The irony of identity politics, David Cormack’s civility and the paradox of Karl Popper’s tolerance


The irony of identity politics is that it ultimately leads to people like Southern & Molyneux.

I’m going to ignore the absurdity of someone who once boasted of being the ‘Trolls Troll’ lecturing on why civility is weak, and I’m going to ignore the clumsy hack of the english language his writing represents or the dull headache he causes any sense of joy after reading him, but  Wellington Twitteratti head cheerleader David Cormack sums up all the self righteous ‘punch-Nazi’s-in-the-face’ rage that elite woke Twitter is indulging in as they collectively turn on any proponent of free speech as a fascist.

The argument against civility is worth examining to appreciate its full absurdity. According to Cormack and his echo chamber, Civility is a weakness that stops progress…

Because that’s the thing with civility, it’s a covert way to entrench power. As I said above, it’s a way to silence those who are only just finding their voice. It’s people who are more focused on keeping it polite than making it fair.

…beyond this civility argument, we’ve had Karl Popper quoted across social media to justify why we need to stop people like Southern and Molyneux from speaking.

I acknowledge everyone is angry and righteous, but we are all failing to appreciate who civility is actually protecting here. While civility has always been demanded of radicals who broke the mould, and politeness can rob the sting of truth to gain change, let’s also be honest about who it ultimately defends.

We, the thinkers, the justice seekers, the progressive free dreamers, are the ones who need the shelter and protection of civility – Nazi’s desperately want violence.

Those who would weaponise difference and seed resentment require brutality, civility is a guard against that. I’m not saying turn the other cheek when a Nazi strikes you, confusing civility with refusing self-defence isn’t a solution, but by strangling off freedom of speech, we only add to their cause, we don’t counter it.

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I also think holding up Karl Popper’s ‘Paradox of tolerance’ as some sort of gospel justification for taking away free speech is a grotesque miscalculation.

People appreciate that Popper wrote that in 1945 right? After the Nazis had become a full blown death machine.

Comparing the Nazi State with crypto-fascsists like Southern & Molyneux is just absolute sophistry!

Don’t get me wrong, if we start seeing organised violence and the rise of an actual Nazi Party, I’m all for stepping things up to the next level – but we aren’t anywhere close to that and risk actually feeding this rather than defeating it.

We are entering dangerous waters. With a looming economic collapse unlike anything any generation under Boomers have ever experienced, the far right feed on this economic dissolution. Debating them to stop their recruitment drive is a thousand times more preferable than political violence in the streets.

Attacking free speech proponents and labelling them white supremacists is depressingly ignorant, thin skinned and tribal all at the same time – if this is the intellectual courage trigger free safe spaces with emotional support peacock playpens produces, the fascists are already winning.



  1. karl popper was a little weasel and it is his fault that mental health services in New Zealand are so fucked up. When ww11 started he ran for cover and when the best kiwis had gone overseas he let loose with his doctrine that psychoanalysis was a pseudo science and all any one had to do was pull themselves up by their bootstraps. when the war was over he shoved off back to the uk and left the mental helath services back in the dark ages. his name is anathema and he did the same for real science too with his logically correct but useless doctrine of falsifiability espoused by nitwits like edward de bono as a picture of the real world when really it was just bullshit.

  2. Thanks for this martyn,

    I am so worried that so few of us sensitive human souls that actuially always care about the suffering of others that bring us to tears are treated as right wingers, and treated as uncaring.

    I am a devout left wing person that want to see equality in all things as I witnessed when growing up in napier under Egalitarianism in 1950’s.but that phrase “left wing” is I also think is another misnomer as it doesnt say what we really believe firstly.

    So I believe that most of our so called ‘right wing’ bretheren are just as sensitive and caring as we are on the so called ‘left’.

    When any emotive incident such as a major human death or threat of death comes along, such as the recent cave event where 12 children and a teacher were trapped in a cave in Thailand or the Christchurch 2012 earthquake occurred, we all felt that same sadness, and apprehension for those sufferers.

    So we as humans are really not that far apart, and i wished we would all treat eachother with kindness and civility not hostility.

  3. The time to abandon civility is advice for oppressed minorities – and while prejudice still exists proponents of identity politics need to recognise that in the realm of public debate ours is now the dominant ideology.

    And what do you call it when the dominant group uses aggressive tactics on those with a minority view point?

    I’m not trying to be cute here, some of the behaviour on the left around this issue is terrible. Just because someone is a proven racist doesn’t actually mean we’re allowed to spew hatred at them – not only is that morally wrong it’s a really stupid tactic because we’re contributing to a rise in resentment amongst people who don’t have the same ‘purity’ of opinion as us

  4. “We, the thinkers, the justice seekers, the progressive free dreamers, are the ones who need the shelter and protection of civility – Nazi’s desperately want violence.”

    “Comparing the Nazi State with crypto-fascsists like Southern & Molyneux is just absolute sophistry!

    Don’t get me wrong, if we start seeing organised violence and the rise of an actual Nazi Party, I’m all for stepping things up to the next level – but we aren’t anywhere close to that and risk actually feeding this rather than defeating it.”

    Both points perfectly said. I support free speech in part because of what will happen to those on the left the next time conservatives get in power.

    Also, I wouldn’t even rate Southern and Molyneux as extreme right based on the youtube videos I have watched, although they do attract the fringe hard right. I wonder how many people who called for them to be banned from using publicly owned facilities had even seen one of their videos. And certainly, we are not at the stage where our freedom is so precarious that we have to ban people based on their opinions. Spouting violence is a different matter, and I never saw either of them call for violence on any of the videos I watched. In fact, Molyneux called for peace after the US recently fired missiles at Iranian troops recently (if I recall the incidently rightly). His arguments can often have a horse and cart drive through them, but he isn’t always wrong either. However, he lost me when he claimed that some victims of Pompei died while masturbating. A quick check on the Internet revealed that this is a common myth found on the Internet, that developed because of the positions one of the victims was in. There are Youtube videos that do an excellent job of debunking Molyneux – like the ones by Shaun, an example of one being below:

    One of the things that has to be understood about Molyneux is that he hates communism and sees it as being responsible for the deaths of millions of people.

    • Thank you for that, theres a degree of inaccuracy to the language and labeling of the Left at present that I find disturbing. The Molyneaux Southern thing was driven entirely by non appraisal of the primary sources that you have actually gone to and can critique. Well done.

  5. Too many “Davids” at the top. LOL.

    “White men”, apparently. Whatever that means….

    Certainly would be nice to be able to flip back-and-forth speaking for the majority of “white men” one minute then speaking as a minority the next.

    It seems it’s the best of both worlds for New Zealand’s loudmouth “Davids”.

  6. Freedom of speech protects us all:

    ‘The War on Assange Is a War on Press Freedom’

    “The failure on the part of establishment media to defend Julian Assange, who has been trapped in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, has been denied communication with the outside world since March and appears to be facing imminent expulsion and arrest, is astonishing.

    The extradition of the publisher—the maniacal goal of the U.S. government—would set a legal precedent that would criminalize any journalistic oversight or investigation of the corporate state. It would turn leaks and whistleblowing into treason. It would shroud in total secrecy the actions of the ruling global elites…

  7. Ironic really, free speech can only exist where civility is a social norm. Without that norm, free speech cannot exist because it is crushed with a boot. So the far right “activists” (aka neo fascists) are exploiting that civility to further their vision of a society where their leather boot us planted firmly on the throat of civility, extinguishing contrary opinions in favour of their own.

  8. There is no such thing as a level playing field, and the Free speech coalition wants to keep it that way.
    Rosemary McCloud has put it quite well, pointing out that this stale white male coalition fears having to foot it on an even playing field. She asks; When could refugees which are the target of Southern and Moleneuxe’s xenophobic attacks ever raise $50,000 overnight?

    It seems a bit pathetic that a group of intelligent people would band together to raise money – they’re not short of a bob, as opposed to your average refugee – to hire a costly QC to demand a review of the ban. The two Canadians could try their luck appearing elsewhere in town, surely, to stir up white arrogance under the name of pride. What stood in their way? Has Don Brash no living room to lend the cause?

    Brash, Michael Bassett, Chris Trotter, Paul Moon, Lindsay Perigo and Stephen Franks belong to the coalition. You won’t see many female names linked to it, which rather suggests a cabal of old white men steeped in the privilege of their gender and skin colour, fearing a future in which their descendants have to level-foot it with people with browner skin and different beliefs.


    Last updated 05:00, July 20 2018

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