Origin of “Snowflake” as a Pejorative
Interesting fact: in the 1860s the pejorative “snowflake” was used by abolitionists in Missouri to refer to those who opposed the abolition of slavery. The term related to the colour of snow, referring to valuing white people over black people.
Anarchists (with their acute appreciation of the history of class struggle) resurrected the phrase in the early 90s, around the time that Internet flame wars first became a ‘thing’, and employed it in reference to the authoritarian right. The implication being that auth-right are A) white, B) convinced in their inherent ‘specialness’, and C) enter total meltdown in reaction to anything that conflicts with their worldview. This subtlety went entirely over the heads of those the insult was targeted at, who instead perceived “snowflake” as nothing more than an instance of “name calling”, and ironically started using it back in retaliation!
This is likely how “snowflake” came to feature in Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel Fight Club, which famously included the quote: “you are not special, you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake”. This line was later included in the film adaptation, and thus entered into popular culture. Nowadays “snowflake” is sadly associated as a pejorative used by the alt-right against the liberal left… unless of course you’re a Generation X anarchist.
Thus anger was originally the prerogative of conservatives and other reactionaries on the right. These ‘snowflakes’ would take offence at anything ‘different’ (typically anything not white or ‘straight’) and become morally outraged about it. Their authoritarian tendency was to ban, prohibit, censor, or segregate stuff they were’t comfortable with.
The notion of “political correctness” was first applied in reference to that which strictly adhered to a range of ideological orthodoxies. For example, in 1934, The New York Times reported that Nazi Germany was granting reporting permits “only to pure ‘Aryans’ whose opinions are politically correct.” Ffwd post-WWII, and the term was being used sarcastically in reference to Marxist-Leninist doctrine. By the 1970s the left had also begun using the term in a sarcastic manner, albeit in reference to the sort of lip service routinely employed to placate them (the sentiment being in reference to the political perversion of fundamental correctness).
Up until the 1980s mainstream egalitarian thought had predominantly been social, in that it dealt the politics of class, and advocated equality of treatment. Gradually this was supplanted by a populist liberal take on egalitarianism that dealt with the politics of identity, and advocated equality of outcome. These liberal egalitarians unironically adopted political correctness as a strategic method of delivering social justice. They began to express outrage, at the outrage being expressed by those on the right. This heralded the Age of the Pathologically Offended.
Egalitarianism: Social vs Liberal
Black Cat Worker Collective is founded on social, not liberal, egalitarian principles. Correspondingly, as a dive bar, Krakatoa is steeped in a culture of respect and tolerance, as opposed to one of judgement and intolerance. Our view is that outrage cannot be counteracted with outrage, and that the notion of being offended at someone else taking offence is wholly counterproductive. One cannot preach tolerance from a position that is in itself inherently intolerant. Respect cuts both ways. Yelling in an angry person’s face is unlikely to change their mindset. Make love not war.
The problem with liberal egalitarianism is that it’s reactionary and therefore inherently authoritarian in nature. Advocates believe that others will slowly conform to its ideals, through the application of political force. All this does is thought police fundamentally wrong opinions underground, where they bubble away, giving rise to perceptions of oppression. Liberal egalitarianism has in effect birthed the alt-right: a reactionary movement, to the reactionary movement, to the original conservative reactionaries.
Or as George Carlin more succinctly put it:
Why the political/history lesson? Well in October 2018 Black Cat put into effect a policy of zero tolerance against any incidents of sexual harassment within Krakatoa.
Such a policy is not in and of itself intolerant, because tolerance is founded upon respect, and sexual harassment is fundamentally wrong no matter how you slice & dice it. However the accompanying signage drew criticism from some on the left, who focused on whether the stick people in the sign were indicative of ‘gender bias’. We have since created an addendum to the policy, highlighting among other things that it would be presumptive to apply gender norms in respect of the stick figures depicted therein.
On Boxing Day 2018 Krakatoa jokingly shared this meme from another source:
This sentiment is perfectly in keeping with dive bar philosophy. It does not identify who has been feeling offended beyond “everyone”. It applies equally to left and right, since both are routinely outraged by one thing or another (and mostly by one another). It should be noted that this was being posted during the politically divisive climax of Brexit, where everyone and their dog is convinced in the rightness of their own opinion.
In retrospect, this could have been better thought out. Nevertheless it quickly gleaned over 100 likes and just 6 outraged comments, one of those questioning Black Cat’s political sincerity, and another one casting up the aforementioned sexual harassment policy.
Where Black Cat Stands
- Anarcho-syndicalism is class struggle anarchism, which promotes one identity: that of human being.
- Black Cat’s views regarding racism, sexism, gender, patriarchy, etc. are aligned with those of liberal egalitarians, but differ somewhat in terms of execution, by rejecting auth-left notions of ‘social justice’ in favour of equal treatment and direct action.
- Krakatoa is a dive bar, and will therefore tolerate anyone who behaves respectfully (and non-judgementally) towards other people. However the bar does not pertain to be a politically correct safe space, and much of what transpires within is all but guaranteed to trigger original (auth-right) variant snowflakes.
A More Effective Method
Historically, drumming up outrage in order to precipitate the application of political force, has always been the goto tactic of the right. A more robust change is effected by direct action (as evidenced by the Me Too movement), whilst juxtaposed by a culture of respect, tolerance, and compassion.