Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the great Athenian philosophers, who had severe doubts about Athenian democracy and whose criticisms help us to understand how it operated. They complained that the people were fickle; they were indecisive; they were ignorant; they were easily swayed. Government is a fine art that requires wisdom and judgment, which are not the possession of all citizens. The philosophers would be much happier with our system of representative democracy. No matter what we say about our representatives, they are usually better educated and better informed than the people as a whole.
This isn’t the time for ambiguity, or irony, or publicity-seeking controversy. Those days are gone, and I miss them, as I am part of a generation that profiteered from the assumption that political correctness was a done deal, and now we could have fun jumping in and out of its boundaries, like street kids round a spurting water main. But the Nazi-saluting pug bloke has just joined Ukip so his racist dog doesn’t seem remotely funny any more.
If Breitbart or Spiked can roll out your comments approvingly online you have fucked up. Nowadays, your true intentions have to be written through every inch of your content, like the word Blackpool through a stick of rock, so at any point the useful idiots of the hipster “alt-right” and their fellow travellers in the opinion industry chose to snap it, it still can’t be repurposed. The trouble is, there’s no longer any way to make the case that Morrissey ever meant anything other than what he says.
Back in September, Vox Day, a Gamergate holdover who has assumed the position of racist alt-right figurehead, published a handful of brief excerpts from what he described as the “Andrew Anglin” style guide. For the blissfully unaware, Anglin is a neo-Nazi troll and propagandist who runs The Daily Stormer, one of the more prominent sites of the white supremacist web. The passages selected by Vox Day in his blog post suggested that Anglin is persnickety about detail and presentation ― except on the subject of the Jews, who are to be blamed “for everything.”
HuffPost has acquired the 17-page document in its entirety, as well as transcripts from an IRC channel where the document was shared in an effort to recruit new writers. It’s more than a style guide for writing internet-friendly neo-Nazi prose; it’s a playbook for the alt-right.
This is, as you’d expect, appalling. It’s also fascinating; the lengths to which they will go to (a) blame ‘everything on the Jews’ and (b) create a state of confusion, all wrapped up in the sort of guide you see elsewhere:
The guide is particularly interested in ways to lend the site’s hyperbolic racial invective a facade of credibility and good faith. Or at the very least, in how to confuse its readers to the point where they can’t tell the difference. The Daily Stormer, for instance, uses block quotes for much the same reason Richard Spencer stuffs himself into vests. In explaining why a writer should heavily block-quote mainstream news articles, the guide notes that it allows writers to borrow some of mainstream media’s air of scrupulousness and good hygiene.
See also The Master Race’s Graphic Masterpiece:
Published in 1936, The Organizationsbuch der NSDAP (with subsequent annual editions), detailed all aspects of party bureaucracy, typeset tightly in German Blackletter. What interested me, however, were the over 70 full-page, full-color plates (on heavy paper) that provide examples of virtually every Nazi flag, insignia, patterns for official Nazi Party office signs, special armbands for the Reichsparteitag (Reichs Party Day), and Honor Badges. The book “over-explains the obvious” and leaves no Nazi Party organization question, regardless of how minute, unanswered.
Twitter-the-company is made up of people that have consistently made poor, self-serving decisions while patting themselves on the back for making the world more connected. Well, fuck you all. You gluttons helped put us all here and now suddenly you might come up with an algorithm to spot Nazis? Here’s an idea to put on your fucking Trello board: Look for avatars with swastikas on day one. Take day two off to recover from your code bash hangover. Day three you can look for accounts that mostly post negative sentiments (using a Python library that’s five years old) and then map their connections to find another Nazi pool-party. On day four, take another break. You deserve a rest for waiting a decade to do even the smallest amount of engineering work to make the world better. Day five might be busy while your executives are explaining to congress why you actively assisted a foreign government to spread disinformation during the US election. Also, enjoy your weekend you fucks.
Source: Fuck Twitter
The scale, according to author Clare Wardle, “loosely measures the intent to deceive”.
Map these against the 8 Ps (Poor Journalism, Parody, to Provoke or ‘Punk’, Passion, Partisanship, Profit, Political Influence or Power, and Propaganda) and you start to see some mini-patterns:
I could not sleep last night at all. So I organized my notes I’ve been taking over the last year on the problem of doing politics in distributed feed-based systems.
I know this election was about so much more than that (so much more), and our problems are so much deeper. But I remain convinced that even if social media is not the fire or the fuel of Breitbartian racism it is in fact the oxygen that helps it thrive and spread.
There are 537 pages of notes in this PDF, and it may not be immediately clear what each has to do with the book, but in my head at least they all relate. They are worth a read.
Wow—this is fantastic, and exactly what I was getting at in my earlier post about indiscriminate collecting. I’ve started using DEVONthink to collect and organise my notes and web clippings. I hope to get to a point where I have a similar collection. Not only does it help my understanding of concepts, but it enables me to make unexpected connections between them.
In contrast to many in East London and Essex — where support for fascist parties and movements has increased in recent years — the Clapton Ultras explicitly oppose far-right politics. Many are recent immigrants, and they have raised money for refugee charities, campaigned against the state closure of LGBT youth clubs, and banned anyone with sexist, racist, or homophobic views. They maintain a fierce independence from the club’s management, and are openly hostile to its owners and administrators.
In a part of London that is being torn apart by gentrification and nationalistic and xenophobic political rhetoric, the Clapton Ultras are reshaping the relationship between sports and politics.
For now, the network hums along, mostly beneath the surface. A post from a Liberty Alliance page might find its way in front of a left-leaning user who might disagree with it or find it offensive, and who might choose to engage with the friend who posted it directly. But otherwise, such news exists primarily within the feeds of the already converted, its authorship obscured, its provenance unclear, its veracity questionable. It’s an environment that’s at best indifferent and at worst hostile to traditional media brands; but for this new breed of page operator, it’s mostly upside. In front of largely hidden and utterly sympathetic audiences, incredible narratives can take shape, before emerging, mostly formed, into the national discourse.
While this is (mostly) about the U.S. election, the same basic pattern exists in all territories at all times. The only surprising thing should be the scale (tiny) and profitability (staggeringly high) of the content farms.
Trump called me naïve. He told me I didn’t know what I was talking about. He shamed me when I stumbled on a question. And when the cameras shut off, he was furious. He didn’t like my questions, which were direct, or my tone, which was conversational.
“You couldn’t do this,” he said, searching for a put-down. “You stumbled three times.”
“It doesn’t matter if I stumble,” I said. “I’m not running for president.”
That’s when he landed what he saw as the harshest insult of all.
“You’ll never be president,” he said. I laughed. What else was I supposed to do?
This is both fascinating and not at all surprising.