Scorched Earth is an expression descriptive of a style of military campaign in which all the assets and resources of a territory or a nation are targeted, regardless of partisanship or civilian status. It is generally prohibited by international conventions of warfare, although it is still practiced in some cases of modern warfare. The ignition of oil wells in Kuwait during the retreat during the Kuwait war of the 1990’s by the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain is an example of the tactic in modern application.
Outside the context of armed conflict, the term Scorched Earth refers to the tactics of some political or religious organizations of slander, black-listing, whispering campaigns, harassment, and the use of fraudulent criminal accusations to destroy the lives, families and careers of political opponents. The cult of Scientology became infamous in the 1980s for routine use of scorched earth tactics against the critics of that cult.
The pseudo-religious cult of hyper-victimhood-feminism emerging from the online communities of Free Thought Blogs and Atheism Plus is also a fertile ground for the use of scorched earth tactics against the lives, careers and families of critics of the interconnected cultures of a popular blogging site run by an American college instructor and it’s associated online community, whose members self identify as Atheism Plus.
The members of these associated groups appear to be unaware of their growing public fame as a malevolent and semi-criminal culture metastasizing from within a formerly humanist and secular scientific community of intellectuals and religious skeptics.
One prominent member and public speaker in this pseudo-cult regularly opens her hour long lectures by bragging about how she and her followers harassed and slander a critic out of jobs and career. Such stories are told without apparent recognition that normalizing such conduct is antithetical to an open society. From the outside, it appears that in the community where these tactics are practiced and then broadcast, that at no point has anyone stood up and said “ wait a minute, this is not morally acceptable conduct”. Or, “why are we acting like a collection of sociopaths with no visible limits on civilized behavior?”
It was the public’s notice of and reaction to the “fair game” policy practiced by the church of scientology which drove public reform of some such behavior within the cult, and informed the criminalization of the organization in some nations, including Germany.
At what point does the public wake up in recognition of a cult of hate engaging in such practice? One of the individuals apparently taking pride in such conduct enjoys a continued public speaking career, based almost entirely on her status as the “victim” of being uncomfortably invited, during an elevator trip between floors of a hotel for late night coffee by a socially awkward conference attendee. That invitation, which now appears to have been invented by the “victim” in service of her narrative.
But victimhood, or the cultivated perception of it is at the core of the scorched earth approach to silencing criticism for the collection of middle-class, privileged but uninspired victims at the center of an anti-social cult apparently unaware and uninterested in the relationship between actions and their wider consequences.
Several months ago, I addressed an article to a victimhood-obsessed pseudonymous sociopath. In that piece, I wrote:
“I am entirely unwilling to entertain or to lend support to a fantasy making human beings into enemies, into “others,” into categories of /good people and bad people based a facet of their biology.
It might be that a world of paranoia, fear, and hatred, with the arbiters of who is good and who is bad being childish, self-selected victims is not a world [...] I want to entertain, or to indulge you in realizing.”
However, it seems obvious that such a landscape is where we will all be living if the normalization of the conduct discussed here is not actively rejected by more than just a handful of so-called Men’s Rights Activists. Just a little further down the present path is a society in which disagreement over whether basic human rights should apply to this group or that based on ethnicity or religion, or even sex is settled by an armed mob in the street.
Conform to whatever populist group-think of the moment grips public imagination, or face the vigilante justice of an angry mob.
Of course for the difficult-of-thinking this discussion might appear hypocritical. In fact, a substantial handful of voices, allegedly within the MRM, have already claimed that the public identification of promoters of violence, hatred and censorship by the board of directors of AVFM constitutes exactly the scorched earth policy being denounced in this article.
Addressing those criticisms directly, such comparisons are moronic. The individuals so far identified are not the subject of whispering campaigns, nor false accusations, not subject to any threat of violence. The statements being attached to their names are their own utterances, taken in as much of the original context as possible, and were attached to their own public personas on various social media websites prior to re-publication by this site and elsewhere.
In fact, a culture in which, for a certain subset, violence, promotion of hate, criminal libel, false accusation and other violent and pathological behavior is regularly given a pass or excused – that society will become one in which such social pathology becomes common.
Does somebody imagine this will be good for anybody, even for the group on the apparent top of such a pile?
We can steer our culture away from this trend, or we can watch as the world gets more pathological, antisocial and violent. I trust it’s not necessary to explain, as to an idiot, which of these possibilities I prefer and am working for.
The organized, purposeful and indeed gleeful attacks on the livelihood, careers, family and lives of individuals based on disagreement of political opinion can’t be tolerated in a society still pretending to enlightenment. The promotion of violence by a subset of a society, without consequence, indeed, with an attendant narrative of justification – that’s a recipe for a violent, closed and regressive culture.