Greenwald’s Free Speech Absolutism and Twitter’s Foley Ban

Sometimes I’m glad that Glenn Greenwald won’t heed my calls to just shut up and count the money, because, as the living embodiment of everything philistine and dishonest about the celebrity left, he is endlessly educational. Today’s lesson: the bogusness and stupidity of mainstream free speech mythology.

Greenwald recently took to his blog to lament Twitter’s ban on posting the video of ISIS’s alleged beheading of journalist James Foley. As with so much the fearlessly adversarial™ GG does, there is a lot of  wailing and keening, but very little in the way of precise advocacy.

Advocacy-free handwringing is Greenwald’s bread and butter, but even if it weren’t he’d still be ill-suited to condemning Twitter in concrete terms. He is a proponent of what is charitably called free speech absolutism, which is the doctrine that neither Congress, nor any other policy-making body, shall abridge the right of (mostly rich) white guys to say, print, build and sell whatever they like. This has led him to five years defending a murder-inciting white supremacist during his lawyer days; support for the Citizens United Supreme Court decision enshrining the constitutional rights of corporations; support for a Supreme Court reversal of a ban on animal torture porn; and opposition to a community’s attempt to ban Chick-fil-a from its neighborhood on the grounds that the owner funds anti-LGBTQ political groups.

From the standpoint of free speech absolutism, Twitter’s ban on the Foley video occupies a a rare gray zone for a privileged, binary thinker like Greenwald, between the speech rights of Twitter users, and the speech rights of Twitter the corporation. For the advocate of corporate speech rights, all Twitter speech is indisputably Twitter’s speech, so Twitter is at liberty, both legally and on principle, to ban anything it pleases, in the same way The Intercept is free to allot commenting rights only to ardent fans and cherry-picked trolls. Greenwald concedes as much, suggesting that overt control of user contributions on social networks is a purely ‘prudential matter’, though a vexing one.

Putting aside the somewhat laughable extent to which he presents the aggressive shaping of our discourse by “executives driven by profit motive, drawn from narrow socioeconomic and national backgrounds” as something hideously new, and seemingly remote from his own current place in the food chain, Greenwald is perfectly correct in general terms to wring his hands over Twitter’s ban. But naturally he gets it all backwards. This passage neatly encapsulates his misplaced, but typical, emphasis:

Twitter refused to follow their edict through to its logical conclusion when they announced they would not ban the account of the New York Post even though that tabloid featured a graphic photo of the Foley beheading on its front page, which it promoted from Twitter. The only rationale for refusing to do so is that banning the account of a newspaper because Twitter executives dislike its front page powerfully underscores how dangerous their newly announced policy is.

Surely Twitter’s ostensible great gift to society is the power it gives nobodies to participate more directly in public discourse. Therefore, to any real advocate of free, democratic speech, the banning of small, powerless people from Twitter places all the danger front and center, with no underscoring required. But trust Greenwald to hit this ludicrous, bathetic note on behalf of Murdoch’s reactionary tabloid. He has, after all, spent the past fourteen months touting the benefits of mediation to whistleblowing and the primacy of billionaires to the truth-telling enterprise. While implicitly warning us against the slippery slope from banning nobodies to — horrors – banning the New York Post, it never occurs to him that Twitter’s two-tiered Foley policy only underscores how power and free speech have always worked.

Of course, misreading power is a vital function of the free speech purist, and a crucial part of that is misreading first amendment history. So in the hackneyed civics lesson elsewhere in the piece, Greenwald trots out the usual hate-mongers who, as we’ve been told again and again, are the unwitting vanguard of free speech:

…free speech defenders such as the ACLU so often represent and defend racists and others with heinous views in free speech cases: because that’s where free speech erosions become legitimized in the first instance when endorsed or acquiesced to.

The defense of hate speech is a cause much-beloved to liberals, appealing as it does to their vanity — look at how even-handed and consistent I am! — their love of simplistic false equations, and above all, their starry-eyed conviction that sound arguments and law are the building blocks of a just society.  For the free speech purist, the state is the embodiment of fair play. If it permits Nazis to march in Skokie then surely it must, and will, permit communists to do likewise. If it permits homophobes to harass grief-stricken funeral attendees, it must likewise permit Occupy activists to picket the homes of billionaires.

Even a casual acquaintance with the facts shows this is utter nonsense. In fact, free speech is always provisional and generally commensurate with the utility/harmlessness of the speech to power. There is quite a lot a sexist, heteronormative, white supremacist, imperialist ruling class finds useful in hate speech, which is, after all, the language of dominance. It is reactionary, not dissident. Radical speech is far more provocative. Therefore, historically, it is radicals and not hate groups that have overwhelmingly been the main targets of political speech repression. Hate speech, far from being the canary in the coal mine, is more like the foreman, keeping the workers in line, in part by keeping them at each others’ throats. If hate speech has a relationship to First Amendment common law, it is that concessions the state makes to it sometimes ripple backwards to prior decisions against radicals, long after they can produce any material benefit.

Example: Between 1949 and 1958, the government persecuted members of the Communist Party under the Smith Act, which made it illegal to advocate the overthrow of the government. By way of this, and multiple anti-Communist witch hunts happening in parallel, the Communist Party was effectively destroyed, and a thick residue of anti-radicalism persists to this day. There is absolutely nothing in the history of U. S. white supremacism that remotely compares with this, which is only one of many crackdowns on dissident speech.

The Brandenburg vs Ohio case in 1969, concerning incendiary speeches made by members of the Ku Klux Klan, makes the contrast exceptionally clear. In striking down an Ohio criminal syndicalism statute under which members of the Klan had been convicted, the Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is likely to incite imminent lawless action. That decision led to the reversal of prior decisions against radicals, the most recent of which was Dennis vs. The United States, a CPUSA Smith Act Case which was by that time eighteen years old. In summary, on a rare occasion when white supremacists ran afoul of the law on speech grounds in a way that radicals had for decades, they were let off the hook by the Supreme Court. Greenwald’s and the ACLU’s potted history has it all entirely backwards.

Therefore, the perennial touting of hate mongers as the free speech vanguard can be seen as just one more privilege they enjoy, and the erasure of radicals from the story as yet more repression. Of course, no one of any consequence is going to discuss the actual history, least of all Greenwald, whose career is built on selling bitter-coated sugar pills to self-consciously disaffected rubes, and whose immunity from state interference requires a more pleasing explanation than that he’s perfectly harmless, even helpful, to power. His interrogative title, “Should Twitter, Facebook and Google Executives be the Arbiters of What We See and Read?”, sets the tone for the piece, which asks fashionable questions without providing unfashionable answers.  One comes away with very little other than the sense that Greenwald thinks free speech is very, very important. For the handwringing cult he represents, that’s more than enough.

Related

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Noam Chomsky vs. Aaron Swartz

Noam Chomsky’s Insistent Whitewashing of State Repression

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Philip Agee and Edward Snowden: A comparision.

CIA whistleblower, Philip Agee:

Reforms of the FBI and the CIA, even removal of the President from office, cannot remove the problem. American capitalism, based as it is on exploitation of the poor, with its fundamental motivation in personal greed, simply cannot survive without force – without a secret police force. The argument is with capitalism and it is capitalism that must be opposed, with its CIA, FBI and other security agencies understood as logical, necessary manifestations of a ruling class’s determination to retain power and privilege. (source)

Edward Snowden:

SNOWDEN WIRED(source)

 

Related

Confronting Snowden’s Remarks on Manning

Another Snowden News Story, Another Lesson in Proper Whistleblowing

In Conclusion

Good Whistleblower/Bad Whistleblower

Take Your Drip and Stick It

A Heat Vampire in Search of a Movie Deal

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 32 Comments

Do Glenn Greenwald And His Fans Really Care More Than You?

In his zeal to embody everything execrable in contemporary leftish discourse, Glenn Greenwald has newly metamorphosed into The Rich White Guy Playing A Self-Serving Race Card.

Greenwald and his roving crew of asskissers and disciplinarians are very concerned about the way the surveillance apparatus disproportionately focuses on U. S. Muslims. But what really concerns them, more than anything it seems, is whether your concern is equal to theirs, as scientifically measured by your regard for Greenwald and Maz Hussain’s recent article in The Intercept.

The thinking appears to be as follows:

1. Being unsurprised by the article is the same as being unconcerned with its topic.

2. If you are unsurprised — that is, unconcerned — it can only mean one thing:

a story has to be about white people in order to be really exciting and important [to you].

It’s absolutely unthinkable that your reluctance to applaud truly owes to the article imparting almost nothing that any well-read person doesn’t already know, apart from the names and backgrounds of five high-status targets of surveillance. Or that by placing its five subjects largely outside the context of what we already know about surveillance of Muslims, and by omitting any mention of other surveilled categories at all, the effect is actually minimizing. Or that its delayed publication follows even more-extreme-than-usual hype from Greenwald about fireworks and such, and thereby invites disappointment.

Since your objections are rooted in racism, Greenwald and his crew feel no obligation at all to meet them head on. There is no onus to demonstrate exactly why you should join them in extolling one more needlessly prolix article about shit we mostly know, which, in keeping with Leak Keeper custom, emphasizes victims of high social status, and which is unique for the genre mainly in how much space it devotes to government officials touting the rigor of their warrant process. Instead, they’ll just find a hundred and one reasons to call you racist, callous and selfish. As we know, there is no such thing as a reasonable, substantive objection to anything Greenwald does. So Greenwald and his acolytes need never be reasonable and substantive in reply.

But wait! We know that Snowden provided all the documents a year ago. If Greenwald really really cares about abuses against Muslims, why has it taken this long to write about it in such detail and to release the documents on which the article is based?  Why aren’t the terribly concerned  advocates of Muslim people calling Greenwald to account for this, instead of cherry-picking Muslim avatars of their awe-inpiring concern, pursuant to smearing their insufficiently impressed comrades? Surely, the Greenwald RT, coveted though it is, can’t compete with keeping journalists genuinely responsible and public-spirited.

I mean, without further information, what can the Impressively Concerned Friends of Muslims and Glenn Greenwald conclude from this, but that Greenwald and his colleagues have been irresponsible in waiting on this:

For years, the government has succeeded in having such challenges dismissed on the ground that the various plaintiffs lack standing to sue because they could not prove that they were personally targeted.

Thanks to Snowden’s disclosures, those seeking to obtain such a ruling now have specific cases of surveillance against American citizens to examine.

What are we to make of this suprisingly candid passage:

Richard Clarke, a former counterterrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations, served on the recent White House intelligence review panel convened to address concerns raised by the Snowden revelations. If he had seen the NSA spreadsheet, Clarke says, he would have asked more questions about the process, and reviewed individual FISA warrants.

“Knowing that, I would specifically ask the Justice Department: How many American citizens are there active FISAs on now?” he says. “And without naming names, tell me what categories they fall into—how many are counterterrorism, counterintelligence, espionage cases? We’d want to go through [some applications], and frankly, we didn’t. It’s not something that five part-time guys can do—rummage through thousands of FISA warrants.”

Am I missing something, or is it exceedingly clear that, at the very least, the spreadsheet should have been released as soon as it was obtained? Shouldn’t this provoke long overdue scrutiny of Greenwald’s proclaimed inversion of the journalistic pyramid, in which the most important details are disclosed last?

Perhaps all the people on the spreadsheet were made aware of its contents a year ago. Perhaps there is an equally satisfactory answer for not furnishing Richard Clarke with the spreadsheet before the review panel convened. If so, Greenwald and Hussain should have addressed these important details in the article. With these questions still open, the lack of curiosity among people like this, this and this — so keen to discipline Greenwald’s detractors — seems very much at odds with their superior politics.

Addendum

I think it’s largely self-evident to any well-informed person that the Intercept article imparted nothing new. Greenwald and co even seem to concede this, by insisting not on the article’s novelty, but rather that the lack of same should be no impediment to applause or handwringing. Still, for those painstaking point missers among us, the case against surprise is as follows:

1. While the article is supported by an NSA document, the story is mostly about the FBI, the agency tracking the five men. Surveillance of Muslims by the FBI has been widely covered, such as in this Nation article from October of last year. The Greenwald/Hussain article even links to, and quotes, this 2011 Wired article on the topic. That the NSA and the FBI share data is widely known. The FBI also collects signals intelligence of its own via its Data Intercept Technology Unit.

2. In 2011, AP began publishing a lengthy series on collusion between the CIA and the NYPD in surveilling Muslim groups, a project that began in 2001 and ended only last year, and involved warrantless spying on, and infiltration of, mosques, political groups, student groups, and unaffiliated Muslim social life over the entire Northeast. While there is little or no mention of the NSA in this series, the surveillance is actually more dramatic and disturbing than that covered by The Intercept, by virtue of its scale, its independence from any judicial oversight, and the de facto federalizing of a municipal police force.

3. Since we know that American Muslims have been targets of assassination, we can infer that they are first targets of NSA surveillance, since we know that the NSA provides the signals intelligence to the CIA that makes these murders possible. Unsurprisingly, drone targets Anwar al-Aulaqi and Samir Kahn, both U.S. citizens, are on the spreadsheet that is the basis for The Intercept article.

Related

Greenwald’s Fireworks Finale Postponed

What a Fucking Asshole

In Conclusion

Take Your Drip and Stick It

A Harbinger of Journalism Saved

Posted in Uncategorized | 146 Comments

Rancid Discussion Thread: Chomsky’s Provisional Fascism

In the last thread, commenter pnuwb introduced Chomsky’s essay, published yesterday, in which he wrote about wars of aggression. As pnuwb pointed out, the piece is “a decent anti-war article”  that ends with the conclusion that “carbon emissions are a greater crime than war or aggression.”

Pnuwb claims that this conclusion “allows [Chomsky] to imply that the existence of the fascist state’s army is tragically necessary to stop the capitalists from polluting.” I felt at the time that this was something of a leap, until commenter Pwnership Society Treasurer cited an article in which a quote by Chomsky adds weight to pnuwb’s inference:

Suppose it was discovered tomorrow that the greenhouse effects has been way understimated, and that the catastrophic effects are actually going to set in 10 years from now, and not 100 years from now or something.

Well, given the state of the popular movements we have today, we’d probably have a fascist takeover-with everybody agreeing to it, because that would be the only method for survival that anyone could think of. I’d even agree to it, because there’s just no other alternatives right now.”

There is no limit, apparently, to how many ways Chomsky, an alleged anarchist, can tout a provisional alliance with state authority. Again and again, he wrings his hands over the collusion between the state and the corporate sector, on his way to recommending the corporate-controlled state as our best hope of reigning the corporate sector in. This finds its most extreme expression in a willingness to make common cause with fascism.

I am curious what people make of this, first in regard to the logic that leads Chomsky to conclusions of this kind. I am also interested in what people who reject this logic would offer as rebuttal, and people who don’t reject it would offer in support.

I am also curious what Chomsky means by ‘given the state of popular movements today.’ I had initially thought he meant that there is no popular leverage against fascism at the moment, but now I think he means there is no movement activity that would be as effective as fascism against looming environmental catastrophe.

Finally, what about the implication that carbon emissions are a greater crime than wars of aggression? Considering the relationship of oil to U.S. foreign policy, is it sensible to even make a distinction?

Anything peripherally on topic or more is welcome.

Related

Chomsky’s Insistent Whitewashing of State Repression

Passing Noam on My Way Out: Part 1

Passing Noam on My Way Out Part 2: Chomsky vs. Aaron Swartz

Passing Noam on My Way Out: Intermission

Posted in Uncategorized | 115 Comments

Chomsky’s Insistent Whitewashing of Domestic Repression

While doing some research, I came across this extraordinary video from May 2012, in which Chomsky vindicates beyond all doubt, my contention that among his many services to power is the rosy view he offers of state repression in the U.S.

In the video, Chomsky answers the perennial question,  “What Can We Do?” not with concrete suggestions for political engagement, but with a starry-eyed assessment of how hard it’s become for the state to persecute dissenters. “I think there’s a lot of excessive concern in activist groups about state repression”, he announces at one point in this sunny tribute to American political freedom.

At the time of this interview, Anwar al-Aulaqi, his son and Samir Khan had been dead close to a year; Chelsea Manning was in year two of pre-trial imprisonment; the Guantanamo Bay detention camp was in its 11th year of holding Islamic anti-imperialists without charges; CIA torture whistleblower, John Kirakou had recently been arrested for disclosing classified information to journalists; and six months had passed since a wave of violent police assaults closed down Occupy encampments all over the country. As ever, close to one million African Americans were living in cages.

Chomsky ignores all of this, cheerfully announcing that the “opportunities” for political engagement are “almost boundless” and admonishing gloomy comrades for their “paranoia about concentration camps.”

“The state may try to repress you,” he says,  “but they can’t do a lot.”

Diehard Chomskyites, the dimwitted antecedents of Glennbot derangement, will of course write off this pernicious nonsense as anomalous. However, this cheery little speech is very consistent with a pattern of whitewashing that I have previously discussed here and here. The diehards will probably write those discussions off too, but a rich, basement-dwelling, Leftier-Than-Thou Purity Cultist can dream, can’t he?

Commenter rsmatesic has helpfully provided a transcript:

Q: In your essay, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals”, you posed the question, What can we do?

NC: Well the fact of the matter is we can do just about anything. I mean, with all, you know, people like us, let’s say–we wouldn’t be here otherwise–are pretty privileged. And we have the kind of privilege that few people have ever had in history or have now. And if you have privilege you have opportunities. And the opportunities are almost boundless.

I mean thanks to the struggles of the past–it hasn’t always been like this–but thanks to the struggles in the past there’s a tremendous amount of freedom.

I mean the state may try to repress you, but they can’t do a lot. Now, they can pass the NDAA, let’s say, but they can’t really implement it against the will of the population.

I mean, look, there’s a lot of, I think there’s a lot of excessive concern in activist groups about state repression. Oh, it’s not that it’s not there–you know, sure they’d like to do it–but first of all it’s always been there and it’s just kind of inherent in states and [other/similar] power systems. And it’s much weaker than it used to be.

So take, say, there’s paranoia about concentration camps. You know, they’re gonna lock us up, NDAA says they can detain us indefinitely. Concentration camps have been there since the 50s. Back in the 1950s the liberal Democrats, Humphrey and Lehman, introduced legislation to set up internment camps in case people got out of control. I don’t know, I never followed to see what happened but I know the legislation was passed. But they can’t do anything about it.

I mean take, say, the surveillance systems. Okay, they shouldn’t have systems, we shouldn’t tolerate systems where everything you say gets sent to a central computer, massive supercomputer in Utah, and they do this and that. But, even if they have that data, what are they going to do with it? I mean, you know, nothing, effective, if the experiences with the FBI from resistance days [sic]. They can’t do anything with it. And if they try they’ll arouse popular reaction. So power really is in the hands of the governed if they’re willing to use it.

And so what can we do given that we’re people with privilege? We have an enormous number of things we can do. I mean, there may be efforts to shut you up or something. But you’re not gonna be sent to a, you know, have your brains blown out. It’s not like El Salvador.

Related

Rancid Discussion Thread: Chomsky’s Provisional Fascism

Passing Noam on My Way Out: Part 1

Passing Noam on My Way Out Part 2: Chomsky vs. Aaron Swartz

Passing Noam on My Way Out: Intermission

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Greenwald’s Fireworks Finale Postponed

After a good tarnishing by the non-disclosure of Country X, Greenwald’s billionaire-backed, Pulitzer prize-winning, hagiography-inspiring, “fearless, adversarial” brand is taking another hit.

In May, Greenwald promised his biggest story yet, while at the same time coming clean about being an entertainer as opposed to a journalist:

I like to think of it as a fireworks show: You want to save your best for last. There’s a story that from the beginning I thought would be our biggest, and I’m saving that. The last one is the one where the sky is all covered in spectacular multicolored hues. This will be the finale…

Elsewhere he suggested that this story would impart the names of people targeted by the NSA for surveillance.

Yesterday, with his customary flair for drama,  he promised to publish this story at midnight, and also announced that he and his co-author Maz Hussain would be available today to discuss the story via a Reddit AMA.

But alas, less than three hours before the gray sky of our elite-mediated dissent was to be set ablaze, he tweeted this:

After 3 months working on our story, USG [the United States government] today suddenly began making new last-minute claims which we intend to investigate before publishing

The obvious question is, why not go forward with the story and publish a follow-up? A more transparent sort of transparency advocate might have used the scheduled AMA to answer that question and others, but, unsurprisingly, that was canceled too.

Enter Cryptome — lately reinventing itself as Greenwald’s (pseudo)-nemesis and no slouch itself in the drama department  — to tweet that all Snowden documents would be released on July 27.  Cryptome clarified that it would not be publishing the documents, but would aid and abet their publication. They disclosed their reason:

July is when war begins unless headed off by Snowden full release of crippling intel. After war begins not a chance of release.

A year ago I might have found this all terribly interesting, but I can’t help feeling this is just more silly theatre, or brinksmanship between competing elites whose interests have little in common with my own. Has there ever been a major whistleblowing event with this kind of mainstream traction that wasn’t about elites sparring with other elites? This is not to say that one elite faction’s and my interests can’t coincide, but don’t expect me to get too worked up about it. The war business is worrying, certainly, but the basis for that remains to be seen. Whatever the case, it seems hard to believe that a full document dump could impede anything the imperialist establishment is bent on doing.

As for Greenwald, it’s fashionable to see each of his many concessions to power as something horribly and and disappointingly new, at least for those who don’t laughably argue for the secret savvy that only knowing knowers and Greenwald comprehend. But the fact is, the US and British government have been in the loop from day one, a fact that Greenwald and Snowden have made no secret of. Snowden counts them among ‘the stakeholders’, even insisting that he is still working for the intelligence establishment.

Extract Greenwald’s chest-beating from the whole affair and what you have is a mediocre journalist effectively writing the same story over and over again while tirelessly lecturing on the proper harm-minimizing, elite-blessed and highly profitable way to blow whistles. He and his fellow Leak Keepers have, at most, rather harmlessly inconvenienced one of seventeen Federal agencies in a gigantic surveillance apparatus, while helpfully stealing the spotlight from other crimes.  Set against his clownish self-mythologizing and self-aggrandizement, this latest capitulation in advance of his “finale” should make him a laughingstock. That it hasn’t attests to how desperate people are for a spectacle of dissent and the illusory freedom it implies.

Related

What a Fucking Asshole

In Conclusion

What We Learned from the Snowden Affair

Dr. Rosen and The Snowden Effect

Oligarchs Approve the NSA Debate. I Guess We’re #Winning

Take Your Drip and Stick It

Posted in Uncategorized | 30 Comments

Notes on David Graeber and Conspiracism

Someone saw a flaw in David Graeber’s reasoning, and rather than argue the point, he weirdly attempted to smear me.

I have never once said Graeber belongs to the CIA. However, in this post here, I invited readers to discuss what might have provoked him to join with Sarah Kendzior and career militarist Joshua Foust in their extraordinary smear campaign against radicals. Graeber’s role in this campaign consisted of lending it legitimacy by way of his status as an anarchist intellectual, while robotically smearing Kenzior’s detractors as rape enablers and apologists. A number of people found Graeber’s conduct extremely odd, including myself, and among the disquieted were a few who suggested, though they did not state outright, that Graeber might be a state-sponsored fake.  I was not among them, and surely Graeber knows this. I say this for no reason but to show his bad faith. I respect these commenters a great deal.

I place myself somewhere between conspiracists and knee-jerk anti-conspiracists. While conspiracies and Psy Ops are matters of record, I consider the propaganda system largely self-regulating. People rise to places of influence because of their service to power, which they largely provide without much thought. So, for instance, when an opportunity arises to smear radicals, they will do so without even being asked, both because they think it’s the right thing to do and in pavlovian expectation of reward.

Others will aid and abet this, variously motivated by similar values and allegiances, an expectation of increased social capital, or their own personal scores to settle. In my view, Graeber’s vigorous commitment to Kendzior’s campaign is most easily explained by a long-standing grudge against Jacobin, status-seeking, and a taste for bullying, as the menacing robo-tweeting of Katha Pollitt and others suggests.

This isn’t to say there are not operatives in our midst giving the system a nudge here and there and, in times of crisis, considerably more. It’s a testimony to the extent of our indoctrination that despite this country’s history and a year of revelations about mass surveillance, people still roll their eyes at any suggestion of organized state deception, manipulation and malfeasance. Certainly Graeber is well aware of the extensive state interference with Occupy, as well as COINTELPRO and the like. So presumably he is intimating only the looniness of implicating such a perfect specimen of radicalism as himself in efforts to infiltrate and shape things. A radical scholar can’t possibly think the idea of planted journalists and intellectuals is ridiculous on its face.

For self-preservation alone, it is sensible to be open to any possibilities where power is concerned. However, in public dialogue, there is rarely profit in focusing on conspiracism, if one wants to accomplish something other than furnish Graeber and his ilk with opportunities to discredit critics. The more I examine and write about iconic lefts, the more toxic I think they are as a thing, regardless of what their intentions are or where they originate. As with everyone else in public life, their status and credibility are conferred by people above them and is commensurate with their service to power.

By way of their celebrity, iconic lefts invite people to suspend critical thought in much the way religious figures do. Consistently I find they wield this power to counsel conformity, and to enforce discipline against people who won’t toe the line. Considering that this is their social function, do we need to know how direct their ties are to power before we reject them? Isn’t everything wrong with them right on the surface? Surely in this case, it doesn’t matter why Graeber assisted a defamation campaign that disgustingly ran under cover of women’s safety concerns, and ended with radicals sneering at a maliciously defamed rape survivor. What matters is that he did it.

UPDATE 2

“But man”, with radicals like this…

man

(h/t @YouSeemFine, who capped it before the asshole deleted it.)

UPDATE

David Graeber’s favorite “radical” yesterday, June 16:

Some background on Kenzior’s recommendations:

1. @azelin is Aaron Zelin, a fellow at The Washington Institute, a think tank founded by an AIPAC researcher. Columbia Professor Rashid Khalidi called The Washington Institute “the fiercest of the enemies of the Arabs and the Muslims.”

2. @Intelwire is J. M. Berger, a self-styled terrorism expert. Recently mined and analyzed data from anarchist Twitter accounts for his recent study on “Violent Extremism in Online Social Networks” and looked for intersections between anarchists and white nationalists. Money quote:

It is relatively easy to identify tens of thousands of social media users who have an interest in violent ideologies, but very difficult to figure out which users are worth watching.”

3. @DaveedGR is Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neocon foreign policy think tank.

Related

Katha Pollitt, David Graeber Fight, Make Up, Put Libeled Marxists Behind Them

Useful Discussion of Thought-Stopping Dogmas

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Walter Glass Posits Permissible Conspiracism

Posted in Uncategorized | 61 Comments