In his brilliant column on the future of sex robots (trust me, it’s really good), Ross Douthat opens with a line that I think is often true: “Sometimes the extremists and the radicals and the weirdos see the world more clearly than the respectable and moderate and sane.” I say this in light of today’s leftist YouTuber, BadMouse Productions, the most radical YouTuber I’ll be covering on a series on the rise of the YouTube Left (otherwise known as “LeftTube”).

Compared to other leftist YouTubers, BadMouse may not have the most views or subscribers, but what marks him out from his comrades is just how much he embraces his leftism. He’s no champagne-sipping socialist. More like a, East Germany wasn’t so bad, maybe we should rethink Stalin’s legacy, it’s not so bad if protestors attack cops, blood of the bourgeoisie sipping socialist!

I mean seriously, this guy argues that because life expectancy went up under Stalin, we should try to reconsider his legacy. I guess if you want your extended lifespan to include more unending paranoia and cannibalizing your own children, knock yourself out!

But I don’t want to spend all my time debunking leftist arguments (I did enough of that in my last article). I want to try to push deeper here and talk about the nature of political extremism on the internet.

First, there’s the issue of numbers, and how seriously we should take these people. As a conservative, it’s really easy for me to take the most extreme actors on the opposing side and say, “SEE THOSE DAMN LEFTIES, THEY’RE SO EXTREME!” when I would be better off spending my time engaging with left-wingers like Sam Harris, Cornel West, or Steven Pinker. For those of us on the Right, we all know how much the media over inflates the Alt-Right to make it seem like it’s a much bigger deal like it really is, or call people Alt-Right that clearly aren’t.

But just because the media went too far in their coverage of the Alt-Right, that certainly doesn’t mean it should have ignored it. The growth of a radical online Right was a major issue leading up to 2016, and the Trump campaign did unfortunately throw some bones at them (such as putting Steve Bannon on his team, someone who was way too close to the Alt-Right for my comfort).

The problem was that the media didn’t keep the Alt-Right in proper perspective. It acted as if this was the future of conservatism, instead of a fringe (even if dangerous) outgrowth of it. The same applies with conservatives reacting to this new strain of online radicalism. As long as we understand that it still exists on the fringes of current Left-wing discourse, and is not representative of it, it’s perfectly fine spending some time talking about it or debunking it’s points. Even if he’s not representative, BadMouse is part of a growing movement on the internet that is vocally supporting more radically left-wing ideas.

A second point I’d like to bring up is that even though BadMouse is extreme, he’s by no means unintelligent. He clearly is well versed in leftist philosophy and history, and he takes the ideas seriously (even if it’s a little too seriously). For example, he has an interesting video entitled, “Why Communism is Important.”

In it, he argues that leftists should once again openly embrace the word “communism,” instead of shying away from the word due to its messy legacy in the twentieth century. BadMouse believes that if leftists try too hard in distancing themselves from the terms “Marxism” and “Communism” because they’re too alienating to modern ears, the movement will in turn alienate itself from its own history and intellectual tradition. By dissociating themselves from the word “communism,” leftists also lose focus on their goals and obfuscate their beliefs, making themselves look only more confused and even duplicitous. At the end of the video, BadMouse even argues that instead of making excuses for communist abuses of the past (“That wasn’t real communism!” etc.), leftists should readily admit the past mistakes of their intellectual and political forebears, wrestle with them, and come up with better solutions.

I have to admit that this is brutally and refreshingly honest. I can’t tell you how many left-of-center thinkers I’ve read who clearly have a certain sympathy for Marxism, but don’t want to admit it because they’re too afraid of the heat they’ll get for embracing a political tradition with such a bloody legacy. They want to live in a pristine world of pure theory that doesn’t have to deal with criticism because it has never been tried. In fact, a lot of writers and thinkers from both sides of the political spectrum do this, not just communists. Think about Muslims who never seem to want to deal with the more violent aspects of their theology, or American conservatives who want to say every American evil was really a product of the Democratic party. BadMouse argues against this thinking when he says “We [leftists] don’t gain anything from the ignorance of our history, and it is our history. I don’t want a Left who’s scared not to ask the difficult questions, because they [conservatives] are going to bring them up. And you sure as Hell better have a better answer than just bland avoidance.”

Now that’ssomeone who isn’t afraid of ideas. Although I still think BadMouse doesn’t understand the genocidal violence that lies at the heart of the Revolutionary Left, this is a guy who doesn’t just toss around “socialism” as a buzzword. He knows its history, and he has a better understanding of the stakes of playing around with these ideas than most. To use Douthat’s phrasing, it’s the very nature of his extremism that allows him to see the world more clearly than bland left wing CNN pundits do. And the consistency and honesty with which he applies his ideas lead him to some really interesting conclusions. For example, his most recent video (as of this article) talks about the persecuted Christians of the Middle East, and how the Left has failed in defending an oppressed minority simply because it doesn’t fit the simple Left Wing narrative of “Christianity is the colonial oppressor, Muslims are always oppressed.”

I am a descendant of Armenian Genocide survivors, and my church community has faced increased persecution in the past decade at the hands of Syrian Jihadists. One of my biggest pet peeves has been the Left’s ignorance of the plight of Middle Eastern Christians simply out of fear that it will lead to “Islamophobia” or something. Although I have substantial disagreements with BadMouse’s read on the current situation in the Middle East (and his insistence that all right-wingers who bring up this issue are only using “Brown Christians” as pawns for their planned Tenth Crusade), I’m still incredibly grateful and impressed that he seriously tackled this issue. It shows someone who cares primarily about ideas and principles and not just playing along with the narrative.

At the end of the day, I still vehemently disagree with BadMouse on most things. Even if he doesn’t realize it, he’s still defending the most murderous political ideology in human history. And I honestly don’t care how much Russian or Chinese life expectancy, GDP, or literacy rates went up during the Communist era. It doesn’t justify the tens of millions of deaths, the pervasive persecution of religion and civil liberties, and the ideological lies that these governments imposed on its citizens. To quote the ex-Trotskyist, now conservative writer Peter Hitchens, “The only way to Utopia is across a sea of blood, and you’ll never get there.” Even still, the fact that BadMouse jumps into Revolutionary leftism head first and that he’s not afraid of applying his ideals to some of the most far-reaching places is certainly something to be admired. And who knows? Maybe if BadMouse really asks those difficult questions, he’ll find a way out of the grip of the dangerous ideas that hold him. One can only hope.


See the previous installment in the series Exploring Leftube:

Part 1: PhilosophyTube


Photo by TheDigitalArtist (Pixabay)