I’m done with political debates and arguments. I really am.
There was a six month period last year when I really got into politics. Particularly US politics. I found myself on a rather unpopular side of the fence, which is a recurring theme for me. I got there through my interest in where culture and society is heading, as well has this burning thirst to know more about the world, which seems to have taken over me since I turned 30. For someone who is interested in the world its quite easy to get sucked into politics, and it can become like an endless rabbit hole. But although I’ll remain interested and fairly well informed, I’ve taken the decision to withdraw myself from much international political talk and debate. Political arguments have become incredibly destructive. Politics itself turns people you used to like into people who annoy you. And what’s the point of bringing the arguments and facts of Sowell or Friedman to the table when society bows down to feelings over reason. We’ve reached a point where for many, politics has become less of a debate about ideas and policies and more a case of “good vs evil”, with one side declaring themselves the moral judge.
Where do I start? Firstly, I’ve been struck by the level of obsessiveness that’s crept into the world. I can understand people not liking Trump, but my word, the hysteria levels have made me lose huge respect. So many people have become literal whinging cry-babies. Stephen King – one of my heroes growing up, has literally become unhinged to the extent that I unfollowed him a while back. Authors Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, who I have a great deal of time for, have also become increasingly deranged and hysterical. Robert De Niro can’t stop himself from whining about Donald Trump every time he has a platform. Roger Waters, who wrote scathing Pink Floyd lyrics down the years opposing the establishment, has now found himself on the side of . . . . the establishment, doing entire concert sets bashing Trump. How edgy. Coldplay stated at a concert that people who voted for Donald Trump are no longer welcome at their concerts. How tolerant. Johnny Depp stated that maybe it was time for a presidential assassination. How peaceful. Meryl Streep decided to spend her lifetime achievement speech bitching about Donald Trump – to a room filled with people who agree with her. How brave. These are merely a few examples. Many of these people claim to care so much about the welfare of ordinary man, but in the next breath call Trump supporters bigoted hillbillies, or something like that. How many of these people ever got of their high horse at all to understand the common Trump supporter? I would guess very few. The ability to understand others is becoming a rare trait. People opposing him is perfectly fine, and healthy for a democracy in fact. Healthy democracies need strong, critical opposition. But it’s the way they’re doing it and their descent into hysteria to the extent that it’s all they talk about, which disappointed me. In my opinion it’s reflected worse on them than it has on Donald Trump.
Where did this all come from? Have people been like this for decades or has the modern world changed us? We’ve become a society where gratification is at our fingertips more than ever. Technology focused around convenience makes it easier and easier to get what we want when we want it. So when we don’t get what we want – i.e. when elections don’t go our way, we’re not quite as well adjusted to deal with it. We go a little crazy.
Most of these writers, actors and celebs have lived cushy, comfortable lives and have been drowning in money and luxury for years. They know nothing of real struggles and real fights of previous generations. So when Donald Trump comes along, they finally find something they can latch onto as a cause. It makes them feel good about themselves. They’re part of the fight and they feel important, like they’re at the front lines of battle. Oh look, they think, when I tweet about Trump I get more retweets and likes than I ever have before! People are cheering me on! They say I’m brave! They’re fighting something and it’s giving them a rush. The wealthy middle class isn’t immune from this either. It’s now edgy to criticise the president to their echo chamber of followers who all agree with them. All feel good about themselves in this battle of Good vs Evil.
Like I said, I understand if people don’t like Donald Trump. I really do. The guy isn’t everyone’s cup of tea by a long way. I’ve been falsely accused of being a Trump supporter for wanting him to beat an opponent I liked less than him, who in my opinion, in the greater scheme was far more dangerous. At times it’s seemed that way to people I know as well as twitter followers, when I was actually just defending the guy from the ridiculous media, celeb hysteria and double standards. I like some of Trump’s positions on certain things. Similarly, I dislike some of his other positions and think he’s idiotic at times. I’ll praise him when he deserves it and call him out when he deserves it. It’s not that difficult. People don’t seem to realise that you can actually have a balanced opinion on the guy and judge him as he goes, on results. Another reason I got behind Trump was because I have a very keen sense that Western Civilisation is under attack. People I know often roll their eyes when I say this. But then again, no one I know personally is as well read as I am on this issue. The fate of Western Civilisation has interested me more than any other issue in the last 12 months, and the parallels between the Roman Empire’s decline and the current plight of Western Civilisation is concerning. Very concerning. So I guess I see him as some sort of necessary evil. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong on all of this.
People’s one sided bias and inability to see another angle gets quite amusing. It gets to the point where you realise politics and forthright political opinions are quite silly. A great example is when Trump met the Pope. A photo went viral of the Pope looking highly serious, an expression perhaps on the verge of annoyance. Of course, everyone loved sharing this, saying things like “OMG the Pope feels the same way we do!!” Blissfully unaware, of course, that there were other photos of both of them smiling at each other. A week later the Pope was pulling the identical expression with Canadian Prime Minister and liberal poster boy Justin Trudeau. Did people go crazy about this photo? No. Did it go viral all over Facebook and Twitter? No.
But enough about Trump. Watching celebrities go hysterical about him has been a lesson for me, and perhaps the main reason for the thoughts behind this piece. In a world where we’ve become so intolerant of alternate political beliefs, why put them out there? I don’t work in politics, I don’t make money from it, so why potentially alienate people? It’s not like I’m going to become the new Andrew Breitbart or Glenn Greenwald.
I don’t even consider myself right wing, but having read the likes of Thomas Sowell, Ayn Rand and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, I don’t think I could ever find myself supporting a Left leaning political party. Yet there’s very little ‘right wing’ about me. In the true sense of the word, I’m more liberal than most of the ‘liberals’ I know. I identify as a Libertarian. I’m worried that the word is becoming pretentious, but it’s the best way to describe myself. Libertarians are essentially pro-individual freedom and oppose authoritarianism, and this can come from the Right or the Left. These days it happens to be coming from the Left. I believe in equal rights, regardless of your gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. I believe that people should be judged on their character and ability and never their skin colour. I believe people should be free to practice any religion they want to, whether it’s Christianity, Islam or the Spaghetti Monster, provided it’s not forced on anyone or infringes on others’ rights. I believe many drug and marijuana laws should be relaxed to the point of legalisation as this would end much drug violence. I believe government should be as small and efficient as possible. I don’t believe in ever going to war unless it’s for defence only – and as a last resort. I believe governments should be doing all they can to provide an optimal environment for business. I believe in unwavering enforcement of individual and property rights. I believe that a job will always be better than social welfare. I believe that the leadership of a country should be putting their country’s citizens future and culture before anything else. But we’ve come to view government as some sort of saviour of everything and the lord almighty, and that’s why people like me are ostracised. Governments don’t like people like me.
The celebrity point is particularly perplexing. Of course, they all have the right to say whatever they want on a public platform. Unfortunately, many do, often revealing their stupidity. Or is it an alarming level of indoctrination? I’m not sure. Stephen King for example must surely know that his country is split pretty evenly between Democrats and Republicans. So why go and alienate potentially half your fan base with your hysterical political mutterings? It really doesn’t make sense to me. Of course, there is a level of arrogance with these people which would probably lead them to say something like “I don’t need sales form those people or fans that are rednecks”. There are hundreds of cases like this, all equally annoying. I’ve just looked at them and been reminded that politics is divisive, now more than ever, and I’ve decided I don’t want to be like them. At all.
The other reason to avoid political arguments is that people don’t change their minds due to the influence of other people they know. Especially when it comes to politics. You’re more likely to change someone’s religious views, but you’re never going to ever change someone’s mind on politics. Often the contrary occurs, and they’ll hold their beliefs even more steadfastly. I can happily speak for myself in this regard. We’re all guilty. Pascal observed this 350 years ago when he realised that people only change their minds or beliefs when they feel they have come to that conclusion themselves. The Stoic in me says Control what you can control. Can I control politics? No. Can I influence politics? On an infinitely small scale. So why bother?
My recent sense of disillusion on all this has been further accentuated by other, more disturbing observations as well. There a disconcerting level of sneer and hate that has come to dominate the public discourse of politics. On social media I follow followers of both the Left and Right. The reason for following quite a few Left leaning people is that I like different opinions, but also because I support Liverpool Football Club, and as you may know, Liverpool is very much a Left wing Labour stronghold. In the run up to the UK election in June I was shocked by the sheer hate and intolerance that was spewing from the Left. If anyone disagreed with them about a Corbyn or Labour policy they were instantly labelled a “Heartless C*nt”, “Tory scum”, “Racist prick” or other delightful terms. I saw very little of this go the other way, despite following a number of Right-leaning accounts. What I saw in the other direction was a more reasonable criticism of policy and competence in a far more civilised form. When politics starts making you annoyed with your own football club’s supporters, of course you become disillusioned – with all of it.
There have been a couple of occasions where I’ve commented on a left leaning media person’s social media post with something that disagrees with their point, only to be attacked by countless comments and insults. I’ve been called “clueless”, a “cupcake”, a “c*nt”, “a special kind of stupid” and so on and so forth. One pleasant gentlemen told me to “Put four fingers in your mouth and shut the fuck up”. My favourite was someone telling me to “Go read a book”. Hence I don’t even bother commenting on anything like that. You end up waking up the next morning with 35 Twitter notifications and name calling from lunatics you’ve never met.
When I’ve looked at all this I’ve realised more and more that I don’t want any part of this. I’m all for debates around economic facts, reason and logic, but that’s not the case anymore.
“He’s a racist bigot” is not an argument
“You’re a c*nt” is not an argument
“Tories are scum” is not an argument
“You don’t care about people” is not an argument
“I don’t like his face” is not an argument
“He’s going to destroy the planet” is not an argument
“The Republican Party is now the party of death” is not an argument (This is an actual Hillary Clinton quote from June 2017)
Sharing gifs and cartoons is not an argument
Sharing a video of someone snubbing a handshake from Donald Trump and commenting “OH MY GOD THIS IS GREAT!!” is not an argument.
Yet this is the political debate that happens nowadays amongst common folk.
Before you accuse me of being too one sided, I must say that this is a problem from both sides of the political spectrum. Many on the Right are equally obsessed and hate filled. Nothing demonstrates this gaping divide between the sides than the days following a terrorist attack. It quickly descends into a case of “NO MORE MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS!” vs “ISLAMOPHOBIA CAUSED THIS!” Zero objectivity, zero balance from both sides. People don’t seem to see that there are two angles to pretty much every issue. That’s exactly what’s missing from this world. Balance. On this blog I mention the concept of critical thought a lot. The ability to look at an issue from different angles and understand the opposing arguments. Very little of that is happening. Never before has the Left and Right seemed so divided. My personal view is that the two sides haven’t necessarily drifted apart. The Right has stayed pretty much Right of Centre while the Left has lurched over to the far Left. This is what has caused the outbreak of hate and the vast divide. It seems to me that it’s a natural tendency of the Left to just move further and further Left, like weeds that grow if you don’t pull them out. Lenin said himself that ‘The goal of socialism is communism’. In the UK and US we see the leadership of parties on the Left moving away from centre further and closer to the far Left, embracing more socialistic principles as it goes while pulling hordes of millennials with them, indoctrinated by their Marxist university professors who’ve never held down a job in the real world. People marching on the streets of London and New York waving hammer and sickle Soviet flags, completely oblivious of the destruction and death this ideal has caused. It’s as if nobody has learned from history and fact. Communism has killed more people than both world wars combined. But is a Marxist eventually going to get into power in the U.S. or UK? Probably. Sooner rather than later is my guess. Is the 21st century going to repeat the mistakes of 20th? Probably. What’s the point in fighting back – humans never learn.
I can’t help but think that a lot of what I observe is a little bit cult-like in belief system behaviour. The vast majority of hate I’ve observed has come from the Left leaning pro-socialist side. This side has appeared to position itself as the moral authority and the Good people fighting the Evil forces of Capitalism and privilege and all those evil things. In an increasingly atheistic society, are people subconsciously looking at political ideals as their guide? Many seem to have succumbed to the church of ‘Feelings’ over anything else. Social Justice is the religion. Privilege is now the Original Sin, and as mentioned earlier there seems to be a growing urge to divide the world into Good vs Evil rather than ideas to be debated. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always thought that people can live morally without religion. But although many people think they can be independent of a higher authority, perhaps this isn’t actually the case. The larger more socialist, authoritative government essentially says Give us more money because we know what to do with it. We know what’s best for you. Are more and more people subconsciously looking to big socialistic governments as their form moral authority and real ‘god’? Maybe.
So ladies and gentlemen, this is me taking the moral high ground this time. I’m above all this shit. I’m going to step back and observe all this from a distance. Just like John Galt, I’m retiring my energies from this battle. I reserve the right to call out stupidity as I see it. I believe it is essential to continue fighting for free speech, but I’m seeing it as increasingly futile to engage in debates that change nobody’s mind and ultimately leave people judging you from their moral high ground. I say again – why bother. Of course, remaining well informed about the world and international politics from a critical viewpoint is always a good thing, and something we should all be doing. I reserve the right to say what I like. My beliefs are my beliefs. I hold them dear. I’ll defend them when under attack. I’ll live as much as can according to them. But will I try to influence others to think like me? No. It’s not the Libertarian way, after all.