The Battle for Social Media Supremacy

There is a massive fight taking place in the realm of social media at the moment, one which is sure to help shape the wider culture over the foreseeable future.

The following passage from Paul Gottfried’s After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State describes the concept of “dehumanizing dissent,” which is a technique that has been a staple of Marxist movements:

For almost half a century the defense of liberal democratic pluralism has been tied to therapeutic politics. Having reduced inherited moral truths to individual value-choices, the pluralists are now in a position to proclaim their value-preferences as an alternative to the war of all against all. At first they defended these preferences in terms of experimental science or as inescapable paths toward modernization, but they eventually followed the course revealed by [Christopher] Lasch and [Thomas] Szasz: condemning stubborn dissenters as pathological.

 

This dehumanization of dissent was already present in Adorno’s conception of personality disorder. For Adorno and his collaborators on “The Authoritarian Personality,” values and attitudes were functions of personality, by which they understood “a readiness for behavior rather than behavior itself.” Adorno maintained that “personality structure may be such as to render the individual susceptible to antidemocratic propaganda” and that “a certain psychological structure of the individual” predisposed him to both fascism and antiSemitism.55 His research and that of his collaborators were not intended as mere exercises in statistical correlation. In the foreword to the Studies in Prejudice series that Adorno and his group’s research inaugurates, the general editors, Max Horkheimer and S. H. Flowerman, announce that “our aim is not merely to describe prejudice but to explain it in order to help in its eradication. Eradication means reeducation scientifically planned on the basis of understanding scientifically arrived at.”56

Keep this drive towards the pathologizing of dissent at the forefront of your mind when looking at this article from the Financial Times, titled ” PayPal shuts Russian crowdfunder’s account after alt-right influx,” with a subheading of “SubscribeStar site hosts rightwing activists and pornographers”

Before the first world of the article, the reader has been subjected to four attempts to convey the message that “Subscribestar is bad, so PayPal had to shut it down accordingly.” The first is through the use of the adjective “Russian,” which plays to the larger attempt by the defenders of the Post-World War 2 status quo to ascribe to any and all populist criticism of the status quo, from Brexit to Trump to the Yellow Vests, the stench of a dastardly plot from the mind of Vladamir Putin himself.

Then, there is the use of “alt-right,” which has also become a catch-all term which describes any viewpoint to the right of Jeb Bush, and used pejoritavely by the defenders of the status quo to mean Nazi/racist/anti-semite/bigot/general bad person/etc. Then, there is the use of the term “rightwing,” which again refers to anyone to the right of Jeb Bush and is used pejoratively. Then, there is the mention of “pornographers,” which is curious given the status quo generally tolerates pornography and as such in theory would not have an issue with such individuals inhabiting a particular space. However, it may be playing on the general negative connotation the word still engenders to complete a picture of seediness.

Again, that is all before the first word of the article. This is an increasingly common practice for the modern legacy media – perhaps understanding that a modern public barely reads, let alone reads lengthy articles making coherent arguments – “journalists” have taken to editorializing in their headlines, so those who only have the attention span to perform a drive-by reading of the headlines can still imbibe whatever propaganda that was meant for them.

And so we get to the body of the article.

PayPal has cut ties with a crowdfunding site after it was flooded with alt-right activists on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

SubscribeStar currently hosts a roster of more than 100 “stars”, consisting almost entirely of rightwing activists and pornographers.

 

 

A slew of rightwing activists began promoting SubscribeStar as their preferred crowdfunding site earlier this month after Patreon, the market leader, banned YouTuber Carl Benjamin, better known as “Sargon of Akkad”, and Milo Yiannopoulos from its site.

Note the linking of “rightwing activists and pornographers.” What is really of interest here is the manner in which the writer refers to the key individuals in the story. He writes:

Mr Zadvornyy registered SubscribeStar in Wyoming, US, in August 2017, but lists his personal address as the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. He describes himself online as a front-end developer who is “passionate and successful at making things look and perform at its best”.

Code Red! Russia Alert!

Mr Benjamin has repeatedly denied any affiliation with the alt-right, though white supremacist Richard Spencer has described him and Mr Yiannopoulos as “great entry points” to his movement.

Translation: Richard Spencer is a Bad Guy, and therefore if he has a positive thing to say about you, it must mean you too are a Bad Guy, regardless of whether or not you associate with the Bad Guy.

Controversial psychologist Jordan Peterson has publicly backed Mr Benjamin, tweeting a link to his new crowdfunding page with the caption: “You can support Sargon at the Patreon alternative SubscribeStar.”

“Controversial psychologist” – why controversial? I suppose it was the easiest way to signal Peterson as another Bad Guy and therefore tinge Sargon with the Badness by extension.

Rightwing writer Ian Miles Cheong, YouTuber Mark Meechan — better known as “Count Dankula” — and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich also told followers they were switching to SubscribeStar.

 

Mr Cheong, who has written articles for Mr Yiannopoulos’s Dangerous website criticising contemporary feminism and other social justice movements, said: “People are rejecting Patreon because of their broken enforcement of their terms of service. Some get banned, others don’t — for having the same content.”

 

Mr Cernovich — who is best known for his work on US conspiracy theory website InfoWars, and for personally promoting the “Pizzagate” conspiracy, which falsely claimed Hillary Clinton was linked to a paedophile ring at a Washington DC pizza parlour — told his 440,000 Facebook followers that SubscribeStar was the “best way to support independent media and journalism”.

 

Mr Meechan, who described Patreon as his “main income”, told followers he was “beginning the process of switching over to SubscribeStar”. Mr Meechan made headlines in April of this year when he was fined £800 under the Communications Act for uploading a YouTube video featuring a dog making a “Nazi salute” while he shouted “gas the Jews”.

Just look at all these Bad People – conspiracy theorists, people who criticize feminists and eeven people who make Nazi Jokes with dogs!!! This SubscribeStar thing is really dangerous!

Tim Squirrell, a PhD candidate studying alt-right online communities,

What a winner.

said: “SubscribeStar has delineated itself from the competition by its approach to content creators, actively marketing itself as an alternative for those deplatformed by Patreon and other services.

 

“The question it’s going to need to deal with in the coming days and weeks, as it receives more publicity from the alt-right creators beginning to use it, will be where it draws the line.”

Translation: SubscribeStar is harboring a lot of heretics on its platform. It must answer for this, and draw a line somewhere, or else face the same deplatforming that itself seeks to remedy.

Heresy is the right word here, as the figures mentioned in this article do have the commonality of standing against, to varying degrees, what I call the TEPID Religion. It’s an acronym standing for Tolerance, Equality, Progress, Inclusive and Diversity, and the adherence to this catechism, as defined by Marxists, has come to supplant Christianity in the Western world.

The internet, social media in particular, has fostered a substantial and effective bulwark against the TEPID religion in recent years. The clearest examples of this were Gamergate and the 2016 US Presidential election, which caught TEPID acolytes offside. Since 2016, they have rebounded through pressurizing Big Tech to deplatform dissidents. The modus operandi is to establish Terms of Service littered with vague, subjective terms such as “hate speech,” which mask politically motivated silencing as adherence to the rules.

On an individual basis, the TEPID crowd have had some success in the sense that some pretty large voices have been silenced, or otherwise sufficiently bullied down to size. But the nature of the internet is such that the deplatformers have created a larger problem for themselves – they have merely confirmed that they are the old guard, the evil empire, the uncool. They have proven that they cannot hack it in the Meme War, and thus have to resort to bush league tactics.

There is a generational angle to this as well. Of the two most internet-savvy generations – the millennials and Generation Z – the former has been indoctrinated by a particularly putrid strain of TEPID. One of the hallmarks of TEPID, the progress part, is that the job is never done. As long as there are conventions, rules and taboos, the world remains an evil place. This is how the great civil rights efforts of the current day revolve around, for example, whether a 40 year old man has the right to declare himself a 13 year girl f or the purposes of using the female changing room.

Generation Z, which owing to its youth has a natural proclivity for rebellion, has shown itself to have little time for the shibboleths of TEPID. The internet, social media in particular, plays right into this rebellious streak by fostering a particular culture of mockery and edginess, which has long been on the decline in the “real world.”  

This brings me to PewDiePie. His real name is Felix Kjellberg, and as of this writing he has the largest following on YouTube, with some 77 million subscribers. His videos are all comedic in nature, and focus on videogames, pop culture, funny internet memes, among many other things. His videos are geared towards a young audience, from preteen into early twenties.

He has become a threat to the TEPID set because, to make a long story short, in the course of his joking and satirical nature, he has committed the grave sins of making Nazi jokes and blurting out a racial slur while playing a video game. More than this, whenever the schoolmarms in the mainstream press tried to make a stink about his Bad Behavior, PewDiePie has responded with mockery and derision. This has led to his labeling as an alt-right sympathizer, aka Bad Person., who has tens of millions of followers to boot. A recent Vox article spells out the concerns of the TEPID set:

Given PewDiePie’s high level of influence over followers who are in turn deeply committed to waging meme wars in his name, and given that those followers are deploying the same tools of memeified, joking harassment and brigading that the alt-right is known to deploy, his appearance of flirting with alt-right ideas and rhetoric becomes concerning.

 

In essence, as Read proposed in the Intelligencer, YouTube’s most influential personality is using his platform in ways that could push millions of his already devoted followers toward online extremism.

 

“PewDiePie’s status as the standard-bearer of True YouTube gives his position in broader political debates an outsize weight,” Read wrote. “And if you start from the position that PewDiePie is great and his critics unfair (and possibly disingenuous), you may soon find yourself taking on some unfortunate new political positions.”

The TEPID crowd is in a bind here. To go after PewDiePie in any serious way would be a clear declaration of war against an entire generation, which would then mobilize. It’s already happened on a small scale, taking into account PewDiePie’s battle with the Wall Street Journal, which saw that site defaced by PewDiePie supporting trolls in response.

The issue is, the TEPID crowd has inertia against them. Generation Z has the rebellious nature of youth. It is far too young to have any tangible connection to anything related to World War II, and thus have no sensitivity to Nazi jokes or anti-Semitism. On top of this, the excesses of the TEPID religion render the whole thing a bit silly to anyone to thinks about it for more than a second. Paul Joseph Watson touches on this in his video about Tik Tok, another Generation Z convention that has the older folks up in arms over the way it has been used in the service of mocking them.

All of this is to say that there is no way out for the TEPID crowd over the long run. The only question is how much ruin will be caused by the TEPID adherents in their religious war against the coming pendulum shift.