Why GamerGate Needs to Address SJWs

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.

“We got ourselves a progressive problem.”

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.

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11 thoughts on “Why GamerGate Needs to Address SJWs

  1. As much as I largely agree, stop conflating these morons with the principles they’re pushing.
    It’s no different than they do with #gamergate.
    I’m a “progressive” (stupid Americanism – I’m a proud socialist and bleeding heart) and nobody I know thinks these people are right or genuinely progressive.
    Many accept they have the best of motives, but they are tolerated by long suffering friends, not popular.
    I routinely get mocked for being a far left loony by friends and acquaintances, so it isn’t because I’m a “faux” liberal like these idiots claim.
    I saw a Sorrel quote I agree with on twitter recently.
    If you supported equality 60 years ago you were a radical. 30 years ago you were a liberal. Now you are a racist (or sexist)
    Rich hipsters and their media cronies have subverted the meaning of equality and are trying their level best to ruin progressive politics.
    They’ve done more damage to their claimed causes than ANY radical conservative group could dream of.

    • To clarify, I’m specifically discussing the American Progressive movement (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivism_in_the_United_States) and I consider that politically distinct from socialism. I have friends from across the political spectrum… except progressivism. The reason is I make friends with them, but extreme political correctness so dominates their thinking, as soon as I say something that offends them, they cut me off. My liberal/socialist friends don’t behave that way because they are not progressive.

      • Well, I’m a progressive and I hate political correctness; names may be useful (like transexual or homosexual) but all these SJWs demanding all these gender-fluid names and equal outcomes for every minority and games being a platform for political ideologies is ridiculous and if it’s progressivism it’s off the rails and doesn’t progress anything.

        So the kind of progressivism you witness is not the same I agree with; the kind I listen to are things like The Young Turks, David Pakman, Thom Hartmann, ThinkProgress.com, MotherJones.com… outlets that support change for fairness, leveling the playing field, stopping lawmakers from rigging the law to tip the scales towards the rich so money is further sucked out of middle-class pockets and the poor, change for actually punishing corporations for robbing the people and just paying a small percentage “fine” as their “punishment” (ahem, price of doing business), giving people more recognition for who they are and freedom of expression and enjoyment of art and entertainment (among a multitude of other things).

        The SJWs we’re talking about don’t just want equality and recognition for people, they want to push things so far in their favor that they turn into a totalitarian rule-smacking authority that censors free speech, limits choice, and turns us all into gibbering politically-correct mindless robots that have 100 names for every little thing and worries about offending anyone for the littlest thing.

        Really it seems they come out of the mindset of Postmodernism, where nothing is absolute and everything is just some big subjective reality that can change any second depending on how somebody feels (whoever the loudest whiner is basically).

        I think one person that is a good example of a fair progressive that is also strong and doesn’t like SJW bullshit is Ana Kasparian of the Point, but I can only guess if you’d like her or not:
        https://www.youtube.com/user/townsquare

      • If I’m understanding correctly, your gripe with SJWism is it’s a purist form of progressivism favoring extreme tactics, reductionism, and ideological conformance. We have purists in libertarian thought circles as well (the anarchists, the agorists, etc.,), but they are only a minority and minor annoyance by misprioritizing political capital (attacking public roads, going nude in public, etc.). They don’t enjoy nearly the mainstream status or power that SJWs do, or their prominence within the larger movement.

        I’m happy you reject SJWs, but I’m still hesitant to accept the distinction between SJWs and progressivism as a whole. The main reason is I don’t see this distinction being made by any of the major progressive websites, or by any self-identifying progressive pundits or politicians. In much of New England and Washington, DC (my experience), progressives regularly throw support behind politicians, activists, and union leaders with long histories of corruption or of using reprehensible intimidation tactics, just as SJWs do with the corrupt review sites, and I don’t believe this is a coincidence. When pressed on the matter, they tend to just ignore the problem or brush it off with an “ends justify the means” rationalization. Similarly, on the national scene, I see progressives readily aligning themselves with the Charley Rangels of politics, the Al Sharptons of identity grievance-mongering, and the Randi Weingartens of the union world. I’ve never once seen a Rachel Maddow or a Keith Olbermann in progressive media tackle the abuses of such people, instead often cheering them on with enthusiastic support.

        As I mentioned in a comment below, I also don’t see a silent majority of moderate progressives in practice, although I suppose you might serve as an example of one. Virtually all prominent progressives practice political correctness (e.g., “undocumented immigrants”) in their speech and writings, and react emotionally in the face of blunt and honest language with accusations of bigotry and privilege soon to follow. The fact that there isn’t a non-pejorative term for SJWs within the progressive movement further indicates to me it’s not enough of a substantive distinction to merit progressives addressing it.

        Incidentally, all of the causes you list as drawing you to progressivism are common causes with libertarians and most small-government conservatives. This leads me to wonder where you differ from us in other areas and how your positions correspond to those of SJWs.

  2. Progressivism is not at its core a philosophy based on the principle that the ends can justify the means; in fact every progressives I’ve heard use that very phrase were criticizing conservatives for things like the Iraq war, torture, or spying on Americans. Progressives at their core care about getting something done regardless of ideology; they want the effect to happen but not at the expense of horrible things being done to people. They are willing to sacrifice ideology over people to get things done, not the other way around.

    • Oh and I don’t consider SJWs progressive, I consider them off-the-rails crazy. They may be coming from progressivism, but they’ve put moonshine in the gas think thinking it will nitro-power their car; they’re not my progressives.

      • Answering the question “what is progressivism” can be a bit subjective because there is no central text or authority. I generally think of movements in terms of shared goals, tactics, and ideals. I take you at your word that SJW behavior is not your personal brand of progressivism. However, I’ve spent a lot of time on self-identifying progressive blogs with large memberships (until they ban me, at least), and the majority qualify as SJWs to the extent where I can’t distinguish them. Maybe there is a self-selection bias there, but what they all have in common is an extreme devotion to identity politics, political correctness, and Alinskyite organizing tactics. I’m open to the possibility of a “silent majority” of more moderate progressives, but I haven’t met them and my impression so far is the inmates are fully running the asylum. If they don’t represent your vision, perhaps it’s time to retake the label, or establish a new one?

  3. Pingback: Anita Sarkeesian is not Jack Thompson 2.0 | The New Versailles

  4. 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.

    There is another, more tragic aspect to these journalists. They are all gamers.

    Unlike the outsider cultural critics and blow-in indie dev starlets, the majority of game journalists are clearly gamers themselves. They grew up with the same games, in the same subculture, and most importantly of all, through the same events and attempts at censorship as all other gamers their age.

    Most of the journalists involved are around 30 years old, and so will have — as infants — played Atari and NES games; will remember the absurd anti-drug FBI logos on arcade machines; will have reached adolescence during the days of Sega and Sony; will have grown up, not with, but along with the internet itself and all its facets; will remember Columbine and blame and panic placed on video games (and youth culture) because of it, will remember Jack Thompson and his attempts to use the law to leash the medium; will remember all the other panics and would be cebsors; and who will have seen the evolution, development and of course experienced the dizzying breadth and depth of what gaming has to offer over the course of their lives.

    As such, I would argue regardless of whatever other ideologies they have been exposed to, these journalists, as gamers, know the charges that gaming is sexist, or exclusionary in any way, are completely false.

    It’s probably impossible to explain this to anyone who is not a gamer, perhaps even to younger/older gamers or netizens, but the deepest and most hurtful aspect of Gamergate is the sense of betrayal. Game journalists betrayed the medium to the same censors and authoritarian forces that have plagued this pastime for our entire lives. Everything they know about video games, about the internet, about subcultures, should be — must be — telling them that what they are doing is wrong, mistaken, without basis, and that the people they supporting should never have been invited in. But they did invite all this politics, division, bullying, sex and insanity in — in to video games. Of all things in the whole world.

    Deep down, regardless of any other ideologies, I think that these game journalists, as gamers, will know that they have betrayed something very deep and fundamental to themselves. A straining, unresolved tension, whose pull will reassert itself as the dust and heat begins to settle.

    Betrayal might sound like an extreme word, but the sense is there. Probably the hurt as well, because the question of _why_ they did it is rarely asked. I’d like to get an answer to that question someday.

    • I don’t think gaming isn’t sexist, I just don’t think it’s to the extent SJWs do, who are very weak-minded and thin-skinned. They don’t get the competitive spirit or trash-talking. However, gaming culture is part of the broader world which has been man-centric and mostly man-developed for thousands of years; I can’t even imagine what gaming would be like if Muslims came to America first. So even with the remnants of sexism in gaming, the aggressiveness of gamers in general, and the sensitivities of SJWs causes an explosive combination. Every time I watch Anita Sarkeesian’s videos I just shake my head at how easily offended she is and how she keeps putting down women by inadvertently calling them weak and stupid by saying it’s sexist and misogynistic to put a woman in distress in a game or not give all background female characters names and personalities or say that a 16-button PS3 controller is too complicated for women…

      The SJW journalist/blogger/vloggers are doing a disservice to themselves and everyone else, and have hurt the medium of gaming, not to mention storytelling and art in books, paintings, and computer art, and whether they’re co-opting the medium as outsiders or trashing it from the inside, they’re making it worse by restricting freedom of telling a story or creating the art or having certain mechanics in games. It’s just a political-correct assault on art and entertainment, and it makes me sick!

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