So for my undergrad thesis, I’ve been reading up on cyberculture, the internet and cybernetics in general, and I stumbled upon critics who somehow believe that the internet opens up a way for new communities, new democracies, etc.
But I’ve been thinking: since when does “openness” by itself bring people together, realistically? Just like a bar, it brings people together in the sense that they share a common immiseration. That is good enough for drunks, but not for life, not for something better than this world.
The emergence of the alt-right is evidence enough that the internet by itself has little to no impact on making us better people, or opening our minds, whatever that means anymore (I’m not sure that it ever meant anything). In fact, since when does the possibility of talking to more people make anyone more open-minded? As if close-mindedness, ignorance, bigotry and racism were the symptoms of “anti-social behavior” (using the classic stalinist terminology), of not wanting to participate in the dull ritualism of modern urban life. Or as if participation in the community, or partaking of civic behavior, or being part of any of these modern abstract collectivities made the individual into a tolerant, educated, open-minded, friendly person. We’ve seen how mass politics destroys the individual, how it subsumes him into the glass house of “community” and all its fascistic overtones, how mass participation is one of the chief carriages of all the brutalities that have followed it: the gulag, the extermination camp, secret police coming up in the quiet of the night, cracking skulls.
This is one the chief illusions of modernity, and a cornerstone in liberal thought that reaches back to Locke’s contractualism: that closed-off, fortressed individuals could come together out of the blue and create some kind of shared life out of a mathematical, contractual combination of their desires and dreams (which is, in some mutation, the basis for stifled multicultural “tolerance”), that simple participation in the sustaining of the mass sacrifices that hold up the temples of surplus-value entails friendliness, that voting is the same thing as coming together and talking, that going on-line and writing “I’m against this!”, or critiquing this, or sharing petitions against that is somehow a viable substitute for fighting with friends and strangers against a common existence, that simply living close to one another, materially but not spiritually, or sharing the belief in equality and rights, or living under the boot of police but never fighting back because we all belong to the same Nation, or City, or Socialist State, entailed something akin to living together, of weaving existences together to the point that the individuals enmeshed in them could not conceive of themselves as separable.