October 16, 2016 at 9:20 am #360
“The Millennials are… a generation raised from babyhood to cooperate, share, include, network, and self-organize. They value conformity (Boomers and Xers are horrified by the “calling out” ritual that Millennials run on each other constantly as they vigilantly police each other’s behavior. We’d have choked on our own spit before telling each other what to say, think or do; and would have rightly expected to be told to fuck off if we tried it), and as this pervades their politics in the coming decades, it’s going to involve a lot of telling other people how they should live. That’s how their GI grandparents created and enforced the great American Consensus of the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, and it’s how they’re going to re-create a new consensus about the Next America they’re going to build.
That bred-in-the-bone collectivism is likely to be as durable a lifelong feature as Boomer individualism has been; but it stands in stark opposition to conservatism as it’s currently constituted. It’s possible to imagine another, distinctively Millennial form of conservatism emerging in time — but it would have to be rooted in the idea of a strong social contract, one that obligates individuals to cede some of their desires to the greater good, represented by trusted authorities — and is willing to use social shame as an enforcement mechanism. The GOP is a long way from offering any narratives along these lines now. If they do emerge, it could take another 20 years or more, becoming something today’s Millennials embrace as they age on through their 40s, 50s and 60s.”
– Sara Robinson, “Here Come the Millennials”
I was born in 1984. Like most people from the 1980s I resisted being identified as a Millennial for a long time and still dislike the term; but since English is defined by common usage and this term seems to be entering common usage, then a Millennial I am.
I agree with Robinson’s point in her first paragraph quoted above: We Millennials police one another a lot more than others do. Robinson is horrified at the way that we call people out for their opinions; for our part we are just as horrified by the way that older generations are willing to turn a blind eye to people’s deplorable opinions so long as they don’t bring them up at the dinner table.
I also agree with her conclusion, powerfully expressed, that this is soon going to stop being a uniquely Millennial norm and start being simply the way society is. In a few decades’ time, objecting to callout culture is going to seem as strange as objecting to being asked to remove muddy boots when entering someone’s house. Love it or hate it, this is the future.
However, when Robinson states that it is possible to imagine a uniquely Millennial flavour of conservatism emerging in time, then I must disagree with her – at least, with her use of tenses. We do not have to imagine it emerging in time, because it is already here right now. As of the time of writing (October 2016) its adherents are voting for Trump in numbers that, while unlikely to win him the election, may yet win them the Republican party’s future. They even have a name for themselves: shitlords. In fact they have several names for themselves, but this one is (believe it or not) the least offensive.
Rise of the Shitlords
Last month I had a pleasant lunch with an ex-FWB. During lunch, I received an email from a friend giving me a heads-up on the political outrage of the day. Rather than showing her the link, I forwarded her the email; she received it on her phone and was then able to open the link herself. (I could have read it out to her, but sending it was more polite: most people read much faster and more accurately than they can hear in a crowded cafe, and it’s more comfortable to do it at one’s own pace.) What followed was a real-time email exchange between the three of us, during which myself and my ex continued to have an entirely separate verbal discussion about the London art scene. Had we verbally discussed the political outrage it would have been impolite: we would, after all, have been cutting that third person out of the conversation.
A person sitting on the next table, less than a metre away, may as well have been on Mars. Despite their physical proximity they would be entirely unable to participate in the conversation.
This may be weird for anyone born before 1980, and I remember a time when it was weird for me, but now it’s simply the new normal. The internet has stopped being a separate place accessible through a glowing box on a desk, and has become something that we carry around with us constantly and use for everything. For first-world Millennials, society is web-driven, and politics is no exception.
This new web society is where we will encounter the shitlords.
Many scholars will argue about which of two websites, “Something Awful” and “4chan”, was the cradle of shitlord culture. It’s largely a meaningless distinction: the overlap of users between the two was always enormous. However, 4chan went on to be far more important. Last month it had twenty-eight million unique views, and achieved an Alexa ranking less than 600 (that is, it’s in the top 600 sites in the world.) It was the point of origin of ideas from lolcats to the word “cuck.” In short, while many people dismiss this website as unworthy of serious consideration, they do so at their peril.
It’s also a horrible place, and is very definitely not safe for work or for anyone of sober temperament.
4chan is divided into different subforums denoted by short abbreviations which are surrounded by slashes: /a/ is the anime subforum, for example. In excess of ninety percent of their traffic is generated by just one subforum, called /b/. If we go there then we are greeted by a cavalcade of disgust. “This is your daily reminder that all women are lying whores,” reads the title of a heavily-replied thread; another spins an unlikely tale about statutory rape which attempts to derive humour from an unexpected segue into a Fresh Prince of Bel Air reference; a third discusses the education of black children by using the term “niglet”; and a fourth lionises Elliot Rodger, a school shooter. The pictures are even worse: pirated anime jostles for elbow room with hardcore pornography, captioned pictures of cats, and photoshopped pictures of Donald Trump as president. In anonymous comments on these threads one sees the shitlords cavorting, vying to outdo one another with shock humour and over-the-top awfulness. Most of this awfulness is aimed directly at one another: indeed, if one were to be kind and reassuring to someone there, it would immediately arouse derision and suspicion.
There is also a /v/ subforum, where 4chan posters discuss video games; it came to prominence in late 2014 when it was used as the mustering ground for a harassment campaign against female video games developers. The politics subforum, /pol/, is perhaps best not visited by anyone who dislikes swastikas. And so on.
While this sounds silly, remember that 4chan is more popular than Red State, Free Republic and Breitbart combined. Its terminology has spread to other sites that shitlords frequent, and often edges into the real world. “Cuck” began here. The image of Pepe, a large-lipped green frog often depicted wearing a red Donald Trump trucker hat, began here. This is the beating black heart of shitlordry, and it’s here that we can see how they’ve begun to identify as a group and how they’ve begun to gather their strength.
Many other sites exist: there are smaller 4chan clones like 8chan and 12chan, which are collectively called “the chans”. These are, if anything, even worse. Some split off from 4chan when it implemented rules against the posting of child pornography; the shitlords found this to be an unconscionable restriction of their right to free speech.
In the modern age, 4chan may be the most important shitlord site, but the largest is almost certainly reddit. Not all redditors are shitlords, but its population is so large and so ill-supervised that even their minority is huge.
reddit is organised uniquely: it’s split into many different “subreddits”, and any user can make themselves a new subreddit if they wish. This allows very niche groups to form, often with euphemistic names. “Trees”, for example, is a marijuana-users subreddit, and “European” is a neo-Nazi subreddit. This means that within their own little clubhouses, users are almost entirely unsupervised by the site administrators, and it is very difficult to police content. Inevitably, this suited the shitlords very well: browsing lists of subreddits one can find ones set up to collect stolen intimate photos, to organise harassment campaigns, and to discuss ways to evade rape prosecution.
Inevitably, this sort of social stratification has led to people being around their fellow shitlords often enough that they find it difficult to remember how to socialise with other human beings. For example, I once had the pleasure of taking part in a discussion about a space-travel video game in which someone used the word “rapefugees” entirely unselfconsciously. He wasn’t trying to make a point; he was simply used to shitlord culture and had forgotten that in other contexts this is not an acceptable term for describing all immigrants.
Ironically enough, reddit also had a problem with its shitlords threatening to leave when they were informed that they would have to obey the law. In a repeat of history, some tried to jump ship to a startup called “Voat”, but demurred when it was explained to them that Voat would not permit them to post child pornography either. Shitlords use the term “free speech” a lot, but for some odd reason it often seems to boil down to child pornography.
Demographically shitlords are overwhelmingly white and male, mostly nonreligious, and poorer than their parents. In shitlord culture there is no great drive to achieve educationally or professionally, but there is a drive to appear better than other people and achieve “alpha” status. Reading between the lines of shitlord discussions, one quickly realises that their vision of the world is a place in which achievements come not to people who deserve them or work hard at them, but to the people who learn the secret formula that unlocks success. In each field of human endeavour, from video games to dating advice, shitlords will obsessively chase that secret formula and will be openly dismissive of anyone who suggests that honesty and good faith are better tactics. They aren’t here to make a better world, they’re here to win.
Even more than that, shitlords are here to hurt others. Merely watching them talk to one another is frightening when one recognises the sheer depth of their loathing for their fellow humans. Among most people, expressing fellow-feeling for misfortune is accepted as a virtue, but not here: shitlords refer to it as “virtue-signalling” and regard it as a cynical attempt to gain social status. There is no such thing as kindness in their dictionary. Likewise, if a shitlord admits to being female she will immediately be buried under demands to “tits or GTFO”; that is, to either stop talking or start providing nude pictures of herself. Either way, any point that she was attempting to make will be ignored entirely. Any man attempting to come to her defence will be labelled a “white knight” and accused of hoping for sex as a reward. There is no such thing as decency in their dictionary either.
In the past, shitlords were divided and apathetic politically: they were racist, yes, but they were also overwhelmingly nonreligious (indeed, often hostile to religion) and so found no home in either political party. Those political leaders who found support among them tended to be fringe figures like Ron Paul. This all changed in 2015, when Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump began to campaign for president.
Pepe For President
The shitlords liked how weird and fringe Sanders was, but they never listened that closely to his policy ideas, and were unhappy with the extent to which he fought a clean campaign and respected his opponents. There were times when Sanders (by all accounts a decent man) felt compelled to speak against his own shitlord followers, whose responses to him can be summed up as “shut up and be iconoclastic.” Trump, on the other hand, fitted them perfectly, and never for a moment considered intentionally alienating them.
In his candidacy Trump gutted the Republican message, dropping the remnants of evangelical Christianity and free-market economics, and tore away the veneer of civilisation that hid the hatred. Whether he did this because he wanted to court the shitlord vote or because he just likes to run his mouth is uncertain: what is certain is that it worked.
Prominent shitlords like Milo Yiannopoulos and Mike Cernovich have been campaigning tirelessly for Trump. This style of politics suits them perfectly: there are no issues, not really. A person can change their stance on an issue freely and nihilistically from one day to the next depending on what’s tactically useful and what makes them look good. Trump doesn’t remember whether he’s pro-LGBT or not, and doesn’t much care. What matters is the hate, the opportunities to cause pain, and the chance to assert one’s supremacy over someone else. Trump has made these the centre of his campaign, and the shitlords have responded by coming out of the woodwork in their millions.
Remember: there are a great many shitlords, and they were largely apolitical before. Their sudden appearance has changed matters dramatically. They have not so much been converted into Republicans as have succeeded in capturing the Republican party as a vehicle to use for their own political stance. They will probably not go home again afterwards. Most worryingly, they’re young enough that they may simply outlive everyone else in the party. These, then, are the right-wing Millennials that Robinson spoke of, although she may balk at calling them conservative.
What do they want? Poorly-defined hate campaigns against poorly-defined enemies. The right to abuse women and black people freely. Video games. Child pornography. Free speech. Nihilism. An America where every young man can grow up to be Elliot Rodger.
What stopped them from taking over the Democrat party instead? The answer, in my opinion, is other Millennials. Shitlords are not strangers to us: we have evolved customs which allow us to recognise them and deny them access into our social circles, and as Millennials are flocking to the Democrat party those customs have made it a hostile place to the shitlords. The same was not true of the Republicans, and look what happened.
They are here. They exist. They are among us. They get to vote. Beware.
October 16, 2016 at 12:40 pm #366
October 16, 2016 at 1:08 pm #369
Wow, lots of meat in that post. The changing mores of mixing online and realspace conversation are interesting, because when I try to mix an online and realtime conversation like that my husband become apoplectic at how “rude” I am, and we’re not quite 20 years older than you.
To be technical, the official cutoff for Millennial is 1985 (40 years, or two generations, after 1945, the start of the Boomers). Of course the reality is that the population isn’t cut into monolithic blocks of 20 years. I think the changes actually run a little bit faster; the novel “Generation X” from which the generation takes its name is actually supposed to be about late boomers (in that technical sense). Likewise, the two political movements often identified as Millennial – the anti-Iraq War and Obama’s election – are more movements of late Gen X’ers (again, in the technical sense).
The 4chan-ers (I’ll avoid your term for nos) are pretty influential in internet culture. They tend to overrun discussion threads and the like, which is really a pity. Even some of the economics sites I frequent are overrun by 4chan types, or at least have degenerated into flamewars over their views. The association with child pornography is interesting, to say the least, especially in the context of their rejection of social control and craving for dominance. From your description, I don’t think they’re very influential in the real world, though.
October 16, 2016 at 2:30 pm #371
“In a few decades’ time, objecting to callout culture is going to seem as strange as objecting to being asked to remove muddy boots when entering someone’s house. Love it or hate it, this is the future.”
Probably not. The only people who really engage in call-out culture in the real world, at least at either of the colleges I’ve attended or according to anything I’ve read on the subject, is in hard-left and progressive circles. A similar phenomenon happened with the rise of the New Left and it never caught on with the mainstream, it instead just confined itself to Leftist activists.
What does “call-out culture” even mean? If it means speaking out against genuinly racist/bigoted views than people already often do that (though we could do better here “calling it out” isn’t the problem, people either not caring or being supportive their candidate or whoever says those things is the issue right now). But in practice it seems to just be obnoxious assholes throwing random people to the wolves for saying relatively innocuous or at worst mildly objectionable things that stray even slightly from whatever the new in-group jargon is. In a liberal democracy that is not a movement built to last. It is exhausting, irritating, burns bridges, and makes it impossible for people to defend themselves.
So far its advocates have been lucky that their loudest opponenets to the practice have been Alt-Right bigots (I think that’s because most of the fighting on this has been confined to the fringes) who make them believe their views are validated but as soon as it gets more well-known among the mainstream you’re going to see a backlash, even among other progressives (https://briarpatchmagazine.com/articles/view/a-note-on-call-out-culture).
- This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by Griff.
October 16, 2016 at 2:59 pm #377
Thanks for going there so I didn’t have to.
I’d never heard of 4chan but I sometimes see their kin in comment sections elsewhere.
NPR comments were once thoughtful, argumentative and reasonably intelligent. A couple of years ago that changed. Shitlords arrived. Recently, NPR shut off all comments because it was just too expensive to monitor all the time.
Currently, the Washington Post is the recipient of comments that are way outside the norm in terms of cruelty and language.
Personally, I think younger generations generally live up to their promise, although some generations face the most difficult of problems while others seem to skate by.
Thanks for writing.
October 16, 2016 at 3:15 pm #378
As long as you’re alive, you’re not obsolete in my view. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
I’m interested that your husband has such a different view; then again, so does my mother. Culture – and especially the changing definition of politeness – is a fascinating topic.
On your point about the distinction between real-world and online influence is valid for now, but I think it’s less valid than it was ten years ago and might entirely disappear in another then years. The cultural separation of the two is becoming weaker by the day. Clinton has referenced cat gifs in her speech; it might not be long before we see tumblrisms quoted directly by political leaders on your or my side of the Atlantic.
I’d also argue that even if the shitlords themselves never become influential, that doesn’t mean that they won’t make good footsoldiers for someone else. Fox News has been pulling this exact trick for some time now, after all, and people like Yiannopoulos are currently trying to build the same concept online.
Firstly, with respect, I get the feeling (from your quoting of Scott Alexander and other terminology) that you hang around in tech-libertarian circles? I would be extremely hesitant to generalise the people you know to the wider community – that’s an extremely closeted and self-selecting sample which is at odds with the general populace.
Secondly, could you please stop misusing terms like “far left”? It’s extremely annoying. Terminology exists for a reason, and its misuse comes across as a red flag for a person arguing in bad faith or an idiot, even though I’ve seen enough of you to not think that you’re either of those things.
October 16, 2016 at 3:38 pm #379
I am not a “tech-libertarian” (neither is Scott Alexander really, he’s written anti-libertarian FAQ). I read liberals from the New Yorker and Atlantic as well as conservatives, Alexander is the only person from the rationalist sphere I’ve read alot of. I don’t think I’m misusing the term “Hard-left”, as you note language is what a phrase commonly means and most people consider the “call out culture” crowd to be on the “Hard-left”, many of the ones I’ve interacted with even support revolutions against the government. Of course most of them are just all talk but still.
October 16, 2016 at 5:17 pm #380
Although I’m curious as to what you consider “far-left” (though I used the term hard-left which is a little different and in the UK was associated with the so-called “loony left”). The sense I get from you and a handful of other liberals and progressives is that anything short of reading Das Kapital, wearing a stasi outfit, and having Stalin busts in your room means it’s not far-left, which seems to me to be incorrect. In the Western World orthodox Marxism was once the primary force of the far-left but by the late 1960’s began to become increasingly displaced by Foucoult and Dada’s postmodernism alongside identity politics (yes I’m aware that is a snarl word among right-wingers but I don’t have a better name for it either) as formulated by people like Catherine McKinnon and Stokely Carmichael (amongst many others of course). While orthodox Marxism still exists it’s in such a small form as to be almost utterly negligable, though it’s seen a slight comeback in the form of the online site The Jacobin but is still nonetheless competing with other forms of leftism for dominance in that sphere.
Setting such a ridiculously high and archaic (not to mention irritatingly pedantic) standard of what passes for “hard-left” seems to me a way to dodge ever having to deal with the label among your own ranks, similar to how FOX News and the like set such a ridiculuously high standard for what could be considered “racism” (basically having to be an avowed Klansman) that anyone who fell short of that bizarre standard while using the term was accused of slander. I even linked you to a very progressive person (someone more progressive than I would gander 90% of Americans) who was complaining about these exact same people annoying him from even his left and yet that still doesn’t pass as hard-left apparently, and I could link you to everyone from mainstream liberals like Jon Chait and Daniel Farber to solid leftists like Alan Sokal to even avowed radical leftists like Noam Chomsky saying the same thing but I don’t know how much farther these goalposts can go before I can settle my case.
About the 4-chan crowd, I’ve thankfully only had the displeasure of meeting them in person a couple times though I’ve been suspicious of a few more people. Usually they keep their most repulsive views to themselves and you have to be aware of their lingo to pick up on someone who follows it, at least in my experience and I’ve read some bloggers saying the same. That said the Republican clubs on colleges on the American West Coast seem to have alot of open Alt-Rightists who caused some controversy in UCLA a little while ago. They seem to be middle-to-upper class so they like being racists more-or-less for the fun of it and the feeling of being part of an ethnic in-group so they’re probably the least sympathetic political group on the planet (IMO).
- This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by Griff.
October 16, 2016 at 6:39 pm #382
EJ, I guess there is a reason why I was born in a much different generation and will likely never feel the full impact of the Shitlords. At least, I will try very hard in that regard. It’s funny, just last night I read this piece by Sara Robinson on Millennials and because of my limited digital interaction and age, couldn’t/didn’t connect the dots as you have done so well.
I wonder how much the impact of singular technological focus as opposed to person to person interaction has exacerbated if not accelerated this problem? It has always been more difficult to speak in an ugly way “in person” than it has in the safety of email, at least until they are hacked (-;
This may be “out there” and if it is I am glad that at my age I won’t have to make personal adjustments for this type of communication. Or, will I? You closed with admonition to “beware”. I assume you are referencing the fact that these people are lurking and voting and they typically attach to people like DJ Trump. Are you trying to send a subtle warning from across the pond?
October 16, 2016 at 7:21 pm #383
EJ, thanks for taking the time to post that. I’ve been participating in online forums since late 2000, and I can concurr on much of what you wrote. Reddit absolutely is a very mixed bag. I don’t have an account, but I’ve gone there to read discussions on something that interested me, and fortunately they’ve all been the civilized subreddits. But there are subreddits you partake of at your own risk. I know of 4chan by its foul reputation, courtesy of people I know who have been there. I had considered getting an account on the NPR forums but I saw how the trolls were trashing the place, and I’m not surprised they ditched the comments; The Week did the same, and probably for the same reasons. One other place where I post a lot is on FARK, lately mostly on the Politics tab. The discussions there spring up fast and run fast; threads tend to be live only for a couple days. It also frequently gets heated and snarky there, so beware. But it does have the advantage of having a large population of intelligent, well-informed perticipants who have a very low tolerance for BS. It also looks to have good representation of all the adult generations. Intelligent conversation can be had there, if you accept the rougher edges, and most of the snark isn’t going to be aimed at people who aren’t trolling. I’ve seen most of the pro-Trump opinions run off, because those people couldn’t back up the stuff they posted, and the rest of the forum had no mercy. I suspect very few of them were real Trump supporters; the favorite conspiracy is that many of them were moderator alts, used to get more traffic. All the users can also opt to ignore any other user they choose, so anyone who pulls a shitlord act will discover that no one is responding to them, if the mods don’t bring the ban hammer first. But that takes effort.
This forum (including the old GOP Lifer blog) has been very good at promoting dialog in a very civil manner. We got a little taste of trolling/ bad manners when Chris posted his resignation letter, but that was very mild compared to what I’ve seen elsewhere. Hopefully we keep the character of this place, but we should be prepared for the possibility of an invasion. I note that we have “spam” buttons at the top of each post, so that looks like one defense mechanism. Hopeful we have others.
October 23, 2016 at 9:25 pm #530
I’m a little late to the conversation, but as a Gen-X/Millenial (born Jan. 1980) I have experience with both the pre-internet/worldwide access to everything, and am experienced and adept at computers, the internet, and smartphones.
4chan and Reddit, for what it is worth, are filled with basement-dwelling beta males…their language. As vile and disgusting as they really are, they are also bark rather than bite, minus their DDOS attacks against whichever target they pick. And even then, most of the time the targets are more libertarian-esque than Republican. In fact, I’d classify the average 4channer as a libertarian (small l) than a Republican. They are essentially online anarchists who aren’t particularly successful in the real world.
If I were to speculate, and it would be inappropriate if I didn’t, they most likely won’t reproduce in the same rates as the average non-4channer (they are the Wests’ young, underachieving male without access to females). So, I wouldn’t worry all too much about them. These kids are tough on the internet, but quiet, broke, and ineffectual outside – which is why they sit online talking shit to anyone who will get offended/pay attention to them. And really, offending someone is just the easiest way for them to get someone to pay attention to them.
October 24, 2016 at 12:23 am #531
A bit late to this but one of the Alt-Right’s favorite YouTubers, Joey Salads, who set up obviously fake racist “social experiments” to “expose” black people for being “thugs”, got exposed for setting up these obviously fake “social experiments”. Cue laugh track as Alt-Right trolls who believe they are the epitome of human achievement realize they were duped by obviously fake videos.
- This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Griff.
October 25, 2016 at 12:44 pm #547
I think the development of electronic communication has been immensely important in the formation of communities, and will correspondingly change our politics as well. It’s now far easier to connect with people who have similar opinions and worldviews, meaning that it’s far harder for minority voices to be crowded out or intimidated into silence. This has been absolutely world-changing for some groups, like trans people. Unfortunately, it’s also true for Nazis.
My warning was more about the long-term political and social effects of such a shift. Shitlords are not going away. They may be socially influential but politically meaningless, and ultimately metamorphose into something else (like the Hippies) or they may be easily-overlooked but incredibly powerful if you pay attention, and remain consistent (like the Evangelicals) but they will have an impact, and we should not be unaware of it.
I’ve seen the same thing you have of how various internet communities are either taken over by shitlords or run them off. In my opinion it’s about moderation: any site which lacks effective and brutal moderation will devolve into being indistinguishable from 4chan (witness Youtube comments for a good example of this.)
The problem I see is that while we can prevent the shitlords from posting, we cannot stop them from voting (nor should we); and this creates a problem because there are more of them than we realise. It took until 2016 for them to become meaningfully politicised, but I fear that the genie is now out of the bottle. It’s easy to assume that they’re just an online presence, but they’re as human as the rest of us, and will soon become a real-world problem. (In my opinion.) I don’t want to see what happens when people start explicitly promising top kek as a campaign platform.
I’d be wary of writing people off because of their reproductive rates or incomes. Many groups manage to be politically powerful without reproducing biologically (Catholic priests, for example) because they spread their ideas to the children of those who do reproduce. Likewise, no matter how broke or basement-dwelling anyone is, they still get to vote.
I’d also be wary of making too much of a distinction between libertarians (small-l) and Republicans (big-R). Not only do many libertarians vote Republican, but so do many people who have little in common with either the stated party platform or the unstated neoconfederate ethos. If they can form a large enough bloc of Republican voters and can avoid self-destructing, then they may end up with significant power inside the party (indeed, I’d argue that this has already started to happen.)
Lastly, can we not use the phrase “access to females”, please? Considering that shitlords openly laud rape as a worthy thing to do, that phrase becomes even more horrific than it already is. I would certainly not like to be a “female” to whom shitlords have “access.”
That’s hilarious. Thank you for posting it.
October 25, 2016 at 3:05 pm #551
I doubt the shitlords are a large voting block. For starters, they’re almost exclusively male, so they’re only drawing from half the population. Even within that group, they’re a very distinct minority. I suspect the numbers, at most, would be comparable to the fascist/racist parties in Europe – 10% of the population at most; often less. That’s not enough to make a big dent, especially considering they’re relatively unorganized, antisocial, and not facing existential threats.
I think the problem with them is that they wreck online communities so easily, and that they may be spreading these nonsense memes on the left and the right. I’ve seen some people who seem like obnoxious rightists spouting some of the crazier BernieBro stuff as well – are they just trolling both sides of the political spectrum, exploiting lower info people desperate to justify their positions? Online is coming out to be the reverse of what I expected – it should be a great place for analysis and fact-checking, but it seems to be devolving into echo chambers.
October 27, 2016 at 9:09 am #565
The New Yorker has a profile of Mike Cernovich http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/31/trolls-for-trump
October 27, 2016 at 9:26 pm #572
The Alt-Right leaders, including Stephen Bannon, are planning on transitioning the Trump campaign into a major media organization after his defeat: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-27/inside-the-trump-bunker-with-12-days-to-go
- This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by Griff.
October 28, 2016 at 2:54 am #574
I very much hope you’re right; as we’ve seen, though, having a white-male-only support base is something that Trump dorsn’t seem to mind.
On the topic of internet factoids, yeah, I agree. It’s really sad how hasty humans are to seek refuge in comforting fictions and echo chambers, rather than in the harsh and sometimes painful light of facticity.
As a digression, have you seen the movie Good Bye Lenin? If you haven’t, then definitely see it – I think you can find it in English too. It tackles the subject of nostalgia for the old Communist regime in East Germany, and one of its subtexts is that people found it comforting to live in a state where they received a predetermined media consensus, even if it is not in fact the truth.
Thanks for linking that. I don’t read Cernovich, but I’m told that he really liked that piece and felt that it made him look powerful and influential. That’s perhaps not what I would have described it as, but then he and I do not always agree. (For example, if I had a daughter then I would be supportive of her even if she were a basic bitch, whatever that is.)
That’s very interesting, thank you. Bannon is a man I find downright terrifying: he has extremely good media instincts, even if he uses them for evil ends. Strange as it is to say, there could come a time when we look back wistfully to Fox News.
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