Saturday, 24 September 2016

Most activists are twits

I think that altruism is a very noble concept indeed. I admire altruists very much. The world needs more of them. I, regrettably, am very selfish and self-centred. Altruists care very much about others and they often want to change the world and make it a better place. They might be naive or, alternatively, altruists can be very practical people who want to use the most effective methods to increase the share of happiness in the world.

What about activists? Some altruists are activists. I would not necessarily say that all activists are bad. Campaigning for a mainstream party seems perfectly acceptable to me. By going out campaigning, knocking on doors, handing out leaflets, communicating with MPs etc. you are are actually helping to change outcomes. 

But then, a lot of activists do not fit into either of these two categories. A lot of them spend inordinate time and effort devoting themselves to campaigns that won't change anything, or even create any kind of meaningful discourse. Why do it, then?

A lot of hardline leftists love the process and the politics involved. A lot of these people spend their entire lives clashing with others, branding themselves and others with various isms. They form part of factions. This could be termed, vaguely, as 'Trostkyist.' Needless to say, Trotsykism is the biggest political cul-de-sac in the entirety of history. It has never led to a single government. Whenever this militant tendency has hijacked the Labour party (as it has now), it has condemned it to pointless internecine squabbling (and unelectability).

A lot of activists do not take the time and effort to come up with policy to help solve complex problems. They vent their spleens against many well-intentioned politicians who do. They condemn globalisation and 'neo-liberalism.' They come up with a lot of fancy jargon and engage in more pointless process to debate the state of the world in these abstruse terms. They neglect the fact that globalisation is very entrenched and impossible (especially for them) to overturn. They neglect the fact that globalisation has been an engine of growth throughout the third world. 

The whole thing ends up being very flamboyant, too. Whilst they call themselves 'collectivists,' they actually end up fetishing the cult of the individual. They buy Che Guevara shirts. Their figures become so beatified that they end up being totally exempt from scrutiny. Take Jeremy Corbyn, who is now outstripping George Lansbury as the most shambolic leader the Labour party has ever had. They keep defending every single gaffe and all of the platitudes that he spews forth. In this individualistic societies, where Facebook profiles are advertisements for your own personality, it's very edgy indeed to subscribe to all of these causes.

Why subject yourself to all of this frustration? As I said earlier, I think that this frustration is vindicated when supporting a mainstream party, as then you end up changing something. (That's the whole purpose of activism, no?) Just think of the myriad, infinitely more interesting ways that you could spend your life. You could read and write books. You could study ancient antiquity. You could study quantum mechanics. You could learn an instrument. You could write symphonies. You could study rare types of birds. By the time you drop dead, you will have actually accomplished something. In the end of the day, this is really why activists do what they do. All it does is that it makes them feel better. All it does is give their life meaning. Why not give your life meaning with all those aforementioned activities instead? So there you have it, that's why I think that most activists are twits.

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