Opponents say GamerGate has a conservative agenda. And though GamerGate supporters often deny that they are conservatives, the conservative media has mostly supported the movement.
Allum Bokhari, however, says his research shows that most GamerGate supporters are liberal.
In brief, GamerGate is the claim by video game enthusiasts that the gaming media is corrupt. But opponents of GamerGate accuse supporters of misogyny and online harassment.
I’m not interested in engaging that debate, and as a non-gamer I know little about it. I’m interested in the question: Might GamerGate be a symptom of a larger issue?
Bokhari’s research finds that GamerGate supporters overwhelmingly favor gay marriage and abortion rights. They endorse women’s rights as well, but disagree that America is a rape culture. But GamerGate supporters also oppose popular social justice activist tactics such as censorship, witch hunts, and “call-out culture.”
Here’s the twist: Although almost three-quarters of GamerGate supporters identify with the left or political center, almost half of those on the left identify as left-libertarian rather than liberal.
The divide, then, is between establishment liberals and libertarian liberals. Libertarianism is usually associated with conservatives, though this is only true with economic issues. Left libertarians are more concerned with social freedom, however, and often are fine with regulated rather than pure free market capitalism.
More importantly, left libertarianism has a different foundational philosophy than establishment liberalism.
Establishment liberalism focuses on oppression as the primary political issue (often called “Cultural Marxism” by critics). This viewpoint not only claims that capitalism is destructive, but it extends this narrative, interpreting most things in terms of this group oppressing that group. As such, the power of dominant groups must be diminished while oppressed groups must be lifted up to create a level playing field. Critics often describe specific measures as social engineering, and allege that it represents a soft, manipulative type of authoritarianism.
But the individual is primary for left libertarians. For example, left libertarians support gay marriage because of individual rights, but are less interested in the oppression narrative. Critics of the libertarian viewpoint say it ignores the suffering of social injustice, fails to acknowledge the moral duty to rectify oppression, and will lead to the atomization of society. For example, left libertarians often oppose affirmative action as coercive and discriminatory, while establishment liberals strongly support affirmative action as necessary to compensate for white, cis-male, heterosexual privilege.
While it’s clear that conservatives have lost the culture wars – Roe v Wade is not going to be overturned, and gay marriage will only gain more states – the war isn’t over because the two main camps on the left, which were united in defeating the common conservative enemy, have now turned on each other.
And those conservatives who accept their defeat are making the best of the situation by allying with liberal individualists and against the so-called “Cultural Marxists.”
Establishment liberals have enormous power on college campuses, and within the Democratic Party and the media. Meanwhile, Republicans are still holding on, but their failure to attract Millennials means their demographic clock is ticking.
Where will this lead? My guess is that this rift will continue, but control of the Democratic Party will remain with establishment liberals. Meanwhile, Republicans will suffer increasing defeats in the 2020s as their aging voter base shrinks. The few young Republicans remaining will be economically conservative but socially libertarian. To survive, Republicans will woo left libertarians who previously voted Democratic, thus making the GOP less socially conservative. The elders in the Republican Party won’t like this, but as 2030 approaches they’ll be too small in number to matter.