Nina Power just lost her gig at The Wire because of her appearance on my measly haphazard experimental one-man Youtube channel with no particular identity and a whopping ~2k followers. (Feel free to give our talk a listen, alternatively). The Wire is a small British music magazine you've probably never heard of, so the prospect of someone not being allowed to write for them makes me personally feel close to nothing — but Nina liked that gig and she's upset to lose it and I adore Nina so now I find myself fuming. I don't really get upset very often, but I'm really feeling hatred toward these people. It will pass, probably in about 15 minutes, but I experience this feeling so rarely that I figured I should crank some observations out of it. Warning: Editing: zero.
Personal psychological aside: When I got the boot from Plan C around March 2017, I was very sad for a few days, but I was never angry at anyone. I don't care enough about myself to feel angry at anyone for wronging me; I just reclassify my estimate of their character and carry on. But when someone I know and like is wronged, especially when they've gone out of their way to extend friendship to me — my reciprocal altruism gives energy and provides pro-social cover for feeling true anger and expressing some true hatred.
I just want to pinpoint one observation, to file under my ongoing theory of the social justice warrior. Nina posted on FB a quote from one of the people (a friend, she says) who explained to her the bad news. It was extremely similar to the message I received from the more influential members of Plan C when I got the boot in 2017. And it's a crucial point for understanding what's really happening in the Great Paranoia of 2014-?
All of these people are taking orders from the Big Other. People think Lacan is a charlatan who just made shit up, but boy is this concept useful for understanding paranoiac witch-hunting phenomena. The Big Other is — to simplify horribly — not what other people believe, but what you believe other people believe. All the little leaders of the leftist groupuscles, all the editors of these magazines with circulations probably smaller than this blog (controlling for contributors), all of these little petty rulers… These people who are mostly responsible when some organization disowns or fires someone for some perceived transgression — these people do not themselves believe the transgressions are deserving of such punishment. They all know — and admit to each other privately — that such and such transgression is no big deal; that they would rather not disown or fire Johnny Violator, but, they say, they have to do it because "that's the world we live in," or "it would send the wrong message to partner organizations," etc.
This is so important to understand because it's the only way you can explain so many people calling offensive things which, quite obviously, never offended or otherwise hurt anyone anywhere. Nobody is offended by any of it, except the Big Other.
I first learned this with extraordinary, crystal clarity when I got the boot from Plan C. I won't name names, not out of politeness, but because nobody cares about these tiny groups. And I won't dig up old emails to supply salacious quotes or whatever, but basically all the more influential members said to me, "Look Justin, we know you're not a fascist, but by talking with [unapproved individual] about [unapproved idea], it could appear to comrades outside of our organization that we tolerate fascism." This perception could so devastate their "organizing efforts" [i.e., the progressive slang for "profit," i.e, cultural capital], that they could not be associated with me. That's what they told me in no uncertain terms. Interestingly, they did not actually kick me out at any point — they were even content for me to continue paying dues, they only requested that I not publicly associate with the Plan C name henceforth. As a self-respecting adult person, of course I said that if they considered my name toxic then I would consider membership in their organization undesirable — so that was that. It says so very much about the average member of radical-left groupuscles that I suppose they thought they were being nice — that I would gratefully treasure my continued nominal membership in an organization that declared itself ashamed to be associated with my name. All this taught me was the true degree to which self-respecting adult individuals had been so rigorously evacuated from these circles, I suppose some time ago.
Anyway, this was a very powerful discovery, the type of thing that only came to light because of this rare and dramatic personal experience. I never forgot it (it's in my book draft) but then I set it aside.
I was therefore quite struck reading the quote that Nina posted from one of the people who gave her the bad news:
"It would seem that for the foreseeable future you have indeed been dropped as a writer by The Wire as a consequence of your appearance in that YouTube video. Again I understand that that decision was arrived at collectively by all the editorial staff … following a long discussion in the office concerning the video and its contents … in the end everyone involved in the discussion, which was basically the entire editorial staff as I understand it, were apparently of the same opinion: to have your byline continue to appear in the magazine would be inappropriate and detrimental to The Wire…Yes, it is brutal, but that’s the world we live in now." [Emphasis mine.]
They are saying, quite explicitly: The problem is how things appear in the minds of others — nothing you said or did was itself wrong or bad, but it does not fit the image of what others expect from your type of person for this type of magazine ("inappropriate"), and it would be bad for business ("detrimental to The Wire").
Any person who pretends to be either an intellectual or a political radical, who also assents to a consensus such as this one, is a liar. They simply cannot be anything of an intellectual or a political radical. Rather, they exemplify the bourgeois bureaucrat. And this would be fine, if they just went to work everyday in their office jobs and acted like bourgeois bureaucrats: all they want is their little desk, with a little nameplate on their desk, and their little paycheck, to win a decent spouse, and to enjoy a little admiration from their mother for having a respectable job at some generic corporation with some modicum of name recognition. That would be fine, innocent enough! It is what most people want and what most people end up doing in one way or another. But these people don't just do that.
For their corporation is the corporation that presents itself as leaders of ethical progress in opposition to capitalism, in opposition to corporations. They are the corporation that swears it is not a corporation. If you find corporations unethical because they exploit and mislead people for profit, your blood should curdle when you look at the progressive culture industry, because these little organizations altogether are essentially corporations on psychological steroids. No thinking person inside of them exercises any independent judgment, and whatever is perceived to be profitable for the corporation does not simply become obligatory (as in any business), it also becomes the definition of good: ethical, progressive, radical, antifascist, etc. All while extraordinary effort is dedicated to upholding and publicizing as widely as possible a massive, soul-shaped sign that says "100% AGAINST EXPLOITATIVE CORPORATIONS."
If you are one of these people who assent to such corporate determinations — and I know a few of you read this blog, whether it be for "antifascist reconnaissance" or as a guilty pleasure or because you yourself are reconsidering your own iniquity — let me assure you, there is a special place in Hell for people like you, who do not recant and confess after becoming aware of what you are doing. And Hell is not a metaphor, you will find yourself there, if you are not there already. Of course, a dirty little secret is that many of the shining figures of left-wing activism are indeed on their way there, as we speak, and they feel it everyday; the symptoms now popularly labeled "depression" certainly do not arise only because of willful dishonesty and resentment, but willful dishonesty and resentment necessarily bring these symptoms. If not now, then later, eventually.
It is worth clarifying here that the concept of the afterlife is widely misunderstood. If you think you are smart because you don't believe that naughty humans go to some place with flames after dying, then you are an idiot for imagining that anyone ever believed this. Hell does not wait for you to die; the point of the "afterlife" is simply to encode that dying is not enough to stop what the sinner sets into motion. It carries on. The reason why Hell is encoded as coming after life is that humans really do have many ingenuous devices for postponing its arrival. You really can spin your web of lies until the day you die, if you have the wherewithal, but nothing changes the fact that every lie digs you one inch deeper — truly, materially — into Hell. One of the real scandals of radical left sociology is that many of the rank and file do not really have this requisite wherewithal, to perpetually postpone the arrival of Hell. Only a few of the leaders really do have that spirit, to play this game for life without falling victim to chronic depressiveness and other extremely painful maladies. Many of the rank and file did not realize that that's what they signed up for, but they are already sufficiently deep — perhaps they disowned so many normal people for being insufficiently righteous that they've burned all their bridges — that the only thing that could possibly start to rebuild their healthy vitality (expressing and acting on their own honest personal judgment), they do not have the strength to do. And thus so many of the rank and file subsist in variable degrees of depressiveness (a bona fide Hell on Earth, even if there are, to be clear, factors other than sin that can land you there). Simply because they are unable to take the risk of saying, firmly, "Uh, that person said nothing bad so if you disown them I'm quitting, too."
Most of them know not what they do, and for them I harbor no hatred. But if you're educated and intelligent and self-aware enough to be on the editorial board of some magazine — there's a decent chance you know exactly what you're really doing when you assent to sacrifice one of your own to the social justice gods. You're consciously worshipping a false idol, for as Lacan taught: The thing about the Big Other is that it doesn't exist.
The reason this is ultimately funny rather than grave is that these people are verbally outing themselves as losers, so they are pretty much doomed to lose even on the superficial, instrumental, social plane they are prioritizing. These little bits of candid self-explanation I've heard from the horse's mouth, that Nina has heard from the horse's mouth, and that everyone will eventually hear from some horse's mouth eventually — inform us that, behind the curtain of these little cultural fiefdoms (less and less influential every month, anyway), are pretty much only self-confessed disingenuous cowards of a shamelessly low intellectual calibre. Good luck with that!