Thursday, 12 January 2017

Blah Blah Blah

Thanks to my insistence that I will always listen to both sides of an argument, YouTube frequently suggests that I'd be interested in conversations about 'anti-feminism', reptilian overlords and Trump apologists. I hear a great deal of language which I don't approve - calling a woman a bitch because she advocates the existence of patriarchy is not just offensive, it's self-defeating - but I have been persuaded of opinions that go against my broad beliefs. For example, I now think that 'the wage gap' is frequently misunderstood by feminist vloggers, and the patriarchy needs a more precise definition before it can be a useful analysis of society. On the other hand, I recognise systemic and consistent prejudice against a wide range of marginalised groups, and the importance of addressing inequality of opportunity and how language reinforces both existing hierarchy and stereotyping.

There is an argument, however, coming from both left and right, feminist and meninist, liberal and conservative, that I'm not buying. In the aftermath of Brexit and Trump's victory, the blame for the disconnection between leftism and 'the working classes' is being blamed on the growth of 'politically correct' language. 

I put both 'working class' and 'politically correct' in scare quotations because I believe both terms require deeper analysis. 

A rich tradition of anti-political correctness exists on YouTube and in the skirmishes between the right wing media - which defines itself as alternative media and draws on the Rules for Radicals, both as an inspiration and a template to address the strategies of the left - and the left (regarded as the mainstream media by the right, but also featuring people like Noam Chomsky). However, the latest manifestation of this debate frames the failure of the left within its acceptance of minority concerns about the use of language. 

The issue of 'no-platforming' and 'language policing' are identified as decisive in the rejection of left wing politics by a majority of voters.

I don't believe that this is true.

Above all, the statistics for voter turnout in the past year suggest that many voters are rejecting the rhetoric of both left and right wing democratic parties. Of course, everyone adopts the statistics that prove their point - the stark defeats of left wing candidates prove to the right that they are winning, the popular vote for Clinton proves that her ideas have a wide traction. However, large numbers refusing to vote - and not being bothered is a choice too - hints that elections themselves are becoming irrelevant. 

Whether this is a function of the organisation of elections - a choice between two options is not really encouraging democracy and diversity - or a sickening indictment of the electorate depends on perspective. However, the polarisation that such elections provoke is a sharp contrast to the compromise, conversation and collaboration of democratic dialogue easily encouraged through proportional representation or a system that offers a variety of options.

Leaving aside those who have not voted.

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