November, 2014 archive
In The Nation, Adrien Chen skewers Gabriella Coleman’s recent paean to Anonymous (usually referred to as “the hacker collective). She traces it from its roots in 4chan (which is not a nice internet place to be), describes its frat-boy mindset, and derides its “hactivism” as adolescent prankery for the same of prankery. In short, she doesn’t have a very high opinion of Anonymous.
I commend the article to your attention.
Buried within it is this gem, which aptly describes what George Smith commonly refers to “the culture of lickspittle” (emphasis added):
Members of this group (the “drop outs” of the “tune in, turn on, drop out” generation; see the article for more–ed.) endorsed criminal hacking as political resistance. They dropped acid and spoke of online experience in trippy language that echoes Coleman’s. Then they went on to found some of Silicon Valley’s most influential institutions, including Wired, Apple and the Global Business Network. Today, their techno-utopianism is why a tech mogul like Mark Zuckerberg is celebrated as a visionary social engineer. In this context, Anonymous is anything but subversive; it is the most radical advocate of a widespread conflation of technological prowess with political wisdom. Anonymous is Silicon Valley’s unwitting shock troops, a live demo of the Internet’s power to transform our world. When Anons call for revolution, they’re calling for a better world. But the shallowness of their politics and their uncritical embrace of technology means this energy is easily channeled into Silicon Valley’s parody of revolution: a techno-liberation from the doldrums of day jobs with health insurance and steady benefits, in favor of the radical freedom and flexibility to pilot an Uber under contract.
At The Guardian, Matthew Pratt Guterl argues that there are lessons to be learned from the statements of the cop who gunned down Michael Brown for being. A snippet:
The difficult work now is making sense of how Darren Wilson understands the phantasmagorical qualities of the black body – how all of our Darren Wilsons do. In the transfixing grand-jury transcript, Wilson suggests that Brown was “bulking up” with the impact of each bullet, as if “Big Mike” were gaining in size and strength, not weakening and, inevitably, slowly dying. Wilson felt, in the moment of struggle over the gun, as if he was a five-year-old battling Hulk Hogan, who would theatrically erupt into a berserker’s rage, and become physically unstoppable, in the late minutes of every wrestling match. Wilson described Brown as a “demon” – as an “it” – as a monstrous creature, stomping and huffing, and building up momentum for a final assault, like the Incredible Hulk – all comic-book id and no superego. This is the familiar grammar of racial sight, through which a wallet becomes a gun or a Harvard professor becomes a burglar.
Do follow the link.
The attribution of super-human qualities to “the other” ipso facto dehumanizes the other; it characterizes bigotry in all its manifestations. This says nothing about the bigot’s target and everything about the bigot’s need to make his own fear and hatred appear rational, not just to other persons, but also to himself.
The baddest bad guy will never admit that he’s a bad guy. Oh, he may boast that “I’m bad” before the bar fight starts, but, down inside, he always believes that he’s in the right.
Gayle A. Sulik of Denton, Texas, explains why she voted for a successful referendum to ban fracking in Denton. Here’s a bit, in which she describes the frackers’ tactics:
In the months leading up to the election, the fracking industry and its supporters used fear mongering extensively in an attempt to deter Denton citizens from voting for the ban. From jeopardizing American security to irresponsibly affecting the financial health of our schools, fear was used strategically to engender a visceral response while distracting attention from lax regulation, threats to human health, potential drop in property values, contamination of air, soil, and water, and the other concerns Denton citizens had been raising for years. Those who dared oppose fracking in this city of 123,000 citizens, thriving atop a gas-rich shale formation, were stigmatized as the rotten apples of Texas.
As a sociologist, the phenomenon was fascinating. As a citizen and resident, it was scary to see a politically supported industry focus its attention so squarely on putting the kibosh on informed enfranchisement.
Preliminary investigation indicates that three children were playing in or near a structure on the property at NE County Road 1055 when a child shot the boy.
Another child marked by the ammosexuality fetish . . . .
At Philly dot com, Elmer Smith points out that perspective is important. (Put another way, persons see what they expect or want to see.) A bit (emphasis added):
It’s a bull’s-eye view of the kind that too often ends with an unarmed black youth killed or maimed by a white policeman whose lethal reaction is fueled by fear.
Any situation seems ominous when seen through the narrow perspective of a gunsight. Every move is menacing, every gesture threatening.
Honest to Pete, you can’t make this stuff up.
One more time, when you hear persons romanticize “the Lost Cause,” be sure to ask them to explain clearly just exactly what cause was lost.
Peter Schuck and Rogers Smith point out that the idea of “citizenship” is relatively new and not nearly so straightforward or settled a concept as some would want to believe. That murkiness, indeed, manifests itself in the thinking of those whose willingness to offer a path to citizenship tends to vary depending on the complexion of those who would desire to walk that path.
Here’s a bit; follow the link for the rest.
This legal arrangement – ascribing one’s membership in a group at birth and by location – known as jus soli, or the law of territory, has the virtue of certainty; knowing where someone was born (with a few narrow exceptions like diplomats’ and enemy soldiers’ children), fixes the person’s membership perpetually. It is a birthright – and a birth duty.
Even before our Declaration of Independence, philosophers of democracy rejected this rule. Democracies consisted of citizens, not subjects, so their membership should be grounded in rules derived from their elected .officials and their own choices about their loyalties.
Notably, John Locke and the “public law” theorists advanced liberal, consensualist ideas about national membership: Parents could transmit their own consensually derived membership to their children no matter where the child was born – known as jus sanguinis, or the law of blood. In certain situations, states could de-nationalize disloyal citizens, and citizens could renounce their ascribed membership.
China Hand considers the politics of racial hatred. A snippet:
Maybe it is good politics to abuse African Americans, goad and provoke them, escalate the fear and anger on both sides, force an angry reaction and respond with a fear-laden counterreaction, so an economically disadvantaged community has its hands full staying out of jail and not getting shot, and isn’t thinking about forming common cause with other disadvantaged or less-advantaged groups to stick it to the rich guy in the next election.
In other words, it’s not Fear of a Black Voting Bloc; it’s Fear of a Unified Lower & Middle Class Voting Bloc.
Do read the rest. It provokes thought, and a snippet cannot do it justice.