r/Chapotraphouse has been banned. Even the people who posted there seem to agree this is a net good (edit: although a reader objects this is likely just them pretending to be not-mad, rather than their real position). I often disagreed with Chapo but it was the largest far-left subreddit and so by extension the largest leftwing forum unless you count Twitter. It will be interesting to see what replaces it.
A typology of online leftism
There are five main kinds of online leftism and left adjacent posting:
- Idealistic, often freshly minted “anarchists” with, like, four-set speeches memorised
- Dead-eyed tankies,
- Socdems with boomerish characteristics in their posting
- Rad lib “47 new ways of checking your privilege”
- “The dirtbag left”, meaning one of the above tendencies but successfully filtered through an aesthetic to look cooler.
There are other tendencies as well- breathless ISO posting, high church left-communism etc.
To varying extents, I have embodied each of these five at varying times. The interesting thing about R / CTH was that there was a place for all of those tendencies there in a weird swamp. That was oddly nice and interesting, though probably not politically constructive.
Banned for the wrong reasons
One of the major things the sub got into trouble for was statements like “kill all slave owners”. Indeed one of their mods got banned for this.
“Kill all slaveowners” isn’t even advocacy of extra-legal violence, it’s presumably just a call to institute the death penalty for slave owners. I don’t support that call because I have a consistent opposition to the death penalty for all crimes, but it seems to me that “all slave owners should be killed by the state” is a legitimate political opinion nonetheless. No one would assume a comment like “we should kill all murderers” was advocacy for extra-legal violence- why is slave owning different. Would Reddit ban people advocating for the death penalty for other types of crime? Presumably not.
I’m not saying that r/CTH didn’t deserve to be banned, just that some of the reasons they got into trouble were dodgy. It smells like the Reddit administration looking for a left-wing sacrifice to avoid accusations of bias when they took down a bunch of right-wing subreddits. Any suggestion of moral equivalency between Chapotraphouse and The Donald must be rejected.
Moralism, punitiveness and absolutism
The downsides to r/CTH were moralism and absolutism. I’ve heard allegations from people that they were doxxed for very little reason by the sub. I tend to agree with Amber on punishment- I just have a natural aversion to it and I think that’s a healthy thing for someone on the left to have. However, the culture on the sub tended to be punitive, and there was little recognition of the world’s grey palette
I suspect, but do not know for a fact, that this is part of the reason why the hosts of the actual podcast hated it so much. The sub went after friends of the show like Elizabeth Breunig- people who, while broadly in line with the left, aren’t always 100% on board with the orthodoxy (pun intended in Elizabeth’s case). The other reason the hosts hated it was no doubt that Reddit is seen as terminally uncool, so a subreddit is not a great brand association to have, given the podcast’s “cool kids” strategy for making their Patreon quintillions.
Maybe I’m just getting old and brain wormy but I sort of wish for a leftwing forum that was… nicer? I dunno if the demolition of r/CTH will get us closer to that, but hope springs eternal from the box of woes.