180518 Proximity - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

It goes back to the sage wisdom of William S. Burroughs' old junk pusher: "watch whose money you pick up."

The change in politics and public discourse has been dizzying. Political groups rise and schism, buzzwords change, youtube intellectuals come and go. To simplify things I've developed a straightforward test. It's imperfect, and I apologize in advance for some of the terms I'm going to use, but it's effective and practical.

When considering a concept or action, I ask myself: compared to an average person, would a nazi, either historical or contemporary, be more likely to support this?

Try it. It can be very incisive – call it the Alt-Right Razor. Distinctions and nuance fall away and it's harder to hide the reprehensibility. There's no distance between "separatist" and "supremacist" when some podcaster advocates for a white ethno-state. But it works for milder cases, too. Would a nazi be more likely to refer to someone as a 'cuck' or 'social justice warrior'? Would they be more likely to insist on unwelcomely gender-specific pronouns, or to vote for the politician who pledges "taking care of our own first" when asked about immigration?

That's not saying that everyone who supports a nativist politician is themselves a neo-nazi.

But they do support the people who neo-nazis support, and that isn't a trivial association.


This isn't, ultimately, an us-versus-them issue. This is an us issue, a me issue. That's not advocating for false equivalence, 'good people on both sides'. Nope. Posting anti-Muslim memes is deplorable. I won't claim modesty; I know I'm a better person than someone who does that. 

But as what's socially acceptable shifts, I need to watch my own thoughts and influences, watch whose money I'm picking up. I need to become more aware of how I embody, enact, and benefit from things that wouldn't pass my test if I could see them clearly. I also need to be honest and admit that my position in society is strengthened, not undermined, by those with opinions I'm opposing. So how hard am I working against them, really? I bet I could do more.

This razor has to be double-edged. 


Powered by SmugMug Log In