Confronting the Radicalism of Young Men Online

Roland Dodds

Roland Dodds is an educator, researcher and father who writes about politics, culture and education. He spent his formative years in radical left wing politics, but now prefers the company of contrarians of all political stripes (assuming they aren't teetotalers). He is a regular inactive at Harry's Place and Ordinary Times.

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162 Responses

  1. LeeEsq says:

    I’m not entirely sure if I’m comfortable with the Social Justice/Intersectional Left handling anti-Semitism. They have a very bad tendency of putting Jews with the wretched of the earth one minute and as white capitalist patriarchal imperialist oppressors the next. They are also utterly horrible about Israel and have opinions contrary to most Jews on the subject. Even if many Jews outside Israel can’t stand Netanyahu, very few of us perceive Israel as, one person put it to me a while a go, as a “racist white settler state.” We tend to be rather fond of Israel and see it as something we built.Report

    • pillsy in reply to LeeEsq says:

      The problem here is essentially every group sucks at handling anti-semitism. If it were just the Intersectional Left, well, we could go elsewhere.

      It’s not, though. Center Left and (especially) Center Right types are just as blinded by Israel as the further Left, it’s just that they tend to excuse any and all anti-semitism as long as it comes from someone who is nominally pro-Israel. And note for this calculus, “nominally pro-Israel” includes sharing the far Left idea that Israel is a racist white settler state, but thinking that racist white settler states are kinda neat.

      That’s why you have people who get extremely upset about dodgy to outright anti-semitic complaints about the “Israel Lobby” one minute either overlooking or even making complaints about George Soros and the “Great Replacement” that are at least as bad.

      And of course the Far Right is pretty much all anti-semitic, root and branch.

      So there aren’t a lot of good places to turn.Report

      • pillsy in reply to pillsy says:

        As for the parts of the Left that reject intersectionality and related ideas as “divisive identity politics” or whatever, they tend to be no better when it comes to separating criticism of Israel from criticism of Jews.Report

        • Dave in reply to pillsy says:

          No, not just “as divisive identity politics” but as ideas that can’t separate themselves from anti-semitism. Intersectionality can’t, especially when it’s applied through critical race theory, which intersectional “feminism” is (allegedly at least since I see nothing feminist about it.).

          That and the whole naive power dynamics thing.Report

          • pillsy in reply to Dave says:

            I disagree on this point (and may have said so in the past), because “intersectionality” and the like can’t do anything; it’s just an idea or set of ideas. Now, it might be that those ideas aren’t consistent with principled objection to anti-semitism, but I don’t believe that’s true, and the main reason I disregard the fact that a lot of soi dissant “anti-racists” and “social justice advocates” fall prey to anti-semitism (or give anti-semitism a pass) is that people are usually pretty bad at thinking.

            People get especially bad at thinking when there are social costs to paid if they come to the right answer.

            That’s not all that goes wrong. People try to make these theories into all-encompassing explanations of life, the universe, and everything. Maybe it’s my physical science background speaking, but you often need to think about the world using simplified models, and accept that those models have limited domains of validity, and a lot of folks seem to breeze right past that when they try to do social science and the like.

            I don’t know how much of this is actually a problem with the academic practices in those fields, and how much is people without actual serious exposure to the material (like, uh, me) leaping to weird conclusions.Report

            • pillsy in reply to pillsy says:

              By the way, in case it’s not clear: I extremely do not give Sarsour et al. a pass. I’m just noting that they fail to live up to their own standards, as well as yours or mine.Report

      • Dave in reply to pillsy says:

        I’m not blinded by anything Israel. I see anti-semitism I go after it. I don’t care if the target is some far right asshole or the Women’s March. Most lefties get a bit squeamish attacking the latter. Not me.

        If I think Linda Sarsour is a fucking bigot, and I do, I’ll gladly take charges of Islamaphobia from the more squeamish left types. They’ll accuse me of supporting everything and anything Israel while imposing their own preferences on the situation there.

        “So there aren’t a lot of good places to turn.”

        If you can’t find a place, make one. I’ll help. Point me to the bigots.Report

        • pillsy in reply to Dave says:

          Yeah I’ll trust individuals obviously, and there are no small numbers of folks everywhere but the far Right who have their heads screwed on straight.

          But ideological commitments are not a reliable proxy for having one’s head screwed on straight.Report

          • Dave in reply to pillsy says:

            True and more often than not, the degree to which someone is committed is inversely correlated to the head being screwed on straight.

            My head is screwed on straight but I have a “screws loose” issue. 😉Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to pillsy says:

        I agree with this. With other groups, it tends to be less annoying because they don’t have a shtick about listening to minority voices and systematic racism. I find it staggering that people who believe that systematic racism or the Patriarchy are very real things, can’t understand why systematic Jew hatred might be a thing.Report

    • veronica d in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Nothing in this post suggests you should uncritically join the “SJ left.” Instead, it says we should all work to stop the ongoing radicalization of young men on social media. We can all support that, even if we might disagree on how racist the Israeli state is.

      After all, Jews are not the only target of these people. They are one of the primary targets, as shown by recent events, but I’m in the crosshairs too. I’ve happened across posts on various nerd-rage forums that openly encourage members to engage in mass shooting at feminist and gay events. “Why don’t we shoot up a Pride parade?” is the sort of question they ask.

      Note these are not cherry picked posts. They aren’t things someone linked to. They’re just “shit you will probably find if you spend any time on such forums.”

      I agree with your broad point. Criticism of Israel is often a mask to hide antisemitism. I’m sorry about that. The left should do better. However, “SJWs” aren’t shooting up synagogues. Fascists are.Report

      • Dave in reply to veronica d says:

        Everyone knows that SJWs aren’t shooting up synagogues, but you know what they do when their own kind get accused of anti-semitism (remember the bigots running the Women’s March?), it’s downplayed just like that.

        I’ve dealt with these people, irredeemable scumbags down to the last one. Had they stuck to the typical SJW “know your place” comment because of my identity as intersectionality’s Spawn of Satan, that would have been fine since counterarguments based on identity tell me the other side isn’t too bright.

        But no…they were feeling a little too overconfident and played the “other side was worse” card. Maybe they said the “needed” to do better. I know they didn’t take that specific incident as a teaching moment for “them” to DO better so I decided to express my distaste with their opinions in as undiplomatic way as possible and threw her “allies” under the same bus.

        I have Jewish friends and family so yeah, I’m going to make sure I take anti-semitism as deeply and personally as I can for their sake.

        As to the left doing better – for the SJ left, it’s not going to happen. Ever. Like I said elsewhere, some of the fundamental ideas that drive the more ideological brands of social justice activism – because they can’t solve for anti-Semitism (given the emphasis on race), anti-Semitism is at best a logical conclusion (although individuals themselves may not be) and at worst a feature and not a bug.

        Liberals don’t have this problem, and many of them are sympathetic to social justice causes so maybe they think they can address this. That wouldn’t be my preferred choice.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Dave says:

          Nice reasonable discourse. Anyway.

          I guess all I can say is, these shootings will keep happening, and they won’t remain focuses on only Jews. I suppose each time it happens, you and Lee and charge in an remind us how terrible the left is. You might even have a point, sometimes, to some degree.

          But we’re not the ones shooting people. I don’t know what else to say, except you don’t need to support “SJWs” to notice how social media has “gamified” outrage culture, and how this specifically has led to the violent radicalization of young men. We might want to look at the dynamics of this.

          At least, some of us will. You do you.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

            “we’re not the ones shooting people.”

            except for Johnson and Brinsley and Hodgkinson, but, y’know, a few outliers doesn’t change the statistical truth, right?Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I don’t know why it is so difficult for people to perceive Israel as a nation like any other, say, Britain or France.
      Because they, too, can be described as a “racist white settler state”.

      But we usually grasp that all nations are complex with histories that are as filled with awful injustice as honorable achievements.Report

      • Dave in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        “I don’t know why it is so difficult for people to perceive Israel as a nation like any other, say, Britain or France..”

        Like Veronica said, the Left needs to do better. Your turn. At least acknowledge the situation correctly.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        “I don’t know why it is so difficult for people to perceive Israel as a nation like any other, say, Britain or France.”

        Well. If they did then maybe they’d be a little less accepting of terrorists firing rockets into it, and more understanding of active military responses to that.Report

        • Philip H in reply to DensityDuck says:

          No one accepts terrorists firing rockets into Israel. The problem arises when 1) that military response is disproportionate (and it often is); 2) the response is aligned with using the military to claim land outside the 1948 boundaries that then is handed illegally to Jewish settlers; 3) that land is now defended against said attacks by said military as if it’s always been a part of Israel.Report

          • veronica d in reply to Philip H says:

            No one accepts terrorists firing rockets into Israel.

            To be fair, I’ve met people who do. Usually they’re “tankies” or something similar.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Philip H says:

            ah-heh. “I don’t accept it” is rather undermined by your lengthy explanation of how the parts of Israel being attacked by rockets aren’t really a for-real part of Israel.Report

            • PHilip H in reply to DensityDuck says:

              Land taken by force illegally is not a “for real” part of any country. We fought a war with Saddam Hussein (two wars actually) allegedly over that point, never mind that the parts of Israel being attacked are not those illegally obtained parts.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to PHilip H says:

                you do realize you’re arguing that Israel has no right to exist, hereReport

              • Philip H in reply to DensityDuck says:

                They have a right to exist within the borders they agreed to in 1948. They have no right to seize additional lands outside those borders, which they do routinely, and generally from Palestinians by the use of armed settlers and Army bulldozers. Just like we don’t have the right to seize the parts of mexico south of the border on the Rio Grande, even though doing so would probably significantly lower the number of people using that river to enter the US without documents. For that matter as a matter of Law I don’t think they have any right to arbitrarily seize Palestinian lands inside their boundaries absent due process, however rigged that due process is.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        It’s because people on the Further Left see the movement of Jews back to Israel/Palestine from the First Aliyah to the present as more like Whites moving to Africa or Whites displacing indigenous populations in the Americas and Oceania then immigration or a marginalized people demanding self-determination.Report

        • Philip H in reply to LeeEsq says:

          NO, we don’t. Israel has aright to exist, and to demand a certain level of international protection given the Holocaust. What Israel doesn’t have the right to do is oppress another geographically co-located people or seize land that is outside its agreed to borders just because it wants to. Those are vastly different concepts.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        Do you know how sometimes white racists assume that every white person agrees with them at heart? Have you ever had the experience of someone going on a racist rant because they saw your were white and that you were a secret ally? Maybe you will also show the sign of Q.

        I get that too because I look white enough but if I gave my real name, the wrong person might decide to pound me.

        Many Jews exist in this weird land where we get passing privilege. To many minorities, we are just another variant of upper-middle class white person. Understanding Jewishness and anti-Semitism takes effort. But we know enough to know 4chan and 8chan are not for us.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

      There is an intuition among a particular subset that the underdog is the guy with the moral high ground.

      So, in any conflict, you can figure out who to root for by asking “who is the underdog?”

      Before the Six Day War? Israel was, seriously, the underdog. After the Six Day War? Damn. Israel kicked the ass of everybody. They even had a shirt: “Six Days, Bitch!”

      In the course of a week, we saw the entire dynamic change.

      And, even now, we see people jockey for position so that they can reasonably claim to be the underdog in any given fight. If it’s “Israel vs. The Palestinians”, well, just look. Talk about David vs. Goliath! The only way the person he’s slinging could be any underdogger than that is he were slinging at someone with even fewer limbs who was in an even crappier wheelchair with fewer cheerleaders wearing even burqaier burqas.

      It doesn’t even *MATTER* what he was fighting for/against. We’re automatically rooting for him.

      Which creates weird pathologies like this.

      Well… who is the underdog? Do we see society as the important thing or the individual? Or do we pivot back and forth depending on who we’re fighting against and who we intuitively recognize as being the underdog?

      Anyway, all that to say, if you follow underdog theory, it’s not obvious that Israel is the underdog.

      And once you acknowledge that, you’ve got a problem if your intuition is to put Jewish folks in the underdog column.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Even if many Jews outside Israel can’t stand Netanyahu, very few of us perceive Israel as, one person put it to me a while a go, as a “racist white settler state.”

      Well sure, very few white citizens of Canada, the USA, or Australia see those countries as racist white settler states. Suggest they are, and many will get angrily defensive. It doesn’t mean these countries aren’t racist white settler states, it means that most of us have strong mental armour against seeing the suffering and oppression that is required to maintain our own comfort and privilege.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq says:

      The fundamental problem for Jews (and Asians) is that the same logic that “proves” white privilege also “proves” that Jews and Asians are even more privileged than whites. Just as gentile whites have higher incomes and educational attainment and lower rates of incarceration and getting shot by police than blacks and Hispanics, Jews and Asians outperform gentile whites on these metrics. If differences in outcomes can only be explained by privilege because every other possible explanation is ruled out a priori as racist, then it follows that Jews and Asians are the most privileged of all.

      The social justice (sic) left can only suppress their cognitive dissonance on this for so long.Report

  2. Saul Degraw says:

    One of the problems is that when a tragedy like Poway happens is that everyone seems to use it to push their pet ideologies and solutions instead of anything useful. Perhaps this is inevitable because radicalization of X amount of young people (especially young men) seems to be a constant through out history. Most extreme political ideologies needed to radicalize young men to succeed. Mainly intelligent young men without options for a variety of reasons.

    Another problem is we lack real numbers on how many people are part of the Extremely Online. I am still fairly convinced that the overwhelming majority of Americans (and world citizens) have no idea what 4chan and 8chan are, yet alone visit it. For better and for worse, most Americans (maybe most people) just don’t pay attention to politics/news that much. OT counts as Very Online at least and most of us have lives outside of the board. How many people live and breath in the Extremely Online?

    4chan and 8chan thrive on a lot of interconnected things. They thrive on general adolescent desires to rebel and shock the middle classes but now the middle classes are college-educated, professional liberals, not uptight conservatives. They thrive on changes to the economy that no one has a good answer for and people hate being told that there are problems without solutions. They thrive because the cure of eliminating 4chan and 8chan is probably worse than the poison they are. They thrive because eliminating 4chan and 8chan could very well be impossible.

    The best thing parents can do is probably monitor their kids internet and make sure they stay away from 4chan and 8chan.Report

    • veronica d in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      It’s not just the -chans. It’s Youtube and Twitter, fueled by the economics of outrage. It is an ecosystem of hate that is bigger than a few edgelords on forums only visible within the subculture.

      This video is a good “case study” of how the right wing outrage machine monetizes highly suggestible “angry dudes”:

      • Brandon Berg in reply to veronica d says:

        Seriously? This video spends several minutes defending and justifying attempts to smear Cuphead as racist by association, not because it . Yeah, people overreacted, because social media is brain cancer, but they were reacting to people who really were trying to stir up controversy.

        You’re not entirely wrong about the other side, but you’re totally oblivious to the nostril-scorching reek of your own side’s shit.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          The video is valuable specifically because it teaches a skill. Next time you encounter an article that {group} did {horrible thing}, you might ask, “Did they really do that, or am I being lied to?”

          The point is, you need immunize yourself against the “outrage machine.”

          Some campus radicals did X!

          Okay fine. Maybe that happened. Maybe not. Maybe the author is full of shit. Maybe it sorta-kinda happened, but there are important details they are leaving out.

          Someone got in trouble for doing X!!!! where X seems trivial.

          But was it only X? Was the X an isolated thing, or was the X part of a larger pattern of behavior?


          And yes, the connection between Cuphead and racist cartoons is undeniably real. It is what people like to call a “fact,” and facts don’t care about your feelings (or so I’ve been told). Saying “OMG leftists are calling Cuphead racist” is half true, but it is also dishonest and hysterical, precisely as it deliberately misrepresents the argument. If you read what the leftist critics actually said, it was an accurate examination of that historic artistic style.

          Is that historic connection salient? Should we care?

          I think so. It’s complicated. To address that topic requires critical thought, not angry ranting full of lies.

          It’s not just about social media. It’s also about money, lots of money. Alex Jones, for example, makes his living convincing insecure men that their “masculinity” is in question, that they risk becoming “soy boys,” and thus they should purchase his nutrition supplements (that ironically contain soy).

          (As an aside, I wish soy worked that way. I would have saved a lot of money on hormones.)

          Personally, I don’t really care if a bunch of idiots waste their money on something dumb. I’d rather they did not. I’m all for “debunking” bogus products. But still, people are free to be insecure and buy useless shit.

          It’s different, however, for things such as anti-vaxers, because those costs externalize in an obvious way. I feel likewise when the bogus “product” is about demonizing minorities or LGBT people. When angry bigots make money creating clickbait to produce more angry bigots based on dishonest hate, yeah I fucking care about that a lot. You should as well, at least if you have any values at all.

          Another bogus product being sold is a victim narrative for white dudes. It’s nonsense.

          A creep like Jordan Peterson pretends to be selling life advice for disaffected men, and sure, some of his advice is good. Clean your room. Stand up straight. However, Mark Manson sells similar advice, but Manson’s advice lacks something found in Peterson’s, and what is in fact Peterson’s main product, a victim narrative: feminism stole your birthright as powerful western men!

          It’s comically shallow, but it works, and it has made him wealthy.

          Oh and he is also a blistering transphobe. I care about that. You should as well.Report

        • pillsy in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          Why would anybody remotely care if a few random people think Cuphead (a game which was wildly successful both commercially and critically) is racist?

          Why isn’t it just the n-billionth iteration of people being wrong on the Internet?Report

          • veronica d in reply to pillsy says:

            The thing is, there is a sense that Cuphead is racist. There also is a sense that it isn’t. “Racist” isn’t a simple binary variable that applies fully or not at all. Certainly it isn’t racist the way the original cartoons were, nor how HP Lovecraft was, nor even how Tolkien was, but yeah, there is a “race thing” associated with the game.

            People are allowed to talk about that. In fact, talking about that can be interesting and informative.

            “But I feel attacked!!!” shouts the gamer bro.

            But why? Did you read the original article? Did that really make you feel attacked? If so, perhaps you need to self-examine.

            The fact is, few people read that article. They heard bogus summaries of the article, and bogus summaries of an ensuing “Twitter conversation” that wasn’t supported by the content of the actual Tweets.

            The people who got angry, most of them, were angry based on false claims about the content of that article. Many of those false claims were made on channels that monetize engagement. The point: it’s all a scam, but it’s a scam with an externalized cost.Report

    • Dave in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “I am still fairly convinced that the overwhelming majority of Americans (and world citizens) have no idea what 4chan and 8chan are, yet alone visit it.”

      This is 100% correct.

      “How many people live and breath in the Extremely Online?”

      Too many people. Not me though. I prefer the very online of this place to the shitholes like Twitter. I’m more likely to encounter people similar to those here in my everyday life than the nutbags on Twitter.Report

    • Kuba in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      The problem is that it does not require any sort of majority to create havoc, to terrorize citizens, or fundamentally overturn norms of the equilibrium. You just need a highly motivated and organized minority.Report

  3. veronica d says:

    You would need to provide evidence.Report

  4. DensityDuck says:

    “I recently discovered Contrapoints,a left-wing trans activist that has a substantial following on Youtube.”

    Thing is, if you start calling for Deplatforming of Problematic Persons, then “left-wing trans activist” is exactly the sort of person who’d be Deplatformed for being Problematic. Because, as we’ve seen, all that The Algorithm does is pattern-match, and unless you’re going to review every D-Notice it issues then you are going to grab people you don’t want to grab, and if you review everything it does then you might as well just give up and review everything (which, in fact, is what ought to be happening anyway.)

    The problem of thoughtcrime is not solved by purging wrongthink.Report

    • Dave in reply to DensityDuck says:

      I locked horns with someone defending de-platforming and her Ace in the Hole was Contrapoints’ videos on the subject. I give an A for effort but it wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before and addressed at some point.

      Or, as they say, her positions are “problematic”.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to Dave says:

        My concern with de-platforming is okay, we get them off of YouTube. Then they go to some hole on the dark web where someone discovers them for whatever reason and now all of that radicalization is happening in a place most of us can’t see. At least on YouTube it’s in the open and people can provide counterpoints and fight the good fight.Report

        • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          The problem is that having them on YouTube means that people aren’t just discovering them on their own; YouTube actively directs people interested in other content towards them.

          In the past, before YouTube and social media, these guys were always out there, but they were mostly confined to their own little dark corners.Report

          • Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

            I think it’s a matter of risk. Is it more dangerous for them to be doing this in the open where people can fight against it or in secret where we don’t know until someone blows up a building?

            I’m not an expert on radicalization, so maybe the FBI would prefer them to be off Big Platforms, but I always believe that sunlight is the best disinfectant.Report

            • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              I mean the FBI and related agencies definitely preferred to keep ISIS off of big platforms. Globally neo-Nazis are not as much as a threat as jihadists, but here in the US they seem to be comparable, and growing worse.

              And the issue is that the way they inhabit the big platforms, they don’t get sunlight.Report

        • Dave in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


          I know you and I need to have a LONG conversation about all of this because I owe at least a dozen responses to things you’ve said.

          Even if they don’t belong on a respectable platform, they’ll manifest themselves elsewhere.

          I have mixed feelings about de-platforming – some hills aren’t worth fighting on at all but others moreso. It almost feels to me like winning a battle but losing the war (or least not winning the war).Report

          • Mr.Joe in reply to Dave says:

            I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that de-platforming makes the viewpoint go away. It does however remove a microphone and chase them out of the more public squares. It makes it so there is not ISIS or Nazis at the bottom of YouTube click holes.Report

  5. bookdragon says:

    How many trans activists are shooting up public places?Report

  6. Oscar Gordon says:

    I remain opposed to active/aggressive deplatforming, not only because it creates martyrs, but also because the potential for abuse is so high.

    That said, there is no reason we can not pressure private companies to pay attention to their algorithms and make sure that they aren’t leading people down rabbit holes (and/or expose algorithm controls so parents can make sure kids don’t head down rabbit holes).

    Algorithm recommendations do a great job of leading people down all sorts of rabbit holes besides just alt-right (e.g. Anti-vax).

    We don’t need to silence such media, but we also don’t need to allow it to be elevated to the top of the recommendations list.

    We also need more people like Contrapoints, people who can sell their ideas without alienating the necessary target audience.Report

  7. Saul Degraw says:

    Also Satre’s observation on bad-faith continues to be true:

    “The anti‐Semite has chosen hate because hate is a faith; at the outset he has chosen to devaluate words and reasons. How entirely at ease he feels as a result. How futile and frivolous discussions about the rights of the Jew appear to him. He has placed himself on other ground from the beginning. If out of courtesy he consents for a moment to defend his point of view, he lends himself but does not give himself. He tries simply to project his intuitive certainty onto the plane of discourse. I mentioned awhile back some remarks by anti‐Semites, all of them absurd: “I hate Jews because they make servants insubordinate, because a Jewish furrier robbed me, etc.” Never believe that anti‐ Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti‐Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past. It is not that they are afraid of being convinced. They fear only to appear ridiculous or to prejudice by their embarrassment their hope of winning over some third person to their side.”Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “They fear only to appear ridiculous or to prejudice by their embarrassment their hope of winning over some third person to their side.”

      This! This, right here! This is the important bit! This is why you debate fascists!

      You don’t do it to change their minds, you do it to change everyone else’s minds, everyone else who’s sitting around thinking “y’know, guy does have a point”.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to DensityDuck says:

        You don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.

        I’ve said before that I regard racism as similar to pedophilia where it isn’t grounded in anything rational, but appeals to some universal dark corner of the human psyche.

        Part of the unsettling discoveries that came out of the Enlightenment is that the foundational premise of all of humanity that there is something unique and special about the human animal, was shaky at best, and quite possibly illusory.

        There isn’t any empirical evidence for human dignity or equality or really anything that we imagine to be beyond debate.Report

        • Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          ‘I’ve said before that I regard racism as similar to pedophilia where it isn’t grounded in anything rational, but appeals to some universal dark corner of the human psyche.”

          I agree Chip, which is a big part of the reason I push back against the term so often. It’s akin to saying, “You are a crazy person,” which means the name-caller doesn’t actually want the discussion to continue.Report

  8. Aaron David says:

    Just the other day, the New York Times published a massively anti-semitic cartoon, and had to apologize for it:

    ‘A political cartoon in the international print edition of The New York Times on Thursday included anti-Semitic tropes, depicting the prime minister of Israel as a guide dog with a Star of David collar, leading the president of the United States, shown wearing a skullcap. The image was offensive, and it was an error of judgment to publish it. It was provided by the New York Times News Service and Syndicate, which has since deleted it.’

    Many feel that of one of the Democrat freshmen House members have made deeply anti-Semitic remarks lately, so much that the house had to issue a condemnation against hate, and indeed the abstaining members felt that it did not go far enough in calling out the anti-semitic remarks.

    In all of this, I think trying to put the blame solely onto one party is a sign of deep unseriousness. And while the author is correct to call out actions on the right, that the Times article isn’t mentioned at all at by the OP speaks volumes. There is a deep level of anti-semitism in many pillars of the American left, as we can see clearly by the hold Louis Farrakhan, with his deeply racist remarks against my people, has on many outspoken members thereof. Calling out or citing YouTube commentators and bloggers while ignoring instances by major media groups or members of Congress shows only blindness.

    As intersectionalism and the BDS movement grows on the left, it becomes easier to justify hatred against the Jewish people, not just Isreal, losing sight of the history of genocide in the rush to redefine racism as being something that can only happen to people of color. Losing sight of its ugly, destructive history.Report

    • pillsy in reply to Aaron David says:

      Dude, follow the bullets.

      Anti-semitism on the Left is terrible, but it’s the Nazis who are racking up the body count to this day.Report

      • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

        Just for the record, you do know where folks like Nazis would chart on a political compass versus folks like Ayn Rand and Hayek?Report

        • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

          I neither know nor particularly care; the allegedly mainstream Right in this country has made it incredibly clear that they view neo-Nazis as part of the same team in a shared conflict against the Left.Report

          • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

            “I neither know nor particularly care”

            Well of course.Report

            • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

              People don’t make these kinds of decisions based on simple ideological calculations. They generally make them based on tactical considerations or simple tribal knee jerks.

              I mean when Hayek wrote Road to Serfdom, which I read many years ago, it made all the tactical sense in the world to focus on fascism as the enemy of liberalism since they were literally at war with the (remaining) liberal nations.

              But if you look at how the captains of industry in Nazi Germany viewed things it was very different. This is, for better or worse, a problem with the way a lot of people think about Left and Right political coalitions in general; they see them in terms of a compass or a spectrum (and one which libertarians are usually pretty sensitive to).

              The actual business owners are generally motivated by self-interest much more than they are any ideological commitment to property rights, freedom to contract, much less competitive market places. Capitalism at its best steers that self-interest in directions that broadly benefit everyone, but plenty of actual capitalists would much rather cheat. And or course (as libertarians are always happy to point out) they can often find state actors to help them.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                Yes, and if you have been paying attention you know who my tribe is, which does contain Ayn and Hayek and a great many other jews.

                Part of the problem is the left doesn’t know how close their concepts of socialist supremacism looks compared to the national socialists. So from the lower right y-axis, you both look like upper left authoritarians:


                So your (and maybe Rolands) knee jerk is to say, ‘the far right is bad’, my knee jerk is to say the ‘high y-axis left is bad’. Also when there is a accusation of white nationalism, I’m saying that’s your neighbors up there, and it’s not landing anywhere over here.

                Are we good with that?Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                I am… not terribly worried about where the libertarians end up here, largely because they just aren’t that powerful a force in US politics.

                But that aside, I think trying to lay out your ideological parameter space based on a priori ideological commitments (as the famous Nolan Chart and its many successors have done) is pretty bass ackwards.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                ideological parameter space based on a priori ideological commitments

                So much human misery could be avoided if only we had fewer introverts who thought about things all the time.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Thinking about how people are going to behave is all well and good, but I recommend periodically checking to see if your thoughts bear any relation to reality.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                I’m not libertarian. Commitments, time will tell.Report

  9. Dave says:

    I feel like I’m reliving the heavy metal hysteria of the 1980s.Report

    • veronica d in reply to Dave says:

      I can see the parallels. Also, I can see the differences. Can you see both the parallels and differences?Report

      • Dave in reply to veronica d says:

        I’ve gotten to the parallels not to the differences but if I had to make an educated guess, there are a number of differences up to and including people exposed to certain ideas and becoming violent.Report

      • Dave in reply to veronica d says:

        But happy to discuss the differences as you see them. At least I’ll know what I need to address.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Dave says:

          It is simply this: Marilyn Manson did not actually lead Harris and Klebold to shoot up their school. Yes, people believed that, but that belief was false. We should be eager to distinguish true beliefs from false beliefs.

          Metal (and punk and goth, etc.) probably did lead to some amount of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” at least it did for me. That said, the Dead Kennedys didn’t lead me to violent, organized fascism. Yeah, I drank a lot of cough syrup and got into some stupid fights, but I never killed anyone. Among my friends, the only ones who went on to commit homicide were specifically those who got involved in Nazi skinhead culture. It was skinhead culture that produced murderers.

          Furthermore, at the time nothing about Metallica fan culture was “gamified” on social media platforms. Nor was it tied into “outrage culture.” In short, the dynamics of musical subcultures were just different, precisely because the available social technology was different. Plus the specific messaging was different. Just because “churchlady” was offended by punks getting drunk and “slam dancing,” that doesn’t mean we are being “churchlady” if we object to violent, organized fascism.

          They are different in the immediate, obvious, first-order sense.

          About the technology, let me ask, could Nazism have grown without film? Without the loudspeaker?

          Seriously, what was Hitler without a loudspeaker?

          I don’t think anyone is suggesting that changing policies are site like Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube will magically fix everything. That said, those companies need to look at the social dynamics they produce. Then they need to ask themselves if maybe they should change some things.

          They should change some things.Report

        • pillsy in reply to Dave says:

          Here’s a simple but important one, that applies to both heavy metal (and D&D and quite a few other things) in the ’80s and violent video games in the ’90s:

          They portrayed and often glamorized violence, for entertainment’s sake, but they virtually never advocated it. It’s a really important difference, because as far as we know, human beings have been indulging in violent entertainment for as long as there have been either human beings or entertainment, and the correlation with indulging those entertainments and actually being violent seems to be largely non-existent.

          The alt-right advocates violence. It’s not, “Look at these awesome guys kung fu fighting,” it’s, “If you don’t stop the Jews, they’ll destroy Western civilization and the white race.”

          Advocating violence is different from glamorizing violence. And it has a long and unsettling history of working.Report

          • veronica d in reply to pillsy says:

            ^^^^ this exactly.Report

          • Dave in reply to pillsy says:

            “Advocating violence is different from glamorizing violence. And it has a long and unsettling history of working.. ”

            To the critics of heavy metal music, it was the glamorizing of violence, sex, drugs, the occult, etc. that, from the perspective of its critics, made the line between glamorizing in art and advocacy go away.

            Like Roland, they were concerned about how those messages were going to be received. Like Roland, there was a somewhat disproportionate response, moreso with the heavy metal but it’s still here as well.

            If Roland doesn’t think far right terrorism isn’t being taken seriously, I’m not sure how to respond to that.Report

            • pillsy in reply to Dave says:

              Yeah but to be blunt, those critics were kind of dumb. Thinking that Appetite for Destruction is as much a call for mass violence as Main Kampf is… such a severe error I’m having trouble describing it.

              And unlike Roland, their concerns were not being backed up by actual murders. As @veronica said, the cases when they thought they had examples just didn’t hold up.Report

              • Dave in reply to pillsy says:

                “And unlike Roland, their concerns were not being backed up by actual murders.”

                The existence of evidence in of itself doesn’t justify an argument. For example, from his post:

                “If we don’t take this threat seriously, these acts of violence will only continue.”

                Does his evidence back up this claim? Of course not, he’s Chicken Littling. Yes, we take this seriously and have for as long as I remember.

                No matter what is discussed or agreed upon as solutions, the violence will continue. It’s inevitable.

                Also this:

                “Up until 2017, I was ignorant of Youtube communities and failed to see how successful the alt-right was in hooking young men into ever-increasing extremism.”

                Kind of the same arguments thrown at me in the past about the SJ-left, what are we really talking about when we’re talking about success? Increase in numbers? Okay. Increase in profile even bordering on or in some facet of the mainstream? To a point, yes.

                Something we all need to freak out about and blow out of proportion?

                Absolutely not. Throwing out de-platforming or needing to do something and reading posts written in the kind of grievance politics style of the last de-platforming post is a bit of a disproportionate response, at least to me.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Dave says:

                The existence of evidence in of itself doesn’t justify an argument.

                The presence of evidence hurts a case a hell of a lot less than its absence. That difference alone is enough to disambiguate this case from the panic over heavy metal a generation ago.

                But that’s not all we have in favor of this argument. We have a discernible uptick in the relevant violence (hate crimes directed against Jews and members of other minorities), a different and more plausible mechanism with supporting evidence from history (propaganda exhorting people to commit ethnically or religiously motivated violence has a long history of working).

                The argument may not be conclusive, but it’s much, much stronger than the supposedly equivalent cases you mentioned.

                And the “deplatforming” in question is specifically huge for-profit businesses choosing to stop making profit by broadcasting neo-Nazis. That doesn’t sound extremely disproportionate; indeed, back in the days when people were talking about whether Ozzy Osbourne was dangerous, nobody actually did it.Report

            • veronica d in reply to Dave says:

              Do you always accept the abstract over the concrete? Can you ever look at the first-order concrete details of a case and say, “Yes, this is different from that in important ways.” or do you instead say, “No, a random person could confuse X with Y, so I won’t distinguish X from Y”?

              Viewed in the abstract, yes there are similarities between this and that. One could also, for example, see similarities in the rise of fascism and the commitment to democracy. However, I expect you would reject those similarities, because the differences are to you salient.

              To me, the fascist conspiracy theories, alongside their calls for a race war — all literal claims that should be taken seriously — are sufficiently different from a bunch of gets getting high and fucking that I indeed propose a different response.Report

          • veronica d in reply to pillsy says:

            Let me add, back in the 80’s, I did on occasion encounter punk bands who advocated violence. For example, I recall one Dead Boys show, where they chastised the audience because we hadn’t yet kill Madonna. (I think it was Madonna. It was some then popular musician.)

            Obviously none of us murdered Madonna, but they said the words.

            So what is the difference?

            Here’s the thing: critical thinking is hard, and articulating subtle differences can be hard, especially when confronted by bad faith arguments.

            The difference is fascism. The difference is “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” and “race war now.” The difference is everything about social context, the political context, the overlap between anomie, nihilism, and how it can be leveraged by the far right.

            We’re watching the difference unfold.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Dave says:

      Or “do video games make kids violent” from the 1990s.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Dave says:

      Vox had a very interesting video on how the heavy metal paranoia led to the Parental Advisory label that they published recently.Report

  10. Pinky says:

    to Bookdragon: I can’t accuse you of moving goalposts, because there have never been goalposts in the West for free speech. I can accuse you of erecting goalposts and expecting the rest of us to conform to your rules, though.

    to Veronica: What evidence is sufficient to override the Western prioritization of freedom of speech?

    to Saul: The Sartre quote says that you’re wasting your time talking to anti-Semites. Your comment here indicates that you’re applying the same standard to me. Are you saying I’m an anti-Semite? If so, say it clearly. If not, then you have to acknowledge that applying Sartre’s standard to anyone who disagrees with you on anything would make it impossible for you to have a conversation.Report

    • veronica d in reply to Pinky says:

      You seem to be changing arguments.

      The “alt right” exists. Their methods of recruiting are easy to demonstrate. Thus we can easily meet any reasonable standards of evidence.

      Trying to turn that around against trans folks has no such evidence, and you know this. Thus you’re argument is unserious.

      “Deplatforming” involves private actors choosing which voices they should support and amplify. It is entirely consistent with free speech.

      The Sarte quote generalizes to fascists in general, along with fascist apologists. We don’t need to demonstrate that you’re specifically an anti-semite to notice how the quote applies.Report

      • Dave in reply to veronica d says:

        ““Deplatforming” involves private actors choosing which voices they should support and amplify. It is entirely consistent with free speech.”

        Private actors include corporations expressing a right to associate – like Twitter.

        I guess corporations have rights and even a conscience?Report

      • Dave in reply to veronica d says:

        “Trying to turn that around against trans folks has no such evidence, and you know this. Thus you’re argument is unserious.”

        Pretty much, but your critics will be able to point out bad actors. What they can’t do is establish evidence that they’re the kind of systemic threat that require appropriate steps to deal with.Report

    • Dave in reply to Pinky says:

      “to Veronica: What evidence is sufficient to override the Western prioritization of freedom of speech?”

      To Pinky – what “western prioritization of free speech” do you speak of? I’m curious because modern free speech doctrine was never an integral part of “the West” or the Enlightenment. It arose in the 1960’s.

      This argument strikes me as one of those I see online from the “classical liberal” set where they think they’re defending Enlightenment values but are really taking an anti-Left position and weaponizing ideas.

      Defending free speech requires respecting Twitter’s right to de-platform ideas and/or people it doesn’t want on its platform.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Dave says:

        Defending free speech requires respecting Twitter’s right to de-platform ideas and/or people it doesn’t want on its platform.

        “Free Speech” as an Enlightenment-adjacent value has room to complain about private companies exercising their rights to de-platform ideas on their platforms.

        The more that corporations become like governments, the more that we’re going to wish that corporations had values other than those of the shareholders.

        Ah, well. Frogs will have their storks.Report

        • Dave in reply to Jaybird says:

          Enlightenment-adjacent? Is that like me being called alt-right-adjacent because I criticized the wrong person?

          Come on.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

          I would love to have a complete solution regarding the differences between state power and corporate power. That would be nice. I don’t, however, inasmuch as humans were probably never wired to create mega-cultures that span continents.

          Anyway, here we are.

          I’d like to stop fascism from spreading, at least for now, cuz it seems to be doing pretty well. Regarding the big abstract “theory of government” ideas, I assume it’s always going to be a mess and hopefully we’ll muddle through.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

            I would love to have a complete solution regarding the differences between state power and corporate power

            And cultural/social power!

            humans were probably never wired to create mega-cultures that span continents


            Maybe we can figure something out to help with our wiring.Report

            • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

              Antidepressants and sex dolls perhaps.

              (The previous statement is possibly sarcastic.)

              I’m just rather impatient with arguments that boil down to: “Unless you can produce a social utopia free of contradictions, we’ll just have to accept fascist videos getting recommended on Youtube.”

              That statement is false. We don’t have to solve the one to address the other.

              It needs to be okay to muddle through with an imperfect society full of contradictions, because there is no option B. We can still oppose fascism with the available tools. We certainly should.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                Oh, you don’t have to accept fascist videos getting recommended on youtube at all. Hell, push for youtube to automatically demonetize stuff that the algorithm finds offensive. Push for youtube replacements to be subsumed into youtube. Make sure that the people in charge of the corporations are ideologically aligned with your preferred ideology.

                Maybe we can’t create a utopia, but maybe we can create a topia that is pretty good for people who aren’t outside of our ken.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                That’s the goal, right?

                “What if they turn against you?”

                I don’t know. We can fight the cops in front of some random bar in the West Village I suppose. It worked last time.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                I assume they’ll turn against you.

                Tell them that you’re the good guys and that you, personally, were part of the good fight a couple of decades ago.

                Maybe they’ll see that as relevant to today.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                I mean, sure, but what is your point exactly? Aside from being irritating, what do you imagine you contribute to the conversation?

                “Anything you say about literal fascists, someone else will say about trans folks.”

                True, in fact it happened here, in this conversation. Of course it will happen. In fact, I can probably give many more examples than you, inasmuch as I live it in my day to day.

                So fucking what?

                Fascists remain fascists, and bigots remain bigots, and that will always be. We carry on.

                “But Twitter might turn on you!!!”

                They already do. Like, duh. How do you think this works?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                “Anything you say about literal fascists, someone else will say about trans folks.”

                Who were you quoting in that?

                For what it’s worth, I didn’t see you as a “trans folk” in my comment. I saw you as one of the people on the side of truth, goodness, and light.

                For what it’s worth, I have no doubt that you’re more than formidable enough to withstand the fascists and bigots.

                Aside from being irritating, what do you imagine you contribute to the conversation?

                Additional perspective.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                Honestly dude, I have no idea what your point is. It’s like you stand on the edge of real conversations and lob in waterballoons full of piss, and then act butthurt when people call you out.

                For what it’s worth, I have no doubt that you’re more than formidable enough to withstand the fascists and bigots.

                But I’m not, like OMG WTF. I’m one person, and a member of a hated minority. Are you joking? Are you making light of the situation?

                Ha fucking ha.

                What the hell is wrong with you?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                You were the one who started talking to me, Veronica. I’m trying to answer your questions honestly.

                But I’m not, like OMG WTF. I’m one person, and a member of a hated minority. Are you joking? Are you making light of the situation?

                I was talking about the online censorship thing and my comment was in response to being turned against *ON TWITTER*.

                Again. I have no doubt that you’re more than formidable enough to withstand the fascists and bigots. On Twitter and Youtube, anyway.

                When it comes to real life, I’d suggest, at the very least, a 9mm handgun.

                What the hell is wrong with you?

                I like to think “less every day” but it’s probably closer to “less every year”.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

                trying to answer the eternal question of how we can have a utopia that doesn’t include u…Report

        • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

          I’m not really seeing how contemporary corporations are more like governments than the ones we had a century or so back. No company stores, no payment in company scrip, et c.

          Indeed, if you don’t believe that tech giants need to be broken up as monopolies because there’s sufficient room for competitors to protect the interests of consumers, it seems like banning the Nazis from Twitter should not be much of a problem.

          And indeed, if there is a problem with banning the Nazis from Twitter, it appears more and more likely that the problem is that it would draw unwanted attention from regulators who like Nazis.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

            The ones we had a century or so back definitely had a lot of overlaps with governments too!

            The comparison wasn’t one that was made in the favor of the corporations.

            The future comparisons won’t be in the favor of the corporations either.

            (Eh, my solutions to a lot of the problems with the tech giants all assume some degree of capture so any solution that involves laws will automatically assume that the laws will be written by the lobbyists for the corporations rather than written in the favor of “the people” (whomever they are).)Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Dave says:

        I am 100% on board with Twitter claiming that it has the right to engage in viewpoint-based discrimination, so long as it recognizes that it can no longer claim DMCA “Safe Harbor” protections if it does this.Report

    • Dave in reply to Pinky says:

      “to Bookdragon: I can’t accuse you of moving goalposts, because there have never been goalposts in the West for free speech”

      Seriously? Compare the 1960’s landmark First Amendment cases to the WWI- era First Amendment cases challenging convictions under the Sedition Act.

      When you read the majority opinion in Brandenburg v Ohio, you’ll watch as the goalposts move right before your eyes.Report

    • pillsy in reply to Pinky says:

      The Western prioritization of free speech has not, in general, overridden the Western prioritization of property rights. Indeed, back when people were suggesting it maybe should in certain cases (because otherwise it paved the way for soft corruption in government, or at least the perception of same) a lot of folks on the US Right argued [1] that those property rights should still prevail.

      So Twitter and YouTube banning all the Nazis, racist, alt-righters, and associated chuds just has no bearing on free speech. If a bunch of fringe assholes want access to a platform, they can avail themselves of the traditional solution and buy or build their own damn platform.

      Of course, the last time they did that they wound up with Gab, which nobody sane wants to use because of course they don’t.

      [1] I think quite convincingly; your mileage may, of course, vary.Report

    • bookdragon in reply to Pinky says:

      If there have never been goal posts in the West wrt free speech, why are you asserting to Veronica that there is a Western prioritization of freedom of speech?

      Honestly, the West’s history wrt free speech is pretty lacking until quite recently in history. And as to my goal posts, they are in line with those accepted in the US for quite some time. Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. Your right to yell ‘Fire’ in a crowded theatre is limited to situations where there is an actually fire. Your right to scream ‘Kill the Jews!’ gets called into question where it becomes a serious threat to the life and liberty of others.Report

  11. Doctor Jay says:

    {Redacted by Trumwill – not because the comment itself was inappropriate but because it took us down an inappropriate avenue.}

    I think you wanted to talk about de-platforming – banning. When it gets to the government promulgation laws about speech in public places, such as street corners (or the quad during lunchtime) I’m clear. We shouldn’t do that.

    When it comes to very large, but privately held concerns such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, I’m squishy. They have standards, which they apply because they own it, and I react to those standards by engaging or not (mostly not). And it when it comes to places like this site, I think the editors have a complete right to ban whichever people they want to ban. This isn’t my site, I’m a guest here. I’ve never been told not to discuss trans issues, even if I’m not sure I could be called a “trans activist”. I have been scolded for bringing up something else, so I dropped that, and don’t bring it up, but still come here, because it seems worth it to me.

    What else is there?Report

    • pillsy in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      What the literal fuck my dude.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      If you want a vision of the future, imagine a Manolo Blahnik slingback sandal pressed to a pair of glistening pouty lips- forever.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      Ironically given the subject, I do need to actually shut this subthread down. It relates to something I said in my post about the commenting policy:

      Regardless of your views on how legally and socially we handle transsexuals and bathrooms, we are not going to allow the concept to be mocked through references of mental illness or flippant analogies.

      Pinky’s comment above may or may not apply as a “flippant analogy” but this makes a basic human dignity question a topic of discussion, which we have found never ends well. Rather than trying to police it to death, I’m just going to redact and ask that we move on.Report

  12. Doctor Jay says:

    I value de-platforming much less than counter-propaganda. We need to be speaking up these days about how all those “others” aren’t “other” at all, but people who are good citizens and who enrich our lives.

    We need to be less reactionary, responding to each crisis with “those are bad people” and articulating a positive vision, one that describes how my life is enriched by the presence of Jewish people, or black people, or Mexicans, or Muslims, or whatever, and how someone who lives in, say Wisconsin (to pick a swing state) might be enriched, too.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t say that synagogue shootings are bad, but that isn’t enough.

    Scapegoating is an ages-old human phenomenon. We cannot expect to go away on its own. We need to build antibodies for it, resistance to it. This needs to be an active process, not a reactive one.Report

  13. Even here at OT, there were commenters who thought the alt-right had some interesting things to say. That it turned on Moldbug and criticized Breivik only for not being anti-Semitic should have been a clue.Report

    • pillsy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Once Trump was the GOP nominee, the writing was pretty much on the wall, and Mr Dodds’ proposed solution is dead on arrival.

      The mainstream of the US Right was, ah, alt-right adjacent.

      Throughout the institutional leadership of the GOP, and the alternative media platforms that the mainstream Right had set up to battle perceived bias in the MSM and/or broadcast their own propaganda, people started seeing the alt-right as part of their in-group. They’d always had a presence on the Right, of course, but they were generally treated with queasy, embarrassed tolerance, not embraced and defended.

      Once you had a presidential nominee (and then President) embracing their leaders, returning their disgraced operatives to the fold, buying even their absolute dumbest narratives, and praising their members, the center of gravity on the Right had shifted to the point where a lot of ambitious pundits and elected officials were left with either hamstringing their own careers, or going along with the likes of Steve Bannon and then Steve Miller.

      Most of them chose about as well as you’d expect.Report

    • Roland Dodds in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      I was probably one of those that thought there was something interesting about the altright and worth talking about. I even cheered along with them as Trump decimated other Republicans in the primary. It was something to see the entire cover of the RNC (small government, family values, etc) crushed beneath a monstrous man.

      I thought Trump would be the death of the Republican Party, and oh boy, was I wrong as hell. It makes my previous enjoyment in watching him beat the Republican establishment even more sad and misguided.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      I did (and do) think that they have some interesting things to say. I still enjoy reading Moldbug’s Neoreaction essays.

      But, like anything else, what is interesting are the toolkits he provides to look at and analyze events (past and present). His recommendations? Absolutely batshit insane. Neocameralism? It’s like he forgot how stuff works the second he started making “so now what?” suggestions.

      As for the rest of the alt-right… well. I wish that we had better toolkits to neuter them and keep them pacified and harmless.Report

  14. Oscar Gordon says:

    Related, at least in regard to how they appear intellectual.Report

    • veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      You know, I’ll never be a proper “libertarian,” for all the obvious reasons. That said, Reason does seem like a decent a publication. At least they try to be accurate, nuanced, and fair.Report

      • Their commenters, OTOH, are largely stupid and racist.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          I mean … is there anywhere that isn’t true?

          That said, yeah, it seems like for every “principled” libertarian, there are five white power dipshits, whose fight for “liberty” is really their desire to be racist shits without consequence.

          But the principled libertarians exist. I think they’re basically okay, even if I disagree with them on particulars.

          It’s a “credit where credit is due” thing.Report

          • I mean … is there anywhere that isn’t true?


          • Brandon Berg in reply to veronica d says:

            Generally speaking, the larger the audience a publication has, the cesspittier the comments. I’ve seen the transition happen with Megan McArdle, where as her audience grew, the comment quality declined. My theory is that you get a critical mass of garbage commenters that drive out the good ones.

            Of course, this only applies if a publication’s content is decent; otherwise they never attract the good commenters in the first place.Report

            • George Turner in reply to Brandon Berg says:

              Part of that may originally start from having too many comments coming too quickly, especially if there’s no subthreading, which becomes like the comments on popular live stream events that just scroll past at a hundred miles an hour.

              People give up on making thoughtful replies or trying to engage an interesting discussion because it will just get swept away in the mass of text, and they know nobody will even read more than a line or two, kind of like trying to make a nuanced Constitutional argument to another person in the mad rush out of a sports arena after a game.

              I think we’re all familiar with those transitions and tipping points, and we could real off our personal observations. With a six to a dozen commenters you can have a deep discussion. With thirty a wider variety of points might come up, but topics tend to meander. With a hundred it becomes more like strangers saying random things to other strangers.

              If read a story and it already has several hundred comments, I rarely even click to read them. Even if all the commenters were members of the Washington Post editorial board, the thread is probably still going to be mostly garbage.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          OMG never read the comments there. Best thing the site did was to hide the comments as a default, so you have to click a link to see them.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      I’ve always understood “cultural Marxism” to be an analogy, in that as traditional Marxism is about oppressor and oppressed classes divided along economic lines, cultural Marxism is the same thing, but divided along the lines of race and sex. In that sense, it seems pretty apt to me.

      Also, the term “Cultural Marxism” wasn’t coined by conservatives, or in the 90s. The first usage reported by Google NGrams is in 1960, and had an early peak around 1980, probably due in part to this book, which appears to have been written from a sympathetic perspective.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        When societies are divided along lines of race we use the term “racism”. See, it has the convenience of having the word “race” right in there.

        Likewise when divided along the lines of sex, we use the term “sexism”.

        Cultural Marxism is only apt when speaking of the division of Pre-Raphaelites versus abstract Modernists.Report

  15. Chip Daniels says:

    One of the most dangerous and combustible situations in any society is the presence of a large group of young men without direction, connections, or prospect.

    They have always existed, but when their numbers grow large enough, trouble always follows.

    I think our economic and social changes have combined to produce a dangerously large number of young men like this.

    Economically, they are struggling to find a place in the world. It is increasingly difficult to create a life narrative, a career and role in society. Its more than just income or wealth, its the fact that jobs themselves seem more ephemeral and subject to sudden and bewildering disruption caused by someone who moves fast and breaks things. There doesn’t seem to be a clear justifiable connection between work and wealth.

    Families are increasingly fragmented and households splintered into one or two persons. The vision of a society where a person could situate their identity within a large network of siblings, cousins, parents, uncles and aunts seems bizarrely archaic. And yet nothing has replaced that network.

    This isn’t a search for fault or blame. There aren’t any villains orchestrating this. It is more just a confluence of factors which produce a large restless army of young people who seem to be struggling and adrift.

    Even if only a tiny fraction of them ever turn to violence, it still matters. Every act of violence creates ripples and shock waves that tend to destabilize the community.

    And I don’t propose any magic solution, other than to suggest that more emphasis on community and solidarity, and less on individual expression and self actualization is the direction which holds most promise.Report

    • Slade the Leveller in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      As fate would have it, I read a book entitled Rising Out of Hatred last week. It’s about Derek Black, son of Stormfront founder Don Black, and godson of David Duke, who needs no introduction. Derek was the heir apparent to his dad’s white nationalist empire, and was well-known throughout the country in those circles before he even started high school.

      What turned his head was going off to college, where he was exposed to differing viewpoints, from a variety of different people. Prior to that, he was home schooled, and had little contact with those that didn’t share his white nationalist beliefs. There was a scene in the book where he tried to explain to his girlfriend, a white, liberal schoolmate, how white nationalism was a good idea. While he didn’t change her mind, she was taken aback by how well reasoned his arguments sounded. Derek Black was a smart young man whose worldview was corrupted by exposure to only one idea. Aside from the white nationalist beliefs of his parents, his childhood was pretty Ozzie and Harriet.

      It occurred to me as I read that book that Americans seldom mix with people outside of their socioeconomic strata anymore. We dismiss out of hand those who disagree with us politically, we look down on those who are less articulate than us, and we ignore those who are less comfortable than us. Despite our founders best efforts, an aristocracy of sorts is taking hold in our country, and if we aren’t careful, the serfs are going to rebel, and they just might win. God help us if they do, because we have not equipped them with the skills they’re going to need to run the country.Report

      • A fun thread from six years ago that gets into that sort of thing.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

        How would we feel if his reasonable and logical argument had converted his girlfriend to his worldview, instead of the other way round?

        We like to imagine sometimes that the argument in favor of universal rights, respect and dignity is just so powerfully convincing that no reasonable person could stand against it.

        Despite centuries of extremely reasonable and intelligent people owning slaves and committing acts of atrocity.

        Or consider the flip side:
        Why should- “I demand to be treated as an equal” require a logical argument?
        Why should anyone need to debate and prove that point?Report

        • Slade the Leveller in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          It was only reasonable and logical on its face. It was like one of those fallacious proofs that 2+2=5 you saw in high school math class. The logic underpinning the seemingly logical conclusion had a flaw in it.

          That said, there are a lot of smart people that hold some pretty dark views. It’s just one of the truisms of humanity. I like to think we’re moving away from that kind of thing, but sometimes humanity gives me pause.Report

    • Urusigh in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Interesting. You and I are disagreeing vehemently on another thread, but on this I agree with every single thing you just said. Of course, I hold multiculturalism and immigration to be major contributing factors to that “confluence of factors” (also including social media tech as discussed in this article) and significant obstacles to that desired emphasis on community and solidarity, but credit where it is due: Well said!Report

  16. pillsy says:

    Believe it or not, folks, the bellwether of an open and free society is not multi-billion dollar corporations pretending to be obligated to spread the message that Jews need to be murdered to preserve the white race in order to turn a profit, or worse, butter up political actors who have this bizarre conviction that it’s better to treat white nationalists as victims of “anti-conservative bias” than be seen to give the Left an inch.

    YouTube, Twitter, and the like are in this for money. They aren’t the government, and they don’t have consciences, and it’s bizarre to treat them like they’re bound by “free speech”, or should be bound by “free speech” when choosing which messages they rebroadcast for money.

    Because that’s what they’re doing, and their entire business model is tied up in determining which messages and videos their users see.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to pillsy says:

      As a libertarian, I agree that they should be able to enforce whatever content rules they want. As for whether they should actually do so, sure, if we’re talking about actual national socialists, or people with similarly egregious views. But given Googlers’ shameful, histrionic response to the Damore memo, I’m somewhat skeptical of their ability to make those judgment calls in an unbiased manner.Report

  17. pillsy says:


    Yeah I actually had watched the original video some time ago.

    On the one hand, in this particular instance, I think the argument is pretty misguided [1], but on the other hand, so what?

    Someone made a bad argument. If you want to refute it go ahead and write your, “Why Cuphead isn’t racist” article, and move on, right?

    Or just skip to the moving on part. I mean, if you say you think it’s trivial or there are more important things to worry about, just… follow up on not actually caring about the thing you say nobody should care about.

    But people get so pissed off about this kind of thing over and over again, and it’s weird. Speaking as someone who overlaps with the stereotypical gamer bro along pretty much every axis [2] I’m actually kind of at a loss for what’s making them feel attacked.

    And I don’t buy the argument that it’s because they fear being viciously attacked for daring to dissent. I’ve dared to dissent in the past, am daring to dissent now, and will doubtless dissent in the future, and the worst I’ve ever gotten has been snotty dismissal, which is, by Internet debate standards, extremely mild.

    This is, in fact, the perfect kind of topic where the whole, “Let’s have a debate!” thing is probably not a bad way to go. It’s… very debatable. Debate it!

    But so many of the people who say they want a debate of literally everything react to premises like, “The way Cuphead draws on the aesthetics of old, racist cartoons is problematic,” with “SJWs TRIGGERED by Cuphead!!!” videos and LIBERAL TEARS mugs.

    It’s almost as if something else is going on. But a lot of the common theories leave me cold, including the popular one that it’s threatened privilege speaking.

    [1] It imposes a counter-productively high standard on works like Cuphead, which attempt to revisit and take inspiration from bygone artwork, which is often ridiculously problematic.

    [2] Straight white cis male guy who plays a ton of video games, is a big fucken nerd, and is a single guy who mostly hangs out with other single guys.Report

    • veronica d in reply to pillsy says:

      I think most feel attacked because they are told they are being attacked. It’s propaganda, constructed and monetized.

      There’s more to say. There are reasons these (mostly) men are vulnerable to these specific messages and not others. Looking back at the constellation of issues: elevatorgate, PUAs, MRAs, the “nice guy” thing, etcetera, there is a lot there.

      Short version: Masculinity is fragile. Sexuality is psychologically fraught. Insecurity about status and virility are an easy sell. Over time, PUA transformed from a bunch of vapid “seduction tips” to a grievance movement that existed to explain to men why they feel like failures.

      Which brings me to one of my favorite TLP quotes, from one of his more sexist posts (that I nevertheless quite like):

      “Well, feminism has emasculated men.” Really? A girl did that to you?


  18. pillsy says:

    Short version: Masculinity is fragile. Sexuality is psychologically fraught. Insecurity about status and virility are an easy sell. Over time, PUA transformed from a bunch of vapid “seduction tips” to a grievance movement that existed to explain to men why they feel like failures.

    Yeah, this rings much truer to me. More the sexuality part than the masculinity part, honestly.

    I suspect there’s a degree of anxiety there that if video games are deemed sexist, then playing them will become a serious impediment to finding a fulfilling romantic relationship. It’s perceived as an attack on their ability to date.Report

  19. Philip H says:

    And then today there comes this:

    “Days later, the Rev. Mika Edmondson read those words and was stunned. “It certainly calls for a good amount of soul-searching,” said Edmondson, a pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, a small evangelical denomination founded to counter liberalism in mainline Presbyterianism. Earnest, 19, was a member of an OPC congregation. His father was an elder. He attended regularly. And in the manifesto, the writer spewed not only invective against Jews and racial minorities but also cogent Christian theology he heard in the pews.

    So the pastor read those seven pages, trying to understand. “We can’t pretend as though we didn’t have some responsibility for him — he was radicalized into white nationalism from within the very midst of our church,” Edmondson said.”

    I have maintained for quite some time that Evangelical “Christians” are at best Apostate because they seem to be willfully ignorant of the role their preaching is playing is spurring white nationalistic radicalization. And as a PC-USA member who looks with . . . charitable pity . . . on my PCA and OPC brothers and sister, I am not hopeful this will really move the needle. That said, its the first time I can recall anyone on an evangelical denomination recognizing publicly their own theology in the words of one of their domestic terrorist flock members.Report

  20. pillsy says:

    Looks like the tide my be turning in favor of Mr Dodds’ suggested approach.

    I don’t think the “social media is free speech” approach was ever tenable, to be blunt.Report

    • veronica d in reply to pillsy says:

      If access to social media were guaranteed right, under a free speech rubric, then spam filtering would violate free speech protections.

      No reasonable person thinks spam filtering violates free speech protections.Report

      • pillsy in reply to veronica d says:

        Yup. Also the whole way these platforms make money is by determining what you see.

        But “free speech” was a convenient excuse for not taking responsibility for what they broadcast, at least for a little while.Report

  21. Urusigh says:

    Wow, that’s a lot of comments from a fairly wide range of viewpoints mostly made in a civil manner. Excellent! So, let’s discuss: These two points of the article are contradictory.

    Point1: In addition to removing the extreme right from as many platforms as possible,…

    Point2: we also have to recognize when young men begin showing signs of indoctrination. This requires that all citizens become acquainted with the online communities and language used by the right to radicalizes individuals.

    I don’t see any way that it is possible to both de-platform the entire ideology so that “young men” won’t be exposed to it AND require them (“young men” are still a subset of “all citizens”, yes?) to become acquainted with the online communities (that you already shut down with your de-platforming campaign?) and language used by the [anyone you disagree with] to radicalize individuals.

    Incidentally, as a mental exercise, I re-read the entire diatribe mentally substituting “Ctrl-Left” for “Alt-Right” and while I enjoyed it rather more that way, I still disagree with the proposed course of action. There are only two methods in history that have worked to drive an ideology into insignificance: 1) defeating it soundly and consistently in public debate and 2) killing every person who holds it and burning all their writings. I firmly believe that the further you move away from position #1, the closer you inevitably come to position #2. Debating an opposing position publicly doesn’t “legitimize” it, but refusing to do so certainly de-legitimizes your own opposition to it. No one with the better argument fears to put it to the test, so by refusing you implicitly concede that you can’t win the debate on the merits of your case. You have resorted to force first, which by traditional Liberal standards places you in the wrong. That is not a precedent you should wish to make for potentially violent young men to build on. You aren’t teaching them that they are wrong, you’re teaching them that they might as well skip straight to the use of force to push their views because you’ve already ruled out option #1 for them.Report