We are encouraged—and we often encourage each other—to wear our politics and our analysis like badges, as markers of distinction. When politics becomes something that one has, like fashion, it always needs to be visible in order to function. Actions need to be publicized, positions need to be taken, and our everyday lives need to be spoken loudly to each other. One is encouraged to make calculations about political commitments based on how they will be seen, and by whom. Politics becomes a spectacle to be performed. This reaches its height online, where sharing the right things and speaking the right words tend to be the only ways that people can know each other. Groups need to turn inward and constantly evaluate themselves in relation to these ideals and then project them outward, proclaiming their intentions, values, programs, and missions.
But since one can only have good politics in comparison to someone else who lacks them, rigid radicalism tends towards constant comparison and measuring. Often the best way to avoid humiliation for lacking good politics is to find others lacking in militancy, radicalism, anti-oppression, or some other ideal. One’s politics can never quite match these perfectionist ideals, so one is subjected to constant shame and fear.
carla bergman and Nick Montgomery on outward patterns.
This is from a longer essay, taken from bergman and Montgomery’s book (Joyful Militancy) and pretty much all of it is pull-quotable so, y’know. Go read it.