reactionaryism

titleknown  asked:

What do you think is the reason nerd culture has become such a hotbed for reactionaryism? Do you agree at all with my suspicion that, along with the combination toxic-masculinity/persecution-complex/thought-policing that everybody else has talked about, it may also be due to the Social Justice Left's playing "strange bedfellows" with the right in attempts to censor "nerd" media (The most prominent example being Fredrick Wertham) creating a mutual distrust between SJ & mainline nerdery?

Arthur Chu explained it perfectly last year:

I’ve known about the “neoreactionaries” a lot longer, before they were given that name—back when they were just teenagers on the Internet, like me, furious that there were people less intelligent than us who dared tell us what to do.

I never bought into the ideology fully, but I understand its appeal. The vast majority of nerds don’t take it as far as neoreactionaries and decide every single thing about the pre-modern world—hereditary aristocracy, racism, sexism, the whole shebang—needs to come back.

Mostly what you get is people who vaguely identify as “libertarians” who dislike “political correctness” and being forced to pay taxes. And the vast majority of annoying Slashdot libertarians who campaigned for Ron Paul and against Obamacare have no idea who Moldbug is, and the ones who are aware of him tend to be decent enough to get turned off once the defenses of white supremacism begin.

But every social trend has its extremist leading edge. Most libertarians I know are not racists, but libertarian icon Ron Paul certainly had more than his fair share of pandering to racists when building his political base, and the pot-smoking free-love libertarians of Silicon Valley are often unaware how reactionary their political bedfellows are…

And then there’s Justine Tunney, “co-founder of Occupy,” proud Google employee and self-declared defender of the tech elite.

Tunney does not just flirt with neoreactionary ideology, the way self-congratulatory “open-minded iconoclasts” like me did in high school and college. She goes full throttle in her embrace of it, doubles down on it, rejects every “politically correct” rejection of sexism or racism or classism that define the modern world.

She makes bold statements that IQ, law-abiding or -breaking tendencies and political alignment are all genetically determined. That Silicon Valley is moving away from capitalism toward feudalism, with tech CEOs as feudal lords, and this is a good thing. And, in the biggest headline-maker, she submitted a Change.org petition that President Obama should step down and appoint Eric Schmidt as unelected CEO of America, because Google is clearly better run than the government.

On some level, yes, this is just one individual story of crankery. Like many young activists, Tunney took on an unpaid volunteer role in a movement she thought would change the world, got burned out and upset with her fellow activists, and ended up spitefully turning on everything she once stood for. Like many outsized Internet personalities, she thrives on negative attention and is probably intentionally exaggerating her beliefs for clicks.

But Justine Tunney is not just an isolated anomaly. She’s the leading, crankish edge of a broad cultural trend. Justine Tunney is a troll, sure, and she’s not successful enough an example of her class to have lawyers and PR people to tell her to shut up. What that means is she’s willing to express, out loud and in public, what a lot of techies privately think…

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, wrote a famous 2009 essay bemoaning women’s suffrage and saying “I no longer believe freedom and democracy are compatible.” Valley VC Tim Draper, right now, is demanding that the state of California be broken up into six states, so Silicon Valley won’t have to share a government or tax revenue with poor non-techies. And every day we hear another story about a tech company deciding rules don’t apply to them, whether it’s Airbnb and zoning rules or Apple and Google and wage-fixing rules or Aereo and FCC rules.

Nerds tend to talk a big game about standing up for the underdog but, I’m sorry to say, don’t seem to really want a leveling of society, a removal of hierarchies. They bristle against hierarchies of physical strength, of inherited capital, and of “popularity”—but only because those get in the way of a hierarchy of book smarts and technical skill, which is the right and proper hierarchy. The creepy nerd fantasy that remains alive and well in today’s Age of the Nerd Triumphant is not of making peace with the popular kids but taking their throne.

In Tunney’s case, the early warning sign was in January 2014, just before the big Twitter hijacking debacle, when she wrote a blog rant blasting fellow OccupierJustin Wedes for saying that Facebook should be paying dividends to its users—who create all of its actual content, and hence its value—and that they didn’t made them parasitic the same way financiers are on productive companies.

Calling capitalist ownership parasitism is an extreme position, perhaps, but one common enough among Occupiers. What drove Tunney nuts wasn’t the claim that capitalists were parasites but the application of this argument to tech companies. She starts with “This is a very problematic argument to make because it dismisses the labor of software engineers such as myself. Tread carefully if you go there, because you’ll be treading on my pride as a worker,” then goes on to blast Wall Street at length for being monsters and evil but in the same breath defend Mark Zuckerberg as being in a completely different category from the bad kind of capitalist.

Facebook, Google, Amazon and every other creepy company busy turning you into a data point to sell to advertisers—these are, in her words, “the greatest problem solvers in human history,” and to even compare them to those other kinds of rich people is base slander.

This solves the grand mystery, why someone who had such a closeted admiration for hierarchy and power would be a founding member of Occupy in the first place. Tunney was never against the one percent—she just thought that the one percent were the wrong people. The problem was they were tie-wearing investment banker fratboys and didn’t deserve to be on top. Just like in her view government fat cats and Hollywood celebrities and snooty academics don’t deserve to be on top. But tech geeks, with their superhuman ability to manipulate ones and zeroes, do.

Bolding mine.

I like digging at people and being a punk in the classroom or office. And throughout uni and grad school, one fun target for me was The Morrissey Fan. Confront your Smiths and Morrissey fan with the blatant white reactionaryism in Morrissey’s style (never mind what he’s actually said), and you’ll get all kinds of excuses. I really enjoyed reading this Quietus essay because the publication’s fanbase needs this bit of education. From the previously linked Quietus essay:

Cut to 2016. Against a background of post-Brexit tensions Morrissey has yet again invited contempt for his serial views regarding race and ethnicity. Last week, he said that London’s first Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan “eats Halal butchered beings and talks so quickly that people don’t understand him… and that suits the British media perfectly.” Pop’s own Prince Phillip is no stranger to such remarks, in the past speculating on whether the Chinese are a “sub-species” and complaining that “the gates are flooded and anybody can have access to England and join in.”. All of these are given as signs of the degeneration of a once-radical figure, but right from the outset, Morrissey and The Smiths represented a fatally reactionary moment in British pop culture - a severing of punk and post-punk’s honourable links with black musics. They were here to reject colour in every respect, be it the gaudy, neon-lit backdrop of Top Of The Pops against which Morrissey wanly cavorted, or the colourisation of indie afforded by its embrace of dance music and reggae. Their wistful cover artwork, harking back to popular icons of the 50s and early 60s, were redolent of a time when black people had a near-zero cultural imprint on the British consciousness, unless you counted the hugely, inexplicably popular The Black And White Minstrel Show. This was explicit, as well as implicit. Morrissey spoke of a conspiracy to promote black music in the British charts, while opining that reggae was “vile”.

I am happily a "faggot foreigner"

This morning an angry white man in a Toyota raged at me on 94W/90W. I don’t understand Chicago drivers using the shoulder to aggro-pass traffic during rush hour. This guy attempted to force me to move a little into the middle lane to permit him a chance to use the small shoulder to pass on the right. I wasn’t paying attention, and I have to admit that I wouldn’t have moved into the other lane anyway. My window was down, and I was zoned into the traffic and talk radio. The sour guy forced his way into the middle lane and next to me. He rolled down his window, swung his car close to mine, and screamed at me.

I ignored him the best I could, and it didn’t take too long for him to realize he couldn’t provoke me. You all know what angry white guys do when they’re ignored by other white men, right? He called me an ignorant faggot. But he added to the typical abuse. He yelled, “Go home, you ignorant, faggot foreigner!” He screamed it several times: “faggot, you faggot foreigner!” In the US, boys and men expect homophobia to enter discourse when confronting other, angry men. It’s the hallmark of frustrated masculinity. I guess, this “foreigner” modified by “faggot” is supposed to be some sort of amplified insult. It’s very weak tea and not at all scary, unlike the Rav4 he was using as a weapon.

I don’t get the “foreigner” tag. I do get I’ve only been back home for three weeks. During this short span, I’ve noticed in public space and discourse that I’m sensitive and acutely tuned-in to white people talking about others as foreign(er). I hear it everywhere I go. This isn’t a US problem, by the way. The haters in France received an almost legitimizing 20% in this week’s elections. The right wing in nations where the white majority is slowly but steadily eroding has become a safe place for the racist rhetoric in white political discourse. Conservative white discourse has largely embraced impotent, reactionary political rhetoric.

My safe driving, a decision to follow traffic until my desired exit without risking accident, becomes an opportunity for an angry reactionary to insult me as “one of them”. This them, between two assumed straight white men, used to be homosexuals. Is it becoming simply to be other? After all, the other is a fluid category for those who cannot or who refuse to assimilate to the demands of white men and their business. (And it’s not really ironic, certainly not humorous, that conservative white men love to violently eroticize their slurs betraying their tea room and down-low behavior that is more often being discovered as surveilance provides more clues to what many of these men forcibly repress within reactionary and regressive white masculinity.)

Praise and I have noticed how diverse the US is. Korea is many things, but not diverse. But I still benefited from unearned privilege in Korea. In Korea, privileged foreigners are left alone as long as their labor is valuable and can leave when it no longer is valued (unlike the many oppressed foreigners who are brought to Korea to work in poor conditions and for little pay.) Korea might be the most vigorously-opposed-to-diversity place I’ve visited. The US is diverse. Upon returning, it’s impossible not see it. On the other hand, it’s also impossible to ignore the passive and aggressive inequalities that are insisted upon in public discourse and behavior by a frightened and frustrated, dwindling and conservative, white majority that enjoys illustrating itself as democratic and liberal, if not wholeheartedly progressive.

I will gladly remain a faggot foreigner if this is the case, thank you.

dagNotes: Ohio's legislature votes to defund Planned Parenthood

The problem with the United States isn’t that it’s a country full of ignorant, violent, women-hating, racist hicks. It’s most certainly not. The problem is that the US majority is so comfortable in its relative privileges that it consistently permits the ignorant, violent, women-hating, racist hicks to make all the important decisions.

(From Ohio)

The reactionaryism in this election highlights a rather keen American self-centeredness that fuels a harmful ignorance about the United States’ relationship with the world. Trump primarily represents a formless and racist nationalist interest. The interest is white, patriarchal, capitalist. The signified is mere affiliation. Unfortunately, investing in an affiliation leaves us without agency other than to identify. I believe this is why many of us feel so helpless right now, in spite of the social reality that the United States has been heading to this moment for some time. Being against is not organizing to offer something in place of the undesired. And being against Trump certainly wasn’t going to be enough to elect Clinton.

Toward the end of the Reconstruction era, something very significant happened. That is what was known as the Populist Movement. The leaders of this movement began awakening the poor white masses and the former Negro slaves to the fact that they were being fleeced by the emerging Bourbon interests. Not only that, but they began uniting the Negro and white masses into a voting bloc that threatened to drive the Bourbon interests from the command posts of political power in the South.

To meet this threat, the southern aristocracy began immediately to engineer this development of a segregated society. I want you to follow me through here because this is very important to see the roots of racism and the denial of the right to vote. Through their control of mass media, they revised the doctrine of white supremacy. They saturated the thinking of the poor white masses with it, thus clouding their minds to the real issue involved in the Populist Movement. They then directed the placement on the books of the South of laws that made it a crime for Negroes and whites to come together as equals at any level. And that did it. That crippled and eventually destroyed the Populist Movement of the nineteenth century.

If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. He gave him Jim Crow. And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man. And he ate Jim Crow. And when his undernourished children cried out for the necessities that his low wages could not provide, he showed them the Jim Crow signs on the buses and in the stores, on the streets and in the public buildings. And his children, too, learned to feed upon Jim Crow, their last outpost of psychological oblivion.

— 

Martin Luther King, Jr, from his speech in Montgomery after the march from Selma

so apropos these days with all the white reactionaryism we see day after day in local and national politics, not only in the US, but in UK and Europe. King addressed US Reconstruction and Jim Crow era in particular, but the psychological class warfare is standard white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.