A message to the lost tribes of the left wing in Australia

A message to the lost tribes of the left wing in Australia, by Joe Hildebrand.

This time last week I wrote a long, considered piece arguing that free speech, even that considered offensive or “hate speech”, should not be banned — with the obvious and explicit exception of any incitement to violence. …

The reaction to the piece overwhelmingly proved its point. The only irony is that the extremists it identified were all on the Left. …

The reactions themselves were also crippled by their own internal irony. It was, as anyone who witnessed the response on social media will know, a volcanic eruption of abuse all exploding in the name of peace and tolerance. …

One respondent opened by calling me a “c**t” and then, in the very same tweet, bemoaned the lack of civil discourse in public debate.

Another began their first tweet with the words, “get f***ed Joe” and then in their second, complained that I wouldn’t have a polite discussion with them. …

And of course the more vicious the abuse, the more voiceless and victimised the abusers claimed to be. They also appeared to be mostly white and university educated, both statistically unusual indicators of oppression. …

Many sensible people are bailing on the new left:

This brings us to the most profound response to left-wing extremism, which is the number of sensible, compassionate and thoughtful people who once considered themselves progressive but now feel abandoned and isolated, as the movement has been hijacked by hardcore ideologues. And little wonder.

As one former fellow traveller mournfully said: “ALP/Greens/lefty social democrat my entire life … and I am really starting to detest the left. De. Test.”

Another: “My upbringing and instinct too but increasingly embarrassed at the level of self-bullshit, hysteria, hate/division and gesture politics in Left circles.”

Another: “I’m feeling you man. Their hysterical application of ‘fascism’, their antagonism to free speech, their often violent disruption of legitimate political meetings, their inability to see the contradiction between open borders and a welfare state and the hierarchy of victimhood.”

And another: “It’s becoming a mass exodus. But where to go? Not Lib that’s for sure. The politics of group identity and emotions over facts however, leave a lot of us feeling homeless … In a political sense.”

These are the lost tribes of the left. Needless to say, I know how they feel.

And of course not only do hardcore socialists and hand-wringing identity ideologues turn anyone with a brain or a sense of humour away from their cause, they also play into the hands of the right by making the whole Left side of politics look ridiculous. Donald Trump might appear crazy compared to a centrist but he looks sensible compared to a Stalinist.

Social media allows the very small minority of activists to wield more power, because people vastly overestimate their numbers. It is pushing the left parties in the West sharply left, to everyone’s detriment of course. Good to see that the noisy activists are failing to drag all of the left with them, so the phenomenon should be fairly short-lived — once everyone learns to heavily discount social media politics.