STARTING TOMORROW: Belief and beliefs!


Belief in our own tribe's assertions: The front page of today's New York Times features two poles of an ongoing cultural dislocation.

Over There, within the red tribe, a newly elected congressman doesn't seem to be the person he says he is. 

Over Here, within our blue tribe, a cultural revolution is being played out, concerning "NASA’s decision to name its deep-space telescope after James E. Webb."

("Say you want a revolution," the Beatles once thoughtfully said.)

Over There, within the red tribe, The Crazy has routinely run wild in this, The Age of Trump. Over Here, within our blue tribe, the New York Times' Michelle Goldberg alleges a different type of problem:

She says that, within our blue tribe, a certain type of "fever" is finally starting to break. She describes it as a "self-sabotaging impulse," an impulse which has sometimes "paralyzed progressive outfits."

In our assessment, Goldberg hails from the slightly more than left-of-center branch of the "center left." Her column was the featured essay in yesterday's Sunday Review—and the headline on it said this: 

The Left’s Fever Is Breaking

Say what? Has there been some sort of a fever somewhere on the left? 

That, of course, is a matter of judgment, but Goldberg thinks the answer is yes. Early on, she introduces her lead witness:

GOLDBERG (12/18/22): That’s why the decision by Maurice Mitchell, the national director of the progressive Working Families Party, to speak out about the left’s self-sabotaging impulse is so significant. Mitchell, who has roots in the Black Lives Matter movement, has a great deal of credibility; he can’t be dismissed as a dinosaur threatened by identity politics. But as the head of an organization with a very practical devotion to building electoral power, he has a sharp critique of the way some on the left deploy identity as a trump card. “Identity and position are misused to create a doom loop that can lead to unnecessary ruptures of our political vehicles and the shuttering of vital movement spaces,” he wrote last month in a 6,000-word examination of the fallacies and rhetorical traps plaguing activist culture.

Maurice Mitchell can't be dismissed as a tired old dinosaur, or as an angry white male. But, at least according to Goldberg, Mitchell believes that some on the left have been in the grip of a "self-sabotaging impulse." 

In Goldberg's rendering, Mitchell ties this impulse to "the way some on the left deploy identity as a trump card" (presumably, no pun intended).

We tend to agree that "some on the left" have been inclined to display an unhelpful impulse of that general type.  

We've tended to describe that tribal impulse as "the demographication of everything." In Goldberg's assessment, this impulse has been a recurrent feature on the left for a very long time:

GOLDBERG: Mitchell’s piece systematically lays out some of the assertions and assumptions that have paralyzed progressive outfits. Among them are maximalism, or “considering anything less than the most idealistic position” a betrayal; a refusal to distinguish between discomfort and oppression; and reflexive hostility to hierarchy. He criticizes the insistence “that change on an interpersonal or organizational level must occur before it is sought or practiced on a larger scale,” an approach that keeps activists turned inward, along with the idea that progressive organizations should be places of therapeutic healing.

All the problems Mitchell elucidates have been endemic to the left for a long time. Destructive left-wing purity spirals are at least as old as the French Revolution. Jo Freeman’s classic essay “The Tyranny of Structurelessness,” about how resistance to formal leadership in second-wave feminism led to passive-aggressive power struggles, has remained relevant since it was published in the early 1970s. It’s not surprising that such counterproductive tendencies became particularly acute during the pandemic, when people were terrified, isolated and, crucially, very online. 

In Goldberg's assessment, "destructive left-wing purity spirals" date back a long, long time.  In Mitchell's assessment, the rise of at least one new medium hasn't exactly helped:

GOLDBERG: “On balance, I think social media has been bad for democracy,” Mitchell told me. It’s a striking statement, given the organizing work he did in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo., where social media played a major role in galvanizing protest. But as Mitchell wrote in his essay, social media platforms reward shallow polemics, “self-aggrandizement, competition and conflict.” These platforms can give power to the powerless, but they also bestow it on the most disruptive and self-interested people in any group...The gamification of discourse through likes and retweets, he said, “flies in the face of building solidarity, of being serious about difference, of engaging in meaningful debate and struggle around complex ideas.”

According to Mitchell, the rise of social media hasn't exactly helped. Meanwhile, a certain question popped into our heads as we read that passage:

"Meaningful debate around complex ideas?" Who ever heard of behavior like that, going way, way back?

According to major anthropologists, Goldberg and Mitchell are simply describing one of the sins flesh is heir to—one of the imperfect ways the human brain is wired. We tend to agree that these impulses have been on display in our own blue tribe, even as many people within the red tribe have been voicing belief in The Crazy.

While The Others have fallen in line with The Crazy, what's been happening Over Here? Is it possible that we blue tribe members keep falling in line with false beliefs which emerge from something resembling a "fever dream" within our own imperfect tribe?

As tribal warfare has broken out, our own blue tribe has increasingly organized its tribal identity around issues of gender and race. Given the understandable passions involved in these topics, should we believe the various things we're told by the highest authorities within our own blue tribe?

We'll examine that question all this week. In Saturday's award-winning report, we cited one particular recurrent claim, a claim we'll discuss in detail.

As with a million other such claims, we blue tribe members may be strongly inclined to believe that particular claim. But is that pleasing claim accurate? Should we believe that claim?

Should blue tribe members automatically believe the things we're told by our tribe's highest-ranking academics and journalists? Or is it possible that, even as The Crazy invades The Others, we may perhaps be inclined to tend toward inaccurate "true belief" too?

Tomorrow: What Michele Norris said


  1. "Say what? Has there been some sort of a fever somewhere on the left?"

    Say what? There is currently no Left in the western empire, dear Bob.

    There is nationalist right, and there is liberal-neocon hitlerian far-right, your tribe.

    So, apparently, the cognitive dissonance your brain-dead tribesmen experience causes some sort of fever? Because of the "social media"? Oh, well. We would like to say we sympathize, but alas, we really do not...

    1. Nor do we sympathize with you, troll.

    2. Hey, hands off Hitler, douche bag.
      Trump’s friends don’t like it.

  2. From Somerby's description of Goldberg's article about death spirals, you would never know there was an actual issue involved. For Somerby, it is all mechanics of debate, no substance to the complaints at the heart of this current argument on the left.

    But then, Somerby is happy just to have another chance to beat up the left, this time over identity issues. Goldberg refers to some magical trump card. From the excerpts quoted, you would never know that NASA has decided NOT to rename the telescope that currently has Webb's name on it. So, how exactly did this identity trump card work? Goldberg decries something that didn't happen. And Somerby goes along with her.

    What are the objections to naming the telescope after Webb? Here is a brief summary from an opinion piece in Scientific American magazine, hardly a leftist journal:

    "James Webb, who died in 1992, was a career civil servant whose time at the U.S. Department of State under President Harry S. Truman included advancing the development of psychological warfare as a cold war tool. He later oversaw the Apollo program as NASA administrator. When he arrived at NASA in 1961, his leadership role meant he was in part responsible for implementing what was by then federal policy: the purging of LGBT individuals from the workforce. When he was at State, this policy was enforced by those who worked under him. As early as 1950, he was aware of this policy, which was a forerunner to the antigay witch hunt known today as the lavender scare. Historian David K. Johnson's 2004 book on the subject, The Lavender Scare, discusses archival evidence indicating that Webb, along with others in State Department leadership, was involved in Senate discussions that ultimately kicked off a devastating series of federal policies."

    Today's discussion by Somerby is dishonest. These are issues that ARE important to many on the left, not simply some manipulative form of identity politics involving trumping, but a genuine and heartfeld concern. Somerby is not personally affected by any of this, so he doesn't give a damn except to beat the left with the left-of-center's favorite complaint -- too much identity politics. But what else is new? Recall that so-called "identity politics" today may refer to gay issues, but it also encompasses other civil rights, from racism to sexism and misogyny to disability rights to immigration and everything else the left has traditionally stood up for. Coward that he is, Somerby won't argue the issue itself, just vague complaints about too much identity. This is not how liberals behave, but then Somerby is no liberal.

  3. Clearly Bob, few in your tribe don’t
    see threw you at this point. You
    should go start another tribe.
    Though it’s pretty thick with
    theoretical jargon, I have no problem
    with what Michelle Goldberg is
    saying today, the problem is
    Michelle Goldberg. Had She and
    others not insisted Bill Clinton, who
    never raped anybody, been thrown
    under the bus, Trump might never
    had happened. She is the kind of
    feminist who hurt the party, and
    therefore hurt women.
    Bob sounds like he is gearing
    up for a new campaign to discredit
    those who would discredit Trump.
    This is what he should be
    remembered for.

    1. Remembered? Bob won’t be remembered for anything.

  4. Tutorials, Tools & Fullz Available
    For Contact:
    @killhacks = ICQ/TG
    peeterhacks = Wickr/Skype

    CC Fullz with CVV & SSN Info
    High Credit Scores Fullz
    Dumps with Pin Codes Track 101 & 202
    EIN Business Fullz
    SSN DOB DL Fullz/Pros/Leads
    SBA/PUA/UI/Tax Return Filling fullz

    Ethical Ha-cking Complete Course with Tools & Tutorials
    Carding Methods of Cashout & Transfers
    Spamming & Ha-cking Stuff Full Package
    Kali Linux Master, BTC Crakcer/Flasher
    Combos, Mailers, Senders
    I.p's/Proxies, Logins

    Huge stuff Available now
    Fresh & Valid, Invalid will be replaced
    Contact for any query

    ICQ = 752822040
    TG = @leadsupplier
    Skype/Wickr = peeterhacks

  5. Here is a quote from Mitchell:

    “Neoliberal identity politics strips from identity politics a focus on collective power or a political project and demand. What’s left is a narrow tool used as a personal cudgel or, as Barbara Smith has said, “It’s like they’ve taken the identity and left the politics on the floor.” It should be noted that we have already seen this tactic used against us on the Left and the Right in the fight for racial and economic justice.”

    Note that Mitchell attacks neoliberal identity politics, not identity politics per se.

    Also note that he places value on the fight for racial, as well as economic justice.

    Somerby did not intend to analyze or discuss any of this. Presumably he just wants to hand-wave this critique into his post as yet another example of the blue tribe’s so-called “failures.”

  6. The real question is the following:
    How many spaceships do you plan on possessing in the next fiscal year?

    1. Hi there!

      Can you tell me where to buy fanny worms?

  7. Fresh Fullz/Pros/Leads are available

    SSN DOB & SSN DOB wtih DL
    High Credit Scores Fullz 700+
    Dumps with PIN & without PIN

    Fresh Fullz/Pros for tax return
    Spammed from good sources
    Invalid & wrong info will be replaced

    Telegram @killhacks/@leadsupplier
    ICQ - 752822040
    WA - +92 317 2721122
    Mail - exploit(dot)tools4u @ gmail(dot)com

    Tools & Tutorials are also available For
    Spamming, Hacking, Carding, Spying, Cracking, Scripting

    Kali Linux Complete
    BTC Flasher/Cracker
    D**P/D**K web complete courses with valid onion links
    Fr**d Bi**e 2021/22/23 Updated

    All genuine tools in cheap prices

    ICQ - 752822040
    TG - @killhacks