On Working Together

I no longer check anything much to do with Atheism Plus; the hashtag appears to have been taken over by detractors (there's also some much-needed common sense, though I disagree with the argument that anything logically follows from atheism given that it is a lack of belief) and while I think I've seen Jen McCreight and Greta Christina make some defences (incidentally, I'm very much a fence-sitter who stays away from FTB because while there might be a lot of interesting thought going on there - I don't know, I don't check the blogs - I've only got so much time in my life and I'd rather spend it reading Pushkin and Tolstoy than following internet atheist drama). Still, people do complain from time to time about what one of the A+ers has done now and how horrible it is and then someone posts a link and basically the whole atheism/A+ schism is very much full of stupid, for which I blame the people who reacted to it negatively more than I blame the people who started it all. For a group that prides itself on its scepticism and open-mindedness, I've seen a lot of prejudice and emotional (as opposed to rational) responses; it disappoints me.

On the subject of A+, I'll just say that it was received quite favourably by some people who felt excluded from the wider atheist movement, who had criticisms of it, or who otherwise weren't interested, and that raised my opinion of it a lot. I think it was quite a beautiful idea, in a way - to clean up an atheist movement that is sadly quite full of shit - but I still think that fundamentally it's trying to attach a morality system to a lack of belief, which despite efforts to argue the contrary does not and cannot logically work. If you have a lack of A, no B can follow, because you can't get one thing from a lack of something else. This is the main, intractable problem with A+ for me, and - the internet equivalent of shouting and waving your arms about to the contrary - there has to be a better solution than this.

So why was I talking about a shitty internet movement again?...Ah, yes. A blog post by Greta Christina, who actually seems pretty damn admirable though I'm not familiar with her work (again, I only have so much time and I'd rather be lounging around reading the greats than absorbing various strains of atheist thought, because I'm a bad atheist, a bad person and a wannabe independent thinker). For those of you who didn't read said post, the general gist of it is that the atheist movement is already divided (true), that misogyny and general dickishness in the atheist community isn't divisive (actually, it is and it should be divisive to anyone who actually gives a shit, but shhhhh...nobody let on, otherwise the assholes might have to question their behaviour and people might actually have to do something instead of acting all holier-than-thou), and that saying A+ is divisive (which it unquestionably is; whether that divisiveness is a good thing is moot) equates to saying that they're entitled to Greta Christina being treated like dirt and being forced out of the movement.

I'm going to say one thing. It doesn't just apply to A+, it applies to any attempt to unfuck things. Greta Christina and people like her will probably not like it (though I have never thought she deserves to be treated like dirt, simply because no-one deserves that). A lot of people will probably not like it. Some of those people may even leave me angry comments. But if the way for me to avoid this is to shut up, then no, I'm not going to keep silent, I have a computer and an internet connection and a decent command of the English language and if any old idiot can rant on the internet then so can I! Get over it! And I will do what I must do, which is lay out my argument clearly and logically and defend it in the best way I can.

Part of working for any movement is that you have to deal with, work with, and possibly work on behalf of utter shits. That's really all I have to say. Most of the people you meet and work with and for are shit, and a lot of them will be actively working against you. I don't know why things work this way (apart from most people being walking misanthropy fuel, of course, but that doesn't really count), though that's how they seem to be. I'm a humanist, and thus my beliefs about the world require me to work on behalf of people I'd frankly much rather punch in the face. I'm a feminist, and thus I've got to contend with a system which uses body fascism to put me down while working at cross-purposes with...well, with pretty much everyone really. Feminism's a big tent. I'm a leftist, so again, I've got to contend with everyone - right-wing nutjobs, liberals, moderates, fellow leftists because we can't agree on anything...And I'm an atheist, so to fight religious nutjobs I've got to suck it up and work with racists, Islamophobes, MRA sympathisers, antitheists, libertarians, global warming deniers...

And you know what? I don't want to do that. I'm sick and fucking tired of doing that. I'm sick and fucking tired of screaming at the wind with tears in my eyes. I'm sick and fucking tired of trying to work so hard that I get sick in my head and can't even look after myself properly, let alone look after the world. I'm sick and fucking tired of getting torn up over not being able to do enough. I'm sick and fucking tired of having to wend my own way amongst the stupid, because no-one else will do it for me. I'm sick and fucking tired of infighting. I'm sick and fucking tired of us all quibbling with each other. I'm sick and fucking tired of having to keep my mouth shut half the time otherwise I'll lose the support I desperately need to advance my pet causes. (Even the business of trying to unfuck the world is not a clean one, for anyone interested.)

I'm sick and fucking tired of a lot of other things too, but I keep those to myself and anyone unfortunate enough to be my confidant.

But I don't think the way to get around that is to storm off and create yet another new movement! That really doesn't seem to be working! If you were to press me for an answer, I wouldn't have one right now. I'm honestly too young to have seen enough of the world to come up with anything decent - that's a truth that I frankly admit. Instead, I have little bits of common sense and lessons bashed into me through hard experience: don't rely on any movement for all the answers. Act wisely. Think independently. Take as many breaks as you need to stop getting frazzled. Don't lose sight of your ultimate goal. Infighting and working at cross purposes achieves nothing.

I think that's all any of us really know, if that, and we must do the best we can.