Apr 16Liked by J.M. Berger

I think you're spot on with calling out the comparison with Nazis. We've all grown up in a world where "Poe's Law" is a prevalently popular call, but the reason 'Nazis' or 'Stalin/Mao's are such good comparisons are *because* they were such extremes, we can show the path where a current trajectory can fall ON that path. It should be respected and analyzed before criticized when those names or ideas are brought up.

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Apr 15·edited Apr 16

". . . Nazis were certainly extremists in 1924 . . . had they stopped being extremists by 1933, when they were polling at 39 percent, sufficient to locate them at or near the center of German polity?"

I think this may be mis-framed. The Nazis did not move towards the center, but they drew support away from the center towards the extreme. The mechanism by which they did this included exploiting the extremism of German communists more effectively than the communists exploited the extremism of the Nazis. This tactic is being used (less effectively so far) by rightwing extremists in the US who try to portray those identifiably on the Left as extreme anti-white, communist groomers who support riots and crime. To the degree that the progressive Left pushes against the center by associating it with racism, LBGT-phobia, etc., its moral non-equivalence will be eclipsed by its alienating self-presentation, just as communist street fighters became the proxy for Weimar liberalism.

"We see this polarization—driven largely by White Democrats’ increasingly liberal attitudes about race—as a normative good in a democracy premised on equal rights."

This seems to me to presuppose a liberal view of "equal rights." Those to the right of center tend to see "diversity" and "equity" as a constraint on the rights of the present majority because of historical factors beyond their control or responsibility. (I don't endorse that view, but it makes clear that "equal rights" is contested territory and can't be used to claim an objective perspective.)

I think the influence of social media on all this is critical but imbalanced, roughly analogous to the street confrontation stage in the Weimar Republic. Two recent examples: The Stanford Law protests against Kyle Duncan was staged by the Right for the purpose of inducing the progressive Left to perform as illiberal extremists for the benefit of social media persuasion. In response, a Wayne State U professor thought it would be a wonderful idea to post on social media by telling the progressive Left that such protests were hurtful to their cause by suggesting that murdering rightwing extremists would be better idea ("in theory"). The net result is that in both cases, careful staging by the Right pushed the center away from "the Left" by luring its clueless proxies into alienating self-presentation. For complex reasons, it is *much* easier for the Right (or the Alt-Right) to manage this type of effect.

These sorts of dynamics have to be borne in mind when writers like Kreiss and McGregor (or your presentation of them) pass judgment on the moral balance between two sides when they have a clear bias towards the ethics of one of them. It may seem obvious to someone on the Left that when a person like Nick Fuentes presents as a lethal antisemite it's because he is one, while when Steven Shaviro presents as an adocate of assassination he's making a clumsy attempt at irony, but Fuentes will claim the protection of irony and the Right will read Shaviro as sincere (despite his pro forma disclaimer) because it serves them to do so.

I don't think the argument that the Center is the locus of oppression that must be broken will be a fruitful approach, any more than DEI sessions that take as an axiom that all white participants are racists move people's commitments towards DEI. It's great that the progressive "eligible in-group" is descriptively universal, and it may make them seem ethically superior, but when in practice most of that elgible group is deemed ineligible I think the conditions for potential extremism (and for potential violent extremism) exist--they are certainly perceived to exist by the "ineligibles."

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