Leftist Infighting Is Eating BreadTube Inside Out
The reactionary left continues to cannibalize its very own advocates.
Rewind back past a couple of years ago, and the far-right was very much unrivaled in its ability to mobilize audiences online in the pursuit of a common political goal–one especially laced in xenophobia and racism in this case. But soon thereafter, BreadTube picked up the pace and became a powerful force in shaping political discussions online. What once was a field almost dominated by right-wing talking heads now had a semblance of resistance from the left, and all the spoils are to owe for BreadTube’s incredible ability to wield the right’s own rhetorical devices against them, and lure audiences to their side by pointing out the often-deceitful character of right-wing political messaging.
Right now however, a general feeling of unease seems to have beset on discussions surrounding the legitimacy of what BreadTube does–if it is the main mechanism by which the political battles of the future are won, isn’t it fairer to push for the most extreme interpretations of leftist doctrine instead of compromising with a liberal-majority audience?
The answer to that question is a complex net of interlocking questions that are even more complicated to answer independently. If BreadTube’s existence is solely there to satisfy the needs of a group, which group should it cater to? If the crushing majority of BreadTube’s audience doesn’t seem to share the same excitement about Marxist thought as do some of their devotees, is it then fair to impose that resolution to our current political problems in a world where democracy is now more-than-ever in peril? Where do the creative freedoms of BreadTube creators start and end? And is it fair to dub them seeders of revolutionary thought when their literature is a response to circumstances unique to their own rather than aspirational ideas about the relationship between populace and governance?
None of these questions have a definitive answer, nor will any hypothetical definitive answer be universally applicable to all BreadTube creators. But some within the leftist community seem to think otherwise–just in the last few months, ContraPoints has been the subject of attacks from the ardent flank of the left for challenging pronoun-announcement doctrine and featuring controversial trans activist Buck Angel in a recent video of hers. The criticisms are all legitimate and fair, but they seem to have culminated into a larger statement about whether Natalie ‘ContraPoints’ Wynn, or other BreadTubers for that matter, should be entrusted the keys of the revolution when they haven’t made a concerted effort to cater to each and every single whim of every leftist subculture there is.
This backlash is nothing new, but it seems to have reached a tipping point where the parameters for determining the moral purity of a BreadTube creator have just taken upon their most absurd form. Just earlier today, trans activist and seasoned BreadTuber Kat Blaque was similarly ostracized for a Buck Angel appearance along her side a while back, and it looks as though even those least privileged are no longer à l’abris from such reproaches, despite how inconsequential they ultimately are to BreadTubers’ own beliefs. This follows alongside a general sense of distrust critics of BreadTube feel, wherein they feel the media’s increased attention to this space has sullied what could’ve been exploited to put forth their message. As it stands now, BreadTube’s least popular creators are reliably its furthest-left, and it’s a situation they’d rather artificially alter than see organically pan out.
The problem though, is that BreadTube isn’t governed by the laws of political activism–it is by and large a subsection of YouTube’s own internal political subculture, which has little to do with the pursuit of progressive policy in the real world. The rights of the downtrodden have not been historically won by sitting in front of a camera and spending hours devouring over the most niche of leftist literature–it’s an effort lead firstmost by whom upon befalls life’s mundane injustices. To see the project of political revolution through, the left would have to need more than a dozen semi-popular YouTube channels and a litany of serial shitposters on Twitter. There has to be political meat thickly-packed in electoral protein for any difference to happen. It’s accordingly an established fact that social media poorly reflects the electorate–not that surprising a revelation given the means of political change have already been misidentified, as were the means of spreading it.
BreadTubers are not custodians of the forthcoming revolution. They’re mere human beings responding to their own needs based on what they’ve met through their life experiences, and they were generous enough to take us through that journey on camera, for the scrutinizing eyes of the public to see. So to say that ContraPoints, Philosophy Tube, Hbomberguy, or whomever else are to fulfill the full gamut of what is asked of them to do from each and every single critic is the pinnacle of entitlement. It is denying creators agency over their content that they already don’t have much of, and it is positing the theory that political change can only be achieved through means of compulsion, harassment, and borderline contempt–even when that has already proven ineffectual.
What made BreadTube unique in the first place, is that it didn’t chastise those “least-enlightened” and instead embraced their oblivion as an integral part of making their point forth. If BreadTube spent its time doing half of what its critics thought it should do, it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as effective in its deradicalization efforts. To treat them as harshly — if not more — than those doing the legwork of stripping minorities their rights, is an admission that the motivating factor beyond these recent tests of moral purity isn’t to quell filth from the leftist movement, but rather to exercise a Gamergate-like quality wherein targets either get in line, or end up fully giving up on satiating their critics’ needs as the goalpost for achieving peace of mind is ever-shifting.