Thursday, May 28, 2015

Diogenes, Shutter Your Lamp

Justin Smith:

What Russia does, with its massive military arsenal and its historically rooted resistance to absorption into the US- and NATO-dominated order, is far more important than anything the American left is currently focusing on. It's far more important than anything ISIS does, than anything alienated European-born jihadists do. No sense can be made of it if one's categories of analysis are 'white' and 'non-white', which again are mostly just memes disguised as categories of analysis. My own view, for which I've argued before, is that the best the left could do is to engage truly progressive, internationalist, anti-Putin forces within Russia, which do exist, even though most in the western left have no idea of them. Even this probably wouldn't help much. Putin is too powerful. And neither he, nor Kadyrov, nor anyone else in the former Soviet bloc, for that matter, could care less about who won the latest White Off on Twitter.

Less identitarian caterwauling, frivolous posturing, and community theater, please. More deep history, real analysis, and global scope. 

To a casual onlooker, many of the issues being discussed on the web have a political appearance. The manner in which they are being discussed, though, demonstrates their lack of serious content. As anyone who has taken DeBoer 101 knows, race, gender, economics and geopolitics are mere tokens in a game of social media sorting, where the players compete for meaningless status. I don't disagree with anything Smith says in his post. I just don't know why he's expecting to find mature discussions of serious issues in this environment, as if the average schmuck on Twitter has anything remotely insightful to say about Russia. Perhaps it's just a rhetorical trope, intended to shame people out of their adolescent superficiality, in which case, good luck.