It’s been four months since GamerGate kicked off its efforts, and proponents remain just as dedicated to the cause entering 2015. There is wide agreement on the goal of restoring ethical standards to gaming journalism, but opinions differ on whether GamerGate should concern itself with “social justice warriors” (SJWs) such as Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, Brianna Wu, Leigh Alexander, Arthur Chu, Chris Kluwe, and other public figures lambasting gamer culture and seeking to sanitize games by scrubbing “offensive” content from the medium.
This isn’t really a conflict; as a grassroots movement, each of us can prioritize efforts as we see fit. But for those viewing SJWs as a distraction, I urge you to venture further down the rabbit hole for a bit and to consider how SJW behavior fits into a larger, troubling attack pattern across different components of society.
This is the first time many in GamerGate have faced down the “progressive” political animal, so the viciousness and tenacity of those espousing “tolerance” may come as a surprise. Similarly, they may be ill-prepared to deal with the extreme Alinskyite tactics progressives have used since the early 20th century to isolate and intimidate targets into submission.
GamerGate itself is not a political movement in a partisan or governance sense, boasting membership from all across the political spectrum, but the progressive objective is to politicize gaming to advance their agenda, which makes them a political enemy of gamers. It’s a fine distinction but an important one to make to avoid mistaking opposition of politicization as politicization itself, and to avoid confusing identification of progressive tactics with the identity politics progressives use exploit various social identity groups. Another key difference is that, while progressives use intense negative social pressure and intimidation to suppress content they dislike, GamerGate favors traditional market mechanisms to assess value and provide utility to consumers.
Those who dispute progressive ideology as the source of the cultural rot are hard-pressed to explain why journalists at the heart of the corruption all identify with this particular far-left-wing political orientation. They are all progressives – yes, all of them – which strains the credibility of those ascribing the homogeneity to mere happenstance. To understand why this is the case, a useful conceptual framework comes courtesy of economist Thomas Sowell in A Conflict of Visions (summarized by Wikipedia):
“The unconstrained vision relies heavily on the belief that human nature is essentially good. Those with an unconstrained vision distrust decentralized processes and are impatient with large institutions and systemic processes that constrain human action. They believe there is an ideal solution to every problem, and that compromise is never acceptable. Collateral damage is merely the price of moving forward on the road to perfection. Ultimately they believe that man is morally perfectible. Because of this, they believe that there exist some people who are further along the path of moral development, have overcome self-interest and are immune to the influence of power and therefore can act as surrogate decision-makers for the rest of society.”
Remind you of anyone you know? Like their Marxist cousins, progressives subscribe to a Utopian vision of mankind in which the inherently good nature of man is corrupted by damaging environmental influences around him, whether they be racist institutions; the trappings of poverty; or misogynist, ableist, homophobic cishet video games. To the unconstrained visionary, the solution to all of the above is simple: remove the offending content and the less desirable qualities of mankind will disappear – we’ll all live together in perfect harmony in a world free of privilege, prejudice, violence, and oppression.
If your eyes are rolling at the idealism, then you probably fall somewhere in the “constrained vision” camp, which holds a more tragic and classical view of mankind – ambitious, flawed, and resistant to social engineering. GamerGate is, at its heart, a constrained-view social movement, enthusiastic about video games as a healthy outlet for exploring through fantasy and recreation humanity’s natural compulsions toward lust, greed, violence, and power. As such, GamerGate is incompatible with progressive political philosophy, and the two sides are destined to butt heads over values and visions for the future of gaming.
Progressivism is also, at its core, a utilitarian philosophy, achieving its designs via the Machiavellian principle that ends can justify the means. This is the source of the often atrocious and hypocritical behavior progressives engage in when confronted with obstacles to their vision – when the opponent is racism or sexism incarnate, it’s acceptable to be a little racist or sexist yourself if it means vanquishing your foe; hence, coordinated attacks on #NotYourShield minorities as “Uncle Toms,” or on female GamerGate members as “whores” of males in the movement. Similarly, gaming journalists have no moral qualms about using the power of their positions to advance their progressive cause. If a game uses “tropes” against women, or is too violent for the reviewer’s taste, then it deserves a bad review for being damaging to society, i.e., corruption is an acceptable price to fight the even greater corrupting influence of negligent social messaging. Whatever other value games may offer is eclipsed by the social justice mission to the self-anointed agents of human evolution and progress.
GamerGate can ignore SJWs and succeed in limited aims, but it would do so at its own existential peril. We the constrained face an enemy hellbent on tearing down our very identity and culture in the name of human “progress.” The progressive sees video games as yet another territory to be conquered and used as a launchpad for further political conquest. If you wish to see the result of capitulation, you only need look at the washed-out cultural wasteland Hollywood and academia became when they fell to political correctness decades ago.