I've been involved in anti-racist/anti-fascist work, either directly or on the periphery, for about ten years at this point. This takes many forms, from street confrontations with fascists, protests at book readings and other events, and also disrupting fascist conferences and similar.
Anti-Racist Action is the organization that has developed the most tactical and strategic influence in this space, not by design, but by chance (and it largely doesn't exist anymore). Disrupting fascist meetings by denying them space by getting hotels to drop them is the bread and butter of any ARA chapter. It's the easiest thing to do, and most modern tumblerites aren't willing to get in the streets with a bandanna and a baseball bat, so it's what gets done now. And in fact, it's likely that this sort of thing happens because ARA activists got involved in more liberal groups, etc., and the tactics just trickled down.
Personally, I have developed political differences with the "SJW" orthodoxy myself (though obviously in the other direction), and have seen the effects of this sort of attack applied on a social level. It has made my own work slightly more difficult, because I have to pick my comrades more carefully to ensure that they won't alienate me from my network. But this isn't a big deal for leftists, because there are already so many camps that are mutually oppositional that you'd need to do that already for some of your politics anyway. What's new in the last few years is having that extend away from your class alignment. (This is an answer to a question you didn't really ask, which is how the "SJW" community itself is affected by this, though it is what came to mind when I asked myself how I felt about it.)
As far as this issue and other similar issues are concerned, I'm overjoyed that, as you put it, a climate of fear exists for fascists, misogynists, racists, and similar. I hope that this continues and only worsens for these people.
I'm happy for many reasons. The first is that it has, as you've said, made privileged people afraid. I think this is only the beginning. Privilege creates safety, and as it is removed, I think the unsafety of the oppressed will in part come to the currently privileged classes. But if I could flip a switch and make every man feel the persistent, gnawing fear that a woman has of men, I would in a heartbeat. I wouldn't even consider whether the consequences were strategic, I would just do it.
I'm also happy that these people are achieving real victories. This is nearly impossible to do in a post-reformist landscape, and so the people involved in getting this fascist kicked out of this conference will have a real victory under their belt where their friends who are campaigning against some law that will inevitably pass or for some reform that will inevitably never happen won't. I hope that these victories can motivate people into taking more action. Burnout is a huge problem in activism and successes stave it off.
I would not say that I set out to defeat a "discourse-stifling" monster. The monsters I set out to defeat were patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy. These systems violently oppress, they don't "stifle discourse." In fact, they LOVE discourse! When people are discoursing, they aren't in the streets. I've seen so many promising movements hobbled by reformism that I'm glad the possibility no longer exists, though that isn't at all the fault of SJW-outrage (and is rather a consequence of the fact that the economy is in large part so perilous that nobody can afford the concessions that were previously won by reformists). So if discourse is permanently removed as a tactical and strategic option for future leftists, I'll consider it a victory.
You might be unsurprised to find out that free speech is not valued on the left or among "SJW" groups. I suggest you research this further, because I can't communicate to you in a single hacker news comment why this is, or what theoretical basis it has.
Would it not be better to work towards nobody feeling such fear?
> I'm also happy that these people are achieving real victories ... their friends ... are campaigning against some law that will inevitably pass
Once again championing (any) change itself over sane outcomes. Oppressive laws and the march of the machine are inevitable, so let's just fight each other?
Your comment is a poignant example of everything gone wrong with the "progressive" mentality. Thank you for being candid though.
But that isn't the hypothetical. Do you understand the concept?
Certainly if I had a faeries & unicorns switch I'd hit that as well, but we don't always have the options we'd like.
In the meantime, if it's possible to make fascist programmers afraid for their careers, that's great for me. It means fascist movements are disrupted before they can even form. God knows leftists have been afraid for long enough.
By your usage, I presume you're using definition #1 of http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fascist even though you are not capitalizing it. If it is possible to make Fascist programmers afraid for their careers, then Fascists cannot possibly wield much power.
On the other hand, the results of mob justice look an awful lot like a distributed implementation of fascism definition #2 - how is it not appropriate to describe, for example, a summary firing for political views as such?
It is true that all exercises of political power are at the end of the day coercive. My personal take on this is to minimize political power, but to do this takes a specific social arrangement that doesn't exist in the present day.
The hypothetical I came up with is one where it's easier to attack an existing system than to create new and liberatory systems. This is the same as reality. It is much, much easier to get a fascist talk removed from a conference than it would be to get everyone at that conference to come to an appropriate understanding of feminist and anti-racist thought and praxis. There are certainly people involved in education, propaganda, and outreach, but this is by nature a much slower process and one that will not bear fruit in any reasonable time span. It is certainly not fast enough to counteract things like fascists at conferences, so we shut down the fascists.
I also obviously disagree as to whether denying a fascist the ability to spread fascism is injustice, or more broadly, whether attacking the oppressor classes and limiting their ability to oppress is somehow unjust. But then, I also care much less about any concept of "justice." Certainly the world is not a just place, and I question whether the concept of justice as communicated by oppressor classes is something we need to bring with us into the future.
>distributed implementation of fascism
Do you notice the contradiction?
How does one distinguish a "fascist talk" from a "technical talk presented by one accused of being a fascist"? Is the difference relevant? I think Moldbug views himself as anti-fascist, and argues that Fascism and Communism are alternative undesirable endgames for democracy: http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2009/07/carlyle...
And I'm not sure whether one should equate Moldbug with Yarvin. Is the blogger a pseudonym, a construct, a caricature, or an alter-ego? Should a comedian be equated with their on-stage persona? An actor with the character they play? An author with their protagonist?
I (truly) appreciate the insight your earlier comments provide.
Well, pragmatically, the difference is immaterial, because to maximize the memetic intensity of anti-fascism, we have to attack all fascists everywhere all the time. Within the fold, there is very little opposition, because once one valid point has been made, going against it is nearly impossible.
This is the real danger in going down the ideological-purity path the way the mainstream extreme-liberal tumblerite bloc has. I get around this by maintaining a network of people I trust implicitly as comrades and who also trust me, but this is how ideologic drift happens in, say, activist groups.
>I think Moldbug views himself as anti-fascist
Well, nobody's the villain of their own story.
>Is the blogger a pseudonym, a construct, a caricature, or an alter-ego? Should a comedian be equated with their on-stage persona? An actor with the character they play? An author with their protagonist?
Do you think Moldbug is intended as a fiction?
>I (truly) appreciate the insight your earlier comments provide.
Don't think they provide so much insight. I'm one person and pretty idiosyncratic in my ideology and praxis. I am certainly not representative and I'm sure I would disagree with (just as an example) most of the people whose twitter comments were cited in the OP's article.
I just wanted to say that yes, I fully enjoy the fact that people are now afraid to be racist, sexist, etc., at tech conferences.
No, I think they are essays where in the author is testing out ideas to see how they hold together when criticized by the world. Some of these ideas are deep beliefs, where the question is simply how the outside will react to hearing about them. Some of them are fragments of arguments he's trying to piece together, in the hope that the process of writing will clear things up in his own mind. Others are probably there simply because he was drawn in the cadence of the language.
But I do think that Moldbug is consciously a persona, and not identical to Yarvin. And I don't think either is a fascist by any reasonable definition. Racist? Yes, the writing is racist by the current way the word is used to label practically any belief in racial differences. But I'd prefer to judge the author (Yarvin) by how he treats others in the world, not how he writes about the world in the abstract.
I fully enjoy the fact that people are now afraid to be racist, sexist, etc., at tech conferences.
If this was the only outcome, I'd might agree with the tactics. But what if their pragmatic reaction is to simply avoid situations where they can be accused of these things? Don't hire women, because they might accuse you of sexism. Don't hire minorities, because you might lose your job if accused of racial prejudice?
In such an environment, silence is likely the best strategy. But along with the silence is likely the belief that everyone else shares the same opinion, but similarly doesn't speak about it. I believe more in sunlight as a disinfectant: get the ideas out in the open. I think it's good for people to hear more points of view they disagree with.
I'm one person and pretty idiosyncratic in my ideology and praxis.
Yes, but that ideology is so different from mine that I learn just by the knowledge that such a viewpoint exists.
Nobody on the Left talks like that. I'm guessing you're actually one of Yarvin's own bunch masquerading as an antifascist to discredit the cause.
> My personal take on this is to minimize political power, but to do this takes a specific social arrangement that doesn't exist in the present day.
So in the mean time, you switch to maximizing political power? Why exactly do you think this would end any differently than it has in the past - simply empowering new autocrats borne by new religions?
> But then, I also care much less about any concept of "justice."
How can you propose to have a society without justice? When people feel wronged, their desire is to get greater revenge. Without moderating this force, feuds grow ever larger.
It seems as if you're envisioning a magic society where everybody just "gets it" and nobody transgresses against one another. And since you can never have that (there will always be differences of opinion), you take solace in mob destruction but yet still tell yourself you're fighting the good fight.
>> distributed implementation of fascism
> Do you notice the contradiction?
Not at all. The result is the same for those on the receiving end. (and for your inevitable thought of 'well they deserve it' - that's exactly the position of the oppressors you're fighting against. good job!)
No. Distributivism comes to mind.
Disrupting fascist movements sounds like a great idea, but is that really your intent?
> But if I could flip a switch and make every man feel the persistent, gnawing fear that a woman has of men, I would in a heartbeat. I wouldn't even consider whether the consequences were strategic, I would just do it.
Because it seems your intent is to make others as afraid as you are regardless of the consequences. Unless it's not, in which case things would probably be a lot more clear if you stopped flip flopping and refusing to define the words you use.
When you ask questions like this, you give the respondent authority, because it is worded in a way that gives the possibility that the respondent might say something intelligent in response.
There is no such possibility here.
Who needs theory? Practicality tells all.
Extreme ideologies don't value free speech, because free speech allows the unwashed masses to communicate to each other just how ridiculous they think your ideology is. This is true regardless of where an ideology falls on the oversimplistic "right-left" spectrum: North Korea, Fascist Italy, Communist Russia, Oligarchical-Capitalist Russia, Cambodia, North Vietnam, Burma, Communist China, pretty much the entire Middle East, etc. The list goes on and on and on.
Suppress free speech and criminalize dissident thoughts, and you establish a social basis for staying in power - for the good of the people, of course.
It's unsurprising that extreme ideological adherents are always united in at least one common idea, regardless of the actual content of the ideology they are espousing: the belief that people themselves don't know what is best for their own interests and must be closely watched and shepherded (and culled) if they fall into an annoying habit of thinking on their own.
I would give you some discussion questions, but I'm sure you'll never, ever move past this roadblock, so I won't feed the trolls.
Not because it is a sacred cow, but because I believe the benefits to free speech far outweigh any drawbacks. (For largely the same reasons, I support open data in government to an much further extent than I think most people would.)
Out of curiostity, Mr Throwaway, what -ism do you use to identity your personal ideology?
>though my political ideology is pretty obviously very far from the ones you've listed
That is very arguable and not obvious at all.
I've been involved in political activism of one kind or other for decades, mostly in ways that are opposed to your ideals, so I'm not one tiny bit surprised to find a lefty who is opposed to free speech, nor am I unfamiliar with the "theoretical basis" for such abhorent positions.
I wanted to cast as broad a net as possible in my question, as I know how eclectic the left is: the two major Communist parties in my country spent most of their political capital fighting each other while the mainstream drifted gently, and rather too far, to the right.
Your myopia, anger and hatred are unfortunately true to the rightwingnutjob's caricature of anyone interested in building a just society, which makes the job of sane social reformers more difficult. Just so you know (yeah, I know, we're you're enemies too... and it's important to have a comprehensive enemies list, isn't it?)
And while on the one hand I can take heart in the knowledge that you'll never get close to achieving your goals, I'm also saddened that you will spread so much toxicity into your environment on your way to ultimate failure. The world needs more love, not more hate, or more fear.
If you have a specific idea at all about how the world should be better, the people who oppose that are certainly not your friends. I think you're mistaking vision for myopia, dedication for anger, and pragmatism for hatred... but then you certainly hate me more than I hate you.
I'm probably just as unsure as you about whether I'll achieve my goals, but I have to try, because to do anything less would be a betrayal of all of humanity. I believe everyone is responsible for their actions, and so if I'm to be responsible I have to act somehow.
It's very easy to say that "the world needs more love," but love doesn't break bricks, as the saying goes. I doubt your own activism is limited to "love"; you probably do things that are intended to make reality assume some objective state. In doing that, you are preventing your opponents from forcing the world into their preferred state. This is no different from opposing free speech. I just have a more complete vision of the world that I want, and it doesn't include Mein Kampf or Birth of a Nation or hacker news's casual misogyny and racism.
There's not much point in railing against racists / sexists / etc. if you're going to make equally condescending generalizations about the victims you're trying to save.
Probably because this is a really stupid course of action to begin with, independent of tumblr.
Using baseball bats to reinforce your political views seems like a great idea until your opponents show up with guns. Which means you, now, have to show up with guns, and so on, until you're a full-on terrorist group.
Well, that and you risk going to jail for assault with a deadly weapon, and you don't want to be in the same cell with someone from the Aryan Brotherhood when they find out your reason for jailtime was assaulting white power groups.
I have to wonder if this dangerous person lives in the US, or at least the true US, the 2/3rds of which allow concealed carry. I marvel at how the National Socialist Movement and some "White Nationalists" thought it wise to meet in New Jersey and Illinois, respectively, where and when it was illegal to carry concealed (not groups of smart people, it would seem :-). Hmmmm, for that matter, Ohio is in one way the worst state in the union for self-defense, because the burden of proof is on the person claiming it. (These incidents mentioned at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Racist_Action)
Try that shit in the state of Missouri where Strange Loop is meeting and you'll very possibly get legally shot. Counterwise the Nazis were greatly aided by prior Weimar efforts at gun control, which they of course reinforced once they started getting formal power.
In fact, all these actions by the left in the US strike me as extremely unwise, for in the many possibilities of "this will not end well", those of a very well armed population putting paid to their pretensions should be quite prominent in their minds.
It's hilarious to me that you seem to think leftists could set off an arms race.
Also, what do you think the black panthers, weather underground, etc., were?
"Do you think that white nationalists don't take guns to their protests and marches?"
I think the kind of person who talks about carrying around baseball bats isn't going to go to these marches.
What you think is hilarious is on you and your weird sense of humor. If you go to a meeting with baseball bats, eventually, the people you're disrupting are going to bring weapons stronger than baseball bats.
Anti-racist and anti-fascist organizing happens under the mantle of a thousand different groups all over the world. There are antifa in Russia that have it much harder than antifa in France or the UK or the US.
And yet we are asked to believe that an obscure blogger flirting with monarchist political thought would introduce a dangerous authoritarian element if allowed to present on a technical topic. Thanks for putting this into context.
This will be great news to the neoreactionaries. How do you figure?
> because it communicates a lack of concern with the threat "neo-reactionaryism" or fascism represents.
And what is the threat, if not that they will seize power?
This thinking, right here, is a problem.
Discussing an individual's technical contributions does not legitimize their political views, let alone their technical ones.
And the big threat today is not neo-reactionaryism, but zealotry in all its forms. Radicals from any group are more dangerous than moderates from a single distasteful group, and they all use exactly the same tactics to win. And if we're going to win by burying bad ideas through threats and intimidation instead of openly dismantling them through rational and ethical thought, then I'm not sure the battle is even worth winning.
Antifa did and do routinely disrupt fascist actions with physical force and frequently got (and get) shot for it. Sometimes the antifa are the ones doing the shooting.
But most of the time the antifa are hilariously underarmed compared to the (as you've pointed out) very well armed rightists and it's a combination of bravado and stupidity that they take the actions they do. The KKK, neo nazis, etc., have all had weapons stronger than baseball bats for a while. There's no "eventually." Do you understand what I'm saying?
Plus, if what you say was true, can you point to some incidents where your side actually, you know, got shot for their troubles? I mean your violent side, not the pre-Black Power civil rights period of this.
(edit: parent edited post, this no longer makes sense. Original was about revolutionaries never expecting the guillotine to fall on their own neck)
But far more put there by the state, make no mistake. It's not like there haven't been plenty of purges and organized campaigns of systematic repression from the state to the left. But you like ignoring that when we talk about fascist programmers not being able to present their widgets, don't you?
The Great Purge
The Reign of Terror
"But if I could flip a switch and make every man feel the persistent, gnawing fear that a woman has of men, I would in a heartbeat."
If that's intentional parody, it's brilliant. If not, I guess there's always therapy.
Communist here. Fuck you: of course we care about free speech.
That 'climate of fear' also exists for those people who don't fall into such cleanly vilifiable categories, and yet occasionally engage in language and behavior that could be categorized as such, often unknowingly because those definitions seem to depend on contexts they cannot determine, have different meanings for each individual, and are rapidly being expanded to encompass broader categories of thought and behavior.
> I'm happy for many reasons. The first is that it has, as you've said, made privileged people afraid. I think this is only the beginning. Privilege creates safety, and as it is removed, I think the unsafety of the oppressed will in part come to the currently privileged classes. But if I could flip a switch and make every man feel the persistent, gnawing fear that a woman has of men, I would in a heartbeat. I wouldn't even consider whether the consequences were strategic, I would just do it.
One thing I've noticed about the fearful is that they tend to resent the fearless, and want everyone to live under the same fears they do. It's a very primal thing, as people who fear the same things are part of the same tribe. These fears are not used to achieve anything strategic, but to define the very culture members exist in, and so are vigorously spread and defended regardless of any practical value they may have. In such a culture you will never get beyond that fear. You can see this most readily in religious sects, but many political movements are little other than that.
And regardless of the 'harm' fear prevents, it is still the antithesis of knowledge, and a society ruled by fear cannot be ruled by knowledge. In such a society knowledge itself is a threat, and the only people willing to discuss controversial ideas will either be the ones courageous enough to question or hateful enough not to care. The fearful of course will not be able to tell the difference.
Personally, that is not a price I am willing to pay for a 'safe' society. That doesn't mean such a system is right or wrong, only that it doesn't align with my values. But regardless of differing values, it still troubles me that anyone would take such joy in other people's fear and unsafety, and I don't think any good can come of that.
> So if discourse is permanently removed as a tactical and strategic option for future leftists, I'll consider it a victory.
And yet here you are, using a throwaway account to engage in tactically and strategically driven discourse.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
So instead of attempting to clarify what you mean by 'fascism' to further discussion, you effectively declare that the words you use only have meaning to you, making further discussion impossible. I hope then it's acceptable to use the word 'gay' to designate 'lame' (especially among my gay friends), unless you're also stuck in that barren rule based wasteland too.
Words only point to a reality. And while we cannot know the entirety of that reality, it can certainly be made much clearer in this case. Words are useless unless they're communal property and their meanings (sufficiently) shared.
Why is it important to you that it be gray? Why are you implying that the status of Hacker News is affected by this?