Let’s start with some Aristotelian categories (recognizing that such categories are more fluid and contradictory than Aristotle thought): There are those who push agendas that are reactionary, wrong-headed, morally bankrupt; and there are those who are misguided supporters of such agendas. There are agendas based on middle-class politics; and agendas based on blatantly anti-working class, right-wing positions.
Social justice activists are, in my opinion, wrong. Very wrong. Scarily wrong. By either not seeing class distinctions, or by seeing them as merely another in a list of causes of oppression, they (in my opinion) dangerously misinterpret the world, and leave us open to attacks by reaction, and actively interfere with the effort to unite the working class and prepare it to do battle with our enemies. We saw in the cases of Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, and Julian Assange how they gave aid and comfort to the most repulsive right wing elements.
Overt racists and male chauvinists, on the other hand, are actively and consciously supporting our enemies. That is an important distinction. I don’t waste time talking to them. We will have things out with the Beales of the world at the barricades, not in the parlor. Any innocently misguided individuals among them are not going to have their minds changed by argument, but by the developing class struggle.
Certainly, some social justice activists are not worth talking to–many of the theorists consciously obscure the class issues while cynically solidifying their upper-middle class positions and comfortable lives by talking about how others need to recognize their “privilege.” But many, many, many social justice activists are people who see the same problems I do. They are honestly and legitimately outraged by oppression of working people, of minorities, of women, of homosexuals, of those with disabilities. We differ strongly on what to do about it, and often about the causes, but we agree about the problems.
So I’ll talk to them, and I’ll be as polite as I can manage and do my best to make convincing arguments.
And when there is a conflict between social justice activists and right-wing assholes, there is a time for saying, “This whole dispute is crap, the fundamental issues are the things none of you are talking about. A plague on both your houses.” And then there is a time for saying, “Yeah, we disagree, but I have to take a position with you anyway, always maintaining my right to express my differences as I do so.” I never agreed with the non-violence of Martin Luther King, or with protest politics in general; but when his supporters were being beaten and shot, our first step was to make it clear that we were on their side against the cops–only then could we fight within that movement for a turn toward revolutionary politics and class unity.
In the case of #Gamergate, I was pulled into it by something intensely personal that happened, the details of which are unimportant. But having been pulled in, it is obvious which side I’m on. I do not blame or criticize anyone without a direct stake in the matter for staying out of this: on many levels, the whole controversy is trivial (of course, on other levels it is not). But if you do take a stand on it, I believe that any decent human being, regardless of any disagreement he or she may have with the policies of social justice activists, needs to recognize misguided friend from foe.