Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Category: Politics

The Overground Hell Road: The Similarities Between Kanye and Gandhi Are Scary

Today Kanye West said:

When you hear about slavery for 400 years…For 400 years? That sounds like a choice. You were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all. It’s like we’re mentally imprisoned…right now we’re choosing to be enslaved. [T]o make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will. My point is for us to have stayed in that position even though the numbers were on our side means that we were mentally enslaved. [T]he reason why I brought up the 400 years point is because we can’t be mentally imprisoned for another 400 years. We need free thought now. Even the statement was an example of free thought. It was just an idea. [O]nce again I am being attacked for presenting new ideas.

Lots of people have attacked Kanye, accusing him of various bad isms. I’m going to do something different. I’m going to compare him to Gandhi.

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The Church Left is Proving My Point

A couple days ago, I wrote a piece about the tendency for left wing organizations to behave like church communities rather than strategic political organizations. I told a story about an upcoming election at the East Bay DSA branch in California, criticising one of slates for taking unstrategic positions and using church tactics–shunning, shaming, perhaps expulsion–to target those who publicly do not embrace their platform in every detail. Anxious to prove everything I said correct, this slate and its supporters have immediately begun coming after me in precisely the ways I anticipated. They have begun personally targeting me, attempting to depict me as some kind of heretic or sinner. If I am not a true lefty (a heretic) or if I am someone who sometimes takes wrong positions or says wrong things (a sinner) then I am bad and should be shunned, shamed, and drive out of left-wing discourse.  The trouble is, I’m a lone wolf on the internet. I don’t tend to join organizations–my influence, such as it is, has always come from the ability of my writing and arguments to draw attention and support. I don’t rely emotionally or psychologically on the acceptance and approval of a church community which they can turn against me. This limits their leverage over my behavior. Churches can try to shun and shame the people who don’t go to church, but it doesn’t work so well.

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The Left is Not a Church

I want to talk about the DSA. If you haven’t heard, the DSA is the Democratic Socialists of America. It’s a left-wing organization that’s been around since 1982, but it’s become politically more significant over the last couple years. Inspired by Bernie Sanders, DSA’s membership has expanded from 6,000 to about 35,000 over the last couple years. The DSA is committed to lots of nice things, like a Medicare-for-All Single Payer system. I heard a story about two DSA branches this week–the San Francisco DSA and the East Bay DSA. It’s a local story. A small story. But it tells us a lot about the condition of left-wing organizing today.

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The Candace Owens Problem

This year has been politically very stale, and so I continue to get my kicks from the strange things Kanye West coughs up on Twitter. Kanye is a window into the American id. He doesn’t read and he doesn’t listen to anybody. He goes out of his way to avoid other people’s interpretations. This enables him to more directly access what’s happening, but it robs him of the intellectual tools necessary to refine his understanding. Recently Kanye tweeted:

Who is Candace Owens? I’d never heard of her. Kanye made me look her up, and looking up Candace Owens taught me something–despite Bernie Sanders, despite DSA, despite all the left activism in the United States over the past few years, there are still millions and millions of Americans who have no idea a left alternative to the Democratic Party establishment exists.

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Kanye’s Return to Twitter and Liberalism’s Love Affair With Fear

Kanye West recently returned to Twitter. Many people think Kanye is an idiot, but if he is, he’s something of an idiot savant–the unrefined one-liners he tosses out are often in the neighborhood of truth, and those of us who pay attention can make use of what might seem useless. For instance, here’s two Kanye tweets:

Is it really true that everything single thing we do stems from either fear or love? Probably not–but it got me thinking. Have you noticed how completely and totally animated by fear contemporary liberal politics is, and how manipulative it has become as a result?

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