A Socialist View of Alleged Systemic/Institutional Racism & Identity Politics

Please consider this a very basic ‘alpha draft’ of these ideas and arguments. Happy to expand on things or provide further support for assertions as that will help build the argument.

Rather than keep trying to deconstruct and debunk Critical Race Theory ideas, here is the short-short version of what I think is going on.

First, some definitions:

  1. Socialism: In the broader, non-Marxist sense. That being the use of a limited and democratically responsive state in the pursuit of equality, fairness, basic universal provision and to guard against the emergence of dominant hierarchies.
  2. Social Mobility: In the sense of a persron’s capability to move between the economic and social strata of society, typically based on merit, and derived from more equal opportunities and the prevention of emergent hierarchies in 1.
  3. Racism: Prejudice based on race.
  4. WEIRD Countries: Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic.
  5. Woke: Insufferably ‘right on’ and strangled by critical theory orthodoxy and an embraced tendency to biased, unscientific, subjective, hidebound, identity-based thinking. The popular politics of the moment, and of Social Media.

In the WEIRD countries, we have unprecedented levels of wealth and equality, at least legally. Economically there is an ever-increasing gulf. Still, at least in terms of rights and legal standings, members of actual or legal minorities have the same rights as anyone else, often – in defiance of the very point of equality – more rights.*

Despite this and the significant civil rights struggles being between 40 and 60 years old – or more – we seem paralysed by division based on race and other identity categories.

My hypothesis, or perhaps theory, is that we are still re-litigating old struggles that are no longer relevant while ignoring an even older struggle, which feeds our inequality; class struggle.

Let us take America as our case-in-point example.

America has some of the worst historical racism issues of the WEIRD countries and has one of the worst divides between rich and poor. Ethnic minorities indeed tend to be poorer and to do less well by various metrics, and, indeed, the nation was appallingly historically racist.

At the same time, America prides itself on being a place where anyone can make it. The American dream is that anyone can be a success, free of the factors contemporaneous to its founding that might prevent that (not being born into nobility being the main one). Nevertheless, this idea, integral to the American psyche, is less true of America than many other nations (America ranks 27th, the top 5 countries all being Scandiwegian Nordic nations).

The United Kingdom is not much better, insulated by the skeletal remnants of its post-war welfare state but rapidly becoming as bad as America. It is estimated that it takes about five generations for a low-income family to climb the social ladder merely to the average income in the UK. That being the case, it would take around 100-150 years for a wave of immigrants – typically starting at the bottom of the social ladder – to become homogenous with the rest of the population.

Windrush began in 1948, so we would expect Britons of Afro-Caribbean descent to start getting to parity (as a demographic) around 2048-2123, without historical racism being a factor.

However, here is the thing; this is also true for poor white families, the ‘chavs’ on sinkhole estates. Doubtless, racism plays its part, but class and wealth, and the lack of social mobility, seems to be a far more substantial and more overwhelming factor.

Wealth, social mobility, are materialist concerns that directly impact the material condition of people’s lives and have a knock-on cultural, mental, and, some would say, spiritual effect.

Poverty correlates exceptionally well with crime and appears to be causal. African Americans are approximately 2.5 times as likely to be poor as white Americans. They are also about 2.5 times as likely to be incarcerated. Can we accurately say this is because of a mental or social effect (racism), or is it not more likely to come down to material concerns?

Because the lack of social mobility harms the poor regardless of racial identity, attempting to solve these issues on a racial identity basis only breeds resentment. Poor whites struggle as much, materially, as poor blacks but are excluded from aid and effort directed at black communities. This disjunct feeds a divisive story about competition between members of the same class for scant resources when it should be building solidarity across identity divides and on a class basis. It also allows the entry and proliferation of far-right ideology within the identity grouping left behind, both because they go unaided and because identity politics is seen as legitimate for the ‘other’ grouping.

I do not mean to say that there are not other factors, including actual racism, at play. Instead, I say that identity politics do not serve the interests of the working and underclasses. Those identity politics divide and conquer the working and underclass. One need only remember what happened with the fizzling of Occupy to see a convenient example of what identity division does.

If we remove the ‘woke’ lens and examine how identity politics is being embraced by capitalism and neoliberal, capitalist-captured governance, it seems evident that this must be suiting the agenda of capital and capitalists. Exploitative companies will happily put a rainbow on their storefront during Pride month but will not pay any of their workers a fair, living wage without being forced.

So, I submit that the main problem we are all facing is a class/wealth issue, with other issues being incidental to or ‘downriver’ from those material issues. I say that we should be striving for class solidarity and the redress of the material, class-based inequalities and concerns that cross-cultural and ethnic boundaries. I believe we can tackle problems that are being misdiagnosed as identity issues best by improving the material conditions and social mobility of all and eliminating that inequality based on need (material conditions) rather than identity.

This change can be wrought through redistribution via traditional structures, social investment, economies of scale and by increasing the accessibility of technological innovation and education through a form of Anarcho-Technocracy.

In the Utopian Socialist tradition and that of the Fabians, I think it is also possible to convince the current capitalist class that it is in their own best interests to allow greater equality and to engage in social investment. Historically speaking, this seems to have been the case. Where ‘Scientific Socialism’ (Marxism really, not Socialism) has failed, Utopian Socialism has succeeded. It also seems that ideas such as Universal Basic Income (a societal ‘floor’ of income and provision) have some popularity amongst the current and emerging technocratic capitalist class.

Variations on this theme, I believe, also account for similar problems around other identity categories such as gender presentation, sex, sexual preference and other categories.

*Protected status, investment on the basis of identity, rather than need.

My Problems with Intersectionality, Critical Theory, Power and Privilege Analysis Part Two

Good narratives, bad scholarship

Disability Critical Race Theory: Exploring the Intersectional Lineage, Emergence, and Potential Futures of DisCrit in Education

Subini Ancy Annamma: University of Kansas

Beth a. Ferri: Syracuse University

David j. Connor: Hunter College, City University of New York

This paper exemplifies many things that I believe invalidate much of this sort of research, all in one reasonably handy package.

In this review, we explore how Intersectionality has been engaged with through the lens of disability critical race theory (DisCrit) to produce new knowledge. In this chapter, we (1) trace the intellectual lineage for developing DisCrit, (2) review the body of interdisciplinary scholarship incorporating DisCrit to date, and (3) propose the future trajectories of DisCrit, noting challenges and tensions that have arisen. Providing new opportunities to investigate how patterns of oppression uniquely intersect to target students at the margins of Whiteness and ability, DisCrit has been taken up by scholars to expose and dismantle entrenched inequities in education.”

Through the lens of disability critical race theory (DisCrit)”

Almost at the start of the chapter, bias and presupposition are paraded as though they were not an issue. A lens, in this sense, shapes and distorts perceptions. Like a funhouse mirror reflection or the spectacles of the Emerald City, it provides only a distorted view and not an objective one. True objectivity may be impossible, but science is set up to try and compensate for such biases in ways that Intersectionality and Critical Theory have rejected.[1]

An openly embraced and paraded bias does not necessarily invalidate what follows, but it does at least throw it into suspicion, in much the same way as I have previously referenced the problems with fossil fuel sponsored climate research. The validity of Intersectionality as an idea is assumed, the validity of the lens is assumed, targetting (a loaded term, suggesting deliberate prejudice) is assumed. Racist and ableist terminology (Whiteness, ability) is employed, also entering a note of hypocrisy into the endeavour.

New knowledge.”

The only knowledge being produced here is a collection and collation of the opinions of self-admittedly biased people. That may or may not be helpful to some future socio-political analysis of these issues. It does not help examine the truth of any of the claims or for formulating policy. This ‘knowledge’ is not knowledge in any valid or practicable sense.

Side note:

I don’t think that the base idea of Intersectionality has much validity. As I understand it, the idea of Intersectionality is that multiple vectors of ‘oppression’ are not only additive but that through their intermix, additional oppression is created ex nihilo. To me, these issues seem more to be additive and not to produce additional problems via their intermix. Further, viewing things on an Intersectional basis seems to stymie progress by creating divisions, such as I mentioned in my opening blog.

If we have a black woman suffering (for the sake of argument) oppression on the basis both of being a woman and being black, and we somehow eliminate misogyny and racism, no source of oppression is left. The unquantifiable ‘extra’ oppression also disappears, revealing that it was never there in the first place. Even if we just eliminate misogyny, we will have removed a source of oppression for all women and lifted a burden on this individual. If we centred on helping black women first, rather than all women, or all black people, we reduce solidarity, create unfairness and hobble our chances of progress.

In 2016, Bresha Meadows, a 14-year-old Black girl, killed her father following years of abuse inflicted on her family.1 Reporter Melissa Jeltsen (2017) wrote of Meadows’s case: According to Bresha’s family, the young girl had started to fall apart in the months leading up to the shooting. Her grades plummeted. She began cutting herself. And she ran away, telling her aunts in Cleveland that she was afraid her father might kill them all. He beat her mother in front of her, she said, and threatened them with a gun. She said she was scared for their lives. (Para 9) Although the average pre-trial length of detention is 22 days (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program, 2013), by May of 2017, Bresha had been incarcerated for over 250 days and labeled2 with posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. Bresha’s story is not only about racial or gender-related violence but also about disability. Instead of compassion for the abuse she experienced, Bresha was treated as a dangerous entity, criminalized and punished for being a multiply marginalized3 disabled Black girl in distress. Her story illustrates how race and disability are not only deeply linked with other social locations but also how racism and ableism, intersecting with additional oppressions, often have serious and sometimes deadly implications.”

In 2016, Bresha Meadows…

This example is an anecdote; it is a single data point; it does not tell us anything useful whatsoever. It is a helpful narrative for activism, but in and of itself, it has no utility in understanding the situation or whether racism, ableism or misogyny has any bearing on Bresha’s treatment or that of people in similar circumstances.

Although the average pre-trial length of detention is 22 days…

The framing here suggests that this is an example of prejudice, but there may be other reasons for a more extended pre-trial period. This case is a more serious crime (murder); diminished responsibility might have to be considered regarding experts (circumstance and disability). The average is not the whole of the story. There will be outliers in both directions – shorter pre-trial periods and more protracted ones. The median pre-trial period can extend over 200 days, particularly for complicated crimes to prosecute. The pre-trial period for people who cannot afford bail is also extended, a poverty axis that accounts for much of what people consider racial bias. [2]

We begin by locating the foundations of DisCrit in Black and critical race feminist scholarship and activism.

Activist scholarship is not scholarship at all. Activism can follow scholarship, where objective scholarship reveals genuine issues that demand action. The scholarship, objective, distanced, supported by evidence, needs to come first. Both ‘feminist scholarship’ and ‘activism’ are loaded.

A century later, Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989) further revealed how the law subjugated Black women as they could neither claim discrimination based on race (because Black men were being promoted) nor gender (because

White women were also being promoted).”


Asserted, claimed, suggested, not revealed. Revelation, perhaps not coincidentally, is a religious and not a scientific ‘form of knowledge’ that isn’t knowledge at all – but faith.

Could neither claim…

If racial bias has been eliminated and gender bias has been eliminated, there seem no safe grounds upon which to claim black women are being discriminated against. There remain other potential issues, particularly historically, around poverty, education and so forth that have not been eliminated nor accounted for here. In more recent years, black women have been doing exceptionally well in education (mirroring how women generally are doing better in education than men), and this is reflected in the employment rate – a factor often left out in these analyses and one that speaks against these assumptions.[3]

CRT recognizes racism as central to creating group (dis) advantage, highlights knowledge claims forged in the experiences of communities of color, rejects ahistoric accounts of entrenched inequities, and promotes interdisciplinary research that aims to eliminate racial (and intersecting) forms of oppression (Matsuda, 1993).”

CRT recognizes…

It claims. It does not recognise.

Has this been the case historically?


Is it the case currently in WEIRD nations with anti-discrimination laws, employment laws and enshrined equality legislation?

Is it the case in these nations that have equality laws and conventions and practice ‘positive discrimination’?

I would argue not, and I would centre class/wealth, which is often mistaken for racial bias and prejudice.

Knowledge claims forged in the experiences…

Subjectivity again, which is worthless without objective analysis. People’s feelings are not wholly irrelevant, but it matters a lot less than the truth. You might feel discriminated against, but are you? You might think it is because of racism, but is it? These are the questions that need to be asked, examined and reassessed as things change over time.

Research that aims to eliminate…

This research is activism, not research—laudable, of course, but not science and not helpful in expanding knowledge. Indeed, CRT’s output is increasingly shown to be useless or even corrosive to racial tolerance and acceptance rather than helping.[4][5]

By centring race within interlocking and oppressive structures of society, CRT provides a means to understand how racism and White supremacy function in education, while seeking to disrupt them (Leonardo, 2004; Solórzano & Yosso, 2002; Yosso, 2002).”

White supremacy…

Another misdefined term. Most people understand this to mean the racist belief that the ‘white race’ is somehow superior to other races. The kind of ideology espoused by Nazis, and that is espoused by the people we identify as White Supremacists today.

Here they mean:

“In academic usage, particularly in critical race theory or intersectionality, “white supremacy” can also refer to a social system in which white people enjoy structural advantages (privilege) over other ethnic groups, on both a collective and individual level, despite formal legal equality.”

With formal legal equality, you cannot correctly be said to have privilege, which is where this falls down. Instead, this seems to be an obscurantist way of perpetuating the idea of a continuance of structural and institutional racism where it can no longer properly be said to exist. In this way of thinking, you could claim a democracy, where the demography happens to be majority white, is ‘white supremacist’, simply because more white people vote for more white candidates as a result of that demography. This analysis assumes and centres racial identity and assumes widespread white identitarianism that doesn’t seem to exist.

Similarly, democracies are often characterised as patriarchal by certain groups of feminists because most representatives and leaders are male, despite the equal ability of women to both stand for office and vote. If, however, more women were returned to parliament, they would not then recognise the country or system as a matriarchy

As scholars who began our professional lives working in special education, we recognized how youth of color fared far less well than their White counterparts in schools. We were also aware of the ways that disability functioned to “other” students whose differences were envisaged from a deficit lens. Moreover, we recognized that disability was a political identity, socially constructed in tandem with race and class, rather than an objective medical condition.

We recognized how youth of color…

Is it their ethnic minority status, or is it other factors often, especially in American thought, confused for it? Most especially poverty? If poverty rates are higher amongst African-American students, with all the attendant effects that this has, could that not account for it? After all, we see the same problems in impoverished students, regardless of colour, and we also see minority students succeed. There may also be internal, racialised, cultural differences in behaviour related to education and its value – which this racialised analysis only feeds.

In the United Kingdom, those doing worst at school are white, working-class boys.[6] Despite this, there is no focus on aiding them, no focus on encouraging them into higher education. Despite ethnic minorities doing better than them, there is no urgency to address their problems, just as there is no urgency to address men’s issues, such as much higher rates of suicide. This inaction is the inverse of what we would expect if the Intersectionality approach was valid.

Although there is room to more fully develop the potential power of explicitly integrating both frameworks, some DS scholars have engaged in work about race and disability. Reid and Knight (2006), for instance, used a DS perspective to look at racial disparities in the increased number of college students with learning disabilities, illustrating how some disability labels leveraged access for wealthy White students, while serving as a barrier for Black students. Erevelles (2002) also revealed how citizenship is a form of struggle in which dis/ability and race are implicated. In addition, Mitchell (2006, 2007) has explored ways in which gender, race, and dis/ability involve a life-long negotiation.”

Used a DS perspective…

Again with the embrace of bias, which renders it virtually useless as objective research. In the same section, bias is made clear, comparing ‘wealthy White students’ (why these terms are capitalised, I do not know) to simply ‘Black students’ – not like for like. Wealth would seem to be the meaningful point here and fits my analysis.

Artists and activists, beyond the ones listed above, were also deeply influential in our shifting commitment to an intersectional framing of race and dis/ability. Patti Berne, Anita Cameron, Mia Mingus, Leroy Moore, and Alice Wong, to name a few, have led the conversation, naming how interlocking systems of oppression have affected the lives of disabled people of color. They have created essential organizations led by disabled people of color, such as Sins Invalid and Krip Hop Nation

As a disabled artist, personally, and speaking subjectively for a moment:

My subjective personal experiences make my analysis suspect when addressing my issues. I strive for objectivity, but I should be under more, not less, scrutiny when I talk about mental health. Also, speaking as a disabled artist, I don’t want that to be my identity. The artist part, yes, the disabled part, no. I wouldn’t want to be part of such an organisation. Instead, I want to be taken seriously within organisations and communities that already exist. Being mentally ill isn’t a substitute for talent or graft. I don’t want to be treated differently because of my disabilities (outside of what is necessitated by them). It is insulting and patronising to be sought out, for example, based on my disability rather than my talent. I want to be included in an anthology for my stories, not my disability, for example.

Finally, DisCrit has helped lay bare some of the contradictions between language and epistemological commitments, such as Leonardo’s (2015) reconsideration of discussing Whiteness as racial dyslexia.

Racial Dyslexia

Virtually impenetrable jargon. The most I could find was a meme image of a black man waving a confederate flag while engaged in an argument with a white BLM supporter waving a placard. If the meme is accurate (big if), that would suggest that ‘racial dyslexia’ is stepping outside the expectations and stereotypes associated with your identity category. So the black ‘patriot’ with a love of his state is outside the CRT expectation of what he should be, as is the white BLM activist, save the black ‘patriot’ will be condemned for his self-identification, and the white activist will never be able to overcome the ‘sin’ of being white.

The hypocrisy in invalidating people’s self-identification seems obvious enough not to need pointing out, but it is worth picking out a particular aspect here. Intersectionality fails to recognise minorities within minorities, such as the black ‘patriot’, the ‘gay conservative’. They are stripped of their membership in the group, which is also a consequence of treating immutable characteristics as social constructs.

Indeed, a concern about the overrepresentation of Black, Latinx, and Native American students receiving special education labels, being placed in the most restrictive and segregated placements, receiving harsh disciplinary sanctions, and being funnelled into jails motivated our own scholarly work and provided the impetus to develop DisCrit as an explicitly intersectional theoretical framework to explore the collusive nature of race and disability.”


How does this look if you control for wealth? Poverty, again, is associated with elevated levels of all these problems as both a cause and an effect.[7] So is it down entirely to race, or is it down to relative wealth levels and access to earlier support and specialist help?

…leading scholar within CRT, Gillborn (2008) has been long troubled by historical hierarchies of racial dis/abilities. Gillborn (2016) expresses concerns about how “crude and dangerous ideas about the genetic heritability of intelligence, and the supposed biological basis for the Black/White achievement gap are alive and well within the education policy process but [are] taking new and more subtle forms”

Crude and dangerous…

Dangerous or not, is it true? It isn’t, as it happens, not on a racial basis, but intelligence is quite heritable, though it trends to the mean. If it were true, we should know and grapple with it. We discover that it is not true and can then disarm it by studying it. Banning the study of the issue does not help, and it creates a mystique of ‘truth telling’ similar to that around vaccines and autism (there’s no link). People in the right lose the capability to argue back and re-defeat these ideas through lack of contact. The best arguments against these racial IQ claims also tend to be my arguments, that the explanation for these differentials are primarily poverty-related, which is why they are diminishing so rapidly as equality advances.

(T)he concept of disability has been used to justify discrimination against other groups by attributing disability to them. . . . When categories of citizenship were questioned, challenged, and disrupted, disability was called on to clarify and define who deserved, and who was deservedly excluded from, citizenship. (p. 33, italics in original)”

When categories…

To be subjective again, while I wish I could escape this country as it slides into depressingly familiar conservatism, I understand perfectly why other countries wouldn’t want someone who was a burden rather than a contributor. I don’t like it, but I understand it. I also understand why mentally incompetent people might be excluded from the full measure of citizenship the rest of us enjoy. Disability isn’t attributed, it’s not a social construct, it’s diagnosed.

Working against master narratives that position Black male students as uninterested in education and simultaneously aggressive in their behavior, this student navigated these intersecting oppressions by explicitly discussing his learning needs as a way to ensure success and teacher cooperation.”

Black male students…

The same characterisations are made of white working-class boys who are failing in education. These are issues of poverty and a culture of anti-intellectualism, not race.

Tenet 1: DisCrit focuses on ways that the forces of racism and ableism circulate interdependently, often in neutralized and invisible ways, to uphold notions of normalcy.

To Uphold Notions…

A norm is not a judgement. It is a description of a majority or average. If something is invisible, indetectable, how is it falsifiable?

Tenet 2: DisCrit values multidimensional identities and troubles singular notions of identity such as race or dis/ability or class or gender or sexuality, and so on.”

Troubles singular notions…

Moreover, in my considered estimation, thereby scuppers the ability of activism, rooted in this analysis, to accomplish progress.

Tenet 3: DisCrit emphasizes the social constructions of race and ability and yet recognizes the material and psychological impacts of being labelled as raced or dis/abled, which sets one outside of the western cultural norms.”

Social constructions…

Ethnicity is recognisable and biological; for all it is meaningless in these kinds of considerations (outside medical edge cases etc.); it is recognisable and not a social construction. Disability is a material reality, not a social construct. When you are disabled, you do lack something available to people who are not. To pretend this isn’t so is simply silly. Disability also has little to do with ‘western cultural norms’. Most cultures have taboos and prejudices regarding physical and mental disabilities, and western culture, with its embrace of science, was one of the first to move beyond such superstitious concerns, albeit in fits and starts.

Tenet 4: DisCrit privileges voices of marginalized populations, traditionally not acknowledged within research.”

Privileges voices…

Embrace of subjectivity again. This approach is just an inversion of hierarchy, which recreates the self-same problems around hierarchy in reverse, while also wounding sympathy and solidarity and being explicitly bigoted, rather than the assumed implicit bigotry assumed to exist otherwise.

The facts matter. Dispassionate, empirical, testable, confirmable facts. Not who is claiming them or their personal story.

Tenet 5: DisCrit considers legal and historical aspects of dis/ability and race and how both have been used separately and together to deny the rights of some citizens.”

Historical aspects…

Valid as historical analysis, less applicable in modernity.

Tenet 6: DisCrit recognizes Whiteness and ability as property and that gains for people labelled with dis/abilities have largely been made as the result of interest convergence of White, middle-class citizens.”


Explicitly racist.

Tenet 7: DisCrit requires activism and supports all forms of resistance.”


Again, the embrace of subjectivity renders the source of the material suspect and must be considered in assessing its claims.

However, Black and Latinx parents on the ground reported fewer options of schools that served disabled children. Waitoller and Super (2017) documented how closing neighborhood schools and opening charter schools directly decreases school options for Black and Latinx students who require more extensive supports to be included in schools. . . . So, while White students with dis/abilities enjoy the benefits of Whiteness as they lived in areas of the city benefited by the neoliberal restructuring of urban space, and while some Black and Latinx students may enjoy the benefits of claiming smartness and goodness as property (i.e., being considered integrateable to charter schools or

selective enrollments), Black and Latinx students with dis/abilities cannot claim neither Whiteness, smartness, nor goodness, and are oppressed by the intersections of these three ideologies. (pp. 10–11)”


Side note, I can’t say I’ve met or interacted with any Latin people who like ‘latinx’; they – ironically enough – seem to regard it as ‘gringo cultural imperialism’, not dissimilar to the contempt the Chinese have for ‘baizuo’, performative white ‘wokeness’.

Reported fewer options of schools…

This would seem to be a wealth/class issue confusion again.

Using DisCrit as an intersectional framework, scholars have exposed the social processes that contribute to entrenched inequities and traced how racism and ableism are interdependent in the search for equity.”

Equity is not, or should not, be the goal. Equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity is a horrorshow of Harrison Bergeron, not a utopia. People are different. We should establish a societal baseline and maximise opportunity but not dictate a homogenous outcome for all. [8]

In sum, Bresha Meadows is a disabled Black girl who faced dangers in her life and in the educational system that failed her at every turn. This failure positioned Bresha as a dangerous Black girl, erasing her other identities while highlighting her criminality (Annamma, 2018). We believe that DisCrit was created to better understand what disabled girls of color like Bresha, who are multiply marginalized, face. We believe DisCrit can help us #SayHerName as a Black girl who has been #SurvivedandPunished, and recognize ways Bresha’s disability calls for intersectional analysis of #DisabilityJustice.”

Bresha Meadows

Bresha Meadows is an anecdotal case, by itself useless to determine the truth of anything. She is also objectively a murderer, whose issues seem far more likely to stem from poverty as much as anything else. She is advantaged by being a woman when it comes to facing justice, not disadvantaged.[9] She might also be advantaged by creating a sympathetic character through her disability and civil rights optics, things that would not be available to others. The domestic violence issue seems to give license to women who murder their tormentors in a way that does not occur for men in the same circumstances.

There are many factors at play, and the Intersectional analysis is presumptive, surface-level and fails to control for factors and take a more holistic view. Class/wealth accounts for all these factors on a societal scale, even the seeming racial disparities.

Also, pragmatically, an argument for special treatment is not an argument for fairness or equality, which is something all people – and even monkeys – seem keyed to want.[10]

I think my class/wealth/power analysis is more accurate that a biased, intersectional approach. I also believe it to be more pragmatic and have more chance at creating positive change by building solidarity across identity lines, rather than endlessly dividing people.

[1] https://mugsters.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/what-the-author-meant.jpg

[2] https://www.hamiltonproject.org/assets/files/BailFineReform_EA_121818_6PM.pdf

[3] https://www.brookings.edu/research/why-are-employment-rates-so-low-among-black-men/

[4] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-problem-with-implicit-bias-training/

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25314368/

[6] https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-lost-boys-the-white-working-class-is-being-left-behind

[7] https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/special-educational-needs-and-their-links-poverty

[8] http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison.html

[9] https://www.law.umich.edu/newsandinfo/features/Pages/starr_gender_disparities.aspx

[10] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meiU6TxysCg

My Problems with Intersectionality, Critical Theory, Power and Privilege Analysis Part One

Dramatised re-enactment of the effect of CRT and Intersectionality on useful progressive discourse.

I’ve been asked by a friend to review some academic papers around Critical Theory and the assorted studies and definitions of Power, Privilege etc. I intend to do so, but Sci-Hub is struggling at the moment and I can’t afford the time or money to chase the papers down individually. While I keep trying to access the specific papers to critique and disect I thought I’d give a basic outline of my problems with this field, giving examples and beginning to layout my analysis – which I believe is both more accurate, and more effective than the Intersectional/Critical Theory approach.

Problem 1: Activist Academia

So much Intersectionality, Race Studies, Disability Studies, Fat Studies and so forth, is steeped in activism. Those working in the field have an agenda beyond simply uncovering the truth, and they start with assumptions, many of which are unsafe or unsound. This leads to extremely poor and unsupportable scholarship, because the papers and studies seek to confirm pre-existing bias, rather than to falsify or factually support a hypothesis being made.

People are often blind to bias in their own fields, so a couple of examples outside the field would seem to be a better way to demonstrate the point.

If the source of claims that Climate Change isn’t happening, or is less bad than we think, comes from studies sponsored by fossil fuel companies, we might rightly suspect that they have encouraged and created a bias within that study. We have examples of this from Exxon, hiding results and snowing climate research under biased and ‘doubting’ material, and before that from the tobacco lobby, again hiding results and sowing doubt through sponsored ‘research’. [1][2]

Creationists go through the same process, they start from their assumption (God did it) and then cherrypick research and results to support their hypothesis, conduct ‘research’ to sow doubt on evolutionary biology and even explicitly spell out their bias. [3]

What separates activists (or some creationists) from powerful lobbies, is that they do it for free. Otherwise, much of the scholarship I object to starts from its conclusions, cherrypicks and biases itself from the get go.[4]

Problem 2: Unscientific Subjectivity

Most science attempts to be objective, to eliminate bias, to test, confirm and falsify and therefore to get to objective truth – or as close to it as we can get. This is a little less rigorous in studying history, but is still the goal. Sources are considered, subjectivity is taken into account and the truth is sought.

These areas of study (CRT, Intersectionality etc) do not tend to do this (there are outliers within these fields). Instead they embrace subjectivity, examine data through a ‘lens’ and start from preconceptions and unsafe assumptions – as noted before.

Whole papers are written around individual cases, subjectively and anecdotally (the plural of anecdote is not data). Peer review is frequently ignored, or limited to a read-through with friends. Bad scholarship, often in defiance of hard scientific data is given legitimacy through a process that has been dubbed ‘idea laundering’[5]. Replicability is rarely sought, and if it is, it often fails. There’s a replicability problem across the soft sciences such as sociology and psychology, let alone these even more subjective arenas.[6] I have personally, frequently observed a failure to control for other factors, assuming race/sex etc to be central, only to discover that when you control for wealth/class disparity most, or all, of the alleged racial or other discrimination vanishes.

Many claims aren’t falsifiable, and thus not scientific in the first place. Opposition or critique is taken as confirmation and attacked as bias or bigotry, rather than answered. Citations tend to move in circles, amongst the same few people, and there has been some evidence of people citing each other more to ‘game the system’. Some even claim that the scientific process and methodology itself is biased, ‘white’, ‘heteronormative’ and other unsubstantiated accusations. They wield accusations of bigotry like a club, to force compliance.[7]

Queries and surveys often use fallacies of redefinition to catastrophise and bias results. This was most infamously the case with the Mary Koss and the 1-in-5 rape statistic, where things that weren’t rape were included within the definition, despite the survey explicitly asking if the subjects had been raped, and then ignoring them when they said they hadn’t. ‘Rape’ was redefined post-hoc. [Edit: https://behavioralscientist.org/what-the-origins-of-the-1-in-5-statistic-teaches-us-about-sexual-assault-policy/ ]

Similarly, in the case of the Sarah Everard murder, one of the statistics being bandied about is that 97% of women have experienced sexual harassment. [Edit: https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/97-of-women-in-the-uk/105940/ ]. However, if we dig into the statistics and methodology we find that, specifically for the age group 18-24 only, 86% reported at least one of a list that included staring, jokes and memes. 3% ticked the ‘none of the above’ box, and 11% ticked none of the listed items, but also did not tick ‘none of the above’. The 97% is quickly starting to get whittled down, especially when one considers we’re trying to determine who was sexually harassed, not who felt that they were. Some surveys, similarly, consider things like ‘being asked out on a date‘ as harassment.

Much of it simply isn’t scientific or objective.

Dr. Walter Bishop: It’s not an exact science.
Peter Bishop: [in the background] It’s not even science!


Problem 3: Misdefinitions of Terms

While a certain amount of technical jargon or specialist definition is to be expected, the field tends to engage in a great deal of ‘Newspeak’, which undermines people’s ability to engage with it, and actively makes people hostile to it in a way that isn’t necessarily justified, but is understandable.

What differs from, say, arguments with creationists over the colloquial versus scientific definition of ‘theory’ is that there appears to be a concerted attempt to force these redefinitions into common usage. This doesn’t appear to occur for any other reason than to whitewash their own bigotry by defining it out of existence.

There’s two examples in particular that stand out above the rest. ‘Privilege’ and the meaning of the various *isms (EG: sexism, racism, ageism).

Privilege means:
“A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.”


We also use the term colloquially to speak of the rich or pampered, wealth is an odd one out as it can both be a genuine case of privilege or not, depending on context, but that’s beyond the scope of this discussion at present.

The police, for example, have privileges, special rights and advantages over and above the normal people. They can break the speed limit, break into buildings, have access to personal information that is normally kept private, can detain you and so on.[8]

In Intersectionality and its attendant ideas, other things are considered ‘privilege’. Much is made of ‘white privilege’ or ‘male privilege’, and while historically this was the case, it is not any more. Men are granted or given no special rights, advantages or immunities as compared to women. In fact, you can make a fairly good case that the opposite is true, when you consider protected class legal status, gender-specific aid and grants and so on. The same goes for being white, and many of the other categories that are flashed up.

A way to visualise privilege is to imagine a horizontal line, a bar, that represents the baseline rights and freedoms of an average adult in that society. Anything above the line represents additional rights and freedoms, anything below the line represents less rights and freedoms. In practice there would be multiple lines representing different individual levels of rights and freedoms, but as a general visualisation this is sound.

A child’s line might be below the societal line. Children do not have the same rights to drink, smoke, or serve in the military as adults do. Children also have restrictive obligations such as attending school, though noncompliance leads to punishment of their parents. On the other hand, children are above the line in other regards, they cannot be held as accountable for their crimes – if they commit them – and they often have priority when it comes to medical care, evacuation procedures and other aspects.

A child being weaker or smaller is not a privilege or lack thereof. This isn’t imposed by the state, it’s innate and it doesn’t relate to their rights and freedoms.

Problem 4: Incomprehensibility & Shibboleths

Much of the scholarship on these topics is virtually incomprehensible or unreadable, nested within itself over and over, redefining terms wildly and communicating itself extremely poorly. This is a problem in a great deal of academia, but here it seems to almost be a deliberate way to rarify itself, to make it into a kind of scripture or canon that can only by read and understood by the ‘elect’.

This incomprehensibility is so bad that two major hoax scandals have exposed these fields as a whole, both the original Sokal hoax, and the Sokal Squared hoax, which was so effective that some still believe one of the hoax papers is genuinely worthy of publication.[9][10]

So long as you cite the right people and mouth the right terms, it seems you can get almost any nonsense published.

Problem 5: Hypocrisy and Inconsistency

Much of this study is characterised as being part of the fight against racism and other, similar bigotries, yet so much of it embraces and emboldens bigotry. The field is full of racist attitudes towards white people, misandry towards men and so forth, much of it seemingly based on a sort of secular idea of original sin. Because white people and male people, supposedly collectively, did bad things (as though no other groups ever have) they are automatically tainted and have a stain they can never eliminate. People today are being held accountable for things their ancestors, supposedly, did.

If you’re against racism, you can’t very well be racist to white people and expect to get away with it. The same with all the other categories and hypocrisies.

Some seek to excuse this by redefining racism as ‘prejudice plus power‘.

It isn’t, it’s just prejudice.

An example debunking this interpretation is the prevalence of racism in groups without power. If one looks at the racial and economic background of the most identifiable racists, they are underemployed or unemployed members of the white working or underclasses. These are people without power, and that lack of power is the root of their racism, not their power.[11]

Another example would be the appallingly racist beliefs of the Black Hebrew Israelites or, more familiarly, the Nation of Islam. Anyone who can read and understand what they believe, and still deny that racial minorities are incapable of being racist, is not someone worth taking seriously.[12]

Problem 6: Practical Problems

An Intersectional approach, one based in this subjective and activist interpretation is maladaptive to the goal of changing society to be more egalitarian and fairer. Blaming all white people for percieved problems of non-white people is hypocritically racist. Demanding rights (privileges) over and above those of others, rather than equality and fairness is counterproductive and puts people on the defensive. Demanding that others lose all or part of their human rights to bring them down, as though this somehow elevates you, is counterproductive for the same reasons.

Intersectionality in the form of Identitarianism weakens and divides movements for social change by splitting ever-finer hairs and creating a new hierarchy, an ‘oppression olympics’ in which people vie for power based on how oppressed they are considered to be.

An excellent and early case in point of this weakness are the Occupy Wall Street protests. Initially these protests had a very broad base of support from across the political spectrum. There was a single rallying point – keep money out of politics. Gradually however, other elements began to be included, and to sign on with Occupy you had to agree with everything, or you would be shamed and pushed out. Radical feminist, queer and other goals – many of them laudable enough in their own right (others ludicrous) were added, dividing the broad-base support down and down until it withered away. Inverting a hierarchy simply creates another, equally unjustified hierarchy.[13]

Something similar can be seen happening in the autonomous zones now, with competent people being excluded because of their whiteness or maleness, regardless of the merit of what they were suggesting. These efforts, like many others, are being hobbled through the exclusion or minimisation of contributions on the basis of race, sex, gender identity, sexuality – all the things we should consider unacceptable bigotries.

It is extremely hard to sell people on left-wing ideas when this pseudo-left, rooted in these ideas, is creating the impression that the left wing is made up exclusively of easily offended, unrepentant racists and sexists. The substance is being lost, the argument for liberty, equality, fraternity is buried under demands for authoritarianism, censorship, inequality and competition over cooperation.

My View

I believe in the value of facts and I try to reject subjectivity when I consider issues, social or otherwise. Perception can be important, of course, but presuming you actually want to fix the problem you’re presented with you have to start with the facts.

“Again and again and again – what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” – what are the facts, and to how many decimal places?”

Robert Heinlein

Useful action, right action – to put it in Buddhist terms (or is that cultural appropriation?) – can only follow from accurate information, facts. Objectivity is useful, subjectivity is not. What are the facts?

I believe it is more effective to examine the world on a class/wealth/power analysis. Arguing for equality and fairness is relatively easy, and most people want to be treated fairly. Bringing people up to the baseline for society from below it is an easier sell than dragging people down. The idea that a homeless white man has privilege, and a black Minister in government does not, is moronic on its face.

Individuals can have wealth/power irrespective of their race or gender, and their race or gender is irrelevant. The powerbroking classes have class solidarity, financial interests and clout while intersectionality and identity politics has torn the non-powerbroking classes apart. The 99% have power only through solidarity, as a bloc. This threat is part of the reason that the powerbroking class works so hard to divide people on culture war issues.

That the same divisive behaviour and hatemongering comes from within activist academia and media is staggering. Sometimes there’s little to no difference between the Daily Mail and the Guardian, or Race Realism and Critical Race Theory.

As just one example of how my analysis is more useful and better reflects reality can be seen in racialised crime statistics.

Racial minorities, particularly in the United States, are more likely to commit crimes and more likely to have negative run-ins with the police. Racial analysis from the far-right racists would claim that this is because black people have lower IQ and a genetic tendency toward criminal behaviour. Racial analysis from race theory would claim that this is because of oppression of black people and racism in the police force.

A wealth/power analysis reveals that, US-wide, African Americans are about 2.5 times as likely to live in poverty, and that they are about 2.5 times as likely to get caught up in the judicial system. When you control for wealth, the arrest rates are in line with arrest rates of poor whites as well.[14][15]

To fixate upon the race issue – which no doubt still exists on an interpersonal basis and with some individual police – is to ignore the greater, broader issue of the prison-industrial complex in the USA, which is afflicting impoverished whites just as much as African Americans.

If we try to fix this problem from a racialised basis, we will be creating more problems. We will create a form of ‘black privilege’ where police treat ethnic minorities differently based on the racial identity.[16] We would create a racial disparity where it doesn’t seem like there is one (at least in modern times) and we would stir up resentment in the poor white community, who would continue to suffer at the same rate, without special exceptions.

You might well follow-up with the question as to why modern African Americans are 2.5 times as likely to be poor, and that is an excellent question. There was historical inequality and due to a lack of social mobility in American society the opportunity to rise to a higher class is extremely small – relative to more socialistic nations. However, this is not an exclusively African American problem, it affects everyone. Poor whites are just as socially immobile as poor blacks. Fix the economic issue, you fix it for everyone, without adding fuel to racialised conflict and resentment.[17][18]

I want the greatest freedom for the greatest number of people. I want race, gender and sexuality to be as irrelevant as hair colour – at least when it comes to rights and opportunities. This collection of theories acts directly against those goals and ideals by centering these things and giving them pre-emminent importance over and above individual personhood. Broader strokes can be useful, but these are much less useful than class/wealth dynamics – which must also be tempered with individualism.

1: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-53640382

2: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5402187/

3: https://answersingenesis.org/about/faith/

4: https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?show=aimsScope&journalCode=ufts20

5: https://www.wsj.com/articles/idea-laundering-in-academia-11574634492

6: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replication_crisis

7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9SiRNibD14

8: https://www.gov.uk/police-powers-of-arrest-your-rights

9: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

10: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grievance_studies_affair

11: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/brexit-vote-explained-poverty-low-skills-and-lack-opportunities (Note: ‘Brexit voting’ is an imperfect metric for measuring racism, but the results of searches are foxed by studies correlating racist victimisation with poverty. However, since Trump-voting has been used as a proxy metric for poverty not correlating with racism, this will do for now).

12: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/nation-islam

13: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_stack#:~:text=The%20progressive%20stack%20is%20a,simple%20majorities%20have%20less%20power.

14: https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

15: https://journalistsresource.org/politics-and-government/killed-police-black-men-likely-white-men/

16: https://media.spokesman.com/documents/2016/05/The_Reverse_Racism_Effect.pdf

17: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/08/moving-up-the-income-ladder-takes-generations-how-many-depends-on-where-you-live/?fbclid=IwAR1Lv8VdZYCx7zLzH2w_mwrMKpGzhFO0YB6ZG4Naai_S5C9h3pFtbB341g8

18: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/ranked-the-social-mobility-of-82-countries/

#NotAllMen – Again

I am not a fan of trigger warnings, but I will include one here as this is a particularly sensitive subject around which emotions are high. If trigger warnings meant anything, you’d be triggered by the warning itself, but nonetheless, I am going to discuss the recent events in London, street violence, rape, assault and sexual harassment here. Put on your big girl pants.

I’m writing this while the Sarah Everard murder is fresh, and the man accused of the murder is in custody. The suspect is a police officer, and a vigil held to honour her death has been policed with a great deal of violence in a way other protests during COVID haven’t.

Tensions and emotions are running extremely high, which means this is probably one of the worst times to try and introduce some moderation and consideration into the discussion, but that is also the most necessary time to do so. Bad decisions are made when they’re made reflexively and emotionally, some of the most dangerous words in the English language are: “Something must be done.”

I’m under no illusions that most people will read this blog in good faith, or that most will even pause to consider the content or to change their behaviour or demands, but some will. Just as with the misinterpretations of my defences of free expression, people will wilfully take it the wrong way, but such is life and such is the internet.

I consider myself to be an egalitarian, and I have a particular concern for men’s issues. This is because I think men’s issues are woefully underrepresented in the national and international conversation and, as such, go unaddressed. Everything from male genital mutilation, to the lack of shelter places for male victims of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). From men and boys falling behind in education, to rates of depression and suicide.

These concerns have led many to call me a Men’s Rights Activist (MRA), but while I do have friends within that movement – who aren’t the horrorshow that some call them, I’ve never considered myself such because I think the men’s rights movement has many of the same problems feminism does. However, I do think I can offer some insight into why men do get so bitter and angry, and why they do join onto such groups, even those that mirror the petty nastiness of the radical feminists.

It’s hypocrisy.

It’s betrayal.

It’s double standards.

Like most of my generation I was brought up to consider men and women equal, to decry sexism, to refuse to tolerate racism. The understanding was that we all have the same rights and that the differences between us are meaningless compared to who we are as individual people. This was obviously and intuitively the right point of view, and for a while it seemed like we had these issues licked.

Then something changed, I’d place the break-point somewhere around 2010, others suggest later. Gradually at first and picking up speed, the people who had been activists for equality and fairness began to express bigotry. This bigotry went largely unchallenged and even uncommented. People who had argued for the equality of the sexes began to spout the most hideously bigoted statements about men. People who had argued for racial equality started claiming that all white people were racist, by dint of being born white. That they were inferior and blackness was supreme. People who had fought hard for acceptance of their sexuality began spewing hatred at straight people.

If, like me, you took on board the messages of equality and fairness, this was betrayal. This was bigotry. This was everything you’d helped to fight against and had eliminated from your personal worldview, but now it was coming back at you from the people you’d helped and that you’d treated, lifelong, as equals.

If you want to know where a lot of anger and backlash comes from, that’s it. Hypocrisy, not living up to the standards we had all agreed upon. Not to dismiss someone because of their identity category, but also not to elevate them. To try and eliminate our prejudices, from any group, against any group.

Which brings us back around to recent events.

We are being told that this singular event is an exemplar of problems. That women are afraid to be out at night. That this is ‘male violence’. That men are the problem and that women need to feel safe. Feelings aren’t a good guide here, at all, they’re far too subjective. We shouldn’t care whether women feel safe, we should care whether they are safe. That’s also subjective, but we can at least compare and assess against other degrees of risk and threat and use that as a benchmark for what to do.

So what do the statistics tell us?

Women, as a group, are less likely to suffer random street violence than men. Men suffer random street violence at a rate of 150% that of women, though it’s closer to 200% in more recent surveys. Men are also more likely to be injured or killed in such circumstances, while women are more likely to suffer sexual assault, but all things considered women are considerably safer than men. This isn’t to minimise anything, these are just the bald facts.

Unlike women, men don’t seem concerned about this elevated level of risk, relative to women. This leads us to ask which case is correct. Is it than men are not assessing their risk level appropriately and accurately, or is it that women are overestimating it? Why is society so much more concerned about violence against women than it is about (more serious and prevalent) violence against men? Why are women being told to carry things for self defence, while men and boys are decried for doing the same?

It is true that most, but by no means all, of this violence is carried out by men. We’re hampered somewhat in accurate assessment because rape against men is commonly not recognised in law and sexual assault is underreported when it comes to male victims. We also find that IPV is underreported against men, and may run as high as 33-40% of the total amount of IPV.

We seem to have a paternalistic, benevolently sexism bias to see women as victims and to value their safety more than we do that of men. A classic example of this is a headline shocked and appalled that ‘1 in 4 homeless people are women!’ – blithely ignoring the fact that this meant 3/4 were men, who would appear to need more assistance in that situation.

Does any of this mean it’s justifiable to treat all men as potential rapists and murderers? After all, they are more likely to be such, right?

Well no.

Members of ethnic minorities are about twice as likely to be criminals as white majorities are (assuming UK/US). Would this justify clutching your purse whenever you pass a black man in the street?

Of course not.

We recognise, rightly, that this is a racist assumption. That there are many confounding factors at play and that even if it’s true, it’s still a tiny minority of PoC that are criminal. We understand that the vast and overwhelming majority of the time we are not at risk and that it would be racist to assume.

It is sexist prejudice to assume a predatory nature for men, for exactly the same reasons.

Yet the excuses seen on the ostensibly left-wing feminist side of thing, sound exactly like the talking heads of the right excusing their racism. It’s just acceptable to be sexist towards men in a way it isn’t acceptable to be racist. Some people will even claim you can’t be sexist towards men, an ironically, profoundly sexist statement in and of itself.

People will come out with anecdotes of their own sexual harassment and experiences, but we can’t make important societal or legal decisions on the basis of anecdote or feelings, we have to consider the facts.

I have anecdotes of my own.

I have been sexually harassed or assaulted several times, by women and once by men. Something I don’t make a huge fuss about, or laught off, because nobody gives a shit or wants to talk about it – because I’m a man. Even other men treat this as something funny, or even boastful. Should laws be changed and women given a 6pm curfew because of my personal, subjective experience?

Obviously not.

Shoud women be kept away from young infants because of their statistically higher chance to commit infanticide than men?

Also obviously not.

Which brings us back to risk assessment. If men are three times as likely to suffer street violence of any sort from a random stranger, why are they so unconcerned and why are women so fearful? Is it a constant diet of fear in the media and from activist circles, as happens to old people who only watch Fox or read the Daily Mail? Is it that men are wildly underestimating their risk? What is it? What is it rational to be afraid of?

Would you play Russian Roulette for a million dollars?

What if the chance was 1/100 rather than 1/6?

We have COVID as a good point of comparison here. From the start of the pandemic you had about a 60% chance of contracting it and a 2-3% chance of dying from it. Data on Long COVID isn’t that reliable yet. So, globally, we’re looking at about a 1-1.5% fatality rate. To deal with that we’ve taken to wearing masks, social distancing and lockdowns. In comparison, a women’s chance of being a victim of random street violence is 0.4% and a man’s 1.4%.

So what does a rational response to these levels of risk look like?

Correct and useful action can only follow from correct and useful information. We can’t formulate meaningful policy or enact effective change unless we look at these issues with dispassion and rationality. Meanwhile, a little consistency in ethics would go a long way towards creating solidarity and sympathy.

#NotAllMen is said sarcastically, but so many people seem to assume it is #AllMen that it continues to need to be said, at least until we shy away from misandry with the same readiness we do racism.

The Social Media Stranglehold



Twitter suspended my 10-year, 5,000 follower account, apparently for asking Wil Wheaton a rhetorical question.

I haven’t always been the best behaved on Twitter, but have been for some years now as the platform, and my relationship with it have evolved.

To be suspended for such a silly reason, which doesn’t even breach any of their terms of service, is a bit of a shock but I’m not the only one. Twitter is suspending many people from the platform in a ‘purge’ which is barring people from all across the political spectra from having access to it.

In a horrible irony, many of the people who have been calling for more censorship (and who probably helped cause this to happen) have flounced off Twitter this month. They are demanding that the platform censor Alex Jones (of Info Wars fame) because of his conspiracy theory nonsense and the harassment and problems it has led to – even if not directed by Jones himself. They’re demanding even more censorship.

I consider myself aware of the implications and issues of the online space, I was a (relatively) early adopter of various aspects of the Internet, I have been a critic and have offered analyses of Internet culture and technology, and yet I was still blindsided by just how much of an effect this has had.


Why this is Serious

Stop for a moment and consider how much you use your social media. The odds are that Facebook, Twitter – or perhaps your Google account – describe the primary method by which you interact with the Internet. You use these things to communicate with your friends and family, to serve up exciting content, to follow celebrities, topics and content you like. Moreso even more than you likely use search engines.

Social Media has also become a tool of convenience for logging into third-party sites, games, comment sections and applications of all kinds. Media interactions – participation in culture, art, news – are all driven by social media.

It is also an essential aspect of a business, cheap marketing, providing support, finding people to do contract work, calling for artists, writers and so forth.
It’s a route to fame, notoriety and success – by going viral.

It’s essential for crowd-funding, Kickstarters, raising money for charities or personal emergencies. To many people and businesses, if you’re not on Social Media, then you don’t exist.

The Internet itself was a transformative technology, social media has been a transformative use of that technology, but our culture, laws and social ‘rules’ are lagging far behind that technology, and this lies at the root of most of our problems when it comes to that technology. The public square is in private hands, but we fail to understand this.


A Little Internet History (Web Portals)

Does anyone remember web portals?

Back in the earlier history of the Internet, this was how the significant sites of the time, like Yahoo or AOL, tried to provide usability to new users and to make the Internet less ‘scary’ by serving up content and links as a ‘front page’ to the Internet.

It didn’t work, it wasn’t personalised, and most people wanted to move well beyond that walled garden of advertising and the stories of the day that they decided you should know. That older way of doing things died off fairly rapidly.

How were people connecting with content? Mostly via email. Friends and family would send you links to something they thought you might find interesting. Unfortunately, this would also, often, include chain-emails and bloated files full of ‘funny’ images that took ages to download on dial-up but even so, your friends formed an informal Internet curation service of trusted links and material.

When social media finally took off, those companies – especially Facebook – found a way to monetise our trusted networks of friends, as well as to personalise advertising and to insert it into that trusted stream, gaining from second-hand trustworthiness via context.
Social Media is now your ‘frontpage to the internet’ with a great many people only really interacting with the internet via a handful of sites, social media topping the bill.


A Little Internet Futurity

China’s a bit ahead of the curve than the rest of us when it comes to the likely future of social media. China’s government is bringing in a ‘social credit’ system to identify good citizens and more and more China is integrating anything and everything they can with social media. If you’re in China’s cities and don’t have Aliexpress or WeChat Pay you often can’t even buy anything.

China is using this system to throttle people’s Internet, restrict their travel and to enact numerous other modes of social control. With your neighbours and friends enforcing your compliant behaviour because – in part – their reputation in the systems is interdependent with yours.

This system sounds horrific and dystopian – and it is – but it is just a governmentally formalised version of what is already happening here in the west.

Not a day goes by where we don’t hear about someone being fired for a bad joke, perhaps even made years ago. Businesses are now in the habit of checking applicants’ social media before offering them a job. The line between your personal and professional life is eroding, and it often doesn’t matter if what you’ve done or are doing is legal, a company might still fire someone for exercising fundamental human rights that are supposedly guaranteed.


Single Point of Failure

Different sites have different rules. Some will value free expression, many were founded with that as a fundamental principle (Youtube, Twitter) but have been beaten into submission by commercial interests and threats to their bottom line. When it comes to Social Media sites, it seems that you can have principles, audience and commercial viability – but you can only pick two.

Alternative sites have begun to spring up, but there’s something that they can’t – yet – overcome.


Whatever a site’s stance, whether it embraces free speech, political liberty, sexuality or not it just cannot sidestep the payment services.

You would think your money would be yours, that you could spend it on anything (legal) you wanted to, without repercussions. This is not how money in the modern age works, however. It’s a service, not something you own. The banks and payment services sit in judgement, and it’s their rules – not the law – that allows them to block payments, deny payments, charge higher fees, lock accounts and even to steal your money if they judge you’re engaged in ‘high risk’ or ‘immoral’ transactions.

People working in adult industries get hit by this all the time, but it has been spreading to the blockading of other content as well. The most recent case being Mastercard threatening to withdraw services from crowdfunding site Patreon if they did not block certain political commentators and sites from being funded via their service.


Echo Chambers & Prisons Become Camps

A massive problem with the modern Internet, one made worse by social media and its content algorithms, is the phenomenon of the ‘echo chamber’. We surround ourselves with people we like and trust, people who agree with us. This self-insulating behaviour is only natural, nobody likes to be disagreed with or proven wrong, but it’s vital that different ideas mix and battle and at its best, social media has fostered that kind of discussion. Not so much any more, however.

Increased commercial pressure has increased the demand to serve up what we ‘want’ to see, rather than what we need to see. Political polarisation and social polarisation have fed each other, forming a dangerous positive feedback loop. How often have you seen people post on their social media platforms that if you ‘disagree on X’ then you should unfollow them?

There has also been a proliferation of blocking lists. People are even proud of the fact that they cut off tens of thousands of people on the opposite side of even the pettiest of issues. The effect of this is to force even the people who work hard to expose themselves to other points of view, into ‘echo-prisons’.

We’re now seeing the next stage of this process of dangerous division, the audiences which used to mingle and battle on shared social platforms, are now moving onto their ‘
?6yt;[p’own platforms, some for the ‘left’, some for the ‘right’, segregated and policed to one degree or another (or just by their nature) so that interaction and discussions become even less likely.

As bad as things are now, they’re going to get worse if this goes on.



I’m sorry to say that there are no real solutions. My eyes have been open to all these problems for years, and I’ve done what I can to avoid becoming too reliant on any single platform and not to exist in an echo chamber.

I failed, via a combination of sheer convenience and the adverse actions of others.
We can’t force anyone to do anything; we can’t make anyone do anything. All we can do is – in and of ourselves – to try and act how we wish others did. It’s a cultural change that’s needed, and we can’t legislate or bully that into existence, though many continue to try.

If we want this to change we need to make sure that we, as individuals…

  • Respect the right to free expression of people, even those with whom we disagree.
  • Separate personal and professional lives and stop punishing people professionally for what they do personally.
  • Support people, financially and socially, who foster conversations that reach across the fractures in modern society.
  • Seek out ideas, arguments and sources of news and information that disagree with us.
  • Be forgiving.
  • Take personal and individual responsibility for what media we consume and how we react to it. Control our own feeds, block, mute and unfollow, rather than asking for people to be silenced.
  • Spread these ideas, and hold others to these standards.


Alternative Tech

Many tout so-called ‘Alternative Tech’ (unfortunate name) as a solution to this. They say that people should move to new social platforms that will respect their free expression and which have this as a founding value.

Twitter and Youtube had free expression as founding values. It’s only a matter of time until commercial pressures or a buy out compromise these new players – if they’re a success.

Another problem is that the first settlers of new media are most often those forcibly excluded from other forms of social media. Unfortunately, even if they were banned illegitimately, that does tend to mean that Alternative Media gets colonised by conspiracy theorists, crazy people and political extremists. Something which gets in the way of site growth by creating bad – undeserved – reputations.

Lastly, the monetisation problem often hits Alt-Tech sites hard, forcing them – almost immediately – to bend the knee to the demands of the payment processors or to move to crypto-currency. The problem there is that crypto is not user-friendly and is overrun with scammers, spammers and incompatibility issues.

Of the alternatives that are available, Minds.com appears to be the most viable for social/micro-blogging and Bitchute for video. There’s still a long way to go for there to be any challengers to the primacy of Facebook, Twitter or Youtube, but the only way to change that is to use the alternatives, even while they’re imperfect.

85e (1)


We let these things get this powerful and this important, and we didn’t work to guarantee our rights and to make these companies live up to their professed values and obligations at the same time. The only way to create change is to do it ourselves, and that’s hard. Even understanding these things as well as I do, being aware of these problems, I was drawn into it and still managed to be shocked when the rug was yanked out from under me.

Social Media might seem trivial; you might well be able to get by without it – for now – but if you work online, rely on the internet in any significant way it is now critical and is only going to get more so as technology relentlessly marches on.

We need to make a concerted effort to update our social contracts and our laws to match this technological reality, and letting companies off the hook because they’re ‘private enterprises’ cannot be a valid excuse.

Still, it all starts with us.

Let’s begin.

The Left and Sex, From ‘Free Love’ to ‘Love Free’

Hippie_Love-4562‘SJW’ has become a cartoonish stereotype. ‘Regressive Left’ is dying on the vine as a term, thanks to its overuse in certain quarters and the absolute refusal of much of what – at least – calls itself the left to pause for even a moment of self-reflection. Still, these terms – even if used in scare quotes – retain utility, even if they switch some people off from what you’re saying the moment they come up. They retain usefulness because they describe a genuine phenomenon, a recognisable stereotype, a particular group of people.

It can be hard to explain to people the problem, the feeling of absolute betrayal that many ‘old school’ lefties harbour towards this new group, Lector-like dressed up in our severed faces. Ironically they call themselves progressive, and that’s why ‘Regressive Left’ is accurate – and stings them.

There’s a particular case-in-point that I think serves as a particularly graspable instance of their behaviour and distorted thought processes. One that I think may help people to get a grasp on what the ‘Regressive Left’ really is, why it’s regressive, and why it’s a betrayal of the traditions and values of the left.

That case-in-point is sex.

The modern ‘Regressive Left’ has an attitude towards sex and sexuality more often found in the evangelical right in times past and has even allied with the repressive and authoritarian right in their mutual goal of mandating and controlling people’s sexuality.

Anti-porn campaigners take tea with Conservative Party leaders and help shape internet censorship legislation and ‘porn passes’. Something that evidence suggests will only profit a handful of porn companies and may make sexual harassment and even rape more common, not less.

SWERFs (Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminists) inflate bogus stories about sex trafficking and encourage the adoption of the Nordic Model (criminalising clients) as a way of tackling sex work. This, like anti-drug legislation against the advice and erudite entreaty of experts, including actual sex workers who choose that way of life and all but beg for decriminalisation.

A Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, can – without a hint of self-awareness – simultaneously hail the Trump balloon (rightly) as a symbol of British commitment to free expression while banning pictures of a woman in a bikini from the London Underground. This while left, and right are, again, united in their determination to censor and control social media and to criminalise all manner of, harmless, online behaviour.

We have radical feminists trying to prevent trans participation in Pride, to the point of laying down in the road in protest and delaying the march. At the same time, we have others trying to control and mandate speech, neither camp being the kind of people who place personal liberty and choice at the top of their agenda.

In the world of kink, something I take no small amount of interest in, there are feminists trying to claim that BDSM is inherently misogynistic and patriarchal. This seems peculiar because BDSM includes femdom (something that some give a pass) and has explicit consent, something feminists often push, built-in, voluntarily. BDSM has been becoming ever more popular as unhappy housewives try to put their 50 Shades fantasies into practice and vanilla men, feeling unable to be masculine outside the kink scene, seek someplace they can be themselves.

That’s right. Conventional, entirely vanilla masculinity now – pretty much – qualifies as a fetish.

It didn’t used to be like this. The left used to be synonymous with libertine philosophy and allowing people to let their ‘freak flag fly’. It is for this reason that the left has long been seen as the ally of the LGBT(&c) community and why the liberal left has often been decried as ‘degenerate’ by the hard right. Now the hard left has their own term they give to excuse their censorship and authoritarianism; ‘Problematic’.

It was the left that brought about the NHS, greatly helping women throughout the UK with their sexual health. It was left wing campaigners that helped push the Conservative Government of 1961 to offer the contraceptive pill on the NHS, and it was Wilson’s Labour Government that legalised abortion in 1967. It was also a Labour Government that followed through with the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

The sexual revolution, the idea of giving people choices and rights over what sex they had and with who, was firmly an ideal of the left, and one that won the arguments with the right. Sexual liberation was also women’s liberation, an end to dorms and chaperones and escorts, freedom from the threat of pregnancy and the tyranny of biology – a necessity to the full adoption of other rights and full equality. It was the left that understood and articulated that what people got up to, consensually, between one another was nobody’s business but theirs (so long as nobody got permanently hurt).

Now? Well, we’ve already been over it. Social conservatism, SWERF and TERF, and attitudes that wouldn’t be out of place in Orwell’s Junior Anti-Sex League. The way the left has become censorious and authoritarian has begun sticking its nose into peoples’ bedrooms the way the Christian Right used to is just one example of their betrayal of left-wing values. It’s just the one, I think, it might be most accessible for people to see.

Sometimes, to progress, you actually have to double-back.

David Silverman Vs the Mob

In what is becoming something of a pattern, Buzzfeed goes after a leading atheist with various allegations, and people in the atheist/skeptic community are surprisingly unskeptical when it comes to certain claims. There’s a bit more meat on these bones though.

Science & the Mass Extinction of Primitive Thought

2401285296_57f4963b2d_b.jpgPlants caused a mass extinction, but also the conditions that led to new forms of complex, energetic life – eventually human beings.

This happened because of a single radical change, the advent of photosynthesis. This swept away the overwhelming majority of other forms of life and was such a powerful change that it almost wiped out the organisms that stumbled across it.

Yet, coming out the other side, this was the great shift in biology that brought us to where we are now.

It’s no secret that I don’t like philosophy. It’s an improvement on religion, but it’s still – essentially – a blind groping after truth that falls victim to its own pedantry far more often than it produces anything useful or insightful. It seems scared of the prospect that we might be able to know something and is rife with internecine wars over terminology and meanings that – to an outsider – seem blindingly obvious (such as the Empiricism/Rationalism conflict, which is absurd, reason needs something to operate upon and confirm its hypotheses).

Still, after yet another argument over these points and the absurdity of metaphysics, I had something of an epiphany about just why science is so powerful and transformative. Why it has had the massively disruptive effect that it does and how this can be analogous to great biological shifts.

Consider this. Early life had no real way of reasoning or experimenting as we would think of it. We sometimes use these terms to describe evolution, but this is anthropomorphising it. Our language relates primarily to human activity, and so we have a tendency to humanise these forces. Still, evolution operates by blind chance, combined with selection.

A bacterium cannot consider the value of photosynthesis or strive to discover it, but variation and mutation down generations can modify and differentiate randomly and, eventually, a particular strain will ‘hit’ upon a successful change. Like developing the capacity to photosynthesise.

Before the capacity to think evolved this was the only way an organism could ‘reason’ or modify its behaviour. Via survival. This is – obviously – immensely wasteful, and this is akin to theology. The blind groping of faith, the superstition of the false positives – as we find with the ‘religious pigeons’ experiments. Perhaps, by chance, this would occasionally discover something useful or applicable, but more often than not it would not.

The capacity to think, to reason, exists at many different levels in the animal kingdom and so is hard to pinpoint, but we do know that animals besides humans are able to puzzle out their surroundings and solve problems, to a degree. Squirrels will negotiate assault courses and solve simple puzzles to get at nuts. Crows, dolphins, otters, apes and monkeys have been observed to use tools in their problem-solving. This has greatly increased their capacity to survive and deal with their surroundings and this is, perhaps, analogous to philosophy. It’s better than the massacre-dependent blind automata of semi-random evolution, but not by a great deal. It did provide the evolutionary impetus for the development of intelligence, however, and that gets us to humans.

One can argue over whether humans have a monopoly on what you might call ‘true intelligence’ but it is different to the problem solving we see in other animals. We are able to self-modify, to use technology and to think in the abstract in a way animals do not. We can take a solution to one problem, take it apart, reformulate it and apply it in other situation. We’re capable of storing, transmitting and teaching complex knowledge and this is revolutionary. In the analogy, this is like the advent of science and like humanity, science has become utterly dominant and has killed off a great deal of its opposition, a mass extinction of invalid modes of thought – like religion and philosophy.

Science has provided us a way of genuinely knowing what is true and extrapolating fundamentals and applications from that knowledge. This is dramatically better than anything else and the only way we really have of knowing that anything is real or true. It’s systemised, self-correcting, without hanging speculation, self-critical and – most importantly – it works.

Theism clings on, in volcanic pools, hydrothermal vents and the anaerobic depths of stygian sediment. Philosophy clings on because hitting a shell with a stone will sometimes get you a nut. Science, however, science is a quantum leap in knowledge, a way of testing and understanding any validity of any other claim and there is nothing else that does what it does.

Show us what’s actually true.

Perhaps that’s why philosophy and religion hate it so much and try to undermine it. They know they’re obsolete and marked for extinction.

Playing Wendy: Laurie Penny amongst the ‘Lost Boys’

nadyaphoto1I am an angry, disaffected, far leftist. I find, constantly, that my ire is not directed where it should be – to the Trumps and Brexiters of this world – but towards my own side.

You expect the right wing to be sociopathic, hypocritical cunts. That is, after all, their modus operandi. You do not, however, expect it of the left with its professed values of reason, tolerance and fairness.

And that’s why I end up railing against my own side so much. They have betrayed these values and continue to betray these values. They have developed an arrogance, an orthodoxy, a set of commandments and taboos. They have forsaken equality for a spectrum of special interest groups. They’ve forsaken fairness for special pleading. Principle is gone, science is gone, reason is gone. They won’t even bother to make their case any more.

It’s almost religious.

When they attack people like Trump I often find myself compelled, through my own principles of fairness to defend him. Principles I considered to be left-wing.

The constant misrepresentations, lies and – yes – ‘fake news’ represent a moral and ethical outrage to me.

They’re especially baffling when there’s so many good, legitimate reasons to be horrified by the international swing to the right. There are sp many good arguments to be made with factual bases to them, and they’re not being made.

Why lie instead?

There’s one manifestation of this collapse and betrayal of principle I take pretty personally though.

Laurie Penny.


It’s awkward and dispiriting every time I run into something that Laurie Penny has written.

If we weren’t ever friends we were once acquaintances (I’d discovered her via the writer Warren Ellis). It was possible – in the past – to have a discussion with her about one topic or another and, while it was clear we came from different traditions and perceptions of what ‘the left’ is, we could talk.

It’s also awkward because we’re now ‘friend of a friend’ to each other in ‘meatspace’.

From Laurie’s perspective it seemed, to her, that I slowly drifted to the right. My becoming interested in free expression issues, my engagement with men’s issues, my growing involvement in the skeptic community appeared – to her – to be someone becoming more reactionary and conservative.

But, in the immortal words of Hans Zarkov: “I haven’t changed.”

I’m the same libertine, skeptical, rationalist, far-left optimist but primary pragmatist I ever was.

Rather, the ‘left’ (I regard the scare quotes as unfortunately necessary) changed. It went from being the principled, funny, consistent, even-handed and rational voice to the mirror-universe version of everything it had once opposed.

Schoolmarmish, authoritarian, censorious, irrational, elitist, racist, sexist, prejudiced and otherwise insane.

My criticisms and issues with my own side, my attempts – however feeble and unsuccessful – to keep the ‘left’ on track and my warnings about what was going to happen were ignored. They made me a ‘Cassandra’ and Laurie, ultimately, fed up with being argued with and contradicted (especially after my critique of one of her books and the dismantling of a book by one of her feminist icons) cut me off. Secured her safe space against transgression with a block of an honest interlocutor.

(She also participated in the disgraceful failure of reporting on Cologne).

For a while, fairly recently, Laurie was doing her bargain-basement Hunter S Thompson bit and trailing around after the ill-fated Milo Yiannopoulos, ’embedded in his entourage’. After the Berkeley riots over his college tour she ended up being accused of being a ‘Nazi sympathiser’ for her writing and work around him.

I had hoped – against hope – that this would lead to a moment of awakening for her similar to the various ones I’d had.


“These people have good intentions, but – by Klono’s iron hooves – they’re divorced from reality.”


When I saw a new article, ‘On the Milo Bus With the Lost Boys of America’s New Right’ I was hopeful that we might see something of a revelatory article of realisation and self-relection – especially in the wake of the Traditional Conservative coup that sparked Milo’s downfall.

Alas, it was not to be.

While there are some insightful moments in the article, there are also some breathtaking absences of self awareness and missed opportunities. Another lapse in the integrity and fairness which I, perhaps unfairly, have high expectations of in others (as in myself).


This is a story about truth and consequences. It’s a story about who gets to be young and dumb, and who gets held accountable. It’s also a story about how the new right exploits young men — how it preys not on their bodies, but on their emotions, on their hurts and hopes and anger and anxiety, their desperate need to be part of a big ugly boys’ own adventure.

Almost right from the get-go Laurie demonstrates that she doesn’t understand what has happened or who Milo’s audience is. That a lot of them are on the libertarian end of the new authoritarian/libertarian divide and a lot of them are more properly on the liberal/left end of the spectrum. They’re just alienated by a left that has abandoned every principle for… some reason.

It’s not so much that the right has preyed upon these people, or their emotions, but that the left has abandoned a huge swathe of people, has become too insane to support in its current incarnation and that people like Milo – sincere or not – are at least saying some of the things that people want to hear. Traditionally left-wing things.




Reason – or at least the appearance thereof.

As I write, Yiannopoulos, the fame-hungry right-wing provocateur and self-styled “most dangerous supervillain on the Internet,” is fighting off accusations of having once endorsed pedophilia. Former friends and supporters who long tolerated his outrage-mongering as childish fun are now dropping him like a red-hot turd: His book deal has been canceled, CPAC has disinvited him as a speaker, and today he resigned from his job at Breitbart.

The absolutely most important part of this summary of events is missing.

That these accusations are false.

If you don’t believe me, go and listen to the podcasts in their full, original form, with the context, cadence and tone intact.

The second most important thing about these events is also missing.

That these attacks did not come from the left, which has singularly failed to land a meaningful blow on Milo since his star became ascendant (and its not as if he’s not a target-rich environment).

They come from the right.

The traditionally conservative, anti-Trump, anti-libertarian wing of the American right. McMullen and the ‘Reagan Battalion’.

I’ve been following Yiannopoulos’ tour for months, and I can absolutely confirm that he means almost nothing he says, that he will say almost anything for attention, and that none of that matters to those who face violence and trauma as a result. Yiannopoulos has cashed in hard on the cowardice of American conservatives, exploited their complete allergy to irony. Now it’s payback time.

This passage is one of those unselfaware moments.

While I agree with the assessment of Milo’s character – I don’t like the guy and the difficulty of spelling his surname lends a false intimacy of most people using his first name – this is absolutely not the story of Milo.

The cowardice that Milo has cashed in on is that of the ‘left’. The unwillingness of the left to debate, to argue, to make a case. The way the ‘left’ has come to treat its viewpoints as holy writ and any skepticism or dissent as blasphemy. The way the ‘left’ has tried to silence and crush opposition and expression.

That cowardice is what has allowed Milo to bloom.

Not only has the left’s cowardice and authoritarianism caused it to quit the field of debate – and leave it open to the right – it has made Milo’s meta-message, that of freedom, scrutiny and debate – appealing to people on the liberal left, like me.

We ‘Voltarian’ cultural libertarians may despise much of what he has to say but we support his right to say it and that puts us at odds with the authoritarian wing.

That divide and fracture only increases when they start calling culturally libertarian leftists Nazis. They did that to you Laurie, but you didn’t tackle it. You displayed that same cowardice and failing.

Nobody has faced any violence because of Milo.

Plenty of people have faced violence because of the failings of the ‘left’. I don’t think Laurie – or people like her – are responsible for that any more than I agree with them that Milo’s mere words place anyone in danger, but there has been an abject failing to oppose that violence when it occurs.

Yiannopoulos should know full well the American tendency to take sick jokes seriously, and the reason he should know it full well is that it’s the entire reason his shtick works in America when it didn’t work in Britain. It’s the entire reason hordes of teenage fans follow him from speaking event to speaking event, hanging with desperate loyalty off every word that comes out of his face.

I criticised Laurie’s book, ‘Cybersexism’ because she didn’t seem to understand the internet, at all, despite claiming to have essentially grown up on it. All her conclusions seemed 180 degrees from reality to me. coloured by the dogmas she has bought into since, and this is no different.

Gamergate gave Milo a big rise in his profile. It’s also the reason I don’t like him.

It was clear to me from the get go he was both using Gamergate for personal gain and trying to sell right wing viewpoints to a younger, tech-savvy, libertarian demographic. He was, however – at least at the time – the only person willing to report fairly and accurately on the movement and beggars can’t be choosers, even when Gamergate itself was – and remains – primarily left-libertarian.

That, even though it has grown far beyond Gamergate, is the character of his audience. People steeped in irony. People, genuinely, raised on internet culture. People used to the freedom that the internet can provide. People who play with sick jokes and irony and manifestly do not take them seriously.

When people like you, Laurie, take it seriously you’re doing a disservice to yourself, your readers and to Milo’s ‘fans’ (across the political spectrum). When people honestly report, po-faced, that drinking milk in front of failed art installation ‘He Will Not Divide Us’ is a fascist act, all they’re doing is providing ‘lulz’ and showing how stupid they are.

Godfrey Elfwick couldn’t succeed without people’s dishonesty and ignorance.

People follow him, primarily for the free speech issue (which he’s absolutely right about) and for the fact he’ll broach and argue topics that are otherwise verboten (which he may or may not be right or wrong about to varying degrees).

His audience, however, knows not to take him too seriously.

Do you?

Or are those teenage trolls smarter, more savvy and better at parsing intent than you?

This time, it’s backfired. This time, an ugly joke about having been taught to give head by a Catholic priest fell flat, as did a selection of quotes from video debates where, in Miracle Boy’s own words on Facebook: “My own experiences as a victim led me to believe I could say anything I wanted to on this subject, no matter how outrageous. But I understand that my usual blend of British sarcasm, provocation and gallows humor might have come across as flippancy, a lack of care for other victims or, worse, ‘advocacy.’ I deeply regret that.” Yiannopoulos protests that, this time, he really didn’t mean it, that his words have been taken out of context, that child sex abuse is real, and that he understands that words have consequences for victims.

A joke that people got and understood in context. A joke which caused no problem for an entire year. A joke many of us heard, in context, when it was first made and which, while it had shocking effect in the moment, was contextually not to be taken seriously. A self-deprecating joke even, about his own victimhood.

He was taken out of context, he never said child abuse wasn’t real.

As to the apology I think that was insincere and out of character for him, and he probably shouldn’t have made it but there weren’t a lot of available choices in the moment.

This time, the same shtick fell flat as a burst tire on the freeway, and the pile-up is getting ugly. The reason it fell flat is that, for all that the American right likes to show off pet homosexuals to prove its modernity, it turns out that it still hates gays. Christian conservatives worldwide are still unconvinced that LGBT people deserve human rights, and the old false slurs — that gay men abuse children and ignore the age of consent — still hit home.

This passage, at least, is accurate and describes what is really going on.

This is a counter-coup against the more libertarian and socially progressive (believe it or not) wing of the current American right, by the traditional conservative right. They’ve already hemmed Trump in (aided and abetted, sadly, by the mainstream media channels) and now they’ve attempted to take out Milo.

I suspect Milo may prove to be more resilient given he has a pre-made social media platform waiting for him. We’ll see.

This attack upon him is, I believe, rooted in homophobia and the smearing attempts to link homosexuality with paedophilia or – sorry to get all ‘MRA’ here for a moment – the misandrist assumption that all men are paedophiles by default and treating them as such. Gays get this worse, but it does occur for all men and is enshrined in company policies etc, to little protest.

This attack did come from the Christian conservative wing. Trump doesn’t give a fig about gays, Milo represented a degree of progress – love him or hate him – on this issue that aspects of the Christian Right are still struggling with.

What has happened now is a counter blow and, to the shame of the left which had been trying to attack Milo for years, it came – successfully – from the right.

All the ‘left’ could do was bandwagon on it, at the abandonment of their supposed principles and progressivism. Doubling the shame in their opportunistic, revenge fuelled glee.

It is horribly ironic that of all the disgusting nonsense Yiannopoulos has said — about women, about Muslims, about transgender people, about immigrants — it is only now that the moderate right appears to have reached the limits of what it will tolerate in the name of free speech. The hypocrisy is clarion-clear: This was never, in fact, about free speech at all. It was about making it OK to say racist, sexist, transphobic, and xenophobic things, about tolerating the public expression of those views right up to the point where it becomes financially unwise to do so. Those suddenly dropping Yiannopoulos are making a business decision, not a moral one — and yes, even in Donald Trump’s America, there’s still a difference. If that difference devours Yiannopoulos and his minions, they will find few mourners.

And I think that would be a mistake. I think you should be mourning Laurie. I think you should have the integrity to be shouting much louder about what you and I have both noticed; that this is a homophobic attack upon a prominent gay man.

You may hate Milo for a lot of things but he does represent part of a step forward for the right, a more progressive right. The right may be morally and ethically bankrupt for only caring about the bottom line but you, and the ‘left’ as a whole are morally bankrupt for not applying their professed principles to an enemy.

That’s the test of a principle. How you apply it to people you don’t like.

Milo’s ability to talk about issues with feminism (not women), about Islamism, about the transgender issue, about the immigration issue is about free speech. Free expression absolutely includes being able to say ‘racist, sexist, transphobic and xenophobic things’ not that I would agree this is necessarily what he does, nor agree with a lot of what he says.

These are just things you don’t agree with or won’t countenance discussion on.

That you’re happy to silence someone like him for secular blasphemy while tte right is happy to silence someone like him for religious and financial blasphemy makes you as bad as each other. An illustration – again – of the new political divide between authoritarianism and libertarianism.

Yiannopoulos followed the path of least resistance until, suddenly, it resisted. Now he knows just what it is to have the Internet turn on you and take away your control of the narrative. Now the entire alt-right is realizing, in full view of a few million popcorn-munching online leftists, that they were never the new punk. They were never the suave and seductive blackshirts of the new American authoritarianism. They are, at best, the brownshirts, and they are becoming less useful to their benefactors by the day.

Except Milo isn’t alt-right, at least not as the definition has settled. The fascists have successfully, largely as a result of left-wing media hysteria, wrested control of the term. For a while though it was closer to representing something more like what Milo, Lauren Southern and Paul Joseph Watson were selling. A more libertarian right. The ‘Ron Paul’ legacy. A more progressive – in many ways – culturally libertarian and, dare I say it, progressive and intellectual (or at least pseudo-intellectual, points for effort) right. Certainly one I’d rather have as the opposition, since we can agree on a few points, rather than the authoritarian, Christian, corporatist, dominionist right.

Tactically alone, we should have been shoring up Milo and those like him for the sake of long term progress.

As things stand now?

Maybe the ‘alt-lite’ will end up becoming a part of the new, radical centre that’s emerging, as the authoritarian left and right both get increasingly bucked against by the small ‘l’ libertarians across the spectrum.

Rewind two weeks. It’s a wet night in Berkeley, California, and Yiannopoulos is running away from the left. He was scheduled to speak at the University of California–Berkeley, but the event has been shut down. It was shut down because thousands of anti-racist and anti-fascist protesters decided that there should be no platform for what they called white supremacy. They are marching to say that free speech does not extend to hate speech, that the First Amendment should not oblige institutions to invite professional trolls to spout an auto-generated word-salad of Internet bigotry just for fun, and that, if the institutions disagree, students and allies are entitled to throw fireworks and smash things until the trolls run away. Which is exactly what has happened.

Well this is sort of promising. This passage seems to betray a kind of confusion. You don’t want to defend Milo and his fans but at the same time you don’t appear to really want to condone the violence that occurred over mere speech.

I think you understand he’s not racist, not fascist and I think you feel – just a touch – of inward ‘cringe’ at the AntiFa and other idiots whose actions so spectacularly backfired.

Perhaps because it was in the aftermath of this event that you were personally attacked, and felt the absurdity of their sting yourself.

Five minutes after I arrive on campus, klaxons are blaring in the event space and the entire team on his “Dangerous Faggot Tour” has been obliged to make what might generously be termed a tactical retreat. Police in full riot gear are everywhere, and the whole place is evacuated because of the real possibility of everyone inside getting a serious — and arguably deserved — kicking. Whatever the rights and wrongs of punching fascists, if people of good faith and conscience are publicly debating whether or not you deserve a smack in the mouth, it’s probably time to have a think about your life.

And then you let me down again.

If people are trying to shut you up in such manifestly illiberal ways, maybe you’re onto something. Maybe people who are willing to toss aside their own principles so easily shouldn’t be listened to, and maybe when someone is trying to shut you up you have something worth listening to.

That’s why these actions aided Milo so much and, while he’s not a fascist, why historically and currently violence and hysteria has aided actual fascists.

Nobody who isn’t engaged in violence deserves a kicking.

This is a case where there isn’t an argument. There’s no ‘right or wrong’ about punching fascists for thought or speech crime.

It’s just wrong.

The team is mostly composed of young men. Extremely young men. The sort of young men who are very brave behind a computer screen and like to think of themselves as stalwart fighters for the all-American right to say whatever disgusting thing they please, but who are absolutely unequipped to deal with any suggestion of real-world consequences. I end up spending most of my time stuck in a hotel lobby, interviewing the people who follow Yiannopoulos around, doing his grunt work and getting into scrapes as if the whole thing were a holiday lark rather than a serious political project with real repercussions for real human beings.

There shouldn’t be consequences for free speech. That’s what makes it free. There shouldn’t be ‘real world consequences’ for mere speech, online or otherwise. Again, that’s what makes it free. This is why the internet is so liberating and so important.

This whole tour and event absolutely is more of a holiday lark. It’s not really a serious political project and it would have zero consequences if not for violent idiots beating people in the street and setting fires, whipped up on their own hype and hysteria.

You can’t have it both ways.

If it’s serious, debate and deal, address the ideas and don’t rely on outrage.

If it’s just trolling, then we all know – or should know – not to feed the troll.

Milo’s opposition has failed consistently to do either.

It is vital that we talk about who gets to be treated like a child, and what that means. All of the people on Yiannopoulos’ tour are over 18 and legally responsible for their actions. They are also young, terribly young, young in a way that only privileged young men really get to be young in America, where your race, sex, and class determine whether and if you ever get to be a stupid kid, or a kid at all. Mike Brown was also 18, the same age as the Yiannopoulos posse, when he was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014; newspaper reports described him as an adult, and insisted that the teenager was “no angel,” as if that justified what was done to him. Tamir Rice was just 12 years old when he was shot and killed in Cleveland for playing with a toy gun. The boys following Yiannopoulos are playing with a toy dictator, and they have faced no consequences as yet, even though it turns out that their plastic play-fascism is, in fact, fully loaded and ready for murder.

Milo isn’t a fascist or a dictator. His fans are not fascists. Many of them are still on the left, the Voltairian left. This is why he is able to talk with people like Dave Rubin and why his Maher appearance was successful, marked by the stark contrast between his interactions with Maher – a genuine liberal – and his panel of faux-left authoritarians who could only muster a ‘fuck you’.

In this passage you also demonstrate why Milo has gained a following and why much of that following, that disagrees with him so much of the time, is cheering him on.

You bring race and gender to the table. Telling people merely because they’re white or male that they have ‘privilege’.

Not only is this a semantic atrocity and deeply racist and sexist in itself, but it’s untrue. This is also unrelated to the point here, save that it’s you demonstrating why so many young people, not just whites, not just men, are so disaffected and pissed off with the snake oil you’re selling. Why there has been a reaction of ‘white’ and ‘male’ identity politics to the racist sexist identity politics of the pseudo-left.

There’s no fascism here, no threat from Milo or his fans. They’re just enthusiastically pointing out that the ID politics Emperor has no clothes. That’s a preferable reaction to the other potential one, a rise in genuine, actual white supremacism. A tulpa conjured into being where it barely existed by the paranoia and hyperbole of the ‘left’.

If the left would debate, fight, argue and reform then there would be no space for the right to move in, in their wake.

It’s your own absurdity and bigotry that creates the crisis.

As the evacuation gets going, the young men in Yiannopoulos’ gang seem scared. They’re right to be — these protesters aren’t playing, and there has already been real violence at these events. One week earlier, in Seattle, a Yiannopoulos fan shot an anti-fascist protester in the stomach. The victim is expected to survive. The impression that this is all an exciting adventure in pranking the left, a giddy game of harmless offense where nobody actually gets hurt, is not holding up so well.

You fail to note that the shooting was in self defence. At least that appears to be the case from witnesses and the reaction of the police.

The violence is not coming from Milo fans. To my shame and what should be yours, it is coming from people who supposedly share our political stance and philosophy. It’s our side that’s the thugs, the ‘brownshirts’. By resorting to violence our ‘side’ is aiding those they claim to oppose. Without their violence that’s exactly what it would be – harmless offence where nobody gets hurt.

For all the attempts the pseudo-left makes to equate words with violence, they’re simply not. Violence is violence, words are mere words, and it’s not Milo or those like him causing any actual violence.

The vehemence of the protests and the headline-baiting images of masked men setting fires and breaking glass represent a small win for Yiannopoulos: He gets to go on Fox News and play the victim. The rest of the crew are purely freaked out. One of the younger hangers-on has an anxiety disorder and had to fight down a panic attack that could have held up the swift retreat. Whatever anyone claims, it’s hard to shake off being run out of town by 3,000 people screaming that you’re a Nazi. It’s the sort of thing that gives everyone but the coldest sociopath at least a little pause, and most of this crew don’t have the gumption or street smarts to function outside of a Reddit forum. They’re not the flint-eyed skinheads that many anti-fascists are used to fighting. I’m not a brawler, but I’d wager that these kids could be knocked down with a well-aimed stack of explanatory pamphlets, thus resolving decades of debate about whether it’s better to punch or to reason with racists.

It was a huge win and it continues to resonate. He wasn’t playing the victim, as so many do, he really was one (as he is now). For someone so unwilling and incapable of skepticism when others play the victim, I suppose I should be pleased you finally find the gumption to be skeptical for once and I hope it is evenly applied in the future.

The fact is that he’s not a Nazi. You’ve been accused of Nazi apologia yourself. You know you’re not a Nazi, right Laurie? Yet a lot of people were screaming that at you. Are they right or just hysterical? Might that not be the case for others, so accused?

They’re not flint-eyed skinheads or brawlers, sure. They’re also not remotely fascists, so why should anyone expect them to be? Who created that dishonest impression in the eyes of AntiFa and the other protesters?

If Milo’s joke about blowing a priest is in bad taste, yours about punching people with different ideas (he and his fans aren’t racist either) is in much worse taste.

I was hustled in past the police barricades with three wide-eyed young event volunteers, to thunderous cries of “shame” from the crowd. They’d no reason to know that I wasn’t a volunteer myself. When the evacuation bell sounds in the stifling green room, the bravado rapidly dissolves into panic as the team heads through a maze of corridors to the car park. One look at what’s happening outside tells me that if I value my bodily integrity, I’d better go with them.

And yet you’re still making excuses for this mob. Did the accusations – both on site and since – scare you too much to do the right thing? Do you still have principles? Are you liberal – and in favour of free expression – or not? Do you honestly think violence is an acceptable response to mere words?

“I think a lot of people in this crew wouldn’t be part of the popular crowd without the Trump movement,” says one young man, who is Yiannopoulos’ voiceover artist. “I think that some of us are outcasts, some of us are kind of weird. It’s a motley crew.”

This is probably true and it’s why the moral bankruptcy of the ‘left’ over what has happened now with Milo outrages my principles so much. In many ways these people are, and could be, our allies. Their natural home should be more amongst the left, but the left has changed, lost its way.

The right was weak and there was space for them to be pushed, but now they’re biting back, that traditional right, and the left has forgotten what it’s about – leaving a vacuum.

These young men seem to have no conception of the consequences of allying yourself publicly with the far right, even before their hero gets accused of endorsing pedophilia in public. Yiannopoulos has been good to them. They’re having a great time. Over the course of a few hours, I find myself playing an awkward Wendy to these lackluster lost boys as I watch them wrestle with the moral challenge of actually goddamn growing up.

Here’s the ultimate irony. These feckless nerds and their ringleader, their Peter Pan, are the ones who pass for grown ups in this situation. They’re able to parse humour, to handle irony, to have difficult and uncomfortable conversations. They are the adults and the black-clad protesters setting fire to buildings, not to mention the nose-picking pixie in their midst (you’re more like Tink than Wendy, Laurie, to be honest) are toddlers throwing a tantrum because they didn’t get what they want. A romper-suited riot with all the finesse and nuance of a child being denied a packet of Haribo at the checkout in Tesco.

It is the left that needs to rediscover its maturity and capabilities. To make a commitment to its principles again. If these people are children, the Berkeley rioters are infants, but then so is most of the ‘left’ now.

I enjoy most respectful conversation, and these boys are scrupulously polite to me. They were polite to me a month earlier when I slept on their tour bus — right until a door closed between me and them, and they immediately started talking loudly, to each other, about the crass and anatomically implausible things they wanted to do to me. Intellectually, they must have known that I could hear them, but these kids grew up on the Internet, the world’s locker room, where if you can’t see a woman, she doesn’t really exist. The one grown man on the bus started yelling at them to go the hell to sleep — “there’s a girl back there!”—and they yelled back that they’d let me sleep if I let them “suck my titties.” It’s no surprise to hear that they’re still yearning for the teat, but these babies had best be careful where they go slobbering for the milk of human kindness. I’m just about dried up.

They were fucking with you. Treating you like one of them. ‘The bants’. You should be happy to be accepted and treated equally. Instead you vacillate between comprehension and praise… and damnation. Turning their acceptance of you into an insult.

This is What Equality Looks Like.

Being one of the boys.

These are not the scheming crypto-fascist masterminds I was led to expect. Seabass is 18 years old going on 12, Argentinian, and the sort of person who thinks that “Seabass” is a pretty cool fish to call yourself after if your mother named you Sebastian. His mother was worried about him palling around with Yiannopoulos “because he’s gay, and she always says how handsome I am” — but apparently calmed down after seeing how much Yiannopoulos has helped her son, fixing him up with connections and equipment to produce video and photos. Seabass is the one person who seems entirely unaffected by the full-on riot we’ve just run away from, but Seabass has had several root beers and two Magnums (the ice cream) and is on too much of a sugar bender to care about anything. I ask him how he sees his future. I’ve been asking this of everyone I meet in the Scream Room of Trumplandia. “I want to make a lot of money, get married,” he says, thoughtfully, “and then I want to kill God.”

Good for him, because much as I suspect religion led to his mother’s concerns, it has fuelled the scurrilous smear attacks on Milo.

Here’s the thing though, the thing you notice and should be trumpeting. These are not fascists.

You know it. I know it. They know it.

‘Fascist’ has just become another in a long line of meaningless attack labels and sadly it’s overuse is giving cover to genuine fascists as the word now causes suspicion of the accuser rather than outrage at the accused.

I suppose we should be thankful that ‘paedophile’ hasn’t yet lost its power to disgust (despite the best efforts of Salon and others). If this keeps up, that too will lose its ability to shock and motivate. I’ve already seen an uptick in it being used as a meaningless attack.

Most of them seem more than a little surprised that this has actually happened, that Trump is actually president. “I voted for him because I thought it was funny,” one of them tells me. “I don’t think that he can become a dictator like people say he can. We have too many checks and balances for that, and that’s why we have checks and balances. Right?” He picks at the label on his beer bottle.

This is likely true for a lot of people but, looking forward into the future, Trump may well be – painful as it is to admit – the better of the two prospects that were offered.

Trump is, at least, some sort of change and his artless, guileless method of governing is exposing the rotten guts of the American political machine to the public, much as Hilary’s breathtakingly corrupt campaign exposed the rotten guts of political campaigning and funding. Both could provide an opportunity for reform.

If we can moderate and take the edges off the inevitable left wing backlash to the current administration, if we can reform, update and make the left sane again this is a massive opportunity for both the USA – and the world – to make some genuine progress in the not-too-distant future.

And the kid’s right and, again, has shown a great deal more maturity and a better sense of perspective than most. Trump isn’t Hitler, you have checks and balances, the world isn’t ending. It’s just more difficult for people for a while. Could be easier if his more libertarian advisers and politicos got more support.

What they do, in fact, is have a long late-night fight about whether or not gay marriage will encourage the spread of AIDS, whether Britain is already overrun by Sharia Law (I assure them that it isn’t), and exactly how stupid the voting public has become.

Aside from the last one, can you imagine a band of left-wing activists having any similar, transgressive discussions? At all? Or is there an established orthodoxy, straying from which gets one burnt as a witch?

Whether there’s an answer to these or not (and IMO there is and I would tend to agree with you) just the fact that there is a discussion is an indication of relative maturity and healthy debate. One absent on the ‘left’.

“I’m pretty sure Milo has three times the brain capacity of Donald Trump,” says one young man who is aimlessly editing video of the protests. He still thinks right-wing voters were duped — in Britain and America both. “You’re giving the decision to do something that is so intricate and economically complex to an entirely uninformed, uneducated populace,” he opines. “The day after Brexit, the most Googled thing is ‘What is the European Union?’ I think that’s how Trump got, I would say 75 percent of people voting for him. He made a lot of promises, but the words he was saying — he was saying a lot, and not saying anything. I don’t think Trump knows what he’s doing.”

And this passage, a quote from a ‘spotty teen troll’ is more insightful and on point than much of what you’ve written yourself in the last couple of years Laurie.

Shocking, isn’t it?

Most of these young men are looking to build careers in media — as filmmakers, newscasters, producers. Yiannopoulos mentors them, gives them advice and equipment and support and connections. That’s what most of them are getting out of this deal, but many of them may now have to consider how the consequences of a known association with Trumpism might affect those careers after tomorrow, when the rush and rage of this tour is over and most of them have to go home and face their parents. These are not the “just following orders” kids. These are the “just making my career” kids. The two are functionally the same in the United States, but this still feels filthier.

Why though? There’s precious few opportunities these days so why shouldn’t they be ‘forgiven’ for taking the opportunities presented? Why should voting for Trump – a mainstream candidate for a mainstream party – be treated like voting for some KKK aligned militia leader?

You know these lads aren’t fascists, you seem to be being as sympathetic as you dare before swinging back to condemnation. Surely you recognise that the rhetoric and hate in and from the ‘left’ is out of hand here? Misapplied?

Trump’s terrible, but no more or less so than Dubya. Just more transparently terrible.

Slow down here, because this is important. However they may bluster online, the new right and the alt-right hate being called Nazis. They’ve all seen too many movies for it not to matter somewhere deep down where they tell themselves the story of their own heroism. In fact, ever since Inauguration Day, the alt-right has been in meltdown, splitting and splintering in cascading identity crises as only a formerly underground movement can when it attains power. Of course, it’s not my job as a reporter to give activists advice, but if it were, I’d say: No, they’re not all fascists, and not everyone reacts to being called one by changing their tune. But the strategic application of Nazi-shaming works. The real pity is that conservative hypocrisy seems to work faster.

It doesn’t work outside of the pseudo-left echo chamber, where it whips up black-bloc to the point where they’ll attack people for semi-comedic college tours. Elsewhere it has, indeed, lost its power.

Nobody, however, likes to be called something that they’re not. To my shame, again, it’s the ‘left’ that more closely resembles the Nazis these days. Deeply racist, deeply sexist, deeply elitist. Almost occult in the religious way they treat symbolism and ideological orthodoxy, and the first to reach for violence as a tool for political gain. Authoritarian, censorious, irrational.

The alt-right has been shaking down its meaning, but that’s not really the same thing as an identity crisis.

‘Nazi shaming’ has been a tactical disaster Nazi punching even more so. The sad fact of the matter is not that conservative hypocrisy works faster, but that it is the only thing that worked (much to the left’s quiet chagrin I think) and that it worked at all.

You may have noticed that, in this piece, I have not explicitly described Yiannopoulos or the movement that has made him famous as white supremacist, Neo-Nazi, fascist, or racist. The main reason for that is that it has been made explicitly clear to me that, were I to write such a thing, a libel suit the size of Mar-A-Lago would drop on me, and Yiannopoulos would use every trick in his surprisingly defensive playbook to prize out an apology, because that’s what friends are for. He’s done it to other reporters. He’s not the only one. In fact, a defining feature of the new-right populists is their ability to build a reputation as rhino-hided truth-sayers while flailing their hands in panic if anyone uses whatever words happen to hit them where it hurts.

I think you’ve given your own answer there. They style themselves as truth-sayers. Libel and slander must, necessarily, be untrue. If you can demonstrate that they are true, then they’re not libel and slander. If you are weaselling an accusation in this passage, you’re also admitting you can’t make the case.

The fact is that for all their obnoxiousness and as much as I disagree with Milo and his ilk they’re not Nazis, they’re not fascistic and they’re not racist, sexist or whatever other accusations you care to hurl at them. They’re really, when you get down to it, just the libertarian right, and their ‘crime’ is a mild blasphemy. Wanting to talk about things, to debate and discuss things the ‘left’ considers settled and orthodox.

That’s it.

So, for legal reasons, I must state that Milo Yiannopolous, possibly alone of all the smug white people in the world, is not a racist. For moral reasons, however, I must state that Yiannopoulos’ personal beliefs are irrelevant given that he’s built a career off peddling bigotry in public. What about sexism? “Sexism I don’t have the energy to wrestle with you over,” says Yiannopoulos, who, I can personally confirm, is the maple-cured bacon of misogynist piggery — oily and sweet and crass and, on a gut level, dreadful for your health.

‘Possibly of all the smug white people in the world…’ see, this is the kind of thing that gives people like Milo their power. You decry racism, but you are then massively, unapologetically racist in your assumption that all white people – except Milo – are racists. A child can see through such hypocrisy.

Disagreement isn’t bigotry. Rejection of ideological feminism’s overreach isn’t misogyny. It is hard to have the energy to debate that with someone who thinks rejection of an unsafe ideological house of cards equates to hatred of a gender.

He questions, he probes, he challenges – usefully if not sincerely – but that doesn’t make him a bigot and that accusation is as spurious and self-defeating as the accusations of Nazism or, indeed, paedophilia.

It seems perfunctory to point out the hypocrisy of building a movement and a career on the back of insulting people — Muslims, migrants, women, people of color — while nursing a hair-trigger sensitivity to any personal attack you haven’t pre-approved. That hypocrisy, though, does not appear self-evident to anyone within this movement, because a fundamental tenet of far-right pro-trolling is that it’s only other people’s feelings that are frivolous. Their own feelings, by contrast, including the capacity to feel shame when they’re held accountable for their actions, are so momentous that infringing them is tantamount to censure, practically fascism in and of itself. These are men, in short, who have founded an entire movement on the basis of refusing to handle their emotions like adults.

This is the part that prompted me to this lengthy reply, because the desperate lack of self-awareness in the last sentence is almost physically shocking.

I was ‘triggered’, if you will.

Laurie, you’re on the ‘side’ of people who want to turn entire campuses into safe spaces. Who retreat to a childhood of Play-Doh and colouring books at the slightest hint of a different point of view. Who throw destructive, public tantrums because someone else gets to have a ‘sweetie’ (in the form of a speech).

Milo and his followers may dress up their discussion in crass humour and /pol irony, but at least they’re having the discussion.

Are they insulting Muslims or discussing Islam? If people as calm, measured and intelligent as Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Majid Nawaz will get called racists and hatemongers for having far more careful discussions about the topic, why not just have the discussion without regard for that hypersensitivity?

Are they insulting migrants or discussing the problems around immigration? There are problems. There are discussions to be had, are there not?

Are they insulting women or discussing the overreach and dangers of the worst end of ideological feminism? Again, we have more scholarly people addressing these issues in a more moderate way, but they get treated just as badly. So why even try to be politic?

Are they insulting people of colour or underlining issues that both political wings know exist but posit different solutions for? Are they looking at statistics and trying to glean the truth or propagandising? What about their opponents? Should we not be concerned about the black supremacy in BLM or the craziness of their demands?

If they’re truth warriors and speaking a truth that they feel they can back up, that’s very different to the accusations tossed at them which you seem, at times, to acknowledge aren’t true.

Has refusing to have these discussions and defend or modify our positions done any good or has our dogmatic adherence to unmovable writ allowed the right to move free and unopposed in these debates? To present their concepts and interpretations unchallenged and without alternatives?

Who, really, allowed Brexit and Trump to happen? The lying right or the arrogant, elitist left – unwilling to even countenance debate.

I believe the left, the genuine left, has better answers to all these issues, or is capable of compromise and revision, but the pseudo-left dominating the (lack of) discourse does not and won’t even try.

For all his faults and his insincerity, Milo is at least having the conversations and making a case. We should do the same.

Many of them don’t agree with what Yiannopoulos says, let alone what Trump says. They agree with the way he says it, because their life experience does not extend beyond interpreting being criticized as censorship. Yiannopoulos’ brand is all about “fuck your feelings.” But the kids following him around are nothing but feelings. I have empathy for fragility. What frightens me most is the feeling that the only way to deal with the new right is to treat them as monsters, when it is precisely their idiot humanity — precisely the fact that they are fundamentally decent kids who have done fundamentally despicable things — that makes them dangerous.

They’re not dangerous. They’re hopeful. They hold and retain many of the ideals the left has forgotten. Free expression, tolerance, trying to use facts to come to conclusions. That’s what they agree with, that’s what I agree with. That even horrendous speech should be free. That there should be a free and open marketplace of ideas and that even people I disagree with, even people I hate, have basic and fundamental human rights – such as speech.

They have feelings, yes, but they’re not led by their feelings in the majority, unlike their opposition. They’re angry at an authoritarian and interfering world, and they have every right to be.

The way to deal with them is not to treat them as monsters, because they’re not, but we – on the left – have become monsters. Everything we used to rail against. The right has its own monsters, which are stirring again and have tried to gobble up Milo as one of their first acts. The small ‘l’ libertarian left and right are caught between two insane monsters with nowhere to go.

They haven’t done despicable things. They’ve done the right thing. Our side, Laurie, has done despicable things. Betrayed its principles. Betrayed its foundational philosophy and identity. The authoritarian right? They’ve always been monsters. That part doesn’t surprise or shame me.

Over the course of these hours, the boys start telling me how they got lost. I hear stories of strict religious parents, sexual misadventures, a feeling of drifting in a world which has not offered them a clear way to be heroes. A desperate longing for something to belong to, for adventure and friends and enemies to fight. It would be adorable if it weren’t fundamentally chilling. They are wedded to a political analysis that might as well be written in fuzzy felt. “I’m not sure how you can be a feminist and want more refugees,” one of them tells me, “because of the ways they treat women.”

And you’ll hear similar stories amongst the bored middle class protesters LARPing at being Che Guevarra before they crawl on home to have their mistress peg them with a black rubber cock.

At least Milo’s entourage aren’t hurting anyone or breaking anything. At least their scope exists beyond a miseducated upper middle class of genuine privilege. At least they’re real people.

That analysis isn’t fuzzy felt, it’s cogent and it’s something we need an answer for (or would, if I considered myself feminist). If you are concerned for women’s rights how can you not experience a moment of pause about importing people from some of the most genuinely patriarchal and misogynistic cultures on Earth? The answer might be ‘they can live a more liberated life here’ but you also have to account for incidents like Cologne, which you so famously dropped the ball on Laurie.

You offer no answer to his question. Do you have one?

It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for them. That “almost” is important. There are many uses for empathy. To point out that the people who join this far-right movement are damaged and hurt is not to minimize the hurt and damage they themselves are doing. On the contrary: the pain is the point. Stripped down to its essentials, the new far right is an ideological vacuum calcified in a carapace of pain. Hurt people hurt people. That’s nothing new. These hurt people are hurting other people deliberately, in order to up-cycle their uncomfortable emotions, reselling the pain they can’t bear to look at as a noble political crusade.

They’re not hurting anyone though. All they’re hurting is feelings and ‘fuck your feelings’ or ‘reals over feels’ is a perfectly valid, indeed absolutely key, principle. What matters is what’s true, not what feels nice.

They’re not far right but they are hurt and ignored and as Trump’s election has demonstrated, as Brexit has demonstrated, you have to address the concerns of these people in a democracy or it comes back to bite you on the arse – and not in a good way.

The ‘left’s’ racism and sexism, it’s retreat into orthodoxy created new victims of genuine prejudice and hatred, left to rot for not having the right ID politics designation. We forgot that class and wealth cuts across all these meaningless identities and we allowed ID politics to deepen divisions and leave many people, deserving of help, behind. Now we’re experiencing a backlash.

Yes, there’s a vacuum we left for the right to fill. That’s on us. You’re perpetuating it.

I don’t believe that Yiannopoulos endorses pedophilia. I do believe that he exploits vulnerable young men. Not in a sexual way. Not in an illegal way. Yiannopoulos exploits vulnerable young men in the same way that every wing-nut right-wing shock-jock from the president down has been exploiting them for years: by whipping up the fear and frustration of angry young men and boys who would rather burn down the world than learn to live in it like adults, by directing that affectless rage in service to their own fame and power. This is the sort of exploitation the entire conservative sphere is entirely comfortable with. What happens to these kids now that the game has changed?

What happens is that they end up ripping apart the authoritarians on both sides of the spectrum unless one side or the other finally learns and absorbs the lessons around these seismic political shifts. Whether the old prejudices of the right wing or the new prejudices of the left wing are the first to crumble determines the future.

At least you admit he’s not a paedophile or a paedophilia apologist. Credit where it’s due, unlike that greasy little cervical smear Owen Jones, you didn’t bandwagon. Maybe I still like you a little because of it.

You still don’t understand the people you’re talking about though. You’re projecting, from the ‘left’ when you talk about children burning down the world. That’s the protesters. Not the people following Milo’s career. They only look like it, because they have a sense of humour. To me, however, that’s a sign of relative maturity.

Whether or not these kids deserve a second chance matters far less than whether the rest of us can afford not to give them one. There are millions of them, after all, and not all of them have the strength of character to recognize their wrongdoing and make amends. They are, however, coming to see their mistake. Some part of them believed that this was a game that would end when Trump became president. That was the big boss, the ultimate defeat of liberal social justice snowflakery. But guess what? You don’t get to check out at this level and quit the game and go back and cuddle your cat. Politics is a whole different kind of game, and the stakes are real, and there are no non-player characters.

It’s not down to you to give them a second chance, it’s whether they give us on the left (or ‘left’) a second chance. This arrogance, this belief that it’s down to your, our, largesse is what will scupper us and another thing that has contributed to our losses. Until we deal with that and kill it, we’ll continue to lose.

They haven’t done anything wrong. There’s nothing for them to make amends for. We have and we have to make amends.

Trump wasn’t the ‘final boss’ because the regressive left has responded to Trump not with introspection and adjustment for the most part (Justice Democrats being a visible exception) but by doubling down and entrenching in the existing mistakes.

Politics is a different game and we on the left are reaping what a fixation on morally, ethically and scientifically bankrupt ID politics has sown.

It’s not up to these kids to fix things. It’s up to us to fix things and win them back.

If Yiannopoulos is as screwed as he seems, the left has little to celebrate in the manner of the defeat; he has been brought down, after all, by the one weapon we don’t want to give power to. He has been brought down not by reasoned liberal argument, nor by moral victory over his cod theories, nor by anti-fascist agitation. He has been brought down by conservative moral outrage. Specifically, by conservative moral outrage over gay male sexuality. I can think of nobody on Earth who more richly deserves to be humbled and held accountable. I just wanted my team to be the ones to do it.

And you didn’t, because you couldn’t.

You didn’t bring him down by reasoned liberal argument because you didn’t try, and you had none.

You didn’t counter his theories for the same reason.

Anti-Fascism was never going to work when the fascists only exist in your tortured imaginations and your childish desires to fight a moral battle as pertinent as WWII, when there isn’t one like it left to fight.

He was brought down by conservative homophobia and the establishment seeking to nip this secular, libertine, libertarian version of conservatism in the bud, by their dishonesty.

The right thing to do would have been to have stuck up for and supported Milo, to have firmly established ourselves on the moral high ground. Yet the closest we seem to have come on any large scale level is your milquetoast equivocation on the matter.

It seems demonising a homosexual man as a paedophile, with no evidence, is perfectly acceptable so long as that gay man is conservative. Conservatism won’t protect you from right wing hypocrisy and homosexuality won’t protect you from left wing hypocrisy.

He deserved a comeuppance, sure, but for something meaningfully wrong he actually did -like his failure to deliver on various projects, his dodgy business dealings or the few times he’s absolutely and confirmably wrong in every regard, as with his supposed transgender statistic on Maher.

The ‘left’ couldn’t make their untrue smears stick, the right did. That has to sting, but it’s not right to lie about someone to bring them down, whatever political wing you’re on.

Today, absolutely nobody, from his publishers to his former tour promoter, is defending Yiannopoulos’ right to consequence-free speech. This is not liberalism winning the day. This is the victorious far right purging the brownshirts.

These aren’t brownshirts, this is a counter-revolution of the traditional conservative right. It traces back to a virtually admitted hit piece published by the ‘Reagan Battalion’ with links to a fringe anti-Trump presidential candidate and Democratic anti-trump groups. This isn’t conspiracy theory like the ‘the right wing paid for the protests at Berkeley’ thing, it’s out of their own mouths.

I, however, at least do defend his rights. Me. Someone who doesn’t like the guy in the least. I at least have the comfort of standing on unwavering, universalist principle.

Professional trolling is a perilous profession in a country where people take your bullshit seriously. The best thing Yiannopoulos could possibly do now is go and live quietly somewhere he can have a think about the damage he’s done — and he will be allowed to do that if he wants, because those are the sort of consequences personable white men face in America today, when and if they ever get over themselves.

Laurie, when you’re continually calling someone a racist, sexist bigot you should probably stop being a shameless racist, sexist bigot yourself constantly.

There is a big question here though. You’re not stupid. Most people, at least in editorial positions in media, aren’t stupid. So tell me… why is anyone taking him seriously? Isn’t that dishonest? Doesn’t it make you look idiotic when the proverbial 14 year old troll on the internet is better able to parse English in context than a supposed media professional? Is it about the clicks? Isn’t that just as morally and ethically bankrupt as your earlier statement about the right being led by money?

Where’s the integrity? Where’s the intelligence?

Where’s the honesty?

As of today, Milo Yiannopolous no longer has the luxury of that choice. His fall from grace has collapsed not just the cult of personality he built around the emptiness inside himself, but also the entire edifice of conservative self-deception around Free Speech. They can take down Yiannopoulos, and they must, but they can’t do it without proving to the entire world that this was never about the First Amendment — it was about plausible deniability for weaponized prejudice, and that alibi has just vanished.

It hasn’t collapsed his support. He could, instantly, have a very lucrative career on new media. Indeed he seems to be about to launch his own efforts and he’ll probably be very successful in doing so. A hatchet job by the establishment and by old media will only cement him as a folk hero for the internet and for left and right libertarians everywhere.

A status he honestly doesn’t deserve, but for all his faults and issues he does underline and expose fractures and problems in society and in the establishment – both sides of the aisle.

The conservatives may have been self-deceiving, but Milo’s followership wasn’t. They mean it. That will save him.

It wasn’t about weaponised prejudice either. Again, regardless of Milo’s intent or sincerity it was always about reasserting and securing free expression. Even for difficult and taboo topics. The lesson to be learned is that, at least in that aspect, they are entirely right.

The truth is that the new right never had any interest in principles of freedom. The truth is that Yiannopoulos was always a weak joke under a bad bleach job. The truth is that Peter Pan was never a folk hero, but a malevolent man-child whose parable remains racist to the core. What will his Lost Boys do now they have outlived their usefulness? Somebody might offer them a teat to run back to, but it won’t be me. I’m done. That whining noise you can hear is a string symphony of the world’s tiniest violins. I think they’re playing Wagner.

The new right did. The old right didn’t. The new pseudo-left was so blinded by ideological hatred they couldn’t see Milo et al’s rise as a twisted kind of progress, just an enemy. Well the old familiar enemy is back at the tiller now – and that’s not an improvement.

You won’t offer them anything because you forgot how to be left wing, you forgot how to be liberal, you couldn’t see that – at least in part – these ‘trolls’ are upholding the principles we let slide. We have to reach out, we have to reform, we have to get them on side if we want to win and to make progress.

Ironically, for all you rail against ‘bigotry’ throughout your piece, it’s your bigotry that won’t allow you to do the right thing, even for tactical reasons.

I do not like Milo. I think he is a shallow, narcissistic, terrible person.

He exploited Gamergate to his own ends. He has been terrible on things like the ‘privilege scholarship’, a bad joke that could make a genuinely positive change for some people that desperately need it. He has left a string of discarded and disgruntled volunteers and business partners behind him who are worth talking to about how he actually is – or can be – a bad person.

This paedo thing however? Bullshit. As are the overwhelming majority of it unintentionally ironic accusations of bigotry you have tossed at him.

He’s an arsehole, but a useful arsehole. The ‘kids’ around him are not bad people, not Nazis, they’re people whose natural home should be on the left. The left I remember anyway. The left that cared about equality, not ID categories. The left that attacked social issues regardless of race, gender, sexuality or status. The left that was rooted in science, in 13557130_544070502462556_200033014_nlogic, reason, evidence, debate, understanding. The left that was able to shift and moderate and adapt. The left that cared about and protected freedoms, even for people it disagreed with.

If Milo is a monster, he’s a monster of our creation from our negligence, from our bigotry, from our ideological missteps, from leaving a vacuum for the right to fill.

And he’s right about free speech.