The War on Positivity

The populist left seems to think cancel culture, rather than environmental catastrophe is our biggest threat to freedom. While I certainly do not support the editing of Roald Dahl’s books it is worth looking into what his defenders get wrong when they try to paint our modern world.

First of all there is a narrative out there that body shaming is out. It isn’t. It’s in and it has never been more in. Look at the suicide rates of young girls. Anyone who defends people of all body types is canceled. One author who writes about fat or ugly people gets his words changed a little and the Prime Minister comes to his defense.

Try telling someone, especially online, that all people are beautiful. It is a guarantee that you will get called a slur. Even Marxists who hate hippies will cynically say something like “you don’t really believe that” or “it’s more important to talk about class”. Ugh.

A musical artist like Lizzo who is regularly shamed for her appearance of being bigger (I’m being censored!) has pledged to only make positive music. No one comes to her defense when she is bullied by haters.

We are comfortable with Dahl’s insults because this is the kind of world we live in. We get up and go to work and our boss can treat us with brutality without consequence. We go home and it’s the landlord. On our way back it’s the police. When we step outside it is the giant corporations causing environmental disasters that are taking away the limited air and water we have left. Go to the doctor and it’s the insurance companies.

So it feels good to be mean to other people. I like it too. But the fact this is how we define freedom, even on the left, shows how defeated we are. We like to be mean because we are treated like dirt. We can’t think of another way to act because we do not have the freedom to act any other way in our daily lives. We get a moment to be kind and we miss it because we aren’t looking for it and we have built other habits.

I am amazed by how many supposed lovers of free speech lack the creative energy to create something positive. Loving others and affirming their value has always been censored. Sure a children’s book saying something bigoted may be censored but if children have the internet they see things far worse every day.

There is no way to really protect children from this harsh reality and this is why I am against participation trophies and the like. I think we should prepare children for life. To do this we have to give them the truth but we have to do it in a way that isn’t traumatizing and in a way that is at their own pace. We have to allow children to have a childhood.

But we must avoid the forever childhood that we see in colleges that bankrupt people while infantilizing their brains. Colleges today have the function of convincing their students that they are always right and are always the good guys. Therefore investing in such an education creates a loyalty to the institution’s ideology because it’s a sunken cost.

Thus we see support for the Ukraine war as “liberal” in nature. The only truth to this is that much of the populist left surely has become conservative as it cheerleads death and destruction of the environment in the name of defending cultural conservatism! I am willing and able to call the Ukraine flag in the homes of lib Dems as Biden fascism. But I also am calling out the populist authoritarian left who cheerleads the destruction of Ukraine by Russia because they want to own the libs. How pathetic is this? But we must even love and forgive these leftists. Try with me! It is very difficult but I get it ultimately. Thinking is not seen as a good thing in our culture and the “free thinkers” are the least free.

Much of the same is true of this fetishization of free speech and culture and language in general. This is the postmodern turn. Rather than try to change the real world the left remains stuck in an obsession over intellectualism and education. There are many types of knowledge and skills. If we want to win we have to share skills on how to do stuff right here right now. Seize the moment people.

All I know in this capital of freedom is that if I tell someone I love them I’ll get shot on charges of suspicion. If I call them a name and quote some heady intellectual I will get a nod of approval as if I understand what is going on. I’ll admit it. I still don’t understand the USA or our priorities.

In the face of environmental catastrophe in Ohio, the populist left wants to make the failure of the Biden administration to respond as something to do with Ukrainians. I’m sorry but anyone paying attention knows that Ukrainians have a lot in common with us Americans who are losing our environment right now. It is not a matter of Ukrainian lives mattering more to the globalists than American lives. That acts as if the US government is helping Ukraine in the first place! No, this is about militarism and hate being chosen over environmentalism and love.

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at