The radical left claims to oppose, more than anything else, the radical right. The radical right, in turn, hates nothing so much as it hates the radical left.
Here’s the thing, though. Nothing radicalizes the right as effectively as a radical leftist. And nothing justifies the radical left as potently as the words and actions of a right-wing radical.
When I was in college, I had some friends who over time became proud, radical feminists. They were intelligent people, and we had (I thought) a strong friendship, so it felt safe and appropriate to have conversations with them about their convictions.
I didn’t call myself a feminist at the time. Feminism was a confusing thing, seemingly self-contradictory and without clear answers to some of the predictable questions or challenges that could be posed to it. And there was no book or article I could find that seemed to encapsulate it and intelligently address my concerns, but now I had something even better — intelligent friends who had chosen to embrace it for themselves.
The questions I asked, though, were not met with convincing arguments or explanations. (I can absolutely admit that this may have been because the questions I posed were not well formulated or even entirely well motivated, to be fair.) Soon enough, the questions were being answered with expressions of anger, disgust, venom. And when I foolishly tried to preserve the friendship and explain what I actually believed (in contrast to the despicable opinions they attributed to me), they ended the friendship with the most hurtful accusations.
I despised the ideology that had stolen my friends from me, that called me evil for asking reasonable questions. And I wasn’t alone. This was around the time that YouTube began recommending videos to me with titles like “watch as [rightwing media personality] totally DESTROYS feminist in debate!” Those videos had lots of views. Another friend of mine had been similarly mistreated, and the two of us liked to commiserate and grumble.
By some good fortune, I fell under the spell of some friends and intellectual influences that preserved me from ideological radicalization. Many like me, though, weren’t quite so lucky. I have a suspicion that the style and the success of Trump (and his allies and imitators) were due in no small part to a reaction against the antics of the radical left.
That friend of mine who was also burned by feminism, today believes that the Covid pandemic is a fiction orchestrated by globalist, communist elites who want to trick us all into wearing masks and getting vaccines in order somehow to bring about a world-wide Maoist utopia. I said to him, in one of our last conversations before he in his turn cut ties with me and cast me into outer darkness, that the radical left has no truer friend than people like him. The next surge of radical leftists will be formed of people who are incredulous at what rightwing conspiracists said and did during Covid, and of that there can be no doubt. I don’t think he liked hearing it very much at all, but he could see what I was saying, and significantly, he didn’t try to dispute it.
If you hate the radical left, the greatest blow you personally can strike against them is to refuse to become part of the radical right, I believe — and vice versa.