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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] helping newcomers start blogs - but where?

From: John Rooke
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] helping newcomers start blogs - but where?
Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2017 18:04:51 +0100

On Sat, 2017-08-19 at 14:09 -0500, Isaac David wrote: 

> John Rooke wrote :
> > Furthermore, it was correct. If the alt-right/neo-fascist
> > movement ever achieve power, dissenting voices will have far more to
> > worry about than having their websites closed down.
> allow me to disagree. the alt-right is growing because of decisions
> like this one, not in spite of them.

I can't see any grounds for this argument.  The Daily Stormer and many
other sites have been tolerated for many years.  Fascists are allowed
freedom of speech in our society, they are not censored.  This has
allowed their movement to grow to the point where they are able to
semi-openly advocate violence and we have seen the effects of this, most
recently in the murder of Heather Heyer.

IMO the actual causes for the growth of the alt-right in recent years
are to be found in: [1] the process of capitalist globalisation, which
has undermined the welfare of large sections of Western societies and
threatens considerably more damage in the future; accompanied by [2] a
reaction to the political gains of previously unfairly treated sections
of society such as women and people of colour; and [3] the dominance of
a political discourse that denigrates the validity of 'working class' as
an acceptable political identity, forcing white working class people to
seek alternatives.  These conditions provide fertile ground for fascist
ideas and forms of organisation to spread, particularly among white
working class males, by providing scapegoats against which they can
direct their anger. 

In any event, your remark does not address my main point here, which is
that the threat is far more serious than the taking down of a few
websites.  In fascist political strategy, political violence on the
streets is the first step towards a general closing down of dissenting
political discourse.  It is vital that we understand the nature of this
threat and act to counteract it.

> i must say upfront that i have no sympathy for them,

I think you must say it!  This is a cancer in our society and all right
thinking people should stand openly against it. 

> but summoning the Streisand effect is the very kind of thing
> that will empower them more (remember the Paypal-Wikileaks affair, or
> the AACS encryption key?). 

I do not think that any of these examples are appropriate.  In each
case, an action was taken to attempt to cover up the truth, in each case
it failed because it drew attention to the truth that was being covered
up.  There is no sense in which the action against the Daily Stormer was
an attempt to cover up the truth.  The site was a mixture of lies,
insults and exhortations to violence or other forms of fascist
organisation.  I doubt that we will see any negative effects from its

> censorship makes you look insecure in your
> positions 

In some cases only.  Again, the issue of truth is central here.  The
Stormer was not a channel for factual accounts, or rational critique.  I
think the take-down actually makes the internet community stronger, by
making it plain that there are some forms of behaviour that we will not

> and provides your opponent with a victimhood narrative.

They already have a narrative of victim-hood. It is central to their
philosophy.    According to them, the international Jewish conspiracy is
attempting to commit genocide against the 'white race' by, among other
things: encouraging inter-breeding with lesser races; encouraging women
to take up roles other than childbearing and rearing; and granting equal
rights to LGBT+ people.  They see evidence of this everywhere.  The
take-down of a website is a very minor event in this narrative.

On the other hand, they will, of course, use the take-down as a means of
gaining sympathy from well-meaning liberals, by cynically employing a
discourse of free speech which in fact they despise.

>  even
> using the very money they received from the Daily Stormer to talk
> openly about the latter would have had more lasting effects on
> reducing their power.  

I doubt it.  You assume that fascists are open to evidence and rational
argument.  I can assure you, from long experience, that this is not the

In some cases, such as the BBC Question Time appearance of 
BNP leader Nick Griffin, the strategy of debate has worked, but this was
because the BNP were employing an electoral strategy that required them
to appear respectable in the eyes of voters.  The alt-right is now
employing a quite different strategy in the US, using the populist
Donald Trump as a proxy at the polls, leaving them free to engage in
less respectable activities simultaneously. 

> i think we all should strive to see bad ideas exposed, so that they
> can die in reason and ridicule in every person's mind, 

Of course, I agree with you.  However, we are not so much talking about
ideas here, as about the organisation of hatred.  Apart from the
inventiveness involved in the perpetuation and elaboration of 'the big
lie', there is little intellectual content involved.  It is primarily a
mutually reinforcing process, in which outsiders are ridiculed, vilified
and abused.  Don't expect anything like a reasonable debate.

> once and for
> all. 

I'm afraid I don't believe that this cancer can ever be truly cured.
Certainly not in the foreseeable future and without radical social
change.  Meanwhile, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

> free speech is how we prevent disaster from brewing. 

Relying on free speech and tolerance has not worked in the past and is
unlikely to work in the future.  Study the history of the inter-war
period, or at least take advice from a philosopher who lived through it.

> moreover, if
> violent authoritarians ever get to power --and they will, sooner or
> later, whether from the left or from the right-- 

I do not accept this premise.  In any event, prevention is better than

> i will wish having
> been born in a society with a strong tradition of freedom that won't
> tolerate authoritarians for long.

Then learn to understand the nature of the threat.  A society which
truly values freedom will not give it away in the first place, or
tolerate those who attempt to take it from us.

Best wishes,


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