A New Cultural Hegemony of Atheist Fundamentalism?
Welcome to the TaraElla Report, where I talk about cultural and political issues. All of us are individuals who are simply looking for more freedom, but we often get confused along the way. My aim is to untangle the confusions and seek the truth, in the areas of civilizational values, economic policy, and culture.Today, I want to talk about two interrelated recent developments in the internet political left, that leave me quite worried about the future of social and political discourse.
Part 1: Postmodernism as Deradicalization? No thanks!
The first thing I want to talk about today is that there seems to be a new trend in the internet left to promote stories of people who were supposedly sucked into the far-right by watching some YouTube videos, who later left the far-right because they were convinced by some left-wing YouTubers, in particular ContraPoints and/or Destiny. I have come across this type of story so many times in the past few weeks that I have lost count of it by now. I have also become increasingly concerned about the narrative that is being promoted here.
My first concern is that, in quite a few of these stories, Intellectual Dark Web type thinkers like Jordan Peterson are described to be part of the pipeline towards far-right thinking. While I can’t rule out that some individuals may have been fans of such figures during their political conversion, the fact is many of these figures are rational and moderate people, and this sounds like a case of guilt by association. Jordan Peterson is popular across the political spectrum, for example. What I’m concerned about is that these narratives paint an unfair picture of many classical liberal thinkers, which also mean they are strongly unsympathetic to the cultural worldview of classical liberalism. Notice I said ‘cultural worldview’, because while leftists and classical liberals have long disagreed economically, they weren’t necessarily in conflict in the cultural side of things historically. I mean, I don’t see why Marx or Engels would have problems with free speech or an anti-identity politics stance, for example. To be fair, even today, some far-left thinkers like Slavoj Zizek continue to reject the postmodern and identity New Left, and I have great respect for them as a result, but they seem to be in the distinct minority nowadays. If Marx and Engels were alive today, I seriously don’t think they would be liked by the New Left, with all their politically incorrect ideas. Gone are the days where the left and classical liberals disagreed on the economic system but at least agree on many cultural issues. Nowadays, to be truly left, it seems that one has to also reject the cultural values of classical liberalism, in favour of agreeing with deconstructionism, systems of oppression analyses, and postmodern political philosophy in general.
My other concern is that, in many of these narratives, de-radicalization of the former far-right occurs by the way of watching some YouTubers with New Left type views, and agreeing with what they say. You start with moderate ones like ContraPoints, and work your way through the other, much more radical, channels recommended by the algorithm, including, eventually, some that openly state that free speech is not important! I mean, I actually like to watch many of these channels myself, but it is a fact that many of them are heavy on postmodernist and identitarian ideas. It paints a picture that one needs to go hard left culturally to be no longer far-right. This ignores the fact that disagreeing with one extreme on cultural issues doesn’t mean you have to agree with the other extreme. I’m sorry, but I fundamentally disagree with the worldview of the Lobster Queen and her followers, even though I actually like the aesthetics of many of those videos. And disagreeing with the Lobster Queen doesn’t make me, a supporter of Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard, right wing!
Part 2: Why Postmodernism and Existentialism are Atheist Fundamentalism
The main reason why I’m so concerned is that postmodernism, along with its associated ideas of existentialism, and various types of critical theory, are in my opinion, akin to a type of religious fundamentalism, where fundamental metaphysical beliefs drive the agenda, to the exclusion of both liberty and pragmatic reason.
My view has always been that while people are welcome to be religious, it would be totally inappropriate for fundamentalist religious ideas to have a strong impact on politics, and this view is shared by most people in the West. While what has been long feared is the influence of say, fundamentalist Christianity or fundamentalist Islam, I would say that a bigger threat nowadays is fundamentalist atheism, as expressed through postmodernism, existentialism and some forms of critical theory. These ideas are fundamentalist because their logic is totally based on a prior firm acceptance of atheism, because they simply cannot be true if atheism is rejected.
Once again, I am a firm believer in religious freedom, and people are of course welcome to be atheists. The problem is that I don’t want any fundamentalism in politics. Just as I wouldn’t want the religious fundamentalist idea that being gay is immoral to influence our politics, I really don’t want any influence from postmodernism, existentialism, or neo-Gramscian cultural hegemony theory in our politics either.
Part 3: Drug-induced ‘Ideas’ as False Englightenment?
Another reason why I’m concerned with BreadTube, and also the wider internet New Left, is that they often push people to just accept postmodernist ideas without properly critiquing them. For example, another big problem with a lot of post-1960s far-left philosophy is that some of those ideas may have been influenced by drug use, because some important thinkers, like Foucault for example, are well known to have experimented with drugs. Some of their ideas, for example about how everything is interconnected, sounds to me like the psychotic effects of drugs like ecstacy, at least from what I understand from what people have said in books. I think the content creators of BreadTube, who often talk about ideas that stem from Foucauldian thinking, should at least discuss this concern for once. I really want to hear their perspective on it.
Originally published at http://taraellastylia.blogspot.com.
TaraElla is a singer-songwriter, independent journalist and author, who is passionate about free speech, liberty and equality. She is the author of the Moral Libertarian Horizon books, which focus on developing a moral case for freedom-based politics in the 21st century.