Civility will never defeat fascism, no matter what The Economist thinks.
Laurie Penny | Longreads | September 2018 | 15 minutes (3,795 words)
“The media here is the opposition party.
They don’t understand this country.”
— Steve Bannon, to the New York Times
“A point of view can be a dangerous luxury
when substituted for insight and understanding.”
— Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy
* * *
There are some stupid mistakes that only very smart people make, and one of them is the notion that a sensible argument seriously presented can compete with a really good piece of theatre.
Every day, people on the internet ask why I won’t “debate” some self-actualizing gig-economy fascist or other, as if formal, public debate were the only way to steer public conversation. If you won’t debate, the argument goes, you’re an enemy of free speech. You’re basically no better than a Nazi, and certainly far worse than any of the actual Nazis muttering about not being allowed to preach racism from prestigious pulpits. Well-meaning liberals insist that “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” anti-fascists disagree, the far right orders more popcorn, and round and round we go on the haunted carousel of western liberal thought until we’re all queasy.
This bad-faith argument is a repeating refrain of this low, dishonest decade, and this month it built to another crescendo. In the U.S., The New Yorker bowed to public pressure and disinvited Steve Bannon, Trump’s neo-nationalist former chief strategist, from its literary festival. And in the U.K., The Economist chose to do the opposite.Continue reading “No, I Will Not Debate You”