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.
“But man”, with radicals like this…
(h/t @YouSeemFine, who capped it before the asshole deleted it.)
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.