At times it seems that not only is activism often self-defeating, but that it has arrived at the stage of being so more often than not. This was brought to my mind when Guardian activist writer Owen Jones wrote an article criticising those trans activists who were criticising the depiction of a trans man in Will Young's music video Brave Man. It was not, however, the actions of trans activists that brought the self-defeating notion to mind, but the penultimate paragraph in which Jones writes of his reluctance to discuss trans people because of the abuse heaped on him by some feminists when he previously broached the topic. They were not content to argue the point with Jones, but sought to turn Jones' female acquaintances against him. If only such effort could be put into making positive changes for women, rather than policing the words and actions of other activists.
This reminded me of a comment piece written in the dying years of the Soviet Union. The United States government was complaining that their Moscow embassy staff were being exposed to carcinogens. This was because of claims that the KGB had placed a radioactive substance on the door handles of embassy staff cars, presumably to track their movement within the embassy. The commentator questioned whether this showed that espionage had become completely self-defeating. It seemed spies had given up doing anything useful and were spending their time spying on what spying the other spies were doing (which was probably spying on those spies spying on their spying spies).
Activists who focus on attacking activists with different opinions are engaging in behaviour as self-defeating as spies who spend their time spying on other spies. This is not activism; this is thinking you are serving the cause by stopping activists with a different outlook from doing their job. Some trans activists do it to Julie Bindel and Germaine Greer, some feminists activists do it to Jane Fae and Owen Jones.
Why would they engage in such self-defeating activism? The answer is almost certainly because they are unwilling to put in the hard work to engage in proper activism that will serve the cause they claim to defend. An act of terrorism is easier to do than making peace and terrorism is what these tactics are. Terrorism thrives off fear. In this warped mindset political aims are furthered by making others fearful of pursuing differing political goals. It achieves nothing for the people that the cause is supposed to be fighting for, but makes those engaging in such terrorist behaviour feel good about themselves. They think that they are the good activists because they are taking action, but they are not. They are engaging in terror tactics to prevent someone else taking a different action and meanwhile the vulnerable for whom the cause stands are left to suffer. Not that the so-called activists notice as they are too busy playing at spies spying on spies who are spying on spies spying on spies.
© Mercia McMahon. All rights reserved