Tuesday, November 25, 2008
A paradox of ostracism
The recent remarks of Lawrence Auster and a couple of his supporters on his blog bring to mind a paradox of ostracism that would be relevant for any sociopolitical movement: What do the members of such a movement do with an individual they have not ostracized, but who himself leans away on a posture of dismissing, in one way or another, the others?
The statement of one of his supporters, Gintas—“With only about 11 men in this movement” along with his snidely rhetorical question “there’s a movement?” with regard to the Anti-Islam Movement raised by my previous essay—imply that the movement, at best, is virtually powerless and insignificant, or, at worst, effectively non-existent for all who share in the sagacious perspicacity of an Auster. Gintas here is, in effect, and passive-aggressively, ostracizing many people who obviously exist beyond this “eleven”—or, if he pleads rhetorical sarcasm, he is effectively nullifying the power and significance of whatever number exists (pessimistically beyond the sobering assessments we all may make about how little of a minority we are in the face of a dominant and mainstream PC MC). Either of these meanings of his statement would tend to render the anti-Islam activity of Auster (the only one of worth, apparently, out of the already extremely minuscule number) virtually pointless. I mean, our numbers already amount to a minority beleaguered enough, without having to razorcut it glibly down even further in a fit of abstract cynicism.
And, not surprisingly, Auster responded to Gintas’s cynicism not with a corrective, but with a reinforcement, depicting himself as, apparently, the sole worthy analyst standing alone as the potential nucleus of a movement that has not really begun, but could have begun had it listened to him, and could still begin, would only others heed him anon. Thus, to the pessimistically passive-aggressive ostracism of the others in the movement, as expressed by Gintas, we can add the unrealistically self-inflating and martyred ostracism of the others in the movement as expressed by Auster.
Were an actual conference of the “leaders” of the Anti-Islam Movement to be convened as I imaginatively analyzed in my previous essay; and, as part of that conference and its central project of hammering out a consensus on an ideological and pragmatic platform, were a discussion on the mechanism for ostracization and whom to ostracize to unfold, would Lawrence Auster, assuming he would attend this conference which (assuming the others would have resisted the anti-Auster campaign no doubt instigated by the indefatigable “awake”) would have invited him, the question then becomes: Would Auster in that situation entrench himself deeper and deeper on his idiosyncratically irascible island, as he has demonstrated himself so liable to do in disputes with others? And if he did so, would his comportment thus sufficiently cross the line to a kind of self-ostracism? And should this be considered a de facto ostracism of him by the movement? I would say there is no clear-cut answer; for, to reiterate my statement from my previous essay, movements can benefit greatly from minority opinions critical of the movement itself, however cranky and contrarian their messenger may be. Nevertheless, there is a line that can be crossed. It seems that the unofficially reigning attitude on the part of many “leaders” and members of the movement as it stands now, as yet institutionally amorphous and inchoate, is one of a more or less de facto ostracism of Auster. I would hope, were there in the near future, as I envision, some kind of conference by which to move the movement in transition to a more effective organization, that an Auster—unlike a deservedly reprobate Charles Johnson—would not be deemed automatically beyond the pale.