anonymous critique of William Gillis's "On No Platform and ITS"
(this post was removed here due to length)
>Social association matters, it maps networks of trust and collaboration, it declares degrees of affinity, and provides points of entry
And that, right there, is neoliberalism.
Ideas have been redefined from something which has a right to exist, or at least to be considered on their merits, to be simply signs – means of virtue signalling and cultural capital demonstration – a constant *test* as Baudrillard puts it – can you give the right answer, the right signal in the aleatory binary cybernetic system? People are expected to have the right feelings, the right public displays. Deviant performance is punished – through exclusion from the network. Sesame Credit is simply the next stage in this process. Dissidents will become socially dead by being isolated by self-interested horizontal police!
Truth, knowledge, belief, reality, are irrelevant. If the system rewards 2+2=5, the nodes will answer 2+2=5. How can anarchists support and facilitate this? This same system of imposed meanings has debilitated anarchist movements since the early 2000s. This is why “violence” is “never acceptable”. This is why the Miami Model works. This is the frontline of contemporary counterinsurgency discourse – the mediatised mobilisation of the masses as auxiliary police in the event of crisis.
Is it any coincidence that the persecution of “enabling toxic culture” was first of all rolled-out against Muslims after 9/11, as a duty to condemn, to integrate, to show neo-McCarthyist zero tolerance against the “radicals” in their midst who were being tortured, murdered and criminalised on a mass scale?
The Third Way, the identity politicians, the pseudo-anarchists, take this structure for granted – just like their forebears took for granted the system of industrial monotony and managerial tyranny.
Generalised rightslessness – in Arendt's definition, the lynchpin of totalitarianism. In neoliberalism, access to infrastructure is rarely guaranteed. Attention and “platforms” are scarce. Decisions by large corporations and social networks as to what they will permit can be as effective as government censorship at determining the limits of the possible. And this is used – consistently – to marginalise anarchism, and any other radical alternative. It's a form of apartheid: the world is segregated into those with “compliant behaviors” and those without, and the latter are left to die, or survive in a degraded desocialised condition, so that the regime of behaviorist conformity keeps functioning. So workers keep working, children keep studying, consumers keep consuming, and nobody pays attention to the world falling apart around them – because if they did, they'd suddenly find themselves cut-off from their networks and exposed to isolation and death.
And “anarchists” are endorsing this technology of oppression, as a means to smash the far right and settle scores within the anarchist scene!
When did we forget that the roots of anarchy are the “others” who are not docile and conformist, who fight back and drop out? Bakunin's “rabble”, unfit for work; Stirner's un-man; the autonomists' emarginati; Bonanno's excluded; Bey's Kallikaks and pirate utopias; the hippies' turn on, tune in, drop out; the primitivists' wildness; the insurrectionists' absolute refusal; the punks who shat on every idol... Anarchy is on the side of the ungovernable, the people who, today, are deemed unconnectable, unemployable, noncompliant, risky!
Anarchy is the diffuse power of networks which do not exert authoritarian power on their members – not the social engineering of networks to produce particular outcomes.
>not giving shitty people with shitty values and goals the legitimacy of a platform and connection with us
Listening to and engaging with – and rebutting – someone is not giving them legitimacy. That idea is a perversion of discussion/knowledge arising from neoliberalism. The conversion of conversation from discussions *about* things to distributions of voice, validation and legitimacy is one of the most debilitating social effects of the 'knowledge economy'.
In a context where infrastructure is crowdsourced or privatised, where networks are not simply effects of personal clustering but vital to the knowledge economy, and where the distribution of power in networks is grossly unequal – there is no functional difference between denying a platform (on a wide enough scale) and outright censoring.
And the whole thing is circular.
How do you decide what's shitty?
You have to consider the arguments for and against it. But, then you have to give it enough legitimacy to consider it.
What happens if you decide something's shitty, without giving it legitimacy and considering it?
You forcibly impose – or at least, insulate yourself from anything which challenges – your existing way of seeing, or the ideas which are convenient for you.
You know where the refusal to engage with opponents comes from?
The World Bank.
In the 1980s, the World Bank decided to stop engaging with its critics – Marxists, feminists, Keynesians, development economists, ecologists – and instead published circular journals referring only to other World Bank sources. Because of the power they hold – because their journals are distributed free to every government and economic body in the “underdeveloped world” - they quickly entrenched a delusion that their perspective was the only game in town.
Somewhere along the line, everyone else started copying them.
Except nobody else can finance this closed-minded monopolisation of discourse like the World Bank, or a totalitarian government, can.
For a marginal or dissident group, passive-aggressively refusing to engage with anything you don't agree with is a recipe for irrelevance. It serves the powerful far more than the powerless. The World Bank can ignore anarchists with impunity. If an anarchist writes on global political economy and doesn't engage with the discourse of the World Bank, they simply entrench the powerlessness imposed by the adversary.
So, the Spectacle-spooked public already “know” anarchism is shitty, just like the pseudo-anarchists already “know” fascism is shitty. They won't listen, they deny it attention, validation, a platform.
And it ends up with a ridiculous generalised guilt – by 'enabling', tolerating, not aggressively silencing something, one is deemed to be collaborating with it, or causing it. Internet hosts which refuse to take down content the government doesn't like are guilty of distributing the content. Communities which refuse to ban or expel someone are deemed guilty for whatever they do, or have done. There's a general duty to impose an authoritarian normative code so as not to 'enable' – to allow space – for anything deviant. This is absolutely the opposite of anarchism. It destroys open spaces, it destroys freedom, it destroys recognition of each person as a distinct actor.
And of course, the resultant distribution of validation and legitimacy *continues to favour those with the most power*, since their diffuse decisions to deny platforms, attention and validation carry more weight. The failure to contest this economy of validation guarantees our own continued powerlessness.
Not to mention that censorship/no platforming generally draws huge attention to what it attacks (Streisand effect). The no-platformers continue to create martyrs who can cry censorship and rally the marginalised who also feel unheard and vulnerable – driving lovers of freedom into the arms of the enemies of freedom.
But, it's worse than this. Given that conversation is used in neoliberalism as distribution of legitimacy and validation, and legitimacy and validation are gateways to resources, the act of exclusion can have fatal effects - “letting someone die” in a context where the system monopolises resources. Regions unprofitable for capital are simply disinvested from, forcibly delinked. People deemed 'unemployable' are just denied jobs and benefits. Look at something like SAMs – prisoners deemed politically dangerous are cut off from all their networks, socially isolated until they die or go mad. People deemed aggressive to officials or otherwise noncompliant might be denied healthcare, education, benefits. They might be shot by police – even if they're just an autistic person playing with a toy train in the middle of the road. Patients are denied treatment because they won't stop smoking while they're in hospital – and they die of an easily cured illness (even in countries with free healthcare). Homeless people are refused access to shelters because they're disruptive or drunk – and they freeze to death outside. And this is the real logic of “safe spaces” and behaviorist intolerance for “enablement”, for basic rights. Democide. People are literally dying so that others can have “safe spaces” and maintain their regime of behaviorist apartheid. The idea of universal rights – an idea accepted by the most moderate liberals and socialists just a few decades back – has disappeared. Universal rights “enable bad behavior”. Yes, of course! We can't have universal rights and also have absolute moral codes enforced by exclusion from the means to survive.
And this is the fascism which really matters today. The cybernetic fascism of the hive-mind which can silence and kill by denying a “platform”, connections, infrastructure and resources.
And in the face of this fascism, anarchism has rendered itself more reactionary than a liberal or a social-democrat thirty years ago. It has thus ceded the floor, ceded the energies of the excluded, to the far-right.
>such retractions only happened after a loss of social capital. (Honest props to those nihilists who called him out and cut ties with him over it.)
Yup... controlling others through social death, so as to blackmail them into conforming.
>The world is not a formless and consequenceless forum for the airing and interplay of ideas
Because in neoliberalism, ideas are commodities. Validation is a commodity. This means that freedom of ideas is *reduced* to the level of the lack of freedom which already determines the distribution of material goods. Only profitable ideas will be allowed to circulate.
>Nationalism is fucking stupid, but nationalist propaganda is particularly effective — it’s simplistic resonance persuades faster than critique can keep pace. It hooks into our shallow monkey brain instincts, feeding off our worst desires for status, power, belonging, and community, and providing an excuse to shrink the circle of our concern for others and avoid all the fatiguing intellectual responsibility such empathy brings
The idea that compassion can be imposed, *taught* as if it were a competency, as if it were something like car repair or basic math, is another of the crimes of neoliberalism – of a behaviorist elite which is itself without compassion.
Compassion imposed by a *duty of compassion* is no more compassion than the victim of a mugger is engaged in generosity. The duty of compassion becomes its opposite: the division of society into the compassionate and the uncompassionate, and the utterly uncompassionate brutalisation of the latter by the former. In other words, nationalism.
No-platforming is a form of identity politics, and identity politics – as shown by Perlman – is a form of nationalism.
And compulsory compassion is simply a new form of the old Christian duty to be humble, considerate and inoffensive.
A compassionate person does not dismiss others as “shitty”, and shut down their speech. A compassionate person, perhaps, uses nonviolent communication even with Nazis, as anarchist Jamie Heckert proposes. If you want to punch Nazis, then you are going to have to elevate lizard-brain from the abject position you've just given it.
This statement should be self-criticism by the author. They show, in their own words and practice, the very sins they denounce.
>The role of a publisher — even more so in the era of the internet — is to give social prominence to certain things.
Having just declared that pursuit of status is one of the lowest facets of humanity, this author then insists that this 'lizard-brain' function is the only significant role of ideas.
The belief that ideas should be assessed, not by their empirical validity or discursive effectiveness, but simply by their purported social effects (as perceived from one's own point of view)
And it is self-contradictory. If there's no external reality then there's no real social effects either. If we're going to determine that certain ideas have harmful social effects, we're going to need a theory of reality to do it. But if we're going to test the reality of ideas of harm, we're going to have to engage with all ideas on the basis of their empirical validity, not their ability to pass a cybernetic correctness test.
>Anarchists don’t publish flat earth nuts or climate change deniers because those perspectives have simply nothing in common with anarchism; they are not relevant or coherent with or even arguably reconcilable with anarchy
There are a great many circumstances where anarchists have published anti-anarchist views – ranging from Maurice Brinton's inclusion of unpublished comments of Lenin's as an appendix which proves the point of his Irrational in Politics, to Feral House's volume on “Extreme Islam”, to the inclusion of Reagan's fascistic speech on the Berkeley occupations as an appendix in Katsiaficas' volume on the 1960s, to Theweleit's extensive quotes from Nazi writings. Many of the Indymedia newswires were/are open, and draw all kinds of conspiracy theories. Publications like Green Anarchist, zines like Chaos, sometimes published everything they were sent – whatever its point of view. If I was giving a lecture on hacker opsec, I would include reference to statist tradecraft and encourage people to read these works – just as statist counterinsurgents read al-Qaeda documents, and the works of Mao. And if I was editing a volume on state theory and anarchism, I might well consider including Hobbes, Lenin, even Mussolini, to juxtapose statist to anarchist thought.
Did Marx no-platform Smith, Malthus and Ricardo – whose economics led to millions of deaths – or did he, rather, devote many volumes to carefully analysing their work?
Did Bakunin, in turn, no-platform Marx – or did he rather, provide annotated comments on one of Marx's works?
Was the film version of Society of the Spectacle not filled with excerpts from the adverts and news recordings of the day – the very images the Situationists opposed?
It would be very, very anarchist to publish a compendium of spree-killers and 'terrorists' – and to include Nazis like Breivik alongside progressives like Dorner, Islamists, black radicals like Micah Johnson – to show how they all express an implosion of statist civilisation, a backlash which occurs when “society” has become complicit in the state's war on its enemies, when the marginalised are pushed until they snap, where the basic inhumanity of a system of exclusion and democide is crystallised at particular localities – no matter what the discourse they use to articulate this affective zone.
Instead, “anarchists” are repeating the mantra of behaviorism. “Don't enable bad behavior”.
The mantra of a superego which wants nothing more than to hold the id in constant silence – and which, by this very silencing, produces an explosive reaction from the id.
I prefer politically directed revolt to random outbursts of rage. But, I prefer random outbursts of rage to the moralising repressiveness of the agents of the new cybernetic superego. We need to hear from the perpetrators of extreme acts, to offset the complacency and closure of the normalised cybernetic perspective – the perspective where all ideas are just a battle for validation, where the rage of the excluded cannot be seen because it is dangerous and politically incorrect.
Those who don't want to hear the anger of the oppressed, who don't want to hear what it feels like to be on the other side of cybernetic democide, might ask what it is that they fear coming to light. Are they really afraid of their own repressed anger, the rage they simultaneously condemn as lizard-brain subhumanity yet ooze from every pore in their rhetoric of condemnation? Which they are constantly sublimating as passive-aggression or covering-up in double-standards, repressing it beneath a superego which claims a compassion it commands yet cannot demonstrate, projecting it onto enemies they falsely accuses of oppressiveness on flimsy grounds... Do they not want to admit that this anger is exactly the same effect of neoliberalism – of the regime they also enforce – which drives a Breivik or an Islamic radical or an angry kid with a gun? That they are the subhuman un-man just like us, and not the morally superior Kantian “compassionate” self who responsibly polices the boundaries of discourse to keep the (docile-yet-)oppressed safe?
Truth must be heard.
The rage of the oppressed may just be part of the picture – it might not be the whole picture – but it's a necessary part, and we understand nothing without it.
The dirty power-politics of “who gets validated” is absolutely irrelevant. What matters is the empirical validity and pragmatic usefulness within a nomad science of a body of ideas. And where the subject of discussion is social phenomena, which are partially determined by their meanings – it is absolutely necessary to engage with the other's viewpoint, so as to interpret and understand. The behaviorist move of classifying and denouncing - “this is unacceptable”, “that is a symptom” - is a refusal to think. Behaviorism is fascism in psychology.
>they’re now left grasping at the air trying to assert that there’s no slippery slope between them and ITS
Unlike the book-burners.
I'm sure Hitler would tell you that he's under no obligation to enable toxic ideas by exhibiting them in public libraries – and burning these books is not, at all, censorship.
>We don’t let fascists in our spaces
Historically, the reason for this is that *they will quite literally kill us*.
More recently: they will at least start fights, beat us up, and try to intimidate other people in the space. Remember, these are people who organise hunting parties to beat up black people, or whoever else they don't like.
It had absolutely nothing to do with “ideas we don't like”.
>I know that my repeat comparison to nazis will be dismissed out of hand by a few — and shrieked about from the residual anews peanut gallery — as rank hyperbole, but when pressed no defender of ITS and Atassa has so far coughed up any attempt at meaningful distinction in why we should treat them differently
For starters, they aren't prejudiced against any particular groups, besides a few bad words.
Second, they aren't posing a real, physical threat to anarchist spaces in America.
Thirdly, they're articulating criticisms of civilisation which are basically valuable.
They *are* just '”misbehaving” comrades who are only a little bit lost'.
“National anarchism” is a completely different case – because it's logically and geneaologically connected to Nazism.
>We can also — and this is the critical bit — seek to fucking minimize domination in the world, to expand things like agency and consent
Says the guy who's into no-platforming everyone in sight, blackmailing people by cutting off their “social capital”, and generally spreading behaviorist nonsense in anarchist spaces.
>restatement of what should be ethically obvious
Bourgeois common sense.
Of course, if you don't believe that ideas have any value except as signals of social capital in a cybernetic attention economy, the idea that things which are “obvious” to you should be open to criticism will seem pretty alien.
>There are so many more reactionaries than anarchists in this world that they could sneeze and flood us out of our spaces or drown out our voice
Most of them won't be bothered. Quit playing the victim.
>Some bare community norms or expectations are inherent and necessary
Anarchism 101. Each anarchist has a personal ethos derived from their own will or desire. Community norms are a barrier to the formation of personal ethos – a form of alienation. Norms at a community level = moralism. Come on, this is as old as Stirner and Nietzsche.
>the de facto press office of a group that opposes freedom and is out to kill all humans
They've published a bunch of other stuff too, you know.
>Anarchism at core is an ethical stance against all domination, seeking the liberation of all
And today, the biggest threat to the freedom of all is cybernetic neo-totalitarian enforced conformity through Sesame Credit-like distribution of validation, legitimacy and rescindable rights, backed by democide against those who are insufficiently connected. Against all domination means against behavior modification. Tu quoque.