As cockroaches scurry for the darkness, so do the Nazis


The major social media sites have been making some weak, token efforts to clean up the racism and sexism endemic to places like Twitter and Facebook, but so far it’s been feeble. They’ll occasionally boot someone who gets as obnoxious as Andrew Anglin or Chuck C. Johnson, but it takes months or years of complaints (which I think is usually totally ineffective) or that they do something that is high profile and starts making the service look bad. But meanwhile, it’s fine for Joe Sixpack with 50 followers to scribble about how women should be happy to be raped, or that Jews belong in ovens, with no repercussions at all. We know, however, that Twitter and Facebook could prohibit hate speech, because they already do in France and Germany. It’s a conscious plan to allow Nazis to flourish in American social media. Why?

In an article about alternative social media, there’s a hint. The white nationalists, the Nazis, the MRAs, the general bottom-feeding trash of the internet, are getting worried about the few examples of evicted Nazis, and so are building their own new brands: a chat network called Gab, and there’s something that is an alternative to Patreon that is, amusingly, openly called Hatreon, for people who want to get paid for hating. If you’re wondering why American companies are so reluctant to block online hatred, one answer is that American tech workers have a high proportion of haters.

The early iterations of whatever Gab’s movement produces may very well be funded by its builders, many of whom purportedly have high-paying jobs in Silicon Valley. Andrew Anglin, the publisher of the Daily Stormer, told Mother Jones in March that the majority of his site’s traffic comes from Santa Clara County, in the heart of Silicon Valley. “The average alt-right-ist,” the white supremacist Richard Spencer told the magazine, “is probably a 28-year-old tech-savvy guy working in IT.”

But why? Why would American computer programmers drift towards Naziism? I think there’s an answer to that, too. They’re saturated in triumphal capitalism, and in particular, Libertarianism, which is the gateway drug to full-blown greed, which they’ve branded as “liberty”.

Since Google fired Damore and Gab lost its spot in the Google app store, the effort to found an alt-right internet has taken on a new urgency. Dickinson released a slide deck on Friday to try to appeal to investors and new entrants who wish to join the budding movement. “Alt-Tech promises to restore and revive the old libertarian ethos of technology as a leveler and tool for increasing liberty,” read his slides, which proclaim that the movement doesn’t care about race, gender, or pedigree and that its motto is “Shut up and code.” The plan promises to revitalize rural and small-town America by providing engineering jobs to people who will build the new “anti-Marxist” internet. “The first VCs to fund these alternatives will be the ground floor profit-makers of the Alt-Tech revolution,” reads one of his slides.

In the past two weeks, a handful of far-right video bloggers have jumped onboard to promote the nascent movement, including Styxhexenhammer666, a popular libertarian video blogger, whose two videos about the effort have notched almost 70,000 views. Others have posted “call to action” videos, rallying technologists to join the movement to build “new ‘free speech’ platforms,” which have also attracted thousands of viewers. While these might not read as huge numbers, they suggest a movement with a groundswell of grassroots support.

They don’t care about race or gender. That usually means they don’t care about the inequities constructed around race and gender, because they’re mostly white men who have got theirs already. They also claim to not believe in ideology, even to be ideology-free, while not noticing that they’re soaking in a particularly ugly ideology.

“Most of the people that I see migrating to alternative social platforms identify as either Conservative or Libertarian,” one member of Gab who asked not to be named told me in an email. “They see how there is a double-standard when it comes to enforcing so-called ‘hate-speech’ by Google, Facebook & Twitter. Much of what is being censored or shadow-banned is not hate filled. It is often simply an idea that the loudest do not agree with.” Unlike legacy white supremacist sites, Gab isn’t centered on any one political ideology, even if many hate-filled ideologies gravitated there. Rather, it’s ostensibly a place that values free speech first, no matter how offensive it is.

Oh, right. “Free speech”. I like free speech, I think it’s an important value to have, because I want to be able to loudly declare these people to be rancid, hate-filled, selfish assholes. I also recognize that there’s a difference between openly detesting an ideology and inciting the torture and murder of whole peoples, a distinction they fail to acknowledge. “I hate Jews” is an opinion that labels the speaker as a bigot; “We need to organize to do something about the Jewish Problem” is encouraging people to do physical harm.

But how can they say they aren’t centered on any one political ideology when they also admit that they’re full of conservatives and Libertarians? If Google and Apple wander very slightly from the far right (it’s insane that anyone thinks a major American corporation is actually liberal), they get blamed for being a gang of SJWs. But Gab specifically and intentionally appeals to far-right fascists, and they get to claim they’re relatively non-ideological.

“If Google and Apple are straight-up corporations for their political sides, they should openly declare their discriminatory behavior. They should be proud of it,” said Gab’s Sanduja. “They should not be mendacious and talk about change and be different. Stop engaging in sophistry. Come out to us as the major SJW platforms you are.”

It’s always revealing to see them using the same buzzwords my personal haters are fond of. I’m not black, I’m not Jewish, I’m not a woman, I should be safe, right? My privilege is sky high. But they’ve found a way to target me, too, so it’s more than just an empathy for others, they’d like to kill me, too. After all, I am one of those hated Social Justice Warriors.

So now I have to be a white Nordic male with Libertarian leanings to be part of this in-group? Keep on narrowing your requirements until no one meets them. I guess this is the point where I’m supposed to quote Reinhold Niebuhr or Martin Niemöller, but you already know what they said, it’s obvious. Except to Nazis.

Comments

  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    …it’s insane that anyone thinks a major American corporation is actually liberal…

    Actual operating liberalness and mega-corporations go hand-in-hand: ask any Clinton!

  2. cartomancer says

    Perhaps if they didn’t want Marx’s critiques of capitalism to be so widely appreciated they would stop proving so many of them right all the time…

  3. says

    PZM:

    [T]here’s something that is an alternative to Patreon that is, amusingly, openly called Hatreon, for people who want to get paid for hating.

    Maybe it’s pronounced hatreon”, and their servers run on Fedora linux.

    On “principle”.

    MR (#1) –

    More likely, they’re going to commit credit card fraud on those foolish enough to “donate”. It wouldn’t be the first time rightwingnuts have used political motivations to rip off true believers for profit (e.g. the KKK of DC Stephenson, Trump “university”, Rush Limbaugh’s “gold” scam, countless pastors who fleeced their flocks both figuratively and literally, etc.).

  4. blf says

    SC@4, That link isn’t working (it looks like it was removed?), but it’s still in Generalissimo Google’s cache. Here is a related SPLC article, Craig Cobb Continues Fighting To Prove He’s Actually White (SPLC’s edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    The well-known white supremacist and anti-Semite, who garnered national attention after attempting to take over the small town of Leith, N.D., took to Stormfront this morning to gleefully announce that he had disproven the “junk science” test in November of 2013 that put his pedigree in question.

    In that test, the results of which were televised on the Trisha Goddard Show, Cobb was found to have 14 percent sub-Saharan African genes — a fact he dismissed as statistical noise.

    Apparently, Goddard’s big reveal to Cobb that, “You have a little black in you, bro!” had been eating away at the would-be mayor of “Cobbsville” for some time. So much so that Cobb had a second test completed that showed he was pure white, except for a 3% Iberian thing.

    […]

    In his lengthy post announcing his newly discovered whiteness, Cobb goes on to thank a laundry list of white supremacist leaders for supporting {him} from the inception when {he} was defamed by junk science.

    Without their support, who knows whether Cobb could have found the strength to persevere and keep buying genetics tests until he could finally, indisputably prove that he is in fact white.

  5. says

    I was mostly thinking along the lines of a campaign promoting free speach for AIs – energetically championed by chat-bots running neural networks trained on a toxic brew of yelp reviews, youtube comments, and postings by Thunderfoot and Richard Dawkins, with
    SET POSTING_DELAY=1s

    I mean, you gotta respect the right of an echo chamber to echo. Right?

  6. Siobhan says

    which proclaim that the movement doesn’t care about race, gender, or pedigree

    Which is why all the funders, founders, and executives are wealthy cishet white men who were probably frat boys in college.

    But hey, their hair is a different colour. Diversity.

  7. Siobhan says

    Also:

    Come out to us as the major SJW platforms you are.

    I still have several rape threats in my Facebook inbox. My first move on Twitter was to use the blockbot and TERFblocker to filter out unmitigated abuse. Google algorithms have resulted in misinformation on trans issues consistently ranking top spots in Google searches.

    Imagine being so distorted that this is SJW behaviour.

    All those de-radicalization organizations sound super cool and all but they all say it takes years. I don’t think we have enough time or people to bring these people back down to Earth.

  8. says

    Who’s surprised that libertarianism has turned out to be a gateway to outright racism and white supremacy?

    Anyone?

    Anyone?

    “Meritocracies” my ass.

  9. bryanfeir says

    which proclaim that the movement doesn’t care about race, gender, or pedigree and that its motto is “Shut up and code.”

    Hunh… wasn’t ‘Shut up and play’ one of the standard Gamergate mottos? One that they put in the mouth of their Vivian James mascot?

    Things that make you go ‘hmm…’

  10. blf says

    SC@12, It’s also now working for me. I had connectivity problems all day yesterday, perhaps they haven’t completely cleared up? Apologies for the false / misdiagnosed alarm, and thanks for the additional link.

  11. mferrari says

    Hey PZ, what do you think about bitcoin and blockchain technology and what these things could do to our world governments in the future? It’s starting to look like a libertarian wet dream come true.

  12. anym says

    @mferrari

    what do you think about bitcoin and blockchain technology and what these things could do to our world governments in the future?

    It is difficult to describe succinctly how awful and stupid bitcoin and everything and everyone currently trying to use blockchains for anything actually is. Someone else has had a reasonable go here: https://davidgerard.co.uk/blockchain/book/

    There are a bunch of relevant free exerpts from the book linked from that page.

    It’s starting to look like a libertarian wet dream come true.

    I’m going to assume that you don’t know much about bitcoin and the blockchain, or that you don’t know much about libertarian wet dreams. I can’t give you any useful links for the latter though.

    (on reflection, it is possible that you meant the sort of libertarian wet dream that involves scamming large numbers of other libertarians, in which case I apologise for my presumptuousness).

  13. gorobei says

    I’m not sure American computer programmers are the way they are because they’re saturated in triumphal capitalism, and in particular, Libertarianism.

    They (and I include myself) are all both inclined and trained to find simple solutions to complex problems. The best treat this as a valuable skill in their toolbox, the mediocre just randomly simplify until they have a sense of mastery. It’s no wonder that many programmers hate management for all its irreducible complexity, or worse, just believe the gold standard or terrorist acts would fix things.

    This isn’t triumphalism, it’s cargo cult thinking.

  14. says

    @26

    > It is difficult to describe succinctly how awful and stupid bitcoin and everything and everyone currently trying to use blockchains for anything actually is. Someone else has had a reasonable go here: https://davidgerard.co.uk/blockchain/book/

    Cheers :-D The book you really want for the right-wing roots of Bitcoin is The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism by David Golumbia. I knew bitcoin was a libertarian exercise, but he absolutely nails down every dot of how it got there. Chapter 2 of my book draws heavily on his.

    (He also made my book into a college textbook! Obviously I need to do a special $150 textbook edition …)

  15. ck, the Irate Lump says

    PZ wrote:

    The white nationalists, the Nazis, the MRAs, the general bottom-feeding trash of the internet, are getting worried about the few examples of evicted Nazis, and so are building their own new brands: a chat network called Gab, and there’s something that is an alternative to Patreon that is, amusingly, openly called Hatreon, for people who want to get paid for hating.

    There’s also PewTube, which is supposedly the free speech alternative to Youtube. Amusingly, a video of the USSR’s national athem was the most viewed video on the site for a while until it was removed, followed closely by a video that insulted the site’s founder (also now removed). So much for the tolerant left freeze peach alt-right, eh? Also amusing is that the twitter account associated with the site was blocking anyone who criticizes the site, even if they were not @’ed (and is now protected so no one can see their tweets). And of course, they’re accepting donations of bitcoins.

    mferrari wrote:

    Hey PZ, what do you think about bitcoin and blockchain technology and what these things could do to our world governments in the future? It’s starting to look like a libertarian wet dream come true.

    Bitcoin is practically weaponized libertarianism. It scratches all their paranoid conspiracy theories about the gold standard versus fiat currencies, lack of government control (esp. taxation), and evading the supposedly big evil central banks. It rewards the most ruthless or criminal, and is inherently deflationary so that those with the wealth will almost always get more wealthy without having to lift a finger.

    Blockchain might have some more useful functions that it can be used for, but it’s not the panacea that so many claim it is. And even for the things it might provide value for, it comes with severe limitations that may make1 it useless.

  16. methuseus says

    @anym #17

    It is difficult to describe succinctly how awful and stupid bitcoin and everything and everyone currently trying to use blockchains for anything actually is.

    One succinct comment is that lots of millennials are buying up bitcoin and other blockchain currencies as an alternative to 401ks and other retirement schemes. This is completely ignoring that all these cryptocurrencies are showing all the signs of the same type of bubble as burst in the tech world in the early 2000s. The same one that burst right before I graduated college, plunging the expected income of any tech graduates. There’s a relatively large chance that bitcoin will tank within the next 2-3 years as the people playing it like the non-regulated stock market that it is get out.

  17. methuseus says

    Ok, not sure what I meant instead of “succinct” above… Rereading my comment that first sentence doesn’t really make sense in that way.

  18. thomashuxley says

    > They see how there is a double-standard when it comes to enforcing so-called ‘hate-speech’ by Google, Facebook & Twitter.

    This is kind of silly. There are thousands of alt-right and what have you groups on Facebook.

    In 2010 I set up a Facebook group pertaining to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. It was supportive of Jacques Verges’s defense of Nuon Chea. In my own mind I was more against the hypocrisy of the ECCC than supportive of Nuon Chea. The group was fairly small and tame. I posted articles from Time, the Guardian, Voice of America, the New York Times. I had some quotes from Verges and Nuon Chea.

    Some Facebook conservative found out I had a group with some criticism of the ECCC (criticism from Time magazine etc.) and he began trying to get the group banned and me banned. Which summarily happened – the group was banned, and I was put into some type of ban state. Facebook told me I would have to send them my driver’s license before they’d decide whether or not I could use my account again.

    I was surprised a group linking to articles from the New York Times, the Guardian etc. would be banned, simply because I sympathized with the person on “trial”. Although it’s not really any kind of trial at all when 100% of the US media has already made its verdict, and milquetoast Facebook groups sympathizing with the defendant get banned. Which is kind of why I started the group in the first place.

    This notion that there is a double-standard is absurd.

    We know in 1967, Israel invaded the West Bank. We know that there are multiple UN general assembly resolutions against this, plus the recent UNSC resolution against the building of Israeli settlements.

    Here’s a hypothetical question – can anyone name one Palestinian group, which is militantly resisting with arms the armed presence of the IDF and settlers on the West Bank, that is not blocked by Facebook, Twitter, and Google (or that is not listed as a terrorist group by the US?) Israel invaded and occupied the West Bank, comes in armed and displaces Palestinians with settlers, yet any group of Palestinians who resist this armed displacements that are condemned by the world, even the US, are themselves labeled as terrorists by the US government, and blocked by the major content companies. Now there, there is a double standard.

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