The Convoluted Politics of Canceling ContraPoints

The left’s reactionary block has made it clear they’re unwilling to compromise.

Because Natalie ‘ContraPoints’ Wynn boasts now more than 700k subscribers on YouTube, there are significantly more eyeballs set on her every mistake than your average content creator. A confluence of Twitter character-limit meet reactionary leftism had broken out about a week ago when Natalie Wynn expressed her discontent with the way she is treated in trans-inclusive spaces, only to be met with scold and unforgiving detraction. This lead Wynn to deactivate her Twitter account, and soon thereafter, echoes of joy reverberated through the spaces her dissenters cohabited most.

To understand why that is, the unique space ContraPoints occupies within BreadTube needs to be examined–more specifically, her tendency to not tread lightly on criticism on the farthest left of political factions. If you look at videos by comparably-large YouTubers like Shaun and Harry ‘Hbomberguy’ Brewis, a stark difference can be noticed immediately–ContraPoints confronts the issues in her videos by mounting an original thesis, whilst Brewis and Shaun mostly limit themselves to rebuking right-wing personalities and their talking points. What the latter approach typically does, is it sets leftists on a momentary truce to go after a common enemy. This focuses their attention in a way that is almost impossible to match when talking about issues pertaining to their own ideology. That is why ContraPoints’ words are much easier to weaponize against her than say Shaun’s or Brewis’–these last two chalk up the specifics of recommended political action down to their individual viewers’ preferences, while ContraPoints is working from a unified theory of how political discourse should be conducted on the internet.

Some would scoff at the notion that ContraPoints was dubbed the “Oscar Wilde of YouTube” by a Verge profile almost a perfect year ago, but that describes her decorum in more ways than metaphorical. Compared to her colleagues, Wynn’s ideas are the least undefined. In her own criticism of Jordan Peterson — one of her most-watched episodes to date — Wynn took the liberty to dub Peterson’s most effective tool his vagueness. She on the other hand, is the exact opposite of that. In pitting herself against fictional characters who range from the stereotype of a Twitter Marxist all the way through the most outspoken forms of fascism, Wynn effectively invites a type of commentary on top of the existing meta, that questions her loyalty to the leftist cause, and whether her attempts to educate are at all performed in earnestness. After all, and according to many of Wynn’s dissenters on social media, her sole purpose of existence, is to fulfill them a fantasy where someone as radical in their theory of change as they are has about as much clout and claim to fame as Wynn does.

It’s why Wynn’s departure from social media makes perfect sense within the political context of online reactionary leftist spaces. A lot of their analysis stems directly from a class reductionist critique of her ideas–that since Wynn is least financially unfortunate, she’s to stomach their incessant bickering without frail. That not only bypasses an important component of fame — through which Wynn is more subject to criticism than your average Twitter user by all accountable measures — but it ends up also positing the theory that Wynn is least deserving of empathy precisely because of what she does. It’s an endless feedback loop of Wynn fostering more trans acceptance in the media, and her being attacked for it because the collateral for fame will often have to contend with greater financial spoils. It isn’t all that dissimilar from wanting volunteers on the Bernie Sanders campaign trail to run on breadcrumbs and intermittent sips of water because a higher concentration of wealth would have to negate whatever positive affect their political praxis is supposed to engender.

The desire for opinion-shapers in the political space to live their theory through isn’t exactly new. It is the epicenter of criticism from conservative commentators towards the frontrunners of the Democratic presidential race Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, whereby according to such criticism, they’re not allowed to accrue more wealth than the community they’re advocating on behalf of. Natalie Wynn similarly, is meeting all manners of disingenuous criticism — some accusing her of anti-Semitism, anti-blackness, and most notably, bigotry against non-binary people — all on the basis of not having befitted their own idealized conception of the perfect activist. Now that ContraPoints is off of social media, the hypothetical danger her online existence posed to minorities whom she was accused of harming turned out to mostly be bogus. Dogpiling her on the other hand, is substantial, and the impact of which, has been quantifiably worse.

When the trope of leftism in-fighting is invoked, the reactionary left often has a tendency of equating that to a demand of wishing to erode their political identity–but it’s really not. A successful political project can only be within earshot of success when many — whose only disagreement is on the means to reach a common finality — meet together, and discuss the merit of the ideas not based on the ineffectuality of others’, but the strength of their own. The reactionary left if anything, has made an air-tight case for why it could never be entrusted with the project of a political revolution, because it couldn’t agree as much on which grounds to punish a disobedient political pundit most on. To imagine that this generation is the one that will be given the keys to political power in about thirty years is a mildly-concerning prospect–it seems as though their greatest challenge won’t be contending with the dying tides of conservatism, but instead an all-too-derogatory view of anything even slightly deviating from their own ascribed political leniencies.