the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend
I haven’t written anything substantial in a long while because I just don’t know what to say or write. I used to feel so certain, like I had some things to say that I wanted others to hear. Now? I don’t know anymore. I really don’t. I find the older I get, the less certitude I have about what I know and the less I feel like what I have to say is so clever it needs its own essay or extended post. So many actors on this stage called society, performing. We give these performances names, like activist and lobbyist and writer and journalist and rights movements. Movement. When I hear that word I think of sh1t, actual faeces, bowel movement we called it in the clinical setting. Movement. Maybe that’s what most of today’s collectivism looks like when we strip away all the rhetoric, faecal matter that the body needs to expel.
On a very primal level, aren’t we all a bit Machiavellian? Doesn’t the present culture promote me-me-me behaviour—iPhone, iPad, iMac, these are my pronouns, look at me, it’s all about my identity—fcuk your reality. Fragility promoted and resilience demonised at every turn, ego projection and narcissism rewarded and incentivised, the relationship with the self and mastery of self control and patience has fallen away as identity politics makes personal responsibility a societal one under the guise of humans rights. We sit on a throne of lies, as Buddy says in the movie Elf. These days I watch as ego rules and it takes my breath away, not in any romantic way, in a dementor kind of way. I don’t feel convinced that most people want to resolve the issues, or even want to know what they are. I think people just want to masturbate their egos at the expense of others.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend rules many segments of human society today and I think it’s an unwise and reactionary strategy that leads to and promotes polemics and rewards polemicists at the expense of sound compassionate individuals. Did it work for the Iranians? Marxists and Islamists reaching across the aisle to defeat the Shah—did that achieve a desired result? Looking at derangement and brutality of the regime, I will venture to answer no, this did not achieve the desired result. Perhaps in particular situations, individuals have no choice—the second world war and Russia going from neutral to allied comes to mind. What happened after the defeat and liberation of Germany from the Nazis? The division of Germany by the allies, the emergence of the eastern bloc, and the Cold War. History tell us what happened, yet Churchill and the allies could not have defeated Hitler without Stalin, that’s the uncomfortable reality. In this case the enemy of my enemy is my friend achieved the necessary result—defeat of Nazi Germany—at the expense of eastern Europe.
All of this to ask—how do we defeat gender extremism? How do we defeat any kind of extremism, really, however gender is what I’ll focus on in this missive. Do gender critical activists feel okay about their alliance with hardline Christian conservatives who seek to criminalise abortion, want Roe v Wade overturned, and believe same sex attraction a sin/want to suppress all positive expressions of gay life? What about when other issues enter into the fray?
I feel uncertain about waging a struggle against extremists alongside those I do not trust. I feel uneasy at my core, waging this battle alongside people who think Maxime Bernier will be the man to lead Canada. I feel uneasy at my core about this because I have read and listened to his words about immigrants, and what he calls extreme liberal multiculturalism. So, honouring Jinnah is extremist position and honouring John A MacDonald is not? Yet Jinnah never wanted to assimilate or colonise anyone, in fact the opposite, and we all know that McDonald absolutely wanted to do those things. So, what is really the extremist view when you consider the characters of these men? Nationalists would tell you the answer is Jinnah because he’s brown and from the Indian Subcontinent, the correct choice, ie the non-extreme multiculturalist choice of who to honour would obviously be the white (Eurocentric) dude. Oh but that’s not tribal or extreme to say we must honour this Eurocentric asshole who wanted to break indigenous people over the principled Muslim man from the Indian subcontinent who wanted to liberate Muslims? Why, because he’s a whypipo? Oh, okay shur Jan.
Also, let’s not even mention that those who champion Bernier have obviously already forgotten how he royally fcukd up by breaching security protocols and leaving classified government documents in his girlfriend’s home! Seriously, a man who cannot follow security protocols cannot lead his way out a paper bag! Yet, Mad Max says sex is real repeal bill C-16 and so, many are putty in his hand, and they are willing to sell everything for those six words.
So, how do we fight extremism and what is it with this the enemy of my enemy is my friend strategy? Is the enemy of my enemy worth it when it comes to affecting social policy and political change?
Look what happened to the leftists in Iran, post revolution. The class character/structure of Iran really didn’t change, one oppressive rule replaced another. What happened, then? Perhaps basing collective action solely on hatred and opposition doesn’t yield results that scream liberation and truth. Because social policy is not a military campaign. Because when you join forces with the enemy of your enemy you do not see eye to eye with, you are selling yourself and your position out—compromising principle. Because humans are hierarchical and tribal at their core, we are hardwired this way. Of course people cannot agree on everything. However, there are fundamental truths and visions that need honouring. No, that’s not a purity spiral, it’s boundary setting. Boundaries are necessary and healthy. There are degrees of alliance and co-operation and there’s collaboration. However we all have agency and conscience and capacity for higher order thinking, we are meant to use these to promote human progress and live compassionately as individuals.
So when someone whose work you have admired begins to spew weird nonsense about Jews being responsible for a nefarious social movement, your values should signal flashing lights inside your brain at this expression of the oldest anti-Jewish trope in existence, as opposed to telling you shhhh we don’t want to rock the boat, think of the greater cause and the movement. Ah, the movement. Point being—values-based actions and words, those which exhibit solid character, and not the words of tribal elite or prominent egos, still matters the most when it comes to effecting positive and enduring change. We can call out the behaviour and still examine this person’s body of work as presented. People we admire make mistakes and have bad takes on things, sh1t happens, that isn’t excusing it, it’s understanding. Do mercy and redemption have a role to play? Yes, and that is up to each of us to decide.
So, process matters as an expression of values. Due diligence matters. Ethical praxis matters. These are the requirements for a free society. Regardless of what is at stake, we cannot lose our humanity because then we have already lost.
With each decision we face we choose between ego and truth. Many people choose ego. Please do think about the choice you make and choose wisely.