On Doubt

The Activists now has its own tag. It's about time I got round to it.

Those of you who followed the blog (hi, Mum) probably know about my affair with it, from my initial starry-eyed swooning over its tweets to my growing doubts, then my cooling towards it...and finally our split.

This article was the last straw.

I'll wait while you read it - or attempt to. It's very short.

As well you know, doubt is a central part of my being. I cannot go a day, an hour, a minute without thinking and doubting and reflecting on things...and, if you'll pardon my language, I'm bloody proud of it. I'm bloody proud of having to think to justify my beliefs, of having enough intellectual fibre not to take things at face value.

Here is what the article says about doubt:
"Those who doubt the revolution are liars, deceivers, charlatans. Those who doubt the revolution are nothing more than addicts to comforts and material indulgences."
I have a damn good reason to doubt your revolution. I have a damn good reason to doubt anyone's revolution. I have a damn good reason to doubt anything which doesn't deliver or which appears to have flaws, and I am not a worse person for this.

I am not a liar for being uncomfortable with your hellfire-and-brimstone condemnation of anyone who does not think like you, one of the things I find least attractive about your movement. I am not a deceiver for wondering whether you understand what you write. I am not a charlatan for thinking that you are too whipped up in frenzy to seek the truth. I am more than an "addict to comforts and material indulgences" - I am addicted to neither. I wonder how many of you could survive without a computer, without the internet. I doubt your intentions because I see the way you treat people who disagree with you - and it is sickening. You say you want democracy, rule of the people? You will have to learn to talk to the people and to compromise with them, instead of flinging insults at anyone who doesn't agree with you 100%. (I hate that expression, but unfortunately I needed to use it.)

I doubt those who talk but do not deliver - and you fall into that category. Increasingly, you may also fall into the category of "cult" or "lunatic fringe movement". Why? Because you disregard reality (you want to let governments go bankrupt because "it can't get worse than this" - actually, it CAN), you talk about revolutions like they are articles of faith, you preach to people, and, as my quote demonstrated, you demonise not only those who disagree with you but also those who raise doubts, while still supporting the movement as a whole. I am one of those people. I desperately want change; I think that the current system is flawed. I also think that you blatantly disregard politics, philosophy, ethics, morality, economics, psychology, biology and probably a hell of a lot else in favour of banker-bashing rhetoric. You are not activists, you are windbags, and you do us all a disservice by painting the Left as shrieking harpies instead of rational, intelligent, collected people.

Arguably the worst thing about you is that, on the surface at least, you seem like the genuine article. You seem like you genuinely want to change the world - and I don't doubt that you do, I just wonder when the hell you're going to get around to it. You also seem like you have a plan to do so, because who else gets so fired up about the revolution? Then people start digging deeper...they see the constant talk, but no action. They see the lambasting of everyone not like you, which includes many potential supporters. They see the way you treat doubters...and then, like me, they lose their faith in anyone getting things done.

Why? Because you may be windbags (not the most charitable of terms, but then again I'm not the most charitable of people), but you're very vocal windbags - far more vocal than all the well-educated, experienced revolutionaries who are sweating blood to make this revolution come around. You drown them out. You make people believe that you're the biggest, if not the only, game in town.

I am fortunate enough to know some of these well-educated, experienced revolutionaries, which is why I haven't given up. I am fortunate enough to know people who know what they're doing, who answer the doubters fairly, who can defend their position with more than insults, and who give me hope for humanity. I only wish others were as fortunate as I am.

I would call on you to take a back seat to those people, but I know you won't do that. I would call on you to act instead of talking - and I hope you will. More than anything, I would call on you to stop preaching to the choir and start trying to draw more people into your circle. I would call on you to learn, instead of relying on populism, and I would call on you to answer the doubters as others have answered them - with facts and truth.

I have not been the most charitable of commenters, and I have had very good reasons for that. I don't believe you deserve it for what amounts to frothing at the mouth. I am willing to talk to you, though - I would talk to you even if having my teeth pulled without anaesthetic would seem like a morning stroll in comparison to talking to you - and I am willing to rethink my criticisms if you will mull over them and, perhaps, do something with my suggestions.