Crime, Free Speech, Journalism, Philosophy, recent

How the Left Turned Words Into ‘Violence,’ and Violence Into ‘Justice’

Responding to news that journalist Andy Ngo had been beaten by antifa protestors in Portland last month, a woman named Charlotte Clymer tweeted that “Ngo intentionally provokes people on the left to drive his content. Being attacked today on video taken by an actual journalist (because Ngo is definitely not) is the greatest thing that could have happened to his career. You know it. I know it. He knows it. We all know it. Violence is completely wrong, and I find it sad and weak to allow a sniveling weasel like Andy Ngo to get under one’s skin like this, but I’m also not going to pretend this wasn’t Ngo’s goal from the start. I mean, let’s cut the shit here. This is what they do.”

Who is Charlotte Clymer? She is an activist who works at the Human Rights Campaign, America’s “largest LGBTQ civil rights organization,” which supposedly “envision[s] a world where LGBTQ people are ensured equality at home, at work [and] in every community.” Andy Ngo, who has written for Quillette, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and other publications, happens to be gay. So this is where we are right now: A staffer for a human-rights organization dedicated to helping gay people is publicly cheering the beating of a gay man. This should raise an eyebrow.

The idea that one’s disagreement with Ngo’s point of view disqualifies him from the physical protection granted to other ordinary citizens proved to be quite common in the aftermath of Ngo’s beating. Aymann Ismall, a staff writer at Slate, for example, tweeted: “I’d argue what the fear mongering he’s done against Muslims plus the work he’s done to discredit hate crimes, helped create an atmosphere of violence that vulnerable people all have to live through just for being who they are. This is bad, but he’s guilty of worse.” Writer Jesse Singal, responding to this spate of violence apologism among Social Justice progressives, put it best with four words: “awful, awful, awful, awful.


While this odd and unsettling reaction to Ngo’s beating may be dismissed by some as a passing reflex among radicalized culture warriors, it is actually well rooted in leftist academic social theory, which has blurred the distinction between word and action for decades. Under a prevalent view that has emerged from universities in recent years, a wrong opinion is seen as tantamount to a thrown punch or even an indication of a willingness to genocide—which invites the idea that an offended party who throws a real punch (or worse) is simply acting in self-defense. This idea has become so pervasive and is so taken-for-granted at this point that even workaday journalists now pay homage to this academic conceit in their work. In his account of the Portland violence, for instance, New York Times reporter Mike Baker summarized Ngo’s activities thusly:

Mr. Ngo is an independent journalist in the Portland area who works with the online magazine Quillette, a publication which prides itself on taking on ‘dangerous’ ideas…He has a history of battling with anti-fascist groups, with the two sides sharing a mutual antipathy that dates back many months. The conservative journalist has built a prominent presence in part by going into situations where there may be conflict and then publicizing the results.

The subtext is clear: Yes, Ngo got beaten. But c’mon—the guy had it coming.

In a recent episode of the podcast Other Life, an antifa member who is critical of the contemporary movement, Justin Murphy, noted that the blurring of the line between words and deeds is accomplished, to some extent, by creating a daisy chain of linkages, so that a person can be seen as an acceptable target merely because he is associated, in some way, with supposed “fascists.” (Though Murphy is highly critical of antifa’s methods, he still considers himself an antifa supporter, in the sense that he supports the idea of organizing against actual fascism.)

“The model [with antifa] would be, people look into someone like Andy Ngo, and—okay, maybe this guy has never said anything explicitly fascist, but—they look to see who he’s friends with; they look to see where he writes; and simply by virtue of not being within the kind of anti-fascist radical left milieu, that basically is incriminating,” Murphy said. “So the model there would be: this guy’s not particularly a fascist, but he supports—he basically enables fascism. Quillette enables fascism.” This should, perhaps, raise the other eyebrow.

Franz Fanon banner in Minneapolis, 2015.

These ideas aren’t new. In his influential 1961 book, The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon insisted that enemies of colonialism should resort to physical violence against their colonizers, both to effect political liberation and to improve their own mental health. Given the various forms of violence inherent to colonialism, this argument cannot be dismissed out of hand. But Fanon went further: He also wrote of the violence supposedly done by the words of colonizing elites as a spark for revolutionary activity.

This concept creep has been a mainstay of activist manuals ever since. It is evident, for example, in A. K. Thomson’s 2010 Black Bloc, White Riot, which praised “the dynamite Fanon would commit to paper.” Thomson sought to act out the moral logic of The Wretched of the Earth, while imagining the “white middle class” in the role of colonizers. Thomson’s declaration that “at the level of the individual, violence is a cleansing force” is itself an invitation to real violence. Moreover, he extended the idea of violence in a variety of obscure ways, including by larding up his tract with postmodern gibberish, as with the following passage: “Keeping with the ontological thrust of my argument, the conception of violence upon which this work is based presumes two fundamental and correlative attributes. First, violence is the name of the general principle by which objects are transformed through their relationship to other objects. Second (and as a result of the first), violence is both the precondition to politics and the premise upon which it rests.” Since “objects are transformed through their relationship to other objects” by means of deeds, words and thoughts alike, everything—or at least everything the radical left milieu rejects—is violence.

These ideas aren’t merely the gibbering of angry radicals. They have deep roots in leftist academic theory. In 1969, for instance, the Norwegian founder of “peace and conflict studies,” Johan Galtung, published an oft-cited piece titled Violence, Peace, and Peace Research, dedicated to the topic of “structural violence.” “When one husband beats his wife there is a clear case of personal violence,” he offered by way of example. “But when one million husbands keep one million wives in ignorance, there is structural violence.”

Structural violence, by definition, is something everyone participates in, even if it manifests only in the actions of a few, which are then treated as positive proof of the systemic problem that allowed those examples to be produced. We see this assumption and method, for example, in Cornell philosopher Kate Manne’s award-winning and highly praised 2017 book Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, wherein misogyny is redefined as a structural force that enforces patriarchy even if no one in particular holds any discriminatory beliefs. This thinking is no longer confined to the academic stratosphere: The crime of so-called “structural violence” was, in effect, the claim made against Ngo by Slate’s Aymann Ismall. The physical attack on the Portland reporter may have been “bad,” but the abstract harm caused by his structurally violent ideas supposedly is “worse.”

These ideas have proven to be so elastic that even the voicing of opposition to antifa itself can somehow be lumped in under the category of violence. As Murphy, the aforementioned antifa supporter, explains: “Any kind of cultural outlet that emerges in critical opposition to…the left-wing orthodoxy—well, the only reason they possibly could be doing that is because they want that left-wing orthodoxy to fail because they have ulterior motives of actually boosting and amplifying fascism, which they define as just whatever’s not the left-wing orthodoxy. So in this twisted worldview, someone like Andy Ngo is a genuine kind of accessory to fascism—even if you can’t find anything on record of him ever saying anything fascist.”

The means by which these fictional forms of violence can be perpetrated are myriad. Gender violence—a prominent subset of the idea of structural violence—arguably originated with Judith Butler’s 1990 landmark text Gender Trouble, and is described as a “violence of categorization.” Queer Theory, following significantly from Butler, accordingly indicates that a form of violence occurs when someone is categorized by sex, gender, or sexuality in a way they feel does not rightly describe them. So queer and trans activists now routinely claim that misgendering is inherently violent. In the words of actress Laverne Cox, “I have been saying for years that misgendering a trans person is an act of violence. When I say that I am referring to cultural and structural violence. The police misgendering and deadnaming trans murder victims as a matter of policy feels like a really good example of that cultural and structural violence.”

Much of this can be connected to the fixation on power relationships that infused many of the influential French thinkers of the Cold War period. In his 1979 book Distinction, French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu argued that a kind of symbolic violence occurs whenever social inequality is produced or maintained through “symbolic domination,” which itself is expressed whenever, say, someone is better dressed or better educated than those around him. And since these relationships are part of the world we live in, Bourdieu argued, violence is everywhere within the status quo. His long-time collaborator, sociologist Loïc Wacquant, highlighted the Marxist nature of this idea by arguing that “any capital, whatever the form it assumes, exerts a symbolic violence as soon as it is recognized, that is, misrecognized in its truth as capital and imposes itself as an authority calling for recognition.”

Of note, for Bourdieu, the relevant definition of capital is quite expansive: “Lifestyle is the foremost and perhaps today the most fundamental of these symbolic manifestations, clothing, furnishings, or any other property which, functioning according to the logic of membership and exclusion, makes differences in capital (understood as the capacity to appropriate scarce goods and the corresponding profits) visible under a form such that they escape the unjustifiable brutality of…pure violence, to accede to this form of misrecognized and [denied] violence, which is thereby asserted and recognized as legitimate, which is symbolic violence.” This 1978 passage is characteristically dense and difficult to understand. But the main idea—that “pure violence” is just a taboo subset of violence more generally, and that our system serves to whitewash these larger forms of “symbolic violence”—is well-reflected in the apologia offered on behalf of Andy Ngo’s antifa attackers.

Comb the literature, and you can find all sorts of adjectives tacked on to the word “violence.” This includes something called “discursive violence,” which was described in detail by scholars John Paul Jones, III, Heidi Nast and Susan Roberts in a 1997 volume titled Thresholds in Feminist Geography: Difference, Methodology, Representation. Discursivity, for their purposes, is defined “as those processes and practices through which statements are made, recorded, and legitimated through institutional and other means of linguistic circulation.” Thus, “discursive violence involves using these processes and practices to script groups or persons…in ways that counter how they would define themselves.”

It’s nearly certain, of course, that Ngo’s published articles on Islamism and antifa, both referenced in the wake of his beating, contained ideas and descriptions that “script groups of persons” in all sorts of controversial ways. But then again, that’s what all writers do—including everything that has been written about Ngo, and this article you are reading right now—since any text that challenges the presumptions of the reader will, in some way, fall under one of the broad categories offered by these scholars. Using such infinitely labile typology, all words can be theorized into violence so long as they have something to do with enforcing “domination” and “oppression,” so all real violence taken up in response to such words is self-defense.

Spivak at University of London, 2007

Finally, we get to “epistemic violence,” the brain-child of postmodern Theorist Michel Foucault, who contended that violence is done by asserting power by creating, maintaining and participating in oppressive discourses. This concept is somewhat similar to discursive violence, and was developed considerably by postcolonial Theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak in the 1980s, who wrote on the ways in which the marginalized are prevented from being able to speak or have their knowledge considered real. This not only upholds a state in which marginalized people are not recognized as “knowers,” but also furthers the idea that they are unable to speak. (And, one should ask, if one cannot speak to achieve necessary change, what option is left to the silenced?) This idea has been extrapolated into the claim that media that do not reflect and proactively forward the point of view of marginalized voices are, in effect, inherently violent—a category that presumably would swallow up Quillette and a thousand other popular media outlets.

This development on Foucault’s idea, which was most famously put forth at the core of Spivak’s famous 1988 essay “Can the Subaltern Speak?” has been taken up by a wide swath of social-justice theorists, including black feminist epistemologist Kristie Dotson. By her further re-conception of epistemic violence, articulated in 2011, this form of violence is “the failure, owing to pernicious ignorance, of hearers to meet the vulnerabilities of speakers in linguistic exchanges.” Since this form of violence is embedded in the passive act of hearing, it not only takes the idea of violence out of the domain of action, but also out of the domain of speech—for Dotson seems to infer the existence of malicious intent within private mental processes, which she envisages as being akin to violence. In a word: thoughtcrime. (Some appreciation for this idea is manifested by those apologists for the beating of Andy Ngo who accused him of provoking antifa by failing to hear the ways in which they claimed his work made them feel “unsafe.”)

There is not a single scholar I have quoted who is not held in considerable esteem in influential sectors of academy to this day (A. K. Thomson should be regarded as an activist, and he’s unlikely to be held in any academic esteem). This is to say that the antifa cheerleaders offering excuses for the beating of Andy Ngo are not intellectual freelancers: Much of what they say would be received appreciatively were it expressed in the form of academic dissertation—or classroom discussion topic—in such fields as, say, gender studies, any critical constructivist approach to epistemology, or postcolonial studies. In this sense, both the barbarism in the streets observed in recently in Portland, and the shocking apologism that followed it, are the predictable result of decades of self-righteous political activism that became reinvented as supposedly legitimate forms of scholarship.


James Lindsay is an author and speaker who holds a doctorate in math and background in physics. He is best known for his role in the Grievance Studies Affair. Follow him on Twitter @ConceptualJames.

Featured image: “Stones” (2003), by Joy Garnett (oil on canvas).

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  1. Kauf Buch says

    Yes, twisting the meaning of words does have the potential for powerful persuasion/propaganda.
    But, “Who could have foreseen THAT?”

    An animated film (10 minutes) well worth the time, in spite – OR because – of the protagonist
    [if pressed for time, try the first and last minute or so]

    • Ron Arts says

      That’s an interesting animation. I googled around and the creators are painted as extreme right-wing. The animation depicts Hitler as coming back from Argentina, apologising, and convincing Israel to open its borders in the name of diversity, resulting in Israel being overrun, and Jews in the end being completely dissolved. The film insinuates that the multiculturalists impose genocide on whites by forcing them to mix with other cultures, and raises the question who is more racist: the multiculturalists for striving to mix the white race away, or the whites, for striving to stay white.
      I did not look, but there have to be many articles on this subject: the left’s solution for racism, is to mix all races, the right’s fear to throw away the child with the bathwater: losing the western culture that has benefitted the world so much.

      Interesting. Thanks for the link.

      • Kauf Buch says

        TO Ron A
        Thanks for your comment, and concise summary of the valuable storyline in the film.

        “creators…painted as” extreme right-wing INDEED! 😮
        Anyone who puts the Left and/or its narrative or goals in a bad light
        must be demonized. It’s all they know.

      • That’s interesting as my view of multi-culturalism is the opposite of “mixing” because it disallows the concept of culture as something rightly transient. They’re more likely to emphasize all cultural differences as being inherent and immutable and to demand the replacement of an inherent and immutably oppressive Western civilization. Nor do I see “the left” calling to mix all races.

        Perhaps it’s more of the extremists (or those who we’d like to assume are extreme) going so far they meet on the other side? Because once a person starts to notice the parallels they become stark.

        • Memetic Tribe says


          “Nor do I see “the left” calling to mix all races.”

          The eradication of western civilization (ie Whiteness) is as a clear a directive as the left has ever stated. Even a cursory review of mainstream publications such as HuffPo or BuzzFeed or Vox would make this clear. You’d have to travel to 8Chan to or dailystormer find an equally fascistic response to the open call for deconstruction and selective breeding from the left. The left certainly does coerce white women to breed with almost anything else, including other species.

          As for the mixing of say, brown folks with Asian folks, the left has recently made calls for the end of a homogeneous Japan. They claim it has a “population problem” that only immigration can fix. Japan is well known to be overpopulated and has almost no natural resources remaining.

          The left has no intention of ending racism as they have no intention of defining borders between cultures. (Culture, by definition, has boundaries). The simply wish to end race itself, by piling every distinct culture into a singular mush.

          I have not seen a single TV commercial of last few years which paints the white male in a positive light.

        • Kauf Buch says

          TO julie

          “… it disallows the concept of culture as something rightly transient.”
          Try that again in English, please.

          “Nor do I see “the left” calling to mix all races.”
          Well, that’s technically “true,” insofar as the fascist Left wants to eradicate all Whites first. Please see Memetic T’s comments for a nice summation which shows you how the absurdity your verbal gibberish deludes your ability to think clearly.

          But thanks for playing the Fascist Left Apologetics Dating Game!

      • Jane Rogers says

        Quillette: Twisting the meanings of words is dangerous.

        Also Quillette: *calls the trans identified male (TIM) who tweeted Ngo was “being provocative” a “woman.” …not a “transwoman.” Calls him “she” throughout.”

        So who is propping up the twisting of language here?

        They are so eager to push the story of women and feminists behaving badly as SJWs they will overlook entirely who is actually behaving badly. Clymer is neither woman nor feminist. He’s a troll who enjoys bullying women and he has pushed his way onto the ideal platform from which to do that. Actual feminists do not appreciate or support him. They see his bad behavior for what it is: A man behaving badly.

        Next they will be citing the behavior of TIMs when they make the case “women rape, too.”

        Keep bleating about how unfairly conservatives are being treated by antifa while actively participating in the word-con, Quillette. For asserting that “lesbians don’t have penises,” women are being beaten, too, and by the same sorts of people. Maybe when you recognise the same abuse happening to other demographics and offer mutual support you will finally achieve the critical mass you need to fight it.

        But first you would have to learn what feminism actually is, and stop decrying it endlessly.

        • Peter from Oz says

          Well said Jane
          I’ve met 2 or 3 wannabe women in my time. Of course, I try very hard to be kind to them, like I do to everyone I meet. The thing was that none of them was of the ”activist” mould. They just wnated to live as women, and not make a big thing of it. The people who knew them were happy to accept that, without the need to analyse the whole thing and take it to point of absurdity.
          The activists are spoiling it for everyone, because they cannot reconcile the need to be seen as different and yet be the same as everyone else at the same time. Narcissism is the root of all this.
          We need to ensure that when we atalking about the activist trannies we do not call them by the pronouns they want. You only get that privilege if you are repectful and meek.

    • y Brandstetter MD says

      Actually leftist definition of violence is Jihad. Its particularly fitting that the banner of Leftism should be carried by a Jihadi Muslim, because according to blasphemy laws anyone who does not agree and revere the words of Muhammad perpetrated violence upon him and his followers and must be quashed using any means, including genocide. Thus Amin Al Husseini met Adolf Hitler and agreed on the principle of Jew killing, of German Jihad on the Jews because Jews are the great dissenters who examine everything, even to their own detriment because there is no end to knowledge. The nemesis of Islamo-Leftism is the thinking Jew and jihad is the natural response.

    • Daniel says

      Far right “replacement” theories are every bit as ridiculous as the far left.

      You also twist the real meanings of words such as “genocide”

      • Kauf Buch says

        TO DannyBoi

        RE: “replacement” – There’s clear evidence with Kennedy’s immigration law change – and the permutations since then – along with Democrats’ open borders nonsense, that that is exactly the objective.

        Genocide is what it means – usually practiced on the Left, decried by the Right.

        But thanks for your post; I needed the laugh. You’re a real CLOWN-IN-DENIAL!

  2. Farris says

    “All those with whom I disagree are evil.” Is the epitome of immature self centered thinking. It is like trying to reason with children. Additionally this thinking (it is not reasoning) is indicative of being unable to accept personal responsibility. It is an attempt to deflect from the proponent’s actual misdeeds.
    Zealots are all right fighters as being right fighters is the only thing that can justify the excesses of their zealotry. Those who would stifle speech do so because subconsciously they know they are in the wrong, yet do not wish to hear it. Furthermore their love for violence and action is overstated as it is only utilized when they have superior numbers, thus rendering them cowards. Revolution are begun by those not fearful of engagement. Rebellions are instigated by those trying to avoid direct confrontation.

    • @Farris That’s a pretty dark interpretation of the thought that hides behind permission to commit violence.

      Having personally lived through several prison riots I would anecdotally add that there seems to be a biological element to the violence as well. When people around you are attacking someone (or each) other the reasoning portion of the brain (prefrontal cortex)can shut down amidst the danger/adrenaline and participation is instinctual and most likely not well reasoned at all.

      Couple that with the violent ideological nature/environment and low IQ that permeate activist soldier types (of any stripe) and prison yards, it’s just about unavoidable that violence as a chain reaction occurs with little or no moral objection let alone independent reasoning.

      • I’d characterize atomic warfare, the Holocaust, trafficking of fetal organs, and eugenics as examples of “high IQ” violence.

    • Aerth says

      On the other hand, Leftists zealotry leads to their great confusion and shock when their “protected” groups start fighting each other because there happened to be conflict of interests. Something that everyone could see coming from miles away, yet Left seems to be always surprised.

  3. bumble bee says

    The left feeds itself on victim porn. Just like fear porn, where people put forth scenarios that show every person being in danger of something while outrageous, is still plausible. There was a time when a local TV news station would advertise it’s 11pm news by telling people if they had this common item in their house, they were going to die unless they watched their story about it which was always buried at the end of the newscast. It is the same mentality with the left, they are using fear porn to keep people under their “protection”

    What the left will have you believe is that the cage that is keeping people subjugated is still locked tight and together they must all fight for liberation from those who put them there. The same mentality can be found in every social justice issue including racism. What they don’t want you to know is that there is no cage, you have already been liberated, but like an animal who will not get out of an open cage, they sit there still believing they can’t get out.

    These groups of people are wasting their lives on something that does not exist. That no one regardless of heritage or any other identifier goes through life without getting pushed and shoved by others. Open your eyes, live a life of peace and independence, and when life tries to give you a left hook, know that every single other person has already been where you are, pick yourself up and soldier on in your life. Living everyday with anger, rage, hatred, suspicions, is no life. Choose happiness.

    • Hear hear.

      A nice piece of inspiration from a fine and useful insect.

      • Ray Andrews says

        Yup. If there is an admirable critter it is the bumble bee. They live in the world as it is, work hard, fertilize more plants than honeybees do and don’t mind that they get little credit for it, only sting when provoked and have a general common sense attitude toward everything. It’s always good to hear from (a) bumble bee.

    • JA M says

      “It is the same mentality with the left, they are using fear porn to keep people under their “protection””

      That’s an awfully nice democracy you have there. Would be a shame if something were to happen to it. We can totally help you protect it, but only if you give us complete and total control over every aspect of everything.

  4. John Lammi PhD, psychologist says

    “The wolf in sheep’s clothing”; wait up. No, it’s jus a pack of wolves.

  5. John Lammi PhD, psychologist says

    Old time language actually works here: The rapacious Id disguising itself as Superego

  6. the gardner says

    What passes as scholarship these days continues to degenerate into abject lunacy. I look forward to the day when these cesspools of “professors” are shuttered and their work swept into the dustbin and forgotten.

    • Farris says

      “What passes as scholarship these days continues to degenerate into abject lunacy. I look forward to the day when these cesspools of “professors” are shuttered and their work swept into the dustbin and forgotten.”

      I must object to the term “work”. Ravings of lunatics is not work and lacks any edifying principles.

      Notice who seeks to prevent political opponents from speaking; Nazis, Antifa, KKK, SJWs. Birds of a feather anyone?
      Also witness the venom direct at Quillette. A forum that silences no one and engages all points of view. Is Quillette Right, Left or Center? I do not know. But it is open to everyone.

      • Ray Andrews says


        What happened? Hitler — thus the overreaction in the opposite direction? The abolition of spanking? Too much prosperity? Or just the fact that all civilizations decay eventually? Or what?

        • Farris says

          Nice to hear from you.

          “What happened?” I would venture to guess that less rational more emotional forms of argument became acceptable. Foes no longer debate with detached stoicism. Presently the most hysterical argument seems to carry the day. Feelings matter not facts. Thus debate becomes an emotional tug of war with the line anchored by the biggest victim. Words are now harmful and phrases like “sticks and stones” are passé. I’m am constantly amazed how people take umbrage at something some ordinary bloke (not British just wanted to work that in) or some minor celebrity said. The words people use reflect upon the speaker not the subject. If one allows another to hurt his feelings, he gives that person dominion and control over his life. I have yet to be harmed by a word or phrase and have been called plenty of epithets. Those who use course direct language are some of the most honest. At least you know exactly where they stand. Beware the mealy mouth eager to please speakers.

          • Ray Andrews says


            “phrases like “sticks and stones””

            I wonder how many people under 40 even know the rhyme? It used to be foundational. Anyway, yes to all, but I mean deeper. How did it come to be that feelings matter more than facts? PC had to be a major vector. What started out as polite nods to nice sentiments spawned a religion where nonsense rules. Pretending to believe things we know aren’t true became obligatory. Dunno, that’s my favorite theory. Facts are starting to push back, but it’s ugly.

          • Farris says

            By way of example, this is the 50th anniversary of the first man walking on the moon. Today the argument over the gender pronouns utilized in the first phrase back from the moon would scuttle the entire project.

          • Rev. Wazoo! says

            @Farris, Ray &c
            “What happened?”
            Good questions and observations.
            I’d add that Occam’s Razor induces us to consider some simple reasons in addition and I see rentiers (non-productive collectors of revenue by virtue of position) gradually expanding their fiefs and revenue streams through the use of religious-like doctrines whose unifying theme is that more authority and revenue be given to them.

            Akin to a priesthood which has expanded in number, reach and arbitrary power, it has achieved a kind of critical mass where this becomes apparent and the self-contradictory, deleterious effects become too onerous to ignore or even tolerate.

            We must not lose sight if the tawdry, self-aggrandizing nature of the effects of the paradigm so promulgated: more money and castigatory authority for the academic administrators/pat-time faculty who produce the self-justifying dogma and the media-politco combine which uses that dogma to demonize anyone who stands in their path.

            The revolving door between media and politics already blurred the line between them and factoring in the high proportion of marriages/sexual partnerships between the two combined with large helpings of dynastic preferment/advancement prevalent in that joined field is remeniscent of to 19th century gentry’s entitled headlock on “places at court” and their attendant opportunities for patronage. Yes, industrialists could buy their way into places at Eton, Oxbridge etc and with strategic marriages (often to financially strapped Old Money) into the gentry itself but only if they also bought into the paradigm which justified the gentry’s existence and exercise of legal and moral authority.

            Similarly, an air-conditioning magnate who sells an intensive carbon-spewing luxury, is moving his factories from Ohio to Mexico and outsources janitor work etc to sweatshop sub-contractors can buy his way into the coastal elite establishment by appointing the daughters of a his cronies as a female board member and Director of Diversity. Sending his kids to Oberlin University getting them internships leading to jobs at the WashPo snd NYT seals the deal. As the French say, ” They have arrived.”

            Interestingly, this process also closes the previous rift between the high-flying businessman/ woman and their genteel offspring. No longer are they the evil capitalists exploiting the proletariat – a few appointments of ideologically correct intellectual gentry to PC roles in the organization plus a bit of affirmative action and presto! They’re on the side of the angels. They truly have arrived in several important senses.

          • Peter from Oz says

            Farris and Rev Wazoo
            I agree with your comments. It seems to me that what drives the whole increase in the non-productive wankocracy is the hatred of selling things.
            Ever since the 17th century there has been a huge tension between aristocratic and bourgeoise commercialism.
            The problem is of course that today’s lefties are no aristocrats. They are petit bourgoisie with ideas above their station.
            Unfortunately, they have corrupted ideals of chivalry, noblesse oblige and calvinist zeal into this strange melange of political correctness and identity politics.
            The biggest joke is that the people who tell us that all relationships are about power seem to think that they are justified in taking power.
            SInistra delenda est.

        • Farris says

          “What started out as polite nods to nice sentiments spawned a religion where nonsense rules.”
          I’m not sure being polite or nice ever had anything to do with it. In political arguments people tend to throw anything against the wall to see what sticks. There was a time when arguments based on subjective feelings were considered mostly nonsense as one could always craft his supposed feelings to control another. As you can see from my use of the phrase “sticks and stones”, I am older and find this type of debate puzzling. Isn’t saying, “I’m offended so you must stop” tantamount to saying I deserve and demand control of your actions and speech? If crying about feelings gets more results than presenting facts, you will get more feelings and less facts.

          • Geary Johansen says

            @ Rev. Wazoo!

            Great comment. Very insightful. And of course this is why intersectional feminism ignores the single biggest cause of privilege, which is greater than all the others combined- that of being born into the upper middle class, to two doting, well-educated parents and a home full of books. It’s little wonder that the ‘woke’ liberal demographic is the whitest (only 3% AA vs 12% in the broader population), other than white supremacist- because many of the constituencies they claim to represent don’t fulfil all the criteria to join their exclusive club.

            It’s also probably the reason why Asians and Jews generally aren’t allowed in, except on a token basis- given that whilst they may claim to represent the oppressed, they probably don’t appreciate between beaten out for spots at elite universities and highly sought after jobs, by individuals who are more gifted or harder working than they are.

          • Ray Andrews says


            “There was a time when arguments based on subjective feelings were considered mostly nonsense”

            Exactly, so what changed? I say PC because PC — surely it started out as an effort to be nice? — PC opened the door to socially mandated lying and to the elevation of sentiments over realities. MLK had a dream, we have a nightmare.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Rev. Wazoo!

            Quite the overview! Yeah, I agree. Seems to me that the producing classes are now beset by rentiers both above and below. Moribund capitalist dynasties above, and an increasingly aggressive bunch of Warriors (and their plantations of Victims) below. It seems to me they are in bed together as you suggest. I may run a sweatshop, but we have a black lesbian transwoman on the Board! We’re Progressive! It seems to me that the Left have been given a pile of intellectual/political cocaine and told to go and amuse themselves creating Victimographies. The plan is to divide and conquer, and boy, are we divided and conquered.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Geary Johansen

            It is interesting that the most white-supreme political camps are both the extreme left and the extreme right. What the KKK and antifa have in common is that they are almost exclusively white and middle-upper class.

        • Shawn T says

          I would go with something akin to too much prosperity. I was born in 1968 and in my lifetime, there has been no true suffering or difficulty in American life. The Crash, dustbowl, WWI, WWII, the Cold War (before it became a predictable dance) all left people with little time to sit and think about every little aspect of how they “feel.” I’ve noticed people who are retired, out of work or lacking any particular direction in life can, at times, devolve into this extreme introspection. The solution is always to “get busy” and just do something productive. The extremist problem is the doing they get to is with the encouragement and direction of people bent on destroying. Their “worth” is defined by what they truly believe is noble work. Though not religious myself, I think the lack of and hostility toward religion (Christianity most specifically) has caused these people who would otherwise become religious zealots to become secular zealots. They are righteous in their boredom and ignorance and find their worth in stamping out the heretics. A good famine or war or other extreme hardship would re-focus this energy and change the center of their self-defining activity. These poor zealots simply need a bigger, more threatening real threat to replace their existing windmills.

          • Geary Johansen says

            @ Shawn T

            According to Steven Pinker, progress and the absence of adversity, have made the younger generations more sensitive to the problems that remain.

          • cthoms says

            I would go with something akin to too much prosperity.
            They are righteous in their boredom
            Wow. You have a wonderful talent Shawn. Thank you sincerely for sharing it.
            I really love this place (most of the time anyway).

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Shawn T

            That’s a very well made case. Yup, prosperity creates a lack of real problems for would-be zealots to worry about, so let’s have a micro-aggression panic.

          • Rev. Wazoo! says

            @ Shawn T
            Quite true but remember that even existential threat and privation can still be used as a stick to beat everyone not yet committed to The Cause ( or whose aprtment you covet) as the Soviets did despite pragmatically allying with the capitalist, bourgiosie of the West.

            In fact, the enduring post-60s non-existential threat from the West was a main reason the whole bogus edifice eventually collapsed in on itself.

          • paul in STL says

            I have come to similar conclusions. It is the societal equivalent of the clean environment hypothesis for the increased prevalence is allergies and autoimmune diseases. Without major hardships in life to struggle against or an immediate credible external threat to the country/society, the defensive energies turn to find enemies within. We are experiencing societal autoimmune disease.

          • Shawn. I think you are really onto something.Too much prosperity. Here is what Renee Girard said about it. “In the affluent West, we live in a world where there is less and less need and more and more desire.” By desire he was talking about mimetic competition for prestige which seems to have morphed into attention and into competition for victimhood.

          • Kauf Buch says

            TO ShawnT

            They’re not IMAGINARY “windmills” when
            Antifa – and the Left in general – have become a genuine – not just intellectual – threat to the US.

          • BrainFireBob says

            Partially this.

            I think a lot about this, and I think several things have come together to create this particular alchemy.

            1) The rise of feminist arguments about abortion ultimately allowed the equation of strength of feeling with correctness.

            To whit, the “when you can have a child you can have an opinion” stance was that those who face the risk should have the right to the decision. Not on its face an unreasonable proposition, although it does have flaws (such as the ability to consider something with cold objectivity becoming questionable)- this escalated into the rest of the feminist movement as only those who were oppressed by men could understand; the more severe the experience the more emphatic the understanding. This logic ultimately, for an immature mind, opens the door to “the worse what you have gone through, the stronger your feelings, therefore, the stronger your feelings, the more you must know what you are talking about since the more you must have experienced”. That’s a false corollary, and why some of these philosophical topics are frankly too dangerous for the immature minds we feed them to. Argue with a SJW sometime, and when they provide their grievance performance, simply demonstrate stronger emotion in support of your “side” and watch them back down- it’s functionally a ritualized challenge-response mechanic I’ve found highly repeatable. That’s why they treat reasoned response as concession of the point- they are equating strength of emotion to strength of argument; the more right your argument, the more you will allow yourself to become emotional about it.
            Also the root of some ageism bias amongst young SJWs, IMHO.

            2) You have to consider generational turnover. The ’60s youth movement failed. It failed because they grew up, but it failed in its fundamental transformist goals. Yeah, Vietnam ended- under a Republican president who started sending the troops home after a distinct display of military might. Then things went all sideways in Vietnam. The sexual revolution did nothing but provide STD epidemics. Communes didn’t work. Bands sold out.

            Academia has a long generational turnover due to tenure. Many boomers had kids late. So you have a combination of boomer children/grandchildren being taught by old boomers of how the ’60s were the most noble, glorious, patriotic time in America that failed because of what must have been systemic patriarchal white oppression.

            Look at the demands list Weinstein was presented at Evergreen in response to the students feeling “aggrieved.” It’s completely disconnected from the offense he’s alleged to have given. Compare that list to the one the Cornell students provided 50 years ago- there’s a helpful article on this very site by someone looking back at those protests. Replace “African American” with “LGBTF” and it’s nearly the same list. These students are competing with their parents/grandparents and trying to “win” this time- it’s a search for excuses. They expect plaudits and praise. Hence the inanity of a student agitating for Camille LaPaglia, famously lesbian, to be replaced by a gay or lesbian professor. To these ignorant youth, it’s just what they’re supposed to do- there’s no lasting harm. Many of the activists of the ’60s don’t realize how inappropriate what they did was, or the lasting harm some of them did.

            So this generation has the more crazed, radical portion of the ’60s as an aspirational model of behavior and goals, in addition to point #1 above. Is it any wonder they’re so ill-equipped for life?

          • Though not religious myself, I think the lack of and hostility toward religion (Christianity most specifically) has caused these people who would otherwise become religious zealots to become secular zealots.

            I can’t speak for everybody, but I know that at least some people who are secular zealots come from a background of religious zealotry. Perhaps, when people feel slighted by their own religions and leave in protest, they still carry the bad examples of social discourse that they learned during their religious days. In the United States, I hear it’s still unfortunately very common for queer people to be disowned by their bible-thumping families, and a lot of this secular political anger and violence does seem to be coming from the United States, so it is possible that there is a connection, especially if a lot of the hostility is towards Christianity.

            Since you’re not religious, my story might help lend some insight:

            I was raised as a Christian. Roman Catholic, specifically, and I was really into it, as well. I was an altar boy, I prayed constantly, I wept during spiritual crises when consulting with my priests. It was pretty thick in me. Around 20 years ago, when I was still a teenager, I realized that I’m bisexual. This was around the same time when the Church was being very vocally anti-queer. I understood the political influence they held over communities and how they vote, so I knew that the Church was actively seeking to harm the civil rights of people like myself.

            I couldn’t help my sexuality, it’s just how I turned out! Didn’t God make me this way, I thought? The last thing I needed was my own religion making me feel like a piece of shit, what with all the rest of the self-esteem problems I had as a kid who was always bullied, so I decided at that moment that I had enough. With great fear and determination, I denounced my faith and decided to live my life without religion.

            Of course, without religion, I needed some other community. Sure, I’ve been a gamer all my life, and I had my online friends, and they were cool and all, but after about five years of not having that much fulfilling person-to-person interaction, I began to crave some sort of community again. Well, Church wasn’t an option anymore, I figured since I just came out, I may as well join the community that will accept me the most — the queer community.

            Oh, I learned. I learned like crazy. I learned about trans people, I learned about correct pronoun usage before “personal pronouns” were a concept, I learned what “cisgendered” meant before it became a pejorative term. I went to bath houses and drag shows, I walked naked through Pride, I did it all. And yes, I lashed out at everyone else who didn’t accept me. I had all kinds of crazy ideas about how the world would be better if we abolished religion, if we nuked the Vatican, Israel and Mecca, if we threw anyone wearing a crucifix or a yarmulke or a turban out of public office, limit all kinds of speech and expression I deem harmful in my newfound sense of atheist superiority, the whole nine yards.

            I’ll say this right now: I was stupid, and in hindsight I realize I was becoming radicalized, even if I was mostly just radicalizing myself with my own anger and resentment. I honestly can’t remember any people, books or websites influencing the worst of this in me. A few may have backed me up, most people told me straight up that I was crazy, so I do think it was largely self-induced. I was a fucked-up kid with lots of mental baggage, family dysfunction and cognitive development issues. Destroying my own mind like that wasn’t too difficult, all things considered.

            Five years later, I joined a local hacker club, which is now defunct due to enough drama to fill a book. At the time, most of the people in this group were naïve morons who trusted Facebook, Google, LiveJournal, etc. implicitly with their information. I didn’t have any social media accounts at the time and was very reluctant to do so, but they dragged me into it anyway because it’s all they would ever fucking talk about, plus they were starting to organize events on these places, so I kind of “had to”. From this point forward, pile on even more radicalization, because on Facebook you were encouraged to just spill every detail about yourself, since it was really the only way to stand apart from a crowd of billions of other people. As a result of this, I had a huge falling out with my family over ideological differences. I quit Facebook, shut down my domain and web server, went completely off the radar, stopped talking to my own mother and sister and became even more angry and insular.

            Fast forward about ten more years. Remember how I said I’m a gamer? Yeah, well… then it happened. GamerGate. Once again, just for doing what I love, I was being labeled as the degenerate scum of society, but this time it wasn’t from the Church. It was from the political camp that I thought were my allies.

            This is the point where I’d like to say I started to grow up.

            I began to see the simple formula behind a lot of the world’s problems. It’s not religion that’s messing everything up. Nor is it queer people, or gamers, or journalists, or SJWs, or Donald Trump. It’s not even social media, as much as I’d like to blame that for all kinds of problems. No, the reason why we’re so messed up, and why the world has always been so messed up, is because so many people keep following a mental fallacy. One that I fell victim to when I was younger. The fallacy that by eliminating a person, substance, object, idea or group of people that can be identified by a common factor, that everything will be okay. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before…

            Get rid of the alcohol, then we’ll be okay. Get rid of the guns, then we’ll be okay. Get rid of the art and the music and the literature, then we’ll be okay. Get rid of the Jews, then we’ll be okay. Get rid of the men, then we’ll be okay. Get rid of the commies, then we’ll be okay. Get rid of the gamers, then we’ll be okay. Get rid of Donald Trump and his supporters, then we’ll be okay. Get rid of the rich, then we’ll be okay. The problem is that it never, ever works. Not even scientifically speaking, seeing as it’s an experiment that’s been repeated over and over throughout history and never resulted in a single utopia. Most of the time it doesn’t even result in the elimination of the intended target. Sometimes it even makes more appear, as society scrambles to preserve what might be lost!

            J.C. Denton put it best: “You can’t fight ideas with bullets.”

            I think something that was working pretty well for a while was that brief period around the 80s-90s where the political left seemed to me like it was more about just getting along with different cultures, establishing trade agreements, learning foreign languages, eating foreign food, saving the environment, feeding the poor and preventing wars from happening. “Colour blindness” was a virtue back then, rather than the sin it’s become known as today. I think things felt rather peaceful back then, at least compared to today.

            Today, I’m still not religious, I am still bisexual, I never stopped gaming, I did stop watching the news, but I feel a lot more at peace with myself and people around me. I’ve stopped expecting the world and everyone in it to bend to make me comfortable and protect my feelings. There is still work to be done in terms of truly equal civil rights, and some of that work involves swinging the pendulum back into its neutral position rather than the opposite position that it landed on, but I don’t believe we live in a constantly oppressed society.

            What I think about our society is that it hasn’t even been 100 years since entire populations stopped killing each other for fun on a daily basis, and that we as a species are very, very new to this “peace” thing, so right now we’re on a bumpy road that hopefully will smooth out in the long run. The people who are moving our society forward today must have the wisdom to look in the rear-view mirror from time to time, to learn from the mistakes of the past, so they are not doomed to repeat them.

            … Jesus Christ, when did this reply become an article? Yeah, I should probably hit that post button now.

      • tarstarkas says

        Quillette provides the non-woke a forum in which to converse. The non-woke are dangerous and evil. Therefore Quillette is dangerous and evil. The woke cannot allow those woke with less strength of will to read such dangerous words, comments, and essays, lest they stray from wokedom. Therefore Quillette, and its brothers and sisters, and anybody who deviates from Wokery must be shut down, and even more, apologize abjectly and profusely (not that will save them.

        The Perfect is the only proper standard they now accept. And to even ask what the Perfect might be is exhibiting anti-wokedness. Like a perverse the Tau is not the true Tau. Heisenberg would be impressed despite their total lack of logic.

        Power now speaks to Truth, in their word. Does not agree with the Narrative? Push the Narrative!

      • Islamaphooey says

        I consider Quillette classical liberal. All points of view are welcome. And I appreciate the hell out of it.

        • DNY says

          @Farris @Islamaphooey Quite right. Quillette is a classical liberal website. Meaning viewed from the American heartland or from the privacy of the home of anyone with a reasonable understanding of the historical sweep of ideologies it’s centrist, viewed from the Vatican it’s leftist, viewed from any street in Portland not currently occupied by the Proud Boys, it’s right-wing, maybe even far-right.

      • DrZ says

        For the SJW’s free speech is antithetical to their cause of helping everyone reach the SJW Nirvana where we all think alike, but show off different skin colors.

      • But they become passionate about it and find meaning in it. A deeper question is why late 20th Century America (and the West in General) became such a fertile garden for this silliness to grow in.

    • Stephanie says

      @gardner, in real scholarship, leading the reader even through such innocuous means as using the word “interestingly” to point out a note-worthy finding is unpublishable. In the grievance studies, nakedly ideological proclamations backed by no data or even sound reasoning are the norm. Why universities offer credibility to such demagogues is the real question. Western society wouldn’t be in the sorry state it’s in now if these people had never been wrongfully awarded a platform. It’s time to drain the swamp.

    • Potluck says

      They’ll never be shuttered unless decent people become proactive. I don’t mean violence, but actually attempting to change the environment of universities and journalism by becoming employed in them, or effectively organizing boycotts, refusing to patronize such institutions, creating alternatives, and so on. I wish the right would adopt more of the “Activism, everywhere, all the time” mindset that a lot of college age liberals have. Or at least become more politically active in general.
      Most of the time it feels like Conservatives couldn’t be bothered to do more than complain about the left and occasionally vote against them.

      • the gardner says

        Note the mom of a son, murdered by an illegal, speaking out on Twitter. She was told to remove several comments or be banned. She is considering a lawsuit. Meanwhile, people tweet her replies about hoping she dies like her son did, and they are not banned. So glad to see her on Fox, making her case.

        • Serenity says

          There are ways to be proactive to stop this insanity.

          “Harmeet Dhillon is a force of natural justice… The San Francisco-based civil rights lawyer won a major free speech victory over UC Berkeley; she represents James Damore in his ongoing fight against Google’s monolithic, social-justice corporate culture; and now, she’s making history by launching Publius Lex, a non-profit organization with a broad mandate: to fight in the courts for civil rights of Americans whose voices have been silenced by activists, big tech, and legacy media…

          Publius Lex’s first case is the troubling story of Andy Ngo…

          [Harmeet Dhillon] summed up Antifa succinctly as the “stormtroopers of the left”: “There are some national Antifa leaders that we’ve been able to identify. They travel from city to city and they help to organize these planned riots. It’s amazing to me that the federal authorities haven’t cracked down on this. Antifa believes they have the civil right to commit a crime without being recorded by journalists. Bravo to Andy for standing up to them. But it’s going to take all of us to stand up to them.”

          Sign this petition if you think President Trump should label Antifa a domestic terrorist organization:

          Would be great to launch a petition to reform academia.

          • Oh, boy! An online petition! That’s absolutely certain to make some change happen!

            Said no one, ever.

            Let me give you some advice. Real politicians never respond to armchair petitions like this because they know how easy it is for you to just get it over with in a few seconds and then go on with your life. It’s politics for lazy people, and they know it. What you need to do is you need to show some effort. You need to actually call your representatives and speak with them as directly as possible. The more time you spend on them, the better an understanding they’ll have of how important this issue is to you as a constituent.

            Meet with them in person if they have the time, write them a personal letter if they don’t have the time, and do NOT make it one of those online pre-filled form letters, either. Send a letter that you wrote or typed with your own words through the actual postal service. Alternatively, use a fax machine, but don’t email them — their inboxes are already overflowing, guaranteed.

            If you’ve got the time to go see a movie, or watch a ball game, or do a Netflix marathon, you can make the time to speak with a politician. Yes, it’s boring, but it’s important. So do it.

      • jakesbrain says

        “But surely you can’t mean you have to constantly be thinking about politics, talking politics, living politics with every breath. That’s no way for human beings to live — why, you’d have to be crazy!”

        “Yes, and in case you hadn’t noticed, the crazy people have been kicking your ass. Guess why.”

      • a bee ee? says

        True dat, but don’t expect it to happen any time soon, unfortunately.

  7. Marko Novak says

    “…postcolonial Theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak in the 1980s, who wrote on the ways in which the marginalized are prevented from being able to speak or have their knowledge considered real. This not only upholds a state in which marginalized people are not recognized as “knowers,” but also furthers the idea that they are unable to speak.”

    And who today is not being allowed to speak? Who’s knowledge is not considerred real anymore? The average citizen is now constantly told by celebrity and media elites alike that we are unable to understand the world today and how relevant their thoughts are.

    • Farris says

      “The average citizen is now constantly told by celebrity and media elites alike that we are unable to understand the world today and how relevant their thoughts are.”

      Well said Marko

    • Jesse says


      To be fair, the world today is in fact far too complex for most people to comprehend. The woke left is no closer to—indeed, farther from—comprehending it than anyone else, of course. I hope that we end up with benevolent AI dictatorship, without falling into the “I, Robot” dystopian scenario.

  8. David of Kirkland says

    If you use fear, intimidation and violent acts against another who disagrees with you, you are likely the fascist (at least using today’s language that suggests fascists can exist without government coercion or government actions).

  9. Mr. Lindsay writes:

    “Under a prevalent view that has emerged from universities in recent years, a wrong opinion is seen as tantamount to a thrown punch or even an indication of a willingness to genocide—which invites the idea that an offended party who throws a real punch (or worse) is simply acting in self-defense.”

    But doesn’t this accurately describe US foreign policy since 1961 where pre-emptive war has become the rule?

    These anti-fascist clowns are just mimicking standard US policy. Like the US’s foreign policy, antifa’s domestic policy is also born the product of US universities and US think tanks.

    I really do think the US needs to collapse like the USSR did in the 1990s. The current iteration of the US has out lived its usefulness.

    • @EK. Vietnam wasn’t a preemptive strike, it was a war about competing ideologies where the in country representatives on “our” side were corrupt and out of touch.

      Operation desert storm was in defense of an attack on sovereign Kuwait.

      Afghanistan and Iraq were in reaction (however misguided) to an attack on the US.

      Where is the preemptive war post 61 you’re talking about?

    • Stephanie says

      @EK, yea, because a world where China is the uncontested superpower would be just fabulous.

      Leftist hegemony of the educational system, academy, media, and deep state is a serious challenge to the continuation of the American experiment, but if America isn’t saved the whole world will be much worse off for it.

      • Nakatomi Plaza says

        Republicans currently have control of all three branches of our government. They’ve had similar levels of control since 2010. And we aren’t talking middle-of-the-road GOP. We’ve talking Tea Party nutjobs and corporate stooges. We’re talking minions of G. Norquist, lackeys of the Kochs, and blatant obstructionists like McConnell. Deregulation and trickle-down is the law of the land. Republicans run the show. This is all well understood at this point.

        So, I have to ask: What fucking planet are you living on where the left is in control of anything? You truly do live in a fantasy world.

        • DNY says

          The left is in control of China, Cuba, Venezuela, Spain, Google, Facebook, most universities in the Anglosphere, Hollywood, the U.S. House of Representatives (half of one of the three branches of government in the U.S.), enough of the courts that by jurisdiction shopping opponents can easily block most of the Trump administration’s initiatives (a good chunk of another branch), California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, New York (both state and city), the Scottish devolved parliament, I could go on. You seem to have a very insular view of things.

          As an adoptive Kansan, I also take offense at you using the Koch brothers as a bugbear. You might actually want to familiarize yourself with what they’ve actually been backing and spending their money on: things like criminal justice reform, opposition to Trump’s misbegotten immigration policies, scholarships for disadvantaged students.

        • Sparkles And Rainbows says

          @Nakatomi Plaza

          “Republicans currently have control of all three branches of our government.”

          Just stop with the deliberately dishonest bullshit. The Democratic Party controls the House of Representatives.

          The Supreme Court is arguably neither conservative nor liberal.

          So on “what fucking planet are you living” where your underlying statements are fact?

          • E Taph says

            “The Supreme Court is arguably neither conservative nor liberal.” – aha, flips through the default far left argumentation handbook so it’s a conservative-enabling institution, listed under “covert fascists”.

        • Bob says

          Last time I looked, Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House.

        • Erm, at the risk of stating the obvious and feeding possible trolls…uh…did the Dems lose control of the House when I wasn’t looking?
          Also, of course, the left controls the entire cultural superstructure: the news media, Hollywood/entertainment, publishing, academia…perhaps even the bureaucracy, though I’ve never been too sure about that.
          A fairly extreme left is guiding society around by the nose right now. Perhaps there’s a mass of conservatives just waiting to reassert itself…but, if so, one has to ask why it’s waiting.

        • Nunya Business says

          The Legislative branch is split. The left controls the culture, academia, the media, and the internet.

    • Kauf Buch says

      TO EK

      “Ahh…the old ‘America-did-it-first-so-they’re-to-blame’ trick!”

      What a sad, bitter, hate-filled attitude. Oh, yes: and WRONG.


  10. Geary Johansen says

    Jonathan Haidt made the observation in ‘The Righteous Mind’, that the Right enjoys a structural advantage over the Left, because whilst conservatives understand liberals, liberals cannot understand conservatives. A good example of this is the liberal idea that conservatives only want to reduce spending, in order to reduce taxes- this might be true- but is more because conservatives see government as a source of tyranny, which is only useful in that it can reduce ‘the tyranny of others’. For the liberal out there, think of the most powerful corporation you can think of, the one that sends shivers down your spine or is responsible for all the evils of the world, and magnify its power a thousandfold, and that is your government.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am neither a conservative nor a liberal. I’ve taken the Moral Foundations test five times, answering using slightly different premises, and come out conservative three times, and left-leaning liberal twice. I am a heterodox. And in this instance, I have to come down on the side of the conservatives. Because what you are doing is wrong, morally and practically.

    Systemic and structural racism is not caused by the pernicious, but rather the perverse- it’s caused by the liberal tendency to get education and child-rearing wrong, and the conservative failure to understand that punishment really doesn’t work as well as trying to reform teenage boys and young men BEFORE they become irredeemable career criminals. We desperately need more discipline and structure in our homes and in our schools, and more compassion and understanding in our prisons- and locking up aggressive young men who only lacked fathers to show them the way, with violent psychopathic felons, is only going to make those who can still be reformed, more criminal and more dangerous.

    And here’s the thing. All the evidence tends to suggest that the person from a marginalised group who rises highest, is the most culturally integrated, the most nationally assimilated. It’s the biracial headteacher who can quote Shakespeare, or argue against Rousseau. It’s the senior manager who avidly watches the cricket and finds himself torn when England plays against his father’s team. It’s the doctor who goes to Beethoven concerts in her spare time, and spent a week in Sorrento after visiting her extended family for two weeks in India, so that she can watch the 1812 overture performed in style, with a perfect view of the Med, accompanied by the sound of cannon, from all those historic Italian hill forts.

    The thing you really get wrong about social conservatives is that ingroup loyalty, in no way correlates to outgroup hostility, It’s a proven fact. Loving your nation or your culture doesn’t cause racism, but activists trying to destroy just might. If you went to those parts of the country that voted for Trump, you would find people that are decent, kind, honourable and not at all racist. But then again, you should already know that because they are exactly the same people who voted for Obama.

    • Morgan Foster says

      @Geary Johansen

      “If you went to those parts of the country that voted for Trump, you would find people that are decent, kind, honourable and not at all racist.

      In fact, “if you went to those parts of the country that voted for Trump” – say, for example, a rural area of Alabama – say, a Walmart Supercenter on any given day – a place where you would certainly see a great many people who voted for Trump …

      You would also see a great many black/white couples, men and women, with bi-racial children.

      Many more than you would ever see in Nancy Pelosi’s gated community.

      • Xargothrax says

        Nice anecdote, care to back it up with any facts? Looking at Pew research data regarding interracial marriage, it is much more prevalent in California (including Pelosi’s district) than Alabama or any other states that went to Trump.

        • Morgan Foster says


          I say “black/white couples”. You say “interracial marriage”.

          I say “Pelosi’s gated community”. You say “Pelosi’s district”.

          You make yourself obvious.

          • Xargothrax says

            @Morgan Foster

            I am fishing for evidence that might show whether there is more interracial relationships in Red areas versus Blue. I am still waiting for you to provide anything other than anecdotes. People who rely on anecdotes to make a point are really the obvious ones, it’s called confirmation bias.

            Why don’t you provide me with the % of interracial relationships in Nancy Pelosi’s community? Since you seem to be familiar with that.

        • Geary Johansen says

          @ Xargothrax

          Not sure whether your comment was directed at me, but from Pew research:

          If you are under 49 in America you are only 6% likely to see interracial marriage as a bad thing, as opposed to 14% if you are over 65- that’s progress, by any measure. Plus, you have to remember it is likely to cut across all races (though not necessarily proportionately), can be the ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’ thing and can often be the result of the feeling of the loss of culture and identity (so social conservatives are more prone to this fear, with Rep./Lean Rep. showing a total of 12%, and Dem./Lean Dem. 6%). Interestingly, women are more likely to see interracial marriage as a bad thing (12%), than men (7%). The liberal idea that if you simply promote diversity and multiculturalism, and exclude cultural concerns from mainstream narratives, as a means of reducing racism, is deeply flawed and has led to the rise of Populism to defend cultural identity, not whiteness. It’s why the selfsame people who swung it for Obama, voted for Trump.

          • Peter from Oz says

            Geary J
            The left doesn’t understand culture at all. They are always confusing it with race. What’s more they really don’t understand that just about all opposition to people of different races by conservatives is related to politics or culture.
            But leftist thought carries a lot of oikophobia too.

          • Morgan Foster says


            “I am fishing for evidence that might show whether there is more interracial relationships in Red areas versus Blue.”

            I am waiting for you to show me where, in any of my comments, I stated that there are “more interracial relationships in Red areas versus Blue.”

            I’m not holding my breath. My comment was in support of Geary Johansen’s earlier comment: “If you went to those parts of the country that voted for Trump, you would find people that are decent, kind, honourable and not at all racist.”

            No one – until you brought it up – was making a numerical comparison between “Red areas and Blue”.

        • Xargothrax says

          @Mason Foster

          What a disingenuous argument.

          Here are your statements:

          In ” those parts of the country that voted for Trump…
          You would also see a great many black/white couples, men and women, with bi-racial children. Many more than you would ever see in Nancy Pelosi’s gated community.”


          “I am waiting for you to show me where, in any of my comments, I stated that there are “more interracial relationships in Red areas versus Blue.”

          So what is the purpose of your post? To compare all the areas in the country who voted for Trump with a small neighborhood of which you know nothing, where the Democratic leader of the House happens to live? You are either expressing the cultural superiority of Trump communities, or making a meaningless comparison that isn’t supported by facts.

    • Klaus C. says

      “The thing you really get wrong about social conservatives is that ingroup loyalty, in no way correlates to outgroup hostility”

      It certainly does in Trump’s rallies.

      • Geary Johansen says

        @ Klaus C.

        You Have to understand that in the minds of Trump supporters, Trump represents a defence of American culture and white cultural identity- not an overt call to racism. They see Ilhan Omar and AOC as political enemies and cultural threats, not racial opponents. The deliberate trolling of both by Trump is an attempt to associate the broader Democratic party with their unfavourable polling- I think AOC polls at about 60 something percent unfavourable and 13% favourable, and Ilhan Omar polls about 54% unfavourable, and 9% favourable, amongst the US population as a whole.

        You should watch Eric Kaufman on Triggernometry, he talks about his book on white shift, Brexit and Populism- it’s very much a continuation of the types of viewpoints expressed in Jonathan Haidt’s ‘The Righteous Mind’. Even if you approach it from the point of view of wanting to beat conservatives rhetorically, it’s worthwhile knowing, because it dispels a number of myths.

        For example, if you ask Brexiteers and Remainers whether the NHS under pressure, then add because of immigrants, the percentage goes up 20% for Brexiteers and down for Remainers. But its not about racism, its about mourning the loss of the culture they grew up in, and the desire to see the pace at which their culture changes and erodes slow down. There seems to be more and more evidence emerging that Populism in the West and on the Right, is caused by multiculturalism on the Left.

        • DrZ says

          @Geary Johansen wrote “Trump represents a defence of American culture and white cultural identity- not an overt call to racism. …:

          I am not sure that this is the case. I don’t think that Mr. Trump is on a white culture bandwagon so much as an E pluribus unum bandwagon or perhaps a return to the concept of the a melting pot. If we (U.S.A.) is going to be successful, it must exist as a country containing people who understand why it it was formed and why the contents of the Constitution and the rule of law are so important to the longevity of our freedoms. We used to refer to this idea as a melting pot – we were different, but had a unified love of country and its laws.

          I think that Mr. Trump and his followers are trying to make sure that the melting pot concept does not cease to exist. It is clear that many on the left are trying to destroy the very fabric of this concept. Sure, keep your ethnic identities, your languages, but also speak English and understand why the U.S. Constitution is important. Don’t like it, then change it, even become a congress critter. But change it within the rule of law, not by violence and not by dissing the very heart of what the founders worked hard to achieve. You cannot discount the founders because some were slave holders – that’s the chicken way out. If you disagree with their premises, state why in public. It takes more than a few in congress to make changes – that is one reason we are not a banana republic. So, if you have a strong case, convince others, sell your “better” idea.

          Therein lies the problem you are frustrated because only zealots are listening. Go face-to-face with the opposition, debate them in public. Change minds….if you can.

          • Geary Johansen says

            @ DrZ

            You’re right. Poor choice of words. Guess I didn’t actually want to say enlightenment culture in the same sentence as Trump. Maybe American culture and history. It gets more like Newspeak every day 🙁

        • Klaus C. says

          @ Geary

          Your position seems to be: “It looks very much like racism, and has much the same effect, but it isn’t really that bad.”

          And your conclusion seems to be that the Left needs to accommodate this thing that “looks very much like racism”.

          So what do we do? Join in the chants of “Send her back”?

          • Geary Johansen says

            @ Klaus C.

            Not at all. But perhaps realise that somewhere between the lunatic left that wants to dismantle everything and the backlash that Trump represents, there used to be a place that most sane people lived, politically and culturally. From the 80’s and 90’s onwards we had basically got it right, although there were still battles that needed fighting- most notably gay marriage- but it was mainly a matter of poor implementation and the fact that some regions had become disfavoured by the pace of global economic change.

            For sure, there were still some groups that experienced structural disparities, but I would argue that was a matter of fixing or repairing the cultural and societal feeder systems that gave people equality of opportunity- not a problem with our values themselves. The biggest exception was doubtless criminal justice throughout the Anglosphere- we really should have looked to the results the Northern Europeans were getting with reform-centred approaches to non-violent crime and changed our systems- apart from anything else, it would have represented a huge saving for the taxpayer.

            And of course it wasn’t the policing systems that needed fixing, but rather the punitive approach to courts and sentencing that really would have made the difference. In a recent Question Time in the UK, Jordan Peterson made the point that social science has proven that shorter sentences with a higher chance of detection and apprehension and conviction, are far more effective than longer sentences at deterring crime.

  11. Macnadoodle says

    This has happened before. A long time before. The horrific history of the book “Malleus Maleficarum” – the Hammer of Witches – the conclusion was, that even to suggest that the torture and execution of Witches, made the one voicing that opinion a witch, and therefore liable to be tortured and executed. This is a new version of that horror.

  12. dirk says

    War (= violent encounter) simply is a last resort in a diplomatic quarrel, and quite a common behaviour between nations even, a German war theoretician wrote. There is nothing against violence, I think, it’s only immoral and wrong where it is used too quickly and in an emotional way.

    Of course, in Ngo’s case, violence was wrong, but the border where violence is or is not permitted is not so clear for everybody.

    Is violence going to be used in the Persian Gulf? Depends of course, where diplomacy does not result, and the riscs are discarded.

  13. Nathan Hall says

    The virtue-flagging, superficial thinking left pretend to stand up for their percieved victims. At the same time, there are real victims & causes they choose to ignore. For example slavery occurs throughout the middle east today. In China Muslims are interned in their hundreds of thousands, also in Chinese citizens are controlled by social credits without any recourse. In Hong Kong, the citizens decry their loss of freedom, now seeing the value in western systems pre 1997 when handover occured.
    The problem with the so called educated left is they believe their intelligent and critical thinkers, but they are anything but. They’re the generation where entry to university was decided upon ability to pay, not intelligence. These people spout only their indoctrinated sound bites without any analysis, and get into group hysteria, much like real Nazi’s would do. If only the left would realise wesrern systems and traditions provide freedoms we all enjoy. The world they advocate for is closed, freedom curtailed and one world view is accepted. They also divide us by colour, class, religion sexual preference and so on – diminishing our value to certain sub groups. This isn’t progressive, this is abhorrent and undermines our joint human dignity and experience. The leaders of the left seek power and control, not to find solutions. They have their antifa “useful idiots” to get them there!

  14. Daniil Strykov says

    It is wrong to call Justin Murphy an “antifa”. Yes, he may be an anti-fascist in the first, etymological sense of the term (like most people really) but in today’s context, “antifa” has a meaning beyond the ethymological one. Real-life Antifas are leftists and the large majority of them are anarchists.

    Also a cursory look at Murphy’s Twitter feed makes me think he’s mostly a troll.

  15. Jim Austin says

    Like most leftist causes, the LGBTQ cause is leftist bait and switch.

    First, leftists offer something benevolent like LGBTQ rights, equality, safety. Then the left switches 180 degrees opposite and ally with a death cult that seeks to kill LGBTQ types.

    Leftist bait and switch.

  16. harrync says

    People like Charlotte Clymer or the antifa may hold some leftist positions, but to call them leftists is a misleading over-generalization. I, and most “leftists” I know, reject violence and favor the peaceful competition of ideas. If we lose that peaceful competition, so be it. As my late uncle used to say, “Have it your own ignorant way.” And antifa are more anarchistic than anything else. Right wing: small government; far right wing: very little government; extreme right wing [i.e., anarchists]: no government.

    • codadmin says

      No, ‘left’ and ‘right’ are not polar opposites, they are just different flavours of the same thing.

      • tarstarkas says

        You’re conflating fascism and its kindred with the ‘right’. Any movement in favor of government control or collectivism is inherently leftist or at least totalitarian in outlook. The real ‘right’ is anti-collectivist, anti-big government, pro-individual, pro-free trade. Libertarianism is what I would call a ‘right’ movement.

        Left and right came about due to the seating arrangement of the National Assembly during the French revolution. Supporters of the republic sat to the left, king’s men to the right, because traditionally Pre-revolution the position of the favorites of the king always sat (or stood) to the right. The modern right as we know it really didn’t exist then except amongst classical liberal philosophers.

      • Jeffrey W. Judkins says

        Two wings of the same bird that craps on us all at one time or another.

      • dirk says

        What does that mean, ” same thing”, codadmin? Something in the John Rawls sense, overlapping consensus? The basics must be the same, otherwise no society? I wonder very much!!!

        • Jesse says


          There is indeed a lot of overlap between the ideologies of the Left and the Right, and your speculation is correct: without broad consensus on basic values, there can be no society. We don’t think about all the things that everyone agrees on, because we have no reason to, and when we do think about them we feel silly. For example, across the political spectrum, there’s agreement that a society should be governed largely by some set of laws. We agree that this set should include laws against individual violence, and that it should enshrine personal possessions and personal residences. Those places of widespread agreement actually cover quite a bit of ground. We find it hard to imagine living in a society not governed by laws, or one in which a person can’t go about their business safe in the assumption that if someone attacks them unprovoked, or invades their home, the state will be on their side. Nevertheless, there have been societies that failed to meet each of those expectations. The ideas that lead to them have just been far outside the Overton window for a long time.

        • codadmin says


          The polar opposites are total government ( totalitarianism) and no government ( anarchy).

          I realise left and right are highly abstract and subjective terms, but we have to try and organise the language we are forced to use in a coherent way. It simply make no sense to polarise left and right.

          • codadmin says


            For example, a left wing tyrant is the same as a right wing tyrant. A left wing anarchist is the same as right wing anarchist. A left wing moderate is the same as a right wing moderate…in essence.

            The differences are all superficial.

          • dirk says

            In Heffer’s The True Believer, the essence indeed is the extreme, the fanatism,content doesn’t matter so much. Maybe in some cases, but not in all, I think, sometimes content also counts.

    • DNY says

      I’m afraid you’re engaged in the fool’s errand of trying to salvage a meaning for “right wing” more coherent than “opposed to the left”.

      The Left, ever since it got that name from the seating arrangement in the French National Assembly, has had a coherent meaning — it is the political tendency that seeks to control and expand the power of the state, especially over economic affairs, on the plea that its policies will be beneficial to the downtrodden, seeing anything free from state control or influence (e.g. non-state approved religions, families) as hostile to its program. Note that the definition I just gave applies equally to the Left as defined by the diktats of the Comintern (with the downtrodden being the “workers of the world”), or the early 21st century Left (with the downtrodden being a grab-bag of racial, sexual and religious minorities).

      The “Right” is simply everyone opposed to the Left, thus classical liberals, Tories, ultramontane clericalists, monarchists, anarcho-capitalists, and even movements with almost fit within the Left, but oppose the normative version (e.g. the Nazis, who really were socialists, regarded Germans as the downtrodden thanks to the Versailles treaty, and defined themselves as the German Left, and — as dissimilar from the Nazis as classical liberals are from ultramontane clericalists — people who feel themselves to be part of the Left, but have ended up here on Quillette because some current enthusiasm of the 21st century left was a bridge too far).

      Unless you are Leftist in good standing with the current normative version of the Left, in which case the Left-Right dichotomy is useful because it lets you claim all of your opponents are Nazis, the Left-Right dichotomy is really quite useless except for announcing that you oppose the Left by claiming the name Right (and, as you can see from the last paragraph, that doesn’t tell your much about your views).

      • codadmin says


        Yes, but, who cares? The origins of left and right are completely irreverent now. They serve as tribal indicators, only. The origins are long forgotten by everyone. They say nothing about a persons values anymore.

        Left is not good or bad, and the right us not good or bad. But, they can be either.

        Besides, you speak of the hunger for state power on the left of the king…but what was the king but complete state power?

        • DNY says

          I gave a characterization of the Left beyond merely their desire for state power, which an absolute monarch (unless his notion of divine right or the mandate of heaven had some unusual features for which I know of no historical instances) would not fit: they make the plea for an omnicompetent state under their control on the basis that that (and only that) will benefit the downtrodden.

  17. codadmin says

    The fascist left use the language of war, and act out the language of war, unashamedly…liberals and conservatives merely report on their behaviour.

    In 2017 a free demo was surrounded…it looked like this…

    The above image has unnerving parallels with this famous image…

    The people in the middle of these images represent all of us at this point in history…

  18. Candy Mercer says

    This is EXACTLY what I am seeing in Olympia. And it is defended. Yes. And a reason I am rejecting it. I am a “white supremacist” for calling out fake hate crimes, I am a “transphobe” for calling out violence against women (TERFS) and I am alt right for calling our violence perpetrated by street people.

    All of the violence in Olympia is ok because it comes from the oppressed. Property crime is redefined as “survival crime.” they are trying to decriminalize crime itself.

    We are now a town full of tent cities where drug addicts need to be free is preferenced over other citizens rights to have a clean town.

    The world has become so distorted. This week I was disciplined, and told I could get off the bus if I wanted to continue to talk politics with someone. The person and I were connecting over IDW ideas…it is so exciting to find someone in real life in Olympia who is like you…the bus driver stopped the bus, and told us we are not allowed to talk politics as it was causing harm and if we wanted to continue we have to get off. he was serious. As I got off the bus later, I apologized, he reiterated, politics are not allowed to be talked about in a public space, against the rules. It did not appear we were offending anyone, no one complained to the driver, he did this on his own.

    This made me highly uneasy, we were not being hateful, and I have been riding buses in Oly for over a decade and had many and overheard many political conversations. I called in a complaint and they are going to review the tape. they are taking it seriously as am I. This is going into first amendment territory. i also think we were targeted because we both looked kind of shabby, and he thought we would be easily cowed??

    We were having a MSNBC/CNN pundit level convo. No hate. No isms…STUNNING! In america!

    • tarstarkas says


      Welcome to a preview of the Live Action Role Play version of 1984: Olympia.

      It will only get worse if you don’t start removing officials who promote or allow this sort of Stasi-style spying and elect those who won’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if you conversation has been reported to the local prototype of the Thought Police.

      • Candy Mercer says

        I know…I know…it is getting scary here. I am going to see how Intercity Transit handles it when they review the tape, I felt like James Comey, “Lordy I hope it is on tape.”

        One thing, I am not sure where the driver was coming from…his motives are ambiguous, as we were not showing a clear ideological bent to our convo, it is hard to say what exactly it was he disapproved of, we had just been talking about Nancy Pelosi (positively – I praised her career as a leader), and then when interrupted we were in the middle of discussing Trump’s brilliance this week in controlling the media cycle while he did some shady stuff in the background (including misdirecting from Epstein). We had both seen the recent Tim Pool coverage on the topic and so were discussing it from that POV. Neither of us were Trump fans, but we were talking about areas where he has been effective, even while we disagreed with the policy.

        So I am waiting to hear from IT, and how they handle it will decide my next step. This does seem newsworthy to report on, though it is relatively minor in the scheme of things, but it seems like it is one of those minor things that if unchecked will grow. I mean, this is AMERICA!

        For the record, not that it should matter, but we were both former extreme leftists who have had reckonings, and been isolated for it, and are now nonpartisan. We were both low income, disabled, and queer. I am in my 50s, he looked in his 30s. So it is not like we fit in any “HATE” box. I am a little loud due to hearing loss, and we were excited, but I do not think we were acting in a way that could be considered threatening to anyone.

    • Kauf Buch says

      “they are trying to decriminalize crime itself.”

      It stems from the mental illness that says,
      “To eliminate crime, eliminate the laws which make certain actions criminal.
      If there are no laws, there is no crime! Easy peasy!”


      Its more degenerate mutations are seen in Nakatomi….

  19. ADM64 says

    It all comes down to the false philosophical view that words mean whatever one wants them to mean, independent of reality. The act of physically injuring someone is different in its basic nature than speaking to or around them. Even speech that is manipulative and systematically intended to hurt a) requires massive amounts of application and b) still depends for its effectiveness on the willingness of the listener to react to it. The only damage speech can really do to someone is what one lets it – as in cases of domestic psychological abuse, where the latter encompasses more than speech. Violence, in contrast, inflicts injury against which there is no voluntary escape except through fighting back.

    What I find interesting in this debate, though, is that groups like Antifa and the left generally seem to think that the one-sided nature of this crap will continue indefinitely. If everything is violence, then everyone else will have no reason not to respond in kind.

    • Heike says

      I think Antifa will keep doing these provocations until they get a response. Then they and their many allies in the mainstream media can point to it and shout “THEY’RE VIOLENT! CRUSH THEM!” and then engage in mass repression.

      America is suffering a crippling fascism shortage. Demand greatly outstrips supply. Antifa is doing all they can to help.

  20. Klaus C. says

    There’s no doubt that antifa are a violent mob, and those who support them are clearly endorsing violence as ethically sound political action.

    But there are plenty of ordinary left-leaning people who’ve long realised this and who don’t support them at all. We see them as another bunch of extremists, much the same as the neo-nazis but wearing different team colours.

    But we do need to acknowledge that there are too many on the left who expect us to normalise and even celebrate violent mobs like this. We need to make it clear that the defenders of antifa, like antifa themselves, do not speak for the genuinely liberal democratic left.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Everybody knows that they don’t speak for the left in general just as much as we understand that the KKK doesn’t represent the GOP. Quillette, however, insists on fostering this connection because it speaks to the sympathies of their readership. It, of course, it complete bullshit, but you try telling that to one of the typical rabid man-children who post here.

      There’s a bubble that needs to be protected around here, Klaus.

      • Klaus C. says


        It’s true that this place often reads like just another right-wing ghetto, but there’s sufficient interest in some of the articles to keep participating, at least now then 🙂

        And there are some reasonably thoughtful people contributing in the comments, amongst the noise.

      • Daath says

        @Nakatomi Plaza

        When an Internet bubble is pricked by a Wrong Opinion, the reaction is predictable. The poster gets dogpiled. Now notice the complete lack of ad hominems or even counterarguments leveled against Klaus. Farris, one of the “rabid manchildren”, did however compliment his post, and I, another piece of trash, agree with that.

        A non-negligible minority of the left either sympathizes outright with the antifa or (more commonly) feels a need to downplay their violence. There are some relatively influential academic theories that are very useful in doing so. That’s pretty much it. They aren’t as disconnected from the left as KKK is from the right, but they certainly don’t speak for it either. I don’t really see how anyone would read the article that way, unless of course the ever popular method of “check the title and skim the text before posting an angry comment” is used.

      • Kencathedrus says

        @Nakatomi Plaza: yes, but the media are all over right-wing extremists when they do anything and then paint all other white men with the same brush.

        When Antifa do anything, there is complete media silence, except for a few news outlets like this one.

        I don’t agree with everything I read in Quillette, but I enjoy most of the well-thought out comments below the articles. The most ‘rabid man-child’ I come across here is you. Sometimes you have good points to make, but your ranting and cursing drowns out any message you have. It makes me dislike you, because you insult and denigrate rather than reason or argue. Whatever ‘side’ or cause you are defending, you do it more harm than good. I don’t want to dislike you, because you’re probably a very decent person in real life, and I’m sure you mean well in your own muddled way.

        One of the things I appreciate about Quillette is how they don’t censor comments like yours, even though they are rude and boorish. Many ‘left-wing’ sites would have banned comments like yours ages ago for being ‘offensive’. This openness and discussion of unpopular opinions is what keeps me returning to Quillette.

        I think if we got rid of the left-right dichotomy and replaced it with another kind of scale, perhaps authoritarian-libertarian, we would probably find we have more in common. I don’t consider myself left or right, but I’m totally against government overreach and ‘in-your-pants’ politics, as well as those who use identity politics to garner special treatment.

      • E Taph says

        That the left generally doesn’t indict those types or their street violence enough says a hundred times more than actual words can convey. It’s a double standard, that those on the illiberal left are willfully blind toward while expecting any public figure to the right of Mao to treat every nationalist moron like a happenstance of their personal oversight, instead of a result of nationalists trying on the same sort of collective group identities the left has lately deemed a matter of course for ‘marginalized groups’ – since it has difficulty understanding how idpol leads to collectivist oppression.

    • Farris says


      “But we do need to acknowledge that there are too many on the left who expect us to normalise and even celebrate violent mobs like this. We need to make it clear that the defenders of antifa, like antifa themselves, do not speak for the genuinely liberal democratic left.”

      Well said Klaus. Do you believe that more on the Left do not criticize SJW types out of fear of reprisals? Additionally, I would add anyone on the Right who would defend James Fields Jr. or denigrate his victim are no better than his or her Antifa counterpart.

      • Klaus C. says

        Most left-leaning people, like most people in general, aren’t actually much involved in politics or public political discussion. Politics is something that happens on the news and in social media etc (as far as I’m aware, none of my friends or relatives tweet and only a few get involved in political discussion on Facebook and so on).

        But I’d say there’s plenty of criticism of what are seen as dogmatic and intolerant tendencies on some sections of the left. Even here in Quillette, most left-critical articles appear to come from a liberal centre-left perspective.

        Ordinary centre-left people don’t particularly care what far left activists think of them, because few of us actually mix with such people. Personally, as one who’s long been involved in freelance gay rights lobbying, I’m not afraid to distance myself from radical transgender ideology which I’ve quite often criticised (for example in the comments to Guardian articles, where I’ve usually received many recommendations and not much challenge for such criticisms).

        I’ve also criticised what I see as the excesses of multiculturalist ideology and promoted the idea that ordinary Western liberalism, with its focus on freedom of the individual, actually maximises genuine diversity in society, whereas multiculturalism and identity politics tend to herd people into conformist tribes.

        The idea that “the left” is some homogeneous bloc is certainly not reflected by political reality, when for example the British Labour movement has been in a state of civil war for some time, and similar parties in most Western countries display the usual tension between centre-left and more radical factions.

        • Kencathedrus says

          @Klaus C.: ‘Most left-leaning people, like most people in general, aren’t actually much involved in politics or public political discussion. Politics is something that happens on the news and in social media etc (as far as I’m aware, none of my friends or relatives tweet and only a few get involved in political discussion on Facebook and so on).’

          To be honest, I was like this for a long time. I thought I was left-wing, not because I fully understood it, but because I was a ‘live and let live’ kind of guy. However, ‘Live and let live’ is now seen as right-wing. I think the problem with the left is that it is no longer enough to just work and get on with your life. You simply have to endorse everything they stand behind or you are an evil ‘fascist’. Once ‘white men’ became the face of fascism, I realized that the left had been co-opted by extremist elements.I disagree with male-bashing, not just because of I am a man, but as a teacher, I see this is having a negative effect on my male students who are subjected to this form of messaging 24hrs a day – not just through news media, but also through their own entertainment channels. Many boys are retreating into computer games as an escape, but now even these are under threat of becoming ‘teaching moments’ to boys. The left are literally creating a generation of boys who are going to grow into right-wing extremists. Masculinity is now considered a pathology while, perversely, transgenderism has been removed from the ‘disorder’ list. Some young kids I talk to see that ‘gay’ or ‘transgender’ children get special treatment from teachers, which is now breeding resentment in ‘normies’. They now have to endure bullying from ‘special’ children because if they push back they risk being labelled ‘trans- or homophobe’.

          I think the pendulum has been stuck on the ‘left’ side of things for so long, that it is now about to go full throttle to the right, particularly when the Gen-Zs, who are the victims of all this nonsense, begin to graduate college.

          • BrainFireBob says

            There’s another element to it.

            I grew up conservative on the West Coast- I’ve lived in the suburbs of Portland most of my life. PDX is one of the most liberal areas in the country- a combination of being an old-school progressive city with the old frontier idea of being extremely polite in public, because you may not like your neighbors, but in public you play nice because you need each other to raise barns.

            That led to a lot of imports thinking PDX was far more welcoming than it was, and we ended up where we are today (a lot of transplants should ask their acquaintances to find out just how many are natives vs fellow transplants- the natives are quietly not inviting them into their living rooms…)

            My school was mainstreamed far because it was cool, and I was a gifted child who spent my childhood being told I didn’t deserve awards or trophies because I would “get mine later” and “other people needed the self-esteem boost more” even though “technically you were the one who earned it.”

            This is to give you an example of what it was like here 30-40 years ago!

            This has shaped my opinions of the left as dominant, obnoxious, problematic, and otherwise abusive. There’s a reason Antifa sprang up here- here, the Proud Boys are the underdogs, showing up with 20 people to rallies where Antifa “counter protests” with 200.

            But it’s provincialism. Every Nakatomi or Klaus C. I’ve approached on the issue? Grew up in TX or Arkansas, and see the right as an oppressive force that’s so pervasive and smothering that only tactics like Antifa can let their voices be heard. Guess what? Where Antifa is doing that, they’re the bible-thumping Evangelists smothering voices! People need to get out of their damned bubbles already. The left is so oppressive here, it’s ridiculous- and this state has a nearly 50% conservative voting block. All state politics are controlled by THREE COUNTIES that contain, I kid you not, something like 52% of the population. Just enough that the conservative voice is silenced.

    • Kauf Buch says

      TO KlausC
      “…too many on the Left..”
      …including ALL of the Mainstream Media, ALL of academia (from K-12 through post-Grad) and ALL Democrats…

      You are fooling yourself.
      YOUR “genuinely liberal democratic Left” DOES NOT EXIST ANYMORE.
      STOP USING IT AS YOUR FIG LEAF to disguise your passive enabling of said terrorism.

      • Daath says

        @Kauf Buch

        And just as I posted that Klaus C didn’t even get counterarguments, this cap-heavy blast appeared. Oh well. If you really think it’s all of them, you probably have a pretty skewed view of things. In a country as big as USA, a sizeable minority can produce a ton of noise, and if you get a lot of your news from sources that pay a lot of attention to that kind of stuff, it can look as if that’s all the left is and does.

        The genuinely liberal democratic left can and should be criticized for not doing enough to rein in the leftist radicals. Some fear reprisals, others think falsely that they aren’t under threat themselves, and yet others downplay the radicalism “because the right is so much more dangerous”. But they sure as hell aren’t all antifa enablers.

        • Kauf Buch says

          TO Daath

          What a lazy apologetic for Leftist Domestic Terrorism you are.
          “It’s not all of them!”
          NOT ALL have to have the molotov cocktail in their hand, chump.
          The passive rationalizers and enablers – and even those disinterested looking-away-from-it-all – make it possible…including your imagined, so-called liberal democratic Left:

          • jakesbrain says

            A radical leftist wants to blow your head off. A moderate leftist wants a radical leftist to blow your head off.

          • Daath says


            I almost always vote for my country’s nationalist populist party, and as for Left’s complicity, we all are passive rationalizers and enablers of a lot of very dark things. I’m not doing all I can to stop sexual assault from happening, in part because I reason that a lot of measures would do more harm than good, but also because there are a lot of problems in this world and concentrating on some means being disinterested about others. Should I change my attitude? Is this rape culture? SJWs think so.

            I think this mentality is silly, no matter what ideology it’s wrapped in. As long as others tolerate my imperfections, I’ll tolerate theirs. If their idiocy rises to aneyrusm-inducing levels, or they can’t live with the fact I might not obey their criticisms, that’s a different thing.

          • Closed Range says

            Is Kauf actually Nakatomi in disguise trying to inflame the comment section?

          • Kauf buch says

            TO daath

            Your latest MORAL RELATIVISM diahrrea states clearly that you equate Domestic Terrorism with people’s “imperfections.” Thanks for clearing that up. To leave “aneyrusm-inducing levels idiocy” and its resolution open to interpretation is weak tea.

            TO Closed R
            “Inflame” the comment section?! Hardly: this is just my writing style…I make my equally valid points with fewer hoity toity words than the typical Academic (who has the need to appear to others to be “educated”) and fewer obscenities than that Leftist Loser WackyNackytomi. But, nice try at devaluing my contributions, chump.

  21. Robert Fisher says

    An interesting article. I wonder if some of the Left’s current court favorites (people of color, the transgendered and Muslims) can always count on their safety. I don’t think it’s impossible that they will find themselves on the wrong side of one of the Left’s “Oceania is at war with East Asia; Oceania has always been at war with East Asia!” moments at some future date. And when asked why they are attacking people who enjoyed their past solidarity, the violent activists will reply “They betrayed our trust and that made them even worse than fascists.” And of course, there will be academics who will provide convoluted justifications.

  22. Nakatomi Plaza says

    Really? We’re going to do this and, without an ounce of irony, never mention Trump? It seems like something happened recently relative to using words to encourage violence and political division? Maybe that was just my imagination.

    This place is so intellectually dishonest it’s sickening.

    • ga gamba says

      Enjoying your visit today? No? I’m happy to hear it.

    • Will says

      What’s intellectually dishonest is to suggest that the far-left only react because of and against people as far-right as Trump. The reality is that the far-left suppresses speech from the moderate-left all the way to the right.

      You seem to be lost in a case of child-logic: “They’re bad so it’s okay that we’re also bad.” Such is ethical the failure of the far-left.

      • @ Will

        If you look at his actual policies and positions, Trump can’t fairly be labeled “far Right”.

        • Weasels Ripped My Flesh says


          I agree Trump is very much a 1970s-era Democrat when it comes to policy.

          But for the media/left these days, anyone they don’t like is “far right” or “alt right” or “neo right” or “fascist” and “racist” and “white supremacist”, etc. Actual beliefs are not relevant. They view this as a put-down and an attempt to bully people who don’t share their outrage.

          But Trump is the bigger bully, and it drives them crazy that he wont come out kneeling and apologizing and cow-towing to their demands as they expect everyone to do. Let’s face it. A large amount of Trump’s support comes from the fact he taunts these whinny ass-holes. A lot of people (of all colors and stripes) find this amusing.

          I also agree with the Bruce Willis Christmas movie hotel poster. Trump’s being elected caused an immediate meltdown and tantrum by “the left”. Obviously the tantrum is Trump’s fault for winning the election. Just like a two year old having a tantrum is mom’s fault for not giving the kid a cookie.

          Plus, you’ve got a whole generation of generally well off people without enough to do in their lives, and who were raised on Harry Potter and Star Wars and Raiders of Lost Arc Nazis and their parents constantly telling them to apologize for whatever transgressions. Their upbringing is reflected in how they act. Not a surprise.

          A car parked at a local small brewery that I frequent has a “Resist” bumper sticker. Resist what, exactly? The urge to have another beer?

        • DNY says

          Since when is labeling someone “far Right” a matter in which fairness comes in? It’s a matter of political expedience. Hence, in Europe to be “far Right” it suffices to have noticed that every fiqh’s version of shariah has illiberal aspects, to point them out, and to draw the conclusion that mass immigration to Europe from the Muslim world is undesirable. If he did not have that view, Geert Wilders would be regarded as a centrist (seriously, look up the positions of his party on all other issues — they are quite unexceptional). So, by European standards, Trump is “far Right”, and the American Left, suffering from envy of the power the unelected European Commission wields, wants to play along and adopt the European standard for flinging that accusation

    • Geary Johansen says

      @ Nakatomi

      Most of us will readily admit that there is a broad spectrum of political views on the Left, hence the circular firing squads. But what we perhaps take issue with is the genius idea from the Left, that the best way to stop racism, sexism and homophobia, is to judge people on the basis of their race, gender and sexuality- that’s pure clown world.

      Also, the instances in which words are violence, are so staggeringly remote that it can only happen in the exceptionally rare circumstance that someone knowingly and provably inflicts a psychiatric injury on another. This, more than anything else, empowers Antifa in their moral justifications, and the irrational support they enjoy from some journalists.

      If you really take issue with what many of us write, then why don’t you try arguing against us using facts rather than hurling insults, like Klaus C. or many of the other commenters?

    • Kauf Buch says

      TO NP
      You’re practicing what in your Psycho Ward is called, “whataboutism.”
      tsk. tsk. tsk….

    • Morgan Foster says

      @Nakatomi Plaza

      “This place is so intellectually dishonest it’s sickening.”

      And you come here almost every day for another helping of it.

      Perhaps you’ve been keeping track. Have you changed even one mind on this site with your comments?

      • Thersites says

        “Have you changed even one mind on this site with your comments?”
        They are not with out effect, I suspect any change of mind would be opposite to whatever NP’s point is, if there is one.

  23. mitchellporter says

    ‘Who is Charlotte Clymer? She is an activist who works at the Human Rights Campaign, America’s “largest LGBTQ civil rights organization”…’

    ‘She’ was a ‘he’ five years ago, and at the time was viewed as an example of a bad male feminist, for suppressing female critics on his forum, for propositioning women there, etc.

      • Rev. Wazoo! says

        @nonna & mitchelporter
        … And Charlotte Clymer got a restaurant to pay a $7,000 fine for lasing for ID when she used the Ladies Room. Worse though, she got 2 employees fired. Silliness might be the law of the land in Washington DC so a fine is legal where this took place but getting people fired is plain nasty.

    • Marie says

      Exactly. How can we have a discussion about the postmodern left changing the meaning of words to suit their constructed reality and their political zealotry when the author himself accepts this Orwellian language? Men are not women. It is intellectually dishonest to attempt to deceive your readers by calling “Charlotte” Clymer a “she” or a “woman” when he is merely a man who calls himself one. Transgenderism is the greatest threat to the basic rights of women. Just read about Canada and the Yaniv mess. To buy into their delusions is to support them.

  24. ga gamba says

    Great read, Mr Lindsay.

    The progressive activists make much of hearing and listening, usually in the accusation that they are “not being heard / listened to.” Yet, is this true? I certainly hear what they’re saying. I even listen to it, though often it’s the same slogan I heard before.

    I’ve heard ya. I’ve listened. I disagree. Are you hearing me?

    And that’s the rub. It isn’t for a fair shake to be listened to, the opportunity to make one’s case. It’s a demand to be complied with. I think of it like how an angered parent shouts at a naughty child “Why don’t you listen to me?!?!”, which often includes the air of menace because a child understands a consequence will befall him/her if compliance isn’t demonstrated quickly.

    Anyway, I’m amused by how much structure has been erected by academics to buttress the morality, the justness of their desire for others to punch people on their behalf.

    • Orthogon says

      I connect your observation to the frequent deployment of the innocuous word “conversation” by leftist-activists (HR personnel, diversity “experts”, etc) to mask the unstated goal of indoctrination. It’s a stealth strategy to emotionally manipulate those who don’t perceive the danger because they are used to giving anyone the benefit of the doubt.

      • ga gamba says

        Indeed. It’s to establish the monologue. I’ve observed in news reports that nowadays in the States when some kind of community group is assembled to achieve a goal, such as education reform, first everyone needs to have a conversation about unconscious bias first. The expert arrives and pre-empts questions and concerns by indoctrinating the participants that such issues are reveals of the person’s racism and fragility. Surprise! You’ve been Kafka trapped. Other times the “need to have a conversation” and “start the conversation” is played when the person has been caught on the back foot, can’t rebut what’s been brought forth, and wants escape.

  25. “The conservative journalist has built a prominent presence in part by going into situations where there may be conflict and then publicizing the results.”
    Okay, sounds like trademark heroic journalism.

    • GregS says

      Sounds a lot like what war correspondents do too. Like Marie Colvin, who died covering the siege of Homs in Syria

      I am sure there were those who told her she risked being killed covering that story, but does that mean “she deserved it” by putting herself in harm’s way?

    • X. Citoyen says

      Good point and worth emphasizing. Going to places you aren’t welcome is part of real journalists’ job description.

      Shows how unreflective the responses to the incident were.

  26. There are some people who have a great need to be violent, and to inflict their violent need on others. Some such people look for justification for their antisocial behaviour in the ideology of the extreme left or right.

    • Will says

      “Ideology — that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes, so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  27. Will says

    “publicly cheering the beating of a gay man”

    No she didn’t, she said it was “completely wrong” in the very quote you provide. Don’t fight deception with deception — be better than them.

    That said, the attempt to dismiss Ngo’s journalistic status is disturbing: “We decide who’s a journalist and therefore we decide who is a protected member of the press (and therefore there is no protected press, but we’ll leave this last part out).”

    • Andras Kovacs says

      she said it was “completely wrong” in the very quote you provide

      … then engaged in some prime quality victim blaming.

      • Will says

        Yep, a lousy thing to do. But that is distinctly different than a “cheer.” Unless, of course, you’re inclined to warp words in the very same way this article is (rightly) criticizing.

        • Andras Kovacs says

          But that is distinctly different than a “cheer.”

          Is that a fact? Merriam-Webster says that ‘cheer’ as a transitive verb has the meaning “to instill with hope or courage”.

          • Daath says

            It also gives two other meanings: “to urge on or encourage especially by shouts” and “to applaud with shouts”. If I hear of someone cheering violence, the mental picture I form isn’t about her using weasel words to say that it’s bad to beat other people up, but this guy kinda had it coming. I wouldn’t be too surprised to find out she wanted to cheer openly, but didn’t dare to. It’s just that I can’t see her motivations, only what she did, and that sure didn’t look like cheering to me.

          • Andras Kovacs says

            If I hear of someone cheering violence

            Ah, but she isn’t accused of cheering the generic concept of violence, but rather with

            publicly cheering the beating of a gay man

            And her tweet as included in the article can be construed as encouragement by the application of the victim-blaming logic. If so, then it satisfies the definition brought by you: “to urge on or encourage especially by shouts”. Obviously, the ‘shouts’ were lacking in this tweet: but the shouts aren’t an absolute requirement for cheering to happen.

          • Will says

            Still fails that definition because, again, at no point did she imply any sort of appreciation or desire hope to see such a thing, in fact she explicitly expressed the opposite by calling it “completely wrong.”

            So again, be better than them. Don’t stoop to their level by doing all sorts of mental gymnastics, to the point of intentionally corrupting words, that allows you to interpret what they say in the worst possible way as a rationalization for recreational outrage. Do the opposite — be the better person, and at the very least don’t impute your own meaning onto someone else’s words to make it more consistent with your priors.

          • Andras Kovacs says

            Still fails that definition because, again, at no point did she imply any sort of appreciation or desire hope to see such a thing

            The definition — as quoted by Daath — was “to urge on or encourage especially by shouts”. I explained why I think that the tweet quoted can be construed as encouragement: you’re yet to show that such a construction is impossible by reasonable people.

  28. E. Olson says

    Nice essay – a real history lesson on the speech as violence movements on the Left. It brings to mind an experiment that would be fun to conduct:

    First, gather a sample of Leftist activists who believe speech to which they disagree is equal or worse in violence than actual physical punches, and a sample of normal people who believe in the “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Before continuing, each respondent will be asked to fill out scales related to words as violence being the equivalent or worse than physical violence.

    Second, recruit some violent activists with a known criminal record of physical assault and abuse from the extreme Right and Left, and some thought leaders of the Right and Left who have “controversial” views but no history of physical violence.

    Third, ask each member of the two samples whether they wish to have a discussion in a locked room with the physically violent OR wordly “violent” person from the opposite side of the political spectrum. Thus someone on the Left would be faced with the choice of having a political “discussion” with someone such as Ben Shapiro in room 1 or the most physically violent neo-Nazi in room 2, while someone from the normal group would be faced with a discussion with someone such as Aymann Ismall in room 1 or a most physically violent hooded Antifa member in room 2.

    Forth, upon making their choice, those that choose room 1 have a verbal discussion for 15 minutes, while those who choose room 2 are physically beaten to a pulp for 15 minutes. Upon completion of their “treatment” each respondent will then be asked to again fill out scales related to words as violence being the equivalent or worse than physical violence, and scales measuring the amount of physical and mental pain they are experiencing. Doctors will also be asked to examine the physical wounds of those choosing room 1 or room 2 and grading the severity of said wounds.

    Fifth, a statistical analysis is done on the percent in each group choosing room 1 or room 2, and a comparison of the scale scores to see if scale answers change before and after the room 2 treatment, and between group 1 and group 2 on the scale and doctor rates wound damage measures.

    I wonder how many of the “words as violence” respondents would choose room 2, and I wonder if the experimental treatment might change their opinion? I also wonder how reviewers at top Psychology or Philosophy journals would review a paper on this experiment.

    • Rev. Wazoo! says

      @E Olson
      An amusing thought experiment which proves a point despite no ethics committee ever being willing to approve full. Still, they might approve the first, theoretical, part and that alone would be very illustrative of the difference between actually believing something and pretending to do so in aid of one’s in-group.

    • Kauf Buch says

      TO E O
      Whether those “Leftist activists” choose the “talking” or “violent” room, tell them
      they can bring their garrote (common weapon of choice by Antifa, looks like:

      Then, whichever room they choose, be sure the violent person is waiting for them with a .45ACP pistol.

      That’s the degree of “ambush” these Domestic Terrorist cowards afford us citizens.

      • Charlie says

        Wonderful idea. I think what is being ignored is character of left wing middle class types . M Muggeridge said it is the impotent who become pornographers and O Wilde said the only people who though more about money than the rich were the poor. M Muggeridge pointed out that the Webbs like many middle socialists had inherited money, in their case a grandparent made it during the Crimean war.

        From observation at university, it was the feeble middle class types who had pictures of Che Guevara on their walls and who idolised revolutionary violence: they were not the types playing rugby, boxing and going off to join the Parachute Regiment of Commandos.

        The development of Cultural Marxism, Post Modernism and Third World Communism ( Western World Bad, Third World Good ) combined with decline in standards in the arts and massive increase in numbers and affluence means there is considerable competition between mediocre academics for jobs. These academics are not the type who will be offered chairs in Greek, Sumerian, or Medieval Literature . As Andy Ngo said Antifa have no meaning or purpose in their lives, they are the empty cans which make a noise when kicked down a road.

        These feeble impractical lefties with poor quality tertiary arts education yearn to be like tough blue collar types but also fear their toughness. The success of the West is freedom to think, speak and act and achieve success. Middle class lefties lack the ability to succeed in the West and so attack the freedoms so their lack of success and hence inadequacy cannot be seen. Left wing middle yearn for the toughness of a fighter but know they cannot stand up and take the blows. If a manual workers had hit Andy Ngo he would be in a far worse condition. What actually unites and divides people is character. Those in the elite military units are all of one class because they have the mental and physical toughness to pass selection. Many COs of the SAS have gone to Eton College and come from affluent backgrounds( Ed Butler, Mark Carlton-Smith ).

        On only has to examine the physiques of the Antifa; those who have undergone hard manual work and/or physical training have muscular builds by their late teens. If one undertakes hard manual work , or that of craftsman, engineer or scientist one can achieve a sense of well being by observing one’s accomplishment. Antifa are the types who have the emptiness of no accomplishments and so rage against The West because their inadequacy is plain to see.

        The executioners of the NKVD and Gestapo, especially their leaders such as Himmler, Yagoda, Beria and Yezov, were physically puny men who enjoyed the power of death over physically strong types; Antifa are of the same mould.

        Shalamov explains this very well

        The reality is that since the 1960s , we have allowed to be produced an intellectual proletariat comprising spoilt feeble impractical middle class types produced by over indulgent parents in the soft comfortable suburbs. They have suffered little and therefore learnt little. Parents who encourage their children to pursue STEM subjects and compete in physical contact sports produce tough competent adults. The Antifa rage against The West because they realise they are inadequate to maintaining or furthering this civilisation, so they wish to destroy that which puts them to shame.

  29. Zdenek Vajdak says

    Nice analysis of where the idea that ‘words can be form of violence’ comes from and how this claim is formulated. But since it rests on some sort of argument ( hinted at in this article ) we also need an evaluation/assessment of it.

    Here are few thoughts how this might go: first note that the defender of this way of thinking about violence ( some sort of post modern Marxism, take a pick) has to try to show that the normal way of using the word ‘violence’ ( defined as ‘behavior involving physical force intended to cause harm’ ) is too narrow because when you say, for eg, ‘Antifa is a fascist organization’ you are not, on the face of it, intending to harm anyone; all you are doing is criticizing a set of ideas or actions of some people.

    The defender of the new speak who wants to claim that saying that Antifa is fascist is a violent speech act has to show that the intentionality of the speaker is irrelevant: the claim has to be that that you dont want to harm anyone with your words when you say Antifa is fascist is neither here nor there.

    But this seems silly so what is the argument for this? One thing that is not going to work is to say “violence is the name of the general principle by which objects are transformed through their relationship to other objects” because transformation is not same as harm : improvement is also a transformation so this is useless for shoring up the claim that words/ thoughts can be a form of violence. The only thing, it would seem, that really stands any chance of working, in this effort to expand the meaning of ‘violence’, is to say that what matters is the consequences of the locution and not the intentions of the speaker.

    This is similar to the idea that you can kill someone accidentally, and yet obviously cause them harm and hence do something wrong, even in absence of any intention to do harm. Similarly I may not intend to harm anyone when I say ‘Antifa is fascist organization’ but my words can cause harm and hence it is legitimate to call such a locution is violent. The issue is whether some objective harm is caused by it or not.

    This point about harm seems to be the main premise of the argument I am looking at, and of course the whole idea of structural violence also seems to rely on the plausibility of this premise. So the question is whether the premise is true.

  30. Barney Doran says

    But, EO, you overlook the deep psychological lacerations suffered by the word wounded that will scar them for life. Never again for them a safe space in which to escape that verbal brutalization. Their lives are ruined. Better they regularly get the shit beat out of them so they can emerge psychically untarnished and able to proclaim their revealed virtue. Sainthood achieved.

  31. Simon says

    I agree with the general argument, but I’d be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water.

    There are two issues at play. One is of epistemological nature, the other of political nature. How do you prevent a heuristic tool to become a preconception ? And how do you prevent a heuristic tool to become a catchword or a banner ?

    From an epistemological standpoint, I don’t think one should dismiss the idea of structural/epistemic/discursive/symbolic violence altogether, even it became a grueling meme. There surely exists instances or exemplifications of such violence. And when such instances are established, it is worth understanding and addressing them. The problem with the idea, as it is handled by the left, is its lack of specificity. The left-wing academia uses x-violence as a guideline and a given assumption instead of a working hypothesis or a faillible theory. The adequate response does not lie in rejecting such ideas because of their political consequences. Attacking their science on the basis of political assumption is giving them new ammunition. The adequate reponse lies in rejecting such ideas because of their lack of scientific accuracy in describing social trends, or their lack of scientific robustness in giving sense to contradictory data.

    From a political standpoint, the issue regards the political usage of social sciences and the organization of advanced education. How do you prevent political activists to use their professorship as a platform to indoctrinate and co-opt new recruits ? And how do you prevent public decision-makers from taking the turnkey solutions of the former for granted ? At some point, its like left-wing educators and politicians got stuck in a closed loop, with Democrats requiring clear-cut ideological inputs to reach the educated, white, urban class, and Academics forging more radical, less qualified outputs to capture the attention of public officials. The discursive field of academia started to work as an artistic avant-garde, where thinking was less about conceptuality than vernaculars, and teaching less about your pedagogic abilities than your ability to display political radicality. The academic discursive field was structured along a logic of distinction – pursuit of radicality -, expressing itself through symbolic and epistemic violence – thought exclusion -, in order to secure access to scarce symbolic goods – academic tenures and access to ideological state apparatuses.

    In this process, rationality declined as ideas ceased to be problematic and became dogmatic.

    • Martin28 says

      @ Simon
      “I don’t think one should dismiss the idea of structural/epistemic/discursive/symbolic violence altogether, even it became a grueling meme. There surely exists instances or exemplifications of such violence.”
      Since the supposed violence is subjective and depends on who is the speaker, how they are saying it, what their intent is, and how the listener is taking it, how do you measure such “violence”?
      We should never confuse words with objective, measurable, physical violence. That will lead to unending abuse and escalation of claims of “hurt.” It’s an incentive not to be brave and instead claim victimhood.

      • Simon says

        @Martin 28 : There’s a difference between the who/how parameters and the intent/susceptibility parameter. There’s an objective violence, which is measurable in terms of power relations and intrinstic connotation, and a subjective violence, which is measurable in terms of tolerance level.

        Structural violence, symbolic violence, epistemic and discursive violence are based on the status that allows you to speak and the categories through which you categorize things and persons. The “subject” we’re talking about within these paradigms is not the individual subject who feels and thinks. It’s the authorized locutor whose identity is institutional, who’s thought and spoken through. The coordinates of the personal subject are subjective and personal. The coordinates of the institutional subject are objective and impersonal. The former is a state of mind, the latter a sheaf of norms.

        There’s an institutional violence, which is purely formal and can be exerted without any physical coercion. The dividing line is between a psychological conception of the dominant/dominated relationship and a structural conception of the same relationship. These two approaches can not be put on the same level. When I treat Tutsis and Hutus as two ethnicities while they are two functional groups sharing a common biotope, I’m exerting categorial violence even though it does not result in an immediate physical elimination. However, when I promulgate rules against racial profiling in the housing market, this might not change anything if the habit is deeply rooted in the dominant population. Structural violence is about the macrosocial organization of a given society, which can go unnoticed or fall under the radar. Subjective violence is about microsocial interactions.

        The dividing line is not between words and deeds. Words, acts of speech are deeds. Some words are instrinsically violent, some are accidentally violent. They are accidentally violent because they are improvised weapons or because their violence is simply perceived. In a ruling case, the question is whether the “susceptibility” parameter has to be taken into account. In my opinion, you can discard the touchiness of the plaintiff as an aggravating factor without drawing a clear line between word and deed. It’s simply a matter of formal parallelism. If the inner feeling or the intent of the defendant is not taken into account in order to consider his words as “hate speech”, the same process should apply to the plaintiff, whose inner feelings should remain out of consideration.

        • Simon says

          @Martin28 :

          To put it more simply and more methodically, I first tried to explain that structural violence does not equate verbal violence.

          Structural violence is, as such, a contested heuristic tool that needs clarification. It’s a complex mix of quantitative and qualitative sociological parameters that can only be obliquely approached. Structural violence is social violence depending on structural domination. You can reveal it – in a chemical sense -, through statistical analyses of crime rates, or the inequal distribution and concentration of wealth over time. But to attest the existence of structural violence, you must cross-check this data with the representativity of given groups in power structures, the categories framing the population in legal codes and public policies, cultural representations …

          If these two lines of analysis do not converge and reinforce each other, there’s no structural violence. That’s why saying “1,000,000 men beating their wife is violence” is not enough. You have to certify this statistical analysis with other facts like how the legislation codifies matrimonial relationships or clears the husband from some acts of abuse, how cultural codes instill the model of the dominating husband or the submissive spouse, how there’s a complaisance or negligence on the part of decision-makers when they are confronted to cases domestic violence.

          Then I tried to explain why attacking the equation words = acts is, in my opinion, a counterproductive line of attack to address what you have in mind.

          The thesis you try to refute is “in a ruling court, perceived violence should count as endured violence”. Or something like “compensation for a moral prejudice suffered should be calculated depending on the feelings of the plaintiff”. I totally agree with this thesis. A Black male immune to verbal violence has as much right to draw a complaint against an instance of hate speech as another, who is addicted to culture wars and needs his fix of outrage.
          Where I disagree with you, is on the idea the thesis we want to refute is based on the “conflation of words and acts” thesis. The idea that susceptibility, in instances of hate speech, should be an aggravating factor has many origins I don’t know. And it’s more a vague and pervasive social process rooted in the structure of collective affects than a coherent set of premises or grand-unified theory.

          But one of the assumptions of the “touchiness thesis” regarding hate speech is the very idea of “protected minorities”; namely the idea that people enduring structural violence should enjoy the favours of courts, or be granted an assumption of victimhood.
          In my opinion, one of the relevant line of attack is saying that the instances that must be protected from hate speech are not so much given minorities than the political body at large. Adhering to a racist worldview is as degrading for the proponents of such a worldview as it is for the ones playing the bad role in this worldview. As a white male, I don’t want to bear the burden of whiteness white supremacists want me to carry. What is more, giving voice to racialist policies in the public debate, introducing false problems as well as false solutions, is a collective dead end and a forfeiture of rationality. The same goes for allowing verbal violence in the public debate, where deliberation, caution and listening should prevail over intimidation, haste and one-sidedness.

          The good line of attack, in my opinion, is not « hate speech for none » based on the assumption that words do not equal actions. The good line of attack would be something as « hate speech for all instead of hate speech for some » based on the assumption that political amity requires verbal restraint, regardless of your positioning in the social stratification, precisely because words are actions.

          Otherwise, you just throw the whole political body in a deadly spiral of grievance and resent.

  32. Zdenek Vajdak says

    Assume that words can cause harm even if harm is not intended. If this is true then another thing follows which is that words can cause good to happen. If I tell you to fire and you kill an innocent by stander then you are causing harm ( even if none of us intended to do that, ignore for a moment the semantic question whether this is violence ). But my locution ‘fire’ might cause you to kill a homicidal maniac who has launched an attack on us and hence you bring about good outcome ( opposite to harmful ) even if none of us intended that outcome to happen.

    But if this is so who is to decide what is harmful and what is not? This would seem to depend on ones politics: if you are a Marxist/postmodernist you will see my saying that Antifa is fascist organization as harmful but if you are a liberal/libertarian you might see my remark as true and hence as a good thing to say.

    So here is another problem with the ‘words/thoughts can be form of violence’ mantra: it rests on a political point of view so it ought not be viewed as something resting on intellectually privileged point of view which ought to be endorsed by everyone. No one outside the idiosyncratic outlook called critical theory ( or whatever ) which is just another flavor of Marxism anyway needs to take it seriously even if it comes from accomplished philosophers like Michel Foucault.

    • Martin28 says

      @ Zdenek Vajdak
      Excellent point. Words can cause good as well as harm. And you can never really know, because it is all subjective. It all depends on who is talking, how they are saying it, and how the listener is taking it. The woke left are claiming to know ahead of time what words cause harm, and to be able to measure that harm according to intersectional theory. It’s an absurd ploy. Our supposedly intellectual institutions—universities, the media, foundations—must disavow this theory or lose all credibility.

  33. Orthogon says

    Excellent article, but omits the significance of Herbert Marcuse. His “Repressive Tolerance” (1965) was at least as important as Fanon’s work in scrambling the categories of discourse and violence and effacing the distinction between them.

    This was the goal of post-structuralism generally — to collapse distinctions between concepts and/or reverse them.

    Marcuse was highly influential to subsequent intellectuals and new Left activism in the 60s. Also influential in campus speech codes & establishment of protected classes.…/60s…/65repressivetolerance.htm

    • Bill Miller says

      Fully agree. “Repressive Tolerance” is the smoke screen to hide the totalitarian approach of the new/old socialists behind.
      “The long march through the institutions” is another tool, Marcuse wrote
      To extend the base of the student movement, Rudi Dutschke has proposed the strategy of the long march through the institutions: working against the established institutions while working within them, but not simply by ‘boring from within’, rather by ‘doing the job’, learning (how to program and read computers, how to teach at all levels of education, how to use the mass media, how to organize production, how to recognize and eschew planned obsolescence, how to design, et cetera), and at the same time preserving one’s own consciousness in working with others.
      Although I do not subscribe to the standard HYDRA-like conspiracy some people seem to imagine behind it.

  34. Pingback: Left Turns Words Into ‘Violence’ & Violence Into ‘Justice’ – | TrumpsMinutemen

  35. Jake says

    It seems to me that the “structural” issues the left has problems with is rooted more with the reality of “human nature”. I learned from reading Pinker’s Blank Slate, the left tends to deny human nature because it might “justify” bad things that happen. The right embraces human nature because it “explains” the bad things that happen. If you understand human nature you can work for best outcomes, if you deny, it runs amok.

  36. Etiamsi omnes says

    It’s so totally like Jesus. I mean: he ASKED for it.

    • Weasels Ripped My Flesh says

      “Jesus was asking for it” would make a great bumper sticker.

      Although not as good as the one with Stalin’s face on it that reads: “Dark Humor is like food. It’s not for everyone.”

      • Kauf Buch says

        TO WRmF
        One small detail you omitted:
        those excellent bumper stickers would be available only for Priuses (and Volvo station wagons)… 😉

  37. doug masnaghetti says

    Democrats are morally depraved. They are a pox on our nation.

  38. David Longfellow says

    The author has it precisely backward.
    Violence is built into the genetic code of the left.
    Their words aren’t the problem, they are just a symptom of the left’s underlying pathology.

    • dirk says

      In the left only, David? We here in Europe, have had our last violent genocide committed by Mladic and Karadzic in the old Yugoslavia mid 1990s. I know of no other similar events here around. Built in their genetic code?? And in the left?? I wonder very much.

      • Andras Kovacs says

        Built in their genetic code?? And in the left??

        By changing “in the left” to “among collectivist statists” the theory worth exploration.

  39. Plausible Deplorability says

    Antifa will stand down and disappear the minute they’re on the receiving end of civil lawsuits for the damages, both physical and property, and lost incomes their violence has caused.

    We passed Peak Intersectionality about 9 months ago. People are sick and tired of this happy horseshit. And only on Quillette is ANYONE paying the remotest attention to the ravings of freaks who a generation or two ago would have found employment in the circus. “Feminists” etc. are not exactly thought leaders in the real world where people have actual work to do. The fringe is not the majority, about time someone figured that out. No one hires demonstrable troublemakers.

    There are no real-life “fascists,” “Nazis,” or “KKK” extant in 2019. The genuine article were products of a different socioeconomic milieu entirely. Can we PLEASE STOP comparing everybody to Hitler? Frankly, framing everything in “fascist” terms makes one look stupid.

    Here’s the bottom line: The Left was in the driver’s seat for 8 years, and produced a goose egg. They wanted us to believe malaise and decline were the “new normal.” A screwball candidate out of right field promised to turn that around, and by 2016 we had nothing left to lose. Cringing from Obama’s “apology tours” and that pallet of cash shipped to bribe a grease-spot enemy, ANY candidate who didn’t promise more of the same embarassment would have won that election!

    These race-baiters and dividers keep forgetting that whites are still at least 75% of the US population, and that a great many Hispanics also see themselves as white. They tend also to be entrepreneurial, hard-working family men who don’t look kindly on slackers, whiners, and “First World Problem” pearl-clutchers educated beyond their intelligence who have no life beyond the screen of a cell phone while begging for a handout.

    Most of us are NOT open to this country turning into Tijuana, Mogadishu or even San Francisco. We don’t wake up every morning wringing our hands over “women’s rights in Afghanistan” or how to implement “Agenda 21.” We don’t intend to apologize for the English language, Christian-Anglo heritage, eating beef, driving trucks or saluting the American flag.

    Today’s Democrats are so profoundly bubble-bound they lack any common ground with functional, taxpaying, Main Street rank and file Americans. They keep pushing the platform they had at those non-“debates” a few weeks ago, they’re going to get one hell of a pointed tutorial.

    Meanwhile, in the words of Dizzie Warren, “I’m gonna get me a beer!” 😉

    • Kauf Buch says

      TO Plausible D
      I don’t have any heartburn with the “verbal shorthand” of “fascists,” “Nazis,” or “KKK;” cut us some slack. We’re not talking about a history lesson…even if many on the Left do claim we’re “the real deal”…just shows their ignorance.

      Call it what you will, today’s Left repeatedly attempts (and in many facets of today’s life) a totalitarian “re-education” campaign not dissimilar to Mao’s Cultural Revolution.
      And 0bama brought us dangerously close…a Hillary victory may well have been the final nail in the coffin.

      I think that’s why the Left is so frustrated, beyond their usual filled-diaper behavior. Their violence is just a symptom/reflection of their unfulfilled totalitarian utopia.

      OH. a small detail: Whites in the US stand at 68%, I believe.

      • Plausible Deplorability says

        Can’t argue with anything you said; and can I use “filled-diaper behavior?” That’s a gem!
        These people’s U.S. history is the Howard Zinn revisionist version; the mental equipment capable of parsing that neither the much, much, nobler than life traditional version nor the litany of oppression tell the whole truth is lost on them. And 68% of the country unconcerned with victimhood narratives, in a wildcatting economic boom, to me says a decisive win in the offing for the non-whiners.

        Love how lefties practically want us to apologize not only for being born white, but for having a job, income, house, nice life in short not being a shit-bum. We’re not allowed to be happy in their world, apparently, until the world has been perfected. Wish they’d look up how that worked out for their laundry list of predecessors . . .

        I’m convinced at this point that 99.5% of all this is media-generated; I just don’t see the racial animus, the class warfare, the gender friction or the nastiness in the real world anywhere. People go to work, buy and sell, interact pleasantly as always. This is The Matrix, an amped-up narrative to generate fear, loathing and divisiveness. Full Alinsky.

        • Kauf Buch says

          TO Plausible D
          “I gotta MILLION of ’em! Have at it!” 🙂

          And, RE: that part of “the country unconcerned with victimhood narratives, in a wildcatting economic boom,” it’s not just Whites…Black and hispanic unemployment numbers are at historic lows (never lower since recording of such numbers started)…so they are also going to be a significant part of the “win in the offing.”

          HENCE the racial “divide and conquer” you’re seeing recently from the Left.
          (That’s also why I call it the “Lying Leftist Media”; you can steal that too, if you like 😮 !)

          Since they can’t win with policy, they’ve just got attacks, lies and “retread racism” (SEE: Erica Thomas #HateHOAX…Jussie Smollett Part Deux!)

          Like I said, “I gotta MILLION of ’em!

  40. Winston Smith says

    Clymer, incidentally, is a man. Which means, inter alia, that he is properly referred to with ‘he,’ etc.
    Perhaps it’s bad form to go out of one’s way to point that out. However, given the radical progressive left’s full-court press for force us to acquiesce to obvious falsehoods, especially the falsehoods of transgender mythology, I think we have a particular obligation to refuse. When even articles in Quillette bend the knee to such patent falsehoods and absurdities, things are in a perilous state indeed.

    • M Bird says

      A very important point. It’s my opinion that the media has a collective responsibility to halt participation in this delusion.

  41. Rev. Wazoo! says

    @Geary and Ray
    Can’t seem to reply to your kind compliments in place so down here anyway, to you both whose many insightful contributions I respect even when I disagree, thanks for the kudos! Reading your comments helps make these pages worthwhile.

  42. MoreFreedom says

    “…. it is actually well rooted in leftist academic social theory, which has blurred the distinction between word and action for decades.”

    Seems decades ago in kindergarten I learned the simple lesson that “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Worthless professors have been working hard in convincing people to believe conservative words are hateful actions, and Antifa violence is just speech. In that case, I get an urge to speak to them in their language.

    You can’t have freedom, unless you are first willing to give it to others, and people who say speech is violence, aren’t willing.

  43. Bandit says

    So many words – ‘It’s OK when we do it’ is much more concise

    • Kauf Buch says

      TO Bandit
      True, but it’s the way
      gen-U-ine … Leftist … in-tuh-LEK-shoo-elles
      rationalize societal terrorism.

      Think of it as the soft, cushy pillow they’d put over your head before pulling the trigger.

      • Kauf Buch says

        p.s. TO Bandit
        …they’d put over your – or ANY hoi polloi who disagrees with their ideology/methods – head before…

  44. bandit08 says

    So many words – ‘It’s OK when we do it’ is much more concise

  45. Itzik Basman says

    I’m very sympathetic to Lindsay’s argument. But to the extent that he draws, as I read him to, an absolute line between violence as physical action and violence as language, I have qualms. For example, if I spank my child that may be violence depending on the circumstances but what if I uncontrollably yell at my child and in doing so demean and belittle him, taking pleasure in his hurt? And what if I don’t yell at him but tell him calmly terrible things about him meaning to demean and belittle him, taking pleasure in his hurt? Or what if I hurt someone physically and accompany it with, say, words accentuating the pleasure I take in causing such pain or words demeaning and belittling my victim and enhancing my own pleasure at his hurt?

    Can we in these instances so clearly separate the physical and the verbal in identifying what is violent. Cruelty as a ground for divorce in Canadian law includes physical and mental cruelty. Words meant to incite physical violence in the US are a limit on 1st Amendment freedom of expression.

    So my sense is, as opposed to my clear conclusion, that in relation to violence the physical and the verbal are not so absolutely separable. If that sense is right, then the issue is not that the verbal is to be defined out of violence but rather is: do the words come within the ambit of what violence is, properly conceived. Perhaps that conception is something along the lines of:

    …intentional behaviour, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation… (Adapted from the WHO definition)…

    which conception entails a distinction between the offensive and repugnant one on hand and the genuinely harmful on the other.

    Another line of argument that at least gives me pause is, as I read it, Lindsay’s rejection of the idea of structural or systemic violence. Clearly there is such a thing as systemic or structural racism. The basis for it is its being institutional, whether de jure or de facto. So why not a concept of systemic violence? Wasn’t slavery that with the licence in the slaveowner to beat, whip and torture what was merely property at whim and will? Or why not suppressive cultures where children and/or women are essentially properly and can be beaten, whipped or tortured at whim and will?

    Again I have a sense of the rightness of the idea of systemic or structural violence, though not a clear conclusion about it. If my sense is right, then again this issue isn’t dismissing systemic violence from violence’s proper realm but rather judging whether the assailed structure comprises or houses behaviour that results in harm (see above adapted WHO definition for greater particularly) to a broad group of people. Take genital mutilation for example and the legal and cultural institutions that allow it.

    • Itzik Basman says

      Last three words better as …that ordain it…

    • Martin28 says

      @ Itzik Basman
      Spanking, within proper limits, is not violence. The words you are describing, which are far worse than proper spanking, are not violence–they are abuse. It’s really important to think clearly about these things. Words are not violence, but they can be abusive and cruel–especially if they come from a loved one.

      • Itzik Basman says

        Spanking can be violence—I note your use of “proper” as a qualifier. Exactly my point.

        Verbal abuse that causes appreciable harm may well be a mode of violence and in that instance, any many imaginable others, the line between abuse and violence blurs as they overlap. Which is on of my main points.

        Declarations of what is and isn’t violence aren’t arguments: they’re just that—declarations.

        • Martin28 says

          @Itzik Basman
          You are wrong there. Physical violence is objective. When somebody shoots you or knifes you, the physical harm is real, manifest, and measurable. It doesn’t matter who is doing the shooting or knifing, or who the person is or what their attitude is.
          But verbal abuse or words of any kind are subjective. You don’t know what kind of harm is inflicted, if any. It depends on many things. Is the person joking? Are they speaking intellectually? Is it a loved one, or is it someone you don’t care about doing the talking? And also, people can make themselves resilient to talk. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”
          There is a world of difference between physical violence and words. Words can be hurtful, I agree, but we should never confuse the two. Once you say that words are violence, you can claim any amount of harm from something that is not measurable. And the reverse is true, you can deny harm as well. Social justice theorists are deliberately confusing the two to maximize the victimhood of the so-called oppressed, and impose their world view by force on everybody else.

          • Itzik Basman says

            @ Martin28,

            The essential flaw in your position is to reject verbal violence because of the ostensible lesser visibility of its effects compared to physical violence. But if someone is traumatized by witnessing the physical violence to someone else, that trauma is subjective but no less real for that. Will we not say that violence caused it? There, the lack of obvious visibility is no barrier to judging the effects. On your logic, we can never say words can be hurtful. For how, on your logic, can we judge that hurt? And if you say words can be hurtful, then you can imagine situations where that hurt is greater than the hurt caused by physical action. So looking at the question functionally, and taking the approach of an effects based criterion, the bright, clear line you want becomes blurry to the point of disappearing. I can think of modes of torture comprised by the endless repetition of certain music or sounds. Yet no one is laying a finger on anyone. That is a verbal or aural form of violence to be sure. And if that’s admitted, then your claim collapses.

          • Martin28 says

            Words can be hurtful. But that hurt is inherently subjective, and we have no way of knowing that the hurt occurs at any measurable levels. That puts speech in a different category from physical violence. Also, speech is something that we all must do, everyday, and speech does far more good than harm—distinct from physical violence in both of these respects.
            If you think that certain speech is violence, then who decides what speech is violent, and whose? What if we disagree? What if many people disagree? That just creates an endless power struggle, which would be a nightmare of oppression. What problem are you solving and at what price?
            Your example of aural torture does not apply. That is something that is forced, where the person has no freedom to make is stop. I am talking about normal human speech. There is no way to categorize words as violence without oppression and doing far more harm than good.

          • Itzik Basman says


            Thanks, no less for your civility.

            I stand by my previous comments and will leave this issue at that,

        • Jesse says

          Just because the argument is a semantic one doesn’t mean one side can’t be wrong. You’re free to use the word “violence” to mean whatever you want, but the commonly accepted definition of the word precludes the possibility of speech being violent. We have other words to express the harm that speech can potentially cause: “threat”, “intimidation”, “abuse”, “harassment” etc.

          Since it is a fact that speech cannot be violent according to the commonly accepted definition, one has to wonder why some are pushing to expand the definition. My take on it is that this sort of word game is just another rhetorical trick, a stealthy application of the “Motte and Bailey” technique. This technique is similar to equivocation, but distinctly its own tactic. While equivocation utilizes ambiguity to avoid commitment, M&B consciously flip flops between two clear but contradictory meanings. When you use your own private definitions of words in public discourse without making an explicit disclaimer, you’re being deceitful.

    • Kauf Buch says

      TO Itzik B
      Sure sounds like you’re saying, since there isn’t “an absolute line between violence as physical action and violence as language”, you’re glad to throw out the baby with the bathwater and call it a day. Citing the globalist WHO as a legitimate reference source on violence is a red flag: they need to stick to health (their “H”).

      “Separable or inseparable” (no one is talking about Antifa spanking anyone!) is NO EXCUSE – perhaps a faux-intellectual rationlization – for the Left’s violence.

      • Itzik Basman says


        Throwing out the baby with the bath water?

        How so?

        I’m positing some verbal conduct such as the examples I cited as within violence’s ambit and arguing for a case by case approach given a functional definition of violence, one grounded in appreciable harm, its effects.

        That’s the opposite of throwing out the baby.

        Your position, dismissing anything verbal as necessarily non violent, is precisely that kind of tossing, whereby greater harm caused by verbal conduct than caused by physical conduct is outright dismissed as violence.

        I can see the kid flying through the air.

        As for the the definition I offered, deal with it substantively and red flag me no red flags.

        • Kauf Buch says

          TO Itzik
          Thanks for the “clarification.” You gibberish fits right in with the PsychoKiller School of “Thought” (read with Dr. Evil Air Quotations) of the so-called “philosophers” mentioned in the article (Fanon, Marcuse, etc etc).

          Go ahead. RATIONALIZE Antifa’s violence!
          JUST GO TO SLEEP AT NIGHT ASKING YOURSELF: what’s to stop anyone from taking YOUR words and taking it as an excuse to kill you? I mean, after all, THEY’RE OFFENDED, dammit!!!

          • Itzik Basman says

            You’ve just officially gone off the deep end.

            You wouldn’t recognize an actual argument if it hit you in the face as mine just did. You’re incapable of making one.

            You’re not worth responding to: your mini screed proves that.


          • Kauf Buch says

            Off the deep end? Not at all, ItsyBitsy: YOU are rationalizing that some words are violence, and so, well, it’s up to discussion whether Antifa’s totalitarian-though-cowardly violence is reasonable/justified….in this case, for a photographer just standing there doing his work.

            Look at Antifa vids; IT IS NOT UP TO DISCUSSION…unless you want to persuade people that it’s legit.

  46. Martin28 says

    I wanted to thank James Lindsay for this article and for his important work in the grievance studies. This information is SO important to daylight. The more people who understand how these ideas evolved, the better. Bad philosophy leads to insane conclusions, and that is what we are seeing now.

  47. Nicholas says

    Funny, a lot of the oxygen for this way of thinking comes from the LGBTQ contingent. This is good news as most people are starting to really dislike them, the ones who don’t despise them already. All it would take is someone, like Trump for instance, to raise concerns about ‘degenerates’ who have infiltrated schools, and not just your daughter’s change rooms, they RUN the schools!! It’s coming and it will be great.

    • MMS says


      Your cheerleading for some sort of clash between LGBTQ citizens and non-LGBTQ citizens is just sad. it takes every kind of people. There may be at the very extreme some bad actors on all sides but the vast majority of folks just want to live a life… Go be a propionate for identity war somewhere else….

  48. When words become violence, I’d imagine that diplomacy is considered more risky than bashing in someone’s head because their words were “wrong” somehow.

    “Why give a chance for the heretic to spread their devil words, and defile the faithful?!” as it were.

    Mandating that speaking decently to someone who disagrees with you is forbidden is likely to cause disillusion with a given “believer-victim’s” peers and family, not to mention creating a stronger bond with fellow “victims”-cum-“vigilantes”, cementing the idea of words being too risky to even attempt. It’s cultish in its simplicity.

    I observe that these kinds of ideologies potentially change on-average human responses into autistic-like responses. If basic, normal words and ideas, start triggering a genuine fight-or-flight response from a relatively mature adult, then they’ve artificially weakened their level of social development.

    I know because these beliefs are in direct opposition to everything that I’m trying to learn as someone with Asperger’s (aka. Autism Spectrum Disorder Class 1, diagnosed a year ago). It’s messed up to see this unhealthy panic and terror encouraged, it will likely lead to a lot of unnecessary mental anguish on the part of “true believers” and their differently-minded families and friends.

    Probably the best thing any of us can do is to keep on talking, Stephen Hawking (and Pink Floyd) was right about that much.

  49. Rick Phillips says

    I lived during a period where domestic groups: such as the Weather Underground, Black Panthers, the Black Liberation Army, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the New World Liberation Front, The FALN, the United Freedom Front, the Baader-meinhof gang, Red Army Faction, Red Brigades, the First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance Groups, the Japanese Red Army, various Maoist groups and a myriad of others; perpetrated violence in pursuit of vaguely defined objectives around greater equity or liberation of the marginalized or “freedom” for the masses through adoption of liberating ideologies or whatever.

    Antifa seems to be following in their footsteps by resorting to violence in a purportedly “noble” cause. As is the case today, at that time at least some sectors of the media also empathized with their various “struggles”.

    Having witnessed the results of earlier “struggles” I see nothing new nor foresee anything good flowing from the antics of Antifa.

    • Kauf Buch says

      TO Rick P
      Back then, you didn’t have ALL of the MSM (though you do allude to some “sympathy” from some of them – true enough) so virulently promoting the EVIL and either 1) vilifying or 2) suppressing the GOOD. Also, you didn’t have the academic systems (K-12 and universities) indoctrinating to such an extent as they do today on so many cultural fronts. Needless to say, television then was (relatively) harmless compared to today’s indoctrination into degeneracy.

  50. Macca says

    All of these theories sound like the same thing – blaming someone else for your problems. Most people get past his stage of life in their early teens….

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  52. SteveW says

    When reason and logic and the meaning of words themselves become perverted and subservient to ideology it leave no avenue for the settlement of grievances outside of extermination of the other by whatever means necessary.
    That is the ultimate violence of the academy and those who cling to it’s reputation for truth while practicing the most vile deceit.

  53. Pingback: How the Left Turned Words Into ‘Violence,’ and Violence Into ‘Justice’ | Sassy Wire

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  55. Cara says

    So Charlotte Clymer‘s message is “Because you disagree with me it’s OK beat me.” Did I understand correctly?

  56. Pingback: What We Face – Splendid Isolation

  57. Buzz says

    So, for God’s sake, let’s stop using the fuzzy term, “violence”. I’m tired of hearing and reading it. The precise and correct term is “physical force”. You can’t get away with “discursive physical force”, e.g.

  58. Bob S. says

    Structural violence? No. It is violence only if there is a physical object that strikes another physical object. Charlotte Clymer was right, Ngo was attacked for his behavior and support of unacceptable political ideology – white elitism and xenophobia. It doesn’t matter if he is gay or non-white, he is a proxy for an insidious ideology. Its called Conservatism and that is what it represents these days, along with a host of other deplorable beliefs and behaviors of its adherents. Sadly, the only effective response to the American right these days is its total destruction. It is as rigid as religion in its self-superior and flawless beliefs, so whether it is through the ballot box or with violence, ending its relevance in American culture is the only way to address it. These are the only options available to everyone not loyal to it. This has nothing to do with philosophical writings of decades ago, it has everything to do with what the right has become in the modern era. The political culture of the left hasn’t evolved enough to be able to address the tactics of the right in a meaningful way, so some have opted for violence to address it. The right favors violence as well, so its kind of strange to see them upset over being treated the way they treat others. But not surprising, it is the methodology of religion at play, use whatever is effective regardless of ethics or morality or justice to achieve victory for the ideology.

    • Bob,

      Are you serious or trolling? I’m interested in discussing politics with you, but I don’t want to wast my time on a troll.

  59. dirk says

    Guess what I, to my great surprise, just read here in a newspaper on a terrace? From some intellectual from the former Yugoslavia?? There is scarcely any difference between fugitives of war, and fugitves for the results of global capitalist violence.

    Just imagine, that in some UN manifest this complaint is worked out into some intellectual text, and getting legal validity or influence worldwide??

    Good that I am old and soon leaving this planet.

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