A message to a Facebook ‘friend’

by Elias Blum

 

Dear….,

 

I’m disquietened by some of your your recent Facebook posts. You say you have nothing to do with the alt.right, but you keep on sharing links that seem associated with the alt.right without much explanation.

Much of what you say is critical of ‘the left’, but because you shoot so widely your points don’t hit their mark. There are indeed many legitimate criticisms to be made against the excesses of identity politics and gender politics. Parts of the cultural left do indeed have a rather smug, oppressive and patronising tone. But that’s not the left that I recognise; the left I recognise was formed in response to the European class struggle, not American culture wars. Just because the cultural politics of (some parts of) the American left are silly and irksome doesn’t mean that the left’s economic objections to neoliberalism, or complaints against poverty and gross economic inequality should be ignored. After all, we are where we are not because social democracy failed, but because neoliberalism failed.

If you are a cultural conservative who wants to preserve traditional values, I can respect that. Although I suspect, from past conversations, that you are more of a Whig (a liberal in the classical rule of law and limited government sense). I can respect that too. I might not agree in whole, but both traditional conservatism and Whiggery are respectable political positions that a reasonable person of goodwill might hold, and about which a civil, constructive debate might be had. What I cannot understand, though, is why any Conservative or Whig would line up alongside the defenders of Donald Trump, whose actions are those of a petty demagogue – yet that’s exactly what you seem to be doing.

Above all, I am concerned that you seem to be drawing a false equivalence between a certain strand of the left that is merely smug, petulant and annoying, and a far right – now in the highest reaches of power – which has become positively dangerous.

You are free to do that, of course. But if you have a point to make – not snide, sniping little points, but some kind of overall argument – then it would be better if you put it clearly, in your own words. What are your politics? What do you stand for? What do you stand against? What are your foundational principles? What’s your vision? Let your political position be overt, and so subject to rational argument. Simply reposting links and memes without comment, or with brief and cryptic comments, only serves to distract without contributing much to actual discussion.

Yours,

Elias Blum

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