Is this “What Progressives Do?”

Just because someone says they are progressive, that doesn’t mean they’re really progressive. The tactics some on left employ betray an elitist, even authoritarian mindset. Refusal to consider what others actually say. Explicitly stating a sense of entitlement and superiority including attacking others with different points of view and ignoring facts which undermine one’s dogma. Arrogating to oneself the authority to rewrite established definitions of terms, and dictating to other people rather than asking them what they think or listening to them. Insistence on a monolithic approach and calling it “dissent” and “democratic.” None of that is progressive. That’s what Pseudo Progressives do.

Coalition building is a long, hard process. It involves finding out what other people want, and not attacking them for not immediately embracing whatever you want. Online coalition building is every bit as difficult as in IRL–perhaps even more so. Flaming people, barging into threads demanding to redefine established terms, and dictating to everyone else is not just rude. It’s anti-social, anti-progressive, and self-defeating. When someone starts demanding unanimity from progressives, that indicates a complete lack of understanding about progressives. Those who do those things are Pseudo Progressives.

Anthony Noel recently posted a blog on FDL accusing me of any number of things I never did. He issued blanket attacks on me, claiming I said a lot of things. Interestingly he did so without bothering to quote me. Why? Because I never said them. This even though he meticulously quoted one post I made in reply to his numerous aggressive and even abusive posts. It started badly with Anthony, and didn’t get much better through dozens and dozens of such posts. This was my introduction to Anthony Noel via his very first comment, posted at the PDA blog, (quoted verbatim and completely–unlike his misquotes and hack jobs against me)

Please don’t take my word for it. Read for yourself:

Mr. Hersh:

If Noam Chomsky knew you were using his words of years ago to try to boost the Democratic Party of today, he might very well sue your a$$. I know, because Chomsky supports the idea of primarying [sic] Obama and supporting an Independent or third-party candidate in 2012.

Trying to head off dissent is the opposite of democracy, sir, and by doing so you are only perpetuating illegal wars and corporate giveaways. Suggesting that the “lesser of two evils” argument is still viable at a time when the evil has already taken over is irresponsible at best, complicit in that evil at worst.

People seeking a real alternative – in other words, real progressives – would do well to visit and see what we’re cooking up for Mr. Obama next year.

By Anthony Noel on 2011 06 16

Suggesting lawsuits in response to my accurately quoting someone else. Accusations that posting an opinion–on a blog with open commenting–is “Trying to head off dissent” and “the opposite of democracy.” Attacking a viewpoint as “irresponsible at best, complicit in that evil at worst”–without addressing any of the dozens if not hundred of facts and examples in support. Nice way to say hi. And it only went down-hill from there. Here are some of Anthony Noel’s comments from the same thread:

Are you big enough to get over yourself?

This from someone who refused to read anything on the PDA website, and considered himself too important to honor my requests that he explain what his approach was all about if it didn’t involve supporting spoilers in close elections.

Still afraid of the site, eh, Mike?

In reference to his repeated refusal to explain what he did support, if–as he claimed–he didn’t support spoilers in close races. He kept insisting I read his website, but he refused to even read what I posted in the blog he was supposedly participating in!

More notale [isc] is the fallacy that Al Gore would have been better then GWB. Both are corporatist, elitist stuffed shirts committed first to their parties and second to the people. Not what the constitution declares, just in case you haven’t read it recently, Mike.

I believe people have every right to express their own opinions, but clearly Anthony doesn’t accept that. He declares anything he doesn’t (want to) believe out of bounds. So who really has a penchant for “Trying to head off dissent?” Even given all that, Anthony is welcome to say the huge differences between Al Gore and George W. Bush many people care about don’t matter to him. He cannot say they don’t matter to us. I kept listing all the differences, and Anthony kept refusing to address any of them. After a while, I pointed out that he must not care about things like the environment and global warming, civil rights, LGBT rights, women’s rights especially choice, the US Supreme Court, and on and on. Again, Anthony doesn’t have to care about any of that, but I reject his claims that he can tell us we can’t care about them either.

Anthony refused to address these points. He reacted angrily when I identified the many defects in his grand scheme to remake politics by attacking most progressives, all liberals, and all moderates–people progressives need to support our efforts to reform the system. Rather than engage in anything close to reasoned discussion, Anthony attacked me personally in ways petty and otherwise. He insulted me for asking him to stop making personal attacks, and he claimed all I did was attack him!

Wow, Mike, you sure must like the sound of your own keyboard – and have not very much to do with your days – if both the verbosity and inanity of your responses here are any indication.

This from someone who posted long, repetitive posts on the PDA blog, including as many as three in a row. There’s nothing wrong with posting 3 times in a row, but to do so and then attack someone else for posting is hypocritical and unselfconscious.

This was Anthony’s second “good-bye forever” post:

I’ve got far more pressing matters than talking to a wall. Perhaps you’ll open your mind to what could be, to paraphrase JFK, and ask ‘Why not’?

This was his storm-off post:

Mike, you bring new meaning to the words “pompous ass.”

Does it make you feel good to employ the same diversionary and untrutful [sic] tactics you decry in conservatives? To say something won’t work – after getting the proof that it can, which YOU asked for? Apparently so, because your original post and your comments since would do any cligning [sic]-for-dear-life-to-power corporatist proud.

Enjoy it while you can, its days are numbered. Such tactics didn’t work for Jason Rosenbaum at FDL before he left for a job where he could securely wedge his head up Congressional Democrats’ asses so far that he couldn’t be sure where he stopped and they started, and it won’t work for you, here.

But keep denying the reality outside your door, Mike. It’ll make breaking it down all the easier and more satisfying for the growing crowd that’s gathering outside it.

Goodbye – and good riddance.

By Anthony Noel on 2011 06 20

Even after Anthony declared he was through with the discussion (three times) and left in a huff, he didn’t stay away. He didn’t come to break down my door with his “growing crowd.” He returned, meekly trying to pretend he’d presented nothing but thoughtful, reasonable posts all along. As if he didn’t start out flaming, and quickly devolved into trolling. As if I had nothing better to do than babysit him on the PDA blog all day long.

Then he complained here on FDL when I closed out the thread comments. This even though he left vowing never to return three times. This even though I took pains explaining:

At this point, let’s all admit some of us are not talking about the same things. A few people on this thread are unwilling to agree with the basic premise. As long as those people refuse to accept the terms, this is a waste of time.

At this point, I am closing this thread, and inviting people to learn more about PDA, comment on the other blog posts, and get on with their lives.

By mike.hersh on 2011 06 21

Long story short, Anthony Noel lied to FDL readers. His account of what PDA does is based entirely on active, aggressive and willful ignorance. After refusing to offer a synopsis of what he believed, and repeatedly taunting me to read his website, in an astonishing display of self-indulgence Anthony refused to read anything at the PDA website other than bits of posts in the blog he was supposedly participating. He pointedly ignored all the references, facts, and information I posted in the blog in which I explained what PDA is all about. He was furious I hadn’t immediately dropped everything in my life to study his website, but he was too important to either explain NPA or educate himself about PDA–or even to let me educate him about PDA.

So what can we conclude about anyone who says they plan to attack and undermine progressives, liberals and moderates–and reject the right–but still plans to foment a “a political revolution?” Let’s do the math: About 20% of the electorate identify as liberal, and only a fraction of that consider themselves progressives. Anthony attacks most of that fraction of voters. Look at the polling results for the presidential candidates Anthony says are legitimate. They gain about 1% of the vote. Anthony says he will galvanize that fraction of a faction and prevail. How? Certainly not through any democratic means. Not with 1% vs. 99% and a proclivity for alienating those who agree with his stated views on the issues!

All this adds up to Anthony claiming he and his “growing crowd” of 1% have the authority to impose their singular approach on everyone else. Anthony thinks he knows “The Way” which all the rest of us must follow. Or else! Whether from the left, the right or the center, such attempts to impose the views of a tiny minority on the vast majority is not progressive. Willingness to sacrifice the well-being of the vast majority “for the greater good” (as defined by the select few) is not progressive either. Those are hallmarks of authoritarianism–not progressive in any respect. I don’t see any indication Anthony Noel is a progressive, no matter which policies he (says he) supports. His conduct on the PDA blog and on FDL–especially his artful scrubbing and distorted version of that conduct–indicates he is something very different.

Anthony Noel is hardly a model for ways to appeal to progressives. He did nothing to encourage anyone to support the NPA. His tone and approach were off-putting and haughty–bordering on elitist–and his posts were routinely abusive and packed with inaccuracies great and small. If that’s how the NPA plans to build an alternative movement, count many people out. If not, then NPA should encourage its advocates to avoid alienating allies. Let’s do the math again: 66,882,230 people voted for Obama in 2008. Insulting all or most of those people is a sure way to make no progress on anything. Yet, that’s what Anthony Noel does and it’s what he insists you do. Such arrogance, aggression and authoritarianism may be an exception to the NPA approach. I sure hope so.

Hint for Anthony: You’re starting with 1% and attacking the rest. Your approach isn’t working. I know you feel compelled to threaten people (will lawsuits and crowds breaking down their door–actually or metaphorically), you rely on insults and flaming. Does it occur to you that you’re not winning friends or influencing people? At least not influencing them in any progressive way? I don’t know you. For all I know, in real life you’re a kind and generous person. I don’t know what if any hardships you have in your life. If you’re prone to OCD or bipolarity or anything else. But you’re coming across very, very badly. Try to imagine how you’d feel if someone treated you the way you treat others. Think about that. Try to do better.