Recently, Jacobin editor Conor Kilpatrick took some time off his busy schedule being the self-appointed Moral Conscience of the American Left to provide some rigorous data:
— Connor Kilpatrick (@ckilpatrick) June 15, 2016
You don’t need Bijan-style analysis to see how beyond any possible allowance for hyperbole this risible dodge is. [UPDATE: But we got it anyway!] Indeed, even if you don’t read the blog regularly you can tell from the tweet itself. Note how Kilpatrick linked to one of the two posts of the dozens per week in the previous 30 days that was about an argument made by Freddie, rather than the front page. Doing the latter would be more relevant to his assertion, but anyone who actually clicked the link wouldn’t have to spend much time scrolling to see that Kilpatrick was full of shit.
Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. Where a certain type of online argument is concerned, he forgot to fix it for you: the first time as farce, second time as Freddie and hence beyond farce. To provide some background for the uninitiated, virtually any interaction Freddie deBoer has outside of his narrow circle follows an script with three brief acts:
- Why do liberals refuse to engage with me, surely one of the nation’s preeminent public intellectuals? All I want is some substantive engagement that takes my ideas seriously!
- [Someone engages with his argument in an admittedly harsh but entirely substantive way.]
- WHY ARE YOU FIXATED ON ME, A HUMBLE [FORMER] GRADUATE STUDENT NOBODY?
To Freddie, the only worse thing than not engaging with him substantively is engaging with him substantively, and vice versa. So, during his most recent version of this routine, Freddie found the data complied by his friend the social scientician highly useful:
@LemieuxLGM 30% of posts on LGM in the past several years mention me. I think you should find a new hobby.
— HR-Compliant Freddie (@freddiedeboer) June 17, 2016
Past several years! Oh, dear.
If you think his whining routine seems rather pathetic both coming and going, well, you’re right. But there’s a logic to it. Freddie wants to be noticed and discussed. But his knowledge of American political history and political science is towards the shallow end of the pool, so when he makes longer-form arguments about electoral or legislative politics they tend to be replete with massive howlers. If given the choice between acutally defending a proposition like “it is unpossible for a national right to same-sex-marriage to have been created without the LBGT community leaving the Democratic Party en masse, because general election votes are the only possible source of political leverage” on the merits and frantically running away while asserting that you never actually wanted to argue in the first place, you can see why the latter seems like the more dignified option.
It’s instructive, however, that Kilpatrick and deBoer could think come up with such a ludicrous number and think their followers could find it plausible. They seem to spend so much time involved in an impenetrable, byzantine series of longstanding personal grudges and flamewars on Twitter that they seem to think it’s at least within the realm of probability that a prolific group blog could devote a large minority of its time writing about someone they allegedly don’t like. For that matter, it’s instructive that they think that the post under discussion was “about Freddie.” It was about Freddie’s argument. It was about how to think about electoral politics and about how major policy change has happened in American history, issues I have a longstanding interest in and know something about. On Twitter, conversely, arguments do tend to be personal, because it’s rarely possible to do good arguments 140 characters at a time. It’s therefore a perfect medium for Freddie, as it’s highly conducive to reducing arguments of any complexity to strawmen that can be easily if uselessly rebutted. He doesn’t really seem to care about the underlying argument — the point is to designate people as Not of The Left. Projection is a hell of a drug.
— lee murray (@lemurey) June 18, 2016
But, of course, writing a whole blog post making fun of the ridiculous idea that you’re “obsessed” with people you rarely and never write about, respectively, makes you the REAL obsessive. This last profound insight based on the most important work in the left theory canon, I’m Rubber and You’re Glue.