Saul Alinsky

Intellectual bullying and the postmodern discourse of GamerGate

The discrediting of voices in intellectual discourse is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, when a person holds a position that is indefensible and plain wrong, they should either accept that they are wrong or have their soapbox revoked. Most of the time it isn’t this clear. Different opinions are held by disagreeing parties, and silencing dissenting voices requires tactics that are a little more underhanded. The tactic of dishonestly re-framing a viewpoint into something outrageous in an attempt to discredit those who hold the viewpoint is known as intellectual bullying.

Black_box bulling

This is a powerful tool. With enough voices dishonestly insisting that someone holds all those beliefs that everybody hates, the person in question will either be shamed into silence or suffer from character assassination. The black box takes an honest input and produces a dishonest output. But what goes on inside the black box? I am going to try to explain that, both in general and specifically for the GamerGate controversy.

A lot of of the tactics of the anti-GamerGate intellectual bullying campaign were famously codified in Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.  The ideological guerrilla warfare tactics encouraged in that book and others like it include character assassination, isolation, and ridicule. Ad hominem attacks are implicitly encouraged, because people are easier to hate than abstract ideas. Strawman arguments are particularly effective – rather than addressing actual arguments, so one should ignore the points of those who disagree with you and respond to something else.

I initially scoffed at the prospect of Cultural Marxism being real, because in common parlance among conservative pundits, it’s used as a stronger pejorative in place of “political correctness.” Despite what the noise around the provocative term might sound like, Cultural Marxism is not Alex Jones-style paranoia. From the beginning, Marxism rejected positivism – positivism meaning the belief that mathematical logic and scientific experimentation are the sole authoritative sources of knowledge. This should be interesting for the reader who has heard of Marxism being scientific socialism. To Marx and Engels, scientific was merely a nice sounding word that meant that their socialism had a philosophical methodology behind it. This is true: Marxism does have a methodology, it’s just a non-rationalistic methodology.