Where does political intolerance come from?
CBS’s Twitter account came under fire after they tweeted a video for their new ad campaign. It featured a scene from the show The Good Fight in which one of the protagonists delivers a monologue on how certain types of speech is ‘not equal’ and how that justifies the use of violence. They promptly deleted the Tweet, yet it has sparked controversy for its contents.
The whole speech:
“I was always taught to never throw the first punch — never instigate. Defend, but don’t attack. But then I saw a video of white nationalist being punched in the face during an interview and I realized Spencer was in a pressed suit, wearing a tie, being interviewed like his opinion mattered — like it should be considered part of the conversation. Like neo-Nazism was just one political point of view. And then I realized there’s no better way to show some speech is not equal. Some speech requires a more visceral response. It’s like Overton’s window. That the term from which ideas are tolerated in public discourse. Well, Overton’s window doesn’t mean sh*t unless it comes with some enforcement! So yeah, this is enforcement. It’s time to punch a few Nazis.”
Not only that, but the Twitter account of the show openly tweeted an ‘Easter egg’ image in which the words ‘Assassinate President Trump’ are clearly visible. The explanation for this was that the image was from a scene of the show, and that it should be looked at in context of the plot. Yet the image is loud and clear: assassinating the president of the United States is a worthy message for an Easter egg.
Leaving the anti-Trump subliminal aside, the “Is it OK to punch a Nazi” discussion has happened in the past. After alt-right founder Richard Spencer was punched in an interview, which is featured in the CBS clip, the question of whether or not it was alright to punch a Nazi circled the Internet. Now the question is back, this time prompted by a major news organization which seems to be on the side of the ‘punchers’.
Let’s dissect that question. Is punching a Nazi justified? That depends. Some have argued that punching a Nazi is justified since that type of speech can lead to horrors like the Holocaust. Yet this argument assumes that Nazism is not nearly universally condemned — which it is — and that on its own it has the power to lead to something like Nazi Germany. The rise of Nazism was partly propelled by a number of complex socioeconomic, political, and international factors. The context is completely different nowadays from what it was in the 1930s. The mere fact that we are discussing the legitimacy of punching a Nazi is proof enough of that.
Others argue that such hateful rhetoric simply has no place in our society. From a moral standpoint, why should we permit these ideologies to be promoted? After all, our society strives to create a reasonable and inclusive environment. The problem with this argument is not only that it infringes on free speech, but the sinister precedent which it creates. The definition of a modern Nazi is already quite dubious, to say the least. If a member of the British Parliament actually compares Brexiters to Nazis, what’s there to say that other people won’t start calling anyone they dislike Nazis?
If we’re going after the Nazis, we might as well go against those bigoted conservatives as well. They are on the wrong side of history after all, and they’re impeding social progress with their old-fashioned ideas. But why should we stop there, when we can also point to those that call themselves moderates or liberals. They’re not woke enough to be voicing their opinions anyway!
Political violence should never be tolerated. Regardless of the circumstance, the suppression of political beliefs via violent means will have nothing but catastrophic consequences. Fascists have historically used free speech suppression and violence against dissidents as a means to attaining and holding onto power.
The Gestapo defamed their political opponents and put them into concentration camps. The OVRA fulfilled a similar role in Italy. The KGB had such a tight control of the populace that nobody could criticize the Party without a close family member reporting on them. And, recently, the far-left seems to want to silence any type of right-wing speech — nazi or not — which they believe shouldn’t be part of the conversation.
Further, punching Nazis, or anyone for that matter, is actually counterproductive. By doing so their ideologies are legitimized and they are made to look like the victim. Also, people with fringe views don’t have as much to lose as people with more reasonable ideas. They start with next to no credibility as their baseline, and attacking them as if they were an actual threat only aids them. The best recourse to deal with people like that is to either destroy their terrible ideas in debate, or simply ignore them.
That said, the theme of political violence is only a manifestation of the broader ideological issue. To understand this, a little bit of background is needed. It stems from a problematic ideology which has plagued the Western democracies for decades now. It is the poster child of a failed Marxist ideology and the ideas set forward by people such as Kant and Hegel. Doctrines such as postmodernism and relativism came to be adopted by this ideology, which has exerted massive influence on leftist ideology and — by proxy — academia. This conglomerate of ideology is integral to the current ‘progressive’ movements, producing things such as social justice and gender studies.
As discussed in my articles about outrage culture and media bias, the current wave of progressive politics has slowly but surely come to dominate our culture and institutions. It has brought with it the limiting of speech, the defamation of individuals, and countless ruined lives. It’s difficult to wrap one’s head around this, since progressive movements are supposed to be rooted in the advancement of society and morally righteous cause. So, then, why does it have such adverse effects?
The problem is the core beliefs that have infiltrated the progressive movements. Postmodernist ideologies do away with concepts that have been instrumental for Western prosperity. Enlightenment reasoning and values are thrown out of the window in favor of power structures. Concepts such as objective reality are rejected and seen as a “social construction”, and therefore not valid. Western values of individualism, justice, and morality are seen only as oppressive forces. When combined with cultural Marxism, the reincarnation of the discredited Marxist dogma, the concept of the individual is set aside in favor of group identity. And since there is no objective reality, what is real merely depends on the interpretation of your group.
In the cultural Marxist worldview, the world is naught but a constant battle among groups to see who can attain the most power. In other words, it’s seen as a jungle in which people should do anything that is necessary to obtain as much power as possible for their groups. Or, in post-Marxist terms, a perennial power struggle between the oppressors and the oppressed, which is the modified idea of the Proletariat vs the Bourgeois under a different guise. It now becomes obvious why this ideology could cause so much division.
Make no mistake though, social justice is only a means to an end when it comes to cultural Marxists. Using the facade of making the world a better place is the perfect way to further their bigger political goals. The Frankfurt School’s critical theory perfectly represents these goals. The goal is not to make strives for societal progress, as that is actually another one of the Western ideas that they opposed, but rather to undermine every Western pillar until they all crumbled.
The Frankfurt school also took a stance of absolute intolerance against right-wing ideas, but tolerance towards those of the left. Herbert Marcuse made this stance very clear when he wrote Repressive Tolerance. Considering how much influence the ideas from the Frankfurt School have had in academia, the intolerance of the left and its proclivity towards activism can be understood.
Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.
This is why there has been such an attack on free speech and non-progressive ideologies in recent times. If everything is a power struggle, then it’s absolutely justifiable to use any means necessary to further your group’s goals. If reality is whatever the dominant group believes it to be, then being the dominant group you must. Being this the case, it’s no surprise that when someone like Candace Owens present an alternative opinion she gets lumped in with all the other ‘alt-righters’ and ‘white supremacists’, even as a black woman.
Yet pointing out these hypocrisies is also of little use. A Swedish MP can comfortably call all men rapists because she sees men as one of the enemy groups. It doesn’t matter if the position is bigoted or sexist by nature, because cultural Marxists have no real commitment to the social policies they pretend to fight for, and the left unknowingly furthers their cause thinking they do. The left is being played for a fool. It’s all a means to an end.
So far, these tactics seem to be very effective. So effective that many of our institutions have now been invaded by these doctrines. Academia, especially the humanities, has been predominantly leftist for decades and has produced infamous things such as the creation of “safe spaces” and the refusal to host certain speakers. This is especially worrying since academia holds very strong influence on many facets of our society. Students are indoctrinated with these ideologies and become stellar protestors, often causing chaos and creating even more division in the country.
Identity politics have come to dominate our political discourse, even in right-wing politics. Yet liberal cities have seen the most political violence out of any other place in the country, with groups such as ANTIFA leading the way. The progressive hippies of the 1960s would be fuming if they knew about ANTIFA.
People who hold Western ideals are usually civil and make the distinction between political and personal discussion. In contrast, people who reject these notions believe that everything is political. There is no difference between the enemy person or group and their supposed group ideology. They see no problem with slandering, harassing, and de platforming their opponents. Everything is fair game. As outlined by some quotes from Rules for Radicals, an influential book by activist Saul D. Allinsky:
“Those who are most moral are farthest from the problem.”
“In the beginning the organizer’s first job is to create the issues or problems.”
“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”
“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
Our discourse has also been divulging into a massive ad hominem because of these influences. Having a reasonable discussion is impossible when your opponent has no interest in actually debating their points. Instead, calling people racist, misogynist, bigoted, accusing them of privilege, and other slander is the main assault. Against such tactics, it becomes a truly remarkable task to win these battles.
The use of reason can hardly be relied upon if your opponent believes that reason itself is a deeply oppressive force. Therefore, you must expose their tactics and their ideology for what they really really are: a harmful, pathological dogma that brings chaos wherever it goes. This is what modern progressivism represents, and that’s why it should be fought against at every step of the way.