I am a feminist.
Perhaps my headline seems incongruous. Perhaps it triggered you. “Good”, or so Milo Yiannopoulos would say. When Yiannopoulos created a Twitter poll asking the question, “Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer?”, predictably, a majority voted for cancer (55% of the approximately 21,000 threw their lot in with cancer).
I don’t suppose Milo truly believes that an egalitarian ideology is truly worse than a body-destroying disease, but he claims he was just trying to “get people thinking”. In fact, I see his point; feminism can spread insidiously and shut down opposition by automation. It’s the same charge levelled at socialism under McCarthy and at global warming experts by global warming non-experts. Fine.
Perhaps there is some irony that Milo fails to spot; that his own ideology pedalled by Trump and Breitbart news is far more insidious. Far more dangerous. Few people in much of the world can understand how Trump won the election. When Hitler won the 1932 election, it would cause History student for decades to scratch their heads and wonder how it could happen. Teachers would point to the financial crisis, economic turmoil and poverty suffered by the German people. But the KPD only came third in the 1932 election. If the KPD had won that election, perhaps the goals of the 1919 Spartacists would have been realised in peaceful fashion. But the Kommunists did not win. The Deutche Arbeiterpartei won. And the rest is history.
Are there similarities between the rise of Trump and the rise of Hitler? It cannot be denied. Both won power democratically (fair enough, in this regard!). Both derailed the lugenpresse or “lying press” and “fake news”. Both targeted a minority, one Jews, one Muslims. Perhaps one facet of his support Trump may struggle to control is the rampant antisemitism in some of his supporter groups, as this conflicts with the highly ‘Breitbartised’ administration which he runs. The majority of Breitbart journalists in fact identify as Jewish, as does Yiannopoulos himself, albeit as a Roman Catholic Jew. TabletMag described Milo as “simultaneously vacuous and sinister, equal parts nihilist and narcissist”, and this description is so apt. His free-speech rhetoric has won him many admirers, and his Twitter handle (now deleted) @Nero suggests is an allusion to his predisposition for destruction. In America, as in Britain. People grow sick and tired of the lies and the spin and the ineffectiveness of mainstream politics. The right look to racial nationalists and the left look to radical socialists. It seems that the only way to defeat Trummp and his ilk is to similarly move to the left. In Austria, the two governing parties were wiped out in the first round of the presidential election in 2016, leaving a two-way vote between Norbert Hofer, a neo-nazi in all but name, and Alexander van der Bellen. Der Bellen won. Just.
In the US, Bernie Sanders should have won the Democratic primaries, but the corrupt and complacent Democrat establishment symbolised by Clinton and Debbie Wasserman Schultz ground him down through internal party conspiracy. When this was leaked by Wikileaks, it signalled a huge boost for Trump. Hell, I even considered the possibility that I’d vote for Trump. Because Trump isn’t that bad. It’s the ideology of his inner circle that are truly terrifying.
Trump won the election mostly because of the disillusioned middle class who had grown tired of socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor and middle classes. Trump ran to the left of Clinton (at least in rhetoric) in many issues, most importantly healthcare. Make no mistake, Bernie Sanders would have obliterated Trump in the electoral college. Whether Trump’s healthcare policy will improve on the right-wing and corporatist (fascist economic system practised by Mussolini) Obamacare remains to be seen.
So sure, this argument makes Trump’s victory seem benign. But there are darker forces at work. A key element in Trump’s victory was the effect of social media ‘memes’. These were hugely pedalled on forums such as Reddit, 4chan, 8chan, and of course, Twitter. It is important to mention that the founder of 8chan was Fredrick Brennan, a writer for The Daily Stormer, an openly neo-Nazi news page. These websites provided the water birth for the alt-right, a new, mainstream form of Nazism with a mix of supporters including hardline conservatives such as Yiannopoulos, as well as some disillusioned leftists and politically-indifferent ‘internet-trolls’, ‘memesters’, and young computer-enthusiasts. Sadly, this also includes gamers who were involved in the Gamergate controversy. In the Gamergate controversy, immoral activity was uncovered from both the video-game press and the video-game development industry. However, the issue became conflated with the involvement of Yiannopoulos, claiming to fight for free-speech, but instead creating an army of misogynist warriors who conducting some pretty damn shameful acts which can be found online. One may have sympathies with the gamers involved, who were perhaps scapegoated and hit with claims that gaming causes sexism and other clearly unsubstantiated nonsense, but so many of the people who took that side were unfortunately horrible humans who deserve no respect and only the deepest shame.
The Gamergate controversy shows better than any other case study, how insidious and dangerous the alt-right movement is. They invoke people’s passions in arguments where they are clearly correct, and once a victim is hooked, they are drawn into deeper and more radical racist, traditionalist, statist and reactionary ideas. Yiannopoulos claims to be a “free speech fundamentalist” and against powerful government, but in truth , his ideology is closer aligned to having a single powerful leader and rigid structures in place that coerce women into motherhood and men into labour with no individuality or non-conformity allowed. These arbitrary structures and rules (yes, I am talking about the patriarchy. Sorry to trigger you) should be rejected by any decent leftist, radical, rationalist, or right-wing libertarian. They have no basis in theory, and merely in preventing change in the world, and usually, the empowerment of minorities and women.
So how do we beat them? Well, as I have already mentioned, Bernie should have been chosen as the Democratic nominee and would have won the election. This would have improved America manifestly, but would perhaps not have made a lasting difference. A more radical form of socialism is needed, perhaps one represented by Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, only more angry. Let’s use Trump’s words, in all their pussy-grabbing glory and throw them back in his miserable fascist face. Let’s accuse him of statism, because he is going to abuse power more than any president in history. Socialists should not be afraid of labelling their opponents ‘statists’. After all, economic assets in the modern world are artificial – created by capitalism. I’m not saying property is theft, but think about it: in a hunter-gatherer-society, the richest man is the best hunter, so usually the strongest, perhaps the most intelligent, perhaps and mix of the two. Fine. Perhaps a really smart caveman will sell his game and become ‘rich’. But the richest man will never be more than 5 or 6 times richer than the poorest. In our world, 8 people own as much wealth as the bottom 50%. People are literally billions of times richer than others. This is not right and this is not legitimate. Essentially, the government should control economic issues, but not social issues. Perhaps, like Yiannopoulos, I am a ‘cultural libertarian’ – and I say that as a feminist and as a social justice warrior.
Indeed, perhaps the problem with the left nowadays is that it is no longer liberal. Paradoxically, it is also too liberal. It needs to be far more radical, but also need to reject the infringements of the freedom of speech that are rare! but real and epitomised by issues like ‘playground policing’. So yes, say that gender is a social construct. Objectively, yes it is, at least to a large extent. Talk of “toxic masculinity” is often decried by Yiannopoulos, but that is good. It scares him. Keep talking about it – and prove its truth. Toxic masculinity is not sexist, simply because gender is (mostly) a social construct. MEN ARE NOT TOXIC. Milo Yiannopoulos will never understand this simple distinction.
Milo likes to offend and be controversial. Fair enough. He claims this principle is originally a leftist principle. He is, to an extent, right. True leftism is about rejecting those corrupt structures that form our society. To destroy them is not ‘conservatism’, ironically, and therein lies the fatal flaw with this ‘ideology’. Perhaps Yiannopoulos would be better served as a controversial leftist, calling for the destruction of capitalism and the current America. After all, leftism was spurred by the Enlightenment, which created the radical and critical thinking that challenged ideas such as feudalism, the monarchy, and even religion. The most illogical idea, however, is nationalism, or patriotism. There is no reason to be proud of your country; you were born into it by chance and could have been born into any country. America has done awful things in the past, and there is no reason to be an American patriot, but that is not my point. My point is that you should feel no connection to your country at all – positive or negative. It’s illogical. Patriotism is racism because it is inevitably the idea that people of your nation are better than others in some arbitrary way. So yes, Yiannopoulos should be a leftist, but I would not personally welcome him. I think he is a racist and a fascist, and Donald Trump’s campaign of repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat until the horrendous ideas become dull and insensitive has led to his presidency, will lead to the creation of a single-party state, and perhaps will lead to a modern Holocaust. The international community would not let such a thing happen unchallenged, at least not to the extent that it happened in the 1940s. But something very similar is coming.
To conclude, yes, perhaps feminism is cancer. But can every belief system be. Feminism is well-intentioned and rarely becomes illiberal, although perhaps 3rd-wave feminism is becoming less liberal. The point is, alt-rightism as symbolised by Milo Yiannopoulos, Donald Trump, and Steve Bannon is likewise cancer. Only this cancer is not benign. It is not safe. It is dangerous. It is malignant and must be cut out.