Open comment to The Activists

So, The Activists sent me a bunch of DMs on Twitter...which I can only find through e-mail. It concerns this post, I think. The general gist of them is that demonising billionaires draws in readers - something which is reflected by their rising number of readers and followers - and that you have to draw a line as to which side you're going to take. Anyway, since you can't send a DM to anyone who's not following you and since my response is just a little too long for Twitter, I'm going to post a reply here.

Firstly, I have to apologise. Actually, I have to do a lot of apologising. I have acted like a brat to people who have shown me kindness and courtesy, for a start. I still disagree with them about some practices, but I should have been more civil about it. I should have practised what I preached and tried to reach out to others. I have screwed up a lot and that is not cool.

Activists, I'm going to have to concede a point to you and say that yes, you are right. Demonising people, particularly billionaires, will draw readers in. Some of those readers will perhaps become activists. Mission accomplished.

It's a bit more complicated than that, though...if you were just demonising billionaires, fine. Most people hate billionaires, and with good reason. Somewhere between very few and none of them have given back to society meaningfully. The problem comes when you start demonising people who aren't as clearly evil - a word I hate to use, but which is short and simple so I'll use it anyway. That group includes people like doubters and middle-class leftists who sometimes enjoy putting their feet up, so they get called "closet elitists". My problem is that group being treated just as badly as the billionaires. My problem is that people who have reservations and doubts, or who would prefer to try reform before going for all-out revolution, or even just people who like academia, are being lumped into the same group as those who would sell their own grandmothers if it turned a profit.

While that line of rhetoric is effective and - again, I concede a point to you - does draw in lots of readers, I still do think it will make people start doubting if they stop and think about some of the things that are being said and what that would mean for them, for their loved ones, for society in general...if they continue doubting, and if they get the message that anyone who doesn't believe unquestioningly is unworthy, they'll probably end up being disgusted and leaving your particular branch of the movement, if not leaving the movement outright. Another thing is that what works for drawing in readers may not work for trying to change the world, and I'm trying to do the same thing for both.

At the risk of sounding like an idiot, I think we have more uniting us than separating us. We both agree on basic political ideology, I think, and we both agree on billionaires. I agree with you that we have to draw lines, but we disagree on where and how to draw them - I'd prefer to draw them as wide as possible, and only after much deliberation. I agree with you, too, on the billionaires keeping people "'out' of their hoarding ways", but I don't think it's good to try and divide people.

I don't mean to be sanctimonious or patronising when I say this, and I genuinely do mean this sincerely: it kills me to see how we agree on the basics, yet we're split wide by who to accept and who to reject. As childish as it sounds, I genuinely do want to bring everyone together so we can finally get something done.

I think you would win over a lot more people if you spoke to them as you spoke to me in the DMs: calmly, maturely and logically. These qualities are not lost on people.