Clarifying remarks on futile leftism

I wrote a post a couple of days ago titled The death spiral of futile leftism. The basic thesis of the piece is 1) there are people on the left who are involved in a futile purity rituals that are mainly self-centered and not about winning, and 2) the existence of such people attracts more such people and repels more success-oriented leftists. The net result is a death spiral for the left because futile leftism just begets more futile leftism. Or so my speculative stylized musings go.

This seems to have ruffled more feathers than I thought it would, if twitter and the comments on the post are worthwhile indicators. I think my remarks are basically correct. I just want to clarify that these remarks are not necessarily targeted at any particular ideology. As Sarah Jaffe mentioned on twitter: there are people of all ideological stripes who act this way. Liberals, Maoists, Marxist-Leninists, Trotskyists, Avakianites, Beyists, Bookchinites, Mutualists, Bakuninites, and all the others have people in their ranks who do this kind of stuff. It is not constrained to any group: it’s a behavioral tendency.

For what it’s worth, I don’t actually think there is that much you can do to turn these kinds of people. I think the reason they behave this way is because they are motivated by different things than other people in those same groups. Their leftist politics provides them identity, activities, peers, and an aesthetic — a complete subcultural group. It provides to them the same things fraternities and sororities provide to others. Granted this is just my amateur psychoanalysis here based on personal experience, but that’s all anyone’s got on a topic this narrow.