The left's outrage culture

published Oct 19, 2021

An excerpt from Michael Huemer's excellent "The Anger Merchants".

The left’s outrage-mongering is mainly race-based (and, to a lesser extent, based in other “identity groups”). It is designed to maximize anger for members of minorities, as well as non-minority people who aim to sympathize with or take the side of minorities. The core message is always, “Your group is under attack.” Society is exploiting, robbing, murdering your people. The ones responsible are the dominant race/sex/other group, plus the people who disagree with this ideology. They did it to your ancestors, and they’ll do it to your children. They hate you. They have no respect for you. They’ll never stop unless they’re physically forced. Practically everything those people do is designed to destroy you.

Examples: Say a black person was just shot by police. The most outrageous explanation would be that cops just go around murdering random black people for the hell of it, because they’re a bunch of Nazi bastards. Therefore, that’s got to be the explanation. And if anyone doesn’t agree with this, that is because they are also a white supremacist bastard who supports murder.

If you’re a minority member, and you have a negative experience with someone, it’s probably due to racism, or sexism, or something like that. When we don’t get our way politically, that’s also due to racism/sexism/etc. If someone voted against Obama, that’s racism; against Hilary Clinton, that’s sexism.

Most successful belief systems contain elements that function specifically as belief-system defenses. Hence, it’s extremely popular to throw in the belief that those who disagree with this very belief system are destroying society and must not be listened to, and that promoting this very belief system is the key to saving society. Thus, in modern Left-Outrage Ideology, it’s of crucial import that everyone be told about how unjust and outrage-worthy their current society is, and that no one be permitted to deny the core points of this ideology.

This is why we have the current conflicts over “Critical Race Theory” in American primary schools. Nobody gives a crap about an esoteric legal theory. What people are fighting about is the project of sowing outrage against America and society’s dominant groups: the left-wing educators think it is of crucial import to do that; the parent protestors resent it. (Of course, the educators wouldn’t use the phrase “sowing outrage”. They’d probably say they are “educating people about injustice”. It’s just that their method of educating about injustice is indistinguishable from what you’d do if you were trying to sow discord and rage.)

Marxism is an anger-based belief system. Left-wing people dismiss other anger-based belief systems (such as the conspiracy theories about immigration, or Covid-19, or QAnon) as stupid. But that’s only because those belief systems appeal more to the emotional dispositions of right- rather than left-leaning personalities. When a good outrage-based belief system designed to appeal to their predilections appears, most leftists suddenly cannot help overlooking or making excuses for the most glaring errors. They aren’t against hate per se; they’re only against right-wing hate.

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