A short Twitter diversion on Jordan Peterson

Jordan B Peterson’s time in the spotlight appears to have faded but he popped back into my awareness recently after Ta-Nehisi Coates introduced a new spin on Captain America’s arch-enemy, The Red Skull. Here’s The Mary Sue article:

And hey! Look, look! That’s my little Tweet in there! [scroll down the article, no scroll further, further…] Of course, I only get a popular tweet when I have a hyper-busy couple of days at work.

So that was fun. I did add a more serious explanation based on things I’ve been mulling over [see https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2018/03/11/reading-peterson-12-the-end-of-peterson-the-last-lobster/ ].

I was asked on Twitter: “How does an ultra individualist like Jordan Peterson fit into the Red Skull?” I think this is an interesting question even if my initial tweet was flippant. For many people, it barely needs explaining how radical individualism ties in with both Nazi & fascist ideology. For others, it sounds paradoxical and I can see why.

People on the left who have been tracking the rise of the Alt-Right are already familiar with the libertarian-white nationalist pipeline. It’s a moot question whether the many people who once claimed to be libertarians who later asserted overt white nationalist beliefs were always closet white nationalists or who adapted their beliefs over time. I think it is a mix of both. Definitely, some 2010 era ‘libertarians’ were just Paleo-conservatives, adopting a trendier title (e.g. Vox Day). But we can’t see inside their heads, so what’s genuinely confused thinking and what was them intentionally hiding authoritarianism under a cloak of libertarianism, I don’t know.

However, I do know that what does not* go away is radical individualism! That stays, even as the faux-libertarian shifts to quasi-fascist!

Individualists and those libertarians who haven’t drifted into the Al-Right say that CANNOT be! Its a contradiction! Nazis are all about order & conformity & discipline & obeying orders & uniforms! How is that individualism! Well…it isn’t but it is a false promise offered by Nazi-like figures – join & you get to do what you want but only if you are the top-dog.

If you are somehow manly enough then you can do whatever you like and get away with it. That’s not Peterson’s ideology but it is why the alt-right loved Trump. Peterson does do promote the idea of intrinsic social hierarchies as right & good and that the hierarchy of assertive individuals is Peterson’s way of getting ORDER from CHAOS (it’s central to it). It’s not Nazism but it is a common principle. And it is rooted in the self-help ideology that is common to Peterson & Ayn Rand and somebody else as well.

Norman Vincent Peale’s ‘Power of Positive Thinking‘ runs through post WW2 US politics. 10 Rules for Life rehashes elements of it dressed up with Jung and Nietzche. It is also an influence on, guess who? Donald T Trump.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/10/donald-trump-2016-norman-vincent-peale-213220/

https://www.deseret.com/indepth/2020/10/8/21506597/norman-vincent-peale-donald-trump-covid-glenn-beck-positive-thinking-stephen-covey-mary-trump

The idea that if you just WILL something enough you will get it is so toxic because when it fails it breeds conspiratorial thinking & a desire to attach yourself to people who appear to have proved the idea correct: people who just appear to get what they want by demanding it.

So in 2015, we see ex-libertarians embracing the corrupt authoritarian & unprincipled fraudster Trump as if he was Ayn Rand’s John Galt, simply because Trump kept getting away with shit. That was the ideal. Trump’s surprising victory was like a kind of empirical confirmation of Trump’s capacity to get what he wants through the act of wanting it.

Peterson doesn’t believe in a magical version of this but he does claim a sort of quasi-materialist version, as I’ve quoted before:

“What if it was the case that the world revealed whatever goodness it contains in precise proportion to your desire for the best? What if the more your conception of the best has been elevated, expanded and rendered sophisticated the more possibility and benefit you could perceive? This doesn’t mean that you can have what you want merely by wishing it, or that everything is interpretation, or that there is no reality. The world is still there, with its structures and limits. As you move along with it, it cooperates or objects. But you can dance with it, if your aim is to dance— and maybe you can even lead, if you have enough skill and enough grace. This is not theology. It’s not mysticism. It’s empirical knowledge.”

Peterson, Jordan B.. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (pp. 100-101). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

Jordan B Peterson isn’t a supervillain but absolutely a charismatic quasi-fascist leader will exploit these kinds of ideas (along with other ideas, including leftist-style ones).


The original tweets are here https://twitter.com/CamestrosF/status/1379357342467117057 and here https://twitter.com/CamestrosF/status/1379512040818044929

*in the original tweet I left out the ‘not’

Debarkle Chapter 3: Part 1 Overview 1880-2010

Epic sagas need a summary of the pre-saga history. This one is a bit too long for the opening crawl text of Star Wars, so if it gets too dry, imagine it is being read by Cate Blanchett in the style of the first Lord of the Rings film.

Part 1 of our Debarkle saga is eleven stories about the past. Most of them take place this century but some of the precursors to the events in our saga take place in the Twentieth Century. I can’t hope to do justice to the full breadth of science fiction’s history but I will be looking at selected events from that history that have repercussions to later events. What follows in this chapter is a whistle-stop tour over many decades up to the early 1990s to just briefly touch on some elements of the past that will re-appear later. We’ll touch briefly on the roots of early fandom but mainly highlight some parts of US history that will be important later.

There is no fixed start to the history of science fiction. There is no point at which people haven’t invented fantastical stories. In English literature we can point to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or before that Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World but other candidates for the ‘first’ exist. So why pick 1880 as a starting point? This is a political story as well as a story about a fannish kerfuffle. In particular, while the Puppy Kerfuffle had a significant international dimension, it was an event that revolved around American politics.

By 1880 the Reconstruction era in the post-Civil War south was over. It was a decade in which the USA managed to have five different Presidents but also began the process of electrification and stepped further down the road of eventually becoming a global super power. It was also a time in which advances in steam-powered sea travel led to even greater immigration to the USA, particularly from southern and eastern Europe.

For our story, 1884 marks the birth of one of the more idiosyncratic candidates for the founder of science fiction: Hugo Gernsback. Born in Luxembourg, Gernsback emigrated to America in 1904 to pursue a career as an inventor in the field of electronics and radio. That career would lead him into publishing as well as writing fiction. It was his role as editor of Amazing Stories that would lead him to be regarded as a seminal figure in shaping American science fiction and also American science fiction fandom.

Just as science fiction has no unique starting point, neither does fandom. For example, in 1891 The Royal Albert Hall in London held a “Vril-ya Bazaar” for devotees of the popular-at-the-time book by Edward Bulwer-Lytton entitled The Coming Race — a fantastical tale about a subterranean civilisation of telepaths. However, for our narrative the relevant iteration of the development of an organised science fiction fandom in the United States, Gernsback’s Science Fiction League is an important pre-World War II example which spawned off-shoots in the UK and Australia. We will return to this history of organised fandom in the next Debarkle chapter.

In world politics, the first half of the twentieth century saw the decline of the powerful Empires of the nineteenth century accelerated by World War I, economic depression and the rise of nationalism. The Russian revolutions saw the rise of the first Communist nation and conceptual shift in world politics to ideological conflicts. In Western Europe political groups combining nationalism and militarism co-opted the mass-movement politics of socialist parties as counter-movements. While in Japan, a similar extreme nationalist ideology fuelled territorial expansion and new imperialism.

In the US, the 1920s saw a resurgence of white supremacist movements, including a new version of the infamous Ku Klux Klan. Policies promoting systemic and overt racism against Black Americans led to further disenfranchisement, particularly (but not exclusively) in the former Confederate states. The Democratic Party in the “Solid South” exploited these policies to maintain political power. This was part of a long pattern of political racism which had included violence to undermine democracy. In 1898 in Wilmington, North Carolina, Southern Democrats used mob violence to overthrow the town government [https://revealnews.org/episodes/the-evolution-of-all-american-terrorism-2/ ]. The ‘Red Summer‘ of 1919 was followed in 1921 by the Tulsa Race Massacre led to massive destruction and “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.” https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/04/what-is-black-wall-street-history-of-the-community-and-its-massacre.html

Immigration policy in the US also attempted to enshrine a specific view of race for the country. The National Origins Formula used quotas as a means to limit immigration from southern and eastern Europe. Using the census of 1910 as a baseline, the quota mandated that immigration from a given country could be no greater than 3% of the population of that background currently in the USA. As a large number of Americans were of Protestant Northern European descent, the numbers of people allowed to immigrate from Northern Europe were much higher. Immigration from many Asian countries had already by restricted by earlier laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act.

More positively, the 1920s also saw the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which established the rights of women to vote.

World War II marks a political and cultural boundary between the two (unequal) halves of the Twentieth Century. For our narrative it was a defining period for many of the influential science fiction writers. The war was framed as an existential struggle against the unambiguous evil of the Nazi-regime and also led to technological innovations in computing and nuclear weapons. The mass murder of civilians as overt ideological policy was not an innovation by the Nazis but the horrific extent and systematic nature of the Holocaust re-shaped post-war attitudes on racism and eugenics.

In the aftermath of World War II, America emerged economically and culturally dominant but in a nuclear rivalry with the Soviet Union. The 1950’s saw not only the anti-communist Red Scare aimed at rooting out communist sympathisers within politically or culturally powerful positions but also the less famous but more damaging (in terms of number of people impacted) Lavender Scare targetting homosexuality.

Post World War II also saw a decades long fight for civil rights by Black Americans. Protests against school segregation led to multiple legal rulings and counter-protests by white supremacists to maintain segregated education. In 1957 President Eisenhower deployed federal troops to ensure that nine Black children could attend their school in Little Rock Arkansas despite sustained attempts to stop them by protestors and the state government. The Montgomery Bus Boycott and other forms of direct action against segregated business were met with a counter-reaction that was often violent. The murder of 14 year old Emmet Till received national attention, as did the subsequent acquittal of his two murderers.

In US party politics the post-war period led to a long period of ideological re-adjustments. Both the Republican and Democratic parties had their own progressive and conservative wings. Positions on the role of government, social-welfare, military spending, and civil-rights did not split simply along party lines in the 1950s. The massive cultural change and trauma (Cuban Crisis, the JFK assassination, the MLK assassination, the Vietnam War, the peace movement…) didn’t change that over night. The civil rights movement and subsequent legislation in 1964 and 1968 were passed by bi-partisan votes when consider by political party. However, Nixon’s ‘Southern Strategy’ would mark a shift in the political balance within both parties.

The 1960s also saw a marked shift in immigration policy to the USA with the abolition of the racist National Origins Formula. While a substantial reform the new laws prohibited gay people from emigrating to the USA.

Ronald Reagan’s 1976 challenge to President Gerald Ford for the Republican Party nomination for president marked a major attempt by the conservative wing of the Republican Party to gain control. Unsuccessful in that election, Reagan would go on to win the nomination in 1980 and then win the presidency twice, marking a high point electorally for overt modern conservatism. Although beset by a series of political scandals (in particular Iran-Contra which somehow managed to touch on nearly every aspect of Reagan’s approach to foreign policy), Reagan proved to be electorally popular and after two terms was succeed by his Vice President George H. W. Bush.

Bush Senior became president at a remarkable point in twentieth century — a century which had not been lacking in remarkable points. Post-war US foreign and military policy had been defined by the Cold War but with the reform and subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, the status-quo changed utterly. The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in the aftermath of the Iran-Iraq war led to the Gulf War, the first major post-Cold War military conflict by the US. Bush followed policies aimed at America and American business being the dominant force in the post-Soviet world. Bush also enacted bi-partisian liberalisation of immigration laws with the Immigration Act of 1990, and also signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Bush Senior’s tenure proved to be unpopular with the right of his party and his candidacy in 1992 was challenged by Pat Buchanan in the primaries. The electoral landscape was further complicated by the independent candidacy of the eclectic populist Ross Perot. Perot’s 1992 campaign was a mix of economic nationalism and novel ideas (such as electronic ‘direct democracy’) but in terms of overall votes, it did surprisingly well for a third-party with 18% over all but with higher concentrations in Maine and in Utah. However, Perot’s votes were too widely distributed to win even a single vote in the USA’s Electoral College system.

At age 18, with his first science-fiction writing credit for an on-going radio drama, Brad R Torgersen casts his vote in 1992 for Ross Perot.[1]

Next Time: yet another potted history as we run rapidly through the history and past conflicts of Worldcon and the Hugo Awards.


[1] https://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/01/02/iowa-caucuses-seriously-man-who-knows-right/#comment-296528

Debarkle: Draft outline

Coming this month (and probably for most of the year) is “Debarkle”, a history of the Puppy Kerfuffle of 2015, the events that preceded it, the political context and how it presaged events in US politics that followed it.

What follows is the draft section and chapter order. Naturally, what will actually happen is something different from this but this is the outline I’m working to.

Roughly it is in chronological order but with various chapters flashing forward or flashing backwards to keep themes together. External politics events are also a key part of this story, some of which will get their own chapters but in other cases they will be referenced in more fannish chapters to give context and establish time periods. Sadly, a lot of those external political events are violent ones but they are ones relevant to the times and also the discussions and the political atmosphere.

There are some special recurring chapters:

  • Dramatis Personae: these chapters look at backstories to some recurring names or groups in the story. I’ve tried to keep these to a minimum but if I find that I’m writing longer paragraphs about the background to given person, I may split that off into an extra one of these. Generally, they’ll cover the ‘story so far’ up to that point. So, John Scalzi and Vox Day (and maybe the Nielsen Hayden’s) get early chapters before the opening act of this http://nielsenhayden.com/electrolite/archives/006122.html. So these chapters don’t all end up in section 1, many people will appear in the main narrative before they get one of these chapters but with a briefer introduction.
  • Meanwhile: these chapters cover things away from the main Puppy story but which, again, would otherwise become long intruding paragraphs of context. An obvious example is RaceFail 2009, which involved no puppies but did involve notable people in fandom. Likewise, a discussion of the 2015 Hugo awards can’t avoid discussion of RequiresHate and the Mixon report. You can skip these if you want to stick to the main plot. Part 6, covering 2020, is all Meanwhile.
  • Some book reviews: With the Hugosauriad I was pleased with how the two chapters looking at If You Were a Dinosaur My Love and the right-wing reaction to it worked out. The Debarkle is about many things but one of those things is stories. Currently these reviews will include Monster Hunter International, Redshirts, Ancillary Justice and the Broken Earth Trilogy, as well as some selected shorter fiction.

Speaking of the Hugosauriad, because that project contains chapters on Rachel Swirsky’s story and on Chuck Tingle, neither will get their own chapter in Debarkle. Obviously, both will get discussed but the longer coverage is in the Hugosauriad.

Currently, the plan is 6 sections.

  1. Beginnings 1880 to 2010. All the background and setting the scene.
  2. 2011 to 2014. This covers the SFWA conflicts and the first two Sad Puppy campaigns but also looks at Gamergate.
  3. 2015. This section is the most chronological and most chapters cover events in a given month up to the smoky skies of Sasquan. “Phew!” we all say in August, “Looks like we defeated fascism for good this time!” and Donald Trump enters stage right.
  4. 2016-2017. Two parallel stories – the political story with the alt-right and Donald Trump and also the story of how the Puppy campaigns fizzled out. SP4, the non-event of SP5, the Dragon Awards and how Larry finally gets his participation prize.
  5. 2018-2019. Follows the political story with some delves back into fandom. Specifically this is the politics of Sad and Rabid versions of the right in the age of Trump. The crappiest gate aka ‘Comicsgate’ will get a look in, as will the 2019 Nebulas, as ‘compare and contrast’ with the Puppy campaigns.
  6. Meanwhile 2020: Aside from an initial dive into the RWA’s meltdown, this section looks at the hell year in terms of the perspectives of the Puppy Protagonists. Dominating it are three major elements of the year, Qanon (particularly with Vox Day), Covid (Sarah Hoyt) and ‘Stop the Steal’ (Larry Correia but also Day and Hoyt).

Section 3 (i.e. the actual plot) is likely to blow-out. Three sections of aftermath may look like a lot but as the main thesis of the project is that the themes and cognitive style of the “crazy” behaviour of the US right in 2020 were already overt and apparent in 2015, just at a different scale and context. Note, the thesis isn’t that the Puppies caused later events (they are all minor bit players in bigger story, if that) but rather that the same underlying cultures and attitudes on the right that erupted as the Puppies in fandom, later erupted at a bigger scale (and at greater human cost) in US politics. Sections won’t be of equal length.

As always, suggestions, comments etc are welcome but it will also end up being whatever gets written at the time!

  • Intro: Jan 6 2021
  • Part 1: Beginnings 1880 to 2010
    A short history of the Hugo Awards 1953 to 2000
    Dramatis Personae 1: John Scalzi
    Dramatis Personae 2: Theodore Beale
    Tor, Baen and Amazon 1990 -2011
    Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America 1965 to 2010
    March 1, 2005: Electrolyte
    Dramatis Personae 3: Larry Correia
    2007: Monster Hunter International
    Meanwhile: Barack Obama
    Meanwhile: Racefail 2009
    2010 Hugos and the SFWA
  • Part 2: 2011 to 2014
    2011: Larry Goes to Worldcon
    2012-13: The Day-Scalzi Feud
    Meanwhile: Mitt Romney
    2013 “How to get Correia nominated for a Hugo”
    2013: Redshirts
    Dramatis Personae 4: N.K.Jemisin
    2013: Trouble at the SFWA
    Dramatis Personae 5: Sarah Hoyt and the Mad Geniuses
    Opera Vita Aeterna
    2014: Sad Puppies 2
    2014: Ancillary Justice
    2014: Vox Gets the Boot
    Dramatis Personae 6: John C wright and the Evil League of Evil
    Dramatis Personae 7: George R R Martin
    2014: The Hugos go to London
    Meanwhile: Requires Hate
    Meanwhile: GamerGate
    Dramatis Personae 8: Brad Torgersen
  • Part 3: 2015
    January: Announcing SAD PUPPIES 3!
    February: Rabid Puppies 2015
    March: Warnings
    April Part 1: TSHTF
    April Part 2: Hugos Hit the News
    Dramatis Personae 9: Mike Glyer and File 770
    May: Planning Ahead
    E Pluribus Hugo
    June Part 1: The Tor Boycott
    Totaled
    June Part 2: The Human Toll
    July: Crescendo
    August: Sasquan
    September-December: Taking Stock
    Meanwhile: Donald Trump
  • Part 4: Fall of the Puppies 2016-2017
    The Broken Earth Trilogy
    Quarter 1 2016 Part 1: Sad Puppies 4
    Quarter 1 2016 Part 2: Rabid Puppies
    Meanwhile: The Rise of the Alt Right
    Dramatis Personae 10: Jon Del Arroz
    Enter the Dragon
    Quarter 2: Reactions
    Meanwhile: GOP goes Trump
    August: Midamericon
    September: Dragon Awards 2016
    Meanwhile: Me Too
    Meanwhile: President Donald Trump
    The Sad Demise of SP5
    Rabid Puppies 2017
    Worldcon 75 – Finland
  • Part 5: The Trump Years 2018-2019
    Overview
    Comicsgate
    Meanwhile: Qanon
    Changing fortunes at the Dragon Awards
    Meanwhile: Black Lives Matter
    Gender at the Hugo Awards
    Meanwhile: 20booksto50 and the Nebulas
    Dramatis Personae: Mixed Fortunes
    The Hugos and the Campbell Legacy
  • Part 6: Meanwhile 2020
    Trouble in Romance
    Covid 19
    Black Lives Matter
    US Presidential Election
    “Stop the Steal”
  • Conclusion: Reality and the Imagination

Bonus! Here is a Rabid version of the cover art.

Gamestop etc and the Alt-Right

The term “Alt-Right” has gone out of fashion largely because there is increasingly little differentiation between the US right in general and the section that promotes extreme & far-fetched ideas via internet communities and social media. I still find it a handy term though, partly because for everybody else when we think of “conservative” we think “pro-business and pro-capitalism”. Whereas, the modern right’s relationship with those ideas are more akin to the stance of some right wing political movements in the first half of the twentieth century i.e. often critical of established interest while being overtly hostile to left-wing movements and reform of capitalism. The question as to why the modern right’s stance on capitalism resembles that of, say, 1930s fascist movements is an exercise I’ll leave to the reader*.

Meanwhile, people of all kinds of politics have been paying attention to the Reddit-led antics on the stockmarket, where a kind of internet-rebellion has done some severe damage to dodgy hedge funds. There are numerous explainers out there but will go with Cory Doctorow’s:

Although the morals and motivations of both parties may be complex, it really isn’t hard to pick sides here. People (rightly) are cheering on the Reddit-rebels and enjoying the misfortune of the hedge funds.

When the app that many of the people where using to trade the stock clamped down on the sale of Gamestop stock, there was a political pushback from both major political parties.

Ted Cruz in turn said he supported AOC’s tweet, which led to a different back-and-forth when she pointed out his complicity in the death threats against her.

More widely on the internet, the right wing voices I keep an eye on generally take the same position of cheering on the Reddit-led stock-trading rebels. This isn’t surprising because events share some (but not all) of the features of the kind of internet based actions that the alt-right have either fostered, attached themselves to or taken over in the past:

  • It features individual action coordinated within internet communities
  • It exploits vulnerabilities in existing systems that assume that individuals (rather than institutions) will only participate as discrete individuals (i.e. not act in a coordinated way for other motives)
  • It can be cast in terms of ordinary people versus shadowy elites
  • It doesn’t and cannot lead to any kind of positive systemic reform
  • It does not seek to aid or improve the lot of marginalised people

It is those latter points that prevent the conflict from being to inherently left-wing in a way that would lead right-wing voices to flip the other way and start denouncing the Redditors as terrorists or cultural Marxists etc. Similarly, the final dot-point is what distinguishes this from an ACTUAL right wing internet insurgency. While Gamergate and the Puppy campaigns share many of the points above, those campaigns actively sought to make the lives of marginalised people worse and were overtly anti-left in nature (although they attempted to portray themselves as having a more neutral agenda e.g. “ethics in journalism”.)

Put another way, the r/wallstreetbets actions are NOT “Gamergate but with stocks” but do share enough similarities that the Gamergate-right are not just supportive of it but positively excited about it and regard it as a thing which is “theirs”. Like watching a necker-cube, a small shift of perspective allows us to see the same events as something that people on the left can support. There’s not a paradox there nor is it a case of left and alt-right finding common ground or the beginning of a kind of red-brown alliance. Left and right are looking at different things here.

What’s the difference? For the left the premise that “Wall Street sucks” is not news. The stock market is just one of the more obvious ways in which we live in a system with entrenched power for the wealthy and laws that help support that. The means with how that has come about are known and people have been documenting them for a couple of hundred years at least. It is a systemic problem and hence the system needs either mild-reform (liberalism), substantial reform (social-democracy) or needs to be torn down and utterly replaced (revolutionary communism). It’s not a conspiracy, it’s not a surprise, and nor is it even the worst part of the current economic status-quo.

For the alt-right none of the above is viewed as correct. They see the initial events as capitalism working as it should and then the “elites” stepping in and rigging the game. The literal term “elites” has wide currency and is a free floating concept. For the more openly neo-Nazi groups they equate the term with Jewish people. For the overlapping Qanon cultists, it is the shadowy groups trafficking children and engaging in cannibalistic anti-ageing rituals. Across the board on the right, the “elites” are blamed for all social change that the right reacts against. So everything from science fiction books not having enough rockets on the cover, to Star Wars having to many women in it, to trans-rights, Black Lives Matter or fossil-fuel reduction targets. So, when the government takes action to stop the stock market tanking, then for the right that is the same “elites” (as in they think it is quite literally the same people) who are rolling out Covid vaccines or are using “they/them” pronouns on their Twitter profiles.

For an example, here is Brian “Dragon Award Winner” Niemeier:

“Taken together, those breadcrumbs form a trail leading to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The GameStop squeeze threatens big donors and the Treasury Secretary, so Biden Intervened.”

https://www.brianniemeier.com/2021/01/biden-intervened.html

(Also, note the grift element at the end!)

Again, note – yes, the Biden administration almost certainly is intervening or is going to intervene but again, the core reason being that the stockmarket is systemically bad. A government can’t not intervene because wobbling the table can’t be allowed when the whole economy depends on a very expensive house of cards. The Trump administration would have intervened as well — the difference is that the alt-right would have characterised that as the “swamp” or the “deep state” acting against Trump’s wishes. The characters would have shifted but the narrative would have been the same.

The right-hand side of politics can’t adopt the answer of “systemic inequalities lead to dysfunctional societies” and hence when things aren’t working out the answer becomes “evil people are making the good system work badly”. They take as axiomatic that there must be hierarchy with better people at the top who are rightly rich and powerful, so when facts show the people at the top are just flawed people muddling through and acting in petty or short-sighted ways, they conclude that their must be a conspiracy. For a given individual, the “conspiracy” may not start as an anti-Semitic one but they trend that way. In short Nazis will be looking to exploit these events to recruit.

“Hey”, I hear you say, “You haven’t mentioned Vox Day yet.” Good point. He’s obviously saying much of what I summarised above i.e. a right-wing extremist trying to put a Gamergate spin on it. However, for readers who have been trying to follow the confusing Patreon litigation, he has also been pointing to the Robinhood app’s arbitration clause. The “swamp a company with arbitration claims” tactic is another aspect that is something that has been used for progressive causes but which is also being adopted as a right wing tactic. The lawyer involed in the Patreon case (Marc Randazza see this earlier post https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2020/07/14/meanwhile-in-law-virulent-nationalism/ ) is promoting the idea:

Note that losing these kinds of mass actions is not necessarily a failure for the wider objective of the right. As was seen with Gamergate, some people get dragged into the initial enthusiasm and then drop out when everything fizzles out. For others, losing helps feed the radicalism. It’s the same coping mechanism we all watched with the recent election. A person takes in all the propaganda of inevitable victory to the point that they are absolutely certain of the outcome. The outcome then doesn’t happen. Response? Somebody must have cheated! Reality intruding into the confabulated ideas leads to some people holding onto those ideas more strongly. This is particularly true when those ideas already contain a narrative of shadowy nefarious people working against the individual personally.

TL:DR The Gamestop story is not “Gamergate but with stocks” but the far right will attempt to exploit it to recruit and radicalise.


*Hint: it’s because they are just an updated version of those same movements.

Australia’s Honours System Remains Very Broken

Another year and January 26 ticks over again. Australia’s very flawed national holiday continues to be a source of division and disunity. Among the manifold aspects of this is the announcement of various honours.

Last year, the secretive process led to the far-right ‘men’s rights activist’ Bettina Arndt being honoured. The previous year in the Queen’s Birthday honours there was the inclusion of Professor Adrian Cheok, a candidate for a far-right political party and sex-robot advocate. https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2020/01/27/australian-honours-system-is-very-broken/

This year the award for right-wing extremism is going to former tennis player Margaret Court who is due to receive Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC). Ostensibly the award is for her previous tennis career but she had already been honoured in 2007 for this with an Officer of the Order of Australia, as well as receiving an MBE in 1967. Instead, Court’s status in recent years has been due to her multitude of attacks on LGBTQI people in her role as a Pentecostal minister.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-22/daniel-andrews-opposes-margaret-court-australia-day-honour/13081540

https://www.smh.com.au/national/why-i-handed-back-my-order-of-australia-and-why-margaret-court-should-be-stripped-of-hers-20210124-p56wgd.html

The pattern is clear: the Australian honours system is being exploited on an annual basis to promote far right extremism. The peak of Court’s tennis career was in the early 1960s, for which she has received multiple honours, her profile recently has been specifically for campaigning against marriage equality and for campaigning against the civil rights of LGBTQI+ people.

Correia Flees Facebook

As part of the post-Trump trauma, noted Sad Puppy and bestselling Baen author Larry Correia is semi-leaving Facebook after years of time-outs and post deletions.

“I’m done helping those parasites. Facebook is trash. We all know it. We’ve all seen it. We’re just there because of inertia. Over the last decade, working with some stupendous moderators and great fans, we built a gigantic, thriving, fun, fan page here on Facebook. It’s one of the bigger author fan pages on the internet where the author can still actually talk to his fans. Being able to interact there was great. But Facebook took that from me on a whim. They banned me from my own group because of what I MIGHT say.”

https://monsterhunternation.com/2021/01/21/a-farewell-to-facebook/

He set up some time ago an alternate version of his fan group on the MeWe social media platform: https://mewe.com/join/monster_hunter_nation. Currently, MeWe is a popular alternative for many people concerned about Facebook’s approach to either privacy or politics or both. Over there, Larry describes the situation.

“For the record, we’re still trying to keep the fan page mostly politics free.
That’s because:
A. we don’t know how long our fall back position will last before big tech crushes it too, or they fall in line to keep from getting Parlered by big tech and we don’t want to put a giant target on our head.
B. it can get super annoying, and you’ve got the entire rest of the internet to talk about politics. Like my personal page, I’m always political, you want to talk politics there, go for it.
And yeah, I get that it is hard. The world is extra stupid right now and you want to talk about the stupid shit with your friends. I get it. I truly do. Except we need to be smart and figure out how to operate around the bullshit. Because head butting the bullshit merely results in us getting banned again, and I’ve not figured out what the backup to the backup is quite yet.”

It is interesting that even the smallest push back by big-tech has lead to some of its more toxic users rethinking their choices. Also, it gives me an opportunity to re-use this colouring-in page.

Straw Puppy’s POTUS Polls: Nearly There!

It is the 20th here but still a day to go in the USA before Joe Biden is sworn in and the 2020 US Presidential Election manages to be over. Trump’s post-defeat tantrums have only made a bad reputation worse.

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/?ex_cid=rrpromo

Yet that rump of Americans who adore Trump are not yet disenchanted. The wider group of right wingers who share the same antipathies but didn’t attach those feeling to Trump (the Brads & Larrys) are also equally entrenched in their belief that a Democratic presidency marks some kind of end times.

Is there any sign that they have come to terms with Trump’s defeat yet? It is early days but the sure signs of when the right shifts gears is when the rhetoric turns back to how-bad-the-defecit-is and hysterical claims about caravans of refugees at the southern border.

Popular among the right-wing sources I track is the pooh-poohing of the idea that there is any danger of pro-Trump/anti-Democrat violence. This may seem remarkable given this month’s events or indeed just from their rhetoric about “the ammo box” being the only “box” left to them (the line being that the left has stolen the soap box, ballot box and jury box). This dissonant pairing isn’t new — the right have been in denial about far-right violence for years and yet, at the same time, keen to claim that any progressive policies run the danger of pushing the right into armed insurrection.

With the 6 January Capitol riot, you can track the competing narratives from days before the event. The two narratives were expressed as the protests being righteous anger at the “steal” versus violence created by antifascist infiltrators. Immediately prior to 6 Jan, the line was that any violence would be because of “antifa” trying to make the Trump supporters look bad. On the day itself, there were competing claims. On the one hand, people already primed to blame any bad news on antifa and on the other, many on the right genuinely excited by events and hence keen to claim it for the right. Since then, as the attempted coup turned out not to be popular with wider America, the narrative has shifted back to “it’s the left who are the violent ones”.

Straw Puppy’s POTUS Polls: Impeach Again, Like We Did Last Summer

One thing that Donald Trump is good at is drawing all the attention towards himself. In a normal post-election year, the focus of politics would be on the incoming new President. This year the focus remains on Trump.

A second impeachment is under way:

“On Monday, lawmakers introduced an impeachment article charging Trump with “high crimes and misdemeanors by inciting violence against the government of the United States” and thus having violated his oath of office.The House will debate the charge on Wednesday. The Democratic congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, one of the Democrats leading the effort, tweeted that the party had sufficient votes to pass it and impeach Trump a second time – a first in American history. But for him to be removed would require conviction in the Senate.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/11/trump-impeachment-house-democrats-charge-president-with-incitement-of-insurrection

The timing means that the Senate won’t be able to consider the issue until after Joe Biden is inaugurated, so the impeachment can’t get Trump out of the Whitehouse any quicker. However, it would be absurd for Congress not to act in the wake of the physical attack on the Capitol by the President’s supporters.

While the second impeachment can only have a symbolic impact on Trump, events have precipitated more direct impacts on him. Deutsche Bank have announced they will no longer do business with the Trump Organisation:

“Deutsche Bank has been Trump’s most important lender. The Trump Organization, fronted by his two older sons, owes the bank about $340m in outstanding loans. After a series of bankruptcies in the 1990s, it was the only bank willing to give Trump money.”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/jan/12/deutsche-bank-severs-ties-with-donald-trump

Corporate donations to the Republican Party have also been impacted by the Capitol riot:

“Republicans who voted to block Joe Biden’s confirmation as president have been deserted by some of the biggest corporations in the US, as some leading rightwing politicians begin to face potential consequences for the Capitol riot on Wednesday. A slew of companies, including Citigroup, one of the biggest banks in the US, and the Marriott hotel chain, said they would halt donations to Republicans who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jan/12/us-companies-political-funding-republicans-capitol-riot

This is not corporations suddenly grasping that Donald Trump is a bad man or that the GOP is unethical but rather the more basic truth that civil strife is bad for business. Wall Street might like lower taxes but are less keen on civil war.

But, as they say, we are not out of the woods yet.

Further Annals of Libertarians Discovering Capitalism Sucks

I alluded to Larry Correia’s feelings being hurt by the action of Apple, Google and Amazon against conservative social media service Parler. As a reminder, Parler as well a being a privacy-data nightmare had such weak moderation processes that it was beset with issues with threats of violence.

Larry, who has been tirelessly pushing electoral fraud conspiracy theories since last November is rushing to the defence of Parler.

“Now comes the part where leftists suddenly love free enterprise and companies being able to do whatever they want… Okay, can all the small businesses open? Nope. Only companies that benefit leftist orthodoxy get to do what they want, and if you disagree with this double standard, obviously you hate–the leftist has to look at the printed word and try to sound it out–cap e tall ism?”

https://monsterhunternation.com/2021/01/11/bow-before-appgooglezon/

The “leftist orthodoxy” in question being “don’t murder Mike Pence” which…well I know I agree with that principle but I would not want to be too bold in claiming everybody I know on the left agrees with that on principle. I know for a fact that “let’s not overthrow the government” isn’t exactly against leftist orthodoxy. The principle on the left is more “we know that there are legal consequences for asking for people to break the law because we have a basic understanding of the nature of law, politics and common sense”

Larry goes on to explain:

“In principle I’m usually in favor of letting businesses do whatever they want. You know what else I’m usually against in principle? Bombing Japan. Yet strangely, after Pearl Harbor, circumstances changed, and things which were previously disagreeable become necessary. Go figure.”

ibid

True, all out war is a circumstance in which normal rules of interaction between nations are suspended. Which…well…isn’t that an argument in favour of big tech clamping down hard on a platform being used to encourage the over throw of your country’s constitution? To be fair, you don’t visit Larry’s Facebook page for clear thinking.

“So basically, if Home Depot and a cabal of every building supply store in the country wants to ban an entire class of citizens, that’s fine, just grow your own trees, cut them down, and shape them into lumber yourself. Oh… except once you’ve put in the labor and grown the trees, then the saw companies say no chainsaws for you either. I guess you should just build your own chainsaws from scratch.”

ibid

Their should be a word for this — “suspended epiphany”. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen people online walk up to an idea and get close enough to see the generalisation and realise that their core beliefs are just fundamentally misguided and then…well, just not take that step.

“Like I skimmed the comments to this post yesterday, and it was as expected. HUR DUR YOU SAID NO BAKE CAKE! Oh yeah… That’s totally the same thing. Because remember that time the entire baking industry colluded to deny bread to all gay people, and when the free market responded and somebody opened an LGBT bakery the powerful oven industry stepped in to shut them down… You fucking dopes.”

ibid

He is correct that it is not the same thing. The difference is that women, people of colour in the USA, gay men, lesbians, trans people, disabled people and a whole host of other people who have faced systemic and overt prejudice for years and years genuinely HAVE faced the situation where the individual “freedom” for business to discriminate that conservatives & libertarians have championed, has been so widespread that it the outcome was the same as massive collusion by business to exclude, discriminate and denigrate them. It’s exactly what people have been trying to explain to you for years and what you have so tirelessly scoffed and scorned them about.

Ownership of commerce is political power. That is either true or it isn’t. If it isn’t then Larry has no complaint. If it is then…well the question is one of whether these big corporations are using that power for good or ill and for that we can’t ignore WHAT was going on with Parler.

Hey Larry! Don’t you know that the “evil corporation” is a boring cliche of SJW message fiction? You should because you literally told us:

“The hoighty-toighty literati snobs prefer heavy handed, ham fisted, message fiction. (show picture of sci-fi readers giving up in frustration as they read yet another award winning book where evil corporations, right wing religious fanatics, and a thinly veiled Dick Cheney have raped the Earth until all the polar bears have died and the plot consists entirely of academic hipster douchebags sitting around and talking about their feelings)  

https://monsterhunternation.com/2013/01/16/how-to-get-correia-nominated-for-a-hugo-part-2-a-very-special-message/

You also were opposed to any limits on big tech in 2014

– “We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality.”
Wrap your brain around that hypocritical bullshit. We must protect the internet from evil corporations? What about the NSA reading all our stuff? What about the government deciding what can and can’t be said, and Progressive senators trying to pass “Kill Switches”? I’m not a fan of Google, but Google can’t send a SWAT team to my house to kill me.”

https://monsterhunternation.com/2014/07/21/elizabeth-warrens-11-commandments/

It is a bit late in the day for Larry to discover that Elizabeth Warren had a point but it is noticeable that the step big tech took that tipped Larry over the edge was them clamping down on speech aimed at inciting violence to over throw an election.

A novel repercussion

The right-leaning social network Parler is facing an uncertain future after being removed first from the Apple app store and then from Google and finally by being denied cloud services by Amazon. The stated reason is the poor level of comment moderation which has led to large numbers of violent threats and incitement on the service, particularly in relation to the January 6 violent attack on US constitutional processes. However, even before recent events, the weak moderation problems were causing issues for the platform:

“The surge of #sexytrumpgirl posts highlighted a broader dilemma for Parler: The site’s lax moderation policies, in keeping with its claims to being a bastion of free speech, could make it a magnet for pornographers, escort services and online sex merchants using hashtags targeting conservatives, such as #keepamericasexy and #milfsfortrump2020.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/12/02/parler-pornography-problem/

However, the action against Parler is being framed by the many on the right as part of an active suppression of conservative views. Former Sad Puppy leaders, Larry Correia and Brad R Torgersen have waded in. Brad making yet another bold attempt to unwittingly murder irony:

“Larry Correia’s excellent take (this morning) on Big Prog Tech’s attack on Parler got me to thinking about how so much of what’s transpiring in America right now, is the result of lies. Or rather, people unmooring themselves from the idea that there is an objective truth.”

https://www.facebook.com/brad.torgersen/posts/5585072674852253

The calls are coming for conservatives to boycott companies that they regard as being anti-conservative. Sad Puppy Sarah Hoyt has been promoting this ideas using the slogan “Not One Red Cent” for some time.

Ah, yeah but about that plan…What’s one of those companies listed above? Amazon? Oh…oops…

“However, since last night, this has TRULY become an emergency, not because of what Amazon will do or won’t do to ebook fiction (more on that) but because a core of my readers will now refuse to buy from Amazon under any circumstances, which means that I’m going to lose a lot of my income (and Amazon won’t give a flying fig. But I get your outrage, I understand, and yet you’ll only hurt the writers, UNTIL WE HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE.)”

https://accordingtohoyt.com/2021/01/10/vignettes-by-luke-mary-catelli-and-nother-mike-and-book-promo-and-some-blather-by-sarah/

Ouch! Capitalism sucks apparently! It’s almost like there is an issue with the guy who owns the means of production being an unaccountable man with enough money to ski down huge piles of coins like Scrooge McDuck (details here).

“Otherwise I’m going to ask you NOT to carry on this boycott. We right-leaning-indies are going to lose half our sales. That’ll hurt Amazon, sure. Kind of. PROBABLY honestly at the rounding error level. But it will KILL us indie writers who have a contingent of conservative fans.”

https://accordingtohoyt.com/2021/01/10/vignettes-by-luke-mary-catelli-and-nother-mike-and-book-promo-and-some-blather-by-sarah/

So there you go, not one red cent apart from any red cents where a proportion of the red cent might go to Sarah Hoyt.