politics

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What we see here is evidence of the only real innovation 8chan has brought to global terrorism: the gamification of mass violence. We see this not just in the references to “high scores”, but in the very way the Christchurch shooting was carried out. Brenton Tarrant livestreamed his massacre from a helmet cam in a way that made the shooting look almost exactly like a First Person Shooter video game. This was a conscious choice, as was his decision to pick a sound-track for the spree that would entertain and inspire his viewers.

Robert Evans on thoughts and prayers.

EtA: Fredrick Brennan, i.e. 8chan’s founder (but not current owner), calls for the site’s closure. The most interesting this from the article, though, is the quote from Cloudflare’s executive Matthew Prince’s statement that Cloudflare won’t revoke 8chan’s customer status because, If we kicked 8chan off our network […] law enforcement would have less visibility into what’s going on. Which is, like. Uh. Way to admit to the world in The New York Times that your company effectively acts as a giant spying apparatus for law enforcement, I guess. (Full disclosure: I also use Cloudflare for most of my sites.)

EtAx2: Apparently Cloudflare has now revoked services and the text quoted above has been removed from the NYT article. I didn’t grab a cap of it but… it was there, I swear!

EtAx3: Cloudflare’s statement:

In the two years since the Daily Stormer what we have done to try and solve the Internet’s deeper problem is engage with law enforcement and civil society organizations to try and find solutions. Among other things, that resulted in us cooperating around monitoring potential hate sites on our network and notifying law enforcement when there was content that contained an indication of potential violence. We will continue to work within the legal process to share information when we can to hopefully prevent horrific acts of violence. We believe this is our responsibility and, given Cloudflare’s scale and reach, we are hopeful we will continue to make progress toward solving the deeper problem.

So-oo-oo… yeah. Cloudflare is spying on the traffic on its network. Whether you think this is justified and/or acceptable is another discussion but… they’re definitely doing it.

2019-08-05T15:48:06+10:005th August, 2019|Tags: culture, cw: mass shooting, politics, privacy, tech|

Borderwall.

[T]oday, relatively few land borders exist to physically fend off a neighboring power, and countries even cooperate to police the borders they share. Modern borders exist to control something else: the movement of people. They control us.

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian on walls.

It’s amazing how freedom of movement seems to increase exponentially in relation to wealth…

2019-02-11T20:15:58+11:004th August, 2019|Tags: politics|

Wealth.

As [Jason] Hickel also points out about the earlier parts of the graph, and as I have pointed out previously, most of “people are making more money” comes from “people were forced off their subsistence farms so that they had to use money to buy what they got from their own labor before.”

[…]

People miss the essential point: it’s not how much money you have. It’s whether or not you have enough food, shelter, clothes and so on. It’s whether you have what you need and some of what you want.

Ian Welsh on money.

2019-02-08T09:01:28+11:0028th July, 2019|Tags: economics, politics|

MarketWorld.

But there is still another, darker way of judging what goes on when elites put themselves in the vanguard of social change: that doing so not only fails to make things better, but also serves to keep things as they are. After all, it takes the edge off of some of the public’s anger at being excluded from progress. It improves the image of the winners. By using private and voluntary half-measures, it crowds out public solutions that would solve problems for everyone, and do so with or without the elite’s blessing. There is no question that the outpouring of elite-led social change in our era does great good and soothes pain and saves lives. But we should also recall Oscar Wilde’s words about such elite helpfulness being “not a solution” but “an aggravation of the difficulty”. More than a century ago, in an age of churn like our own, he wrote: “Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good.”

Anand Giridharadas on philanthropy.

From a longer and very much worthwhile essay on billionaire philanthropy, and related to Giridharadas’s book, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, which I really need to get around to reading…

Also, because it probably bears mentioning: in the modern context, comparing capitalists with slaveowning reads as, uh. Maybe something of a Hot Take. But contextually in Wilde’s time it was pretty common; Marx does it quite extensively in Capital, for example, to the point of all-but calling capitalism in general, in which individuals are effectively coerced under threat of starvation to sell themselves, a kind of “socially acceptable” form of slavery for white people.1 Marx’s point, incidentally, was both that slavery and capitalism are terrible institutions, that the drivers behind both are the same, and that the working class should be the ones to stand the most vociferously against slavery in general.2

So tl;dr, you could certainly have an argument as to the appropriateness of the “capitalism is like slavery!” comparison—both Marx and Wilde are, obviously, Extremely White Guys—but the fact that it was a known argument has probably in no small part contributed to the historic tendency of the right to try and do as much wedge politics as possible between the white working class and communities of color. Which, as we’re probably all aware, has been hugely successful for them.3 So… there’s that.

  1. “What the working man sells is not directly his Labor, but his Laboring Power, the temporary disposal of which he makes over to the capitalist. This is so much the case that I do not know whether by the English Law, but certainly by some Continental Laws, the maximum time is fixed for which a man is allowed to sell his laboring power. If allowed to do so for any indefinite period whatever, slavery would be immediately restored. Such a sale, if it comprised his lifetime, for example, would make him at once the lifelong slave of his employer.” Incidentally, this exact system is the generally considered to be the most prevalent form of slavery in modern times. []
  2. “Labor cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded.” []
  3. But has not always been the case, for which ref. for e.g. Alan I. Abramowitz’s The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump, which shows some of the statistical trends as they’ve manifested in the US over time. []
2019-04-29T12:06:40+10:0021st July, 2019|Tags: politics|

Systemic problems need systemic solutions.

The political project of neoliberalism, brought to ascendence by Thatcher and Reagan, has pursued two principal objectives. The first has been to dismantle any barriers to the exercise of unaccountable private power. The second had been to erect them to the exercise of any democratic public will.

[…]

At the very moment when climate change demands an unprecedented collective public response, neoliberal ideology stands in the way. Which is why, if we want to bring down emissions fast, we will need to overcome all of its free-market mantras: take railways and utilities and energy grids back into public control; regulate corporations to phase out fossil fuels; and raise taxes to pay for massive investment in climate-ready infrastructure and renewable energy — so that solar panels can go on everyone’s rooftop, not just on those who can afford it.

Neoliberalism has not merely ensured this agenda is politically unrealistic: it has also tried to make it culturally unthinkable. Its celebration of competitive self-interest and hyper-individualism, its stigmatization of compassion and solidarity, has frayed our collective bonds. It has spread, like an insidious anti-social toxin, what Margaret Thatcher preached: “there is no such thing as society.”

Martin Lukacs on collective action.

This is a long excerpt, but one that always bears repeating: individual consumer actions cannot address systemic issues, and convincing you they can is neoliberalism’s greatest trick.

Stop freakin’ falling for it.

2019-04-29T12:06:40+10:0019th July, 2019|Tags: environment, politics|

Gravitas.

Let’s dig into “gravitas,” because it’s an ambiguous word, selectively applied. Ever wonder how expression that’s feminine, working-class, queer, or POC isn’t deemed as having “gravitas”, but talking like an Aaron Sorkin character does? Men have “gravitas,” women get “likeable.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on words.

Ocasio-Cortez is specifically namedropping Sorkin here because she’s saying this in response to some of his dipshit comments. Also, The West Wing is still a bad show and that’s a take I will now and forever stand by.

2019-04-29T12:06:40+10:0016th July, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|

Generation Revolt.

Maybe it’s not because Millennials have rejected the American dream, but rather because the economy has not only blocked their path to attaining it but punished them for trying to.

Millennials are the most educated generation in U.S. history to date. They bought into a social contract that said: Everything will work out, if first you go to college. But as the cost of college increased, millions of young people took on student loans to complete their degree. Graduates under 35 are almost 50 percent more likely than members of Gen X to have student loans, and their median balance is about 40 percent higher than that of the previous generation.

And what has all that debt gotten them? “Lower earnings, fewer assets, and less wealth,” according to the Federal Reserve paper’s conclusion. Student debt has made it harder for millions of young people to buy a home, since “holding debt is associated with a lower rate of homeownership, irrespective of degree type,” as Fed economists wrote in a previous study. In other words, young people took on debt to pursue a college degree, only to discover that the cost of college would push the American dream further from their grasp.

Is it any wonder that Millennials are eager to overthrow a system that has duped them into a story of permanent progress, thrown them into debt, depressed their wages, separated them from the trappings of adulthood, and then, for good measure, blamed them for ruining canned tuna?

Derek Thompson on killing Millennials.

2019-01-07T08:28:58+11:0018th May, 2019|Tags: culture, economics, politics|

Nice chaps.

Partisanship is not a result of us not hearing enough about George H.W. Bush talking to his grandkids. It’s largely a result of one party devoting itself to racist, reactionary politics in the service of global corporate interests, but that’s another conversation for another time. More importantly, if you’re an immigrant who is now too terrified to get free baby formula for your child because you heard it might mean you can’t get a green card, you probably don’t care very much whether John Bolton’s guilty pleasure is watching Real Housewives; if you’re a poor person in Arkansas and you just found out you got dropped from Medicaid because of work requirements you didn’t know existed, it’s not all that relevant to you if John Kelly stubbed his toe and said the F-word.

For comfortable D.C. journalists—the sort who might go from the Ivy League to a Buckley Fellowship at the National Review and then to a more prestigious magazine and a CNN gig—the material effects of politics are much less likely to reach you. Politics is, as Chris Hooks wrote in 2016, “the way we distribute pain”—it’s “how we determine who gets medication and who dies young, who learns in a class of twenty kids and who learns in a class of thirty.” But what is politics if you’re privileged enough to insulate yourself from that pain? How do you view politics if you can pay for private schools? If you have good, employer-sponsored healthcare? It’s unlikely you’ll ever have to deal with Medicaid work requirements or skip taking the meds you need to make rent. You don’t have to choose between feeding your kids and buying their birthday gifts. So the import of politics isn’t “will I be able to eat” or “will I be deported,” it’s “are they nice chaps?”

Libby Watson on politics.

Watson is talking here about the scourge of access journalism specifically, but this also applies to a good 99%+ of the middle class, for whom life does not change very much under one party or another, and thus politics is reduced to, variously, “who did I find most charming on TV” at best… and “who will most hurt those [immigrants/single mothers/poor people/hipsters/uni students/insert-other-maligned-group-here] I don’t like” at worst.

But, y’know. Gods forbid anyone be partisan about anything. How déclassé!

2019-01-07T08:05:35+11:0014th May, 2019|Tags: newsphobia, politics|