Can we stop promoting good ideas through douchebaggy means?

Dear activist arseholes: stop making me oppose good things.

Let me lead with a prominent example:

A few years ago, people in western countries have collectively decided that riding bicycles is a good thing for a number of reasons – it improves air quality in cities (although the exhaust of modern cars is literally cleaner than the surrounding metropolitan air), saves people money, eases congestion for those who actually need to go by car, is probably good for Mr. Polar Bear, bad for Mr. Putin and Mr. Saud, which means good for everybody else, and helps public health. Plus it probably non-negligibly boosts birth rates by enabling people to ogle well-shaped members of the opposite sex in tight clothing.

Right then, let’s ride bikes when possible. End of story.

But no.

True to the axiom that “An idiot will turn even knitting into a fascist franchise”, the cause was picked up by the usual preoccupied sorts who try to twist anything and everything into an attack vector on modern civilization, capitalism and the unwashed proles.

As a result, every time I get on my bike, I think “Oh god, I hope nobody mistakes me for one of those”.

Just why. Why the government committees, the “nonprofits” (that are super profitable for their proprietors), why indoctrination of schoolchildren, why protests and traffic disruptions and bullying, why the confrontational tone, the us-vs-them mentality, the militancy, why talk of “reclaiming cities from cars” (which are apparently alien lifeforms rather than how people fucking move around), why the hysteria, why the attempts to bully the public into compliance?

That’s not how you win hearts and minds, you assholes. That’s how you balkanize society and turn no-brainers into flashpoints for tribal war.

Such tactics are turning everyone’s “why the fuck not?” into “what the fuck?”

If it’s a good idea, it will carry itself. If it’s a bad idea, GTFO.

It’s not just bicycles – it’s gay rights*, recycling, food waste, race relations, feminism, inequality, ethical consumption, refugees, anything and everything in any way related to the environment – everything is turned into vaguely fascist clubs for self-righteous hipsters.

*100% of the gay people I know (which is, true, a single digit number) absolutely despise the narcissistic flamboyancy of pride parades. Ditto for my high achieving lawyer, executive, doctor, and ultramarathoner female friends and “feminism”, which they all consider a rude word. 

There’s a darker interpretation: that I am too optimistic about humanity, that people don’t respond to simply and honestly presented facts and arguments, and that hectoring cultural warfare dickery is the only thing that works.

Except it obviously doesn’t – after years of coordinated agitprop, mayors showing up on TV in cycling helmets and narrowly biased urban planning, any sort of mass adoption of biking has failed to materialize, and the grand total of fifteen extra people in Europe who have taken it up have probably done so more despite the campaigning than because of it.

The conviction that “the people are just too dumb to get it” is what happens when Nano-Napoleons too arrogant to admit they’re wrong don’t succeed in pushing their ideas onto a public that in aggregate is substantially smarter than themselves.

It reflects a pessimistic and ultimately self serving view of humanity: an “elite” (hereby defined as “badly bearded maoist misanthrope”) must drag the idiotic proles kicking and screaming to their own good.

Who needs personal choice when the “right answer” is known to the cognoscenti/priesthood, no?

They want to be dictatorial, and the rest is rationalization.

I am willing to accept the explanation that I am part of a tiny minority of rational people who respond to facts and logic – in which case, stop turning us against desirable goals with your idiotic, petty, bullying tactics, you totalitarian nincompoops.

I strongly suspect that for the people engaged in such projects, the bullying and propaganda and douchebaggery and being horrible to others is the primary motive, and the specific “good causes” are incidental means.

The lowest, meanest tribal instincts and mechanisms cannot be the toolset and carriers of proper public good. It’s just a way for bad people to impose.

It’s not very love thy neighbor, more like be a self-righteous dick to thy neighbor.

It’s what happens when good causes are picked up clumsily or dishonestly.

You see, unlike the smug activists, I disagree with Trotsky. The end does not justify the means – in fact, it is entirely possible and common for imbecilic means to discredit even laudable ends – a bear’s service, if you will.

If you try to twist people’s arms into doing something good, it’s no longer good. Either means and ends are both good, or nothing is.


If you want to promote an actual good cause, buy me a beer, because that’s a good cause.

Also, there’s more on Facebook and Twitter.

  • johnTnash

    I’m always very interested when an unexpected issue arrises in our country – one that the politicians haven’t had an opportunity to choose sides over yet. People begin to form their own views independent of pre-conceived notions, and there tends to be a general sense of togetherness in everyone processing whatever event just occurred. Then the politicians and opportunists jump in and spoil everything by attaching a D or and R to one view or the other. It’s foolishness.

  • Lukáš Lánský

    Well, it’s just politics as usual. You need some kind of discussion when changing rules of a shared space and a need to a change arises when people’s needs shifts. It’s seems that you just don’t like political behavior — but what’s the alternative? Status quo is more and more frustrating. Should there be some benevolent dictator or comittee to decide who should be able to move through Malá Strana freely and who has to drive to other side of the river? Let people flame, they are negotiating for us.