Internet Feudal Barons and Our Lack of Surprise

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(Subversion News, Itsgoingdown)

December 14th is the congressional vote to repeal Title II classification for Internet service providers, which regulates them as public utilities and mandates equal protection for all Internet traffic, fulfilling the concept of Net Neutrality. It seems that I’ve been here before, and nothing feels different aside from this issue in the grand scheme of things. That, and maybe my level of cynicism.

Three years ago, in my social democrat days, I dove into all that so-called “Team Internet” could really do. The late Obama years were a push to ensure progressive policies would withstand after election season. Everything except physically organizing was what I did when the FCC was urged to adopt clear net neutrality rules. We knew that consumers were just waiting to be fucked over by broadband companies if reclassification didn’t beat them to it, so it was a big deal for most of that year.

Outreach was rather grueling when trying to bring the issue to everyone who uses the Internet. The aggressive lies about “innovation” being at stake if broadband speeds didn’t remain a competitive market seemed as convincing to many as the reality of Internet connections being universally jumbled with the stablest ones concentrated in the hands of those who could pay.

Initially, I didn’t think writing/calling congress and having the situation explained in full would matter much. What felt like this loose network of hackers and nerd-activists seemed to be no match for the landlords of broadband and their lobbyists, so my hopes for victory were modest. But in time the decision to reclassify was sealed, thanks to enough noise against the idea of paying premiums for different connections. There was a sense of accomplishment in banding together within the “safety” of government that my white skin affords me.

This, of course, was before the political jolt that was Trump’s presidency. Around an administration that has been one clique power-grab after the other, Ajit Pai’s flagship decision as newly-appointed FCC chairman was to crash and burn protective Internet regulations, similar to our health care system or public water treatment.

What distinguishes then from now is [my understanding of] what I want out of putting time and energy into an issue. I realized the inherent limitations on what could realistically be won through this perpetually circular politics of appeal and compromise. Self-described “radicals” are engaging in a battle for leverage in a situation that affects what they should realistically be forcing out of the hands of the few. Its not exactly overcoming or progressing (notions that liberals have always suggested) if you’re constantly fighting for the same reforms in different political eras. I arrived at the conclusion that working within authority can only push it to change its tactics of constraint. It has to be deconstructed, physically disrupted and abolished by obsolescing its relevance through new social habits.

This is ultimately no more of a surprise than Trump doing anything else. When you have a president with this kind of hubris, uncharted influence and a tattered but intact support base with various reactionary formations, this is just a drop in the bucket. I was convinced that the definitive sign of more (and worse) to come was the early rhetoric around immigration and “America first”, so its hard to be surprised or significantly upset by any of this.

Let’s not take all this to mean this situation isn’t a problem. Bludgeoning Internet access to guarantee that Telecom giants can exert restraint on consumers as a business strategy in this particular time of polarization and turbulence — especially with most organizing happening online — is going to prove difficult for radicals’ playing field.

But do I clench my heart and cry “Oh, the humanity!” No, because whether we have European-style net neutrality regulations or the same model we have for health care, we are ignoring the relationship at play. The entities people are out to win over cannot have the same conversation. There are mutually opposing interests that are the final say, and accruing their sympathy will not do anything if it conflicts with them. You always run the risk of having any concessions revoked when they’re mere options for appeasement within the negligence of impersonal democracy.

Net neutrality is a false distinction in a society where access to anything is fundamentally broken, let alone the Internet. Nonetheless, liberals will prioritize the things within reach to middle-class whites and avoid the overarching motive behind it all. This is going to be a pain, no doubt. What isn’t in this world?

Hashtag resistance is officially canceled.

What the Internet has demonstrated is among the most effective means of collaborating and opening up new and powerful means of expressing, sharing, reinventing and decentralizing. But that ethos can never reach its fullest potential when Telecom property owners can pull the plug whenever they please. They will never cease control of our access so long as there is any base for them to stand on.

The airwaves are a commons. Every tool and beyond should be, but this will never be adopted as the reality so long as monopolizing or mediating capabilities exist anywhere, be they state or private.

Internet Feudal Barons and Our Lack of Surprise

The Religion of Civility

(For Subversion News)

Two weeks after the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, the geniuses of sacred non-action are still at it.

Between “an-tee-fuh”, the “alt-left” and “violence on both sides“, we’re back to J20 and Pikeville as everyone crawls out of the woodwork to talk about the “violence on the left” and circulate their ready-made expertise on anti-fascism, all while dodging what lit a fire under them, or fighting the actual philosophical meat of it and broader anarchism with condescending outrage.

I’ve been focused on this since I got back, since this was my first major action since being physically involved in such things. Not only that, but the discussion has been going on for longer than expected. Charlottesville was the tamest anti-fascist demonstration I’ve ever seen. We came into a small town and ruined a white nationalist rally before it can even start, without many arrests and without much trouble from the cops, and yet this might be the one event of this decade’s anti-fascist activity that garners the most commentary from the right and center.

Those in the combination of their sheltered media chambers and traditional social litanies, instead of being on the ground in front of struggles, always get the loudest mic to speak into. Not like this is surprising: They get to be pampered by the social byproducts of others’ subordination, and simultaneously defend their legitimacy in all corners of life. Nonetheless, it peeves me when we continue encountering the same angry questions under a different name, and someone is expecting a new answer.

I think, along with someone being killed, the legalistics of permits and free speech coming into this really set the popular stage, allowing the white panic of preserving the current structures to coming into conflict with the larger goals of anti-fascism. Beyond that playing out as usual, I certainly think we’re on track toward a civil conflict for better or worse. Thats precisely why anti-fascists are going all out, we intend to win.

And with the “why” absolutely cleared just now, the heavier baggage of attacking assembly and working outside the perimeters of the law remains. Particularly, the use of violence.

We are always denying ourselves the reality of violence when talking about disrupting social systems. For Industrial Society 101, violence has been monopolized for generations through the state. This is the crux of the issue when looking at how smashing a corporation’s window stacks up to letting thousands of people go uninsured each year, and so on. People have an instinctive way of judging those scenarios with a set of obfuscated, reproduced norms that totally demonize one act while not paying a second glance to another.

Getting to where people see that and understand why its like this involves rediscovering history through a different lens, one that demonstrates how people then and now are affected and repressed. Even trickier is explaining why civility in these conditions is instantly surrender, and how developing our own strategies and coming together on our own terms is the best way to win a better world.

Civility, in how society is presently arranged, is the effect of the privileged accumulating the complacency of the ruled. Alternative social patterns are simply unthinkable or collectively hammered into our skulls as impractical and dangerous, so generations typically reproduce an atmosphere of things being stable the way they are, or disseminating spirituality as a coping mechanism for life being unbearable. Coupled with familial castes and popular media, we have the central nervous system of capitalist state society: a populous that is comfortable and obedient in the limits they were told are the infinite expanses of life.

Resistance happens when the requirements for capital and privilege (subordination, stratification) build up into distinct social groups. With what freedom of thought the ruled have to themselves, there is capacity to design alternatives and nourish its growth while in bondage. Cultures that solidify around exploitation always secure their dreams with a rich and resonating community. Slavery in North America and a class of African descendants carried on a particular consciousness that lives in the changing face of racism and white supremacy. From Nat Turner in 1830s Virginia plantations, to the Black Panthers in 1960s Harlem, to Black Lives Matter in contemporary liberal America, the consciousness that intersects with other struggles (workers’ and queer struggle, etc.) finds the very channels that mediate or propagate oppression and grow beneath them.

Over time, however, incremental reformism has proven to be the most hypnotizing buffer between the dissolving of bondage and the securing of privilege. After trade unionism was legalized, participation in social movements became increasingly perfunctory and symbolic, crystallizing the aversion to direct action in favor of seeking legitimacy from higher authorities. People’s self-confidence in their own actions were, and have increasingly become, disarmed and filtered into a singular, designated political sphere that was reinforced by the doctrines of civility.

Those who cling to this model do so for varying reasons. Commonly in the United States, its liberals whose political identity was forged solely out of this model and know nothing beyond it, or its conservative-right people who find this model to always be a stepping stone toward a real instance of their ideals. The sanctity of what they’re familiar with, the desperation in avoiding what requires fundamental restructuring and demonizing the interests of the exploited always play a synchronized part in propping up a confused warning of danger to further influence civility.

What makes for an obvious double-standard but a opportune entryway is how people who declare that life is savage and that things like markets and speculation are rooted in a human instinct toward savagery can’t at least reconcile this with anti-fascists acting in such a way. The doctrine of “tough shit” is always hammered into those with social grievances, but suddenly the lecturers are shaking in their boots when the act of brutality expands inward on the whole framework.

Undoing this ritual requires understanding violence and the relationships around it: whats is considered violent, how it is regulated, how it is ultimately relative and where to go with that understanding.

Violence is a character of life, a means of dispensing power. But more deeply, violence as a social phenomena isn’t a defined, tangible thing as we might envision it. The underpinnings of force are typically applied to an inherently political situation and manipulated depending on the actor. This covers everything from breaking the windows of a bank that evicts people from their houses, the police arresting protesters, to any form of speech that resonates in society.

Expression has long been painted in the light of reducing the consequences of what people say. On one hand, people today seem to allow racists as well as far-left radicals to say what they please in equal measure. But on the other, they reserve their rights to “disagree” with whomever. These reactions are the modifications to consequences in the light of mediation. They acknowledge an idea of consequences of speech, but only in the form of their own reaction and its relationship to discourse. The possibility of any consequences outside of this are left up to pacifying or quelling forces, like the police. So long as an authority rests on top of these transactions, and as long as they are imbued with trust in stopping anything that deviates from civility, there can only be popular displacement from the genuine consequences outside of upper middle class communities. So while a racist spreading lies about marginalized communities means little to a well-off liberal, it means a hell of a lot to those who will see and live through the consequences of that speech right in front of them.

This is probably the summary for why free speech isn’t so much “opposed” by anti-fascists and anarchists as much as its just a terrible reduction of what language is. Language is a tool as powerful as cutting individuals off from your life or starting rumors. Such things have intention and weight, they accomplish things whether explicit or not. If we can imagine what such things mean for tight-knit social groups of single-digit amounts of people, think of its impact on anything from towns, to cities, to whole continent populations. But again, as long as quelling authorities rest on top of these intimately human transactions, they will always be reduced down to the ins and outs of politics while the genuine consequences play out unaccounted for. Disconnected from any social importance.

So in this framing, the features and levels of violence are anything but unanimously agreed on. Political actions are commonly measured by the weight they carry and how forceful or affective they are, but the affiliation the action is bound to is always the deciding factor for whether its violent.

But the relativity of violence doesn’t imply a disregard for what it accomplishes. For anti-fascists, it isn’t unitary violence that is examined as much as whats behind the violence, who is doing it and to what ends. Violence is expected from the opposition as much as it is from the bindings of today’s society, and so which violence we oppose is made clear because it enforces what we want destroyed. Regardless of seeing the word violence and knowing that people will imagine vastly different examples, it describes an emotional reality underneath the vagueness, and it can be used to align our intentions properly.

Denouncing violence is like denouncing the force required in tackling anything that works against you, but we cannot take this to just mean “in self-defense.” Reducing all of self-defense down to immediate physical protection neglects what violence and preserving oneself entails, especially in a setting where the lifeblood of society is constant threat. The end goal is to eliminate structures of violence: coercion, domination and the like, which comprise forces decidedly not relative, and perform concrete functions such as capitalism, state repression and social bigotry that build a reality of suffering.

The instinctual disregard for criticism from the right and center comes from their dependence on what social emancipation requires destroying. By relying on “its not that bad”, “haven’t you learned anything from Stalin?” or “you hate free speech”, we meet at the same starting point over and over. All that time wasted trying to explain our case just for it to be thrown out could be spent organizing and arming around worthwhile goals.

Obedience to currently acceptable ideals has driven the left away from debate, because the requirement to be taken seriously is to lie down and submit or risk being named “alt”. And every time a glimpse of our case is made, the reaction is simply angry defense of political essentialism or flipping the narrative.

So speaking calmly and acting how we’re told has been proven fruitless, a spectacle for the media facade and self-service repression. We’re over playing pretend. As spontaneous action finds its way in the streets and communities, as the structures of privilege and coercion are discredited, we’re reaching a trying time of discovering our strength and wielding it together, or once again rebranding the game of domination.

Non-violence can only persuade authority to take a new shape or expand appeasement, but it can never mend the relations of exploitation and violence that anarchists will always oppose. Autonomy and dignity in our lives will always be sacrificed so long as we act obediently in the shadow of power.

We might have landed on a particularly stubborn generational spot for the next social transition to happen, as most people still don’t see how we went from Kings and Surfs to Bosses and Employees. Its always difficult to attack the conscience of the population without seemingly devaluing the whole of their character. In doing the latter, we become just as bad as our enemies in allowing material mechanisms to segment us from the whole of humanity. It takes reminding oneself of the values they inherited and the vessel that expresses them, seeking only to revise one of them for everyone’s wellness.

We don’t desire or get anything out of talking down to everyday people, but the frustration and outrage that is perpetuated through popular channels creates the only audible tone. As much as we would prefer diverse and colorful images of anarchy and vanquished white supremacy as a gift to all, a rich connection between the individual, the world, and what fills the space between them, those would be dismissed as utopian in a heartbeat.

The monotone black [and red] of militant negation appears to set the stage well enough for what we have to deal with presently. We appear to be assholes because we’re backed into such a corner where we only have so much to work with. And with what is available to us, we consistently build up our conclusion.

Nazis are for shutting down and putting down, not assimilating and regulating as you would anyone else. Free speech is a political right afforded to you by the same class of elites who arrange the wages of starvation, mandate ritualistic appeals to higher-ups and draw out who suffers and who dispenses. When people aren’t separated from consequences, it isn’t a social axiom that anybody abides by even in their most intimate setting.

We’ll soon be forced out of our screen-lit rooms and into the world we’ve abandoned, reeling at what we left to fester. Popular conscience will experience a thermal shock of reality when people understand that mediating fascism, whether by trademarked Rational Centrism over twitter or the holiness of legislation, is a joke when the bodies start piling up.

So, whats the solution? Social revolution.

The Religion of Civility

Charlottesville is Barely The Start

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(For Subversion NewsIts Going Down)

Our group of four stood at the crosswalk, flagpoles in hand and bandannas around our necks. Off in the distance, the park is teeming with black-clad people with clubs, shields, respirators, flags, banners, signs. Any form of message delivery, all with the same idea. Looking down the street to see if there’s a quicker way to get across, we spot the first of our enemy: Identity Evropa marching in a single column down the sidewalk across the park, their distinct blue and white flags waving above them. Before they round the corner to face the anti-fascists, we already hear cries against them, cries unlike at any sporting event; cries with sincere disdain on every level. “Nazi Scum Off Our Streets!” The column leaves our sight, and we cross the street. This is at 10 AM.

Over the next two hours, we move from park to park, checkpoint to checkpoint encountering the sections of this new wave of terror and fervor of racial fantasy. At the same time, we encounter some of the most courageous and selfless individuals who put themselves in danger to aid their comrades. Street medics tending to those pepper sprayed and injured by the enemy. Redneck Revolt giving armed protection to the mass of anti-fascists. Camp sites out in the woods providing legal info, mental health support and weapons training before the action. Every bit of this would contribute to our victory over the enemy in Charlottesville, but also set the paradigm for what to do from then on.

After the police declared Emancipation park an unlawful assembly for the white nationalists, we regrouped at our initial rendezvous. We eat, rehydrate and plan our next moves. Reports from communications come in and out, that the fascists are approaching us. A couple right-wing stragglers cross the street, get punched in the mouth and get their confederate flag expropriated, which is later burned.

We make our way to McGuffey park to rejoin with people we got separated with. When we arrive we get word that Richard Spencer was arrested and celebrate accordingly. Soon after, we get reports of fascists en route to harass a black, low income neighborhood. As armed bike-runners are dispatched to confirm the situation, the need to gather all the counter-protesters to have the whole town on watch becomes obvious.

We set our sights for the busy roads around the pedestrian mall, a mile out from Emancipation Park. An improvised chant invigorates our numbers down the road leaving McGuffey. “Everywhere we go, pigs wanna know; Who we are — so we tell them: ‘We are the People! The motherfucking people! Fighting for Justice. Black liberation, brown liberation, queer liberation, trans liberation, native liberation, workers’ liberation!

Soon we reach an intersection, and we are greeted by red communist flags and black lives matter banners. Cheers signal them into the mass of people united against white supremacy. We wave our flags and continuously declare these streets to be ours, as they are. But just after clearing the intersection, at Water and Fourth streets, I hear faint screams up the road. I grab my partner and a comrade and rush us to a sidewalk in the opposite direction before the screams culminate in a roaring smash with people tumbling over windshields. The rush of victory and camaraderie is instantly replaced by terror; fear for what the toll of injuries and deaths will be reported on in the news later that day. I clutch my partner, knowing that someone is dead. “This is fucking class war!” we shout.

Paramedics arrive in minutes. One of our group members is missing, and our anxiety peaks when riot police begin stepping in, advancing ten feet per minute. To our greatest relief, she makes it back to us having been trapped on the other side when police cleared the street. For fear of being kettled, we rejoin with people from our state and get somewhere safe.

After the attack, activities on all sides are fragmented into a free-for-all. The give a little, get a littleconvention is thrown out the window. Hospitals caring for injured anti-fascists are circled by cars belonging to Identity Evropa. Reports of drive-by shootings by nationalists put everyone on edge. Sporadic reports of mass arrests send us to ultimately barren locations. Cooling down at a local coffeeshop, we decide that we’ve done our part. We make it back to our car and debrief at camp before getting on the road for home. We get the outside world’s view of the situation in the car. It feels almost insulting, after what we’ve seen firsthand.

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Charlottesville as a city is now tainted to me. I can never get that first impression healed, and that city will always be bookended as where I was on August 12, 2017. Every bit of stonework, every street and every shop can only play a part in mentally outlining the vessel for what arose on that day from devotion to the myth of “blood and soil.” Regardless, a few facts need to be repeated.

We outnumbered them. We shut their event down before it could start. We were lucky enough to have the cops turn on them. But they will step up their game. They will celebrate the murder of Heather Heyer and twist it into a repetitive in-joke, encouraging their fantasy to be built on further. They willkill more of us, and they will try to win. The fascist rise to power is always prefaced in the streets.

The analyses of late show all and more I could say about the situation: This is a testament to this generation’s resurgence of nationalism; the point where everyone agrees that they’ve moved out of the Internet. Where mere disgruntled young white men are organized into formations capable of terrorizing vulnerable communities and securing the already prevalent structures of oppression as the core mode of society.

Charlottesville as some grand call to action was a laughable failure, yes, but I can only speak for the impressions I got in the streets. Personally, it was a declaration of class war that was secured when Heather Heyer was killed. Each side had a sense of this being something momentous, probably not as profound when knowing that it was built up over the weeks prior, but it was there and it meant something more.

And now in the aftermath, as white nationalists announce more rallies over confederate statue removals across the US, threatening posters put in low income neighborhoods and random acts of racist violence, we are seeing that sentiment spreading and coalescing into a real conflict beyond protests. With liberals saying their routine denouncing of violence “on many sides”, its made clear once again that only we will protect us.

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We have to come to the realization of peace and love being an outcome. A result, and not a means of maintaining itself. You can stand up to hate with love, but what vehicle of action is love driving? Certainly not more and more “love” until it somehow forms an effective weapon to literally kill white supremacy. You don’t “love” a fascist to death or make your love out to be deadly if it can’t hate and kill when it needs to.

Our relationships need to break away from appeasing the exploitation of non-violent complacency, monotonous popular dialog, and taking to heart the acceptability of liberal pats on the back.

If anyone cares about standing up to hate, they won’t prioritize “taking a stand” and announcing support while backing down at the first sign of physical confrontation. They will speak last while organizing, arming, training and fighting alongside the marginalized. They will understand the need to raze the shackles of state mediation, working to the crossroads of autonomy or autocracy. It is possible, and day by day it becomes our time to decide.

[Image Credits: Anonymous]

Charlottesville is Barely The Start

National Socialist Movement to join “Unite the Right” in Virginia

(For Subversion NewsIts Going Down)

After the American Renaissance conference in Tennessee, its seems clear what to expect from the Unite the Right event in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is due in one week.

We anticipated the conference to be a sort of ideological warm-up for the alt-right’s journey through the Upper South and Appalachia, met with moderate opposition outside the Montgomery Bell Park Inn. Despite the predictable impressions of the attendees and the laughable enticement of minor physical violence from the far-right side, it remains a far cry from a simple disconnected meeting of nazis.

While international figures convened in Tennessee, the gathering in Charlottesville has its sights set for a very real goal in the communities of those in the US: To preserve the commemoration of genocide, slavery and the prevailing sentiments of white domination over the marginalized, wrapped in the myth of “preserving history”. Even then, there seems to be a deeper goal considering the nature of the right coming together in such a time.

Along with figureheads Milo Yiannopoulos, Richard Spencer, Neo-Confederates League of the South, Strasserists Traditionalist Worker Party and assorted kekistanis wielding stale memes and embarrassment, the National Socialist Movement, led by Jeff Schoep, has announced their partnership with the attendance.

The NSM joining more or less summarizes the drive of the entire event. Yes, whether in swastika’ed bomber jackets or suits and ties, they’re advocating white supremacy. But while Spencer and those like him will definitely make attempts at keeping a civic profile, the attraction of the out-and-loud white supremacists is not as innocent or unintentional as it appears.

Uniting the right is pointless without a good reason. There isn’t much purpose if the right historically has always been divided into their own subcultures ranging from neocons enforcing poverty, to disenchanted rural militiamen defending the constitution; or something. The right in all their incoherence always finds ways to isolate their own strands while fighting for the same side of the spectrum. E.g., an attack on a neo-nazi is an attack on the first amendment, and therefore the constitution and the values of America. Undermining whiteness is a perpetuation of a literal white genocide, and equally an attack on white christian property owners that conservatives bend over backwards for. The outline of similar interests becomes more shared when framed just right.

It takes a big issue, or a bright shining abstraction, to bring together such interests.

The major media scare of anti-fascist resistance and ground-up community action has no doubt played a role in drumming up emotions from all corners of the right and center. The typical suburban household to the local red-lace chapter has adopted and customized the outrage as a political wedge. The pox of white defensiveness has become the current paradigm — a delicate bridge separating the ways this tension will conclude. Opportunism hasn’t been this stirred up since the 1960s.

It seems to come down to lines becoming more and more visible, sides becoming more one or the otherWith us, or against us in the desperation of the political base abandoning party lines. The far-left has always held the line, encouraged crossing it, in the face of growing polarization and instability. But like routine, its often the right that quickly steps up to the plate ready to see how this particular game will go. Our culture wars coming out of our isolated social media chambers and into the streets signifies a very uncertain round of society reconfiguring itself, liberals playing insufferable mediator.

Its time to get fucking real. For those who haven’t already, its time to shake off party-based activism and legislation and look to our own potential: in our own towns and backyards. Its time to subvert the state buffer between the marginalized and the smirking scourge of white supremacy and defeat it where it stalks closest to home.

The fascists must not have the streets. We call on all anarchist, anti-fascist and anti-authoritarian groups in Appalachia and East South Central North America to converge at Lee Park on August 12th at 3:00 PM EST, and carry on the active resistance against white supremacy. We intend to win.

National Socialist Movement to join “Unite the Right” in Virginia

The Sentiment Market and Killing It

After a little way’s into USA network’s premier of Mr. Robot in 2015, the feeling began to crystallize for me and probably others.

I just began restarting a personal blog. My political tendencies were taking shape around my commitment to Internet freedom and the greater hacker community influenced by the threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Scared shitless that copyright goons would seize my parents’ router, I immersed myself deeper in the culture to build up a pseudo-militant persona.

I got the first four episodes after an Internet friend kept pressuring me. Before that I only saw one image, later to be seen on different cringe threads. “OUR DEMOCRACY HAS BEEN HACKED,” superimposed over Rami Malek’s hooded face.

Not long after walking away having enjoyed it well enough, I published the first real article on the blog. It seemed like a cozy blend of opposition to intellectual property cut with an acceptance of money being a concrete social thing, simply declaring that media isn’t a tangible item to be commodified. It can’t work. This made me feel steadfast and edgy but grounded and practical, probably engineered to take solace in being looked at seriously enough by everyday people, not needing to engage in significant explanations.

That was my mindset for a while, in that light of Pirate Party support and free culture vigilance. Of course, I grew to see why things I love are being threatened: Why open content and the desire and tools to expand it was scaring the shit out of the entertainment industry, weaponizing their dollars. The problem was the whole structure, the whole interwoven combinations, as well as the narrative of protecting them and ensuring their appeasement.

But looking back on that brief stint of not fully knowing where I stood economically, nor having a conception of a social stance being integral to an economic one, it brought back memories of what was dispensed my way. In them, I found an uneasiness distinct in the artificial tones playing out casually; like they couldn’t afford to pretend anymore, so they needed to adapt themselves by wearing plastic sentiments.

Mr. Robot did so by sprinkling a Fight Club rewrite with cult jargon about onion routing, GNOME, KDE and “hacking”, with a layer of corporate critical, post-Snowden conspiracy fantasy and a slice of appealing to those with emotional problems. Basically all the qualities of the cyberpunk communities I would frequent.

The conversation it must have taken beforehand seems obvious. “That linux-hacker computer-thing has a pretty sizable community online. Lets tap into it by making a TV show about hacking, evil businessmen and social anxiety.”

Immediately, its easy to know what I’m talking about in total, but it seems like this particular feature has more depth to it. There is a sincerity in things like Mr. Robot and countless other media, normally when dealing with trends or niches. But its not an advocacy of the content, instead its a mesh of (plastic) sentiments as a vehicle for richness, of allure when the intensity in scenarios is coated with a positive or heroic representation of the protagonists. The intent is normally for the same reasons as any TV or film undertaking, using these subcultures for spectacle.

However, it also attempts to sabotage the potential in politically-oriented subcultures by using their dialog and ideals for the reverse purposes. And indeed they accomplish them when million dollar documentaries about whistleblowers make their budget back, or when coverage of outcry sends ratings into the stratosphere. When it isn’t the hacker or the guerrilla fighter depicted as heartless and chaotic, their heroism is livened to such a proportion that it accomplishes a mutually opposing interest in the real world.

We can boil down the marketing of sentiments, isolated from the total spectacle, by its power in subtlety. You won’t find intimately relatable people on any TV network or social media anymore, since their only role is distraction. A break from the busy mind. But when the distraction becomes toxic complacency, and those who acknowledge it want a feeling of rejuvenating empowerment like the young beginners of social awareness and political identity, you can find little bursts anywhere that reconcile two halves which ultimately serve one. The Market, then the sentiment: the illusion of a message.

This is one of advertising’s basic survival mechanisms. People won’t care about whats being offered if it feels disconnected from their own world, so it targets as many specific types of people it can for net turnout. It used to be that popular behaviors were copied, or even lived by advertisers, and rewritten to sell. But now they’ve infiltrated deeper, attaching as many timely embellishments as possible, applying research on general social dissatisfaction within these subcultures. All to sell not only representation, but commonality, which is consequentially monopolized.

What makes the end result so plastic is how impersonal the words and images are. For things so integral to personalities, they are shouted off from unfamiliar places and meant to entice those who recognize them. For those observant of this process, it has an Uncanny Valley effect: Relatively agreeable dialogs or situations depicted in contrived environments, rather than playing out in our most familiar collectives, muddles the original texture. For others, when facing the monopoly on cultural representation, there is little choice but to consume its products and enjoy the most of the stories possible, instead of feeling right about the representation in equal measure. To watch yourself be played out by another instead of grasping the actions yourself.

To put it all together, the traits of socially relevant subcultures are accounted for and implemented into commodities and advertisements, which have a corrupted similarity to their source material. We are subjected to deeply engineered versions of our own passions. This is probably why those who enter into a subculture through the contrived channels experience higher fascination when entering the personal spaces, even experiencing feelings of inadequacy, limited belonging.

Inversion of the market by some degree of non-profit causes are not exempt from this. They have the same stench, coming from the same batch of trendy gloss. The framing is distinctly impersonal, held at a distance between viewer and speaker with a long cord of familiarity traveling the length.

The adverts by TruthOrange made it perfectly clear to me. I knew of the typical picture of suits in a boardroom calculating loss and subdividing, but their anti-smoking ads made up entirely of twenty-year olds and Trap music in the background allowed me to peer into those rooms and almost taste the words on their lips. Beat for beat, I knew the formula at the first second.

“If we make our characters young, black, sassy and loud about social issues, talking about ‘recent studies’ and ‘the supreme court’, we can hook onto that burgeoning niche with an appeal to realness.”

It becomes obvious that its not a matter of changing the approach to creating media “for” or “about” such interests. There is not any adequate means of offering groups what they want that can’t generate plastic sentimentality. Its a consequence of market necessities mass filtering socially relevant passions and dispensing hollow spectacles. The sentiments must be well earned, derived from the groups alone.

The gap between the continuation of hierarchies and people’s needs and desires soon becomes marketed. Something new becomes obvious, so they bank on it — possibly a quelling tactic. Resistance itself, the concept, is now a casualty to advertising and plastic moving images, totally displaced from intimately building transformation on a given scale. In its place are those plastic tones in the form of hashtags and mass produced protest signs. Now they’ve run their course for so long, that we begin living them.

You see democrats calling for “resistance” to Trump, but in the fashion of Love not Hate without any praxis whatsoever.

You see people in the streets demonstrating for minimum wage increases with an attitude only suitable for toppling the wage system entirely.

You see clenched fists implemented in political parties and safe, impersonal non-profits.

Of course, its foolish to suggest that large scale, genuine sentiments can break through under capitalism. Its for that reason that “indie” media or other highly contained items are distinguished from all the rest, always proving the model of the adorable little hundred dollar movie that tried. From this, we can derive that fully realized passions not debased by market intrusion is tightly bound up in social revolution.

For gaining the strength to build a true, militant culture free of interference, my hopes are in the inner-city apartment blocks. In the neighborhoods behind the construction sites. In the rural clusters of homes in Appalachia. Where material sorrows exist, there is a young person working to relay anarchy to the dejected. Where there are obscure inclinations toward a better personal network, there is a community who shares them. There is no place or people where trust is stronger, where faith in self-determination and actualization is more defined, and certainly more plausible.

The act of uprooting planned culture through self-organized media outlets, cultural hubs and social structures in the present is probably the right start for revolt entirely. Not simply to keep it healthy for a time, but also to nourish its roots now so they can grow deeper when the scorched earth is removed. And even then, it certainly goes a little deeper as I see it.

People actually building a society within the current one with its own priorities and decisions, negating the ones issued to them, is the general direction. I think people should get to a point where they aren’t working jobs or paying rent or bills or taxes pertaining to the outer, private and public society, but pursuing their existence contextual to what communities they themselves have erected. If they can fend off repression and infiltration sufficiently, they can grow out and revitalize what they keep from the old world.

Among their defense networks and coordination assemblies, there are well-earned, non-contrivedsentiments springing from people’s intimately connected expressions in the pursuit of autonomy. They become the social vessel for what is being enlarged by the voices in the streets. The voices are critical and hopeful, the adapted essence of the situationists for what they themselves adapted to.

Our challenge, this particular one, is in the monopoly on commonality. The brands, TV and Internet markets hold the reigns of trust, given total guidance over our passions (themselves not in our control) or warping what we’re slowly realizing. Meanwhile, we distrust those who most deeply share the ills of class society or the significant issues in a common area.

The continual pressure doesn’t offer many options without dressing up the same melancholy. We wallow in the romantic misery of being oneself in a society of strangers who walk and talk kind of like us, inventing a new pride in being the real thing. Or, we dethrone the channels of impersonal adaption which alienate our passions and aspirations from ourselves and our experiences in the hope of total self-determination.

The Sentiment Market and Killing It

The Fate of The Radical Internet Community

Our communication avenues are killing us, and we’ve turned them on ourselves. In this sense, I mean that the foundational object for communicating between each other in leftist and anarchist spaces is becoming a mere excuse to make inter-community conflict the primary engagement.

This isn’t to suggest that people only use politics for an excuse to participate in drama nowadays, but our sense of importance in specific things oscillates in a terrible and counter-productive way that maintains a loose connection with our politics to justify itself. The lines between a minor schism and the fate of our persuasions blur, speedily producing a community hysteria that is fully realized when our comrades become estranged in the fractures of the situation when it reaches critical mass.

In the events leading up to late last year, online leftist communities did a very good job of stoking its flames to burn themselves to the ground in hopes of building themselves up.

The frustration against the dominant political and social hierarchies tends to create an inner and outward act of aggression. This means that in the process of attacking one’s enemies, the allies — the comrades, are also significantly harmed or indistinguishable. The body of power-wielders executes decisions in such a careless and frantic manner that all are caught in the crossfire.

The socialism subreddit (/r/socialism) made a perfect example of this in late 2016. Through top-down word policing that included paternalizing the health and conduct of neurodivergent and disabled people, they managed to become a sort of online DPRK, interestingly. By squeezing language and conduct so tight that nobody could clench their anus wrong without receiving a ban, they closed themselves off from the very source of their purpose and did an outstanding job of ensuring that nobody will want to participate there again.

The model of decentralized pockets of speech and assembly is the ideal and perhaps essential approach of self-organized communities. This counters the notion of free speech everywhere, which even ardent advocates would be horrified to see realized.The actions of /r/socialism, however, were hopelessly irresponsible for such a model.

For one thing, in the present hierarchies, people are generally familiar with a sort of wide-open “market” of communities, for lack of better words, wherein different sections offer different things, but within the general market there is a custom of “people can say what they want.” While in this custom, there is a crucial period of weening people away from an all-encompassing obligation to servicing everyone’s ideas, and bringing them to an important suggestion: “would you allow anyone at all to say anything at all at your own party or gathering? If not, thats exactly what we’re doing here.”

This is crucial because it really changes what curious newcomers thought about discussion. It easily shows that yes, you wouldn’t like someone with opposing ideas always allowed to badger you and your friends who think differently. This is not to say that you would never debate that person or step outside your own community, but you would default to doing so in a place that explicitly facilitates or welcomes such activity. Always being welcome to do that anywhere is simply annoying.

How we coordinate this in vision and fact is to think of it as an actual community, and to take it seriously as such. The way to make this work on mainstream platforms is to use moderation and administration roles in the same rotating, limited and retractable ways as delegation in physical assemblies. This way we can enforce the agreed, democratically managed statutes of the community through trusted members occupying a subsection of the total membership, and not a specialized tier of managers.

This is where /r/socialism failed. They’ve always appeared to operate on a sort of vanguardism that made party-like tiers and higher sections necessary. It was relatively tolerable, however, until new moderators came aboard and began enforcing strict and ridiculous rules regarding ableism and catgirlswithout community clearance, essentially alienating contributors from overseers. This put everyone in an awkward and uncomfortable place. Neurodivergent people like myself, who were pressured into conforming to the speech mandate, became so stressed over the change in environment that the expressed idea to be welcoming became an inverted, bastardized idea of what doing good looked like. “Just change who you push away and everything will be fine.” Even though you’re just shuffling which disabled people you’re kicking out.

This is precisely why feedback needs to be continuous between participants and those entrusted with certain positions like administrators and moderators. And sadly, if not a sweeping act of frantic autocracy, we end up manufacturing multiple frenzies that interlock and build a multifaceted body of decay. A kind of microscopic shredder for a once good community overtaken by whatever everyone is screaming about, influencing a migration or even a dropout from the total cause.

This is probably the most unfortunate fact of the Internet. With so much possibility, it doesn’t always work in our favor, often pushing us into awkward positions. But if anyone knows anything about me, they know this is all to say that our direction is tremendously off course, not that we should abandon platforms on the Internet.

The problem as it seems to me is that we’ve centered our hope in the Internet following the changes in our world, which is an awful tactic for such a massive social vision as anarchism or leftism to adopt. The Internet, as both an advantage and a detriment, is fundamentally separate from human nuances. To think for a moment that we can exchange ideas sufficiently through dehumanized arrangements of letters is absurd, let alone manage an effective movement.

Communication online is a convenient yet faulty device for our language, and language, words, are somewhat disconnected from overall communication. With real and genuine conversations, we find essential indicators of tone, gesture, emotion and fixed context that make one sentence or phrase mean totally different things under minuscule differences. This is the disparity between online and physical interaction that cannot be rightfully fixed under the current direction. Online communication is the provisional answer to distance and language barriers, yet the eventual gain in numbers and actions demands a physical realization of what we’ve developed over the Internet.

From this approach, if we want to escape our problem, we require the use of online spaces to act as an extension to a greater center of engagement, rather than the Internet being that greater center while physical engagement is the extension; a reversal. I suppose I could dial this back as well. If using them in tandem becomes too difficult or just devolves back into the same problem, we could consider using them reciprocally. What was left undone in one sphere is noted and completed in the other.

Ultimately, we need to reclaim a self-discipline of what is functionally important to the cause of anarchism and anarchist communities, and what is merely inconsequential and sometimes destructive quarreling over something disconnected. The discipline needs to take place in getting a hold of ourselves: not to close off discussions for change, but to get face-to-face with them, thoroughly measure whats going on, and not just initiate a referendum out of custom. To limit what enters our directing community sectors like the decision-making process or the general assembly based on the situation and the number of perspectives on it. Sometimes a disagreement is just that, and needs no such advancement into a rule of the association. Acting in this way is the best bet for creating new conflicts and tangles to resolve later.

This involves distinguishing the levels of overall community action on an issue, leaving certain scopes of engagement up to individuals alone, and actually utilizing our commitment to non-hierarchy even in services that run on hierarchical features, such as forums, group chat platforms and social media (don’t use those top-down features. Ever.)

At this point we start to see a need to reevaluate our self-governance. The issue is not just the vehicle for our communication and its downfalls, but our own downfalls too. We acknowledge oppression and trade methods of combating its appearance in our communities, but we often fix those methods to inflexible actions propped up by the dehumanized face of digitalized language. A whack-a-mole of moderation. In the pursuit of adjusting ourselves for others, we end up swapping out who is disadvantaged rather that making balanced compromises.

Call-out culture just makes our own brand of coercion to act proper before peers instead of actually learning from mistakes and feeling comfortable in what we do. If we’re to look at the minor blunders of comrades and resolve them while staying friends, we need to take on a smart approach to making a solution essential to the problem. Disciplinary solutions in their scope and aggression need to be proportional to the offense given, not a fixed action.

The call-out only appears to be effective, or at least justified, if we’re dealing with someone in power or someone expressly bigoted. In simpler terms, you have to know who your friends are. Who you can tap on the shoulder, talk to in a heart-to-heart way and point something out; a call-in. And then there’s knowing who aren’t your friends: who you can loudly condemn to the same extent they’ve caused harm; calling them out. You simply have to make those distinctions and really look at the offense to determine what is the right action. To quote Asam Ahmad:

Paying attention to these other contexts will mean refusing to unleash all of our very real trauma onto the psyches of those we imagine represent the systems that oppress us. Given the nature of online social networks, call-outs are not going away any time soon. But reminding ourselves of what a call-out is meant to accomplish will go a long way toward creating the kinds of substantial, material changes in people’s behaviour — and in community dynamics — that we envision and need.

Default aggression only fosters the strain and friction later to come, and in a way it is privileged in of itself. People who have real issues with communication (on top of speaking on the Internet) often seek human connections and validation online, where they feel safe and can adequately make friends. Here, their impairment can still slip through and create a misunderstanding. Things like these are important to keep in mind when finding something objectionable, as well as the context which can indicate if the offense is intentional or a mistake. Again, this is where calling in is useful.

To encourage mindful evaluations of certain speech and ideas, be conscious of context and actively oppose unilateral policing is how we create not only the ideas but also the facts of our future. To reiterate, this is not the approach to everything. People still have a fundamental right to dismantle grossly bigoted or authoritarian speech as the need arises, but to suggest that such aggression and vigilance is required all the time is what creates the tensions that scare away honest comrades who are capable of the same mistakes we all are.

To do all this that does justice to our tendency, we need to exercise this power in a horizontal, flexible manner.

Its all our cross to bare. No single class of admins or mods can be blamed, we all need to take initiative and be the change. Afterall, we did all this. We built the communities, shared the ideas, brought people in. We let it fall into disrepair, inverted what we preached, let irresponsible people take central power.

Its our choice, we must decide if we’re up for idiotic schisms to fragment us until our only option is resetting or death, or if we want to approach issues and the very nature of our engagement differently, humanely; and quite possibly save ourselves and the world in the process.

The Fate of The Radical Internet Community

A brief, opinionated overview of Democracy and Anarchy

I use the phrase democracy, when describing an alternative social assortment, to refer to people managing themselves on a shared horizontal basis. Doing this is rather controversial in anarchist discussion, because there are recent critiques on the role, meaning and consequences of what has historically been attributed to ‘democracy’. Especially, when considering the different implications raised in advocating an apparently fixed system while affiliating with those opposed to hierarchy and imposed order.

The debate around ‘democracy’ in anarchist circles comes down mainly to semantics and practice. The former covers the abstractness of the word, including the perspective that it has historically developed into a sort of facade to entice the masses into an incorporated tyranny that imposes the will of the majority on the minority, instead of consolidating voices and meeting them equally. With this in mind, there is an idea that it can only be exercised along these lines. The latter questions the positioning of a process once defined: if such a process is central and overarching to all portions of a society like in nation-states, or if its freely carried out by the agreement of individual groups.

The first step is to express the actual nuance of what I mean. For starters, I don’t argue for a definite political shape, but I do advocate definite principles by which something might take one. I don’t even argue for voting toward a majority [by default] (I think in the worst-case scenario, its necessary for resolving a severe dispute), but I do encourage a mix of valuing our concerns equally through consensus with an understanding that we know when to consent to entrusting temporary power to someone on our immediate behalf when a situation calls for it.

The second is to emphasize not a defense of democracy as any system but as a descriptor. It is used to condense an idea of participatory politics that is bound to emerge in people not alienated by status or privilege. We can easily imagine ‘democracy’ stripped down to its core idea separate from the historical corrupted practice. Does it really matter if the origin of democracy, the idea that people can rule themselves, is one of contradiction and folly? Does it matter with any idea that became a basis for politics in the future? We don’t seem to mind that a lot of the forerunners of anarchism had various contradictions of opinion because of the time in which they wrote, and so it doesn’t add up to me to apply this concern then to a label for some sort of self-direction, even if an imperfect one. I don’t think it hurts to repurpose the face of a clear idea that hardly ever had its time in the sun because the guy who happened to introduced it first acted on it in terrible, oppressive ways.

There are infinite ways to approach and define democracy in the same sense there are ways to define and approach anarchy/ism. We’re talking about a notion of how things interrelate, or should, and the outline of accomplishing something around that. This often doesn’t come with a prescribed set traits that the pillars of action need, taking for instance how leftism doesn’t narrow to one or two schools. We’re left to expand these notions as we go along with action, and with continuous action comes the changed impression of it, such as an interpretation of democracy.

We can probably spend days on end taking one feature used in a political program, dissecting its aim, history, causes and effects and relaying it to the present aim we’re invested in. We can do that to anything. We can take self-determination and turn it into a fascist concept because Hitler advocated a sort of nationalist, white self-determination. In the same way, we already know how bastardized ‘freedom’ has become thanks to the capitalist, patriarchal narratives of the United States. What matters is using terms and ideas in a general proximity to our actual aim through context and elaboration. No one idea is ours or the enemy’s, but its up to us to give it an alternative practice.

We’ve simply arrived at one set of analyses that sees democracy as a holistic product of the nation-state which gravitates toward being an overarching, unportable mode of tyranny in the pursuit of deciding on an action via majority. The problem is that me and those who think this way have been talking about the same thing.

I can and will contend that democracy in the forms people are most acquainted with developed out of a softening of protecting tyranny on other fronts. It didn’t develop out of liberation, but as a way to make control more appealing and imbued with the social romance of participation, and it certainly didn’t take into account a fundamental emphasis on communal autonomy that we desire now. It stemmed from monarchy and oligarchy and thus inherited a good deal of those undertones, which is seen in the credence of majority-rule. But my defense isn’t really about defending democracy, if that makes any sense. Its about defending a way to explain a complex approach in one analogous word or comparison.

Additionally to this is the adjective direct. Direct democracy is another example under this; there is the Swiss quasi-direct democratic model (in which citizens partly take the place of representatives) that is championed by various progressives in American politics, and there is the kind of direct that is theorized, and even practiced, but not the staple of ideal democracy as a diverse body. One that strives for consensus and cooperation rather than a chattering box of winners and loosers. One that is unmitigated and spontaneous in it being compelled only by the result of a freely taken participation. One which makes a viable case that the anarchist objections to so-called ‘democracy’ are actually objections to oligarchy and opportunism, and not what was actually stolen from us by these barriers.

I am, of course, referring to the deliberative and federal structures that existed in the social revolutionary experimentations of different areas in the world at one point or other. Direct takes on a different form in this sense. It departs from a suggestion in the word alone that the workers directlyengage in a competitive environment of how they ought to do things without representation; a glamorized distancing from solidarity. Instead it envisions that we are directly connected to, and responsible for, the situations we find ourselves in and the steps we take to accomplish things, thus sustaining the reciprocal autonomy of the collective and the individual. Direct suggests the residents, the workers: the anarchist conception of the demos (everyone), are the direct cause and effect of collective action; that there is no fixed destination to strive for as the intermediary, but a goal constantly evolving with the actions of those taking part.

The social vision remains precisely the same while the use of terms contrast. It can never be guaranteed if we mean the same thing when our preferences for words are so diverse.

Probably the most popular contrast I’ve encountered is that we should not have democracy, but anarchy. And while this is completely true for the overarching condition where free decision-making can flourish, we are still subject to define some practices inside the existence of real possibility. We are referring to the existence of any decision-making practice under anarchy. Its through democracy, any process of shared self-management, that anarchy is given meaning and the actual channels to exercise itself. In this sense, when one advocates a direct form of democracy they are necessarily advocating the enveloping condition of anarchy. But the need for anarchy is satisfied through more than just that. Its accomplished by the existence of varied and decentralized methods. Moreover, there cannot be anarchy without an association to confirm that suggestion for themselves.

If someone is looking for a home, that is the guiding condition which will be satisfied by the acquisition of one. But they cannot have acquired a house without it possessing some property of color, shape or size. They then become in possession of a home as the satisfaction of the need, but there is a set of other characteristics that becomes part of the scenario. This is what I’m talking about when I mean democracy. Its the adjective to first describe the closest familiar type of a just arrangement of affairs, and then an extended guiding principle from that understanding to avoid accidentally describing central, enveloping democracy rather than anarchy with autonomous structures under it.

People right now happen to think in terms of Democracy or Dictatorship. That doesn’t mean I reduce my own language and understanding for their sake, but I do place self-management to what its closest to when having to describe anarchist principles to everyday people. Thats how I got where I am, and I have a habit of passing on the same thing when I have the chance to inform people. Again, what matters most is elaborating your use of terms in hopes to disarm conflicts of connotations.

I think we’re simply facing a tangle in deconstructing everything, meanwhile people like me have grasped what they meant before anything was said. It seems the no-democracy types are addressing the liberal idea of more citizen-participation in the state instead of a situation where individuals, free of class and social authority, are the cause of organizations and decisions directly. But there is a tendency for dialogs to recurse and inadvertently become a critique of its own idea utilizing sometimes confusing points which we already sympathized with.

If we need to level with each other, fine: I’m not defending democracy. Certainly not the state attempt at it, the majority-only approach, the replacement for individual autonomy or the liberal direct concept. But I am defending the use of it as a vehicle to convey our proposed modes of organizing and acting. Democracy is overall a figure of language. Its pliable and abstract, something no term is free of. But knowing this, we should not distance from it. We should acknowledge it’s use to explain similar principles that the anarchists take into deeper consideration. It just so happens that there are different historical and political tragedies that we share in being connected to the principles done differently. We share this issue in our conceptions of freedom, equality and liberation that differ from other philosophies, and simply put: it doesn’t seem reasonable to hold contempt for an impression of a concept we are otherwise tied to as anarchists.

If democracy is a word anarchists are uncomfortable with, they are welcome to harp on about autonomy, horizontality and self-determination ‘only’, and while those are the exact principles I advocate through a popular figure of language, they shouldn’t expect newcomers to be too open and patient with them when they feel like someone is speaking an entirely different language to them. And thats really all this comes down to. Its not about advocating democracy or autonomy, its about the two being synonymous in a certain context, and unfortunately about people wasting their breath when they could just use one word.

A brief, opinionated overview of Democracy and Anarchy