far?
*(I hadn't actually heard the phrase 'tankies' until now but it's a straightforward word for something like 'neo-Stalinists' or 'Stalinism-apologists' or whatever)
Simon_Jester wrote: ↑
What concerns me is that we're seeing an undercurrent (and this is found on the right as well as the left) of denialism about labeling movements, if having a label would be contrary to the interests of the movement.
#Blacklivesmatter has a label because its label expresses its idea and is, in itself, fairly positive. Occupy Wall Street had a label, likewise. Libertarians have a label, because (to them
) their label says something good about them. The Tea Party has a label, likewise.
But "the alt-right" tends to resist being labeled, with both prominent alt-right leaders and
mainstream conservatives explaining to us all why we shouldn't use that term because it's vague and is used by enemies of conservatism to slander large numbers of conservatives. It is to the advantage of the alt-right NOT
to be labeled, to be able to blend in seamlessly with mainstream conservatism, or to present themselves as "just like normal conservatives, only a little bit further right." It would not be to their advantage if we called them all neo-Nazis, even if in truth they are
Me, I like being able to describe and subdivide and analyze things, which means I want to at least have vocabulary
, even if I consider the idea of [subdivision #42 of the political left] being as big a problem as [racism] laughable. I'd like to be able to talk about small problems and
large problems. And to communicate clearly when trying to discuss small problems so that I can clearly differentiate them from big problems.
No one is stopping you?
Is the Leftist Collective Consciousness going to smite you if you mention tankies? Or Tumblr teens? Or the Nation of Islam?
Well, I can't use "tankies" if I don't know what it means, but "Stalin apologists" works just as well, so that's cool. And "the Nation of Islam" works great as long as I'm talking about stuff the Nation of Islam actually did
... notably the Nation of Islam dates back to the '30s, so it's very much a 20th century kind of political movement, the kind with well defined leaders, membership, a name, and a platform.
But "Tumblr teens?" If I try to use that, then screwups are predictable. On the one hand, if my category is 'the set of all people who behave in a toxic manner while pursuing left-wing agendas on social media,' a phrase like "Tumblr teens" is clearly inaccurate
. They're not all on Tumblr and they're not all teens. On the other hand, it's relatively easy to dismiss such a group by over-focusing on the meaning of the name: "I am neither a Tumblr poster nor a teenager so clearly you don't mean me, and clearly you don't mean anyone capable of getting thinkpieces published in Vox or the like, because teenagers can't normally do that."
To wax Sesame Street here, one of these things is not like the others.
"The Nation of Islam" is a discrete group with a self-defined name. "Tankies" is a slang word, but it's a slang word that refers to a clearly defined thing: "people who do Stalin apologism."
But there's no such convenient phrase for "people who engage in a defined set of self-righteous toxic behaviors, either online or in real life, in pursuit of left-wing political agendas, but in such a way as to cause disruption within the cause and to smear the image of the cause to society at large." Because that is a group which resists definition.
They don't have a compact name like 'tankies.' Or rather, the closest thing the contemporary English language seems to have to a name for that is 'SJW,' and OBVIOUSLY
we can't use that.
You can't define such a group by demographics because it crosses national, class, racial, age, and platform boundary lines (like "Tumblr teens"). You can't define them by a specific belief they all hold (like BLM). You can't define them by their participation in a single activity (like OWS) or a single group (like the Nation of Islam).
It's hard to define it at all.
This leads to the problem.
Simon_Jester wrote: ↑
Sure, but is the problem here "you went and created vocabulary for sub-factions within the left that disagreed with you, you shouldn't have done that?" Or is it something more like "gee, turns out intolerance for people whose positions disagree with you on a few specific points is a bad thing if you want to win, who knew?"
Depends on those points but yeah, sure, the latter. I'm honestly gobsmacked that I'm here trying to assure you that giving factions labels isn't a problem when obviously in the examples I cited people gave them labels
I could go into an extensive 50 page history on the Saga of the Stalinists but I'd rather not, really.
Okay, so the problem isn't "the left is starting to resist ALL names for subfactions." The problem is merely "the left is starting to resist having names for new
subfactions that are difficult to define precisely in demographic terms... which are exactly the ones that are new and likely to pose unprecedented problems if not kept in check.
You see, when Ray and I were discussing the problem I'd rather not bring up again because that means I'll have to deal with Ray's bullheadedness, it was about vague definitions. Wide sweeping definitions that have undefined or poorly defined limits. What you're talking about are groups that have definition. Groups that are defined and have limits and have citable points that would at least paint a decent image.
I have extensive objections to the former, but I have no objections to the latter. The Stalinists might have objections to the latter, but I suspect it's for the issue of advantages that you brought up. Tankies are gonna tankie though, and I don't consider them relevant to the sections of the Left that you and I would fondly have hopes for.
If you have objections to my objections about the former ... well, I'm not sure what to say other than I hope you avoid managing to piss other leftists off in the process.
Okay, well do you begin to understand why there's a problem on my end?
If I genuinely have a concern about a group of people who don't share common demographic traits*, don't share any specific singular belief**, don't all do the same things at the same time***, and aren't all members of a self-named group... Well, what do I do?
*As in, they're not all-female or all over thirty or all left-handed or anything...
**Because they're following a collective behavior pattern, not a recipe...
***The way a typical 20th century organized