Notes on a farce

Forgive the interruption between my inquiry on Revolutionary Demonology, but it seems there’s been a nuisance coming my way. Suffice it say that, it is quite incredible to see what lengths some people will go to in order to keep other people’s mouths shut. Last month, I wrote an article about a small Italian Theistic Satanist organisation called the Union of Italian Satanists (or, Unione Satanisti Italiani), in which I analysed their philosophy as best I could, and discussed its relationship to the ideology of National Socialism. It would seem that, since then, the leader of the USI, Jennifer Crepuscolo (or rather Jennifer Mezzatta), has discovered that article, and is none too happy about what I have said. In fact, she sent a message to the Facebook page of this website to say this:

Hi Aleph.

Your article on Unione Satanisti Italiani is dishonest and leads to slander. Precisely for this reason we’re evaluating with our law firm to proceed with a lawsuit against you. We hope that in the future you will be more careful about making unfounded accusations. You should have read more about us before writing such slanders. We are open to discussion but we do not like those who try to cleverly reinterpret our contents with malice.

Since you chose to wrongfully assault us, if we have any other contact between us, it will likely be through the law.

Best regards.

JC

For posterity, here is the same message in a screenshot taken from the messages of my blog’s Facebook page:

“Best regards”? Yes I suppose that is the polite way to conclude a message in which you accuse me of “assault”. But observe the utter folly of what Jennifer is saying. Her objection is that my article is “dishonest” and “leads to slander”, and that for this reason she thinks she can intimidate me with groundless threats of litigation. Take stock of this: I am not even primarily being accused of slander, I am being accused of writing things that “could lead to slander”. How exaclty do you intend to prove that? And just how can you charge someone on the basis that you think what they said “could lead to slander”? Do you not see how legally absurd that is on its own, let alone the idea of hashing that out internationally?

As long as we’re focusing on the “dishonesty” canard, I intend to talk about many things I discussed in the original article, but I would also point out that Jennifer Mezzetta’s Facebook bio contains the words “Onore a Satana, il Dio Gentile dell’Anima”, or, “Honor to Satan, the Gentile God of the Soul”.

I don’t know how anyone thinks they can beat any allegations of Nazism when they openly and publicly refer to their version of the Satan they worship as “the Gentile God”. Remember that the USI also talks on their website about Jewish influences being a corruption of Satanism. In this context especially, “Gentile” is a dogwhistle being used by non-Jews, or more specifically by white non-Jews, define themselves in active contradistinction to Jewishness.

Jennifer seems keen enough to talk about “slander”. But slander is only slander if I am wrong and have made up everything that the USI website says from whole cloth. I contend that I am not wrong, and that the USI cannot prove that I am inventing its own words, let alone drag me from my home country just for a case that they don’t have and which would be dismissed. And just to underscore all of this, let’s focus on the parts where I talk about the particularly objectionable highlights of the USI’s website. We will present screenshots of these highlights, with the Italian and English language versions side by side, in that order, for maximum posterity.

This will be a systematic overview of the antisemitism and Nazi alignment of the USI, focusing largely on material I already covered, and more. These are, in large part, Jennifer’s own words, in that most of the articles being discussed have been written by Jennifer Creposcolo. We will also cover a few articles written by a USI member named Mandy Lord. Any accusation of “slander” will have to prove that they are not her own words. I maintain that this would be impossible, because they are clearly their words. This will not be terribly exhaustive, at least not compared to the entire breadth of the USI website, the totality of which I will not be covering. But I will cover much of what I have already discussed in my original article, which should also be enough to encapsulate the ideological content of the Union of Italian Satanists, in their own words.

Now, just bearing in mind. I am not entirely fluent on the Italian language. I have certain aspirations to effect, of course, but for the purpose of covering this article I am relying on available translations, which are of course provided as an option within the website via my browser. All English screenshots come from a Google-provided translation, which I am reasonably confident is not inaccurate, especially since I have not been made aware of any translation errors by anyone, especially not Jennifer Creposcolo.

The “God of the Gentiles” and Antisemitic Screeds About Jewish Mysticism

To start with, let’s refer to their pages on “Original Satanism” where they discuss Jewish mysticism as blasphemous, decry modern Satanist movements by accusing them of “Judaizing” Satanism, and assert that atheism is a product of “Jewish influence”. But first things first let’s just get one point out of the way right now: the fact that they refer to Satan as “God of the Gentiles”. That is what Jennifer says for instance in “What is Satanism really?” and it will be fairly important as a cornerstone of the USI’s philosophy.

Now, let’s see them talk about Jewish mysticism and the “Judaization” of Satanism. In “Cult of Origins”, Jennifer can be seen accusing other Satanists of being “slaves of the Jewish preconception” by accepting the etymology of Satan as meaning “Adversary”.

And here, in the same article, Jennifer writes that Satanic intiation centers around the “Satanist”‘s self-declaration of their “Gentile nature” and that the “Gentile” is centered around both their roots and the evolution of their “spiritual race”.

Immediately after this, Jennifer describes Jewish mysticism as “blasphemy”, again seemingly without a shred of irony or self-awareness, and accuses it of being “violent” and “opportunistic”.

There is much more antisemitism and Nazi ideology in this page alone right below this paragraph. Here, for instance, Jennifer refers to the awakening of “Gentile Memory”, and thereby a return to “our blood” (as in, the “blood of the Gentiles”), as the goal of her particular system of “Original Satanism”.

And afterwards, Jennifer goes on to refer to Jews as “historical criminals” who “corrupt” and “distort” the “Gentile” in various ways. For some reason the English translation seems to repeat the last few sentences.

Jennifer’s Nazi-esque Definition of Satanism

Moving on from this page, let’s briefly, and just as an aside, refer to this fairly colourful paragraph from the page “Define Yourself As Satanist”, in which we can see familiar fascist rhetoric about sex and gender identity that is used to justify transphobia, itself couched in a concept of “rootlessness” that is inherently tied to white identiarianism and antisemitism (the concept of “rootless cosmopolitans” as an antisemitic reference to Jews).

In their page “Etymology of the name Satan”, Jennifer refers to Satanists as the purest form of the “Gentile” while accusing Jewish people of racism towards non-Jews. It is important to note that here Jennifer incorrectly asserts that the Hebrew word “goyim” means “cattle”. The word “goy” actually means “nation”, not “cattle”, while in the Biblical context the word “goyim” often referred simply to the various non-Israelite nations.

Here of course we also see Jennifer establish a Sanskrit etymology by way of the words “Sat” and “Nam” as what she claims to be the “true” etymology of Satan, as opposed to the Hebrew etymology. There is of course no basis to any of this, and in fact it is an idea strongly associated with neo-Nazis such as the Joy of Satan group. I suspect that it was originally invented by Kerry Bolton, a white supremacist fascist who spent the 1990s spreading neo-Nazi interpretations of Satanism, neopaganism, and Thelema to various subcultural movements (such as black metal and industrial music) before eventually converting to Christianity.

There is an entire section dedicated to the etymology of the word “Aryan”, which the USI claims does not influence their philosophy in way, though it is also full of defenses of Nazi iconography as ancient and therefore legitimate symbology. Note that Jennifer also personally connects the mythology of Aryans and Hyperboreans to her own views the divine origins of the “Satanids” as linked to the lineage of the Nephilim and therefore the Fallen and Satan, which, contrary to what Jennifer says otherwise, establishes a credible ideological link between the concept of “Aryans” and her philosophy.

And, once again, at the end of this page, Jennifer once again links the religious identity of the “Satanist” with the racial identity of the “Gentile”.

Racist Nazi-esque Ramblings About “Satanid Nature”

Next, let’s refer to the article “Satanid Nature”. Here, we see Jennifer assert that the Jews made their pact with Yahweh because they wanted revenge and conquest and this is the cause of a progressive civilizational decline. She also seems to contrast this with the example of Jesus and his refusal of the temptations of Satan.

It is in this same page that Jennifer, who calls herself a “Satanist”, lauds the figure of Jesus Christ as a personifiction of “the Gentile spirit” as supposedly represented by ancient pre-Christian gods and by Satan. This idea clearly echoes Nazi ideology, which portrayed Jesus as an “Aryan” German god or hero instead of being Jewish.

Jennifer also seems to refer to the idea of a link between Satan and “wanton materialism” as the product of “Judeo-Christian corruption”. This opinion reflects a Nazi belief that materialism is Jewish in origin and thereby a corruption of the “Aryan” spirit.

And here, Jennifer accuses modern American Satanists of trying to “Judaize” Satanism, and thereby make it more “plebeian”, “lifeless”, and atheistic. Again, this presents the idea that atheism is a Jewish product, which is both inherently antisemitic in that it positions atheism as a form of corruption and a major component of Nazi ideology, in which the main opponent “Jewish materialism” is presented in opposition to “Aryan” idealism.

Blatant Neo-Nazism

Now let’s turn to the page titled “The Way of Signs”, which features a discussion of the “black sun” alongside an image of the Nazi Sonnenrad symbol, which was invented for use by Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS, as the insignia for Wewelsburg Castle.

Next let’s refer to their page about Lucifer, or “Luciferus”, written by Mandy Lord. This page contains multiple expressions of antisemitism and Nazi ideology. For example, Mandy almost dismisses a source because it was Jewish, and then proceeds to quote Otto Rahn, a Nazi Ariosophist who was also literally an Obersturmführer in the SS.

Later in the same page, Mandy quotes Miguel Serrano, a neo-Nazi occultist and proponent of a system referred to as Esoteric Hitlerism, before describing contemporary Christianity as “totally Judaicized” in contrast to its “Gentile origins”.

Jennifer’s Remarks on National Socialism

An important source of concern would be Jennifer’s “Joy of Satan Analysis”. First of all, let’s note that even Jennifer’s supposed criticism of Joy of Satan’s antisemitism also consists in the objection that she thinks that they are too Jewish. I’m not kidding around: Jennifer critcises Joy of Satan for having a “Jewish mentality”, even in their antisemitism. This “Jewish mentality” appears to simply consist of summoning demons in order to fulfill material needs, which is again based on the Nazi belief that materialism is a “Jewish corruption”.

And then, of course, there is in the same page Jennifer’s defense of National Socialism, which she seems to regard as fundamentally moral, noble, and ethical in substance.

The “Kabbalah” of Mandy Lord

In the page “Occult History”, Mandy Lord claims that Kabbalah is actually a non-Jewish system of mysticism that belonged to “the Arii” and came from Satan and his demons. Mandy also claims that there is an Egyptian Kabbalah, called “Ka Ba Ankh”, and a “true runic Kabbalah” practiced by the Druids, in contrast to Jewish Kabbalah. This idea is very similar to an idea from the Austrian volkisch mystic Guido von List, who claimed that the Kabbalah was originally invented by German “Aryans” rather than Jews.

Jennifer’s Views on “The Illuminati” (Somehow Even More Antisemitic!)

In an article titled “Are The Illuminati Satanists? But Also Not!”, Jennifer runs through a litany of antisemitic tropes about Jews while discussing the Illuminati. For example, early on she falsely claims that Adam Weishaupt, the founder of the Bavarian Illuminati, was the son of a Jewish rabbi and supported by the Rothschild family. Adam Weishaupt’s father was a man named Johann Georg Weishaupt, who was in fact a lawyer and a professor of law at the University of Ingolstadt, and there is no record of him ever having been a rabbi or of him having been Jewish.

Later, Jennifer talks about the so-called “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” in an incredibly apologetic manner. She claims that it is not possible to know if “Protocols” was written by Jewish authors, claims that its content is being proven true “before our eyes”, and brings up verses from the Talmud that supposedly justify the book’s contents. I need to stress that this is blatant antisemitism.

There is also this take from Jennifer in the same article, which is once again a familiar element of fascist conspiracy theories, naturally latent with antisemitism. Basically she’s asserting that the Illuminati want to eliminate traditional gender roles and biological sex or all that stuff in order to somehow control society.

Of course this also comes with a standard ethnonationalist argument.

Jennifer again explicitly ties “the Illuminati” to Jews and asserts that they are aligned to Yahweh as the “God of Israel” and want to destroy all cultures that are not Jewish.

Jennifer puts forward an argument that Jews cannot be Satanists because Jews are “the Sons of Yahweh” and Satanists are “the Sons of Satan”. This is Jennifer arguing that Jews, because of their race, cannot be Satanists, and conversely that Satanists are Satanists because of their race. It is a racialist argument, and in this sense is antisemitic.

In the same article, Jennifer also defends ancient Roman colonialism by saying that the white colonialism was bad specifically because the white colonialists and slavers in question were “Judeo-Christian”. This is effectively blaming Jews for the enslavement of African-Americans and the systematic genocide of native Amerindians by white colonialists.

The Racial Mission of the Union of Italian Satanists

Finally, the mission of the USI, as outlined in “Presentation of Italian Satanists Union”, consists of three objectives. The third objective is “Restore Satanic Identity”. In the article, Jennifer establishes that the goal of the USI is to activate what she believes to be the racial consciousness of “the Gentiles” and that to be a Satanist you have to be born a Satanist as if genetically, and hence ethnically or racially.

In Closing

I think that I have shown more than enough at this point. The website itself has much more content within it, but this was about demonstrating that what I have said to be the words of the USI are in fact the words of the USI. I would ask again: would anyone be able to prove that I am fabricating these words, and that this is not what Jennifer and the USI have said? What basis could there be for any claim of “dishonesty” or the potential to “lead to slander”, let alone “assault”? These are Jennifer’s own words, as well as those of Mandy Lord where applicable.

Being that there is little point in discussing any supposed case, let us simply summarize what USI say in their own words. We are talking about an organisation whose “Original Satanism” appears to be based on a racial ideology built around the idea “recovering” the “genetic memory” of the “Gentiles”. There is a heavy emphasis on “de-Judaicizing” Satanism, which entails reinterpreting Satan as a “Gentile” god of truth, soul, origin, and the divine order rather than The Adversary, Kabbalah as “Gentile” mysticism, and even Jesus as a “Gentile” hero who only opposed the Jewish Satan rather than the “Gentile” Satan, all of which mirror the Nazi ideology of “Positive Christianity”, whose volkisch interpretation of Christianity meant bracketing out everything the Nazis deemed to be Jewish “corruption”. The USI website contains defenses of the ideology of National Socialism and also features quotes from Nazi and neo-Nazi esotericists. Antisemitism is pervasive in the USI writings, sometimes more subtly and sometimes quite blatantly, as an effect of their racial ideology, even to the point that they can’t criticise antisemitism in others without also expressing their own antisemitism. The “noble Gentile spirit” is positioned in opposition to Jews and “Judeo-Christianity”, Christianity is described as an originally “Gentile” faith that they deem totally “corrupted” by Judaism, and antisemitic conspiracy theories form a major part of the USI’s opposition to both Judaism and Christianity. In short, USI an organisation that promotes an ethnofascist ideology strongly aligned with National Socialism. Based on the mateiral available this is an open and shut matter of fact.

For additional posterity, I will provide archived links below to each article being referred to here, to remove any last shred of doubt without requiring you to provide traffic to their website. The archived links, however, will only show the pages in Italian. However, it should be evident that these are the same pages contained within the screenshots.


“What is Satanism really?”: https://archive.is/tdstl

“Cult of Origins”: https://archive.is/RmUZ1

“Define Yourself As Satanist”: https://archive.is/vs1Ls

“Etymology of the Name Satan”: https://archive.is/OsIaR

“Satanid Nature”: https://archive.is/ks4wL

“The Way of Signs”: https://archive.is/1RK8R

“Luciferus”: https://archive.is/QyJhX

“Joy of Satan Analysis”: https://archive.is/UATw6

“Occult History”: https://archive.is/MQ3Ag

“Are The Illuminati Satanists? But Also Not!”: https://archive.is/9XQ6f

“Presentation of Italian Satanists Union”: https://archive.is/4woyb

The Satanic Temple gets owned

The hits just keep on coming for the start of 2023. First Andrew Tate gets arrested because he decided to tip himself off to Romanian authorities, then Benedict XVI dies, and now The Satanic Temple has once again lost their primary case against the Queer Satanic collective.

Yesterday, the United States District Court for the State of Washington in Seattle granted a motion to dismiss the claims made by The Satanic Temple, and its parent LLC the United Federation of Churches, against four queer Satanist activists collectively referred to as Queer Satanic. This is apparently the second time in the entire history of The Satanic Temple’s three year legal campaign against Queer Satanic where TST has had their case dismissed in court, which certainly does not bode well for TST’s attempts to silence their critics or their larger litigation record. In 2020, the United Federation of Churches and the leadership of The Satanic Temple accused the Queer Satanic activists of taking over their social media for the purpose of defamation as well as absurd charges of cyberpiracy, computer hacking, unfair competition, and tortious interference with business expetancy, and served them papers for a lawsuit. The case was originally dismissed in court in 2021, but TST re-filed it in order to finanically drain the defendants, no doubt hoping to demoralize them into submission. I would expect that these efforts have failed, at least for now. It remains to be seen what The Satanic Temple will do next.

The documented court ruling outlines that the plaintiff’s case was lacking in numerous regards. The US District Court seems to more or less accept the defendant’s argument that the case lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, which would necessarily mean the case being dismissed, as well as noting the absence of facts establishing an amount in controversy that would be required for the case. In simple terms, TST’s case was dismissed because it appeared to consist of nothing.

This ruling constitutes a major defeat for The Satanic Temple in that they had hoped to suppress activist dissent against the organisation. Indeed, it would add another failure to their long list of failures, which I will present below for reference:

This is the most recent databse for TST lawsuits and their various outcomes, as compiled by The Satanic Wiki and presented by @QueerSatanic on Twitter on December 2nd 2022.

I can already see, however, that this case is not getting much coverage. There has been no media coverage of this court ruling and its outcome for TST. The most recent media coverage of The Satanic Temple that I can see is an article from The Guardian, written by Adam Gabbatt, which largely lionizes The Satanic Temple and its official leader Douglas Misicko (or rather “Lucien Greaves” as he prefers to be called) as fighters against the religious right – no mention is given, of course, to Douglas’ public defense of Church Militant. The Satanic Temple itself appears to have no comment on the latest court ruling, and the same appears to go for their leadership and membership. It would seem that TST’s supporters can do nothing but sit in silence at this failure. Or perhaps they will regard it as a minor incident, irrelevant to the broader mission and priorities of the Temple. It would be a weak position, though, in view of how the “larger priorities” have been shaping up for them. The media is no doubt uninterested in this case, perhaps because it does not matter to them or perhaps because it interferes with the progressive reputation they mean to construct around The Satanic Temple as a pre-eminent countercultural adversary to American conservatism. Perhaps the Temple itself will continue to try and extend their SLAPP suit after dismissal, just as they had before, or perhaps they will find themselves facing the upper limit of their legal options before long.

But regardless, this remains an important victory against The Satanic Temple for queer, anti-fascist activists that have been fighting against the SLAPP suit. The Satanic Temple cannot maintain its litigious campaing forever, and the financial drain has clearly not destroyed the cause, as Queer Satanic continues to raise the funds necessary to continue fighting TST’s campaign against them. Freedom of speech has been upheld. TST’s case remains decrepit and stands in ruins while their hypocrisy lay bare, though perhaps a sympathetic media might see to it that this last part remain obfuscated.

The struggle against oppression can never truly be defeated, and it is without end. The minions of the Demiurge who impersonate the legacy of Satanism will not win, and will either be scattered to the wind or collapse on their own. The black flame will continue to burn in spite of The Satanic Temple, while the fighters of the black flame forever persevere.

Hail Satan


While you’re here consider reading the following:

United Federation of Churches LLC v. Johnson, Order on Motion for Preliminary Injunction AND Order on Motion to Dismiss — Document #48: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17042463/48/united-federation-of-churches-llc-v-johnson/

The article on The Satanic Temple in The Satanic Wiki, which features a live database on their court cases: https://the.satanic.wiki/index.php?title=The_Satanic_Temple#Lawsuits

World Order: An inquiry on global reaction in the digital age

I have memories of those days when it appeared to people on the internet that a new counterculture was emerging from the Right. It sounds ridiculous when you take into account the fact that lots of the mainstream media says most of the same things they do, but people think about things like chan boards and assume that their brand of toxic far-right politics is some kind of underground counterculture, some resistance to mainstream values. What if I were to tell you that this was all bullshit from the start? What if far from some underground counterculture all of that was actually a manufactured, controlled environment that was created from the start by powerful right-wing establishments as vehicles of authoritarian culture through which to spread right-wing reaction? And what if I told you there’s more, that this itself is part of a global system of social reaction which serves to maintain oppression and social domination across the world? That’s what I aim to show you in this article, through an exposition of World Order as it exists.

How The Japanese Government Engineered A New Right-Wing Internet Culture

The main place to start would be the chan forums. 4chan and 8chan are fairly notorious in their own right, sometimes looked upon as supposed havens of freedom of speech, and places were an assortment of online reactionaries, deep in their utter ressentiment, organise harassment campaigns or even attacks on, well, just about anyone they happen to dislike, which can tend to include online progressives and people from historically marginalized communities. They have also been used as channels for spreading white supremacist manifestos and propaganda, including texts written by perpetrators of mass shootings. They were also the initial base of operations for the harassment campaign/failed “consumer revolt” that was dubbed “GamerGate”, and people have gone on to become convinced of white supremacist ideology there before committing acts of mass murder in its name; they were even among the many websites where right-wing insurrectionists planned the storming of the Capitol Building on January 6th 2021 as well as a home for the fascist QAnon movement. Another website, the recently-terminated Kiwifarms, spun-off from 8chan and was explicitly set up as a place to anonymously harass, dox and threaten LGBTQ people and non-neurotypical people to enforce violent bigotry against them. All of these websites have, in their own way, played a role in the growth of right-wing politics in the 21st century so far, including getting the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign to share memes from them.

Now, where am I going with this? 8chan was created in 2013 by Fredrick Brennan and modelled after 4chan as a more “free speech” alternative to 4chan. 4chan was created in 2003 by Christopher Poole, who was inspired by and used open source code from a Japanese imageboard website called Futaba Channel (a.k.a. 2chan). Futaba Channel, in turn, was created in 2001 supposedly as a refuge for users of another website called 2channel, back when said users feared that 2channel was in danger of shutting down. 2channel was created in 1999 by Hiroyuki Nishimura, who many people in the “West” may know as the man who bought 4chan from Christopher Poole in 2015 and is now still currently its administrator. As you can see, there’s something of a creative lineage with these websites that goes back to 2channel. Why is that important? Because 2channel itself, and its creator, may in fact be tied to the Japanese political establishment; more specifically, the Liberal Democratic Party.

Before we go any further, we really need to establish just who the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party are. If you’ve dipped your toes in Japanese politics, you probably know that they are currently the ruling political party in Japan, and have enjoyed basically consistent dominance in the Japanese general elections since 1958. When you hear the phrase “Liberal Democrats” in other contexts, such as in the United Kingdom, you probably think of people who want a modestly regulated form of market capitalism, meaning of course rudimentary public services and regulations coupled with expansive social rights all within the context of liberal capitalism. But that’s not really what the Japanese LDP are about. The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan is actually the main conservative party in Japan, fairly similar to the Tories in the UK or Canada or even the Republican Party in the United States of America. They have overseen the growth of a neoliberal capitalist economic order, marked by extensive privatisation, alongside forging close geopolitical and economic ties to the USA and imposing generally reactionary social policies. They are also staunchly nationalistic, known increasingly for its emphasis on “patriotic education” and efforts to “take back Japan” from the “Postwar Regime”, by which is meant the undoing of Japan’s postwar national identity in favour of militarisation and an identity closer to the pre-WW2 vision. In fact, many LDP politicians and even Prime Ministers, such as the late Shinzo Abe as well as Yoshihide Suga and Fumio Kishia, are members of an ultranationalist think tank called Nippon Kaigi, which contests or outright denies certain atrocities that Japan committed during World War 2. Given its illustrious membership, Nippon Kaigi thus emerges as one of the pillars of the Japanese political establishment, arguably equivalent to the role played by the Federalist Society in the American conservative establishment. For this reason, some argue that the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party could actually be considered a far-right movement, and not just part of one.

You might ask: so what does this have to do with 2channel? Well, there’s an article from the Japanese branch of Anonymous that talked about a split between 2channel’s ownership, and in the process discussed apparent links between the LDP and Japanese imageboards. In that article, we learn that 2channel was sponsored by a company called Hotlink through a man named Yuki Uchiyama, the president of Hotlink who was also Hiroyuki Nishimura’s business partner. Hotlink seems to have been a data company that had an exclusive contract with 2channel, under which Yuki Uchiyama would monitor and delete any negative threads and comments about its customers – a service that Hotlink apparently liked to brag about. Now, as it happens, one of Hotlink’s customers was the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan. The LDP hired Hotlink for its services for the 2013 House of Councillors election, and all the contracts and money went from the LDP to Hotlink and then in turn to 2channel and its then-owner Hiroyuki Nishimura. This may explain some observations that some of 2channel’s users have noted.

Much like its American cousins, 2channel was a website where right-wing ideology was fairly common, bigotry was prevalent, and users sometimes engaged in coordinated online attacks against political opponents. Opponents of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan have had their posts on 2channel removed under Hiroyuki Nishimura’s moderation, or, in the case of anti-nuclear activists such as Naoto Kan, they have faced defamation from LDP supporters probably on 2channel. In fact, it seems that 2channel and certain affiliated websites have manipulated Google search results in Japan in order to boost xenophobic nationalist propaganda against South Korea and Koreans, all under LDP direction. Users also seem to have noticed that attacks on such figures and redactions of critical posts all seem to have ceased after Hiroyuki Nishimura lost ownership of 2channel on February 19th 2014, when it was acquired by Jim Watkins.

Meanwhile, over the years Hiroyuki Nishimura has continued to maintain connections to the Japanese government. Nishimura had a business partnership with a telecommunications company called Dwango, which in turn was involved in the 4chan acquisition deal, featured Nishimura as a guest for a live election broadcast on Niconico, and is connected to LDP politicians and has had an affinity with Shinzo Abe and the LDP itself. In fact, the LDP Vice President Taro Aso was part of a correspondence course on politics run by Kadokawa Dwango Gakuen, while Shinzo Abe has appeared in Nico Nico Super Conferences organised by Dwango. In August of this year, Nishimura appeared in a PR video released by the Financial Services Agency, a state financial regulatory body, which has sparked some outrage on social media over his apparent failure to pay court-ordered compensation. The video shows him talking to Hideki Takada, an FSA director, about a tax exemption scheme among other things. Hiroyuki Nishimura also apparently has multiple connections to Japanese media companies, possibly owing to his status as a sort of media celebrity, including AbemaTV (where he has his own show), which, incidentally, is also somewhat connected to the LDP. According to a Japanese anti-fascist researcher named Mitsuwo, another network called TV Asahi has a 50% share in AbemaTV. TV Asahi is known to have some ties to Shinzo Abe, and is also known to have pulled a report which said that Abe was being questioned by prosecutors over possible violations of political funding laws. In 2021, Hiroyuki Nishimura was hired by Fukuoka City as a technical advisor for their digital innovation project, while later that year it seems he became a digital advisor for Yoshihide Suga, the then-Prime Minister of Japan. Just this year he became the corporate PR advisor to Fukuoka City.

Based on this it is clear that Hiroyuki Nishimura is more than an internet businessman. He’s also deeply connected to not only the tech bourgeoisie in Japan but also several figures of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, and is now a de jure employee of the Japanese government. What many on 2channel suspected and which Anonymous had more or less unraveled has more than proven true over the years, and for all intents and purposes Hiroyuki Nishimura is a fixture of the Japanese establishment. After creating 2channel Nishimura rose to prominence in the Japanese business world, where he made deals with the government to run 2channel to its liking, and in so doing he helped lay the foundations for a modern right-wing internet culture where mobs of online reactionaries engage in elaborate trolling campaigns against counter-reactionaries of any sort while upholding right-wing ideology and even hosting and disseminating white supremacist manifestos. For the Japanese government that could all have just been to reinforce an already existing controlled environment supported by complacence in the masses and self-censorship in the media, but on the internet, even though 2channel may ostensibly have been created with freedom of speech, it was run as its own controlled environment, and even without moderation or state oversight the descendants of 2channel have been doing their part to create controlled environments in their own space and the wider internet.

Jim Watkins and the QAnon Connection

A fairly important figure in all of this is Jim Watkins, the current owner of 2channel. For one thing, Jim Watkins is also currently the owner of 8chan, which is itself partnered with 2channel, having acquired the website from its creator in 2016. For another thing, Jim Watkins has had several ventures in both internet business and politics. In 1998, he created a US-based website called “Asian Bikini Bar”, which was later renamed N. T. Technologies, as a way to host pornography, particularly Japanese pornography, and also began selling web hosting to Japanese pornography websites so that they could circumvent legal censorship. From there, Jim Watkins became involved in several different business ventures, and in 2016 he began a right-wing media project called The Goldwater (named, of course, after Barry Goldwater), which was intended as the main news source for 8chan users. From what we can gather about its content, The Goldwater was sort of like if Breitbart were more enthusiastic about QAnon-style deep state and even PizzaGate conspiracy theories, effectively styled itself as sort of the “Charlie’s Angels” of right-wing news (they had videos hosted by Jim in secret agent garb and a team of Fillppina women), and all while ignoring “mainstream” social media in favour almost exclusively of 8chan.

Ironically, The Goldwater wasn’t actually too popular on 8chan, whose users derided it out of antisemitic prejudice regarding its “Jewish name”. But The Goldwater is not Jim Watkins’ only vehicle for conspiracist right-wing politics. 8chan itself was, under his ownership, a place where users would frequently spread memes and discussed far-right culture jamming in support of the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign, and over the years overt white supremacist propaganda would also frequently be distributed on 8chan. Jim Watkins himself even personally takes credit for the election of Donald Trump in 2016 at least through his website. Furthermore, Jim Watkins seems to have established himself as a major part of the QAnon movement, which, what a surprise, also finds widespread support within 8chan. In fact, there is some fairly credible (though still unconfirmed) speculation among experts that either Jim Watkins or his son Ron are the real identity behind the mysterious “Q”. As evidence, some suggest that the lack of content from “Q” after 8chan got shut down in August 2019, followed by the sudden return of “Q” three months later when 8chan went back online, indicates that “Q” was either Jim Watkins himself or connected to him. We might also consider Jim Watkins’ leaked connections to prominent members of the QAnon movement. Ron Watkins is himself a known QAnon and MAGA influencer, frequently peddling conspiracy theories with a particular focus on discredited claims of widespread election fraud.

Jim Watkins has also had some involvement with Kiwifarms, having provided infrastructure through a company called VanwaTech (which is owned by Nick Lim). He has also tried and seemingly failed to establish a right-wing super PAC called Disarm The Deep State, which was intended to bring Watkins into mainstream Republican politics by establishing financial ties to GOP candidates. As strange it may seem, though, he may have another major connection to the international right-wing movement. That connection is none other than Hiroyuki Nishimura – the same man he “stole” 2channel from.

Last year, Mitsuwo seems to have spotted something interesting regarding the surprising presence of the QAnon movement in Japan. Hiroyuki Nishimura appeared as the co-host of a conservative internet programme on AbemaTV. This programme also apparently featured numerous right-wing politicians as well as members of QArmyJapanFlynn (QAJF), which seems to be a Japanese branch of the QAnon movement. According to Mitsuwo, QAJF is operated by Jim and Ron Watkins. Watkins may have ties with the apparent leader of QAJF, a woman named Eri. Eri has also promoted Hiroyuki Nishimura and his AbemaTV show, and she claims that Jim Watkins and Hiroyuki Nishimura have recently exchanged information. The show ostensibly features QAJF members as the butt of a joke, but Nishimura also uses this to give them a platform, thus potentially seeking to normalize QAnon in Japan.

Incidentally, this connection is definitely not the only avenue through which the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party has connections to the American Right. There’s actually a Japanese branch of the Conservative Political Action Conference, which I’m sure you probably know as the biggest Republican Party conference in America. CPAC Japan was founded and first launched in 2017 by Jikido Aeba, the former leader of the Happy Science cult, in association with the American Conservative Union. Over the years it has been attended not only by American right-wing ideologues, but also by members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. These include Masahisa Sato (LDP member of the House of Councillors), Tomomi Inada (LDP member of the House of Representatives), Akari Amari (LDP member of the House of Representatives), Gen Nakatani (former Minister of Defense), and Takashi Nagao (LDP member of the House of Representatives). It has also been host to nationalist historical revisionists such as Genki Fujii, Kohyu Nishimura, Eitaro Ogawa, Takashi Arimoto (from the revisionist right-wing paper Sankei Shimbun), Tsutomu Nishioka, and none other than Jikido Aeba himself, all of whom seem to be particularly interested in trying to exonerate the Japanese army by denying that it practiced sexual slavery.

In broad terms, though, we can consider the possibility that Jim Watkins, even though he’s failed in many of his other ventures, he has been somewhat successful in establishing a network of neofascist internet politics that seems to be molding the American Right in its image, possibly threatening to replace US democracy with outright dictatorship in the process, and not to mention managing to spread it across the world. QAnon is not just in the USA and Japan. It has also been documented in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, Romania, and probably many more countries. Given Jim’s apparent continuing business with Hiroyuki Nishimura, and given how QAnon was likely built by Watkins and then spread there with Nishimura’s help, it’s worth speculating that QAnon is part of the next step in a larger project.

Ordered Liberty And How “Free Speech” Exists Within It

There’s a concept that I find relevant to all of this in some way. It may seem abstract, but there’s a thread that can be established. By “ordered liberty”, I’m mostly talking about a concept frequently referenced by Matthew MacManus in his critiques of Jordan Peterson. “Ordered liberty”, in this context, means a strand of conservative ideology which supports the institutions of democracy insofar as they remain embedded within the constraints of “traditional” values systems. MacManus refers to Jordan Peterson’s ideology as “ordered liberty conservatism”, but the thing is it could as well describe conservatism at large. “Ordered liberty” is an idea within the broader ideology of conservatism. In conservative circles, Edmund Burke is often regarded as an early champion of this idea, and his notion of “ordered liberty” refers to the idea that, for freedom to be legitimate as freedom, it must comport with the order of “natural law”, or a set of institutions deemed to reflect that order, or else it would become dangerous and evil.

I could get into how such an idea of liberty seems to be influential far beyond conservatism, and that even “leftists” tend to embrace Burkean concepts of freedom, civil society, and even human nature especially when arguing against individualism, but that’s not within the scope of this article. Instead let’s talk about how relevant it is to our overriding subject. After all, you’d think “ordered liberty” doesn’t even remotely describe the kind of internet that Nishimura, Watkins and the rest helped create. Especially not Watkins, who is known for a certain “hands-off” approach to illicit materials. But perhaps we could look at “ordered liberty” another way in order to make sense of it.

The conservative premise of “ordered liberty” tells us that freedom must exist within a definite social order defined by institutions in order to exist, and that any liberty that exists outside of this is not freedom but instead either “anarchy” or tyranny. In practice, this means that “freedom” in conservative terms is the condition of a controlled environment. Moral and political institutions set the boundaries of legitimate free action and even speech, whilst proscribing anything outside of that. In modern terms this is then recapitulated as the assertion of unmitigated liberty against restriction, and particularly when it comes to “freedom of speech”. The UK offers us a very illustrative example. Stop and wonder why the same party that sought to lead the way in online censorship is also presenting itself as the champion of freedom of speech, all the while even this itself is a call to academic censorship. Tories constantly accuse student bodies of being controlled environments that are supported by ruthless censorship of political opposition, while simultaneously, on this same justification, calling for restrictions on freedom of association in campus spaces, banning critical theory, and imposing restrictions on your right to protest. It must all seem like rank hypocrisy, but that’s “ordered liberty” in action, and “liberty” here is the range of choices allowed by the state.

So far, so what, though? Well let’s look at it this way. Nishimura definitely portrayed 2channel as sort of a free speech haven, where people could anonymously and therefore freely say things that could be deemed socially irresponsible. But 2channel under Nishimura’s ownership was still a controlled environment, run on behalf of the Japanese government, in which threads that opposed the government would be redacted, while right-wing mobs formed to defend the government from criticism and manipulate search engines to control what you see on the internet. “Free speech” in this setting is not freedom of speech as such. It is in fact a byword for a right-wing echo chamber, a controlled environment created in support of government interests.

The same thing applies to Twitter in its current state of ownership under Elon Musk. Like anyone else on the Right, Elon repeatedly invokes the “free speech” argument in support of his administration of Twitter. In fact he repeatedly positions his own idea of “free”, open, and “civil” discourse as the foundation of democracy and of civilization itself. Except that, where Elon is concerned, the discourse is always carefully controlled, and in fact, as I will soon lay out and as I’m sure many readers are probably aware, Elon now has more control over what you can say than ever. Not to mention, before owning Twitter, Elon has gone to ridiculous lengths to impose censorship on his critics. Examples include the time his company SpaceX fired several employees for demanding better working conditions, the time he tried to censor an online critic by taddling to his boss and later threatening to sue the critic, multiple instances of firing Tesla employees for unionizing, whistleblowing, or even just creating instructional videos, and on top of all that his attempts to get the Chinese government to block social media criticism of Tesla. Ironically enough he actually wrote a column for a magazine currently called China Cyberspace, which was created and is run by the Cyberspace Administration of China, which is a major Chinese state apparatus of online censorship, to promote his overall utopian technological vision for humanity.

If the premise of “ordered liberty” is that freedom, in order to exist, must exist within a social order defined by institutions, the reproduction of this arrangement is the definition of freedom within the institution of Twitter as controlled by Elon Musk. “Free speech” in this setting is very simply the range of speech dictated within Elon Musk’s sphere of influence. “Freedom” coming from this standpoint does not mean freedom in itself, and in fact actually denotes a controlled environment.

The Reality Of Right-Wing Controlled Environments

The modern internet is a precarious place, its apparent sense of freedom giving way to a reality dominated by a host of controlled environments vying for power. These controlled environments are complex, often functioning as disincentives or pressures arrayed against contrary speech, thereby producing a chilling effect typically aimed at suppressing already marginalized communities.

A very illustrative example in this regard would be Kiwifarms. The website’s supporters and its owner Josh Moon have frequently appealed to freedom of speech in order to justify its existence, and all the moreso since the website got taken down from Cloudflare following public pressure via Clara Sorrenti’s campaign. But think carefully about just what “free speech” means to them. Never mind the usual argument about “the freedom to do hate speech”, what tells us more is what happens inside Kiwifarms itself. The entire website was started up to harass, dox, and abuse trans and autistic people, or just whoever they happen to dislike. On top of that, even members of Kiwifarms can sometimes find themselves doxxed by other members on the website over some drama, or some disagreement with the moderators. Now, what “free speech” is that, when you can be doxxed inside that forum potentially for saying something the moderators don’t like? But in a broader sense, it can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that the point for these people is to essentially take it upon themselves to intimidate people into silence for expressing themselves in a way that they don’t like. If you think about it from that standpoint, the entire way they talk about “free speech” comes to be seen as an illusion; not because of some point to be made about the limits of freedom of speech – a discussion invariably contained almost solely within the bounds of the logic of liberal statehood – but because cultivating free speech was never the point.

Motivated by reactionary ideologies, Kiwifarms’ userbase intimidate people online, often literally purposefully bullying them into suicide, in order to silence them. They’ll deny this of course, especially the suicide part (even though they gloat about it in their own spaces), and they tend to concoct their own rationales for what they think they’re “really” doing, but we know from how they act and the website’s stated purpose that they just do this to silence people. And the obvious reason for it is to control what can be expressed on the internet, all while claiming to fight just that sort of authoritarianism. Josh Moon makes this clear enough in ways that perhaps he doesn’t mean to. Whenever the opportunity arises, Josh presents his own ideological views on what he thinks is modern society, and he’s very explicit about how he believes trans people are trying to brainwash and exploit children – that’s basically his transphobic way of talking about the fact that trans kids are real and should be allowed to receive gender affirming care/surgery. Now, if you seriously believe that trans people are coming for your kids somehow, you will probably act on this bigoted belief in a number ways. You’ll treat them as mentally ill predators, you’ll probably ally with reactionary authoritarians who want to implement transphobic policies, you’ll probably bully them online or physically assault them, and you’ll probably dox them under the belief that driving them out of public life will stop them from doing whatever it is you somehow believe they’re doing. Kiwifarms was designed with that whole process in mind. Doing this means creating an environment where certain people aren’t safe on the internet, which in turn means that said people can’t express themselves freely without facing basically violent harrassment, which in turn means that an organised mob of people have effectively controlled what you can and can’t say or do on the internet.

In the case of Twitter, “freedom of speech” under Elon Musk has seen the start of Twitter’s transformation into a right-wing controlled environment. Several anti-fascist accounts have been banned or suspended, frequently in connection to criticisms they made of Elon Musk. These include Chad Loder, the Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club, Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists, Crimethinc, Vishal P. Singh, Alexander Dial, Garland Nixon, Dean Baker, Andrew Lawrence, and @.bonnotgalaxy. In fact, it seems these bans have often been requested by right-wing activists who asked Elon Musk to “take action” on their behalf. Crimethinc, for instance, was banned after Andy Ngo complained to Elon about how they “created riot guides” and “claimed attacks”. Crimethinc was also put on a massive leaked list of “antifa” accounts created by far-right activists to target for mass report spamming for the sole purpose of getting them banned. In a similar trend, fascists like James Lyndsay and his fans are actually calling for Elon Musk to “do something” about the fact that people keep posting an image of him posing with Nicki Clyne, an actual human trafficker and high-ranking member of the abusive sex cult NXIVM. Meanwhile some bans appear to be more or less connected to criticism of Elon Musk and anti-fascist reporting and commentary in general, possibly also affected by right-wing mass flagging. Vishal P. Singh got suspended just hours after tweeting about Andy Ngo’s connection to and apparent support for known paedophiles like Amos Yee and Deme Cooper. Chad Loder was suspended after reporting a major data breach on Twitter affecting millions of users in the USA and EU. An account called Cryptoterra was suspended shortly after posting an image of Elon Musk with Ghislaine Maxwell to Elon Musk’s account.

And then there’s just the bizarre proposals Elon put forward for improving Twitter functionality or, ironically, “combatting hate speech” which, at face value, makes it seem like he doesn’t actually know what freedom of speech is. On November 6th, Elon stated that any Twitter accounts “engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘parody'” would be permanently suspended, following a wave of Twitter accounts satirically impersonating Elon Musk, often explicitly stating the satirical purpose. A few days earlier, on November 4th, in an interview with Ron Baron (founder and CEO of Baron Capital Management) conducted at the 29th Annual Baron Investment Conference, Elon told investors that Twitter Blue’s payment-verification system would ensure that verified users would be constantly prioritized while unverified users would be pushed almost inaccessibly to the bottom a given Twitter feed. Of course, how exactly this is supposed to “suppress hate speech” is beyond me when I consider that actual Nazis could pay to be verified and be able to post excruciating antisemitic bile all day long. But, in practice, the effect is that those who don’t pay $8 a month to be on Twitter Blue would effectively have their speech suppressed in favour of the speech of those who do. On November 18th, Elon tweeted that “negative/hate tweets” will be deboosted and demonetized, which would result ad revenue being denied and the tweets in question being effectively buried (you would have to search for them to find them rather than them appearing on your feed): in summary, Elon announced that he accounts posting “negative tweets” would be shadowbanned. In fact, if anything, it’s possible that Elon could actually codify shadowbanning as Twitter policy in a way that it perhaps wasn’t before. All told, Elon’s plans to make a “free speech” plaftorm of Twitter actually amount to a significant reduction of freedom of speech on the platform.

It’s easy to draw some conclusions about the nature of the controlled environment Twitter will become. If you consider who benefits from Elon’s payment-verification system, those who pay into it versus those who don’t, you can tell who is going to be prioritized and who will be suppressed. Many right-wingers will pay for Twitter Blue, and in fact having the blue checkmark itself figures as a cultural signpost: whereas the Right previously despised and mocked the blue checkmark as a figure of some hated liberal authority, now it becomes a symbol of authentification, a sign that you are a part of Elon Musk’s Twitter, and not having it has changed from a mark of conservative “authenticity” to a mark of liberal petulance or even bourgeois class status. Many anti-fascists or “leftists”, on the other hand, recognize the absurdity of the principle of having to pay $8 to be verified on Twitter, but that also means that, as a result of Elon’s proposals, their tweets will be buried. This means that Elon’s payment-verification system is structurally advantageous to the Right, in that it assures right-wing dominance of Twitter’s public square. Moreover, the fact that Elon appears to be actively responding to the requests of right-wing activists to take down or suppress tweets or accounts that they personally don’t like, or seemingly allowing right-wing mass flagging to take down accounts, further shows that Elon is working to control what information you can and cannot see on Twitter, and he is doing so with a right-wing ideological vision in mind, often at the direct behest of far-right activists. This is what must be kept in mind whenever you hear people talk about Twitter as though it is some kind of “free speech anarchy”, because the simple truth is that it’s not. When Elon Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter, conservatives have proclaimed their newfound “freedom” by espousing 2020 election denial and statements of transphobia, but people could already freely say those things on Twitter before Elon Musk acquired it. Thus, what has changed now is not that people are actually “free” to say whatever they want, but rather that certain people are now privileged to speak while others are buried and could actually expect to be banned. Twitter is not a “freewheeling haven of free speech”; it’s a place that is being dictated by Elon and his fascist friends.

But there’s more as well, because Elon Musk’s Twitter dragnet does not weigh only on “Western” users. There remains the possibility, considered increasingly by analysts, that Elon Musk may ultimately sell data from Chinese Twitter users to the Chinese government, not unlike how Hiroyuki Nishimura sold data from 2channel users to corporations before. As Tesla continually tries to expand into Chinese automobile markets, it is entirely possible that Elon Musk, as the owner of both Tesla and Twitter and as a businessman interested in maintaining ties with China, could be leveraged into fulfilling demands that allow the Chinese state to expand its ability to suppress information that it doesn’t like. This could put dissenters in China, and other similarly authoritarian countries, at an increased risk of repression by the state, and it would it make Twitter a controlled environment on two fronts: domestically, it would be an environment where “free speech” is a byword for the privilege of right-wing voices supported by the suppression of anti-fascist dissent, while internationally it allows greater scope for authoritarian regimes to directly repress their citizenry. Keeping in mind, of course, that Chinese internet is itself a controlled environment of its own, with information tightly controlled by Chinese state agencies and nationalistic pro-CPC opinion reinforced at home and abroad by legions of paid as well as unpaid activists whose job it is to indirectly control the narrative on behalf of the government.

There’s a different sort of controlled environment we can discuss that arcs in a very similar way, though it sort of plays out opposite to how the 2channel saga did. You may have heard of a Russian social media website called VKontakte. It is often popularly described as the Russian equivalent of Facebook. It was created in 2006 by a man named Pavel Durov, who initially established the website as a barely moderated hub for all sorts of internet content, from pirated music to illicit pornography. VKontakte also may have served as a network for protests against the Russian government, such as during widespread protests against the 2011 legislative election. The Russian government at that point sought to control the flow of information on social media and regulate them so that they might conform to the political interests of the Russian state. From 2012 the Russian government began putting the screws on VKontakte, beginning with a government blacklist for websites it deemed harmful to children. At the same time, however, it was also revealed that Pavel Durov had been sharing VKontakte user data with the Russian government. Then, in 2014, when VKontakte refused to take down posts and groups that were affiliated with the Ukrainian Euromaidan, Russian authorities began searching VKontakte’s offices while running its founder out of the country with false accusations of running over a police officer. Of course, the Ukrainian government would later ban VKontakte in 2017 on the grounds that it was waging “information aggression” against Ukraine. After this VKontakte was taken over by Mail.ru, an internet company which, until 2018, was controlled by an oligarch named Alisher Usmanov, who is reputed to have ties to Vladimir Putin. Incidentally, Usmanov himself is also known for playing a role in the suppression of online and media criticism against both himself and the Russian government.

Over the years, VKontakte forged closer and closer ties to the Russian government. Beginning in 2016, the website complied with Russian legislation requiring it to store all information and data from all users to be processed by the Roskomnadzor, blocking all content prohibited by the government, and also promoting pro-government content. According to VKontakte insiders, the company hands over user data to the government whenever they ask. According to Article 19, a human rights group, VKontakte has cooperated more thoroughly and unquestioningly with the Russian government than any other social network. Although many of the users affected were people who ostensibly posted xenophobic content, the law also effectively suppressed anti-war activists. For example, in 2015, an activist named Darya Polyudova was sentenced to two years in prison for posting against the Russian government and its ongoing war in Ukraine. As of 2021, VKontakte is currently controlled by Gazprom, a multinational energy corporation owned by the Russian state, further solidifying the company’s economic and institutional connection to the government.

To take stock of this is to understand that what you can say and see on VKontakte is pretty much directly controlled and monitored by the Russian government, and furthermore that this would affect not only Russian citizens but also VKontakte users elsewhere in Russia’s sphere of influence. If, for instance, Russia were to somehow succeed in absorbing Ukraine into Russian sovereignty by completing the invasion, Ukrainian citizens would have their data collected by the Russian government and used to bring criminal charges against Ukrainians who might oppose Russian rule, as well as LGBTQ people who would be accused of “spreading gay propaganda”. The scope increases when we keep in mind Russia’s overall imperial ambition to reabsorb the former Soviet territories into its sphere of influence, thereby establishing a huge controlled environment spanning parts of the European and Asian continents.

Now a lot of this does come back to the Right in some ways, and broader conservative projects to remake the internet in their image. But let’s not forget that mainstream social media is every bit a part of this, including the official adversaries of the Right. Facebook has long been accused of disproportionately censoring conservative opinion, especially by US Republican lawmakers eager to tighten the screws on the company. But in reality, not only is Facebook not disproportionately censoring conservatives, Facebook have repeatedly brought in right-wing ideologues to work on its administration, designated Breitbart News as a “trusted news source”, and actively suppressed progressive news sources such as Mother Jones. In fact, as a concession to the hard right, Mark Zuckerberg replaced human editors with an algorithm that would be susceptible to manipulation by right-wing actors who could then control the flow of newsfeed information. On top of that, Facebook does not reveal analytics on what news stories receive traffic on Facebook, which means that we probably have no idea about the actual nature of Facebook news feeds. Considering that Facebook’s administration does consist of right-wing ideologues and considering the actual proclivity towards concession to the Right, if we did not know better then perhaps we might assume that Facebook itself manufactures the whole “conservative censorship” narrative to drive up right-wing outrage and in turn media traffic, and then from there fuel the cycle that furthers the growth of right-wing controlled environments across the plane of social media. What we know from Facebook insiders absolutely suggests that Facebook is actively manipulating the flow of information so as to control what news sources you can see.

Conclusion: “Free Speech” and the Order of the World

The notion that the internet is a free-for-all is strictly a dysfunctional myth. Liberal commentators need to be able to present the current landscape as the Wild West of cyberspace in order to argue that democratic governments need to extend their regulatory powers over social media. In the case of the United Kingdom, such concerns among others are repeatedly weaponized by a press more or less allied with a state that ultimately aims to introduce legislation such as the Online Safety Bill to erode the right to privacy and curtail freedom of expression. The reality, though, is not the absence of control but instead the dominance of it. The cream of the bourgeoisie, often in conjunction with reactionary governments, politicians, and fascist activists, are controlling what you can say and see on the internet, or at least doing their best in that regard, with the aim of slowly reshaping the internet into a series of totalitarian controlled environments suitable to both their ideological proclivities and their economic interests (for people like Elon Musk the point is to have an authoritarian echo chamber that he can also make money with).

To even engage the conversation about the limits of freedom of speech is ultimately to miss the point and fight in the wrong battlefield, because “free speech” in the reactionary parlance relevant to this is ultimately just code for the privileging of speech, which is then reinforced by censorship. The architects of a new garden of controlled environments want you to take the claim of freedom of speech at face value, when in reality they’re not building anything like that. Instead, they’re creating an internet where dissent against the managers is suppressed in various ways, some more sophisticated or even stochastic than others, and “speech” exists within the personal limits of said managers. World order in this parlance is the generalized state of management that exists internationally, in terms of the internet we’re talking about a vast complex of authoritarian infrastructures centered around control and profit.

This is part of the reality of the re-ascension of fascism in the context of a growing trend of reactionary backlash, itself existing alongside the general feedback loop between capitalist growth and technological development that itself arcs almost inevitably towards the concentration of state power. There is no “new world order” here, as such, there is only the world order, and it is the sum of these relationships and structures of domination.

Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of bourgeois discourse surrounding freedom of speech. Trust me, we’ve seen the same argument for years play out leading up ultimately to the landscape we see before us. “Free speech” to these people just means certain kinds of speech, namely theirs, gets to be protected or outright privileged while others still get suppressed, all at the expense of any concept of freedom of association. And all that ends up happening is that people get caught up in this end up defending the worst people imaginable while blind to the system of control developing around them and which they have become part of. The other side of that just takes at face value that anarchy is afoot when in reality what’s happening is that the speech and information are being controlled by the same people who tell you that they are liberating it.

This whole landscape should be regarded as a zone of resistance, contradiction, and social war, instead of discourse as leveraged by competing visions of control. The only answer to world order is to negate it entirely.

The bizarre politics of the Psychedelic Movement

I like to think of myself as both a weirdo and a connoisseur of weird shit, and I think my nearly ten years of writing here speaks for itself, so I thought I’d take it upon myself to explore what is definitely one of the strangest parties I’ve seen in British politics: the Psychedelic Movement.

Psychedelic Movement, not to be confused with the psychedelic counterculture movement of the 1960s, is one of those third parties that is currently running a candidate Southend West, the same constituency that was previously represented by David Amess until he was murdered in October last year, as part of a by-election set to be held on February 3rd. The Psychedelic Movement probably won’t win, in fact I’d be surprised if they managed to get any more votes than some of the far-right parties also running, and indeed, with all the other more mainstream parties (including Labour) abstaining this race, I think that Conservative Party victory is an absolute certainty. But they stick out like a green thumb, if you know what I mean, so let’s see what they’re all about anyway.

If you’re thinking that these are basically fun-loving anarchist types who just want to legalize psychedelic drugs, that would only be partially correct. For one thing, they’re not anarchists. For another thing, their actual political ideology is really incoherent, and in some ways it’s actually kind of reactionary. It seems to be the pet project of a man named Jason Pilley, and seems to have been around since 2017. As the name of his party suggests, Jason devotes much of his social media presence to opposing the War on Drugs and advocating for the legalization of cannabis and other drugs. So far, so good. He also opposes the Conservatives (or what he calls “the Corporate Right”) for wanting to sell off the NHS, has spoken in favour of constructing a Hindu temple in Southend West, and incorporates esoteric imagery into his campaign material. That’s nice! But he also seems to be one of those conservative populists who likes to share articles from the very-definitely-unbiased New York Post to argue that Black Lives Matter are a scam, rants about Facebook being “finished” (yeah, any day now) and encourages people to join them on Gab instead (what could possibly go wrong?), in fact he seems to have stopped using Facebook entirely since May last year because of it, and he’s one of those shitheads who hates the left for the supposed “deconstruction of notions of family, discipline, punishment, ethics, etc, without the construction of anything better”. That’s really cringe. He also blames China for supposedly plaguing everyone with Covid-19, but then also says that Covid-19 is just “one poxy germ” and mocks the idea that it could “bring the world to its knees”. So in other words, China created Covid-19 and spread it throughout the world, but then Covid-19 is basically nothing. One might ask what exactly is the point of blaming China at that rate. Oh, and did I mention that he’s a fan of that racist football hooligan Tommy Robinson (real name: Stephen Yaxley-Lennon)? Because it seems that he most certainly is, and appears to have written a whole book where the second half is about Tommy Robinson.

The upcoming by-election is not Jason Pilley’s first go at running for office. In 2019, he ran as an MP for Rochford and Southend East during that year’s general election. He ran under the Psychedelic Future ticket, and came in dead last. He only won 367 votes, a whole 0.8% of the votes. I can imagine that his performance in the Southend West by-election won’t be much better.

But now, let’s focus on the Psychedelic Movement’s program for society, or at least their constituents. This can be assessed from their most recent election manifesto, which seems to have been posted on January 11th on Jason Pilley’s WordPress site. Let’s look at each point of his programme in order.

We will dig up the dullest roads and stick allotments there instead. Schoolkids across all school years will be given land and taught to grow food for themselves and their family.

This sounds nice, and I do rather like that in this way they mean to instill self-sufficiency in people from a young age, but I can’t for the life of me figure out if this policy method seems feasible. I’m also wondering where that land is going to come from, and what criteria Pilley will use to decide which roads are dull enough to warrant being dug up. For all I know it could free up some living space for people who need it, or it could potentially and unnecessarily disrupt public life for purely arbitrary reasons.

We will invite those South American churches that use ayahuasca in their services to open branches locally, and bring Shamanic Christianity to Southend.

OK, so, questions. Who are these South American churches that use ayahuasca in their services? And just what is “Shamanic Christianity”? Is it basically just when you worship Jesus by imbibing psychedelic drugs? That’s…OK, I guess? I mean it sounds like it would basically be the same spiritual message as Christianity but without the moral hangups about intoxication and psychedelics. In theory it probably would fly in the face of the asceticism that seems to be suggested in the morality of the New Testament, but I also remember hearing that even early Christians used psychedelic drugs as part of their religious practices, so if that’s true then it’s definitely not an unprecedented idea. Moreover, psychedelics have long been intertwined with religious practice throughout the pre-Christian world. To name just a few examples, the use of a psychedelic compound was a central part of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and there was a Vedic Indo-Iranian sacrificial rite referred to as the Haoma rite, which involved the use of a hallucinogen referred to as Haoma. Questions aside, I’m more than happy to see this aspect of religious life be reintroduced to society.

We will end all Covid regulations + hysteria

OK, this is dumb, and fairly dangerous all things considered. Jason Pilley appears to be one of those people who thinks that we’re entering into a state of totalitarianism as a result of measures that have been taken to halt the spread of Covid. Things have certainly been very draconian before the vaccines started getting rolled out (btw I hope he’s not against vaccines either), but to be perfectly honest, things don’t feel all that oppressive lately. For the moment Wales isn’t actually ratcheting up restrictions, which is probably natural because, while I hated Mark Drakeford a few years ago, it does seem like Wales has taken the best path available out of the four nations. If anything, England seems like it wants to actively avoid introducing any serious restrictions even after Christmas. And don’t get me wrong, I would very much like to avoid the rapid increase in carceral state power that the pandemic seems to be helping take shape and which plenty of people on the left seem to be clamouring for, but while I honestly don’t have a good idea of how we should go about things lately in light of that, somehow I don’t think that doing nothing and letting more people die in the hope that maybe some of us get “natural immunity” or “herd immunity” is going to make things any better.

We want our town to be unpolluted & energy-independent, using the full range of renewable-energy options available.

Good idea, and good aims. But I will say that I’m really not sure how you actually can do much without still contributing to the emission problem. As far as I can tell, even renewable energy sources require facilities that have to be constructed and produced in a way that consumes environmentally harmful gasses and fuels, and I’m pretty sure the same is true for nuclear power as well, which, to be honest, raises a whole host of questions on its own. Ultimately I think that you can’t get very far without changing the way energy is produced, and even then you can’t get too far without dismantling the whole capitalist order that sustains itself on rampant over-production and the super-exploitation of the world’s resources, and even then I expect some lifestyle changes to be necessary in the long term, and ideally I’d like our entire attitude towards nature to change alongside this. In short, even if we switch to renewable energy, fighting climate change isn’t as easy as thinking we can just consume our way out of ecological collapse.

Increase NHS funding by several percentage-points of GDP & fire all the “Diversity Officer” parasites.

Here’s a weird case where you have both good and somewhat bad mixed in the same place. Increasing NHS funding after a long period of privatisation is definitely a good thing, albeit by a conspicuously non-numbered percentage, but what’s his deal with “Diversity Officers” exactly? Oh boy what did Jason do or say to offend them? Whatever the case is, I’m pretty sure they’re not the ones responsible for sucking up the NHS’ funding, and somehow I think Jason himself knows exactly who the real culprit is, at least judging from his columns about the NHS. So why scapegoat these guys? It sounds like there’s some very reactionary motives involved to say the least. If it’s some useless neoliberal stuff like what Robin DiAngelo shills for, that’d be one thing, but I don’t know.

Ban the sale of front doors with their letterbox at ground level. It is bizarre to want to give your postman a backache.

Apparently these are real, and apparently there have been calls to ban these doors for a good few years now, so it’s not just Jason who has this issue. In 2019, the Communication Workers Union campaigned for new buildings to meet European Union standards for letterbox height, and Conservative MP Vicky Ford called for low-level letterboxes to be banned in order to protect post officers from getting their backs strained or being bitten by dogs. I can’t say I’m complaining about this proposal. If I worked as a mail man I probably would curse people who have their letterboxes all the way to the bottom, particularly as my back is not without aches. Seriously, just look at those ground-level letterboxes and tell me they’re not bullshit.

We would keep the Monarchy but overthrow the Windsor dynasty and install Hatun Tash as the new Queen instead.

This seemed like a joke proposal until I quickly looked into who Hatun Tash is. Hatun Tash appears to be a Christian evangelist who is mostly known for virulent polemics against Muslims and Islam, and for getting stabbed once in Speaker’s Corner last year. She works for an organisation called Defend Christ Critique Islam Ministries, whose mission is to preach Christianity to Muslims and who claim to be motivated by “love” for Muslims. Considering the often bigoted nature of their apparent polemics, I think it’s safe to say they’re all about hate rather than love, and while I’m not “pro-Islam” I think it’d be a lot more “loving” for DCCI Ministries to fuck off instead of preaching anywhere. Hatun’s supporters claim that she had been banned from going to the Speaker’s Corner over her views, which the Mayor denies. Some Christians like Hatun Nash for “defending Christianity” through her polemics of course, while other Christians dislike her for bigotry against Muslims; apparently she even took a KKK handbook and referred to it as the Quran. If that wasn’t bad enough she was taught by someone who referred to Muslims as “sewage”. But why exactly does Jason like her so much that he wants her to be the new Queen of England? To be honest, it sounds like it’s this dumb right-wing martyr complex where they elevate whoever agrees with them and suffered an attack that they can blame on their preferred scapegoat to quasi-divine status. But then this says a lot of worrying things about Jason. In any case, fuck Monarchy, regardless of who is the King or Queen.

We will open cannabis cafes and LSD clubs around Southend. Using the resources of the State to criminalize the Paul McCartneys of this world + crush the “Peace and Love” Sixties has been utterly destructive to society.

OK, this sounds awesome. Cannabis and LSD would be legal and there’d be whole venues meant as gathering places to support an entire culture built around the safe and pleasurable use of psychedelics. Well, of course, they actually plan to defy the law and open up those cannabis cafes and LSD clubs despite the illegality of these substances, somehow. It would theoretically make more sense for Jason to, if elected, just legalize those substances and their respective venues through new legislation, but, hey, I honestly like the fact that someone thinks they can put up a fight like that. In any case, I really would like to see that in the world. The only thing is, I don’t think the Paul McCartneys of the world are criminalized. Maybe they were in the 1960s, but not anymore. In fact, the Beatles have been more or less thoroughly recuperated as icons of the dominant capitalist monoculture, and that stupid slogan of “Peace and Love” is now little other a consumer mantra, not that it was capable of challenging anything. The 1960s counterculture was great in a lot of ways, but let’s be real, it was destined to be recuperated as an edifice of airy passivity, and this is partly due to the lack of radicalism and politicization involved even despite getting involved in the anti-war movement.

Apply existing “hate speech” laws to religious institutions: mosques, churches, synagogues & temples which refuse to condemn and repudiate hateful + violent content in their holy books will be closed and turned into social housing.

This is without a doubt the worst and most oppressive policy suggestion contained in this entire manifesto. Doing this would create a justification for the state to criminalize and persecute any religion it doesn’t like and tear down their places of worship. Judging from his support for Hatun Tash and Tommy Robinson, it’s plainly obvious that Jason is looking to justify the forced closure of mosques on the grounds that the Quran promotes violence and bigotry. The obvious problem with this is that you could just as easily do the same thing for the Bible, which on its own contains numerous pronouncements of violence against non-believers and others as well as bigotries of various kinds whether coded or explicit. Since Jason seems to be interested in some form of “Shamanic Christianity” and supports Christian evangelists who lob bigoted insults at Muslims, I would think that Jason ought to be much more concerned about the possibility of giving the state the power to persecute and criminalize Christianity and justifying that carceral power by arguing that the horrible content of the Bible constitutes “hate speech”. And it doesn’t end there. In the wrong hands (well, really there’s no such thing as “the right hands”), any religion could be clamped down on any similar rationales. What if someone decides that Heathenry needs to go because someone thinks that the runes are all Nazi symbols or some bullshit like that? What if someone decides that The Satanic Bible is a hate tract and wants to shut down Satanist organizations as a result? What if someone decides that the Buddha’s views on women mean that Buddhists should either publically repudiate sexism or face having their temples shut down? This is the kind of, I will say it, Stalinist form of authoritarian anti-religious campaigns that Jason would allow, ironically despite calling himself “anti-communist” and despite claiming himself to be a supporter of freedom of speech; but we’ll get to that in time.

Stick Stephen Yaxley-Lennon in the House of Lords to make up for all the lies that have been told about him. “We would rather stand with one proud black patriot than a hundred scumbag racists, that’s where we stand.” – Tommy Robinson

This is probably the part of Psychedelic Movement’s manifesto that I’ll bet got the most attention. Suffice it to say, Jason is not interested in the idea of abolishing the House of Lords. That makes sense for him, I suppose, since he’s not interested in abolishing the monarchy either. But I really need to establish why it’s a problem for Jason to support Tommy Robinson in this way. Tommy Robinson seems to be presented here as a principled opponent of racism who is merely lied about by a media eager to present him as a racist. The obvious problem with this is that Tommy has repeatedly demonstrated the opposite to be true. For one thing, he was a member of the fascist British National Party before founding the English Defence League, who in turn were friends with other far-right parties like the British Freedom Party (itself a spin-off of the BNP), planned to bomb mosques, and had links with the Norwegian far-right terrorist Andres Breivik. For another thing, Tommy accused Muslim refugees of trying to “invade” Europe, referred to Somalis as “barbarians”, accused London Mayor Sadiq Khan of being part of a plot to invade Britain, accused a young Syrian refugee of attacking English girls in his school (for which he was successfully sued for libel), accused every Muslim in Britain of perpetrating the 7/7 attacks, threatened violence on the entire Muslim community if any British citizens were killed by a terrorist, and believes Muslims have been waging war on British people for 1,400 years. On top of that, Tommy’s an actual con artist. He was arrested in 2014 for £160,000 in mortgage fraud, in 2018 a former aide revealed that he had been raking in £2 million in donations, which probably allowed him to keep living in a lavish four-bedroom gated house, he also made £20,000 from Bitcoin during a brief prison sentence in 2018, and in 2015 he actually claimed to have owned seven properties by the age of 25. This is the man Jason thinks deserves a Lordship? Give me a fucking break here!

Steal from the United States their First Amendment and write that into UK law, guaranteeing Free Speech.

Not a bad idea, it would be nice to have a theoretically unassailable constitutional support for freedom of speech in the books. Hell, it’d be nice to have an actual and not just de facto constitution in this country. But there’s a few problems with this proposal. First of all, as I already discussed, Jason doesn’t actually consistently believe in freedom of speech. I’m gonna say it here, you can’t argue for a concept of freedom of speech that isn’t subject to compromise while also calling for the state to close down mosques on “hate speech” charges!!! Another problem is that, if you think about it, the popular idea that the First Amendment absolutely protects freedom of speech is, in practice, a myth. For one thing, FOSTA/SESTA legislation effectively criminalizes freedom of speech when it comes to even non-pornographic material discussing sexuality, and in some states it’s possible to face penalties for criticizing Israel (Texas, for instance, has a law against boycotting Israel). In fact, more recently, in Florida Governor Ron DeSantis put forward a bill criminalizing protests against the police, and in Kentucky a bill making it illegal to insult police officers actually passed. Seems like the First Amendment really isn’t doing all that much to prevent these injustices against freedom of speech. Or is this all about Facebook not letting him post a New York Post article? Well, that sucks, that’s wrong and all, though if he thinks that he can use this to mandate that social media companies “respect freedom of speech” somehow, that’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. Putting aside the much bigger discourse about the pros and cons of nationalizing social media in the name of free speech, a thought that crosses my mind is do we not get into certain territory about freedom of association? Yeah yeah I know they’re private corporations and according to my political philosophy private corporations shouldn’t exist because that’s capitalism, but let’s say we aren’t dealing with private corporations and we aren’t dealing with an age of private corporations. Let’s say instead we’re dealing with free associations without bosses and everyone is the “owner” in some loose sense. They too would make their own rules as to what their platform is used for. As a matter of fact, so do “alt-tech” companies like Gab, who occasionally ban memes when keeping them online gets inconvenient for them, and their account on Twitter bans certain people from commenting on their posts. Somehow I don’t recall anyone calling for Gab to respect the free speech of the people they’ve censored, certainly not many people were calling for everyone to leave Gab. And what about the hypothetical free associations? Should the state be allowed to decided what these associations do and do not allow within their own boundaries? It’s a bit of a conundrum, and there may not be an easy answer, but I suggest that people like Jason think about it carefully.

Make Martial Arts/Self-Defence classes a core part of the school cirriculum, raising stronger children instead of sitting watching as child obesity rates rise.

This is another one of those ideas from Jason that I actually like, though I suspect he’s sort of in it for the wrong reasons. I mean, come on, are you sure that fat people can’t do martial arts? Overall, though, I like the martial arts classes as core cirriculum concept, and it seems to connect back to the first point when it comes to self-reliance. From my standpoint, though, the real point shouldn’t be that people become stronger simply to lose weight. Strength, specifically the strength to stand under your own power and stand up for yourself, is its own value, and power is what you can take into your own hands. Being physically fit is nice and good, and physical strength is a great thing to have, but what matters most, what makes strength its own value, is the ability to demonstrate your own power of self-reliance as expressed through your strength. And for a truly free society, what matters is to extend this principle collectively.

We would allow women to purchase and carry pepper-spray to protect themselves here on The Planet of The Psychos.

Another policy proposal that I unconditionally like except for one problem: it doesn’t go far enough! I mean, why stop with just pepper spray, if you get me? But seriously, women need actual power when it comes to being preyed on by men. Liberal society bullshits women so much, it gets everyone thinking that the only way for women to be safe is if they and everyone else live like cowards under a carceral and paternalistic regime that dresses itself up in the garb of women’s rights. It’s curfews for men and conversations about sexual morality instead of showing women that they have the right to fight back, because at the end of the day our conversation about the safety of women, like so much else about politics, has its roots in a contemporary and universal sense of powerlessness, and the enshrinement of that powerlessness as the norm of the human condition as opposed to the creation of the society in which we live and the systemic structures that support it.

We will burn nag champa incense in all public buildings.

This seems frivolous. Not bad, but not inherently good, and it mostly just serves to mark him out as a New Age guy. I can assure you that it’s not proof of any connection to Hinduism as a religious practice. Nag champa as an incense is not some ancient religious artefact. It was invented in the 1960s by K. N. Satyam Setty, who created it under the name Satya Sai Baba Nag Champa and founded a company named Shrinivas Sugandhalaya for the purpose of manufacturing more incenses like it. So really it’s a modern product, nothing ancient and sacred. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having or using Nag Champa incense at all, rather it’s just kind of funny to think of Jason setting about turning Britain (or at least just Southend) into Aldous Huxley’s Island by festooning public buildings with consumer incense.

Sue the Chinese Communist Party £20 trillion for what they have just done to the world.

I’ve already briefly addressed this subject earlier on, but since we’re here it bears discussing again. Jason is utterly confused on the subject of China and Covid-19. Here, he seems to be implying that China has damaged the whole world by unleashing Covid-19 onto the world. Putting aside the fact that China didn’t create Covid-19 despite the media’s newfound love affair with the lab leak conspiracy theory, and that Covid-19 probably may not have even originated within China, the incoherence of Jason’s position rests in the fact that he himself considers Covid-19 to not be a credible threat, and yet wants to sue China because of the global pandemic. He referred to Covid-19 as “one poxy germ” (“poxy”, by the way, basically means it’s worthless or neglible), mocked the notion that it could “bring the world to its knees”, and advocates for the abolition of all pandemic-related restrictions and laws because he considers the whole thing to be “hysteria”, and yet even though the threat of Covid-19 seems so miniscule to him, he still thinks that it’s enough of a plague upon the world that China should be sued for trillions of pounds because of it. Why? It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, yet you see it often in right-wing politics, where conservative politicians frequently dismiss the threat of Covid-19 and call for the abolition of lockdowns and any pandemic-related restrictions on the basis that Covid-19 supposedly doesn’t kill anyone while at the same time ratcheting up geopolitical tensions with China and calling for reparations on the basis of exactly the same pandemic that they consider to be cartoonishly overblown. I mean, am I missing something or does this not seem like obvious, self-contradictory stupidity, probably motivated by jingoistic racism?

The last point of the manifesto is just a dedication to David Amess, which I suppose was to be expected. I’m sure it’s a kind gesture, by some metrics anyway, though I’m not sure Amess wouldn’t have actively opposed some of the policies Jason wanted to be fulfilled.

There really isn’t much more to say about this. I’ve explored basically everything to see when it comes to the Psychedelic Movement, and, to be honest, this really does smell like a far-right party to me. It probably isn’t, at least by normal standards, and it sounds like one of those edgy, quasi-libertarian centrist movements with a conservative edge and whose politics are predictably incoherent. But, for something like that, it also flirts with a fair few far-right themes and/or arguments, whether consciously or otherwise, which is probably to be expected from these quasi-libertarian centrist conservative types. Believe me, I know from experience how this shit works. It’s weird that maybe half of the polices that Psychedelic Movement has range from “not bad” to “actually this is based”, and the rest is just pure dogshit and confused nonsense, and it’s all mashed together into what makes for a really messy and generally reactionary political platform. I think that if some of the more reactionary parts of this programme were removed, and the rest was retooled into what is, let’s say, a libertarian socialist or anarcho-communist programme that just really likes psychedelic drugs and also supports martial arts and self-reliance, I’d love that, and if that was a party, I’d vote for it every time, without hesistation! But that’s just not the party we’re looking at. In fact, instead it looks like a pretty textbook example of how the far-right manages to co-opt countercultural movements, or aspects thereof, recuperating them towards their own reactionary purposes.

And now that you know what Psychedelic Movement is….don’t vote for them.

Apparently this is a logo for Psychedelic Movement, from their Facebook page

Fuck the Satanic Temple

OK, so The Satanic Temple is really pissing me off at the moment. Just yesterday I learned from Queer Satanic, a group of ex-TST members who are currently being sued by The Satanic Temple, that The Satanic Temple have decided to support a Catholic organisation called Church Militant by filing an amicus brief for them. An amicus brief is a letter written to the court by people not involved in a case in order to present argument or evidence not yet presented by the parties involved to the court on behalf of one of the parties. Church Militant, also known as St. Michael’s Media, is a right-wing Catholic website which pushes climate change denial, LGBT-phobia, sexism, anti-Muslim fearmongering, and anti-abortion talking points as part of an ideological program of Christian conservatism, and its leader, Michael Voris, supports Donald Trump on the grounds that he believes Trump would have granted Roman Catholicism the status of state religion in America.

You did not misread that. The Satanic Temple, the very same organisation trying to bill itself as defenders of abortion rights and secular freedom in general against the threat of Christian theocracy, just supported an anti-abortion Christian conservative group dedicated to the cause of Catholic theocracy! And at that, the very same Christian propaganda network that has over the years repeatedly portrayed The Satanic Temple as villainous buffoons!

You might very reasonably be wondering what the hell The Satanic Temple would be doing allying with Church Militant of all people. Apparently, the Satanic Temple thinks that Church Militant is being “silenced” by the city of Baltimore. They say that even though they disagree with everything Church Militant stands for, they oppose the apparent “outrage” being committed against them, and they even do the typical Voltaire quote trope that had essentially become a religious mantra for “classical liberals” who, especially in the case of TST, inevitably fail to practice what they preach. Marc Randazza, the right-wing attorney who represented Lucien Greaves in his battle to get his blue checkmark back, is also representing Church Militant, which if we’re being honest is not a coincidence considering his record.

At this point we should ask, just what “outrage” is The Satanic Temple referring to? A few months ago, Church Militant planned to hold a rally at the MECU Pavilion in Baltimore, during the US Conference of Bishops on November 16th. Ostensibly, the rally was supposed to be all about speaking up against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. That might seem funny coming from a Catholic organisation, but apparently Church Militant are not properly affiliated with the Catholic Church and the church itself seems to distance itself from them. The rally was also to feature former Trump advisor Stephen Bannon and professional non-serious person Milo Yiannopoulos as guest speakers, and purportedly involved support for the January 6th rioters. The city of Baltimore claimed that Church Militant risked inciting violence through inflammatory speeches, while Church Militant denied this and argued that the city is persecuting them over differences of opinion. In the end, on October 12th, the case was dismissed and judge Ellen Hollander ruled that Church Militant had the right to hold their rally in Baltimore. In TST’s amicus brief, Matthew Kezhaya, counsel for The Satanic Temple, argued that the rally was a religious event, on the grounds of the ostensible focus of the event as well as the involvement of prayer, and that the city of Baltimore was denying Church Militant their fundamental free speech and free exercise rights.

So, what to make of all this in relation to The Satanic Temple. Ostensibly, this is a free speech case for them, consistent with their fourth tenet which extols the right to offend. But if TST were at all consistent about that famous Voltaire’s maxim, they wouldn’t be suing Netflix for the use of their “Baphomet” statue in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, nor would they be suing queer Satanist activists for daring to criticize them in public – or, sorry, “commandeering” their social media page, per their politically correct interpretation of events. There’s no doubt that Lucien Greaves and Milo Yiannopoulos are friends, and Lucien has frequently spoken up in defence of Milo while condemning anti-fascists as threats to freedom of speech. If that’s the case, and it seems to be pretty consistent for Lucien, then this is less about freedom of speech for everyone including those who offend you, and more about Lucien Greaves simply sticking up for his far-right buddies.

Is it wrong to argue that the city of Baltimore was acting against Church Militant’s right to free speech? I’d say arguably not, at least in a vacuum. But this isn’t just Lucien Greaves going on his social media account posting Voltaire quotes to make innocuous arguments about freedom of speech. I wouldn’t complain if that were the case, but the reality of the situation is different. An amicus brief isn’t filed for free. I don’t know how much TST paid to file that amicus brief, but apparently, depending on who you ask at least, it can cost thousands of dollars in the US. That may not mean financial support for Church Militant, but when you keep in mind that Lucien Greaves probably derived at least some of those legal fees from the dues of its members, that means a lot of money drawn from TST membership went to Matthew Kezhaya just to provide legal support for Church Militant. Lucien Greaves could have just tweeted that the city of Baltimore was wrong and that they were violating Church Militant’s free speech rights, and then stayed out of the actual case. In my eyes there would be no problem if that was all that happened, as it would not mean any material support for the organisation. Instead of that he chose to spend lots of money, probably thousands of dollars, presumably pooled from paying members, to support Church Militant.

And let’s drag ourselves away from the strict details of the case for a moment to re-establish the real heart of the matter. The Satanic Temple paid thousands of dollars from its members to materially support an organisation that is completely against everything they and almost all Satanists and secularists stand for, and did so in the name of the right to offend, while at the same time they are actually suing left-wing Satanists for criticizing them, which only makes sense from the standpoint of having to justify punishing dissenters for having offended Lucien Greaves and his ego. And frankly, all this legal caping for theocratic anti-abortion Catholics while trying to act like the last line of defence for abortion smacks profoundly of contradiction, one that in my view completely invalidates the whole purpose of The Satanic Temple as an organisation. You can invoke the name of free speech and the right to offend as much as you like, but when you’re repeatedly trying to silence people for disagreeing with you, that to me is proof that, in all honesty, this is not about freedom of speech, and instead this is about how you support far-right, often fascistic, and even theocratic conservative people because, if we’re being fucking honest with ourselves and with you, you just plain like those people! Obviously religion has nothing to do with it. You just like right-wing authoritarianism, wherever that happens to come from. Given that Lucien Greaves was openly arguing for eugenics until 2018, continually sides with the right against the left, repeatedly defends hard-right ideologues against the left, and seems to have no problem with whatever the fuck Cevin Soling is up to, I’d say I’ve got a pretty strong case. Or maybe I’m wrong and you don’t, in which case the only option left is that this is pure selfish opportunism, since you’re still silencing left-wing critics and suing people over your dumb statue despite claiming to love the freedom to offend.

You might be thinking about all the “good work” TST supposedly does, the shit that launched the organisation to fame. Well, not one of its legal campaigns has ever landed any real success. Even the Ten Commandments vs “Baphomet” controversy that endeared guys like me to them can’t be credited to TST’s efforts. It was resolved by the ACLU, without any input or involvement from TST, but TST opportunistically took credit for it anyway. They are, in reality, utterly useless, coasting atop undeserved accolades. I’m gonna tell you right here and now that the only reason you might think TST are worth even half of a damn is the mainstream media. TST have done nothing of value, the cases hyped up by media coverage went nowhere, and meanwhile the actual leadership is authoritarian, opportunistic, and consistent allies of the far-right, but because they receive frequent and typically uncritical coverage from the media, often including sympathetic liberal and progressive commentary, likely taking advantage of their sensational opposition to Christianity, they enjoy a lasting reputation as progressive freedom fighters for secularism against Christian theocracy. In fact, I am sure that you have not heard of their support for Church Militant anywhere in the media and you probably never will because it’s inconvenient for the narrative they’re trying to create. The only times when the media is even vaguely critical of TST is when it has to talk about their dealings with Marc Randazza, for maybe a day or so. There is no coverage of The Satanic Temple’s attempts to sue the queer Satanists who criticized them, except maybe in an article from the increasingly conservative Newsweek, and even they couldn’t be bothered to do that unless it involved sleazy allegations regarding orgies.

You know, things like this have me thinking that Amaranthe Altanatum was broadly right about atheistic Satanism. I’m not saying all atheistic Satanists are like TST are even approve of TST, but there’s still a lot who will defend TST, and that’s probably because not enough people know what’s going on. Still even its rivals labor under the illusion that they can dismiss the Satanism of anyone they please. And either way, I think it’s something that has to be reckoned with.

Regardless, wherever you stand, The Satanic Temple aren’t your friends. They’re opportunistic fedora-tippers who are presently betraying everything that Satanism has ever held dear. They don’t deserve any support or honour.

Something to remember about Facebook

So yesterday Facebook was hit by a major server outage which left both users and workers unable to use Facebook for about six hours. Instagram and Whatsapp, which are both owned by Facebook, were also affected and were also down for much of the evening. At the same time, or at least on the same day, it seemed the whitstleblower behind a series of leaks concerning Facebook has revealed her identity, Frances Haugen, and gave an interview on 60 Minutes to detail her grievances with the company.

When the outage happened and I looked at the coverage of Frances Haugen’s interview, I had almost thought that Facebook’s server shut down in tandem with the revelations, but it seems to me like that might have been a coincidence. But having said that, there is something I have to say about some aspect of what Haugen is trying to say.

Haugen blames Facebook for the spread of ethinc violence against Rohingya Muslims in Burma, arguing that the platform was used to “foment division and incite offline violence”, as well as attributing the January 6th riot on Capitol Hill to a change in its news feed algorithm. To be honest, when I see talk of Facebook being used to “foment division and violence”, I remember something very different from the not too distant past. I am at least old enough to remember what was called the “Arab Spring”, a succession of protests and revolutions that spread across the Arab world and resulted in the overthrow of authoritarian leaders, including Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Ben Ali in Tunisia, and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Back then, Facebook was being praised for its role in those revolutions, spreading information that the authoritarian governments couldn’t control and leading to their downfall. That was the discourse on Facebook that I remember. Now that the same medium has been blamed for the ascent of Trump and his movement since almost immediately after his election in 2016, the exact same thing that made Facebook so endearing for the liberal consensus is now the worst thing about it.

The thing about mainstream discourse about Facebook is that liberals want everything that makes Facebook great (for them at least), but without any of the negative side-effects that necessarily come with it. They want a platform where anyone can spread information that they approve of on the back that it leads to political change they like, but without that necessarily coming with the ability to spread information they don’t like. I know the knee-jerk reaction of liberals is to talk about right-wing media and all that (as though Facebook isn’t literally controlled by right-wing tech-bros), but you should see the censorship of left-wing media that takes place. I tried to post a link to an article from People and Nature, an eco-socialist blog, to Facebook to bring attention to some much-needed and overlooked discourse about the errors of mainstream solutions to climate change, and Facebook would not let me do it because they thought it was spam. Indeed, in the run-up to Joe Biden’s inauguration, several left-wing users were put on a restriction list, before outright purging left-wing accounts. Left-wing content has also been subject to “extremist content” warnings in the last few months. This is the snapshot of the sort of regime of controlled information that liberal critics of Facebook desire, and as valid as her aims might be, Haugen should be careful what she wishes for.

Some musings on protest, riots, and the Derek Chauvin trial

After about a year, Derek Chauvin, the cop whose knee led to the death of George Floyd, was put on trial for his actions and found guilty. Many arguments were heard, though Chauvin himself refused to testify on his own behalf and defend himself, and after ten hours the jury found him guilty an all three charges that he was accused of. I know it’s tempting to celebrate this as a victory for justice, and it certainly is rare to see cops involved in high-profile murders of black people actually be sent to prison. But there is still a system in place that leads to hundreds of innocent people, including African-Americans, being simply murdered by the police. In fact, in the run up to and immediately after the verdict, the American carceral state claimed yet more lives.

Mainstream liberals seem to display an appalling attitude towards human life when they talk about the verdict. I have seen many of them, especially Nancy Pelosi, talk about George Floyd as though he was a martyr of some sort, a man who gave his life for this moment, which in a way is tantamount to saying either he deserved to die or that his death was good so that police reform can be brought about. The fact that over the last year the US seems to be seeing yet more brutal slayings seems to already suggest little effect on police behaviour is to be expected. In general, this is a rather perverse manifestation of the liberal tendency to revere individuals as manifestations of a great moral arc of history, in the sense that Joe Biden put it in his inauguration speech, which obviously lends itself to a broad ignorance of the role of the system as a whole and thus prevents them from seeing politics in terms of structural problems in favour of individual personalities.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to look at the system as a whole, and Democrats don’t quite want you to do that as much as breathe after this one individual case, and that’s probably because Biden, within just a couple of months, is already funnelling $34 million in military equipment to the police, that’s more than Trump was giving out in the second and third quarters of 2020. And that’s not some right-wing talking point either. Black Lives Matter is pointing this out, and that’s something to consider when we deal in right-wing talking points that assume Black Lives Matter to be an appendage of the Democratic Party; such an appendage would not be so critical of the Biden administration on one of its key issues. The Democratic Party seems to have a lot of interest in talking about police reform, but will they abolish the 1033 program that is responsible for the increasing militarzation of police forces, which will then be deployed against protesters and kill the people under their watch?

Conservatives, on the other hand, seem to be absolutely convinced not only that Derek Chauvin was innocent of at least one of his three charges but also that the trial was completely unfair and the verdict represented an attack on civilization itself. They argue this because they believe the jury was pressured into giving Chauvin a guilty verdict because, if they did not, riots would happen as a result. I’m fairly certain that not every police officer being spared prison resulted in a riot, and in this regard it’s important to bear in mind that Chauvin appears to one of the few officers who actually get convicted in cases like these. I have even seen some conservatives claim that the jurors were doxxed by the media before the verdict was given, without any proof of course but that’s just how it goes for a lot of right-wing cranks. Tucker Carlson, naturally, was absolutely distraught at the verdict, and before the verdict even happened he likened Chauvin’s treatment by the public to a lynching, a comparison so bitter and tone-deaf it leaves you wondering about the man.

When it comes to conservative talking points about civilization being destroyed, since they are very obviously trying to refer to widespread riots, you should know that there is more to the riots than they, and a lot of the media, would prefer to tell you. Someone named Benjamin David Steele stumbled onto my blog some time ago and, in the process of leaving multiple lengthy comments on various posts he alerted me to a study on last year’s protests that was done by ACLED that was apparently one of the only studies ever done of its subject. Here’s a summary of what they found:

  • While there definitely were riots occuring in the US, the vast majority of demonstrations against police brutality have been peaceful, both in America and throughout the world.
  • Widespread media coverage and right-wing commentary paints a misleading picture about the nature of Black Lives Matter protests in America, spotlighting riots while failing to cover most of the peaceful protests taking place across the country.
  • To the extent that there were riots, these are actually either exaserabted or outright created by violent federal government responses rather than prevented.
  • While the majority of demonstrations against police brutality were in fact non-violent, right-wing counter-demonstrations tend to turn violent and its participants brandish weapons on the scene.

The data presented within the study, as can be seen in the link I gave, presents a picture of protest and rioting that is decisively at odds with what right-wing commentators such as Tucker Carlson would like you to believe. The media will, for the most part, only show you the viral incidents of riots which, ultimately, make up a statistical minority of demonstrations, but they won’t show you the broadly peaceful protests throughout the country as reflected by the data at hand. The “law and order” conservative would have you believe that America is descending into disorder and that this necessitates a harsh show of force by governmental authorities, but in reality such draconian and violent suppressions of protest only serve to turn otherwise peaceful demonstrations into riots. Meanwhile, many early protests were peaceful and without incident, and in some cases authorities even joined with protesters in taking the knee, and this may have ended up de-escalating tensions within communities, whereas armed federal response seems only to have escalated tensions. The conservative talks about how they are so concerned about riots sweeping the country, but not only do they not want to change the system that brings people out to protest to start with but they only seem interested in making the situation worse by curtailing your freedom to protest.

And make no mistake, that is what they’re doing. Just a few days, Florida governor Ron DeSantis (yes, the same man who may or may not have tried to call his black opponent a “monkey”) signed into law a new bill that would effectively criminalize peaceful protest with such vague terminology that whether protest can legally be had was basically up to the police. Contained within this law is a new crime banning “mob intimidation”, which in Republican parlance could honestly mean almost anything, a requirement that anyone arrested during a protest be denied bail until their first court appearance, and a clause that provides legal protection for individuals who run over protesters with their car. He seems to justify this with the Capitol Hill riots with the aim of decreasing violent demonstrations, despite the fact that Florida was host to very few riots if any. He’s so concerned about supposed riots happening in his state, but has no problem with psychopaths coming in to run over anyone who shows up to protest. All told, the state of Florida is actively silencing peaceful dissent against the state, which makes inevitable that there probably will be riots. And then there’s Kentucky from before all of this, whose state Senate wants to make it illegal to simply insult a police officer. If American conservatives want to talk destroying civilization, they should be talking about how they’re the ones doing it, because they’re the ones who want to implement authoritarian policies that will lead to more violence and not to mention turning America into a fascist country rather than actually solve problems.

But then I suppose Republicans may already be approaching fascism territory when we consider this in light of their other favorite talking point: the idea of the “great replacement”. Not too long after the Biden administration was found to be keeping immigrants locked in cages, in conditions barely any different than under the Trump administration, and after controversy concerning a new Georgia voting law that would bar people from offering food and water to people waiting in voting lines, Republicans, in truly baffling fashion, started talking about how Democrats were weak on immigration and wanted “open borders”. Tucker Carlson started ranting about how white Americans are supposedly going to be replaced immigrants, never mind, of course, that the Obama administration was infamous for having deported more immigrants than almost any other president, that he sent the National Guard to patrol the US-Mexico border, and that rather than all voting Democrat a record number of non-whites voted for Trump. Facts don’t matter to these people, only racism seems to. And let’s face it, it is racism. The Democrats if anything have been deporting and locking up more immigrants than the Republicans, or at least more than Trump ever did despite his promise to kick out 11 million immigrants, but apparently that’s not enough for Republicans, they still think Democrats want “open borders” even though they’ve not made things any easier for immigrants and certainly have not abolished ICE. So what do Republicans or people like Tucker Carlson want? Quite possibly a country where next to no immigration at all happens in the US, very probably an White Anglo-Saxon ethnostate. That’s the only reason they’re not happy with the Democrats even though if anything they’ve already been doing what Republicans would have wanted anyway for years now.

I still expect America to descend into authoritarian madness, if it isn’t broken up entirely within my lifetime. For some odd reason the “land of the free” can’t be bothered to actually live up to its belief in liberty when real pressure or crisis impose themselves upon it, and that’s important because that’s what counts more than anything. Anyone can be said to believe in anything when in comfort. It’s when the chips are down and the pressure’s on that is the real test of your convictions and values. How long are you going to hold on to them when it looks like things are going to go south for you? That’s the real test, and I think that America, for all the vaunted talk of American “ethos”, is destined to fail that test.

The right to protest

The British government has taken a grim turn on the subject of civil liberty. Not long after the abduction and murder of Sarah Everard, there was a vigil held in south London callled Reclaim These Streets, intended to express solidarity with Evevard and all other women who they believe face similar risks as she did. It was a peaceful demonstration, but that did not stop the police from descending upon the demonstrators, violently suppressing the vigil-goers, dragging them to the floor, grabbing them, leading them in handcuffs, without any visible sign of provocation. After scenes from this suppression went viral, the chief of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, has refused to resign and has received the backing of the policing minister Kit Malthouse.

Supposedly the police were justified in their actions because of restrictions on social gatherings required by the pandemic. But think about that for a moment. There were mass protests in solidarity with George Floyd, the man who was senselessly murdered by US police after already being detained and without any sign of him resisting arrest, throughout Britain, still during the same pandemic, and the British government did not see fit to declare that those protests could not happen. Meanwhile, I remember seeing anti-lockdown protests get broken up by the police after previously establishing that the Black Lives Matter protests could go ahead. And now, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, declared on Monday that protests could not happen during a pandemic, despite being a cornerstone of democracy, close to a year after the government previously allowed certain protests to continue. Wrap your head around that. I’ve also seen some people claim that the vigil stopped people peaceful when a few people shouted through a megaphone to “get people riled up”. I never want to hear those people claim to defend freedom of speech again, because what they’re against is freedom of speech.

But soon after all that, the British government voted on a bill referred to as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. This bill would allow the police to impose greater restrictions on protests, such as start and finish times, noise limits, and in general more discretionary and enforcement powers for police officers. It also allows Priti Patel to unilaterally create laws to define “serious disruption” at her leisure without the approval of parliament. This is a clear and unambiguous crackdown on civil liberties, representing a direct assault on our rights to freely protest the government. Under this bill, your protests can only happen under the direction of the police, and they can be repressed if they hurt the feelings of the police. And yet despite this, our “English liberty” government voted to pass this bill. It passed by a majority of 96 votes. 359 yeas, to 263 noes. A brutal defeat for democracy and civil liberties in Britain.

If you look at the voting data for this bill, you will find that every single MP who voted in favour of this bill was from the Conservative Party, the very same party that had more recently been complaining about universities for curtailing freedom of speech on campus. Only two Conservatives did not vote for the bill, and even then they didn’t vote “No” either, merely abstaining instead. So you have almost the entire Conservative Party voting “Yes” to the bill, and the rest who were just too cowardly to take one position or another. Meanwhile, all of the votes against the bill come from the opposition parties. Nearly every Labour MP voted against it, none of them voted for it, and only three abstained. Even MPs like Dawn Butler, who I normally assume to be a totalitarian tinpot, voted against the bill. Every Liberal Democrat MP voted against the bill, so did Caroline Lucas, the only Green MP in parliament, all three Plaid MPs as well as independent ex-Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards opposed it, all SNP MPs voted against it, which is very ironic considering the quasi-totalitarian policies that the SNP implemented, and Jeremy Corbyn himself, now an independent MP, voted against it. Nearly all the opposition opposed the bill, while nearly all the Conservative Party voted for it. That should tell you everything you need about the direction of the current goverment.

I should also mention that Theresa May, who is no longer Prime Minister but still a sitting Conservative MP, did complain about the bill because she thought it would undermine freedom of speech, but nonetheless she appears to have voted for that bill regardless! What kind of bullshit is this!? If you’re really concerned about the crackdown on freedom of speech, you should be joining the opposition in voting “No” to the bill, not joining your fellow Tories in voting “Yes”. But then I suppose this is consistent with her campaign to destroy human rights and curtail your personal privacy. As a brief aside, I should further mention that Britain is not the only country where freedom of speech is being curtailed in the name of defending the police. In Kentucky, within the United States, the state senate committee has been advancing a bill that would make it illegal to insult or offend police officers. That state senate committee is dominated by the Republican Party, the same party that had been complaining about the Democrats supposedly trying to tell Americans what they can and can’t say.

Now, the only mystery for me is how groups like UKIP or Nigel Farage’s Reform Party would have voted. On the one hand, I would think their ostensible concern for civil liberties would lead them to oppose the bill, but on the other hand, I think their socially conservative tendencies will lead them to fall for that whole “law and order” angle and cause them to support the bill. There is also the conservative centrist Social Democratic Party, which so far has been completely silent on the issue. The CPGB-ML, notorious as a party looking to sneak conservative agendas into the communist movement, is also silent, and so are the Workers Party of Britain. I see this as reason for distrusting all conservative forces on the issue of civil liberties. They either oppose your right to freedom of speech, expression, and assembly, often while pretending the opposite, or they simply don’t care. I never want to hear conservatives talk about freedom again, because it’s all lies from them and nothing else.

According to conservatives, this is what “freedom” looks like

On “cancel culture” in light of recent political developments

The last few weeks have been interesting for anyone following the discourse of political correctness, or rather the way people talk about “cancel culture” nowadays, as conservatives in both the USA and the UK seem to be ratcheting up efforts to present themselves as the free speech movement on trivial culture war grounds. And before we get anywhere in discussing that let me establish from the get go that I simply despise the term “cancel culture”. It seems to have developed as a new way to refer to what might have simply been called political correctness a few decades ago, but is meaningless in practice. It might actually be an evolution of a previous term called “callout culture”, but if all it means is just a culture defined by widespread public shaming and ostracism as a means to remove undesired influences within in-groups, then that’s been around for as long as there have been organized human societies. I’ve even seen the term “cancel culture” applied to boycotting, which ironically is what conservatives have been doing for decades. By these terms, it was conservatives who were engaging in “cancel culture” towards any cultural expressions that were too progressive for them, just as much as it is progressives who do so for the opposite reason.

But anyways, just what is the controversy? Well, there are a couple of controversies that I have seen.

On February 25th through to February 28th, this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference took place under a heavy theme of “uncancelling America”. What does “uncancelling America” mean exactly? Well, going from what some of their speakers were saying, it seems to mean ignoring essentially all major policy discussions in favour of milking the idea of conservatives being under threat from liberal cultural elites, and judging from their social media output we can see that they are once again milking the tired old (and since debunked) talking points about some far-left takeover of universities. In practice, however, it also seems to mean cancelling speakers, as happened to the rapper Young Pharaoh over anti-semitic posts which blamed Israel, Jews, and for some reason the Communist Party of China for basically all social media censorship. What’s interesting is that CPAC’s official reason for booting him is that he expressed “reprehensible views that have no home with our conference or our organization”, which is funny because privately owned social media companies can say the same thing about literally anyone they despise. Now, I’m not saying that CPAC should have simply tolerated anti-semitism in their ranks, not by any means, but isn’t it just delicious irony that they have to start cancelling speakers after making their whole conference about how bad it is to cancel people for speech.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Conservative Party has been talking about taking action against universities over perceived threats to freedom of speech. What do they mean? Education Secretary Gavin Williamson answers this question by saying that he wants to appoint a “free speech champion” to the board of the Office for Students. This “champion” would have the authority to sanction British universities for fines if they fail to promote freedom of speech, at least by the standards of the government anyway. Essentially, the government wants to appoint minders to universities, or rather their student boards, who will monitor them for their activities and subject internal academic debate to state oversight, in the name of preserving freedom of speech. Of course, the irony hasn’t gone unnoticed, and the record of the Conservative Party on freedom of speech is easily shown to be appalling. Leftists criticize the Conservative Party for distracting from their own handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by waging culture war, and while it may seem hypocritical in light of progressive culture war tendencies, we know for a fact that the Conservatives have already been doing culture war in order to suppress our freedoms for decades, well before everyone on the internet started talking about how it’s the left that wants to do this, and all the while the party never actually stopped trying to control us. The only difference is that they’re glad that you think they’re not a threat anymore.

Back to the US, the last few weeks have highlighted the truly meaninglessness of the spectacle regarding “cancel culture”. On February 26th, the veteran toy company Hasbro announced that they would be changing their Mr Potato Head brand by removing the “Mr” part, in order to make the language gender neutral. Apparently this is only limited to the brand, and not to the actual toy itself. The toy characters will still exist, but the company sells them in a more gender neutral way. Now you could argue that this is rather pointless, merely a witless indulgence in political correctness (and I’d say that’s probably the case), but we can’t say that this was a case of them bowing to pressure from liberals/progressives. Quite the opposite, in fact. Hasbro only clarified their decision after the right began lashing out at the company. So if anything this has been right-wingers trying to cancel Hasbro for doing something they don’t like, and pressuring them to change, instead of liberals, and then proceeding to complain about the prevalence of “cancel culture” in the US. But then that’s just about the kind of self-awareness one should expect from the people who frequently resort to boycotting while pretending that it’s not sort of the same thing in principle. No seriously, what were they doing with Nike, for example, if not trying to cancel them for the Colin Kaepernick ad they ran? Or how about that time Charlie Hebdo ran a cover featuring Nazis drowning in a flood as a result of Hurricane Harvey and the right seethed at it, after previously defending Charlie Hebdo for their depictions of the prophet Muhammad and Muslims? Is that not “cancel culture”? Or is it only “cancel culture” when liberals and progressives think Charlie Hebdo goes too far in its depiction of Muslims and cry “hate speech”? This is nonsense and you don’t need to be much of an intellectual to see it.

And if that wasn’t enough, just behold how ass-mad conservatives got at the estate of Dr Seuss (or Theodor Seuss Geisel as was his real name) over its removal of six Dr Seuss books from publication. The books were removed because they contained depictions of non-whites that we would now judge to be racist, and which Dr Seuss himself has since regretted before his death. Conservatives are acting like those books have banned by the Democrats or some bullshit like that, but all that happened is that Dr Seuss estate removed those books on their own. I mean, unless you can point me to any actual legislation decreeing that those books are now banned from being published. And you know, it’s kind of funny that conservatives are defending Dr Seuss’ old material, because the same guy, during the 1940s, made cartoons depicting Josef Stalin in a rather heroic light, with one cartoon famously depicting him serving up a roasted Adolf Hitler for dinner. Of course, Dr Seuss wasn’t actually a communist. He was a liberal Democrat, a supporter of Franklin Roosevelt, and this was back in World War 2, when Russia was considered one of the Allies against the threat of Nazi Germany. But in this context he was also a staunch opponent of isolationism as well as fascism, cruelly mocked the America First movement for what he saw as its indifference to Nazi atrocity (hence the line, “but those were foreign children and it really didn’t matter” in one of his satires) as well as anti-semitism, a supporter of causes such as environmentalism and nuclear disarmament, and he even considered his own cartoon characters, such as Cat in the Hat, to be subversive icons of rebellion against authority. The irony of conservatives, including the Trump-supporting conservatives who appear to be at the vanguard of this nonsensical display, going out to bat for Dr Seuss’s cartoons is that his repertoire can easily be invoked conservative politicians like Trump, and indeed already has been. But the conservatives aren’t defending those cartoons. They’re defending some racist cartoons he made and has since regretted, because his estate removed them of their own free will. And now we’re at a point where Kevin McCarthy is reading Green Eggs and Ham in an embarrassing plea for the nation.

And you know, there’s something to this asinine culture war nonsense in America that should not be allowed to escape your notice. At right around the same time as all this is going on, there was also the struggle to get stimulus checks out to the American people to relieve them from the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a struggle to implement a $15 minimum wage. When a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill was finally passed, not a single Republican voted for it. The $15 minimum wage, however, failed to get through, having been nixed by eight Democrats who took the side of Republicans on the issue. Notice that instead of talking about why they don’t want Americans to have any stimulus checks going to them, or why they think Americans shouldn’t get a living wage, Republicans are talking about how your established children’s entertainment is being banned even though no such bans were ever proposed or implemented. In fact, Kevin McCarthy also invoked an imagined crusade against Dr Seuss (claiming that Democrats “outlawed” Dr Seuss and “now they want to tell you what to say”) while delivering opposition to the For the People Act (or HR1), a bill that among other things would make Election Day a national holiday for federal workers, enable automatic voter registration, establish independent commissions in order to put an end to partisan gerrymandering, and overturn the Citizens United case that allowed super PACs to coordinate with political candidates. Indeed, no Republican at all supported this bill. They don’t want you thinking about your economic/material interests, they want you focused on brain-rotting culture wars that don’t mean anything so that you can forget about what’s happening in the real world. And the sad thing is they’ve probably been successful in getting liberals to go along with it snce instead of talking about Biden bombing the Middle East again they’re talking about Pepe Le Pew and Speedy Gonzales being problematic.

Now, I want to make something emphatically clear here. I don’t like political correctness, at all. And I think there is the argument to be made that the Potato Head thing falls into that in terms of it being classic politically correct rebranding, and the Dr Seuss thing, it could be argued, could represent a form of self-censorship. There’s also something involving the Muppets having a content warning for certain problematic themes and this plus the Pepe Le Pew thing is just silly. But voluntary conformity to prevailing cultural/normative expectations doesn’t really constitute some campaign by the Democrats to outlaw your favorite consumerisms. In fact, the same people who go on about how free markets mean companies can make their own choices have no right whatsoever to make such a big political cause over those same companies making that same choice in a way that they dislike. Republicans are using this to decry the preponderence of what they call “cancel culture”, but all they’re doing is cancelling Dr Seuss, Hasbro, and the Muppets for making decisions that they dislike. At least political correctness as a concept has meaning in the sense that it can be invoked in reference to pallid and dogmatic conformity to ideological orthodoxy and abstract moral rectitude – in fact, that’s exactly what the left meant by it before Allan Bloom and his ilk stole that concept from us and then the right recuperated it as a way of referring simply to modern liberal tendencies. “Cancel culture” on the other hand is simply a shorthand for when people do anything from vocally condemn someone or something for bad things being said or done to boycotts. It has no definite objectivity as a concept, and is simply means by which professional obscurants can lead you away from objective material conditions thus preventing you from changing them.

In short, people should do one of two things when the discourse of “cancel culture” emerges. We should either ignore it entirely and just move on to discourse on material public policy, or pay close attention to it on the grounds that we can see the ways in which it obfuscates material conditions. Of course, there is one other thing that should be done as well. Namely, we should reclaim the concept of political correctness as a term of social analysis from the opportunistic right-wingers who stole it from the left, just like they stole the entire concept of libertarianism from the left.

Green eggs and ham

Reddit vs Wall Street

An exciting development has been taking place in the field of sticking it to the man. Last week, a subreddit called r/WallStreetBets began short squeezing shares from the company GameStop, which was seeing hard times due to a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and competition from online distrubtors. Seeing GameStop’s terrible condition, some hedge funds placed short bets on the company failing, intending to make a fortune off the company eventually folding. But r/WallStreetBets had other ideas. Seeing so many investors bet on GameStop’s price going down, and going from the word of Citron Research who said that the value of GameStop’s stock would decrease, the subreddit began buying GameStop’s stock en masse in order to drive up the price. The idea seems to have been to make it so that the rich short sellers would have to pay more money for the stocks they bet on. As you probably already have some idea about, it seems to be working.

In the space of a week, GameStop’s share price has skyrocketed by about 700%. The hedge funds bet that GameStop’s stocks would plummet, and now that they’re actually rising they risk losing a lot of money. The stocks have risen so quickly that trading has halted at some points. Naturally, this has sent the financial establishment into panic mode. They’re now doing everything they can to try and lower the price of the stock so that they can still make a profit off of those shares, while Reddit is holding out and refusing to sell for the moment because then the stock prices will plummet and the hedge funds win. In the meantime, the same people who for years have been playing the stock market like a casino are now calling on the government to stop people from doing the same thing they did.

However, it looks like all the hype might not be to last. As of today, the stock price for GameStop has indeed plumetted after the trading app Robinhood imposed a ban on its users investing in GameStop. The bourgeoisie, having sense that the stock market was rapidly being turned against them by ordinary people, and have now opted to use their power to rig the outcome in their favour so that they can still make a profit. Thus it seems as though WallStreetBets might well lose the war. And yet, despite this, there may yet be wide-ranging political rammifications. Both progressives and conservatives appear to be united in calling for investigations into the stock market, and the Senates plans to have a hearing on the state of the stock market. Time will tell what will come of all this, but no matter what happens hedge funds are in for a grilling and the future of stockbroking may change irreversibly.

All told, I think this was nothing less than a heroic story of ordinary people on the internet who, with nothing but their own know-how, got together and seized the opportunity to take on the American financial elite by playing the stock market game. And although I can’t say with much confidence that they’ve won, for now at least, but no matter what the outcome their struggle is showing people what happens when ordinary people try to take on the system, and, most importantly, that is possible for anyone to subvert the system if they have the knowledge to do so. I think this the main lesson for anyone seeking to oppose capitalism to draw from all of this. Old forms of revolution in light of modern material conditions is the talk of the 20th century, but subversion is, and always has been, a living force of radical change, and opens the way forward for the anti-capitalism of the 21st century.

The other lesson, of course, concerns so-called “hate speech”. Not long after the stock market spiralled out of control, the Discord server for r/WallStreetBets was shut down supposedly on the grounds of “hate speech” violations. This, you should remember, is not long after they successfully short squeezed GameStop’s stocks. The lesson from this is that “hate speech” laws were never, ever, about protecting the marginalized, or upholding freedom of speech as some would insist in a brazenly Orwellian fashion, but instead they were always there just to shore up the authority of the ruling class. Those who look at this and still for that hackneyed line will show themselves to be goons forever.

Fan art of r/WallStreetBets