The narcissistic ‘pride’ within reactionary beliefs
Today I am writing a relatively brief piece about a trend of self-indulgent pride I’ve noticed within the attitudes of those who express reactionary beliefs.
This is gonna be kinda off-the-cuff, so my writing and editing may end up being even lazier than usual…
This was primarily inspired by newspaper letters displayed by Twitter handle Pointless Letters (@pointlesslettrs), a Twitter account that traditionally collects bizarre and/or tone deaf reader letters to various publications. Thus it is worth me noting that my biased ranting about various people’s biased ranting is also quite self-indulgent, so please bear with me.
Anyway, the specific tweet that inspired this piece today was this:
At first glance the most worrying about this letter is that the author is depressingly unable to imagine that men know women other than their spouses. One could speculate as to what this says about this person’s personal life, but that would be unfair. I do wonder if with these sorts of beliefs if there is a ‘chicken or the egg’ situation with their social situations informing their politics or vice versa, but that’s besides my point.
So what is my point? The weird pride underlying this person’s beliefs. I can cope with sexism, thus you should too. And within reactionary politics this mindset is very commonly expressed. I was incredibly poor and coped without financial assistance, thus you should too. I’m gay and coped without the ability to marry for years, thus you should too. I was beaten as a child and came out fine, thus children should still be beaten. These attitudes all come from arrogant pride. I took my lumps, you didn’t, so I am better than you. And that’s what people really mean when they say this stuff isn’t it? Using a discussion of social problems to talk about how great they are for surviving shite.
It’s at this point I feel it relevant to defends myself from the possibility of reactionary types reading and commenting on this piece, whilst providing the likely underlying motivation I have for writing it. Why would I be attacked? Because I am unemployed, but politically correct and left wing and thus likely to be described by morons as a ‘social justice warrior’. Why am I unemployed? Because I have an unfortunate cocktail of various mental health problems and emotional instabilities, as well as various other life situations connected to other people in my life, whose own situations I obviously have no right to disclose.
However, I am protected from the economic ravages of unemployment combined with mental health issues, because I come from a very middle class background, in addition to being white, essentially heterosexeual and I’m a cisgendered man. I have the money and support to take the time with healing myself and have access to the varying kinds of treatments that are unaffordable to many.
Now, the majority of reactionary people would be pissed off by the manner in which I live. I was poor and had mental health problems, but I soldiered on. That’s true and I cannot imagine the hourly pain of going through that. On the other hand, the tragedy is not that people like myself get away with it, but that not everyone has the same opportunities that someone like myself is afforded. Everyone with struggles should have the time and money to work through them.
When it comes to other sorts of unemployed people, the reactionary types can also get very wound up. I paraphrased one attitude earlier when I said this: I was incredibly poor and coped without financial assistance, thus you should too. To say many Britons are angry about ‘benefits culture’ would be an understatement. You know what I’m talking about. It’s worth saying first that saying that ‘too many people on benefits is draining the system’ or whatever, is so easily debunked I am not going to do it. If you hold that belief and haven’t checked any actual verifiable governmental or sociological data about those on benefits, fuck you.
A tiny minority of British people (or immigrants) are on benefits illegally. At the end of the day a small handful of people are living on a tiny fraction of tax money. They don’t ‘deserve’ (a politically divergent word if there ever was one) the money they live on and thus apparently ‘deserve’ excessive ranting about and voting against. Or alternatively, the knowledge that a small number of people who don’t starve to death without working should only be reacted to with sarcastic declarations of phrases such as: “Oh no!” “The horror!” “What an inhumane tragedy!” “This totally affects my life!”
At this point I am reminded of this hilarious observational tweet from writer Patrick Ness:
Now some may note that many of my listed attitudes from reactionary people are from those on the reactionary right. Obviously to accuse only the reactionary right of acting in a self-indulgent and prideful manner would be misrepresentative, social media platforms such as Twitter are also plagued with the self-indulgent and prideful, and bullying, amongst my area of the political spectrum also. There are many left-wing people who are anti-Semitic, trans-phobic, anti-intellectual, oddly classist and I despair at how demonstrable these attitudes are amongst quarters of the left.
Also, there is one specific area of left-wing and feminist thinking that has its reactionary problems. Hey guys, now I’m gonna talk briefly about TERFs! Fun!
TERFs (Trans-exclusionary radical feminism) believe that transwomen are not ‘real’ women. The very scientific proof than trans people are in fact the ‘real’ version of their gender has been so thoroughly laid out better elsewhere I am not going to do that here for any transphobes reading. My point here is that one attitude I’ve seen expressed by TERFs is that a transwoman born as the male sex cannot call themselves a woman because they’ve not gone through the specific societal struggles directed towards women, because for a time they ‘lived as a man’ or whatever. There are obvious logical holes here. Transwomen do often suffer the specific societal struggles directed towards women, because they are women. The second obvious hole being, fuck me, have you seen the amount of shit trans people get? Let alone all the violence and murders.
Again, the reactionary attitude here is I went through something, you didn’t, thus you suck and I’m great. Now as actual and good feminists will tell you, through the words of Simone de Beauvoir: One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.
(If any TERFS have any issues with being told what ‘real’ feminism is by a man, well you should know what dictating to a marginalised group from a privileged position is all about, shouldn’t you?)
So, left or right wing reactionary people, for those who missed it, what’s my point here?
Well, guess what guys, it’s about making sure people don’t go through shit as well, not telling them to deal with it. It’s about creating a kinder world so that people can be ‘snowflakes’ or whatever. It’s not about withholding rights or safety from harm because you didn’t have these protections yourselves. By expressing reactionary views in this manner you are either cruel or being egotistical, or both. To demand worship for surviving something, whilst insulting those who had an easier time, is only one thing: Narcissism…
Says the man who said this would be ‘relatively brief’ and then went on about his own opinions and life for a long time…