Arrogance and hypocrisy are two things I despise above all else, and Bracing Views offers an abundant supply of both. It has been over a year since I unsubscribed from that blog, mainly because I was sick of the vitriol in the comments section, which gave even Twitter a run for its money in terms of how juvenile it was, though still not quite as vile as LinkedIn has become as of late. I took a peek at it the other day, and it’s not nearly as bad as I remember – it’s worse, and I haven’t even looked at the comments yet.
For those of you who came over from Hive to read my editorials, you may not be aware, but Bill Astore and I have quite a history. He is my former history professor, and was easily my favourite instructor while I was in college. I liked him so much, I made it a point to take as many courses that he taught as possible. However, I was a communist back then, and I’m not quite sure if it’s just because I’ve done a total 180 on my socio-political beliefs since my teen-age years, or because he’s been dragged so far left by his own audience (as well as corporate propaganda masquerading as independent journalism) that he’s completely lost the plot, or both, but I’ve since lost all respect for the colonel. Oh, we still agree on some things, but only for the same reason that even a broken clock is right twice a day. To be clear, I am aware that the vast majority of his posts are dedicated to lambasting the MICC (Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex), something which I whole-heartedly agree with, but while we identify similar problems with modern society, our ideal solutions to them are polar opposites, and the fundamental underpinnings of those solutions are irreconcilable, as they are rooted in totally incompatible philosophies.
I once asked Astore what his actual position on the political compass was. He didn’t answer, instead stating a handful of cherry-picked policies that he supports, all of which were vaguely socialistic. I told him “I won’t call you a socialist, I know better than that.” I hereby retract that statement. He is a socialist, and there are no two ways about it. He is either too cowardly or too dishonest to admit it, but he knows what socialism is, and in a relatively recent blog post, he explained precisely why he is, unequivocally, a socialist. In his “dream vision” for the US (live version here, archived version here), he espouses all four facets of a socialist society: government monopoly of key industries, a welfare state with an emphasis on universal healthcare, price controls, and wage controls (both minimum and maximum – specifically, he envisions a country where there is no such thing as a billionaire, because all wealth is redistributed, or “equitably distributed,” in his own words). He also says, in no uncertain terms, that he believes these principles to be “neither right nor left,” but simply “reasonable.” Reasonable or not, these ARE left-wing economic policies, these are socialist policies, and he knows as much, so he is either trapped inside a narrow, far-left Overton window without realising it (unlikely), or he is trying to deliberately drag the broader Overton window to the far left. He knows bloody well what socialism is, and therefore should simply embrace the label of “socialist,” after all, his most vocal followers all have.
Of course, I would argue that socialism is not a reasonable position. It sounds good, it appeals to people’s emotions, but it simply doesn’t work. I, personally, would like to see none of it, but I will concede that some parts of it can work. The Nordic model, for instance, has universal healthcare (and the necessary high taxes to pay for it), but no minimum wage, and closed borders (except for Sweden, but that’s why Sweden is failing, while Norway and Denmark are still successful). So, colonel, if you are actually reading this, I challenge you: explain to me precisely how your ideal society could actually function. I don’t think you’ve actually thought this through, but you’ve either been blinded by the glowing approval of your socialist sycophants, or you simply live in a land of make-believe even more than you think. You’re going to have to do better with me. I suggest that you come up with a make-believe budget for your make-believe America, and then explain precisely how you will get anyone to agree to it; I’m serious, show me your mathematics. Since you like Star Wars quotes so much, here’s one for you: when I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master. Of course, I have since abandoned Star Wars and graduated to the much more nuanced, morally grey, grimdark 40K, so, ah, for lack of better rhetoric in favour of a cheap internet reference, git gud scrub.
And now, I turn to my friends from Hive, though the broader audience may find some of the following paragraph to be insightful as well. If you haven’t gathered by now, Bracing Views is a far-left echo chamber, and echo chambers of any persuasion are dangerous. Without genuinely diverse opinions (as opposed to artificially diverse opinions), extremist ideas fester and proliferate, unbeknownst to wider society. But of course, I am preaching to the choir, because we are all in favour of free speech, and of planting the seeds of liberty in the minds of those fettered to the religion of statism. Do not be fooled, Astore and his socialist sycophants may despise the current political establishment, as do we, but not all revolutionaries are created equal; they are not anarchists, libertarians, classical liberals, or even modern liberals, they are authoritarian collectivists (Astore himself has repeatedly denounced “rugged individualism,” thus repeating the main underpinning of Marxism, and, by extension, Critical Race Theory). Allowing this sort of system to take hold has grave ramifications, after all, and speaking of broken clocks, communist historical revisionist Howard Zinn once said “the greatest atrocities in history have not been the result of disobedience, but obedience.” It’s funny how socialists love freedom when they’re not the ones in power, but they are far more tyrannical than their enemies when they are in power.
I once thought Bill Astore honestly believed what he espoused, and that’s fine, because it’s possible to have an honest discussion with someone like that, and maybe find some redeeming qualities in someone who holds beliefs that you may find repugnant, and also find some genuine common ground. After all, someone who is honest about their beliefs is probably open-minded enough to change their mind. However, if someone lies about their own position, regardless of the motive, they are definitely not open to the possibility of changing their mind. The colonel may claim to dislike the militarisation of America, the veneration of soldiers, and the glorification of war, but his solution, hypocritically enough, is to return to the bad old days of conscription, which is blatantly unconstitutional for a good reason (and first implemented by the same president that began the policy of international interventionism). Astore once proposed a form of conscription for civilian activities in society, and while I’ve recently said my piece about the inseparable nature of collectivism and militarism, at the time, I wrote an article playing devil’s advocate on the idea that “service guarantees citizenship,” in which I tried to get everyone to expand on this idea as a thought exercise, but curiously, everyone clammed up as soon as I published it, and Astore himself immediately back-peddled on his own proposal (though he still thinks military conscription should be restored, live article here, archived version here, point № 9). Clearly, the colonel and his bootlicks aren’t interested in a genuine discussion about how society should function, probably because they know that the ideas presented in Bracing Views are so bad, they wouldn’t even stand up to a simple Socratic thought experiment. I found the cowardice annoying at the time, but I excused it. Now, however, I find it both inexcusable and utterly infuriating. Is Astore just being totally disingenuous so that he can accumulate followers (in other words, a grifter like his idol Bernie Sanders, profiting off the popularity of vapid progressivism)? Unless he had a stroke and completely lost his mind, I doubt it, considering how stubborn he is when it comes to his “principles,” and his thoughts are, to say the least, coherent. Is this blog just a far-left circle-jerk where grumpy old Marxists can simply vent their frustration about their constant defeat at the hands of the neoliberal political establishment, and that the proletariat would much rather join the “far right” (whatever the fuck the “far right” actually is) rather than the glorious revolution? Perhaps, but that doesn’t make it harmless, as anyone who is familiar with the incel phenomenon knows where that ultimately leads, and I know that at least one of Astore’s regular commenters is already an Antifa sympathiser.
I have no idea where I’m going with this. I simply can’t predict what sort of response I’m going to get, though I will say this: Bill, if you thought that my article was unnecessarily harsh, then you need to spend more time around Russians, because I received a similarly harsh response, albeit not quite so verbose, when I tried to discuss my own brand of Lysenkoist feminism with Soviet defector Natalia Vinogradova (not sure if I ever mentioned her to you, but it’s of no consequence either way). I could offer a series of pre-emptive rebuttals to any number of responses that I expect to receive, but I’d rather not waste my time over-preparing for a debate that I may not even have. Besides, I’m considerably quicker-witted than I was during my college days. I once thought that Bracing Views was an intellectual space, where people valued free thought, were open to to all ideas, and were civil and honest to each other in their discussions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Honestly, I feel betrayed. Perhaps that is my own bloody fault, for turning away from communism, but I still can’t help but lament that I thought there was openness to all ideas, “right” and “left.” However, I have new friends, and I’ve gotten a lot better at both serious writing and shitposting. Hunting season has begun, so if I can’t bag some whitetails in the woods, perhaps I’ll bag some midwits on the internet. Either way, it’s time to have some fun.