Thursday 10 February 2022

Unpopular politics in the age of the internet: a practical philosophy of telling people things they DON'T want to hear on youtube.

[At this point, I think absolutely no imagination is required, on the reader's part, to conjure up the email I'm replying to.]



You seem to be really incapable of understanding how counterproductive your attempts to emotionally manipulate and "guilt trip" me really are.  You steadfastly refuse to get the point of what I'm saying, again and again.

Notice that you've dropped the pretense of pretending that I'd want videos criticizing me deleted, if I were in Erin's position (or if I were in Onision's position, or if I were in some political leader's position, big or small: Bernie Sanders or Gary Yourofsky).  I replied to you, very clearly, "No, I really (positively) value this kind of critique when it is directed toward me" —and that has always been true, and always will be true.

To quote myself:

"I would be delighted if other channels cross-examined, critiqued and discussed my political views in the same way that I discuss Erin Janus, or in the same way that I discuss Bernie Sanders.  I would be delighted if other youtube channels talked about my personal life in the same way that I talk about Erin Janus, or in the same way that I talk about Onision.  I really offer substantive, well-intentioned videos on all of these people and more (who I am not "name dropping" in explaining this to you, but offering as parallels, to help you understand)."

Do you notice how that line-of-reasoning has disappeared from your attempts to cajole me?  Now, instead, you try to convince me that I'm being a bad therapist --and when I say I've never agreed to be Erin's therapist, you repeat the same argument with a change of nouns, to suggest that I'm a bad friend.

[I'm here implicitly quoting myself or "recycling" content from a recent email with Durianrider for a few lines:]

I think of myself as a political dissident.  I'm an author, an intellectual, a zero-budget filmmaker... but in every instance, a political dissident.

A life without ambition can have very little suffering in it.  Men with tremendous ambitions endure tremendous suffering, and enlist others to volunteer in suffering along with them.

The path I've chosen is neither quiet nor safe, and I feel no need to pretend that it ever could be.

We don't choose to be loved.  We don't choose to be hated.  We choose to be known or unknown.  I choose to be known.  Innumerable enemies and conflicts ensue, from this decision alone.

I embrace that.

You can't understand this because you're a weak person: you assume that people like yourself (and Erin) should spend their whole lives hiding in the shadows.  I don't live that way: I really, genuinely, accept everything that "comes with the territory" in being a political dissident, and a political philosopher.

They killed Socrates, you know.

My political philosophy is extremely unpopular, in every society on the planet: the advice I'm giving is advice that people don't want to hear.  When the government of France announced that they'd rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral, I'm the one person willing to say, "No, burn it down, leave it in ashes".  That's my role.  And who benefits from it?  Those who CAN benefit from it (this is the same thing I said about my recent videos with Erin Janus in the title).

You have the (hilarious) delusion that you can manipulate me by making me feel ashamed of precisely what I'm proud of, in this equation.  This conceit of yours is fascinating, in its way; but, ultimately, it's just another kind of stupidity.

Re: "I’m aware you haven’t agreed to be her therapist. You say you know her. You are clearly not her friend. Friends don’t do that to friends."

Am I Bernie Sanders' friend?  Am I Donald Trump's friend?  You say you don't recognize the other names, but I could mention other leaders in the vegan movement here, in parallel: Gary Francione, Gary Yourofsky, etc.

There is a sense in which I am being a good friend toward Gary Francione, Gary Yourofsky, and even Bernie Sanders.  There's a sense in which I'm really helping Sanders (and all of his followers) in explaining that what he's said about economics is not true (that it is both misleading and wrong).  There is a sense in which I can say —honestly— that I wish I had friends like that (certainly, I wish I'd had more friends like that in the past, when I was younger, and I was wrong about many things, but had to discover for myself how wrong I was).

Again, you can't imagine this, but it's really true of me.  And that's why you can't understand the extent to which I really am being "a good friend" to Erin Janus —and I'm helping her in the same sense that I'm helping Bernie Sanders, if he's willing to listen, or I'm helping any of the followers of Bernie Sanders, if they are willing to listen.  And, of course, I've already had fan mail from people other than Erin Janus who said to me that they've been through something similar themselves, and they feel that the advice/discussion applies to struggles they've had in the past / struggles they're going through right now.

That's the way this works: the critique of a particular person ends up helping innumerable other people (through imperfect parallelisms, in their own politics and in their own lives).

You just refuse to accept the clear logic of what I'm saying to you, again and again.

What I'm doing in criticizing these people is positive, as I said in one of the earlier messages I sent you, it is important "both for the history and the future of the vegan movement".  I'm not her therapist AND YOU AREN'T EITHER.

You have your own delusions about your own moral superiority and your claims to be helping or healing people.  I do not have ANY of those delusions: I'm not providing therapy for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.  However, are these videos "cruel"?  No, they're not.  What's written on my Tumblr, is it "cruel"?  No, it isn't: it really helps people, though the mechanism I've explained above (imperfect parallelism, etc.).  The youtube channel has helped many thousands of people, or a few million people by now, in total.

Who will it help?  Those who can be helped.  Those who are willing to listen.  Who will be willing to listen?  Those who can.

If only one person in a hundred is willing to hear such a horrifying political message as "DON'T REBUILD the Notre-Dame Cathedral" ("NE RECONSTRUISEZ PAS Notre Dame de Paris") there is nevertheless an important political function in my pressing that case, and setting forth these "truths too terrible to tell".

This is my song to sing.  Some find it alarming, some find it beautiful.  Some find it alarming, but nevertheless recognize the beauty in it.

It is a very spare art form.