The worst crime of being left wing is being “over-sensitive”. This is usually followed up with the second worst crime of being left-wing; being part of the thought police and wanting to brainwash everyone to fit your ideals.
Here’s the awkward truth: we kind of do.
Now, that’s not to say the left-wing are unique in this, we can’t really talk about control without at acknowleging the ongoing love affair between the right wing and the police state, but the left wing do have their own controlling agenda, and we don’t talk about it enough.
You might be left-wing thinking that brainwashing and the thought police sound pretty authoritarian and not very left-wing. And you would be right. “Mind control”, or rather, social accountability and education, is simply how left-wing methods get interpreted when we don’t acknowlege what our mechanisms are doing, or how they work.
Social justice warriors get a lot of flack for being judgy; anyone remember the “creep shaming” crisis of a few years ago? Or the current pushback against “virture signalling”? Or of course, the perennial favourite, the special snowflakes and their precious safe spaces where no one can say anything bad.
These are all actually part of the same issue; the left wing works through social accountability, and the right wing REALLY doesn’t like it. Acting creepy will get you called a creep, not put in prison or tried in a court, but later on by the girl telling her story to her friends. Being a nice person where people can see you will get you praise and recognition in a way that only doing nice things can, and saying the wrong thing in a safe space will upset the “special snowflakes” and get you chucked out, even if you don’t think there’s anything wrong with it and there is nothing illegal that you said.
This completely social system completely confuses people. Most of us are used to a system of control and punishment and laws. Laws are objective, money is objective, and power structures are hierarchal. There are no “blurred lines” so to speak, and that’s where the outrage comes from.
The right wing are outraged when the left cast judgement on them; because they feel infringed upon because it is out of their control. This creates the ridiculous situation where outraged right-wingers try to use shaming in retaliation, by using insults like “special snowflake” or “cuck”, only to find that it misses its mark, over and over again, because they don’t understand how it works.
For a social method of justice to work, you have to be able to stand by your principles. If someone who doesn’t understand your principles calls you out for holding them, it won’t have much effect, but if you’re called out for holding a view and then feel uncomfortable with it, you might just choose to change your mind (or blame them for judging you instead). This also ties into whether you see education as brain-washing or a useful tool; it depends on whether you believe people can make up their own minds and use critical thinking.
Of course, the answer is, that’s not the point. Saying something is wrong does not mean that we are trying to rewrite the law. If we fail to realise that, it will twist any argument into pointlessness, as people try to argue a system that is designed to be above their control.
Most people in the left wing are against jail as a concept, if you do find someone left wing who does not favour abolishing prisons, they will likely be in favour of shorter sentences, better resources, and more rehabilitative care.
To a right wing person, this is nonsense. If prison is punishment, why bother with making it nicer, or shorter, or better? Of course, the research shows that “punishment” alone doesn’t work; prisons that work harder at rehabilition culture get better results, such as Norway.
Ironically, the prison system is actually expressing a left wing method, in a completely different way. A left-winger might “shame” you by calling you a creep when you act subtly weird and disrespectfully to women, but a right-wing court of law is completely fine with you until you cross the thin legal line into harassment; it is only then that you are charged, judged, fined or sentenced, depending on how far you cross.
Both methods use judgement to try and discourage unwanted behaviour, but one is democratic and ideological, the other hierarchal and literal. Reliance on hierarchy is why justice systems are a tool of the government, and susceptible to corruption. In comparison to democractic social judgement, it also requires a tonne of infrastructure, which of course, no one in capitalism is going to say no to; more building work! More police jobs! More free labour! Not only that, but it is far more controlling on people’s lives, because unlike social judgement, you literally don’t have the “keys” to your own release.
People in prison don’t get a choice; society sanctions the use of force to deny them their freedom, and for many people, this is a plus, it sounds far safer. And yes, it is, until their time runs out, or parole comes up. Calls for longer sentences or less chance of getting out usually follow, but this only delays or hides the problem, it still doesn’t fix that person’s behaviour or society’s crime rates.
The kicker is that humans are social animals, designed to live in groups, and shame/conflict is a built-in mechanism designed to keep us all in check and co-existing peacefully. Because of this, in natural human tight-knit groups, our own behaviour will naturally match up to the value of our peers. Put someone in with a group of people all deemed socially innacceptable? They are going to come out with that outsider worldview reinforced, not reformed.
So, do I really believe that instead we can just judge our way out of anti-social behaviour and violent crimes?
Yes and no.
Yes we can, because that’s how humans are wired, to look for acceptance, and to co-operate and work together, but also, no we can’t, not yet.
Currently, UK and US culture is about individual responsibility, and capitalism, it doesn’t mesh well with wooly ideas about social judgement. Judgement is seen as a flaw, to be avoided and kept quiet. Speaking out about someone being a bully is seen as equal to insulting someone for their sexuality or gender or race, and we all get taught to bite our tongues and leave it to the experts (law courts), and their values, not our own.
If we created a culture of feedback and social accountability where we were more sensitive to the ideas of others and aware of our own choices and saw “calling out” culture less as an opportunity for a tirade and more as a way of collaborating, then we would be heading in the right direction, away from authoritarianism and towards a more collectivist and democractic culture, essentially, away from the 1984 dystopia, not towards it.
When judgement becomes a part of life that we can all take part in, then perhaps all us lefty-liberal special-snowflake thought-police cucks would finally be sated…
How doubleplusgood that would be, comrades!