"And if it’s not specific to an ideology, then it must be either specific to all ideologies, or biological. Those are the only other options."

A little hasty, I think. Could also be (and likely is) a characteristic of a family of ideologies, somewhat like Hoffer characterizes all active mass movements as "sharing a family resemblance".

Expand full comment


I'm intrigued by this idea.

What if I countered that "the families of ideologies that remain dominant, having all been roasted in the fires of ideological Darwinism, all have deplatforming as a feature regardless of their stated principles."


Would you buy that?

Expand full comment
Apr 16Liked by Handwaving Freakoutery

I'm severely late to the party, given I only just saw a link to this today, but I would suggest that it's not a matter of ideology specifically, but of a cult in particular.

So if we look at what has been taking over the left for several years at this point, it has every single marker of a cult like a checklist. The only part of that which is kind of awkward is the "infallible leader" because intersectionality doesn't believe in the concept of individuals, viewing the individual only as the center of a venn diagram of different groups you're a part of, which perfectly encompasses why there's always so much infighting as soon as someone new enters a space, because there needs to be a dominance battle as the cult leader isn't a specific individual, but rather "the Most Oppressed Person In The Room" and this means any time the contents of a room change, you have to reevaluate who is infallible.

In any case, that's a separate observation and/or argument for another time, but the point I'm getting at is that it's not ideology that's the problem, as plenty of ideologies haven't done book burning, and liberalism in general hasn't really done much of it at all in its history. It's that the current subversive element that's overtaking liberalism is a cult, and cults burn books. Not even because the cult fears outside influence, though some of those higher up in the cult may be concerned about that, but rather it's the cult as a whole, because it's a cult, views outside thought that may oppose it to be "evil" on an inherent level.

To even be exposed to that evil is considered a sin. You'll note that every time they deplatform someone, it's not even a matter of saying they're wrong, it's that they consistently state that the individual in question shouldn't even be allowed to have a platform because it disagrees with their own and is so abhorrent and evil that it shouldn't even be listened to by anyone. Their cult members absolutely must not consume it because it may sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of the true believers, which is partly an issue as you pointed out of being concerned that their arguments can't hold up to scrutiny, but it's not because of it being an argument, it's because it's "good" to hold those beliefs explicitly because it's a cult, and to even consider having doubts is a cardinal sin.

As such, you will always see any cult shutting down any access to anything besides cult-approved doctrine. This is universal among all cults, whether they're secular or not.

This hasn't really changed in the last few years, other than Twitter got removed as a bastion of the cult, and the economy that was propping them up collapsed, so all the claims of "joining our cult will make you money, look at all our members!" kinda fell through once they started being asked to actually show where the profits were and there weren't any to be had because it's not actually a large cult, it's just a small cult which has a lot of people living in fear under it, and they don't have the force to squeeze money out of other people that live under the cult, and the cult members of this particular cult don't believe in money as a concept.

So things are starting to turn against such, which was kind of predictable as soon as they started getting too much of their way for things, because it would invariably lead to less money, and it can't sustain itself without rich donors. It would require controlling things by force and the cult doesn't have the force to enact.

But yeah, liberalism is not an ideology that really does deplatforming or book burning, and while it has a rather significant subversive cult trying to take it over, I don't think it's actually going to stick long-term, and I don't think it's the ideology aspect which is inherently the problem, just that cults specifically do that thing.

There is, however, an argument to make that any ideology which is based not on individuals but on groups alone, will invariably fall to book burning and destroying information in general. Once you are only looking at "right" and "wrong" in terms of groups, like "group A is always right, group B is always wrong simply because they are members of groups A and B respectively" then it becomes inherent that you "must" destroy the information of group B, simply because they are group B. B will always be evil, and it's not even what they say that matters, it's that who said it matters.

This is true regardless of whether it's the communists, the nazis, the KKK, intersectionality or whatever. Any ideology which only looks at things from a group-based perspective invariably follows the same path.

Any ideology that focuses on the individual and more objectively demonstrable truths kind of can't do so though, or at least not without an awful lot of cognitive dissonance. The group-based ideologies can accept it without issue because it works within their mindset, Bernie Sanders and Trump could hold the exact same opinion, and Trump is wrong, but Sanders is right, at the same time. That's only possible without cognitive dissonance so long as you're only looking at things in terms of the group status, because there's no conflict there. If you look at it from the perspective of individuals, it falls apart as a concept and doesn't work.

So, as such, I think it's more reasonable to say that any group-based ideology, or any cult, will have deplatforming as a feature, and that happens to be most ideologies in history because it happens to work well for any low-trust society. Any high-trust society will naturally deviate away from such, but will also naturally attract attempts at subversion, so I think it'll form a repeating pattern that something like liberalism will repeatedly have to face subgroups showing up which claim to be part of it, but which hold no liberal values, and will do book burning in its name, but I also think it will routinely purge those elements over time as well. It'll just go in cycles repeatedly and probably without end as the only real way to fix the issue permanently would be to forcibly extract anyone who thinks of things primarily in group-based dynamics over individual-based dynamics, and that basically would necessitate a cultural purge of genocidal levels which liberalism doesn't support philosophically, so it's probably stuck with the cycle permanently.

...Probably far too much babbling for something that is several years out of date and you won't see anyway, but whatever, I was entertained for a few minutes.

Expand full comment

Given that you're late to the party (this was a 2019 article originally) I can direct you to a few more in the party.


Expand full comment
Feb 12, 2021Liked by Handwaving Freakoutery

Stronger language than I'd use wrt some things that are orthodoxy, but wouldn't be surprised if your reformulation was the case.

Expand full comment