Sunday, 16 December 2018

What's the Matter with YouTube's Alternative Influence Network?

Skipping over to YouTube and noting the subscription levels for various content creators deemed to be part of the right wing "Alternative Influence Network", I make the following observations. Note that these figures are rounded approximations, not exact figures as these fluctuate as subscribers come and go:

Styxhexenhammer666: 329,000 subs
Lauren Southern: 675,000 subs
Milo Yiannopoulos: 839,000 subs
Sargon of Akkad: 865,000 subs
Stefan Molyneux: 883,000 subs
Dave Rubin (Rubin Report): 899,000 subs
Jordan B Peterson: 1,670,000 subs
Steven Crowder: 3,168,000 subs

This is just a sampling of so called right wing YouTube. There are dozens more. I could go on. Now a quick detour for those of you who don't know, YouTube's "Alternative Influence Network" was a term coined by researcher Rebecca Lewis in a New Data & Society report entitled Alternative Influence: Broadcasting the Reactionary Right on YouTubeRead a Guardian article on the subject here. The Alternative Influence Network apparently consists of "65 political influencers across 81 channels" that tend to lean right to varying degrees (though some vehemently deny this, with varying degrees of accuracy), do tend to be affiliated with one another despite numerous personal and political disagreements and play a prominent role in the alleged radicalization of socially marginal young men. Does this sound familiar?

As a matter of comparison:

Feminist Frequency: 222,000 subs
Kat Blaque: 135,000 subs
Chescaleigh (MTV Decoded): 247,000 subs

These being among the more prominent feminist and social justice channels. The new punching bag (as of this writing) of the YouTube reactionaries, Edinburgh University professor "Tiny" Tim Squirrell's channel has a whopping 364 subscribers as I type this, and he boasts 2,770 followers on Twitter, as of this writing. Proving that sometimes people really do live up to their names.  My own Samizdat Broadcasts on YouTube dwarfs this (I have the big 513 subscribers, and I haven't really done any work in ages). Progressive media watchdog Sleeping Giants, allied with Squirrell who apparently claim responsibility for Alex Jones's deplatforming and was instrumental in Sargon's being kicked off Patreon, claims 214,000 followers on Twitter and 55,000 on Facebook.

To be fair, some leftist YouTube presences are substantial. The flagship here would be The Young Turks, with over 4 million subs. For ways of thinking closer to my own, Kyle Kulinski's Secular Talk has around 618,000 subs, David Pakman has around 558,000 subs, the Jimmy Dore Show has around 427,000 subs, and the Amazing Atheist has just over a 1 million subs, as of this writing. The later four would not participate in a deplatforming campaign against Sargon, I'd wager to say.

Still and all ... does anyone else see what I'm getting at here?

Now I get the fact that the social justice crowd has influence beyond their numbers. Their presence in academia and mainstream media is commanding. Despite a recent study finding that only 8% of Americans identify as "progressive activists" and that somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% of Americans believe that "political correctness is a problem in our country" and that these figures are remarkably consistent across all demographic lines, race and gender included.

Which is really the problem here. How did we end up in such a tail wagging the dog kind of situation? Are progressive activist dollars just worth ten times more than those of the subscribers to supposedly reactionary YouTube channels? Patreon and PayPal must certainly think so. How else does one explain the rapidity with which the mighty tech trusts of Silicon Valley, truly the robber barons of our era, knuckle under to the demands of social justice warriors so swiftly and readily, despite the greater numbers of reactionaries on these platforms?

Sargon of Akkad boasts approximately 865,000 subscribers on YouTube. For perspective, this is slightly higher than the current membership rolls for the United Steel Workers (currently about 860,000) and dwarfs the total number of employees for each single private employer in America except Walmart. This is greater than the total membership of all three of Canada's major political parties combined (near 300,000 for the governing Liberals, around 260,000 Conservatives and about 125,000 New Democrats).

Granted that many of these are generally passive followers, many no doubt haven't followed his channel in any real sense in years, or are not necessarily loyal true believing subscribers to his ideology but who agree with him on some things (I'd be among these). Never the less, he manages to continually get six digit view figures. "You can't Trust Patreon", detailing his expulsion from the platform, published 8 December of 2018 boasts a bit over 373,000 views as of this writing.

So the obvious question is: why can't this kind of subscriber base be wielded as a significant political or even cultural force? Can a constellation of social media personalities with millions of followers between them (granted a considerable degree of overlap) not use that to leverage access to more mainstream media platforms, and from there commandeer the narrative regarding what it is they exactly stand for, making them less vulnerable to "alt right" smears from pseudo leftist outlets with lower subscriber bases? This might have to entail some research and study into media and public relations, marketing, political strategy and similar disciplines, but I'm sure that's not beyond the capacities of the intellectual dark web. These guys aren't stupid.

One fourth of Sargon's subscriber base surpasses the number of twitter followers Sleeping Giants has. And that's just Sargon. So why are Sleeping Giants and not the legions of Kekistan calling the shots here? Is there something preventing them from, at their emperor's call, exerting their own leverage in the marketplace and leaning on advertisers a bit themselves? I can't help but wonder if that isn't why these faux progressives are actually so afraid of this alleged dark web of YouTube reactionaries. If they got their act together and flexed their muscle - really strategized and organized effectively - who knows what they could accomplish?

I'm here to tell you that with 865,000 followers, I'd be seriously discussing a general strike. When I wasn't hiding or running for my life from C.I.A assassins, that is.

So why is this Alternative Influence Network so vulnerable to social media deplatforming? They've hurt Patreon via a substantial exodus already. Imagine what a truly well coordinated strategy involving even a half dozen or so content creators close to Sargon (Jordan Peterson is an obvious choice here) could accomplish. It's not like they don't have the loyal and dedicated fan base.

Is it those dirty rotten SJWs refusing to listen to reason? Are social media executives fanatical SJWs themselves, or just stupid? If they're so willing to hemorrhage loyal paying patrons to appease a vocal ideological minority, than the CEO's basic competency must be called into question. Boards of directors, who hire the CEO, have a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders to maximize shareholder value and run the company responsibly. Notice that the fiduciary responsibility is to their shareholders, not to the women's studies department of their local college or university. Are you paying attention to this, libertarians and reactionaries? This is how the capitalist system you claim to so love works. There's more of you than there are social justice warriors if YouTube subscription rates and social media following figures are any indication. So take the hint. Anyway, is it the influence of George Soros? Of the "globalists?" Of the "cultural Marxists"  or of (((you know who?)))

Or is the real problem deeper and more subtle? A fundamental weakness embedded in the very deep structure of conservative, classical liberal and libertarian thought? A weakness that isn't so much a falsehood in the direct claims that this constellation of ideologies tend to assert, but rather something that's more nebulous and metapolitical, if I were to call it anything.

To illustrate, let's compare libertarianism with its opposed strands of critical theory. Deriving ultimately from Marxism, critical theory both in its specific formal Frankfurt School form and more generally as a tendency in political thought, tends to posit some sort of oppressed/oppressor dynamic as being at the heart of how western civilization operates. This has deep and significant implications: Individuals belong to broader classes of people, and different classes have different interests and thus naturally antagonistic relationships with one another. Marx's bourgeoisie vs proletariat dualism is, perhaps the ur-example of this. Other variations I'm sure we're all familiar with posit people of color vs. whites, or men vs. women and non cisgender heterosexuals.

Contrast with libertarianism, which tends more towards the kind of belief that "there is no such thing as society, just individuals and their families" or something similar. For the critical theorist, social inequality is seen as the result of some or another kind of social power structure, and its role is to ensure the dominance of one group of people over another. In this world view, inequality isn't a bug, but a feature, so to speak. The upshot of that is that there's an impetus to change the system.

Contrast with libertarianism, which isn't necessarily opposed to equal outcomes provided they occur on a free market and are thus "voluntary" or "volitional" as they'd put it. But let's be honest here. These transactions are often taking place between the owners of productive capital on the one hand and a proletariat who have only their own labor power to sell on the other. So the outcomes are going to be very unequal, and the libertarian is much more okay with this than they are with government intervention into the process to level the playing field at some point. This makes libertarianism fundamentally conservative, however different a policy direction they would go from dominant neoliberalism or neoconservatism. Reactionaries go further, and insist that inequality is indeed the natural order of things. Attempts at social change in a more egalitarian and inclusive direction is "cheating" as far as the reactionary and the libertarian are concerned, since this involves the imposition of more equal outcomes where more unequal outcomes would be more natural or even desirable.

The important takeaway here is that for the critical theorist, the marginalized and oppressed categories of people are individually weaker than their power wielding counterparts, it is therefore necessary for them to organize, which is to realize strength in numbers and to strategize, which is find and exploit choke points in institutional systems so that marginalized groups can achieve what they believe to be more balanced outcomes - social justice so called.

A very brief peek into the Alternative Influence Network and into libertarian, conservative and reactionary spaces is all it takes to quickly gather their opinion of this way of looking at the world. This is the "cultural Marxism" or the "postmodern Marxism" they're always railing against. Libertarianism (the purest form of what conservatism and classical liberalism are) denies the existence of competing power interests among differing groups in a capitalist society, where conservatives and reactionaries view society as something in which all have a shared stake. Some people earn more because they work harder or smarter, or fulfill a more important place in the social structure, and therefore deserve it. 

Now, read this next sentence closely, because it's the crux of the whole problem for the the right on social media and by itself the entirety of the reason they're losing the culture war against the social justice warriors: This denial of class, race or gender based antagonisms in western civilization obviates the necessity for organization and strategization on the right. That statement is bold red because it's that important. It's absolutely foundational for understanding why things like Sargon being booted from Patreon happen. If you don't get it yet, the core of the problem is that the conservative, reactionary and libertarian world views mitigate against their adherents organizing politically, except perhaps to exchange views or, at most, achieve electoral victories so as to reduce the tax burden on higher income earners. But electoral politics are fundamentally limited in liberal democracies, and a separation of politics and culture is actually a fairly crucial thing in classical liberal and conservative thought. This is precisely why the critical theorists and the social justice crowd long ago deemphasized traditional politics in favor of culture war long ago. 

The right simply has no idea how to effectively wage a culture war, because as far as they're concerned, culture is taking place in a realm consisting only of individuals and maybe their families. Not society and certainly not anything systemic or structural for the benefit of some people at the expense of others. If you don't believe me in that assessment, go and use words like systemic and structural in your next conversation with reactionaries or libertarians of any stripe and see what kind of response you get. 

So they don't think in terms of a "long march through the institutions" or of organizing any kind of wide scale political activity targeting the institutions they claim have been hijacked by social justice warriors. That sort of "playing dirty" is precisely what they despise about the SJWs. Some libertarians explicitly reject all forms of political activity, for it implies collective action.  For their part, the SJWs, on the other hand, have zero qualms about doing any of that. Indeed, the need to do so is likewise built into their ideology. There's no such thing as fighting dirty against the beneficiaries of structural oppression. 

The Alternative Influence Network, the Intellectual Dark Web, the Skeptic Community, the Cultural Libertarians, the Kekistanis or whatever they're calling themselves in current year cannot defeat the social justice warriors, even if they enjoyed five times the numerical advantage they already enjoy. They would never consider any kind of organized strategy for dealing with of any of these supposedly leftist social media platforms. They may seem to depart one for another in tandem, but only because each has decided on his own to do so for his own reasons. Hardly a recipe for changing the world in any sort of serious way.

The libertarian core of their philosophy was quite deliberately designed to mitigate against any kind of sustained organized activity against corporate power. We have them to thank in good part for four decades of neoliberal hegemony. The reactionaries may claim that feminism is cancer - a good metaphor since feminists operate by invading both public and private spaces of all kinds and shift the purpose of those spaces towards the promotion of feminist ideology. Very much like how a cancer cell operates. Could we not likewise suggest that libertarianism is AIDS. The capacity of individuals within the polity to politically organize is its "immune system" against tyranny, and libertarianism attacks that immune system to such a degree that the polity becomes vulnerable to capture by any interest with the desire and capacity to do so. As such, I sometimes find them hard to feel sorry for when they get kicked off of social media, though I certainly don't condone or support it. Hair of the dog that bit you, boys. Maybe learn your lesson here.

What then can defeat the social justice warriors?

Only one thing: the use of their methods of analysis and activism against them. That would mean viewing current year critical theory, feminism and social justice, however radical they may have at one time been, as being themselves systems of power designed to benefit a certain class of people at the expense of another.

The democratic centralist vanguard party in the Soviet Union is a clear and obvious example of a left wing version of an oppressive system of power - regressive leftism, so called. They appropriated the moral force of the worker's struggle and socialism - considerable at the time - to legitimize their claims on power, but never altered the fundamental relations of production because they were now the beneficiaries of those relations. Marxist ideology became mere slogans legitimizing Bolshevik claims to absolute power while upholding precisely the kind of alienating productive relations Marxism so rightly criticized.

The highly educated professional activists that make up the core of current year social justice activism are the cultural version of a democratic centralist vanguard party, as they were envisioned by the critical theorists who came to see it necessary to wage a cultural revolution as a prelude to the establishment of a centrally planned economy. They've merely replaced socialism and the worker's struggle with feminism and anti-racism as sources of moral legitimacy. Since totalitarian methods were not available to the self styled revolutionaries of the west, this kind of Marcusian kulturkampf became necessary instead. Where the power structures constrained by liberal democratic norms are forced to manufacture consent for their oppressive policies, the self styled revolutionary vanguard must manufacture dissent to achieve its own regressive goals. 

This has been a failure, and no metric more closely measures that failure than the historical materialism that so brilliantly animated Marx's initial critiques of class structure. 

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Saturday, 15 December 2018

Leftists: Do NOT Support Corporate Censorship!

"Tim Squirrell" embodies everything wrong with the mainstream left of the current year. Viewing his twitter feed, I'm not seeing a whole lot of working class or marginalization here. From his personal website:
I started at the University of Cambridge in 2011, after finishing school in Cyprus. I began studying Medicine, but quickly realized that it wasn't for me, and switched into Natural Sciences, focusing on the History and Philosophy of Science. I graduated with a BA and MSci in 2015, having written my first Masters dissertation on the problem of moral responsibility when delegating medical decisions to cognitive computers.
Good stuff. With a guy like this in our corner, how can we lose? He looks like just the kind of guy I'd expect to meet at a $10,000 a plate Clinton Foundation fundraiser, positioning himself as the "resistance" against the ascendancy of "fascists" such as your typical incel on Reddit or 4chan troll. 

I'll not begrudge a fellow his education, but a look at his twitter feed suggests someone rather full of himself:
We’re not harassing you! You’re harassing us!” the anime avatars scream in their dozens and hundreds
I guess i would be scared of being deplatformed too if my income and indeed the only reason anyone knew or cared about me were all derived from  being arrested for being an edgelord
Regret to announce in a disappointing plot twist i was controlled by the russians all along
Yuk yuk yuk! What a card! Oh Tim, you're just so witty!  Which can be tolerated and ignored. The real problem with this fellow is here:
My mentions are blowing up bc the alt-right have found my attempts to aid in their deplatforming and are Very Upset. Please keep me and my mentions in your prayers at this difficult time.
And in case you missed it:
@slpng_giants another deplatforming success 
In case you don't know, this refers to a group called Sleeping Giants. "A campaign to make bigotry and sexism less profitable." Presumably active in attempts to lean on advertisers and boycott media outlets that host so called "hate speech" or "the alt-right" or whomever. Well, I suppose that's their right. But I have just one request for my fellows on the left who quite rightly want to oppose bigotry and hate but quite wrongly think deplatforming people who aren't really that right wing, bigoted or hateful is the way to do it:

Can we please stop doing this?

Or at the very least, can we at least try to be somewhat intelligent and judicious about what we consider "hate speech?" Last time I checked, Sargon of Akkad and Count Dankula, while not loyal card carrying progressives, were light years from the far right in terms of their actual beliefs. It's not exactly a secret that highly educated professional activists on college campuses and in Silicon Valley willfully smear their opponents as "Nazis" - in a kind of counterpart to the right's long tendency of red-baiting their own political opponents. Indeed, the "hate speech" for which Sargon was apparently deplatformed from Patreon was supposedly satirizing the kind of talk that alt-right clods engage in. Sargon has in fact had notorious quarrels with alt-right leaders, and is generally disliked by them.

This is why resorting to censorship over political disagreement is always a bad idea. Ideologues on one side of the spectrum tend to lump everyone on the other side into a single monolith. By similar rationale, if Sargon is a "Nazi" then I must be a raging SJW with my own set of gender pronouns forever calling on white males to check their privilege while donning the black bandanna to head out to "bash the fash." I am alt-left, after all. What stops the Proud Boy types from coming after me at some point, assuming this ever becomes a revenue source for me? After all, the Sleeping Giants and their ilk legitimized such tactics.

And that's the problem with all of this. And doubly so for the left, who've always been the advocates for the small players in the market.

Unless you are going after an institution or truly powerful person abusing their power, you have no business crawling into bed with corporate power and using that power to attack the livelihoods of your political opponents if you call yourself a leftist. Our whole project is built around the securing of the rights of the "little guy" - the common people in the face of the potential for corporate oligopoly to abuse the power that their strong position in the marketplace gives them. Boycotting a corporation over some malpractice or another is one thing. Calling for the ending of an otherwise powerless person's livelihood over a political disagreement is quite another. Doesn't the left typically emphasize the difference between punching up and punching down?

Even if it were the case that this "alternative influence network" really does universally promote far right reactionary views (some of them certainly do, but they're no more a monolith than the left is) what really constitutes the furtherance of the far right's true agenda: allowing reactionaries on social media to speak their minds, or empowering capital to silence those the strongest players in the marketplace, either singly or in concert, do not like?

How long before these kinds of tactics get used on corporate whistle blowers, environmental activists and union leaders? Today, those calling for less globalism and immigration are greater threats to the power and interests of capital (specifically unlimited access to cheap labor) than socialist union militancy is. Hence the far right rather than the left being public enemy number one. For today. But can this be counted on to last indefinitely?

It's especially galling when supposed leftists seem to suddenly start channeling the spirit of Ayn Rand when the subject of corporate censorship and the firing/deplatforming of right wing commentators is raised. "It's not censorship" when private entities do it, they claim. That's funny, because by that rationale, it shouldn't have been "discrimination" when employers, landlords, banks and so on discriminated against gays, racial minorities, atheists and socialists either. We don't get to pick and choose based solely on convenience dictated by political allegiance. And believe me when I say that anti-discrimination laws intended to bring marginalized groups into equal footing were resisted via very similar kinds of claims for a very long time. Segregationists had a long history of opposing "government telling business who they can and can't hire."

It was the left who dealt with blacklisting and persecution during McCarthyism and various red scares. In an increasingly conservative political climate, do we think ourselves immune to such tactics in the future? What happens to our capacity to credibly call it out when we in fact endorse such methods as Tim Squirrell is doing?

It is left wing people who should know that modes and relations of production are fundamental, and that the ideological climate flows from that. It should therefore be of greater import to us to protect smaller dissident voices online that we may disagree with than to call upon the real force for reaction - monopoly capital - to silence those voices.

We have in social media something that generations of leftist media critics could only have dreamed of: a means by which people with little capital and institutional clout can potentially reach a mass audience. A Carl Benjamin would have been unthinkable in the days before social media. So too would a host of leftist outlets: think Jimmy Dore, Kyle Kulinski and the like. Yet today's democratic centralist vanguard of highly educated professional activists chooses to use it to silence others. They are pretty much doing the Atlantic Council's work for them.

I think it says a great deal about just how "left" the Tim Squirrells and Sleeping Giants of this world really are when they have the ears of the corporate oligopolies and opt to use their influence in this manner. If they were leftists in any authentic sense, they should use their influence to advocate for better wages and working conditions in Silicon Valley, clean water in Flint, Michigan, greater protection for renters in Arkansas ... I could go on. On and on and on. There's real social injustice out there to fight. Let's use this powerful new social media tool to truly empower the poor and marginalized, rather than silence those only a tier or two up from the bottom. Even if they do have some genuinely odious opinions. The best way to fight fascism is to embed social democratic principles directly into the fabric of our political and economic structures. Calls for social media censorship push in exactly the opposite direction. Why do I get the feeling that future generations fighting to improve the lot of the poor and working classes will regret the precedents these pseudo leftists are setting?

But then, that would mean it would have to stop being about the egos of the Tim Squirrells of this world. It would have to stop being about what heroes he and Sleeping Giants are, and start being about actually addressing the real roots of marginalization. Which is a mode of production that's working out quite well for the likes of Mr. Squirrell, thank you very much. Must be nice being a professor in an elite educational institution. Check your privilege, good sir!

In short, they are not leftists at all. They are the voices of power and privilege, made all the worse by their adoption of a "progressive" veneer.

Of course, you, dear reader, may do business with whomever you like. You're under no obligation to patronize an outfit who likewise does business in some way you object to. Boycotts are a potentially powerful means of challenging corporate power. But let's be judicious when we employ this strategy, and let's use it to actually challenge rather than uphold corporate power. Let's reserve it for use against corporations that abuse their workers, spoil the environment, or engage in other shady business practices. Giving a platform to someone like Sargon of Akkad simply isn't something that we on the left should be objecting to.

As a bit of an aside, "extrordanormalguy" on twitter asked me this question:
I appreciate your principled view on this issue, but how can you align with the left as a whole anymore. The have largely become an authoritarian group hell bent on stifling free speech, and killing freedom for anyone who disagrees with them. Truly evil people.
Simply because the right will not, and can not deal with this issue effectively. The right's whole history has been about entrenching corporate power. Their recent concerns about free speech are more opportunistic than they are genuine. It wasn't so long ago it was the religious right playing these kinds of games with businesses that sold rock music records and role playing game books. Donald Trump is notoriously no friend of press freedom, however partisan the press has also been in their opposition to him. Furthermore, the right's individualistic framing of social and economic relations mitigates against the impetus to organize, or to see what they're engaged in as a struggle for power wherein their opponents see the need to win at all costs, as opposed to a mere clash of ideas to be resolved through honest and open debate. For a number of reasons, debacles such as these make quite clear the serious limitations of libertarian and conservative thought for all except those rich and powerful enough to benefit from them.

We Live in Strange Times
Moreover, the mainstream right simply doesn't care. That's all there really is to it. Republican leaders in America or prominent Conservative Party politicians in Canada and the UK may occasionally pay lip service to the importance of free speech, but it's not a priority for them, and certainly not for the broader institutions in which they operate. Free speech for YouTube's "alternative influence network" doesn't entail tax cuts for the top 1% of 1% of income earners. Therefore, it's off the radar as far as conservative power is concerned.

More mainstream kinds of conservatives are a heavily programmed and ideological lot, and this issue simply doesn't fall into their constellation of hot button issues. It's not about guns, it's not against abortion, it's not idolizing the flag, it's not in favor of middle-east power projection, it's not demonizing some or another Liberal or Democrat party politician: Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Justin Trudeau or whomever. And above all, it's not about tax cuts. Ergo, invisible to the right, with some exceptions, of course.

It's worth noting that the kinds of "reactionaries" and "bigots" that are the targets of these kinds of deplatforming campaigns are themselves strident advocates of free market capitalism, a fact the likes of Tim Squirrell are only too happy to point out. Strange that the so called left seems to be doing a better job than the right of leveraging market power in this scenario. Would that the left used this influence to demand and uphold worker's rights. Likewise, being on the receiving end of this kind of corporate maleficence should hopefully suggest to these libertarian and reactionary social media personalities that unlimited corporate power might not be such a good idea. While I don't condone the right being deplatformed on corporate social media, it bears mentioning that they have no real basis to protest it given their most cherished ideological principles.

Besides, I wonder whose idea of a "leftist" Tim Squirrell really is anyway?

Were I in a position to counsel the "Alternative Influence Network" in any way, I'd suggest the following:

You've been called the so called intellectual dark web. It's time to leave the dark web behind. Stop hiding. It's working against you. You need to make yourself known to the social media outlets who are hosting you. You actually represent their interests better than the social justice crowd does. You want them to pay less taxes and deal with fewer regulations, after all. Why not try to have a dialogue with them and establish a relationship with them? You say sunlight is the best disinfectant, start with yourselves. You know what you believe and why - don't fear. Use marketing strategies devised by the capitalist system you so love and publicly position yourselves as free speech advocates. Make certain you represent yourselves as promoters of something most people think are good. Don't come out against political correctness. Come out in favor of free thought and open dialogue. Know your values and frame the debate.

You've spent most of your time creating ideological content for consumption by like minded viewers out there in YouTube land. While important, this isn't enough. Now you're paying the price for your policy of isolationism. You need to start an outreach program to capture the hearts and minds of the political mainstream. Otherwise the Tim Squirrells of this world will represent you and will control the narrative around who you are and what you stand for. Your recent misadventures with Patreon and SubscribeStar show what the end result of that is.

Take a lesson from the SJWs you despise. The SJWs who figured out that positioning themselves as a radical counter culture was of limited efficacy, and found ways to work within the systems they professed to dislike to advance their agendas and thrust their narratives into the mainstream. They didn't like mainstream media and academia any more than you do now, but the hard truth is that the bulk of the population isn't abandoning legacy media any time soon. It has gravitas and credibility with both the bulk of the population, and policy making elites in positions of influence. It's how the feminist social justice crowd got to where they are today. Study their success and learn from it.

Above all, be you left or right leaning, do NOT spam Tim Squirrell, Sleeping Giants or similar people with threats, insults or hate speech. It only makes you look bad and lends credence to their narratives.

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Monday, 10 December 2018

How Trump Succeeded

Trump stepped into a leadership and ideological vacuum. That's how he succeeded. First in the Republican party, then in the nation as a whole. Not many people that I see seem to get this. But from the outside looking in, it seems obvious to me. The establishment refuses to come to terms with this because they're the ones who are ultimately responsible for it.

We can start with the Republican Party. With Lyin' Ted and Little Marco and Low Energy Jeb. Say what you will about the Donald, he really wasn't lying in these cases. He stepped into a party that was morally, ideologically and philosophically exhausted and everybody knew it. The same old Reagan era trickle down talking points. The same old neocon obsessions with middle east power projection. The same old evangelical grandstanding serving as a thin mask for untold corruption. It was dead as a national political force. Rightism was reduced to a protest vote against something or other that Obama did and a rag-tag of paleoconservative conspiracism. Not something relevant to most people.

Truth is, they were the ones who killed American democracy. Not Trump. They killed it with deregulation, with outsourcing, with Reaganomics and enabling the largest wealth and income gap in history. They killed it with pseudo libertarianism - a replacement or at least very serious nerfing of institutions of democratic oversight with a quasi religious faith that "free markets" can do anything and everything far better than human agency ever could. F**k, what a farce. How could anybody be so stupid? They killed it with the inauguration of an international economic order that enabled the super rich to dictate policy while holding the club of capital flight and investment strike over the polity's head. They killed it by abolishing the fairness doctrine and allowance of media conglomeration. They killed it through the manufacture of a state of perpetual national emergency and the passage of the Patriot Act.

Then the GOP establishment have the gall to display such shock and awe with the emergence of Trump and Bannon. What the hell did they think was going to happen? When you create a social order based on cut throat competition, don't be surprised if one such as Trump can actually make callousness into a sort of political asset. 

 As for Hillary and the democrats, they largely dug their own graves in their own ways. For all the crying we heard about Russia, about Wikileaks, about the Bernie Bro's, about deplorables, it was Hillary's own record that doomed her. That and a bad campaign. But it went back farther than that. As far back as Bill Clinton, the thinking was much more how to accommodate themselves to the order that Reagan brought in than to push back against that order, or at least the less savory aspects of it. While too many Trump supporters really did fit the profile of the basket of deplorables, a surprising number of people who rejected Hillary were rejecting her own hypocritical support for mid-east wars, for the Patriot act, for demonizing "super predators" and her husband's repeal of Glass-Steagall, among other things.  Most of all, they rejected the democratic party's stab in the back of the one candidate in 2016 who really did understand what was wrong with the country and what was needed to fix it. And they continue to reject the jaw dropping sense of entitlement that many democrats and the so called "resistance" continue to display, acting as if they were simply entitled to the political support of the country as though it were their due.

 The left, for its part, made its own Faustian bargains through all of this. Beginning in the colleges and universities, they acceded to the demands of the standpoint theorists in the women's studies and critical race theory departments for total and complete deference. As if possessing one or some "intersecting" combination of intersecting marginalized identities somehow made one morally and intellectually infallible. Especially since these people were not usually that marginalized, having had the privilege of attending elite colleges and all. Thus the most rank nonsense was given free reign so long as it was at the behest of some marginalized or oppressed group or anther. This was first normalized in certain branches of academia, then in areas where liberal/progressive dominance was the norm. So we end up with "progressives" who are perfectly willing to accede to the worst elements of neo-robber baron rule but get all up in arms over cultural appropriation and microaggressions.  Imagine their surprise when they found the broader culture wasn't having any of this. Since then, the response has been a whole grab bag of defense mechanisms, projections and rationalizations so as to keep up the illusion of unimpeachable integrity of their particular ideological systems, regardless of how obviously flawed they are.

This is the milieu into which Trump emerged. The mistake is to see Trump as himself being the problem. We just get rid of orange Cheeto-man Hitler and then everything can go back to being all hunky-dory. It's a breathtakingly naive and self congratulatory way of seeing things but one I encounter frequently. Indeed the moral panic they're perpetually engineering over Trump simply adds fuel to the fire. There's an obvious thirst for a populism that cuts to the heart of the problem - that gets Wall Street, the military industrial complex, national security apparatus, academia and media back on a leash and working for the benefit of all again, but the Democrats are having none of it. Could it be because they too are bought and paid for?

Trump couldn't have succeeded in a polity that had not previously compromised itself in so many other ways.

To close, I cite present day France as perhaps a better example of what can be done in the face of establishment complacency and entitlement.

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The Obama Presidency: who Benefited?

Obama was pro-black in the same sense that Trump is pro-white.

What a farce.

The color that matters in American politics is $green$ and how much of it you have. Period.

 While I don't think they were personally responsible for it, Obama and Hillary oversaw the transformation of the democratic party, in addition to the establishment of a safe and nerfed form of progressivism. One that frames power and privilege entirely in terms of race and gender. Who benefits from that, I wonder? The black kid in the ghetto? The single mother on food stamps?

 Guess again, sunshine!

 A form of progressivism wherein six digit salary earning humanities profs and Huffpost bloggers tell unemployed white male construction workers to check their privilege. A form of progressivism wherein trolls in places like 4chan are held up as the greatest threat to democracy and freedom and corporate media outlets like the New York Times are cast as part of the "resistance." A form of progressivism that worries about Halloween costumes and old jazz era Christmas songs being "problematic" while the deep state and the military industrial complex go unscrutinized. Are praised even, since the evil orange man said bad things about them at some point (with all of the sincerity you'd expect from Trump - ha ha).

 Quite a remarkable feat, I must say. You'd have to go back to Nixon's southern strategy, and the conservative ruse of convincing white male working class voters that their real enemies are minorities and women demanding equal rights, to find something comparable to it. Wall Street and the Pentagon are your friends, the conservatives told the white and/or male middle and working classes. It's those uppity blacks who are your real enemies. My only question regarding how corporate democrats pulled the exact same scam on minorities and women is what took them so long?

 So again, who benefits? Who benefited from Obama? The same people who benefited under Bush, under Clinton, under Bush Sr. and under Reagan. I'm sure we can all guess who they are. It wasn't black people, that's for damn sure. But their self appointed democratic centralist vanguard in academia and mainstream media did get to demand trigger warnings and safe spaces for things they found offensive, so progress, right? And meanwhile, the GOP was able to cast this as representative of "leftism" and the political mileage they gain from it goes along way towards getting deregulators and top 1% of 1% tax cutters elected to public office.

So again, who benefits?

Obama. The greatest conservative president the US ever had.

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Critical Theory - the Unlikely Conservatism

If "critical theory" is to be a useful and good thing, it needs to punch up, not down. This is a crux of social justice thinking. ...