Category: Conservative Crisis

Alt-right Internecine Petty Name Calling Popcorn

I was going to call this post “Two skinheads fighting over a comb” but:

  • Neither of the participants is a skinhead.
  • The ‘skinhead’ identity is far more complex than the thuggish neo-nazi stereotype and it would be unfair to skinheads to associate them with the participants.

Anyhoo, the feuding between Andrew Torba owner of the safe-haven for far-right trolls known as “Gab” continues his feud with Vox Day a man famous for being a far-right troll.

To recap briefly: Gab was set up as rival Twitter service for people who found Twitter was too strict on the right (which given how permissive Twitter is of neo-Nazis says a lot), Vox flounce over to Gab last year, Vox has since been feuding with other Alt-righters who have been too open with the whole actually being Nazis thing, Vox got called bad things on Gab, Gab wouldn’t delete the posts unless Vox could prove the posts were libellous, Vox then started some sort of court action against Gab. Meanwhile, Gab is suing Google because Google won’t let the Gab app on their app-store because Gab’s moderation policies are too weak, which coincidentally is what Vox Day is also saying which, though he denies it, sort of puts Vox on the side of Google. As probably none of these court cases will go anywhere, it is possible that this is all just kerfuffle-based marketing and/or adult men with the souls of demonic toddlers shouting “pay attention to ME!”. Like the fool I am, I’m paying attention.

Anyway, over at Gab we have this from Torba:

torbavvox

Basically, Torba doing the deniably inciting people thing i.e. pointing out that Vox Day lives in Italy (or maybe Switzerland) and hence there will be all sorts of nasty anti-hate speech laws. The draconian hate speech laws, rather like Twitter’s censorship policies are of mythical status among the right, whereas in reality, they are hard to apply and limited in scope. Additionally, I’m fairly confident that plenty of people would have reported Vox Day’s blog before – if European hate speech laws were going to close his blog then that would have occurred already.

The other element is that Gab is apparently now based in Philidelphia rather than Austin. I don’t know if that matters.

Meanwhile, over at Vox Day’s blog, Vox is now complaining about doxxing. Yeah, I know. Irony is dead – it died last year of overconsumption.

After Vox re-flounced back to Twitter, Vox’s wife known online as “Spacebunny” continued to post on Gab and has been the target of much nastiness (and the source of much nastiness as well). I won’t quote the comments because they are ugly but here is a link http://web.archive.org/web/20170916235757/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2017/09/gab-wants-war.html

Vox response is:

“Gab wants war

And now Andrew Torba has publicly endorsed people attempting to doxx and SWAT his users despite the way in which doing so would clearly violate’s Gab’s Terms of Service. At this point, given the unprofessionalism and obvious lack of self-control being demonstrated by Andrew, I think it is safe to conclude that Gab is dead. It simply hasn’t stopped moving yet.”

Now I don’t know. I still think this has an air of two kids at the back of a classroom staging a fight just to annoy the teacher but maybe it is two kids at the back of a classroom staging a fight just to annoy the teacher who then get super mad at each other and start fighting for real.

 

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That Vox v Gab think Explained as Best I Can

Q: They are both suing each other?

A: I don’t know. According to Vox Day, his Legalevilofleagelleagues has filed “filed the petition in Travis County and the county clerk has approved the filing”. That would be Travis County Texas I assume as Gab’s HQ is in Austin, Texas. Meanwhile, on Gab itself, the CEO posted a screenshot saying “GAB.AI, INC., Plaintiff, vs.” which didn’t say who they were suing. As they have existing gripes against Apple and probably Google and Facebook etc that might not mean a counter-suit against Vox Day.

Q: But you hope they are suing each other?

A: Sure. I mean, this kind of internecine feuding isn’t going to solve America’s & the Internet’s problem with online far right harassment and genocidal propaganda BUT it does mean money and energy are being wasted by the far right on squabbles.

Q: So what is Vox suing for?

A: Vox basically wants the personal details of some individuals who called him a ‘pedophile’ so that he can take action against those individuals.

Q: I can’t work out if that is a good thing or not?

A: Yeah…On the one hand, people shouldn’t be defaming others online. On the other hand, these particular trolls were using a harassment technique that Vox himself has advocated. On yet another hand (or tentacle) Vox is trying to force Gab to doxx some people he dislikes i.e. force a private company to hand over personal details to a man who has openly praised terrorist mass-murderers. On yet another, another hand the people concerned appear to be extreme right trolls.

Q: So why were the trolls mad at Vox Day? SHouldn’t far right trolls love each other in trollish camaraderie?

A: Vox has been feuding with Andrew Anglin of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Daily_Stormer ) Basically Vox Day thinks they’ve been too overt in their Naziness and hence he is unhappy that they are giving the game away by saying all sorts of racist/anti-Semitic things.

Q: But…

A: Yeah.

Q: But I guess it proves Gab does believe in free speech?

A: Not really. The purpose of this particular name calling tactic is to try and harass people off a given platform and/or chill their speech. Nobody is going to want that kind of accusation being made about them and so letting people use that kind of tactic online is antithetical to free speech. Basically, it just creates an environment were only the nastiest most nihilistic bullies get to speak freely.

Q: So why would Gab support such behaviour?

A: How can they not? “An environment where only the nastiest most nihilistic bullies get to speak freely” describes the Gab business model. Its role is to tap into the discontentment of right-wing trolls who find themselves shut out (slowly and inconsistently) from more mainstream social media services.

Q: You make Gab sound dystopian.

A: As a social experiment it sort of is. I don’t believe freedom from top-down rules necessarily leads to some sort of Lord of the Flies brutalising dystopia BUT if you set up a “free” community whose main customers are people with a nasty view of human nature and who are heavily invested in a distorted view of masculinity then well…that’s what you get. Essentially direct proof of how shitty the toxic milk shake of racism-misogyny-libertarianism-and-fascism is – which has always been obvious to everybody else.

Q: So who do you want to win?

A: Lawyers I guess? Hopefully, it is a long and expensive process for all parties.

Some links for future reference:

http://web.archive.org/web/20170913201752/http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2017/09/legal-legion-update.html

 

schadenfreude popcorn

Inter-fascist feuding continues off in the damp and sticky corners of the internet.

To recap on particulars after yesterday’s post aimed at the more abstract elements:

  • wallaby-03

    Not technically a small kangaroo but frankly I can’t spot the difference and I’ve met both in the wild.

    Vox Day is a self-proclaimed “alt-right” pundit with an extremist nationalism that is anti-free trade and which is based on a pseudo-scientific racist theory and which makes use of white supremacist slogans, talking points & antisemitic propaganda and which hails mass murderers/terrorists as heroes. Some people might look at that combination of beliefs and say “that’s a Nazi surely” but in a fit of pointless pedantry, I prefer “not technically a Nazi”. Vox isn’t a Nazi, like, for example, a large wallaby isn’t a small kangaroo.

  • In the wake of Donald Trump being nominated by the GOP, the various disparate groups calling themselves “alt-right” (from ex-Gamergaters to rebranded Nazis – and assume an intersection in the Venn diagram) became more publically assertive. This led to various more overt factions developing including the “alt-lite” (e.g. Milo Yianopolous) as well as more overtly Nazi groups (e.g. around figures like Richard Spencer). Notably, Vox Day gets less attention on press coverage of these groups and he is still mostly known as the-guy-who-got-beaten-by-the-SF-nerds.
  • Vox has an ongoing spat with the section of the alt-right that more overtly uses Nazi symbolism. Important to note that this is the PRIMARY point of difference – there’s a section of the alt-right that will use swastikas and Nazi salutes etc which merges seamlessly with neo-Nazi groups with more traditional ways of organising. The pro-authoritarian propaganda, the attacks on immigrants & immigration, the misogyny, the (shallow) critique of capitalism, anti-media, the pseudo-scientific racial theory and the general hatred of anyone and everyone on the left is largely indistinguishable from one group to the next. The primary point of difference is that Vox is mad at what he calls “the alt-reich” because they keep giving the game away: i.e. they make it hard for people like Vox to deny that they are actual Nazis because they go around saying the same things as Vox but do so while chanting “blood and soil” and waving swastikas.
  • Vox has been engaging in various feuds as is his MO but aimed at other al-right fractions – mainly because they’ve been getting more attention but also because of they haven’t been pretending not to be Nazis hard enough. This feuding has resulted in him spending more time doing the why-nazis-are-really-leftists nonsense.
  • This has spilt over into “Gab” a Twitter alternative for right wing trolls which advocates freedom of trolling speech. Because this is primarily an argument between people who think “cuck” is the high point of rhetoric, inevitably this has led to people on Gab calling Vox a ‘pedophile’. I should note that I’ve no reason to assume that Vox is a paedophile and calling him one is a shitty thing to do. While it is hypocritical of Vox to complain about it and I’ve zero sympathy for him, the fact remains that child sexual abuse is a serious topic that shouldn’t be used to score political points – which was also true when Vox was the one doing that.
  •  Vox is now saying that he isn’t suing Gab and he is also threatening them with legal action: http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2017/09/legal-update.html No, that doesn’t make sense. Hair splitting is important to Vox. Meanwhile, he is also saying that he isn’t threatening to destroy 4Chan’s /pol/ – the infamous troll resevoir. http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2017/09/pol-is-always-right.html 
  • Vox also has a new book out “SJWs always something something” – so maybe this is all just controversy marketing.
  • tl dr: I think the distinction between a large wallaby and a small kangaroo is the shape of the ears or something.

Today’s History Lesson: Nope, pulling statues down is not ‘Stalinist’

In the continuing exercise of those adjacent to the Alt-Right trying to simply not see what the Alt-Right are, may I present Sarah Hoyt, titular leader of Sad Puppies 5 https://accordingtohoyt.com/2017/08/14/fools-to-the-left-of-me-clowns-to-the-right/

There is far too much there that is wrong and wrong-headed and just plain enabling of authoritarianism to document. However, I’ll pick on one snippet:

“This idiotic changing of names, removing of statues and erasing people from history is NOT the work of a free society. It is wholly Stalinist and is letting the rest of the world know you by your fruits as it were. “

stalin_budapest_1956_1

An addiction to shallow thinking leads one into absurdities. In this case Hoyt’s truism implies that opposing Stalinism is Stalinism.

The photo is from this site: http://rarehistoricalphotos.com/stalin-monument-budapest-1956/ and was taken in 1956 during the short lived Hungarian October Revolution.

No, tearing down monuments is not ‘Stalinist’ in itself – that is an absurd claim. What Hoyt is trying to grasp at is Stalin’s frequent attempts to rewrite hsitory. The people campaigning to pull down Confederate monuments do not want to erase the Confederacy *from history* quite the opposite – they want people to remember the US Civil War and who fought in it AND WHY. Precisely because HISTORY matters and understanding the fault lines and ingrained inequalities in the US is impossible without knowing about the history of slavery and racism in America – a history that is particular to America in its details but not unique to America in its impact.

Parallels between minor SF kerfuffles & real world politics are both trite & true

In various less-friendly spaces of the internet, I spent time watching right-wing SF fans trying to negotiate their own narrative around the Dragon Awards. There was often a plaintive cry from somebody trying to be the voice of reason as to why things can’t just be about the books. The notable thing was that in the case of the Dragons, they meant that the left had somehow introduced “politics” to it. This despite the case that there had been almost zero campaigning for Dragon Award nominations outside of a narrow area of SF fandom revolving around Superversive, Pulp Revolution and the groups I call the Rabids and the Scrappy Doos. Even the former Sad Puppy leadership had been relatively quiet.

My interest here was not the Brian Niemeiers of the groups but others, less inclined to create an SJW conspiracy out of nothing. In several cases, you could see them correctly reasoning that if they want the Dragon Awards to have any status then they would need authors like John Scalzi and N.K.Jemisin involved. However, they would always return to the idea that it was up to people like John Scalzi to, therefore, fix the problem by participating. Commenting here, author David Van Dyke took a similar tack – the Dragons need broad based participation, therefore can authors that the SF right calls “SJWs” (whether they are or not) please participate. This despite the fact that the reasons WHY authors didn’t want to participate were clear and unambiguous – they didn’t want to get caught up in the culture war that other on the SF right want the Dragons to be.

What is particularly interesting is this. When the right that is adjacent to the more belligerent alt-right NEED somebody to be reasonable, to compromise in WHICH direction do they turn? Note how it is the LEFT? This is more than just the modern conservative dictum of not-shooting-right/no-enemies-on-the-right but a tacit acknowledgement that they themselves have no capacity to control their allies.

The alt-right want the Dragons Awards to be a culture-war shitstorm because culture-war shitstorms help them recruit small numbers of extremists via radicalization and the comradery of a conflict. It’s a tactic anybody on the left will recognise from many micro-Trotskyist groups in the past, whose expectation of a conflict (e.g. a labour dispute) was that making hyper-strong demands (not necessarily EXTREME demands but essentially shitty negotiating positions) would not lead to a successful outcome but would lead to a better struggle and new recruits.

This dynamic among the more moderate right with respect to their terrorist allies is an abrogation of their duty to take on extremism. Instead, they hope that the left and centre will do it for them, while they hope to retain the votes of terrorist sympathisers.

In 2016 the strongest GOP counter-reaction to Trump was the ‘Never Trump’ group but even they expected the Democrats to do their dirty work for them. They expected Hillary Clinton to win and then when she didn’t, they stuck to complaining about the left rather than making any real concerted attempt to take back their party. All the time sort of hoping that the left will sort out their problem with an overtly violent & authoritarian movement in their ranks. Fear and cynicism.

Back when Trump won the GOP nomination, Larry Correia had this to say:

“This is an amoral statist authoritarian liberal, who got to where he was by being a huckster con appealing to anger and fear. He is a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He is an insult to the founders, a disgrace to our people, and in the unlikely event he wins, will probably go down in history as the man who ended any hope of small government or individual liberty in America.” http://monsterhunternation.com/2016/05/06/the-endless-facebook-trump-whaa-post/

Of course, Larry expected Trump’s nomination to mean victory for Clinton and when that didn’t happen and Trump’s presidency really did prove to be amoral, statist, and authoritarian, Larry has focused on the ‘but not actually liberal’ and has either avoided politics or stuck to left-bashing.

This mix of short term opportunism and unwillingness to tackle extremism is resulting in relatively moderate conservatives finding themselves unwilling to confront terrorism. In the UK this was exemplified during the Brexit campaign when a radicalised terrorist murdered Labour MP Jo Cox https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Jo_Cox  At the time pro-Brexit voices like Louise Mensch (who has since rebranded as a never-Trumper pushing unfeasible conspiracy theories) turned her rhetorical attacks on the left – condemning anybody who was naturally outraged by the use of murder as a political act. The demand was absurd and simple – that in the face of political extremism on the far right, to the point of overt terrorism & murder, that the left needed to be less vocal rather than the right needing to be less prone to murder.

So the same performance happens fractally across different levels of debate. Conservatives want the left to:

  • Defeat the terrorist aligned section of the right but…
  • without making a fuss and…
  • the conservatives will call the left names while they do that because…
  • the conservatives still want the support of the alt-nazis.

[ETA: speaking of which, here is Brad Torgersen desperately trying to find somebody to be angry with OTHER THAN the actual terrorist in the wake of a terrorist attack https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2059573864068836&set=a.240746609284913.79474.100000487265268&type=3&theater tl;dr its the media fault apparently.]

 

 

The Weird Not-a-referendum in Australia on Marriage Equality

particlfunkThe Australian government has found itself in an absurd situation on marriage equality. As things currently stand a majority of the Australian population wants marriage equality, a majority of MPs in the lower house of parliament want marriage equality and a majority of senators in the upper house want marriage equality. So politically this is a really simple call: pass a bill for marriage equality.

Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. While there is technically a majority in favour, the majority of MPs in the ruling coalition don’t support it. A minority of centre-right MPs in the ruling Liberal-National coalition strongly support marriage equality but the conservative right are unwilling to allow a straight vote on the issue.

During the last general election, the Liberals had campaigned on the basis of a referendum on the issue. The referendum was a stop-gap measure to avoid an internal party split. As the vote couldn’t be binding on parliament as it wasn’t a change to the constitution it would be called a ‘plebiscite’. If this sounds a lot like the reasoning behind the Brexit referendum then you’d be right – the idea was primarily about maintaining party unity.

This plebiscite, would have had no binding impact on MPs who would still have to vote on legislation. So people quite reasonably asked what the point would be. Given the inevitable homophobic propaganda that would accompany the campaign, i would cause real distress to families at significant financial cost and have no actual legal impact.

The outcome of the general election last year was ambiguous. Malcom Turnbull’s Liberal-National coallition scraped in by the skin of their teeth in the lower house but the Senate was left with the balance of power lying with smaller parties and independents.

When the government proposed the plebiscite, the Senate blocked the legislation. So the government was stuck. The conservative wing of the Liberal party insisted that no other legislation on marriage equality could go forward without the plebiscite. As time progressed, the Labor Party continued to press the government on the issue – embarrising the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who is on the liberal-wing of the Liberal Party and in favour of marriage-equality.

Ironically, the debate was in danger of causing an end to the political marriage of the Liberal Party. That in turn would have led to the government collapsing, which would probably have led to the Labor Party winning and passing marriage-equality.

So…the Liberal-National MPs put their heads together to come up with a way to give the conservative MPs a plebiscite without asking the Senate’s permission. The only way to do this would be to have something that was not technically a VOTE. Now as the plebiscite was never going to be binding anyway…the plebiscite could be legally a ‘survey’ IF instead of being run by the Australian Election Commision it was run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (who run the census – but not very well).

Anyway, this is why Australia is going to have a “postal plebiscite” on marriage-equality. Which is nuts, and of course will be exploited by the nastiest sections of society to attack LGBTI families, will cost a fortune, won’t be very representative and won’t be binding on MPs anyway.

Why? Because conservatives are petulant children.

The Post-Ockham Age: Sometimes we have to multiply motives

The US Attorney General and living cliche Jeff Sessions has ramped up the failed and counter-productive war on drugs: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/12/528086525/sessions-tells-prosecutors-to-seek-most-serious-charges-stricter-sentences

There have been many reactions to this but part of the left-leaning reaction has been a competition between two perspectives:

  1.  That this move is Sessions trying to distract from Trump’s and his own entanglement with Russia and the recent sacking of the head of the FBI.
  2. That point 1. is missing the point that this is something Sessions has been wanting to do his whole career and is an example of his overall nastiness and, given the skewed way in which the War on Drugs falls on different communities in the US, his overall racism.

Sure both could be true at the same time without creating a logical contradiction but we really should aim for parsimonious explanations of events. Yet this kind of duplication of interpretations of the Trump regime’s acts makes simple motives hard to pin down. Is policy X because Trump is evil/incompetent/corrupt or is X simply a ‘distraction’ from some previous thing?

Whether by intent or happenstance, the Trump electoral campaign often succeeded in pushing past scandals by simply moving on to some new kind of outrage. As a kind of denial-of-service attack on normal news media processes, Trump could shift the news cycle onto a new topic (I assume often inadvertently) by saying or doing something else that would capture the headlines. So it is reasonable to see such things as Sessions’s new drug enforcement policy as fitting that model: something intended to outrage those who oppose Trump so we’ll be talking about that rather than the growing constitutional crisis.

Unfortunately for parsimony, we have to accept that it is both a distraction and an evil thing in itself. I’ve no doubt that Session will try to get away with as many regressive, racist and authoritarian policies as he can regardless of how it may aid the regime’s management of the news cycle. However, Sessions isn’t an idiot and he (and others in the regime) will continue to use other scandals as cover and as distractions to push their agenda. This is why generic obstruction is a wise tactic: the various people under Trump pushing their own nasty agendas aim to do as much harm as they can as quickly as they can while they still can. Put another way: Sessions always intended to try this move but he can’t be oblivious to the fact that the Comey-sacking scandal is a distraction from his actions and that his actions serve as a distraction to the Comey-sacking scandal.

The difference here from a normal executive is that Trump’s regime is not scandal-averse in a normal way. Any normal government would seek to minimise scandals (often unsuccessfully) in terms of number, length and intensity. Trump now sits at the top of a kind of scandal Ponzi scheme – a pyramid selling model of scandal but with more sustainability due to a substantial supply of neo-Nazis, unreformed Confederates and omnifallacious right-wing policies that have been floating around pseudo-think tanks since the 1990s.

So yes, it’s both and you can’t let it distract from the Russian scandal nor can you let the Russian scandal distract from the genuine harm Sessions will inflict on many, many people and communities with this policy.

OK, that’s a depressing conclusion, particularly for US readers. Sorry. The positive side? Every shitty, nasty move pushes somebody, somewhere from unsure-about-Trump to opposed-to-Trump. Moves like this don’t expand Trump’s base but only inspire the narrow core of his support. I know that is small comfort to the families that will bear the brunt of these policies.