Virtue Ethics and the Modern Left - a highly autistic essay - ITT: Why SJWs like Harry Potter so fucking much

nonvir_1984

Never amount to anything! And they were right.
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1. In my view, Virtue Ethics is fine if you're a galaxy-brained professional philosopher with the intelligence and self-discipline to take a good hard look at yourself and make critical moral judgements about your own character.

2. That's why it's important to watch what they do more than what they say, because it shows the actual thinking that is going on in the background.
Not sure I would agree with either. I think in terms of counter examples here. Blessed Maximillian Kolbe, or the White Rose cannot be understood morally unless we look at their character. Their moral example and goodness is not that they were great consequentialist calculators, fanatical devotees of duty, but had a character that embodied goodness. And I do not think they had galaxy sized brains. The problem is to elaborate why they are good, why they are moral exemplas.
I agree that SJW actions belie their understanding of morality - but they couch their actions in terms of morality. They seem to me to be moral fanatics. And the fanaticism is, to my mind, not what sort of person do I want to be, but what is, in my self-centred view good for humanity or the duty here. So, I am not sure that virtue is a useful way to understand or describe SJW. They tend to be deeply unreflective. The reflection is the basis of phronesis - practical wisdom - the basis all true virtue, at least to Aristotle and seneca. Moreover, SJW are driven by passions that are uncontrolled and not ordered. And that is another hallmark of virtue. According to the ancients, at least, and many of the moderns.
The question you raise, however, is important - and can be generalised: what sort of moral actor is this or that person? Because we often fail to ask that and seek an answer we come away with hopelessly simplistic labels that do more harm than good: Incel, white supremacist, are the two getting a run at the moment.
Anyway, thanks for raising this. It has given me necessary relief from the travails of my wanderings to reflect on things that matter a bit more!
 
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Spunt

bwup
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I'm genuinely curious as to where you draw the distinction between one or the other, since from my perspective I simply do both.
I'm sure you do, but these people don't. Notice that SJWs are, about hunting down incorrect thoughts and belief systems, not fixing societal problems. "White Supremacy", "Patriarchy", "Transphobia" etc. etc. are not things that people do, they are things that (according to them at least) people think, or at the even greater extreme, what they are. Consider also the "cancelling" and "deplatforming" of individuals guilty of such wrongthink.

It's not about what actions their targets take. That's why apologising to them doesn't work, they have judged your character and you have been found wanting. No matter how much money PewDiePie raises for charity or whatever other good things he does, he is and forever will be a Nazi according to ResetEra and similar groups. Nazism has been judged to be part of the essence of Pewdiepie's being, in a sort of Platonic/Aristotelian sense. His actions no longer matter.

This Platonic essentialism explains the weird "original sin" aspects of modern Leftist ideology. If you are white, you are guilty of "whiteness" and oppressing minorities, even if you have never done anything remotely close to oppressing anyone. What you did doesn't matter. If you are white, the oppression isn't in your actions, it is in your nature. You shitlord.

Compare this to the "Old Left". They didn't care what was in your heart, they cared about action, about policy. Equality to them wasn't about purging impure thought, it was about redistributing wealth, trade unions, nationalisation, wage controls. Things you actually left your basement and did. You proved you were a Leftist by doing Leftist things, not by telling everyone just how very Leftist you are but it's ableist to actually ask you to do anything (cf Clawshrimpy).


I think the current state of left-wing politics has more to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the general presumption that Marxism and Socialism are now harmless, allowing much more free discussion of the topics. It also probably drew in people who prefer to think of themselves as underdogs, on top of the fact that openly supporting Communism has been a common act of rebelliousness and counterculture dating back to at least the 1930s. The real shift is demographic, not moral. Communism, Socialism, et all were originally championed by middle-to-working class people, with only a few core academics at the top to drive rhetoric. Now, overwhelmingly the people who are likely to identify as Socialists, Communists or Marxists are overwhelmingly middle to upperclass, and a large number of them are on the younger side.

There's a potential arguement to be made that the rhetoric of the modern left wing is some kind of coping mechanism to deal with white guilt, survivor's guilt, and anything generally designated as "priviledged". I'm more inclined to think of it as another outgrowth of this strange wave of emotional behavior we're seeing across the masses, which involves not only politics but has affected other things such as art, aesthetics, humor and entertainment.

The Twitter Progressives owe a lot more to the mechanics of Twitter and the culture surrounding it than they do to any sort of moral thought on the part of the people actively posting there. This has been true of the internet at large for quite some time but Twitter just happened to distill that set of mechanics down the most efficiently. Posting regularly online is habit-forming, and it feeds into a sense of community that generally most people are lacking in their lives. Its not that surprising that people already leaning on one ideology would fall to dogmatism on a site where your thoughts and words at limited to singular 240 character posts.
The mechanics of Social Media, Twitter in particular, I think have played a major role in the shift of thinking. My sperg-out in the OP talked about what I think has changed in the way that leftists think, but not really why. I think everything you've pointed to here is probably correct. Twitter, though, is a particularly interesting case of how altering the structure of how people engage with each other can alter their thinking and behaviour.

The two features of Twitter that define how it is used are the forced brevity of its messages and the ease with which you can block people.

The former prevents ideas being exchanged in any depth. There was a reason Socialists and Communists used to have a reputation for droning on and on for hours, and that's because those ideas are complex and long-winded. So Twitter discourages that kind of idea, and encourages sound-bite ideas without any explanation. "Pewdiepie is Alt-Right" is a brief, authoritative-sounding statement. It is also complete nonsense, but it takes more than 140/280 characters to explain why it's nonsense. So the simple, broad statement about the "nature" or "character" of an individual or group becomes the easiest form of political discourse, rather than long screeds about how the proletariat can seize the means of production in the era of State Corporatism.

The latter (the ease of blocking people) makes it simple to eliminate all dissenting voices, surrounding yourself with an echo-chamber of people who share your ideas. Of course, with no dissent comes no debate and nothing to talk about, so the only way of creating debate is to turn on your friends and accuse them of not being as ideologically pure as you, leading to purges and purity spirals. And because Twitter makes it impossible to have a proper debate, you just get hot takes and "x is a Nazi" statements.
 
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The Final Troondown

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Honestly I'd see SJWism in terms of heroic modelling
For example since the great liberation movements of early feminism, civil rights etc, these movements and the people involved have been taught as great inspirational stories, much as myths always have within societies

The problem is you now don't have a society that lynches blacks, or forces gay heroes to be chemically castrated etc
This is a problem because you can't be the next Martin Luther King with nobody to resist against
So they build up everything into literally Hitler because that fits their heroic narrative
 

Locomotive Derangement

Hardcore Velocity
kiwifarms.net
Honestly I'd see SJWism in terms of heroic modelling
For example since the great liberation movements of early feminism, civil rights etc, these movements and the people involved have been taught as great inspirational stories, much as myths always have within societies

The problem is you now don't have a society that lynches blacks, or forces gay heroes to be chemically castrated etc
This is a problem because you can't be the next Martin Luther King with nobody to resist against
So they build up everything into literally Hitler because that fits their heroic narrative
To my great disappointment, the mundane explanations are often correct. Though I do think there's a feedback loop going on here where what started out as activism has whipped up a bunch of vulnerable people into a frenzy of paranoia. There's also something weird going on where they keep adopting stuff that was initially a joke as part of their movement. Literally Hitler, calling everybody a Nazi, Islamophillia, etc. Its not even that they can't take a joke anymore, it seems like they're incapable of distinguishing mockery from their own movement.

This might be hard to relate since I'm unsure of how common it is, but have you ever seen a confident person interact with a very impressionable one, and within minutes the impressionable person starts mirroring the confident person without realizing it? This feels to me like some kind of masochistic version of that, where SJW types seems to always be trying to fulfill their own stereotypes. SJ non-combatants tend to be a little more independently minded, or at least more introverted and cooperative. They're also quicker to admit that they don't fully understand their own political beliefs, which while annoying is at least something I can appreciate. It seems to me there's more going on here than just politics, but I'm probably overthinking it.
 

Spunt

bwup
kiwifarms.net
Honestly I'd see SJWism in terms of heroic modelling
For example since the great liberation movements of early feminism, civil rights etc, these movements and the people involved have been taught as great inspirational stories, much as myths always have within societies

The problem is you now don't have a society that lynches blacks, or forces gay heroes to be chemically castrated etc
This is a problem because you can't be the next Martin Luther King with nobody to resist against
So they build up everything into literally Hitler because that fits their heroic narrative
There's a lot of truth in this. On the Something Awful forums there is a poster called Prester John/Jane, who is a batshit schizophrenic troon, but also the author of a very interesting theory about authoritarians and the way they think, which is basically the "hero narrative" that you describe. Authoritarians want to impose their will on the world, so they adopt a very egotistical self-image of being a warrior for what is "right" and against the system (even if they are really the dominant group in the system). They believe that they will heroically win the battle against evil - and be rewarded with power over others for being the hero.

Now John/Jane meant this to apply just to right-wing authoritarians (they grew up in some kind of apocalyptic fundie cult so it's understandable) but this narrative applies perfectly to much of the Left as well (every so often someone points this out and the entire thread has a 5-page spastic seizure of denial, it's hilarious to watch). Importantly, it provides a meaningful explanation for what is otherwise the bizarre and inexplicable tendency for hardcore leftists to team up with radical Islamists. On the surface they don't have very much in common in terms of their vision of society - just think how far apart they are on topics like women's rights and homosexuality. But once you stop looking at policy and start looking at the inner narratives of the power-hungry authoritarians behind both groups, there is a common narrative, and that is:

"Western society is decadent and corrupt, and must be destroyed. I will be the hero of the battle, and then I will rule the world in the way I think it should be done."

This explains the existence of otherwise dissonant belief systems, such as that of George Galloway, an Islamo-Fascist-Communist fuelled solely by his desire to have power over others. It's also the motivation behind a number of left-wing lolcows, the epitome of which is Phil/ADF, whose pathetic Antifa LARPing and "Australatina" fantasies expose his real motivation - to have power and dominion over his own feifdom and all the luckless peasants therein.
 

Locomotive Derangement

Hardcore Velocity
kiwifarms.net
There's a lot of truth in this. On the Something Awful forums there is a poster called Prester John/Jane, who is a batshit schizophrenic troon, but also the author of a very interesting theory about authoritarians and the way they think, which is basically the "hero narrative" that you describe. Authoritarians want to impose their will on the world, so they adopt a very egotistical self-image of being a warrior for what is "right" and against the system (even if they are really the dominant group in the system). They believe that they will heroically win the battle against evil - and be rewarded with power over others for being the hero.
This occurs sometimes in the case of authoritarians but its not always accurate. Often times authoritarianism can arise from non-ego routes, such as a long time leader becoming jaded, opportunists using the system to cover up corruption and embezzlement, and sometimes its just bureaucratic inertia. There's also authoritarians out there like me who are dead-on-the-inside misanthropes who have just lost the ability to tolerate other people's bullshit.
 
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