Frosted Flakes: Heather Number One *Doesn’t* Attend Left Forum

What’s your damage, Left Forum? Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast???

Amber Frost thinks she knows the answer, and recently shared her findings with the world via “Flakes Alive”  in The Baffler.

Mind you, she didn’t attend this year’s Left Forum — she’s “too sane” — but she did read 6 or 7 panel abstracts, heard some anecdotes from a friend who’d attended, and listened to the audio of a panel from last year. She then concluded that animal liberationists are standing in the way of socialism.

Also in the way are pro-Soviet Marxists (“tankies”), 9/11 Truthers, and seemingly anyone wacky enough to believe that state agents would attempt to infiltrate and shape Left politics and intellectual life.  Strident queers, “Social Justice Warriors”,  advocates of intersectionality, the unashamedly mentally ill, and those who’d take a militarized approach to making Black lives matter, also vex her. These are “the crackpots, the paranoiacs, the hysterics and…dysfunctional personalities.”

After a series of witless, status-concious jabs at lefty losers, made far worse by Frost’s unabashed delight with herself, she finishes up all deadly serious and disciplinary:

It’s quite possible the left is at a pivotal moment in political history: these days, Americans actually like the sound of socialism…the marginalistas distract, disrupt and deter future comrades. So it’s high time we get a little exclusive: tankies, truthers and tofu may supply a steady stream of battle-tested conference anecdotage, but they’re not going to move us any closer to building a better world.

Have you pillowcases forgotten that our job is to be popular and shit? “Tankies, truthers and tofu” — the marginalistas — are making us look bad.

I confess my nipples hardened at Frost’s sudden turn from flippancy to stern no-nonsenseyness, even though my moral obligation to animals sadly renders me useful only for laughs. I was genuinely surprised, however, that she said practically nothing about anarchists, because her crowd has been obsessively loathing us in long form and tweets since at least the very first days of Occupy.

The crowd I mean is a crew of leftist writers and readers that are either members of, or heavily influenced by, The Democratic Socialists of America with ties to Jacobin and, to a lesser extent, other small lefty mags like In These Times, The Baffler and Dissent. Strict lefty dad Doug Henwood of the Left Business Review is a patron and thought leader. Yasha Levine and Mark Ames of Pando are peripherally connected via similar politics and cross pollination between Jacobin and the Exiled.

DSA member Frost’s fellow travelers unsurprisingly found her joyfully contemptuous proclamation of superiority so very, because, of course, it proclaimed their superiority too and, at least in theory, made those they so dislike feel ostracized. Her lazy survey of panel abstracts particularly inspired Jacobin’s Connor Kilpatrick, who risibly called it “brilliant” and “a masterpiece” when tweeting it out to his followers. He also helpfully introduced the word “purge” into the ensuing online conversation, lest there be any confusion that the Forum’s all-comers panel policy was the real problem. Thus began a mini-meltdown for Kilpatrick, in which he prolifically denounced the “batshit insane” and their defenders, endorsed doxxing of anonymous detractors and then wisely deleted his account. (he’s back on)

Disciplinary measures against unruly lefts is very much this crowd’s thing. Their zeal suggests a program of some sort the nature of which they communicate mostly by telegraphing whom it would exclude. Pathologizing is a favorite cudgel, as Kilpatrick’s use of “batshit insane,” and Frost’s prodigious list of diagnoses clearly show. Some of my readers may recall Jacobin co-founder and DSA member Bhaskar Sunkara likening today’s Left to a subway masturbator when he took his turn at lamenting all the losers he puts up with.

Since people who disagree with this crowd are obviously mentally ill, it’s surely no wonder that conference panels dedicated to denouncing psychology would be among those that uniquely vex Frost. One of the paltry few delights her piece affords is observing this scoffing at those who regard psychology as an instrument of social control while she prolifically wields psychology as an instrument of social control.  But the delight is short-lived as you realize just how large a flake net she’s casting.

Surely she knows that not even students of psychology dispute its weaponized use against women, queers, Black people, and anyone that goes too hard against the grain. Even if not, any socialist that’s not an asshole will consider that there may be better ways than the illness paradigm for understanding people that find life under capitalism exceptionally difficult.  I know too little to have an opinion about “Mad Pride,” a movement that regards mental illness in spiritual terms. But it’s hard to imagine anything more cluelessly conformist and mean than pointing and laughing at people who’ve been diagnosed with mental illness that don’t compliantly agree that they’re sick, or less entitled to speak for themselves at a conference than its “big public intellectuals” and the “young and good-looking” group in which Frost places herself.  But for Frost, Mad Pride panels are downright emblematic of Left Forum’s flake problem.

Her aversion to animal rights hardliners seems equally anachronistic. I’ve lamented the Left’s persistent resistance to taking this topic seriously, but I would expect Frost, a twenty-something New Yorker, a writer, and presumably a reader, to know better. We’re living at a time when animal rights is a field of study in law schools while court cases are fought over the personhood of chimpanzees. More than one in ten millennials is vegan or vegetarian, and almost two in ten college students are. If Left Forum isn’t an appropriate place to discuss this increasingly influential dissident politics, what is?

Apart from her unabashed self-admiration, and a thoroughly modern, live-tweety insipidness, Frost sounds like a Boomer lefty, a crackpot realist sneering at the young’uns. Her essay evokes Doug Henwood, famously making a jerk-off motion during an Occupy discussion, while twenty-something co-panelist Malcolm Harris spoke. A gif of that could serve as an avatar for this crowd.

One sect Frost and pals most definitely do not see in the way of socialism — at least not enough to shun them — are imperialist, high-status liberals and Democrats. Among my earliest memories of this clique are their objections to my insufficient delight with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and the disrespectful tone I took on this blog with that same network’s Ari Melber. Let the now-deceased DSA guiding light and co-founder, Michael Harrington explain this truly bizarre behavior: “the left wing of realism is found today in the Democratic Party.” This interesting idea still informs the group’s strategy, no doubt due to its astonishing success in bringing socialism to the U.S. in the thirty-three years since the the organization’s founding.

If you’ve ever wondered where making “radical” arguments for sticking with The Democrats while dishonestly promising to “hold their feet to the fire” after they’re in office originated, wonder no more. Ditto on equating unconditional compliance with “realism” and seriousness.  After three decades of Democrats going from bad to abyssmal, this strategy gets harder to defend, but these people are inventive. In 2012, DSAer Henwood endorsed Obama’s reelection in The Nation, not because he was a good candidate, but because his shittiness exposes system failure to radicals in a way a shitty Republican does not. The DSA has endorsed Sanders in the primary, and will certainly endorse Clinton when Sanders exits stage left per the script. Stand by for the system failure essays or whatever new thing they’ve cooked up. Because realism.

Since Frost is simply giving a pre-game talk for other Sandersnistas, good faith is off the menu. The piece’s aggressive unseriousness, so at odds with its conclusion,  is very much of the essence. The overall message is that these people Frost loathes, these “flakes” standing in the way of socialism, are so beneath her they don’t warrant any engagement more serious than reading their conference abstracts and cracking wise for other cool kids. The arguments implicit in her jabs are conspicuously shabby. Take this, for instance:

The real comedy comes from panels like Dangerous Scapegoating of Islam: Exacerbated by the Left’s Silence About Controlled Demolition on 9/11. I counted this as one of three Truther panels this year, but these guys clearly had the best angle: Only a racist would believe jet fuel can melt steel beams!

One needn’t be a Truther to recognize that most of the “Do you seriously think…” rebuttals to False Flag 9/11 theories consider it self-evident that cabals within the U.S. ruling class would never hatch the kind of grand, supremely evil conspiracy these same arguments readily credit to Arab Islamists. Truthers are entirely correct when they point out that every theory about 9/11 is a speculative conspiracy theory, but only one is called that: The one that implicates members of the U.S. ruling class instead of swarthy evil-doers.

Surely Frost knows this is their point — she read the abstract, after all — so her jab here isn’t just bad faith. It’s a conspicuous show of bad faith, a rhetorical maneuver that’s getting increasingly common. The chorus Frost is singing to knows she’s mischaracterizing abstracts, most of which are quite unremarkably reasonable. It’s precisely the ostentatious bad faith — the intellectual equivalent of spitting — that the piece’s admirers find so entertaining.

It is through these people, the kind who call smears “interventions”  and who lavish praise on any dreck that confirms their tribal biases, that Frost’s snarky trifle metamorphoses into “a masterpiece,” that is “excellent and important,” “brilliant,” “incisive” as well as “hilarious.”  Where ostracism is concerned, watching people you thought were both smart and kind applauding insipid, status worshiping, genuine fucking crap like “Flakes Alive!” may be the most potently alienating feature of the whole bullying exercise.

Frost’s spirit animal Michael Harrington was also a passionate anti-communist, and you can still smell this on the DSA and on Frost’s essay. From last year’s conference, she cherry-picks a panel that proposed Slovenian Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek is a black op intended to shift radical scholarship into reverse. This panel — the only panel in Frost’s piece that she actually listened to — was the “wackjob nadir.”  Its abstract is  “a masterpiece of paranoia.”  And —  horrors! — the panel included “at least one tankie, slang for Soviet apologist.” After all this hyperventilating, Frost pronounces the panel “disappointingly dull…who’d have thought tankies were so prissy and meek in real life?” Oh har har! No wonder professional serious person Chase Madar thought this was the”funniest thing [he’d] read all year!”

It’s tempting at this point to defend, with historic examples, a worldview that doesn’t rule out penetration of the the Left academy by operatives, or to explain how so-called conspiracist research, and “tankie” critiques can be very useful regardless of the conclusions they draw. But there really is no need, because the sneering this tribe does at so-called flakes is pure, unadulterated hypocrisy.  I don’t follow Frost enough to know what plots she believes in, but there are plots a-plenty haunting imaginations at her cool kid’s table.

Take Pando’s Yasha Levine, for example, a frequent target of ridicule for floating the idea that Tor, the web browser Snowden recommends for keeping your online adventures private, is a nefarious intel operation of some kind. Before this, a number of people, including Glenn Greenwald, ridiculed his Pando colleague Mark Ames as a conspiracist for considering Intercept founder Pierre Omidyar’s connection to USAID, the putsch in Ukraine, and Indian neo-fascism newsworthy — and in light of Omidyar’s patronage of Left journalism — disquieting. Ames also believes that some online libertarians and anarchists are paid operatives of the Koch Brothers. I know this because he accused me of being one.

Then there’s Dad Henwood who, during the red-baiting orgy  that erupted after Jacobin published Frost’s “Bro Bash”, accused St. Louis anthropologist Sarah Kendzior — who was at the center of the conflict — of being a CIA operative. Celebrity anarchist David Graeber insists Henwood accused him of being in The Agency’s pocket also. Then, finally, there’s Connor Kilpatrick, who, before abruptly leaving Twitter, sneered at the very idea that doxxing an anonymous Twitter user might expose them to “CIA rendition.”  This too, is rich, because under the stress of the bizarre Twitter fracas over “Bro Bash”, Kilpatrick not-too-obliquely suggested to me that, like Henwood, he felt Jacobin’s dust-up with Kendzior smelled suspicious. I know that around the same time, some of Kilpatrick’s colleagues strongly suspected their computers were being hacked.

I don’t say this to point and laugh. Nor are they alone in their hypocrisy. People who denounce my critiques of Snowwald and Sy Hersh as conspiracy theories see no contradiction in openly surmising I’m an intelligence operative. If, like Frost, I tasked myself with diagnosing the left’s problems, certainly my top five would include the chronic, disingenuous, astonishingly hypocritical weaponizing of various left discourses, like anti-conspiracism, invariably deployed against lower-status, frequently more radical targets. What makes this bullshit so remarkable in this case, is that, as I mentioned, Frost and Jacobin were the objects of an intense disciplinary campaign themselves, that subjected Frost and two other women to an orgy of misogyny, red-baiting and libels via weaponized concern for women’s safety.

But politics for this crowd is not about being fair, honest or nice. It’s about winning. Certainly a little Machiavellianism doesn’t go amiss if it has a good chance of accomplishing something. But this is a group of people who misapprehend power so completely, they actually think the Left Forum’s inclusive panels policy matters tactically, and embrace a political strategy that has been an utter failure since 1982. If, as Einstein said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” the Sandersnistas with their “realism” are the flakiest of us all.

I would never say that Frost is entirely wrong about what she sees. Left politics generally seems to attract a lot of what the world we want to change would call losers, which is understandable because most winners are quite happy with things as they are. No doubt there are people who glom onto the left that talk too long, too loud, out of turn or incoherently and contribute very little else. However, clearly the day-to-day organizational challenges the disruptively awkward pose is not the real problem for Frost; otherwise why resurrect a panel from last year to spew bile at “meek and prissy” tankies?

The issue is politics, and what makes all the extremely disparate targets of Frost’s ridicule into an undifferentiated, obstructive ball of yuck, is insufficient faith in authority — the authority of the mob, convention, high status and perhaps especially, the authority and essential benevolence of the state. But true left politics has never been about adherence to convention or deference to authority.  Frost and pals are status conscious social democrats and liberals, who mistakenly regard themselves as radicals and therefore feel qualified to redefine dissent on their own terms. But fuck me gently with a chainsaw. Do I look like Barbara Boxer?  Go have your own conference and your own “left.” Make whatever rules you want.


Thanks to @K1NGLUDD for making an inspiring Heathers comparison, to @liamobde for “Sandersnistas” , and to Lucy Snowe for the closing Heathers gif.

UPDATE (link to this update)

Frost Goes Full Kendzior

As I mentioned above, Amber Frost was once the object of a red-baiting hate spree before she launched one of her own. As I also said, the instrument of choice at that time, was weaponized concern for women’s safety, wielded by St. Louis anthropologist, Sarah Kendzior, who accused Frost and two other women of inciting men to harass her with rape threats.

Well, it seems Frost has gone full Kendzior. Below is a cap from a Facebook chat where she complained of “sexualized and violent harassment as a result of  that mob.” The mob in question are some “tankies” who simply reacted to Frost’s smears the way people who’ve been smeared by a sneering social climber react.

Frost’s “as a result” is key. She knows it wasn’t the tankie mob (by mob she means 2, 3 people) that harassed her.  But it seems in the midst of her dust-up over “Bro Bash” she acquired Kendzior’s supernatural ability to know the political motive of, and the radical instigators behind, presumably anonymous harassment. This is the kind of shit Frost used to ridicule and now just look. Liberal disciplinarians are all alike in the end, I guess.

Since I am not among those who think women’s safety obliges me to accept on faith accusations in which entire leftist political tendencies and subgroups are non-specifically accused of being uniquely violent and rapey, I was glad to see someone ask Frost if she had evidence. She has not deigned to reply. A to:search on Twitter discloses that she has been the object of a lot of brownnosing and little else. Whereever this harrassment took place, it wasn’t Twitter, and until I see evidence to the contrary, the “tankies” she’s blaming this on had nothing to do with it. If she shows up here and makes a convincing case, I promise to grovel.

Apparently Frost is also unhappy that people she called paranoics and wack-jobs didn’t applaud. They called her a nazi!!! The nerve! Admittedly, nazi is imprecise. Social climbing, red-baiting asshole is more apt.

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86 Responses to Frosted Flakes: Heather Number One *Doesn’t* Attend Left Forum

  1. banjolinbuddha says:

    ” Left politics generally seems to attract a lot of what the world we want to change would call losers, which is understandable, because most winners are quite happy with things as they are.”

    Wonderfully said.

    This crowd reminds me of the rich kids that used to show up at punk/ska shows when I was a teen. There’d be a crowd that was 90% working class joes/janes, and then there’s this crowd that would show up with professionally artfully coiffed mohawks, Crass patches they picked up at Hot Topic, etc. And while the ‘real punk/fake punk’ args were always tiresome, there was one thing that always stuck out: it wasn’t that these were circumstantially rich kids genuinely attracted to the music; it wasn’t even that they were ‘slumming’; it’s that to them, authenticity was an aesthetic to be worn like an Armani suit. They both craved ‘authenticity’, but also felt they had the right to be the arbiters of it – an outgrowth of their already considerable privilege. This ‘authenticity’ was a showpiece to take back to their wealthy friends, like some pith helmeted colonialist adding an African ceremonial mask to their wall in the Mother Country.

    Call them hipsters or whatever, but it’s the same story: there’s a certain class of people for whom, if they were honest with you (or even with themselves), the punk ethos (or hey, left politics!), were trappings no different then what you’d find on a runway in New York during fashion week. The sensible left could, quite easily, be called the fashionably left – as demonstrated by scratching them ever so slightly more than skin-deep and bog-standard liberalism.

    I’m sure there are terms in left circles for folks like this (bourgeoisie? clerks?), but I’ll just content myself with calling them raging assholes, which seems to sum it up nicely.

    • Tarzie says:

      Yeah, this paradigm reproduces itself all over the place. I watched the Heathers clip after I wrote and was struck by how completely apt is.

      • banjolinbuddha says:

        I missed the Heathers references the first time, awesome- now I need to go back and re watch that as it’s been years.

      • Tarzie says:

        Yeah, the video helps. The links are to some web pages that list some of the best lines and the made up slang for the movie.

    • thombrogan says:

      David Brooks calls them “BoBos” for bourgeoisie Bohemians.

  2. Don’t forget the scene where Frost’s tall (jock) companion bodies the troglodyte out of the room, providing everyone their first genuine experience in left organizing as literal gatekeeping.

  3. mog says:

    Here in UK we have the likes of Owen Jones, liberal-in-leftist’s-clothing, rooting for our own Bernie Sanders (Corbyn). It is all depressingly familiar.

    [Technical point:

    ‘Only a racist would believe jet fuel can melt steel beams!’

    -Only an ignoramus would believe jet fuel can melt steel beams.]

    mog (‘loser’)

    • Ned Ludd says:

      In a column on “Health Goth“, Amber Frost praised another British liberal-in-leftist’s-clothing.

      The class of the damned is actually led and narrated by no other than feminist writer/journalist and and Harvard Fellow, Laurie Penny—so you know the politics of Health Goth are soundly left…

      A Harvard Fellow who writes for an establishment newspaper – Penny must have soundly left politics!

      Motivated by her own social climbing instinct, Frost praises the fashionably left while bullying “nerds and social rejects”. She wants to be viewed as part of the “quite young and good-looking” ingroup instead of being relegated to the margins with the outcasts.

      There is no political strategy, for her, just social strategy.

      • mog says:

        I too thought of Laurie Penny, but didn’t mention her above because I am not aware of her having expressed the sanitizing proscription such as comes from Frost (and O. Jones). I don’t honestly know her work that well, and only recently learned of the connections of the Goldsmith family, the Rothschild family, The New Statesman, The Ecologist, Russell Brand, Owen Jones, the Fabians and so on…
        I found this (from an article about advertising and feminism) which I thought summed up a certain worldview:

        The trouble is that, while progressive ideas can be used to spice up a confectionery campaign, social justice itself is a hard sell. The kind of feminist change that will make a material difference to the lives of millions, the kind of feminist change growing numbers of ordinary people are getting interested in, is about far more than body image . It’s about changing the way women (and, by extension, everyone else) get to live and love and work. It’s about boring, unsexy, structural problems such as domestic work and unpaid labour, racism and income inequality. It’s about freeing us to live lives in which we are more than how we look, what we buy and what we have to sell.

        I don’t hold with the notion that feminism comes in “waves”. For me, gender liberation is a tsunami, vast and slow-moving, that will sweep away all the stale old hierarchies and leave us with something fresh and free. But the activists of what is now being spoken of as feminism’s “fourth wave” – digital, intersectional, globally connected and mad as hell – are good at branding, and increasingly confident in getting their message out. The iconography of injustice has altered in the internet age and viral moments, popular hashtags, catchy videos and slogans are being used to promote ideas that are more challenging than anything mainstream advertising has yet thought of.

        There is nothing wrong with a bit of showmanship. Nor is using feminist ideas to sell chocolate and cosmetics a bad thing. But there are some ideas that will remain challenging and disturbing, however you dress them up. You can’t walk into a shop and buy a torch of freedom – you have to light the fire yourself, and pass it on.

        No shit.

        I recently read Preparata’s critique of the rise of identity politics and postmodernism on the Left, ‘The Ideology of Tyranny’, and I think that he would agree with you that in these discourses there are only social strategies and not political ones.

      • Tarzie says:

        What makes Frost’s endorsement of Penny so weird is that Frost is completely hostile to the kind of feminism Penny represents. But Penny is also high-status, so… Frost also defends Molly Crabapple, another one whose politics — to the extent that you can even discern them — seem somewhat at odds with Frost’s. Politics are just something you use to rise in the chain, and of course the more conventional they are, the faster you’ll rise.

      • Tarzie says:

        There is no political strategy, for her, just social strategy.

        Lots of people are saying stuff like this, and it’s true to a point. But I also think it kinda beside the point. Frost’s social climbing instincts lead her and her ilk to a certain kind of politics, the only kind of left politics capital will tolerate, even reward. It’s the politics that come out of their social climbing that matters the most, not their motives for pursuing them. There is a political strategy for her and her ilk — DSA sheepdog ‘socialism’ — and they’re pursuing it.

  4. cripes says:

    Yep. The primary instinct of liberals is to marginalize and corral any deviation from lefty discourse that threatens to burst the confines of electoral politics or threaten authority or challenge the fundamental legitimacy of the state which has served their interests so well. Thats their job.
    And that’s why Obama.
    Paul street has a good piece on TPP marking the end of Obama delusionism, but ends it with reasonable doubt that will ever happen:

    “In the meantime, I would like just one former “Progressive for Obama” member to offer a formal apology for the abject foolishness they exhibited in support of this deeply conservative corporatist Democrat – and for the venom with which so many liberals attacked those of us on the actual Left [1] who tried to warn U.S. “progressives” and the world about the cold corporate and imperial reality of Obama, Inc. from the start.”

    “Progressive” Obama: He’s
    Melting, He’s Melting

  5. This is a wonderful piece – not just snarky (though your snark is very much on point and hilarious), but thoughtful and emotionally complex and thought-provoking.

    Where ostracism is concerned, watching people you thought were both smart and kind lavishing praise on insipid, status worshiping, genuine fucking crap like “Flakes Alive!” may be the most potently alienating feature of the whole bullying exercise.
    This is exactly, precisely how I felt. How I still feel, in fact. Not that I ever thought AFrost or Henwood were particularly kind, but seeing the piece recced by people I did like, probably because it scored points against tankies, stung a lot.

    Connor Kilpatrick, who, before abruptly leaving Twitter, sneered at the very idea that doxxing an anonymous Twitter user might expose them to government harassment.
    Not just “government harassment” — literally “CIA rendition”. Haha lol what a funny thing totally outside the bounds of possibility

    But politics for this crowd is not about being fair, honest or nice. It’s about winning.
    I can’t help but feel that what they want to win, *really* win, is not political power, not even a seat at the table/plank in the platform, but a more diffuse sort of social capital. It’s easy to argue backwards, as Frost does, that certain elements are “bad strategically” but more difficult to argue what strategy *should* be. You wrote elsewhere in this piece that [i]t’s the ostentatious bad faith – the intellectual equivalent of spitting – that the piece’s admirers found so entertaining and, frankly, I think what someone like Frost wants to win is not votes or social change, but plaudits and insider-yness and attention for her latest performance as (as @blk_bk put it on Twitter) “faux-droll” contrarian sophisticate.

    • Tarzie says:

      Thanks, sweetie. You always help me appreciate my pieces more 🙂

      And thanks for your closing insight.

      Not just “government harassment” — literally “CIA rendition”.

      Yeah I forgot about that. I might revise.

    • Mallam says:

      //It’s easy to argue backwards, as Frost does, that certain elements are “bad strategically” but more difficult to argue what strategy *should* be. //

      Yep, I struggle all the time with what the strategy should be. Frankly, I haven’t a fucking clue; as I’ve stated previously on this blog, I still vote. But I read blogs like this one just to see all the bullshit fleshed out, because really, what the strategy *should* be is hard, and I don’t pretend to be the one to know.

      Worrying about what “Left Forum” is doing is pretty low on my fucking radar, however. And that’s exactly the biggest clue as to what Frost wants from this, as you state in your last paragraph. It’s like a Slate Pitch, but for people on the ostensible left side.

    • banjolinbuddha says:

      “but plaudits and insider-yness and attention for her latest performance”

      Yes, this is it exactly- this comes off so much as political performance art, great observation.

    • that linkage to intellectual spitting was superb

      The piece nailed an ugly rhetorical and political tactic designed to humiliate and avoid engagement of the substance.

      One of the reasons I come here to read and learn

  6. walterglass4 says:

    Fuck man I need a cigarette after reading this.

    • Tarzie says:

      I love you, Walter. I really do. We miss you.

      • walterglass4 says:

        So I’ve been thinking *a lot* about the Amber Frost thing in the last couple weeks, and I just want to say something about the “losers.” So yeah left organizing can attract difficult personalities. Reasonable people can disagree about the best way to approach these situations, but it’s become increasingly clear to me in the last few years that there is a certain type of activist for whom their feelings about such “losers” go way beyond personal preferences to form a very fundamental piece of their politics. And in this sense I’m grateful that Frost was bold enough to put this in writing, under her own name, because I don’t think many of these people would be willing to do so. It’s an inflection point, if a minor one. Always good to know where people are really at.

      • Tarzie says:

        Yes definitely. I noticed a number of people who you would have expected to promote it, didn’t. I think it is a just a little too honest for some of them. Especially the stuff about the Mad Pride panel. That’s really beyond the pale. But this is only partly about the real cranks. She’s mashing them all up together for political reasons and career reasons. It’s a performance of good establishment sense and liberal discipline.

        As for difficult personalities in politics, for me, it’s always been people like this — image and status-obsessed liberals and the social democrats — that I overwhelmingly find most difficult and obstructive, from beginning to end.

      • walterglass4 says:

        Just jumping back in here to say that yeah of course she’s mashing things up. As others have pointed out she discouraged people from listening to the Zizek panel because it’s actually really coherent and thoughtful. I personally attended another panel run by the same crew about the Gates Foundation that was pretty mind-expanding. My point very narrowly was about certain activists embracing the Frost piece due to their feelings about the “real cranks” and what that reveals about their politics and priorities.

        Regarding the update, what is it with this fucking people and their obsession with who called them what? Stumbled across another FB thread yesterday with another one we all know and love crying about getting called a bad name. Do these people ever shut the fuck up about their fucking brands?

      • Do these people ever shut the fuck up about their fucking brands?
        Heart of the matter, right here.

        (Hi, Walter! <3)

      • Tarzie says:

        I understand now, Walter. You’re absolutely right. People are just thinking it’s about the usual freakshow without examining the politics.

        Do these people ever shut the fuck up about their fucking brands

        I think they’re just really thin skinned. I think social networking favors narcissists and violent objections to criticism are a narcissistic trait. The fact that they get all bent at people they’ve been smearing for hitting back also seems narcissistic.

      • walterglass4 says:

        It also speaks to this social media style of argument that really just becomes two sides tallying each other’s penalties, constantly pulling out the rule book to defend their position as opposed to, you know, defending their position.

        Hi Tiny Fist!

      • Tarzie says:

        Yeah, it’s amazing how little arguing takes place. I think it’s because their ambition forces them to take so many indefensible positions.

        I’ve had a couple arguments recently with kade using sock puppets and she’s just unbelievable. No matter how you approach her, if you hit her with a hard question she lays in with the LOLs and the “you should read a newspaper/my blog” or “get help”s. I can’t believe how unprofessionally the ACLU allows itself to be represented. Kade and Csoghian are two of the biggest clowns on twitter.

  7. steppx says:

    Great piece. And on the heels of this came Prof. halle’s hectoring of a 17 year old black woman on a BLM panel. Its interesting she picked on the Zizek panel. I continue to be fascinated, if not dispirited, by the reflexive defense of this obvious fraud. As for Henwood, well, he’s a just an asshole with delusions, and Sunkara is a creepy sort of used car salesman who thinks he’s cornered a niche market.

  8. Umfuld says:

    “I am a monopolar depressive descended from monopolar depressives. That’s how come I write so good.” – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

    I want cool guys like dongohuber out of my life.

  9. Jeffrey says:

    This post is just SO very, if you don’t mind me saying.

  10. diane says:

    Yep, a favorite of the Online Smart Set is pathologizing those they deem no ones who dare disagree. Surprised the Big Head Texan didn’t make an your off your meds remark.

    I found his demand for someone’s name and ‘position’ (yes, he’s back!) typical of the set who both: always identify themselves by their full name; and, use that fact as a bludgeon to discredit anyone anonymous who refuses to fawn over their pontifcations.

    I hadn’t known about Mad Pride, looked it up and love the concept. Frankly I think those who don’t feel out of sorts much of the time, given the ugliness going on, are the ones who have a severe problem.

    Great piece, a solace.

  11. Another excellent piece. Especially here:

    “One sect Frost and pals most definitely do not see in the way of socialism — at least not enough to shun them — are imperialist, high-status liberals and Democrats.”

    Why someone with Tarzie’s skills isn’t writing for one of these big name blogs or publications is beyond me – at the same time that it is patently obvious. His politics are too dangerous.

    I read the piece with interest though I don’t really have any contact with today’s self-identified leftists. I view what I regard the essence of leftism – the relentless opposition to injustice – to be extremely valuable and an important historical development. Of course, as this piece illustrates, leftism today at least in the U.S. is more a pantomime.

    It seems to me that the problem comes exactly when the theoretical short-circuits with ‘activism’. In other words, when the explanatory models the Left develops get cut, tailored, and transformed in some twisted political calculation.

    The very fact that people on the Left *think* they have a snowball’s chance in Hell of changing anything signals to me they aren’t sufficiently leftist. That this woman Amber Fraud wants to decide what is first politically expedient to believe, then draw party lines around that (as Tarzie points out: animal rights? Out. 9/11 ‘truth’? Out.) is just the purest confusion.

    It seems to me that for leftism to be at all honest, it has to begin with an *affirmation* about the basic impossibility of its success. That is, on a theoretic level, you have to affirm (a la Nietzsche) what is in principle a hopeless situation. This isn’t to say success won’t happen in practice. It might. But at the level of doctrine, a truly heroic leftism would start by saying its task was impossible to fulfill *and then go to work anyway*.

    That’s because it is. However, you measure it – whether your metric is the overthrow of the State or the end to injustice – there’s an infinite gap between what is and what should be. However, politicos like Frost – and for that matter, Chomsky – think they are making shrewd calculations about what will lead to political gains. It’s this very calculation, it seems to me, that shuts the door on any chance for gains. Chomsky, Frost, and others who dominate the left are sort of beady-eyed connivers. They reduce the transformation of the social sphere into this or that ‘tactical’ move, which is to mis-recognize the very non-linear and chaotic nature of the social. (And really, it does nothing but affirm their own place as ‘tactical’ decision-makers.)

    Perhaps naively, I think leftism ought to be heroic. It should begin with the view that there is no way to take in the totality of social relations and make meaningful tactical/strategic decisions that are anything other than accidentally successful. Of course, one is forced to decide again and again – but to do as they do and confuse the levels consistently, makes the Left bereft and cheapens the stakes down to nothing.

    In any case, another excellent piece. Tarzie is a pleasure to read.

    • Bitman says:

      That this woman Amber Fraud wants to decide what is first politically expedient to believe, then draw party lines around that (as Tarzie points out: animal rights? Out. 9/11 ‘truth’? Out.) is just the purest confusion.

      exactly. If she really thinks that what’s holding back the Left is insufficient attention to public relations, what can you really say?

      Residual Puritanism.

  12. Phil Greaves says:

    Excellent piece,

    “One sect Frost and pals most definitely do not see in the way of socialism — at least not enough to shun them — are imperialist, high-status liberals and Democrats.”

    This “sect” are the representatives of the ‘social-chauvinist’ petty bourgeoisie, no doubt this is the historical class and ideological connection to the organisation which Frost & Henwood in particular belong to, a class which is not one or the other, not proletarian or bourgeois, the “upper crust” of which always sides with “its own” ruling class in times of heightened crises, (the common theme being that these clerks invariably fall on the side of Anglo-American Empire in all contemporary national questions & national liberation movements, however hard they try to hide it under claims of “third-wayism” etc – a social phenomena linked to the current phase of imperial revanchism, and also most clearly reflected in a domestic context with the open attacks on anyone with an “insufficient trust and faith in [imperial bourgeois] authority”).

    Tracing this common politics back to its historic material class interest, which expresses itself in various forms ideologically – from open liberalism to ultra-Left ‘Marxism’ – one finds their total neglect, even active obscurance, of the rest of the world. Their anti-internationalism, anti-anti-imperialism, the endless repitition of a pedagogy aimed at & confined to the imperial core alone all translates to pro-imperialism. Such people still think that the future is theirs, that the the self-proclaimed Community of the Free, aka, the “Civilised West”, will lead the world to emancipation, and anyone that gets in the way of this Crusade must be Ostracised, Purged, a thought process which inevitably comes to its ‘logical’ conlusion: Exterminated.

    Underneath it all, what Frost & Henwood infer by the repititive Zizekian pathologizing, dehumanising and demeaning, is nothing less than a call to exterminate the “undesirables”, the Untermensch.

  13. robertmstahl says:

    Thank goodness our species has some blood in it! Thank you, Tarzie, one more time.

  14. Ned Ludd says:

    I followed Amber Frost on Twitter back when she used to argue with liberals, such as Clara Jeffery.

    Amber A’Lee Frost: And “bitch” is just more commonly used among we plebes. Here. It’s published by Cambridge.…

    Clara Jeffery: Very working class to back up point by citing academic periodicals.

    Amber A’Lee Frost: Yeah, we have the internet now. Just trying to communicate with you in your own setting.


    Clara Jeffery: Lord, this is tiresome. If you don’t get how silly it is to claim more street cred by throwing me a JSTOR link then I dunno.

    I forgot that the conversation started with this comment by Frost: “This is where feminism could really stand to take a page from old school communists: Purge the bitch and move on. [Michelle Goldberg] can’t sit with us.” Even back then, Frost viewed politics through the lens of purging people and dictating who you could sit with.

    • Tarzie says:

      Yeah, that’s right. I remember that conversation. I liked seeing her taking Jeffery to the woodshed. But isn’t it interesting the one thing she wants to keep from old school communism is purges.

      • gbelljnr says:

        I wonder what this crowd thought of Dyson shivving West recently.

      • Tarzie says:

        I haven’t looked it up but my guess is they found it appalling. This is the outer fringe of lesser-evilism, and west’s politics are more like theirs than dyson’s are.

  15. mickstep says:

    I remember the first place you introduced me to by this frost person, in the first paragraph she implied wearing a watch, and vacationing in rural areas was some kind of oppressively manly act, that only thuggish MRA’s would engage in.
    Reading these quotes I really find it hard to see what it was that you ever saw in the vomit she produces.

    • Tarzie says:

      I really find it hard to see what it was that you ever saw in the vomit she produces.

      So said a lot of people at the time. But I like “Bro Bash,” which has few of the problems this piece has and does a nice job of skewering feminist “allies.”

  16. lucy snowe says:

    ” But it’s hard to imagine anything more cluelessly conformist and mean than pointing and laughing at people who’ve been diagnosed with mental illness that don’t compliantly agree that they’re sick, or less entitled to speak for themselves at a conference than its “big public intellectuals” and the “young and good-looking” group in which Frost places herself.”

    Thank you for this.

    I’ve been thinking about this article a fair amount over the past few days. Thinking about it in the context of some things you’ve written about animal rights– about how the issues of animal rights are expressly the issues of the left. And how remarkable and sad it is that those who consider themselves ardent leftists can be so flippant and derisive of those central concerns.

    The social and political experience of those who have a mental illness diagnosis, and the rights issues raised by that experience, are similarly central to leftist concerns. Or they ought to be.

    Issues of marginalization, forced medication/incarceration/sterilization, access to care, prejudice, lost opportunities– these are the obvious baseline of concerns that should appeal to the left. Add into that the ever-increasing popularity of using mental health slurs (legitimized by medicine or otherwise) as a tool for political domination and invalidation of inconvenient disruptors. Or the sort of… idk, mad-washing? Where someone like Dylann Roof is depicted as mentally ill, not racist, for a whole host of reasons that warrant serious investigation of their own.

    Amber Frost used her platform not only to dismiss these sorts of concerns out of hand, but to reinforce every sort of whackjob nutter crackpot ableist stereotype that keeps people like me deeply in the closet when i’m not online, and afraid to participate in leftist politics.

    Thanks again for a well-turned counterargument.

    • Tarzie says:

      I’m so glad you spoke up and it’s nice to hear this essay and others gave you food for thought. Frost’s essay produced the obviously unintended effect of making me curious about movement activity in the realm of what is customarily called “mental illness.” I regret I’m kinda ignorant.

      Like animal rights, I feel this is an obvious concern for people who place injustice, oppression and exploitation at the center of their politics. The sneering is disheartening. I think the attack on Mad Pride was the most egregious and revealing part of Frost’s unholy “essay.” To me it shows the almost complete colonization of the left by a politics that is nothing I recognize as such. There are two wings: there’s Amber Frost and her DSA buds. Then there’s Greenwald and his more explicitly neoliberal crew. It’s hard to decide who’s worse as the two camps duke it out, while the rest of us gasp from the ropes, mostly in horror and for air.

      I love the gif. I may have to embed that in the post. Heathers is the gift that keeps on giving. I just watched it again. It has a few warts, but its a masterpiece. One of the most biting and *funny* satires on film. That it clearly wasn’t reaching for greatness makes it even better.

      • lucy snowe says:

        Hehe! Yeah, I actually checked your article again before including the gif bc I suddenly thought you already had!

        As for Mad Pride, I’m not a part of that particular movement, though I advocate and fundraise for MH awareness and support. My stance on medication is different from MP, but I think it’s a personal choice and one well worth discussing in a Left Panel context.

      • Tarzie says:

        Yeah, I think anything that scrutinizes the disciplinary aspects of psychology and the illness paradigm is good, even if I don’t take on the whole ball of wax. But I tend to shy away from making mental illness or anything else a “spiritual gift.” It’s nicely defiant, though. I like that part of it.

        Ditto on worthy of discussion. That’s what’s so annoying about Frost’s piece, is the insistence to close debate on this stuff. Same with animal rights: why shouldn’t Aran Gupta have to defend himself against the charge of speciesism? Perhaps he can talk everyone out of it. Perhaps they can talk him into it. This is customarily what a Left Conference is for, isn’t it?

    • diane says:

      Wonderful comment, especially re the ‘mental health’ issue.

      What is never discussed re the mental health issue is how those with minimal income usually end up in a Lone Wolf, unemployable terrorist category, unlike those with 6 digit income who have no fear discussing their weekly psychoanalyst visits, or the ugly side effects of meds pawned off (forced – re the low income population) on them. Many times (possibly a majority of times?), those of low income are classified as mentally ill by authorities whom they went to peruse the proclaimed US Safety Net they contributed to in taxes for their entire adult life, even when their issues had nothing whatsoever to do with a lack of mental capacity.

      Related, the fact that is never discussed, is that the same low income population are being diagnosed as mentally ill for no other reason than being angry and utterly robbed from, terrorized, and dismayed by the rampant, predatory and hideous capitalism that put them in a position of lifelong homelessness fears despite their “work ethic’ and utter lack of criminality.

      The gif is priceless, thank you Lucy, and thank you Tarzie, for highlighting it.

      • Kat says:

        Knowing what we know about psychology and the mental health profession in general, if we were to transport these professionals back in time to “treat” Nat Turner, do you think they would a) shore him up for the fight or b) help him to accept his slave state and teach him “effective coping strategies” ? Who would they work for?
        So, I think I would be a lot more interested in a panel led by a dissident psychologist rather than one on “the neoliberalization of the university” (how about “the neoliberalization of everyday life”– brought to you by the university) led by a woman that looks like she probably got her start in activism via OFA and graduated to Sanders- supporting “socialists”.
        Of course if the correct person — someone from the Amber Frost approved list of socialist providers- made a similar argument as the panelists of the Mad pride discussion she would not be wont to laugh. The ideas really don’t matter. All that matters is who has them.

      • Tarzie says:

        Well said. Like the Nat Turner example.

        I too thought the Mad Pride panel sounded more interesting than a lot of other things.

      • diane says:



        Knowing what we know about psychology and the mental health profession in general, if we were to transport these professionals back in time to “treat” Nat Turner, do you think they would a) shore him up for the fight or b) help him to accept his slave state and teach him “effective coping strategies” ? Who would they work for?

        ‘oh lordy,’ yes, honey ‘feline.’

        between the two of them: APA[American Psychiatric Association , and, the American Psychological Association (hint, American = U$, not the three americas land masses, nor their oppressed dwellers)]’s, … still not sure which one is the more ‘banal’ of the evils:

        Is it the American Psychiatric Association, with those DSM [Pharma $crip] Manuals which never appear to apply to monstrous sociopaths:

        08/16/12 Someone you loved died? There’s a pill for that.

        I read with dismay an article in The Guardian that spoke about the American Psychiatric Association’s move to create a new disorder that deals with grief. The article said the APA is planning on classifying anyone who grieves longer than two weeks over the death of a loved one as depressed [as in ( to my mind at least) need to pay out to BIG PHARMA – with no cure in site proclaimed – as that would not feed Big Pharma – diane].

        They’re kidding us, right? Who in their right mind believes death, especially an unexpected or violent death, can be processed in just a couple of short weeks or even a few months?

        I went to the website myself to see if this was true. I read the summaries of the proposed changes to the DSM-5 and didn’t find the two-week timetable The Guardian wrote about, but it was obvious there had been an outcry from medical professionals and others over the new findings.

        Or is it the American Psychological Association:

        10/14/14 Psychologists and Torture – New Evidence Links CIA to APA’s “War on Terror” Ethics

        “The position of the American Psychological Association is clear and unequivocal: For more than 25 years, the association has absolutely condemned any psychologist participation in torture.”

        — Statement by the APA, November 2013

        “The American Psychological Association, the largest professional organization for psychologists, worked assiduously to protect the psychologists who did get involved in the [Guantanamo, et al – diane] torture program.”

        –James Risen, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War, October 2014

      • diane says:

        oh my, speaking of which. the second most popular pwogwessive UZ orange fonted, AND FERVENTLY investor/capitalist at the end of the day, UZ site, in so many circles, seemed to quite support Figures of Authority Proclaiming Dangerous Mental Incapacity in its’ today’s (to daze, in this case (and certainly many others)) links, to which some apparent no one replied, which of course is nowhere currently visible:

        invisible declaration (comment 2478630) made on 07/29/15:

        Re the following links you highlighted:

        Scientology Group Urged Veto of Mental Health Bill Texas Tribune. See related story: Texas Governor Vetoes Mental Health Bill Because He Doesn’t Believe Mental Illness Is Real Greenville Gazette

        Looks to me like outrageously sensationalist headlines were used to cover up for the fact that people (mostly thos [those – diane] unjustly driven to poverty) are in fact being tagged as mentally ill – when, in fact, they are not. This is an increasing reality for many (particularly children), who have always lived in poverty, or who have sunk into poverty; and it results in those people permanently tagged as DANGEROUS and insane.

        I’m stunned that you posted those links as is, with no qualifying commentary; but then, you’re apparently (not yet) in a position to witness this increasing horrid fact of putting those (and their children) angry at being totally let down and mowed over by the government, medical facilities, etcetera on a permanent list of being dangerous (and most of the mentally incapacitated are not violent anways) and not to be relied on.

        Of course there are those who are mentally incapacitated, which, I will bet, the majority disagreeing with that Mental Health Bill were not disputing.

        UUUGH, unless, and until you are tagged as being poverty ridden and [consequently!] tagged as mentally incapacitated while poverty ridden, you need to be very careful about what you promote if you care about others.

      • diane says:

        (very sorry, I should have used the words “quite undeservingly highlighted and targetted” (and bold faced them) , along with those words: let down and mowed over, here :

        angry at being totally let down and mowed over by the government, medical facilities, etcetera on a permanent list of being dangerous (and most of the mentally incapacitated are not violent anways) and not to be relied on.

        in my last comment, … as that feels to be exactly what is happening.)

    • diane says:

      A perfect example of the horrid complicity surrounding the Horrid Mental Health $urveilance Indu$try, …. from that “kissin cousin” …across ‘the pond,’ mentor parent, London:

      06/29/15 Protesters March On Job Center Over Forced Mental Health Therapy

      Protesters March On Job Center Over Forced Mental Health Therapy

      “Mental health workers and their clients marched on a jobcentre in south-west London in protest at a scheme they say frames unemployment as a psychological disorder,” reported The Guardian.
      Mad in America has previously reported on studies and concerns about expanding requirements in the UK that people who claim social benefits must submit to regular psychological evaluations and treatments.

      The march was organized by the Mental Health Resistance Network, in protest of a reported government plan to locate mental health workers right inside a particular work assistance center.

      While the British Psychological Society has not taken a position against the practice, the protesters were joined by members of Psychologists Against Austerity and the Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy, according to Disability News Service. Psychologists Against Austerity includes hundreds of mental health professionals who have been trying to educate the public about how “Austerity policies have damaging psychological costs, both increasing mental distress in the present and storing problems for the future.” The Guardian also reported that the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies stated that it was “against any offer of any treatment (including CBT) based on coercion or associated with unfair or disproportionate inducements”.

      The government told The Guardian that the protesters were mistaken and that no such co-locating was planned to occur. But the void pointed to a press release from one of the non-profit groups involved in the plan which stated that the intention was to place “specialist mental health services operating alongside Jobcentre Plus Staff”.

      • Tarzie says:

        Jesus. They’re going down the tubes faster than we are.

      • diane says:

        Jesus. They’re going down the tubes faster than we are.

        Well, it is London – likely the source of that ghastly ♫ Musical Chairs [Now named Game Theory!] ♪, and also the likely source of that lovely child song verse: a pocket full of posies….. we all fall down [except those who …]. …. – which the ‘values’ of have been exported to the U$, and taught (enforced) in public schools for over a century.

  17. ennui says:

    if the criticism is that Frost et al are uber scenesters, then that still makes ‘Left Forum’ a “scene”. While I sort of agree with where Tarzie ends up, where Frost starts: that ‘Left Forum’ is twin to Comic-Con is a good observation. Bhaskar talks like someone who collects old Leninist publications in plastic sleeves at home and brags about them i.e. an otaku.

    Ultimately the biggest clowns on the clown car are the ones riding on top, but it’s still a clown car.

  18. Frost has gone full Kendzior.
    Great update. I was among those boggling at Frost’s claim last night, not least because it was almost identical to Kendzior’s.

    I’m not sure what one is supposed to take from her claim. If it is true, then I’d say that no one should be subject to such treatment. But no one should be subject to the kind of lazy, cruel smearing she performed in that article, either. Her inability(? refusal? I can’t tell any longer) to see clearly the chronology of events is just bizarre. “That mob” didn’t attack her; people pushed back against terrible shit *she* said. Her attempt to re-chronologize and transform herself into a victim by treating conflict and disagreement as inherently abusive effectively attempts to shut down any further discourse.

    • Tarzie says:

      I’ve seen this in the Glennbots, too. For the narcissist, everyone with whom they’re in conflict started it. You hit back in kind, you’re the meanie, especially if your the low status person hitting back. Or you’re a hypocrite for daring to be mean when someone was mean to you. They’re like children.

      Yeah, it’s a shame if she was harassed, but since she is undoubtedly lying about who caused it, I am disobliged from taking her word for anything. Just like Kendzior. This isn’t a court of law. Social climbers are obviously instrumentalizing women’s safety issues to settle scores. I call bullshit.

    • PERFECT – yes, this is that it is all about – not only discourse, but thought and action and that uncomfortable feeling of being challenged and vulnerable:

      “effectively attempts to shut down any further discourse.”

  19. Sometimes you scare the shit out of me but I was someone who thought I agreed with the Flakes piece at first. But you are right about it and you are right about Henwood and Sunkara most of all. Signed, a Dem party operative.

    • Tarzie says:

      Thanks, I think.

      • Ah, “scare”. That was not to imply you are dangerous, we have just obviously made a lot of different political choices/compromises in life, that is all I meant. I think you are brilliant for pointing out the Kendzior similarity which I never would have caught and I was in the middle of that pigshit.

      • Tarzie says:

        Ah, gotcha

        Frost’s metamorphosis into a very SK kind of operator shocks me.

        I admired your involvement in the Bro Bash/Doug Williams dustups. It took a lot of courage.

        Anyway, it’s good to see you here.

    • Why did you think you agreed with it at first? Just curious

      • Hey sahibti. So as you know we have all kinda made fun of Left Forum before and I guess upon first read, I thought she saw herself more as part of the joke. Like, I read the part at the end as “we gotta get our shit together” but Tarzie’s reading here shows me it was more of “ugh, these people are ruining our brand”. Also, I tried to do the left thing in the South for 5 years or so and was constantly derailed by weirdos and really sexist men (hahah what an impatient baby but hey I gotta live and eat). I cringed a lot. I think it was the ego. Like being embarrassed of people. But people should be much more embarrassed of being led around the nose by groups like the DSA Heathers than folks who want to earnestly talk about how Zizek is a plagiarist and a racist. Also like someone mentioned, the same folks put on the Gates foundation in India thing which was awesome work. Why trash them? Why not trash the people at their own table who claim ridiculous things like that mag has done more for the left in the US than ______(a real thing that is said by a person who writes for them). That claim is as ridiculous as the some of the Truther conspiracies.

      • Tarzie says:

        I can see how a casual read might make it seem like laughing with, not at. By the time I had gotten to reading it, it had already morphed into purge talk on Twitter and since she went after people I know in bad faith as well as animal liberationists (and I am one) I had no cause to cut her slack.

        To me the very brief, jaw-droppingly mean jeering at the Mad Pride panels is the true tell of the kind of appeal it’s making. It depresses me that in 2015 alleged leftists are not only pathologizing people they don’t agree with, they even think it’s cool to ostracize people with an actual diagnosis.

        the same folks put on the Gates foundation in India thing which was awesome work

        I’ve learned a lot about NGO imperialism, coded racism and other things from “tankies” and I’ve gotten great leads from so-called “conspiracists.” I guess heterodoxy is a hard sell because it doesn’t offer as much in the way of belonging or status. A lot of this tension, I think, comes from liberals and conformists forcing themselves into situations and groups that they’re obviously not comfortable with. They’re “radical” in broad strokes and self-conception. Not so much in real-life details.

        There are definitely cranks afoot, but I find tactically liberal crackpot realists more consistently obstructive and divisive than any other group. I mean what’s more divisive than this crap? Frost and crew won’t get the pretty left they want and they know it. So why do this other than to advertise their willingness to punch left and down? “Smells like victory” according to Kilpatrick. If you say so, bub, but what did you just win?

        Why not trash the people at their own table who claim ridiculous things like that mag has done more for the left in the US than ______

        I’m dying to know what the blank is, knowing that it could be *anything*. Modesty is really not that crowd’s strong point. I’m still waiting to see where the qualifications are for all the sneering and discipline. I completely agree, that a lot of what they say and do is as ridiculous as anything they condemn. I can’t imagine what kind of movement they envision with this nonsense.

  20. Off topic, but I just read this and thought of you: Did Greeenwald ever disclose the dirt on BOA?

    “Whistleblowers are not only punished by the government; their lives are also turned upside down in the process by private surveillance agencies and major corporations who now work in tandem. For instance, the Bank of America assembled 15 to 20 bank officials and retained the law firm of Hunton & Williams in order to devise “various schemes to attack WikiLeaks and Greenwald whom they thought were about to release damaging information about the bank.”[23] It is worth repeating that Orwell’s vision of surveillance and the totalitarian state look mild next to the emergence of a corporate-private-state surveillance system that wants to tap into every conceivable mode of communication, collect endless amounts of metadata to be stored in vast intelligence storage sites around the country, and use that data to repress any vestige of dissent.[24]

    • Tarzie says:

      You might want to verify this, but I believe the BOA files were in Wikileaks’ care. According to Julian Assange, there was one copy of the trove and ex-Wikileaker Daniel Domscheit-Berg destroyed it.

  21. Couldn’t reply above, Tarzie but yes. I think my first read was also influenced by the fact that I didn’t get back on Twitter til a few days ago to support/applaud Emma and Henry. I had no idea about it turning into this big thing and being trumpeted like major discourse by the Heathers. Re: what the blank is. The blank in question has been a few things: the Democratic party, “Tankies'” work, rival Brooklyn mag cliques etc. But really, what the hell is the mag at this point besides a hobby for a few East/Mid-Atlantic reading groups? I have never been at a reproductive rights, anti-police brutality demo in the South and heard someone say “Jacobin got me thinking about this stuff”. I say this as an early subscriber, former friend of an editor and a supporter who hoped for something. I still respect a person who works there so it’s hard to say this but the truth is they have no vision or plan. Well, that’s not true. Sunkara said early on to my pals at MSNBC that the intent was to pull over liberals.

    • Tarzie says:

      The threading on this site is shitty. For future reference, the best thing to do when you’re at the threading limit, is to reply to the comment above that is one level out.

      Yeah, it became evident fairly early that the Jacobin crowd were most interested in wooing liberals which would be fine I suppose if they didn’t behave like outsourced liberals doing the only thing liberals do well: punching radicals. Deep down I think these people are liberals but vanity prevents them from going the whole hog. Clearly that’s where their sympathies are. They obviously despise radicals.

      • Thanks for reply tip. That description above definitely fits because I was one of them. A few years ago, I just dropped the need to feel cool anymore. By going back to the Dem machine in the South, I got/get to interact with more working class people than any of the Heathers avoid talking to on the subway/street on any given day. Would not trade it for all the Socialist Book Club meetings in the world. I recently got enmeshed in the world of labor organizing in NYC and found that there was little crossover between this group and those organizers or their members (who are mostly immigrant women) so just who the hell are these people even networking with up there? Also, your DSA 2012/2016 bit here was really good too. What is the point of all this posturing when they endorse anyways? Do they imagine it’s strategic? That Democratic candidates remember them or are grateful for them? The Green Party is more strategic than them at this point. Just become a tool like me, y’all. Drop the pretenses.

      • Tarzie says:

        Your politics are very interesting to me.You’ve joined up with the Dem machine, but you haven’t foreclosed on exchange with radicals. I’d forgotten such people exist. It’s refreshing. I think there are some other liberal Democrats who hang around here but they’re less inclined to say so. I can’t imagine why!!!

        I can understand reasons for doing going that route. It’s the contempt and discipline that I associate with it that puts me off. I start thinking you’re all like that, and then you all become this loathesome abstraction.

        I agree with you about the rank and file. I find they’re more organically radical and open than this posh crowd. Less gullible, also. Frost’s essay suggests that the mob will come to them once they’ve purged all the riff raff and dressed up real nice. It’s a very “creative class” take on organizing. All about marketing.

        I think they’re mostly thinking about careers. Part of the problem is that so many of them are in New York. It changes a person when they realize Rachel Maddow is making 7 million a year right across the bridge. By the way, can you get me on the Ed Show? And what’s he *really* like?

        To be fair, I think Frost does have some labor organizing experience, which is why I had always figured she seemed more down to earth than the rest of them. Very surprised that she’s the one that pushed me to diatribe territory. Kilpatrick and Sunkara just seem like entitled rich kids to me for whom this is all theoretical and muddled theory at that. I can’t imagine their status consciousness and misanthropy lending itself to actually working with the proles.

    • As far as my politics, I got tired of the empty rooms that the Left is host too. Those rooms are filled almost entirely with men, many white men. And they are really rude. And desperate. Women have shit to do, ya know? A few good eggs here and there but rare. It was no surprise to me as the years went on, “Wow, all us women eventually have to form our own soc-feminist reading groups because those rooms are so unbearable”. Maybe that’s why the Flakes piece appealed to me at first too? And yes, I bet there are many like me reading. I read you for a long time before I ever posted. I went back and forth and definitely got reeled in with some of that, “just who does this Tarzie think he is, how much money do they make? Are they a Park Slope snob?”. After being over-exposed myself, I have a lot more respect for you anon types these days.

      It’s easy for me to remain open to radicals because I’m in agreement. I understand that all of the radicals are right about the police, capitalism, imperialism, all of it. I grew up a middle class, suburban Texan like Kilpatrick and I learned history, I read, I saw. But I want to be where people *are*. For me, in the South, the people are still lingering en masse around a Democratic Party or in efforts that collect money under that umbrella of orgs. I really didn’t feel cool trying to insist to them “BUT CAN YOU PLEASE LISTEN TO US DEBATE THE MERITS OF HAL DRAPER AT A MEETING SOON?” Like you say, rank and file people will say really radical stuff in front of you, they just don’t call it socialism or communism or whateverism. I would rather keep pace with them and find out what they want to do next. Sometimes that is just help a friend fight an eviction or go to a shooting range and learn how to defend themselves against white terror. It’s rarely listening to yet another old dude tell us about an old conflict between other old dudes and then asking for money.

      And when the people aren’t around that party, when you are confronted with low turnout even for my tool efforts, do DSA folks seriously think the people will look for them next? The Democrats they despise and who despise them are crowding around their only Socialist hope at the moment who is running as a Democrat. No, folks aren’t going to head towards the people who just just got done endorsing Obama. I am comfortable with my place and time in history, there just isn’t a critical mass at this very moment to do what we all know is right. The politicization is going to have to happen where it matters (in those communities) and that isn’t done with magazines and to be frank, it will have to be done in even worse economic conditions. It’s done with development and powerful displays of action, sabotage, attacks really. Showing up when asked, not perfecting your critique online.

      I think Frost is like how I used to be. She is climbing, she has some working-class cred but ultimately, she will only fare well with them as long as she backs up men like Henwood. When I began to push back against some of the ridiculous anti-feminist stuff in the mag in private, I began to fall out of favor and be judged for my associations with Emma Quangel. If Frost actually spent time with a lot of working class women anymore, outside of that group she would realize how weird and insular the Heathers sound. For all the talk of normativity in their circle you’d think they know: normal people have no idea what the fuck they are on about half the time. It’s not the Truthers’ fault either.

      p.s. Ed loves weirdos like me so maybe there will be a place for you at 4:30pm/eastern time one day. Dare to dream.

      • Tarzie says:

        Great stuff.

        For all the talk of normativity in their circle you’d think they know: normal people have no idea what the fuck they are on about

        Yeah. I think that’s even kinda true in their milieu. The one problem with the Heathers critique — between you and me — is that they’re really not the cool kids. The true Heathers are Greenwald and his liberaltarians. The Jacobin/DSA crowd is kinda doing a fake it til you make it thing, but I think it leaves people wondering who the fuck they think they are. I suppose it’s somewhat to their credit that they’re trying to keep one foot in a traditional Left politics. The Greenwald Heathers are dispensing with that altogether apart from their resisty fearciness.

        Glad you no longer listen to the haters. My working class conscience is cleaner than theirs and for good reason. *suppresses urge to rant about the Park Slope thing*

  22. So Far Right says:

    What did leak out about Bank of America was pretty weak. It concerned Balboa Insurance, which was a small subsidiary of Countrywide Financial Corporation(of which I was an employee). It looked like more of a disgruntled employee than anything else. Nothing about CFC was clean, but I don’t think the Balboa part was particularly dirty.lea

    Regarding Daniel Domschiet-Berg, maybe we should call him the Plumber, since he seems to be good at plugging leaks.

  23. jason says:

    after a suitable stint in a prison camp, this courageous non-Canadian will now almost certainly be deported for upsetting the Dear Leader’s & his toadies’ photo op . With the cops on their side, this astroturf group doesn’t have to smear, insult, etc. I’m sure the NSA/etc. can leave the spying on these dem-lib 401c4 non-“profit” orgs to Google Chrome.

    100% of NFL players have a strong preference for grass. can’t smoke astroturf & it ain’t great on the knees either.

  24. Pingback: Animal rights in an age of corporate globalization | HermannView

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