Humor, Leftism, Practice

Against Idiotic Discourse: /Leftypol/

/leftypol/ is a great place, full of fun and ‘interesting’ people. They recently this year collectively sponsored Richard D. Wolff’s monthly economic update, and lots of normies were made of aware of this titan leftist board on the internet. A fortress of leftist freedom on a Mongolian picture site, surrounded by degenerate weirdos below it and the alt-right empire, /pol/, above it. Leftypol is full of wonderful threads, replete with theoretical knowledge, drunk on virtuous free speech, pumping out wholesome leftist memes, and standing in true solidarity with the working class oppressed of all walks of life.

When you first stride into this bastion light of the future theoreticians and leaders of action, you will be welcomed with the traditional greeting, “Hey faggot, make yourself comfy and take all these memes.” You will find yourself freed from the scourge of Trotskyist sectarianism, of arbitrary Anarkiddie trashcan toppling, of oppressive and dogmatic SJW id-pol transplaining, etc.

/leftypol/ knows what other leftists don’t: id-pol is le cancer, and it comes in many surprising flavors. Feminism? Id-pol. Racism? Id-pol. Class? Not id-pol. Traps? Not gay. Transexuals? Id-pol unless they pass, then it’s a trap. And… that’s about all /leftypol/ seems to agree on for the most part. Besides the constant train of 2d Leftist waifus and e-celeb hate/love train, there is very little that goes on in /leftypol/ which is of genuine Left interest.

Now, what’s the deal with this particular Mongolian picture site? Well, as far as Leftist internet presence, besides being the largest Left board of its kind, it seems to be a prime producer of Left memes—some of them are even funny. That said, it’s trash in theory and practice. They’ll tell you they’re a site for kicking back and shooting the shit and not to learn anything, but considering the way they speak of other Leftists you would think they would be very theoretically astute even if not active in the practical world. Unfortunately, when it comes to their “ideological” standpoint, they are often trash cans blazing brightly into the void that is the internet. Now, why is that? What is it that makes /leftypol/ such a dumpster of Left ideologies?

First, let’s be real: most of its user base are edgy teens and tweens who straddle the strange spectrum of Left political opinion with otherwise seemingly apolitical socially deviant tastes. This is a bit strange, but not that surprising, on the chan boards, which have from their inception been dominated by highly  questionable content around the virtues of absolute anonymity and freedom, a culmination of pure individuality with empty universality. What matters on chan boards is not the form—that’s what they claim anyway—but the content. This might be fine if /leftypol/ had good content, but it doesn’t.

The chan sites have always been bourgeois in nature because of this anonymous feature in which a flat universal identity is thought to be a stopper against universal and—especially—individual identity notions. Since everyone is detached from any identity, an equally amorphous fluctuating ‘anonymous #’, it is expected that this frees the individual as individual to truly manifest their individual essence since there is no possibility of backlash for stating an honest opinion, no matter how inflammatory. When I can hide in the universality, it seems that only then may I show my individuality as pure content without contamination by association, for I cannot be targeted for what I do and say. This attitude carries over into /leftypol/, and its results are very telling: lax moderation out of fear of ‘controlling free speech’; the continuation and further intensification of the capitalist plague of short attention span which reduces the formation and intake of knowledge to stupid images and snippets of text—memes; and finally, the rather quick decline the board took towards mass shitposting as the major content filling the site.

The problem of /leftypol/ is above all that it carries on chan culture, and chan culture is above all geared against specifically controlled, directed, and long term sustained group action. It’s not the case that image boards as a medium are not usable for good discussion, it’s just an alternate version of forums after all, but the culture that has built up around this board style is not something that is going to be run away from since, let’s face it, the only people interested in these kinds of boards are the channers who feel the need for a board and moderation more fit to their special needs. /leftypol/ has a lot going against it: a theoretically uninformed and disinterested populace; a terrible moderation team; an overwhelming urge to take the bait from run-of-the-mill /pol/ shitposters.

However, if /leftypol/ were actually a functional space for Left discussion and actual unity it just wouldn’t be /leftypol/. The board serves a purpose: to shitpost and lay back with no consequences since there is nothing of general purpose to be done. The same questions come up, the same uninspired meme responses are made, the same copypasta theory is posted. Every once in a while you get a glimmer of some theoretical discussion happening between two or three people filling an entire thread, but if that’s what one wants, then certain subs (specifically users) of Reddit/Libcom/blogs have a far more constant level of such theoretical discussion, often on far deeper levels, and with quite a lot less animosity—unless on Reddit one is dealing directly with political things on the wrong sub (r/socialism and r/communism), then things get even nastier than chans (they’ll dox you far more easily). /leftypol/ may yet grow, but without significant structural changes to content and moderation it won’t be turning into any significant place to get Left news, discuss theory, or organize.

That said, I’d like to repeat my usually ignored message to /leftypol/’s user base in hope that some may one day learn:

Read a fucking book and learn some theory.

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6 thoughts on “Against Idiotic Discourse: /Leftypol/”

  1. You’re absolutely correct about /leftypol/, it’s a real ideological shithole. However, it also seems to be the only place that the Left can gather and have discussions on the internet without descending into a huge drama-filled slapfight.

    Revleft is entirely too purge-happy, even for a forum that would presumably be under constant assault from bored reactionary trolls of all stripes. Inordinately strict moderation has left that place the slow-moving husk we see today.

    Something Awful used to have Laissez’s Faire, which at its (scant) best moments approached decent discussion. It was purged though, and Rhizzone (the offsite forum established by the LF refugees) is even slower than Revleft.

    You seem to think decent discussion exists on Reddit – where? This is a serious question. My experience of reddit is that its format is entirely unreadable and that every left tendency splits off into their own subreddits. Each subreddit has a small enough population to make the subreddit just as slow as Revleft. There are the ‘main’ subreddits, r/socialism, r/communism, etc, but these subreddits are dominated by single tendencies – dominated in such a way that robust discussion is impossible.

    /leftypol/ is a shithole, but it’s also the only place on the internet where an anarchist can yell at a Stalinist and vice versa without somebody getting banned or doxxed. It’s full of /pol/ bait and stupid questions and anime and children who haven’t read the first thing of Marx. It also directly posts more quality readings than I’ve ever seen on reddit, and has more high-quality posters than reddit could dream of having, despite the vastly smaller userbase.

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    1. “It also seems to be the only place that the Left can gather and have discussions on the internet without descending into a huge drama-filled slapfight.”

      How is a thread being bogged down by shitposting not drama filled? I see the same things happening on L-pol as I see on reddit, just in a different manner. I think the idea that there can be anywhere with lively theoretical discussion that can sustain this quality for long is a misguided one. One cannot rely on spaces, one can only rely on people. As users who are interested in things come and go so does the quality, hence it is particular individuals that make much of the quality of a community beyond the moderation and topical rules.

      L-pol is just what it is, but it never had a dominating theoretical leaning. A lot of the serious information spreaders left early on precisely because they were nearly impossible to argue with on equal grounds due to literal walls of text essays being posted as responses. Remember the Hoxha and ML posters that just left to /Marx/ and eventually that itself just died? You cannot discuss where people are unwilling to engage at the necessary level of thinking nor taking in information.

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  2. If you’re looking for total freedom from shitposting (or its real-world equivalent), then politics might not be for you. When I say that /leftypol/ suffers less from it, I simply mean that the construction of the space and the lack of distinct identities allows the shitflinging to die down a little easier than it does in other spaces.

    I think you draw an undialectical distinction between spaces and the people who inhabit them. If an environment is not conducive to discussion, it will not attract good posters. I feel the combination of loose moderation and easy anonymous posting, while conducive to drive-by shitposting, also allows people to express themselves without fear of a poorly-worded argument being permanently attached to their name.

    Getting people to freely and honestly express their political viewpoint despite their fear of looking foolish is one of the key problems in real-life activism, I don’t know why you would begrudge an imageboard for solving it.

    /leftypol/ not having a dominant theoretical tendency is literally the only reason why I am defending it despite its obvious shittiness. As a matter of fact, I was one of the early information spreaders who left because the culture wasn’t what I was used to in real-life activism. I came back after I realised that it was the only place on the internet that even approaches open discussion for the Left.

    As for the Hoxhaists and MLs that self-segregated over on /marx/, well, there’s not really much you can do about people voluntarily leaving because the community doesn’t agree with them. That lack of sympathy might be my own ideological bias showing though, I don’t have much truck with people who defend paranoid dictators as champions of the working class.

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    1. >If you’re looking for total freedom from shitposting (or its real-world equivalent), then politics might not be for you. When I say that /leftypol/ suffers less from it, I simply mean that the construction of the space and the lack of distinct identities allows the shitflinging to die down a little easier than it does in other spaces.

      Shitflinging and shitposting are not the same thing. Things get heated even on libcom, but the quality is miles above shitposting. Of course you can have a place without shitposting, hell, that’s what most forums for topics were. They had dedicated shitposting threads or board sections. There is no logical link between shitposting and free discussion at all.

      I made no diremption between space and users, I after all mention the stupidity of the diremption of content and form that comes with anonimity. If anything, this is the only reason shitposting and ignorance can go so far on leftypol. You’re never held accountable to your ignorance by public shame nor moderation.

      >I came back after I realised that it was the only place on the internet that even approaches open discussion for the Left.

      Open discussion on what? An empty hill is a place of open discussion, the street corner is a place of open discussion, World of Warcraft is a place for open discussion, r/liberal is a place for open discussion. What exactly is there to discuss with people who are ignorant, actively remain so, and discuss on levels of cognition that are laughably abstract? I’ve never seen ANY good discussion even on the basic things they LOVE: gender, idpol etc. I’ve been there since the beginning, I >never< had a delusion as to what l-pol was. I'm not arguing for it to change, I acknowledge exactly what it is. There is nothing at all unique to leftypol, maybe it's because unlike its users I actually use the freedom of the online world to actually traverse around to content rather than stick myself to an arbitrary space.

      As for people leaving, I never said that was bad in itself. I've left quite a lot of places for various reasons, I occasionally find myself posting there again if I'm not banned just because of content searches.

      I think there is nothing to defend about leftypol as a unique place for the Left other than that it is a place where left memes have been generated in some quantity, and it's occasionally fun.

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  3. Sorry, but I have to disagree. Memes are the new agitprop, digestible bits of theory for the everyman. No one was ever converted by being told to read Adorno’s three studies on Hegel, leftypol is more like a ministry of online propaganda than a book club. And honestly, its better that way, this free market of ideas meme needs to die, rational discourse and reasoned debate is not what primarily determines what people believe, its material conditions which determine consciousness, not the other way around. Furthermore, there actually is alot of theory discussion on leftypol, such as communalism, leftcom theory, and most recently, economic computability, econophysics, cybernetics and the future left.

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