I’m a Torontonian, born and raised (and now permanently living) so I took some interest in reading Mitchell Anderson’s piece that was essentially an anti-amalgamation piece about the city of Toronto. In a nutshell it argued that the massive central power that is now the City of Toronto is not only harmful to Toronto (in the purest, downtown sense) financially, but also politically. Those damn suburban conservatives keep mucking everything up! What the piece doesn’t blatantly say, but still is obvious is the doctrine of isolationism.
Over the past several years I’ve had my fair share of conversations with fellow leftists on the subject of what the source of the problem is with society, and a common opinion that pops up is that the problem is those damn reactionaryconservativereligiousrightwingbackwardscooks who are constantly fighting good positive progress, or even worse, reversing and making things more terrible for everyone but themselves. Then all too commonly my fellow leftist will propose decentralizing power, starting a commune, or in extreme cases giving up and becoming a libertarian.
Admittedly, I’ve had dreams of moving to some faraway socialist Scandinavian paradise. It could also be argued that my internet browsing habits are intellectual isolationism (or “filter bubbles”) but I don’t think I’ll move to Finland anytime soon, nor am I anywhere close to even considering internet communities hold the same importance as real life societies.
What the real life tendency towards isolationism reveals one of two things; A) giving up or B) the person speaking it is not really progressive. We all have obligations to one another, and isolating yourself from others and disavowing any responsibility to even interact with those who generally disagree with you (heck, let’s just even call them wrong) is completely missing the point of what progressive ideology is all about. Let’s return to the Toronto problem; you can disassociate yourself from all the idiots surrounding you…but your still surrounded by idiots. The belief that the terrible decision making that happens on the other side of some border, or on the other side of the world, does not effect you negatively is the exact belief that supposedly died out when liberalism won the West. Say what you will about liberalism, but let’s face it: the tragedy of the commons isn’t the non-preferential outcome it’s that we are all thrust into the commons whether we like it or not. Don’t even get me started on future generations, the moment you start condemning areas of the world as none of your concern, you are turning your back on children that could benefit from progressive policies being placed now.
Every time a fellow leftist of some kind advocates isolationism a part of me dies inside. The moment you start thinking “Well at least [insert group I belong to] will benefit!” and you disregard the consequences for other groups you are not being progressive, you’re being a reactionary asshole.