Leftists Gone Bad

I am a subscriber of a number of leftist YouTube channels, but over time I have also unsubscribed from one rather quickly. Because I have realized that the author very carefully curates an untrue vision of history, and his audience is all for it.

I am not going to link to the channel in question because I do not wish to direct any traffic to it. They might have changed their tune and the way they run their channel and its comment sections since. I do not know. I do not care. I am not one of those who hold a grudge and hate-watch/hate-read (more on that later too). So I am only going to give you the gist of the situation. You are free to not believe any of it if you are inclined to distrust my word.

The channel got my attention with a video about scientific racism, which was rather good. I have watched several other videos of theirs that were recommended via the algorithm, and those were about world hunger and poverty and they were good too. So I subscribed and next time when I got a video recommended, I watched it. And I was rather taken aback. It was an entirely uncritical piece about pre-WW2 USSR, singing the praises of the regime, how it gave people education and lifted people from poverty, etc. I have briefly pointed in the comment section that whilst the regime did have positive sides for some people, it also had a rather ugly underbelly. And as examples, I have pointed out the Holodomor and the Genocide of Crimean Tatars since these two examples spring most readily to my mind.

Shortly after that comment, I have unsubscribed from the YouTuber and I have disabled any notification regarding that comment section. Because I have been immediately dogpiled by people who either outright denied that the two above-mentioned atrocities happened at all, or they were blaming them on the people who were their targets. They did not even bother with whataboutism and went straight to denial and victim-blaming! This was my first experience with “Tankies“. I had several more encounters since then, and I sometimes get these vibes even in comments here on FtB, although thankfully not as explicit and overt (and maybe I am being too sensitive about this issue, having lived behind the Iron Curtain?).

That is one example of lefties gone bad – people who refuse to learn from history and are willing, nay, eager, to repeat its mistakes. They are no better than the Holocaust deniers and neo-nazis on the right. We must not forget that many of the things that today are leftist issues – like LGBTQ rights and environmentalism – were most emphatically NOT seen as leftist in that regime. And sure, USSR was not racist towards black people the way the USA was at the time, but it is easy to proclaim you are not a racist towards a minority that is all but non-existent in your country. There were more than a few cases of systemic racism within the former Eastern bloc too.

These and many others are the main reasons why many people here in CZ are reluctant to actually call themselves leftists, or vote openly leftist parties, even though when asked about specific policies they most definitively are leftist. The existence of leftist extremism is real and it serves no useful purpose to deny it and the harm it has done and keeps doing to progress.

The second example about which I wish to say just a little bit is the case of Lindsay Ellis. I have not watched her videos regularly and I was not a subscriber. But I did watch her videos about transphobia last year and they were good. So I was surprised to learn that in December last year she has given up on YouTube – which was her job – and has claimed to be canceled by the left. I have looked into it as much as my time has allowed  – which included watching her video Mask Off in several sessions (it is very long) – and I have concluded that she was indeed canceled, and unlike J. K. Rowling, it was over a triviality that was misinterpreted and totally blown out of proportions.

There seems to be a non-trivial amount of people on the internet who obsessively hate-watch and hate-read people they dislike and hoard anything that might be interpreted unfavorably by the purist left to have ready-prepared lists of transgressions to dump on the internet in case their favorite hate target gets in the spotlight by putting a foot wrong. I know for a fact that there were such people reading Affinity for example, and Slymyepiters are a rather famous example of these people with regard to Pharyngula. I must say that I find it rather creepy when someone has a ready-to-go list of someone’s years-long deleted tweets/video clips etc. I also find it disconcerting that there seems to be a non-trivial amount of people on the left who immediately jump to the least-favorable interpretation of something taken out of context and gleefully join a dogpile with the intent to hound someone off the internet without bothering to first get the facts right and/or consider that people might 1) just make mistakes and/or 2) change over time so a “transgression” from a decade ago might not be indicative or relevant to who they are today, even if not stripped of proper context and interpretation.

I really do not know what to make of it all, but today I was re-reading Terry Pratchetts’ Discworld novel Carpe Jugulum and the following quote seemed really appropriate:

The smug mask of virtue triumphant could be almost as horrible as the face of wickedness revealed.


  1. says

    i’d call it a lefty fail because while it’s a failure of critical/skeptical thinking, it comes from tribalism over leftist identity. never go full tanky. i can sympathize in that having lived under the opposite of the iron curtain and witnessed its massive failings, living in the country that inspired hitler, i don’t want to see the failings of left causes past harming the crucial left cause present. but genocide denying is a really ugly look.

  2. flex says

    You touch on a point which I think bears repeating; people change.

    I’ve long thought that at the heart of the progressive world-view is the idea that people can change. Which is why prisons should work toward rehabilitation rather than punishment, or why a certain amount of forgiveness should be allowed to a middle-aged person when actions from their youth are uncovered.

    The heart of the conservative world-view is that people cannot, and do not, change. Prisons are for punishment, and the fear of going there has to be greater than the impulse to commit a crime. It’s the feeling that creates sayings like, “The boy is the father of the man”, and “The leopard cannot change his spots.” A person who admits to smoking weed when they are eighteen is just as guilty and just as likely to smoke pot today. Not that marijuana is illegal like it used to be.

    Of course, human psychology doesn’t live at either extreme, but the progressives are closer to reality. If Rowling were to admit tomorrow that she finally understood why she is labeled a TERF, apologizes for it, and in subsequent actions demonstrates her support for transgender women, I would accept that she has changed. And it could happen. But on the other hand, people rarely change overnight. The most powerful scene in “The Shawshank Redemption” is when Red laments in front of the parole board that he cannot give his younger self advice. But it clearly took decades for Red to get to that point, to change enough to realize that the murder his younger self had committed was an action he wouldn’t, couldn’t, do.

    The internet, through its unnecessary retention of ephemera, encourages others to look at us as we were decades ago. It is worse than the baby pictures your mother shows your date in high school. While it may allow an objective observer to see how a person has developed, it can also provide an enemy with ammunition to make a person’s life a living hell. Even though my internet presence is minor, I know there are comments hanging out there which I would be ashamed to acknowledge as my writing today. I may have changed my opinions since I wrote them, but I must acknowledge that there is a continuity of self between then and now.

    I’m not the person I was twenty years ago. We share memories, but I probably wouldn’t even like that pretentious asshole.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    … the author very carefully curates an untrue vision of history…

    I have reached the brink of personally cancelling (any further reading of) Eric Margolis with sincere regret, just for publishing such a one-sided (though otherwise factual, sfaict) version of Ukrainian/Russian history.

    If only I could figure out whether the multitude of formerly reliable progressives are misleading their readers/listeners/viewers from desperation over the specter of World War Three or brown paper bags with carefully wrapped legal tender… well, dunno what I’d do if I knew.

  4. springa73 says

    Yeah, the way some people on the far left apologize for the brutality of the Soviet Union actually was one of the reasons that I was relatively conservative for a number of years. Of course, I was ignoring the way many conservatives similarly downplay the crimes of right-wing regimes, ranging from the Nazis to Pinochet, so I was engaging in a certain amount of hypocrisy and double standards.

    Sadly, a lot of governments, regardless of their “official” political ideology, are quite cruel and ruthless to anyone who gets in their way. The more powerful the nation, the more ruthless the government tends to be.

    As far as people holding long online hatreds and keeping records of everything someone ever said to throw at them years later, I actually used to do that occasionally, but then realized that it was terrible for my mental health and a waste of time. One can find a vast variety of opinions online, and quite a few of them are going to be offensive, upsetting, or just plain false. The type of people who give their opinions most freely online are rarely the kind of people who can be persuaded to change their mind, and often they are deliberately trolling to upset people. Why play their game?

  5. sonofrojblake says

    @6 -- is that sarcasm? There’s no tag and it’s impossible to tell.


    there seems to be a non-trivial amount of people on the left who immediately jump to the least-favorable interpretation of something taken out of context and gleefully join a dogpile with the intent to hound someone off the internet without bothering to first get the facts right and/or consider that people might 1) just make mistakes and/or 2) change over time

    You’re just now noticing this/considering it worthy of comment??

    For me, it’s the left’s main problem. The right, Bod love ’em, don’t really care how closely you hew to their specific ideology. As long as you want to trigger the libs, you’re welcome. The time for slicing and dicing sub-factions is later, AFTER they’ve cleansed the world of the main unclean types (people with darker-than-approved skin and gays for starters, but there’s a LONG list after that and you’re probably on it eventually).

    Whereas the left insist on fighting their fucking pointless internal battles RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. Which is why Boris Johnson and Trump are a thing. That and the fact that the average voter really is actually an easily-duped nasty racist fuck.

    Sorry, having a bad day.

  6. says

    @Pierce R Butler:
    Margolis seems to be eliding the fascinating history of US pledges not to expand NATO. I wonder if that is deliberate or ignorance? That’s a topic on my TODO list…

  7. says

    @sonofrojblake, I am sorry about your bad day.
    No, this is not me just noticing this problem or considering it worthy of comment just now. I have been mulling this problem over for quite a while.
    So it is more like just now there was just the right combination of me having a specific example in (my) fresh memory, having some time, and having the right mental state to write an article about it.

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