Nick was just soooo close to having a self-aware moment and being able to legitimately criticize someone.
Instead, readers are forced to trudge through 5,669 words dedicated to featuring some of the most heavily amplified and tired voices on the left and asked to believe the experience is somehow novel, or even worse, representative of a national movement.
Maybe unsurprisingly, the piece leans heavily on the Brooklyn socialist identity—namely podcasters, writers, and other Extremely Online People—to craft what it thinks is a clever analysis of the national left as it currently exists. To get an idea of the piece’s short-sightedness...
Ohhhh this is good stuff. A Splinter writer finally getting it!
All the normal beats you’d expect from a New York Times column make their appearances. The now-standard soundbites from think tank impresario Sean McElwee (he gets a whole section this time around), the repeated Chapo references, the shitty race politics quote from Jacobin founder Bhaskar Sunkara (“I’d rather be a black middle-class person than a white poor person”), the incessant AOC mentions—it’s all there, and it’s all boring as hell because it represents a singular, limited scope of what socialism actually looks like in America in 2019.
In place of anything remotely useful or interesting, rather than introducing their readership to actual organizers or members of the Democratic Socialists of America’s burgeoning red-state chapters or the bevy of local POC socialists and political hopefuls, it would instead let the same five people journalists call up every time they want to write about socialism give their Twitter takes over cheap, stale beers.
Am I high (well ok yes I am, but you know what I mean)? A Splinter writer recognizing what’s wrong with their bullshit???
As a result, the actually interesting tidbits are discarded, or shuffled off to the side. For instance, the piece makes passing mention of DSA’s nationwide growth, but it says nothing of the organizing happening in American towns and cities, because, again, this is not about them.
At a certain point, I do get it: Living in New York City and monitoring Twitter as part of your media job often requires you to follow certain individuals and pay attention to the same set of viral-tweet-loving weirdos that populate the platform. There’s an interesting blog to be written about those folks, if properly contextualized as a piece solely about the online pseudo-celebrities and capital-p Posters of the Left. The problem is, when you spend too much time drinking beer with like-minded people with college degrees and decent paying jobs and podcasts (even the ones who will willingly tell you that they are not organizers!), you tend to end up writing some shit about “the spiritual Brooklyns of America” and genuinely believing it’s an actually thought-provoking line and not a string of words hollower than a happy hour Tecate.
And just a killer ending.
...And then you realize he’s talking about ANOTHER GROUP OF “JOURNALISTS.”