Saturday, August 15, 2009

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: ruminations on whether fascism is imminent

Left: Our Lady of Sorrows stained glass, from St Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville, SC.


Today is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the Orthodox Church, this day is called The Dormition of the Theotokos, which literally translates as the "falling asleep" of the Mother of God, her earthly, physical death preceding Her Assumption into heaven.

It is also the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, the Netroots Nation conference (lefty bloggers) and the RightOnline conference (right-wing bloggers).

If you are into astrology, all you can do is shake your head that all of these events are on the same day.

~*~

I have just listened to Michelle Malkin on C-Span, take her turn firing up the Nuremberg Rally at the RightOnline conference. This has been a rather alarming experience right after reading some pages I was directed to over at Onyx Lynx's blog. She quotes Sara Robinson reading the signposts up ahead, the signals that the USA could indeed turn towards fascism.

It's always very tempting to throw up one's hands and scream, here come the Brownshirts. God knows, I've been doing it most of my life. And you know, on a couple of occasions (Reagan's famous Morning in America), I think we were right to scream.

And now? Well, mandated hipster-irony and the required detachment of cool make it very unfashionable to deliver cautionary screams, which is part of the problem. So, simply imagine one long SCREAM, if you will, which has the added astrological and spiritual juice of taking place on a Holy Day.

It's a loud scream, but terribly ironic, so the cool people will listen.

Sara writes:

Back in elementary school, most of us learned that when a bully learns that intimidation and threats work, he'll will keep doing more of it. In fact, the longer he goes without comeuppance, the bolder and badder he becomes, and the harder it is to make him stop. Every success teaches him something new about how to use terror for maximum effect, and tempts him to push the envelope and see what else he can get away with. Do nothing, and he'll soon take over the whole playground.

And it happens like this for bullies in groups, too. Living in a fascist regime is just living in a town dominated by the Mob, a street gang, the KKK, or a corrupt sheriff. It only takes a small handful of thugs to terrorize people into giving up their civil rights, abandoning democracy, and doing what they're told, just so they can keep their jobs, windows, and families intact. The main imperative in life becomes staying off the goons' radar. All the enforcers need to do is make an horrific example out of one or two troublemakers every now and then -- and the resulting fear will keep everybody else quietly in line.

Conservatives have tried to subdue other Americans this way for centuries, so there's nothing new going on here. And this is the way they've always done it: they used race (and yes, the birthers and anti-health care rioters are, at root, all about race) and economic calamity to whip up a posse of terrified, well-armed vigilantes, and then turned them loose on society to "enforce order." Given their colossal investment in organizing and indoctinating the teabaggers, we'd be stupid to believe that this is all going to go away when Congress returns to DC in September. Having had a taste of power and publicity, these newly-empowered mobs are very likely to stick around town and see what else they can do to keep the muck stirred up.

Our choice now is a stark one: knock them back while they're still new, small, and not yet entrenched; or deal with them later, when they've got some real power to fight back with, and the cost to all of us will be so much higher.
Yes, yes and yes.

We must not let them win this one. There will be no end to the bullying.

The Klingons must not WIN THE FEDERATION.

Also see Robinson's Fascist America: Are We There Yet? and this pertinent quote:

As Rick Perlstein documented in his two books on Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon, modern American conservatism was built on these same themes. From "Morning in America" to the Rapture-ready religious right to the white nationalism promoted by the GOP through various gradients of racist groups, it's easy to trace how American proto-fascism offered redemption from the upheavals of the 1960s by promising to restore the innocence of a traditional, white, Christian, male-dominated America. This vision has been so thoroughly embraced that the entire Republican party now openly defines itself along these lines. At this late stage, it's blatantly racist, sexist, repressed, exclusionary, and permanently addicted to the politics of fear and rage. Worse: it doesn't have a moment's shame about any of it. No apologies, to anyone. These same narrative threads have woven their way through every fascist movement in history.

In the second stage, fascist movements take root, turn into real political parties, and seize their seat at the table of power. Interestingly, in every case Paxton cites, the political base came from the rural, less-educated parts of the country; and almost all of them came to power very specifically by offering themselves as informal goon squads organized to intimidate farmworkers on behalf of the large landowners. The KKK disenfranchised black sharecroppers and set itself up as the enforcement wing of Jim Crow. The Italian Squadristi and the German Brownshirts made their bones breaking up farmers' strikes. And these days, GOP-sanctioned anti-immigrant groups make life hell for Hispanic agricultural workers in the US. As violence against random Hispanics (citizens and otherwise) increases, the right-wing goon squads are getting basic training that, if the pattern holds, they may eventually use to intimidate the rest of us.

Paxton wrote that succeeding at the second stage "depends on certain relatively precise conditions: the weakness of a liberal state, whose inadequacies condemn the nation to disorder, decline, or humiliation; and political deadlock because the Right, the heir to power but unable to continue to wield it alone, refuses to accept a growing Left as a legitimate governing partner."
Umm, sound like anything you've heard lately?

On Onyx Lynx's blog, I wrote the following, which I realize I cannot improve upon too much:
As you know, I live at Ground Zero of The New Incipient Fascism, and here up close I see several faultlines that are ripe for exploiting...(do not have time to unmix my metaphors right now)...I should write about these and link this article/series. But for instance, the "Crunchy Cons" are one such faultline, the natural-food/homeschooling fundie-cons really MISTRUST big business, BigPharma and the GOP leadership in general (one reason the GOP lost the election). There is a strong populist sentiment, even here at Ground Zero. The problem (as I see it) is the elitist-liberal/progressive superiority and hatred of the uneducated and religious, and their accompanying unwillingness to work in any kind coalition with them. (I am standing in the gap, if I may quote the Scripchahs!)

Another for instance, Obama's people seem to have written off South Carolina, which is 33% African American, thankyouverymuch!

The lefty atheists and their endless intellectual-superiority doesn't help, just as the feminist dogmatism doesn't help, the closet Democratic racists don't help, PETA doesn't help...I got a list! :P

But this article is great, and you've got me thinking about the fault lines, and there are several.
Which brings me to the Nuremberg Rally and Michelle Malkin's invocation to GO FORTH and INTIMIDATE THEM SOME MORE.

I studied the RightOnline crowd carefully, and I saw middle class, yea, even lower-middle-class people, who align themselves with the Right. I asked myself, what makes them do this?

The crowd was overwhelmingly white and middle-aged, for one thing. It is comforting to me that knowledgeable young folks don't buy this nonsense as readily. However, it is NOT comforting to me that so many in my own age-group seem to be brainwashed by Fox News and the endless perky-pablum offered by Malkin and her ilk. I sense a fear of The New, the Head Metrosexuals In Charge, those people on the coasts.

And here we get to the heart of it; Michelle got out her populist slide guitar and started to jam.

Why doesn't the New York Times review books by people like Michelle, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, yet puts them on their bestseller lists?

That's a very good question. Direct hit. Michelle now jams into the stratosphere, and the crowd is with her.

Why don't they?

The problem with the coastal liberal elites is that they really don't CARE about The Heartland and The People that they claim to care about. When we talk, they don't listen. They tend to have their minds all made up. They disdain religion, country music, tradition, the ties that bind a community for generations. They consider themselves FAR ABOVE people who have not attended college. (NOTE: There is no faster way to be suddenly IGNORED during an online political discussion, than to admit you didn't finish college... even by folks who only a second previously, were hanging on your every word. Suddenly, you give yourself away as a non-person.) Religious concerns--say, about gay marriage--are regarded as total backward idiocy. Thus, so is any effort to counter these using specifically religious language, as many of us know how to do very well. We are drowned out by the "fuck offs" from the non-religious, the superior-intellects from New York and all points East.

Taken together, these snubs add up.

Why should the People In The Fabled Heartland trust the elites on the coasts and in Washington, to look out for them, when they can barely hide their contempt?

Whilst Twittering yesterday, I encountered the "#nn09" notation, which meant Netroots Nation 2009. I didn't know about it otherwise. I am a lefty blogger, but not good enough, young enough, hip enough, New Yorker enough, to get notified of this supposedly major event for my blogging demographic. (I refer the movie geeks in my readership to Brian DePalma's Home Movies: Those who know, know.)

When I Tweeted and ASKED what it was, nobody replied to me. My ignorance embarrasses everyone, one assumes.

And then I wondered, AM I the blogging demographic in question? Perhaps my age and location automatically disqualify me. After all, I am here thinking Malkin has made some good points when she talks about the media exclusion of the so-called ordinary working-class American, the person OBAMACARE, ET. AL. IS SUPPOSED TO BE HELPING.

Robinson is accurate, but she leaves out an important part of the story, and that is a repeated failure of the left ever since the Great Depression, particularly the modern avant-garde, global-oriented left: an active and actual aversion to the actual working-classes one seeks to help. Otherwise, as I peruse the list of Netroots folks, why do I see so many hyper-educated Big Bloggers? Why don't I see any "regular folks"?

Meanwhile, the RightOnline conference is busily conducting workshops and teaching people how to Twitter and blog--stuff I had to muddle through on my own. How nice if someone had actually taught me and offered me a 'blogging-ring' of helpers! How nice if I didn't have to hustle my local news coverage and was heartily welcomed into an existing network! The right-wing is organizing at the grass-roots level, for real. Not just gassing about it, but doing it.

And somebody might read this when I post it on Twitter, but it won't make much difference. The Netroots Nation thinks they know everything already, and can't even be bothered to explain their acronyms to me.

What's wrong with this picture?

If fascism comes to America, I hope the left won't wring their hands, once again, that it wasn't anything they could stop.

It was, it is, and it always has been.

45 comments:

dieselsandwich said...

There's a certain level of fascinating (and disgusting) irony to how the Left, so very dedicated to tolerance and acceptance and the avoidance of bigotry, can be so disgustingly classist as to shoot down people without university education.

Some of the most brilliant minds I know, people who trounce me regularly in debate left and right and often are the folks I go to for advice, arguments and criticism are high school grads and HS dropouts of the Christianity following variety.

Education =/= intelligence. And kicking a bunch of really smart cookies to the curb is going to bite our asses hard.

And this is from a young grad student New Yorker feminist. Who's religion is technically atheistic.

I'll help the spread the word.

Vanessa said...

The problem with the coastal liberal elites is that they really don't CARE about The Heartland and The People that they claim to care about. When we talk, they don't listen. They tend to have their minds all made up. They disdain religion, country music, tradition, the ties that bind a community for generations. They consider themselves FAR ABOVE people who have not attended college.

It's been my experience that one can reverse this statement and have it be exactly as true. Which I think is the real problem, no one is willing to compromise or meet halfway.

sheila said...

Bravo.
Well put.
Seems that in the last 180 days...people have totally forgotten about the last EIGHT YEARS.

Morons.

SnowdropExplodes said...

Nail. Head. *BANG!*

It is a tendency that is not new in the Left; indeed, the great Karl Marx himself was particularly prone to exactly the same dismissal of the very people whom he claimed to be helping - the working classes.

So often I have felt hugely frustrated by the Left's assumption to know it all and know best.

Finally, specifically on the religion thing, I just this evening had to stop myself blowing up from reading an anti-religion screed on a blog I'd visited from a different issue. Thought I'd see if there were other interesting recent posts and found one with the usual "I'll never respect your religious beliefs because they are STUPID!" script. It's almost like there's this underlying belief that "Getting things done and WINNING don't actually matter as long as we remain Ideologically Pure and Rational and Right."

Rachel said...

This is a great post, and so true. An exclusive club is what has been around, and just because the members are different doesn't mean that the non-members feel any better about being excluded. It seems like people forget that our problems are all linked and come from the same roots of injustice.

Meowser said...

I get the distinct impression that a lot of the progressive people you are talking about have an instinctive belief that those of us who are not in the Kewl Kreative Klasses are losers unworthy of their time, even if they intellectually reject the idea and even if they are quick to call other people on outward expressions of class/regional/educational snobbery. They may not be proud that they get Not-One-Of-Us triggers, but they still get them, and it still influences their actions.

The good ones admit that they have this problem and are working on it. But most of them don't even have the awareness. It always flabbergasts me, for example, to see leftish atheists and agnostics who pooh-pooh the idea that God punishes people for doing the wrong thing completely chuck it all out the window when it comes to issues of food, health, and weight. If only we poor dopey cows were as goody-goody-good as they are, and weren't being mindlessly led around the nose by McDonald's, and lived on wheatgrass juice and spirulina and worked out three hours a day, we would all be slim and never have any health problems at all until we were 87! Talk about Not. Getting. It.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Official Netroots homepage.

Pretty high ticket prices--would like to compare these prices to RightOnline, but registration has closed on both.

There are many ways to exclude/include the people you want.

CrackerLilo said...

As a religious-but-not-Christian Florida Cracker in NYC, I feel somewhat like I can help bridge these gaps. (I even use labels like "A proud Florida Cracker who moved to NYC for love" in forum profiles.) I am, like many others, amazed at the classism displayed by people who consider themselves "tolerant." When I open my mouth and my drawl comes out, sometimes I see and hear some rather amazing reactions from people who swear they are absolutely not bigoted.

It amazes me too how what are so clearly rich, mostly white, college-educated, elitists in NYC and DC can push the "not elitist" buttons so well. They say, "Those elitists think they're better than you!", basically. They claim to have a favorite NASCAR driver (though they'll exhibit no working knowledge of NASCAR) and enjoy the occasional hunting trip, and act like that makes them real working-class heroes. A friend of mine is a straight lapsed-Catholic man, a Brooklyn born-and-raised plumber, and a liberal Democrat. We've laughed about how he's sooooo "elitist" because he lives in the Northeast, has an actual plumber's certification, and doesn't freak out around LGBT people.

I wish the left would connect more. I wish the right would be exposed for what they are. I wish the middle would unite. It concerns me that some of my conservative relatives, including my mother, are becoming more radicalized. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how L'Ailee and I will be missing my family's Christmas in Florida because we can't stand how some of my relatives are talking and acting. We've decided we'd rather use our money and time off to watch our teams play hockey in their home venues instead. (Try not to pass out from shock. :-) While it will be fun as hell to watch Evgeni Malkin score a goal right in front of us this December, I don't like why we're planning this trip. We see that these divides are deepening in other families and neighborhoods, too.

We're a bit afraid that things will get really scary really soon. We're afraid we'll have to fight rather than flee. And to see that people who we love and know are feeling so threatened and are getting so damned anxious to fight breaks our heart. We don't want to be on another "side." We want to be ourselves and let them be themselves and all be Americans together. It seems like a naive pipe dream.

As my best friend put it, "Civil War 2.0". Sometimes I feel like there are people who won't be satisfied until they get exactly that.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Cracker, wow, great and heartfelt post.

"Civil War 2.0"--I totally agree, and that feels damned accurate, I hate to say.

I am considered 'an exception' to the evilll lefties, but still a lefty, so the rightwingers like to corner me with their diatribes. I can hear the unapologetic vitriol, but have somehow learned not to take it personally.

I don't want to be the "token white lady lefty/hippie" allowed to 'remain' here in upstate SC, but if I AM (and it sure is looking that way), I think that qualifies me to write about how I feel abandoned by the rest of the left in the so-called enlightened areas of the country...

John Powers said...

Great post.

I'm not always quite sure how to take some of what you write. Often I think you are quite aware of certain information but not being aware makes for a better story.

A useful resource for information about Twitter isthe wiki. It's not something that Twitter makes, but is fan generated. From there you can learn more about #Hashtags. LOL but I suspect you already grok hashtags. They aren't a feature invented by Twitter, rather part of user-generated social convention.

I find it hard to believe you don't know about Netroots Nation. It's easy for me to believe you don't think well of Markos Moulitas Zuniga, but not to believe you've paid no attention to the Daily Kos. This is the fourth annual convention and hardly a secret. Nor does it seem a particularly elitist enterprise, except that all conventions cost more than I can spend.

I didn't see your Tweet about what #nn09 was about, but I did notice the question about #FollowFriday. These are user memes--follow Friday is one where users suggest someone to follow every Friday. Because I know you get Internet memes and I know you are expert at searching stuff, I just figured you were feigning ignorance;-)

The Internet is read and write. When the barriers to putting stuff up on the Internet are small, it puts the exclusion in a different light. Because everyone has only limited attention people are looking for and inventing ways to sort their social graphs. And because online we engage with people in many different networks, our graphs don't sort out neatly into left and right.

You probably can't get more elitist than Harvard Business review. I enjoy reading Umair Haque there. I also find the vitriol cast Umair's way online a bit funny because of the volume of it and very often the core is Umair is elitist. How to square the charge with Umair's engagement is hard to do. His post Ten rules for 5G warfare is worthwhile.

Read/write begets new rules. You are very critical of liberals; makes sense you are a radical. But the way you dismiss how people self-organize online seems counter productive. Many of the tools and social practice are young, but these are significant ways for regular people to engage with one another.

mzbitca said...

I definitely agree. I live in Indiana and work two jobs and occasionally feel "left out" of the blogging world. Like being published and linked too is what matters even though this is supposed to allow all types of people to be heard.

Also, people that often go to these functions post about how sad it is that there is no diversity but when someone discusses how their prices and lack of childcare don't allow for diversity they get up in arms about how they don't have that much money or its so hard for us to having "anything like this."

We on the left have a lot of names for people on the right but we often have the same divides between "ourselves", christianity, parenting, education, etc. Instead of using this diversity to connect with the other side and explain why we are christian but liberal, or mothers and liberal, we yell and criticize each other and throw insults around.

DaisyDeadhead said...

John Powers: I find it hard to believe you don't know about Netroots Nation.

I heard of it, sure, but had no idea when, where, how much, etc. I didn't get any emails telling me it was sign-up time, or anything like that. I don't know anyone who is attending. I heard it was this weekend only through Twittering.

How else does one find out these things?

It's easy for me to believe you don't think well of Markos Moulitas Zuniga, but not to believe you've paid no attention to the Daily Kos.

I've read Daily Kos. I did not know this was HIS convention, I thought his was "YearlyKos"? Is that a different thing, or does he sponsor them both?

This is the fourth annual convention and hardly a secret.

I didn't say it was a secret, I said I didn't know when it was, don't feel directly involved, etc.

The Drive-By Truckers last CD isn't a secret either. What did you think of it? Certainly, you've heard of the Drive-By Truckers, right? I saw them play live, and they were LOUD. The band and their CDs are hardly a secret. (NOTE: Do you want a list of things I think YOU should know?)

I know very little about Twitter. So no, I know zip about "follow Friday"...

But the way you dismiss how people self-organize online seems counter productive.

I guess nobody ever should have criticized segregation then, since it was also "self- organizing"...right? Wasn't it?

When people are exclusive and classist, I will criticize it. If you don't, maybe it's because classism has never wounded you, and doesn't continue to wound you on a daily basis.

And speaking of classist, that Harvard guy you linked is part of the problem, not the solution...no wonder we're losing if guys like him are supposed to be on our side. I love how he tells you what to DO (well, duh!) but not how to do it. He'll make a great ASSHOLE BOSS someday, if he isn't already.

Saints preserve us.

John Powers said...

I'm sorry.

Your post as usual is full of ideas. I pulled out one aspect of it because we've got different perspectives. I would like to think my reason for pointing to the difference is collaborative, that is together we might get a bigger perspective.

I do value your views much, you've developed deep insight on a wide range of important issues.

Among the ideas in your post that made me think: "Great post!" was:

"I live at Ground Zero of The New Incipient Fascism, and here up close I see several faultlines that are ripe for exploiting..."

I think some of our disagreements stem from views about the value of horizontal political structures versus vanguardism.

Horizontal activism is based on networks of minorities. Networks can extend in many directions, there is no membership. Networks consist of chains of interactions, so coalitions and agreements may be quite temporary. Networks operate from the edge to the center, whereas vanguards place themselves at the center in order to steer the movement.

I'm not surprised by your reaction to Umair Haque. As I alluded Haque gets and for a long time has gotten lots of hard pushback over the years online. The debate on his blog has to do with horizontal structures in business, and in many ways mirrors the debate about them in political contexts.

With a read/write Web an important idea is commons-based peer production. Hash tags at Twitter were user ideas. There is no #nn09 organization only people marking their tweets like that. There is no #nn09 organization, it's all just folks.

Netroots is the same as the yearly Kos. As far as not getting an email goes, it gets organized in public online. There are 1800 bloggers who attended--rich maybe but hardly all radicals. Less than 250 are at Right Online. Of course they schedule in tandem to get equivalence in the fair and balanced media. But I don't believe they're doing it right and Netroots wrong. I think the netroots gets the horizontal structure of networks better than Right Online does. Ultimately the right strategy is open for discussion and disagreement.

Some of your criticism of the "good enough, young enough, hip enough, New Yorker enough" crowd sounds like it could come out of the mouth of Newt Gingrich. I think the reason is because while you and Newt are on different ends of the political spectrum you share a similar view of how politics operates; that is a vanguard that seeks to place themselves in the center of a movement and protect an ideology.

It's not that the rules of that game are not valid. But it seems unfair to castigate a horizontal network or edge strategies for not following a hierarchical model when not following the model is precisely the point.

It seems possible that both models have utility and drawbacks. I don't mean to be arguing with you for argument sake. I think that edge strategies have much good to offer. I would hope you could come to appreciate some of the advantages. You might come to see that even with the advantages the drawbacks out weigh them.

dieselsandwich said...

@John:

There is a huge difference between decentralized horizontal organization and simply ignoring/drowning out "undesirables".

And there is also a huge difference between being upset at classist views being expressed within the group and encouraging a vanguard strategy (which normally suffers from centralization issues).

The fact is, decentralized horizontal organization only works as well as its connecting ties. One of those decentralized groups are Christian, lower class, mid west and southern liberals. Another one of those decentralized groups you were referring to are the old school hippy radicals.

So please explain to me how you expect to explain a derth of communication to two groups who are and should be a part of this horizontal transfer, by talking about horizontal transfer.

Because really, these folks are already on board these small groups tied together by alliance and communication. A centralized control node for all won't work because there are some differences in needs between these groups and they know this.

The issue here is that in this widespread decentralized network of liberal communication, there are groups being put under blackout, ignored, dismissed or betrayed. That is not characteristic of the system. That is a failure of the people within the system, the people maintaining this loose federation.

It isn't just midwest/southern Christian liberals either. Low education possessing minorities get cut from the fold too. Poor and destitute liberals get hacked out. Even certain minority groups like transgendered folk (especially nonbinaries) and the polyamory movement get the blackout and dismissal in this loose federation.

Please don't insult people's intelligence by pretending that these very specific, very targeted blackouts are some kind of general failing of the overall system of communication. It isn't happening to anyone else. Just these groups.

DaisyDeadhead said...

What Diesel said. (I wish I had your way with words!)

@John--I know that the Quiverfull people (for example) here in upstate SC, are in their own network(s). The RightOnline conference (which I listened to at length on C-Span, not just Malkin) openly seeks to corral these so-called "marginal" people and utilize their knowledge and talents, for their own means. I see no such similar effort on the part of the left, i.e. climb on board, yall! They act like they already have enough people already--you yourself tell me about the big numbers. That is supposed to be sufficient. Well, after the right gets its online act together and teaches the Luddites, they might well outnumber us, and people MIGHT BE SORRY they were so fucking exclusive, you know?

I don't see any such exclusion on the right, is my point. And the left fancies itself as being all about THE PEOPLE. Well, who is actually working with the people to teach them these new networks and technologies? The right or the left? The left, as illustrated by your post, thinks its doing just fine and doesn't need the the people on the margins.

People who are continually snubbed could well decide to sit this one out. Is that what we want?

As for vanguardism, old habits are hard to break.

Networks consist of chains of interactions, so coalitions and agreements may be quite temporary.

And certain people are always on the margins of these temporary networks, which is one reason why they are temporary. As a white man, this may be big news to you: but sometimes, informality turns into a form of exclusion that is unacknowledged. The Yippies, informal group that I "belonged" to, had this problem. People in the Yippies were invariably "people like us"--there was a huge acceptance of gays and bisexuals (maybe as many as half of us called ourselves bisexual, including your humble narrator), but we all tended to be white, with an emphasis on ethnic/proletarian white hippies. Possibly because the group was founded by four Jews, Yippie membership was always heavily Jewish and also tended to attract Native Americans, but I recall NO African-American or Asian Yippies, ever, although there was much close association with these groups in political coalition-mode.

But that is how segregation happens most easily, when nobody
is accountable. Hey, it just HAPPENED that way! The Yippies prided them/ourselves on being this organic unorganized mob, just like the net. Not exactly.

Our various types of exclusion "happened that way" in our political organizing because it "happened that way" IRL.

And what you are describing is remarkably similar, IMHO.

dieselsandwich said...

@Daisy: Thanks! I just need a publisher to agree with that so I can make money off my writings. XD

John Powers said...

@dieselsandwich I am not trying to argue that exclusion is not a problem, clearly it is. How to identify exclusion and what to do about it are worth discussion.

You raise an important point about attention when you bring up being ignored. One way of looking at changes the Internet brings is thinking in terms of an attention economy. Pre-Internet the idea that human attention is scarce—we all only have so much attention to give—so that scarce attention can be modeled like economics—money is scare—was something advertisers thought about. But now with social networks and all the rest of the Internet the idea of an attention economy has gone beyond the dollars and cents thinking advertisers do. One of the issues that people face with their Internet contacts is who we pay attention to.

The word homophily is summed up by the expression “birds of a feather flock together.” Ethan Zuckerman has thought a lot about homophily on the Web and about how to encourage xenophily, or love of those not just like us. Zuckerman thinks homophily makes us stupid. I think that homophily is part of the explanation for lack of communication between groups of people. I also believe there are ways to encourage links online which bridge various groups of people.

I certainly get from your comment and from reading Daisy's work over sometime that both of you think that the lack of communication across groups is an important problem to be solved. I share that view.

I do not wish to insult your intelligence, nor to insult you or Daisy. What I tried to do in my comments was to draw attention to the examples of exclusion that Daisy mention: the lack of reply to her Tweet about the Netroots gathering, and that she didn't get an email inviting her to it; and to suggest a different frame in which to see them. Clearly my reply insulted Daisy and you. I'm trying now to be more clear about what I mean, because I do not intend an insult.

Daisy's Tweet was: “What is '#nn09'? Something the rich radicals are going to, right?” Yes of course there is a question mark at the end of it, but it reads to me like commentary. Not getting a reply seemed to Daisy to be a snub. My point is that hash tags are a user-generated way of establishing channels at Twitter. The #nn09 is not a Netroots organization channel rather a way that Twitter users organized to share about Netroots Convention. Daisy got her two cents in the stream. I'm not sure whether if she left off the editorial bit of her Tweet her question would have been answered, but I suspect a better chance of it. In any case getting replies on Twitter is primarily from personal networks. None of Daisy's Twitter followers responded to her tweet, even to say “nice dig on Netroots” so it shouldn't be surprising that users following the convention using the #nn09 Twitter channel didn't respond.

In regards to the Netroots Convention, I seriously doubt that bloggers received email invitations. The invitations were public, especially at Daily Kos but also on many other blogs. 1800 bloggers attended and the primary channel for invitation was discussion on multiple blogs. I genuinely was surprised that Daisy had not heard about it. I don't understand how something so publicly disseminated could be viewed as exclusion?

Daisy and you can post blog entries at Daily Kos. It may be that if you did you would not get the attention you feel you deserve. And many of the issues Daisy raises, in particular classim, could be at the root of that dearth of attention. There are older Southern women at Kos whose diaries get attention and recommendation, so the explanation of classist exclusion isn't automatically valid.

dieselsandwich said...

@John:

Okay, so we agree that in a culture of attention based commerce, there's an issue with people only moving towards what is like them (which is a serious problem for the Left, assuredly)

My comments on the insult to our intelligence were based on an impression (perhaps a wrong one, perhaps a right one) that you are trying to obscure the issue under a description of the system wherein the issue occurs. The fact that you accused/claimed Daisy was exhibiting a wish for vanguardism alone gave me that impression. At the very least you had a poor idea of what her complaints were if you thought that was true.

The fact is, you weren't directly addressing her examples of exclusion. Loosely tied confederations of allied groups within decentralized networks still use email and twitter to communicate through long lines of people and network interactions. Often proxies work their way through multiple groups of different people through shared ties or a simple wish to connect. Even though Daisy and I are different, we are following one another on twitter. We are a proxied connection between my group and hers.

It is not a failing of the system that she did not receive a tweet or an email. It is a failing of the movement itself that it has not extended its proxy ties to other groups that have a vested interest in the views and goals of the movement. This is especially evident with the differences between me and Daisy. If a lack of connections between varying groups was a part of a decentralized system, then we would not be connected. Clearly there is something else going on here

And you admitted as such here when you brought up homophily and xenophily, two things that are central to what Daisy was trying to say and two things that you ignored completely before in attempting to dismiss her arguments as incorrect.

You also pointed out that Netroots was not a centralized vanguard group. Yet you point out that #nn09 is not an official conduit? This is self contradictory. If this truly was a decentralized approach, then user generated hashtags on twitter would be a key method of displaying information and organizing this thing. To claim that there are official centralized methods, that make such hashtags largely ineffective as a tool is blatantly contradicting your previous claims.

I find that suspicious as well. Perhaps you have an explanation that could allay my worry that we are, as us New Yorkers say, "being fucked with?"

Well, moving past previous posts:

What kinds of blogs were these invitations and information displayed on? Blogs like Daisy's? Or blogs like the elitist folks Daisy is complaining about? A mix? Were these discussions put on a wide variety of blogs? Or just a centralized, ideologically similar set of blogs? Also, if we're using a decentralized system of rapid information deployment, why are we only using blogs which are explicitly dependent on a given audience overlapping? Whereas twitter can rapidly spread information through RT and network linkage in a matter of minutes, something shown in all manner of social media experiments.

So I guess it comes down to this. Either there's something fishy going on and elitist classism might be rearing its ugly head or DailyKos has got to have the most incompetent planners for a mass event I have ever seen in this modern age.

Also, fun fact time:

The word class does not denote age or location you live. Class is often a descriptor of social placement as per affluence and capacity to operate in a capitalist environment, as well as your place in the pyramids of money flow.

An older southern woman can still be rich and a young new yorker can still be poor. Which makes the claim "older southern women post on DailyKos" a bit irrelevant, wouldn't you agree? It would be wise not to dismiss the idea that classism is playing a role until you're a bit more acquainted with what classism means.

John Powers said...

@dieselsandwich

I will engage you questions but I want to attempt a reply to Daisy's response first.

dieselsandwich said...

@John:

No worries. I am a patient and easygoing young lady, so I can wait. :)

D. said...

1. I have to link to this and not just because my blog is mentioned.;-)
2. I hadn't heard about Netroots Nation until this weekend, either. Not that I would (or could) have gone, but last year's was exciting to read about and I wondered how folks were dealing with the successes and disappointments of the last several months. Last year (I think) I saw advance word in Group News Blog and a few other places I popped up at regularly. This year, nothing. (Cheap analogy: I am a science fiction fan. I read the stuff pretty heavily between about 1967 and 1985. I did not find out about Worldcons (the World Science Fiction Convention, held, ahem, annually) until 1974, although there were a few clues which would have suggested something like that was going on if I'd known that something like that went on, if you know what I mean. The latest one was held in Montréal, but not on the traditional Labor Day Weekend; in fact the last few have been on a weekend other than Labor Day Weekend, at Expensive Hotels, with Large Membership fees, and there is some complaining that young, non-rich, people of color, people with less than a week of vacation time, people with disabilities can't afford or feel excluded from Worldcon. But because I've bookmarked a few fannish news sites I at least can find out when it is. I have no idea, however, how one finds sf fandom/Worldcon now without help.)
3. Where was I?
4. Oh. "Public dissemination" when there are so many atoms, er, blogs, needs a whole lot of signal boost. Otherwise, it's the notification for the galactic bypass and the destruction of the Earth in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
5. And I will try (once I'm back later today) to do a post with substantial meat on this topic. But Ilyka would still have said it better. (Damn, I miss her. I hope she's OK.)

D. said...

Hitchhiker's Guide reference is here--the "Beware the Leopard" quote.

I keep forgetting that not everyone was thoroughly marinated in that series of books (which are very funny even if British humor is an alien vice for you).

John Powers said...

@Daisy If I understand you correctly your argument that people are always on the margins of temporary networks therefore it is important for a movement to have an ideological core at the center so that leaders can be held accountable.

You also use the example of Yippies as an example of pitfalls of informal social networks.

Jo Freeman's prescient 1971 essay The Tyranny of Structurlessness is still important today in addressing how groups actually function. So this is an issue that has been widely discussed in the Women's Movement for many years. Somewhat as an aside, Freeman rehabilitates the word “elites,” pointing out the near inevitablity of elites and that they are not always bad. Notwithstanding your railing against existing elites, arguments for vandgaurdism are arguments in favor of elites.

You note the similarity between the organization of Yippies to the ideas of horizontal political structures which I've contrasted to vanguardism. I think there are several significant differences.

Yippies are a small movement. One of the key problems with the movement was that its informal structure fell along the lines of what Freeman called a “star system.” Leaders established themselves as sorts of gurus. Freeman's essay offers explicit structures to avoid this pitfall.

A very big difference is the existence of the Internet. . Jon Husband coined the term “wirearchy” which he defines as: “a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority, based on knowledge, trust, credibility and a focus on results, enabled by interconnected people and technology.” The availability of horizontal political structures has not just been noticed by anti-capitalist activists, but also by business and military strategists. The Internet has caused people across the spectrum of interest to rethink things.

Horizontal structures are composed by individuals, issue groups as well as social networks which seek coalitions and alliances. The components of networks maintain their identities and in this sense horizontal structures are minoritarian and an inclusive form of politics. The goal often is to drain power away from politicians and institutions at the center to make way those at the margins to move towards the center.

There are serious criticisms of this vision. Some leadership and some strategy are essential for staying power. The globalization of finance makes local action against global elites that necessitates some coordinated action especially to check oppression which locks so many people in poverty traps. Networks activism also is criticism for “too much talk and too little action.” These criticisms are taken seriously and ways to mitigate against them widely discussed and argued.

The contrast is between an elite vanguard who if ideologically pure enough might protect the interests of those at the margins versus networks with a range of interests which co-mingle for mutual support. It is not only activists on the left advocating horizontal structures for organization. Just as it is not just those on the left who advocate a vanguard. For example a central debate within Republican party politics is to be hold fast to ideology, even to purify it more even if it means remaining a minority party.

The significance of networks is widely noticed, a loose network of individuals created 9/11. The response to asymmetric threats are two wars and building walls—if only virtual—to protect systems at the center. Some military strategists suggest the better way to counter system disruptions by networks empowered by modern communications technologies, is to make local networks more robust. John Robb talks about “resilient communities.” Horizontal political structures are not necessarily left, neither is the vision necessarily Utopian. Inclusion is defining characteristic.

DaisyDeadhead said...

John, I am pretty familiar with Freeman's essay, since it was almost required reading amongst some of the alternative media-people I was associated with.

Our difference of opinion can be summed up here:

One of the key problems with the movement was that its informal structure fell along the lines of what Freeman called a “star system.” Leaders established themselves as sorts of gurus. Freeman's essay offers explicit structures to avoid this pitfall.

A very big difference is the existence of the Internet.


No difference at all. Zip. None.

I see the current internet-system (which doesn't mean it will STAY this way, but as of this moment) as being exactly like a "star system"--you mentioned DailyKos for a reason... he's a star. So is Ethan Zuckerman, the Harvard dude, and others you have named here. By contrast, read what "D" has written on this thread... she quoted Ilyka. Do you know Ilyka? She assumes I do (and I do)... but I betcha you don't.

Right?

I rest my case.

To be precise: you are a white man (no offense, just a fact) and you quote other white men, who just happen to have the biggest blogs and/or are aligned with Harvard, an institution of considerable power. The reason these men are calling the shots, is because they got in on the internet "ground floor" first.

They got there first, one assumes, because they do not have to work all day without internet access, as I do. The people I work with, likewise, do not check blogs all day. People at desk jobs can do that.

Already then, we see: day laborers, waitresses, construction personnel, retail workers, etc are excluded from internet discourse for many hours--long periods --which includes during important news cycles; I heard about the death of Michael Jackson while at work. It was a done deal internet-wise, by the time I got home... I had yet to Twitter a single word! This is the constant back-and-forth that you take for granted, and MANY OF US ARE EXCLUDED FOR HOURS AT A TIME for economic reasons. It is safe to assume the big bloggers have near total-access at all times, and if they don't, have proxies... they could not have built "big blogs" without this very real class-based privilege.

And those people become the STARS. And then, just fill in the rest of what Freeman wrote.

I do think the internet is undergoing a major transformation, due to Twitter and suchlike. That may shake up things a bit--but the FACT of internet access and who has it and who doesn't? Will be even more divided in this time of economic hardship. In times like these, cable TV and internet are often the first "luxuries" to go... many poor people online are only online BECAUSE they work on computers. I get a huge drop in blog-hits on weekend... my readers all read me at work and then they go home. (Other blogs increase hits on weekends, interestingly enough)

Be back later, but we can start there. :)

John Powers said...

@dieselsandwich Thanks so much for engaging with me. Your post is loaded with great insights and I'll try to keep up and to keep the number of words down. I was very glad to see your post, and disappointed that I had to work this afternoon and early evening.

“you are trying to obscure the issue under a description of the system wherein the issue occurs.”

Yes, I may well be obscuring the issue of exclusion, but it's not my intention to. So let's put the main thrust of Daisy's essay--exclusion--should have been at the at the center of my response.

“To claim that there are official centralized methods, that make such hashtags largely ineffective..”

I don't think I made that claim. My point about hash tags is they are a social convention that Twitter users came up with. As far as Netroots using #nn09 as a way to get information out, they could have, or they could have made a new identity. Daily Kos has about 3800 followers at Twitter. To a certain extent they used that feed for messages about the event. #nn09 was a back channel for the conference that any Twitter user can use.

I saw links to the conference at Eschaton, various blogs at Firedoglake, Daily Kos, Hullabaloo, a local political blog called A Spork in the Draw and probably others. Already I've seen links for next year at Eschaton and Firedoglake.

I live near Pittsburgh and didn't even go to some of the fun activities they had for free and open, I'm embarrassed to say. I don't think the organization was incompetent. Getting 1800 bloggers to shell out big bucks to attend a convention is no simple feat.

There are various theoretical models of social class, one of the most important being Marxist. As you rightly point out the real nub of class is social power or powerlessness. Part of the function of a vanguard is to instill class consciousness. Marx saw that developing a class consciousness could shift from “a class in itself” to “a class for itself.” The importance of a vanguard is not solely for Marxists, some conservative organizations like the Fellowship and even Saddam Hussein have recognized the utility of this insight. I am not speaking of vanguardism in a pejorative way, just raising contrasting ways of envisioning political strategy.

Netroots Nation grew out of the Daily Kos blog, and it's always been a coalition of bloggers most of whom maintain their own blog identities. RightOnline is funded by a foundation with close associations to industry lobbying arms. Regardless of it's founding RightOnline seeks to develop coalitions like Netroots Nation.

“It would be wise not to dismiss the idea that classism is playing a role until you're a bit more acquainted with what classism means..”

Your distinction between social class—having to do with relations to power—and classism—having to do with prejudice based on prejudice about socio-economic status—is quite valid.

For myself I don't have the money to even contemplate attending a convention like Netroots. So clearly socioeconomic status does play a role in these sorts of conventions. I didn't feel excluded because I can blog, I could even blog at the Daily Kos if I wanted to. It's not that the conventions are bad per se, but it is important to have more free or very cheap ways for people to link together.

DaisyDeadhead said...

John: I didn't feel excluded because I can blog

I disagree with this... I think you don't feel excluded because the political internet has largely been created by and for people like you, with your education level, speaking your language and to your specific concerns. Some of us already felt excluded when we got here.

A convention of the people who exclude us, well, will be just more exclusion.

Meowser said...

The people I work with, likewise, do not check blogs all day. People at desk jobs can do that.

Even many of us with desk jobs can't. I have a "desk job," so to speak, but I am paid on production, so every minute I am not working is a minute I am not getting paid. Not one cent. Since I work at home, I can sneak peeks at things, but I am scared shit to sign up with things like Twitter and Facebook. The Internet eats my brain enough already and I must fight temptation to get involved in intense blog discussions, to the point where I've actually had to block many of my favorite high-traffic sites from my work computer. I'm afraid that getting involved with those networks would mean getting fired because I'm not getting anything done. (As it is, I work mostly evenings and overnights, so that does cut down on the potential distractions. Some. Today happens to be my day off.)

I've had other desk jobs where any time spent surfing the net would get you anywhere from the fish-eye to being written up. It's mainly people who are management-level or work in IT who can do that stuff at work and get away with it.

Amber Rhea said...

I didn't know what #nn09 was either. Sometimes hashtags are so abstruse. I don't think it's fair to always assume that just because no one answered you, they are making a judgment about the question itself. Maybe they don't know either, didn't see the tweet, don't care enough to answer, don't feel like answering, think you should Google it, or a million other things. The things people do, or don't do, don't always have a deeper meaning. After all the blogging I've done I've learned that sometimes what I think are the stupidest posts get tons of comments, and vice versa, but sometimes not, and there's no explanation.

Amber Rhea said...

And, yeah, echoing Meowser. That is not necessarily true about people with "desk jobs."

Word verification: lingam. No lie.

dieselsandwich said...

"Yes, I may well be obscuring the issue of exclusion, but it's not my intention to. So let's put the main thrust of Daisy's essay--exclusion--should have been at the at the center of my response.
"

I allowed for it being accidental. I try to give the benefit of the doubt for as long as I can.

"I don't think I made that claim. My point about hash tags is they are a social convention that Twitter users came up with. As far as Netroots using #nn09 as a way to get information out, they could have, or they could have made a new identity. Daily Kos has about 3800 followers at Twitter. To a certain extent they used that feed for messages about the event. #nn09 was a back channel for the conference that any Twitter user can use."

When you use the word official, you make the claim of centralized methodology. That is what official is, it's a word used to describe centralized methodology's preferred and only acceptable methods for releasing information. Perhaps your language is being subconsciously modified by confusion on the terms or a latent wish for centralization?

On incompetence: Quite honestly, if the organization wanted to get the word out to every group they could, no matter how removed, then they were incompetent not to use hashtags and RT requests. And if they didn't then exclusion is involved.

I'm not saying they're incompetent at running a simple convention. I'm saying they are incompetent at inclusion. Or they're excluding.

I'm aware that there are more ways to deal with classism then vanguardism. So really, it isn't necessary to point that out.

Now, either you just suddenly did a bunch of research on google to get an understanding of class (which is laudable) or you had this understanding and purposefully stripped that knowledge down to claim that DailyKos is not classist because it brings in older southern women (age and location having nothing to do with class). I'd like to know which it is.

"So clearly socioeconomic status does play a role in these sorts of conventions."

I'm glad we can come to that agreement. To be honest, conventions can be made cheaper and larger. It can be done. I know of a college club, with a very tiny budget that charges around 10 dollars to go to their convention. This price is low enough to open it up to a lot more people. There are other ways to deal with this problem then to just write off conventions.

"I didn't feel excluded because I can blog"

Like Daisy said, even bloggers feel excluded. So clearly it isn't the blogging, it must be something else. I would vote that it is your similarity to dominant class in the Left that makes you feel included. Your concerns are voiced widely and recognizably as a white educated (possibly straight) man. Daisy's and to a lesser extent mine, are not voiced by this dominant class.

Sort of reduces the effectiveness of blogging to promote inclusion, now doesn't it?

dieselsandwich said...

Erm, that previous comment was directed at John. In quotes is his words.

white rabbit said...

'Amber Rhea said...

Word verification: lingam. No lie'.

Is this the 'Kama Sutra' or something? :-O

DaisyDeadhead said...

John, at one blog, my comment has been in moderation for 10 hrs; I now realize it was a pretty dangerous proletarian comment. The world will SPLIT OPEN if they let it through. My words are damned dangerous!

But take note--this is also why I feel excluded: I am actively excluded. Are you?

When did that last happen to you?

La Lubu said...

I have started to comment...then stopped myself...over the past couple of days. Daisy, these comments are right on:

This is the constant back-and-forth that you take for granted, and MANY OF US ARE EXCLUDED FOR HOURS AT A TIME for economic reasons. It is safe to assume the big bloggers have near total-access at all times, and if they don't, have proxies... they could not have built "big blogs" without this very real class-based privilege.

I disagree with this... I think you don't feel excluded because the political internet has largely been created by and for people like you, with your education level, speaking your language and to your specific concerns. Some of us already felt excluded when we got here. (bolded for emphasis)

This. This, exactly.

A part of me feels....so fucking what about Netroots Nation? They aren't talking to or about us anyway, Daisy! Fuck 'em! But at the same time, I also realize that policy gets made at these events. If it was just about star power, it really would be no big deal. But the exclusion isn't just about a social snub. It's about whose agendas get passed, whose lives get to improve, and who becomes roadkill on the highway.

John, this type of exclusion has a huge impact on movements. The left in the U.S. has been shooting itself in the feet on this very type of "vanguardism" for my entire life. Reading between the lines of your comments, it seems like you are barely holding back from saying that Daisy could get her hustle on and become a Big Wheel too. Shit, if it's that easy, why can't I hear better musicians on the radio? Talent only gets you so far. Talent plus similarity to the status quo gets you much farther.

That's not the real issue though. The real rub is that when policy gets made, it is going to ignore the lives of people like Daisy and myself (and others). And the next time an election is lost by someone the Netroots supports, we're going to hear a loud hallelujah chorus of "what's the matter with Kansas?"

John Powers said...

Yesterday I had a lot of work to do, so I was ignoring this thread. I don't want to ignore any of you!

But there's a lot to catch up with now, and I'm afraid I'll do a bad job of it.

@Daisy about Ilyka. You win the bet, but I know that guys can be dicks. I know I can be a dick!

Part of what was offensive about my first reply to your post was it seems an attempt to derail--not on topic. I still can't figure out how off-topic it is. And yes, of course the reason for my confusion is my white guyness.

I felt sure you were familiar with Freeman's piece and probably should have made that clear. I wanted to link to it because your point about the Yippies made me think of it. It's true I don't participate at Feminist blogs so much; I do have Feminism 101 bookmarked. Still in terms of movements Feminism leads the way. Linking to Freeman wasn't to teach you, but to connect your arguments with the broader discussion.

Freeman's essay is a counter argument to mine, and I'm glad you're using it to bash my argument. But I do not see the those important ideas about how groups actually are and what to do about it incommeasurate with the idea of a movement of movements.

Your argument that the Internet makes no difference at all is solid, but I still don't agree. The ability for people to write and read makes a big difference. It makes it more possible for people to discover others like them--and to discover not alike.

You also make the point that they systems of power are always elites. Perhaps not explicitly, but still the reason for bringing up vanguardism is to bring a positive value to elites. In some sense you want a different elite. It's clear you think the Internet elite looks just like the old elites, therefore no difference. But I suggest that there is a different elite. A shift of power is worth noticing.

One of the things that's come up is the notion of an attention economy. I'm not sure that economics really is the best metaphor, but it is one way to look at the question of whether or not the Internet makes a difference.

Bard & Soderquists construct of netocracy hasn't taken off in online discussions. But I think the distinction they make between exploitation and imploitation is useful for understanding network wealth.

That men are the ones getting rich in network wealth draws attention to the structural inequities of our cultural programs. But Kos isn't the New York Times, there is a shift in power. It seems understanding the shift useful. By understanding perhaps those at the margins can more fully participate.

dieselsandwich said...

@John:

A shift in power is still dominance of one group over another, that invariably ends in marginalization.

We don't want dominance. We want freedom and equality. We don't want power to shift. We want power over ourselves and no one else to have it. The fact that a power shift is happening isn't any good. It's just a new set of oppressors. I for one am tired of being oppressed.

I don't care if the oppression has a flag of blue or a flag of red. It's still bad.

On the internet not having an effect:

It really doesn't have an effect. It changes only the methods of oppression, the means of exclusion and the ways that the exclusionary groups and the elite have to play with the system to marginalize and keep others out. But these same themes continue to show up. A given elite that uses things only they, with their privilege, can access as a means to determine who has control within their system.

This remains in the internet's attention economy, just as it was present in the world of journalism, in the economic backdrop of America's attempts at a free market, just as it was present in manifest destiny poisoned colonialism and imperialist practices of the old world empires. The change of field does not change the incidence of dominance, exclusion and control.

Just the methods.

John Powers said...

@dieselsandwich On “official”: In my browser I can Ctrl+F to search the page, so I did that with “official.” If you can search, perhaps you might do the same. It seems to me you are the one who first raised “official.” My point has been consistent that hashtags are informal protocols.

On incompetence: From my cursory look, it didn't seem to me that Twitter was a primary medium for disseminating information about Netroots. The convention is one thing, the project of Netroots rather more expansive. The blog Firedoglake reshuffled their format to make Campaign Silo a destination for action for participants there. Many of the popular political blogs have actions to encourage participation and that action-oriented thing is a part of the netroots identity. The conference was just one action among many. The effort to get the word out was distributed among various blogs. Daisy didn't hear about the convention in part I think because she finds the blogs engaged in netroots elitist so she doesn't read any of them. These blogs, if I understand her right are the problem—fight the power!

My point is while there are structures which perpetuate inequity and powerlessness, there are relatively few barriers to entry to netroots actions. Daisy participated, first by tweeting a dig about the convention to an audience primarily of convention goers, and a second tweet linking to her essay. Did she get their attention? Are her points being heard and engaged? Well, at least we're talking, and these conversations are part of the distributed effort. While the impact maybe small, it's not nothing. I know that Daisy tracks her influence. She may want to be more influential, but she knows she has some impact.

On terms: It is sometimes good to talk about definitions for common understanding. You pointed out earlier that I didn't know the meaning of “classism.” So I wanted to make clear what I think is a mutual understanding of the term. Daisy and you are clearly knowledgeable about theory. Daisy's work seems to me often to approach sociology from a Marxist perspective. That is a very useful perspective. But I'm raising the question as to whether when we begin to look at the “attention economy” that the translation of Marx from the production economy to an attention economy is automatic? Vangauarism is related to the discussion of class and classism in several ways, but in particular by the construct of class consciousness. My intention is not to confuse, rather to get feed back we're proceeding with common understanding.

“Now, either you just suddenly did a bunch of research on google to get an understanding of class (which is laudable) or you had this understanding and purposefully stripped that knowledge down to claim that DailyKos is not classist because it brings in older southern women (age and location having nothing to do with class). I'd like to know which it is.”

I conceded the convention was available to those with money and therefore classist.

On privilege: I'm aware of my privilege, but as you and many others point out: Not enough! The main point still is what to do about that awareness. Online it's possible to visualize our networks to some extent as well is to get some picture of the networks of our friends. I think this capacity to see that our impacts affect not just our friends but friends of our friends is something new and powerful. Through our networks we can develop links. Part of the solution to exclusion is for all of us to link more widely. I carry my privilege with me, but in certain networks I link my privilege doesn't have the same weight as in others. In some networks, I'm told to shut up and listen. And that's good advice.

John Powers said...

@LaLubu

“Reading between the lines of your comments, it seems like you are barely holding back from saying that Daisy could get her hustle on and become a Big Wheel too. Shit, if it's that easy, why can't I hear better musicians on the radio? Talent only gets you so far. Talent plus similarity to the status quo gets you much farther.”

I'm not holding back from saying “Daisy could be a Big Wheel too” I'm not trying to say that at all. Your comparison to music however is very helpful.

The music business is in turmoil, a part of the reason is the ease in which music files can be shared. Some bands have found that with a recording contract and big bucks for promotion they make less than if they market themselves. Creators of all sorts are feeling the changes that brought about by how easy it is to share online. Some bands marketing themselves obviously don't get very far, but still the old system isn't working like it once did.

My point about vanguardism is that Daisy thinks it the best strategy. I think she allowed that when she said: “Old habits are hard to break.” The idea is that a vanguard places itself in the center of a movement. The vanguard protects an ideological core. The purpose of the vanguard is to awake class consciousness. I've contrasted that political strategy to networks operating from the edge. To go back to the music business, the band contract with a major label is a center or vanguard strategy, the band who markets themselves an edge strategy.

I'm not sure which is better, although it does seem to me that Daisy emphasizes the vanguard whereas I'm emphasizing the edge strategy. This difference of emphasis also goes whether we see the Internet as making a difference or not.

I'm sure Daisy is better read than I and she's a better writer. In that sense I'm an easy opponent to beat. There are better proponents of edge strategies than me, and I suspect she's engaging them too.

I engage in some of the various do-gooder Web sites. There used to be a site called Omidyar.net that I frequented before it closed. I'm connected to some of those folks in other networks now. In places like Facebook I've gotten a little more about their politics and it's interesting to see how in projects at Onet people with very different backgrounds and political views worked together without reference to politics. People on the left are not the only ones trying to make a better world.

Daisy's essential point is to create a better world we must build bridges between our fellows. I agree very much with that. It is sometimes necessary to fight the power. It's sometimes worthwhile to join in coalitions. The decisions are particular; sometimes it's best to fight and other times to join. How we make those decisions depends upon the frame we look through. It is important to point out to me that I look through a white guy frame. But the contrast I've made between vangaurds and networks are not completely reducible to my privilege. The issue is how those on the margins can loose powerlessnes, something I believe all of us care deeply.

John Powers said...

@Daisy The last time one of my comments didn't get published was on a missionary's blog in re appropriate pictures of Jesus. The comment wasn't published, but I didn't ask why. I'm not always sure why my comments aren't posted. On a bigger blog my suspicion is they get filtered out in a spam filter.

dieselsandwich said...

@John:

This was what implied "official" to me:

"My point is that hash tags are a user-generated way of establishing channels at Twitter. The #nn09 is not a Netroots organization channel rather a way that Twitter users organized to share about Netroots Convention."

If netroots was truly a horizontal decentralized network, then #nn09 would be an organization channel too. Because decentralized groups would help to organize the rally using methods around them (including #nn09)

It's really sort of irrelevant that the project is expansive. Twitter is a good resource and you can not expect me to believe that educated tech saavy bloggers do not know this.

The fact is, there are a good chunk of people who don't know who these blogs are. Blogs are not perfect means of pulling in readers because its based on the slower commenter and blogger word of mouth. Twitter blows information through hundreds of networks in a matter of moments due to the reflexive nature of requested RTing. When someone says, "plz RT, important" even people who wouldn't normally care will RT.

The fact is, she did engage. You are right. She jumped into the situation using #nn09. And so far you are the only respondent. And you've only responded (in vague and somewhat obfuscating terms, either by accident or by design) in such a way as to dismiss her concerns.

This is not inclusion. This is excuses for exclusion. If you don't let a person of color into your party, and then later, come to his house only to defend your racist actions earlier, you are not being inclusive. You're playing damage control.

As for Daisy and vanguardism, that's up to her to address. I don't know her approach to class underneath her movements (which are simply to denounce class privilege used to exclude poor classes).

I do know that classism is not only discussed in Marxist terms and even when it is discussed in Marxist terms, one needs to remember that Marx presented theories on how things would go. Not on how they should go, but predictions for a system that was reasonably predictable.

One can discuss his theories without wanting vanguardism.

"I conceded the convention was available to those with money and therefore classist."

Alright. I'll let it go then. Sorry if I seem suspicious. Your communication style seems very... roundabout. It raised my hackles a bit about your intentions.

Privilege awareness is more about perspective. Being aware allows you to be aware of other things and give weight to the discussion of classism (or sexism or whatnot) instead of dismissing it because of your lack of perspective.

Since you've moved towards discussion instead of dismissal, I would say you're doing a better job than before of owning your privilege and gaining awareness.

One of the solutions to exclusion is simple. Expand tools (include twitter) and blaze messages throughout the Ether of the internet.

Put out open invitations to bloggers from everywhere, southern, midwestern, from every class, including poverty ranges. Ask them to communicate their issues with the Left movement at large and then deal with those issues. That is the solution. And ultimately, that is what is necessary to save the Left.

John Powers said...

@ dieselsandwich “Your communication style seems very... roundabout.” Oh yes, but it's not so easy a matter to change. It's a good thing to be suspicious of me. I don't me that I'm a bad person, or any worse than anyone else. Rather it's more that trust is something that comes only from testing.

You've pointed out that I'm a white guy and I think it's relevant to add the adjective “old” before white guy. All those descriptions point to a particular frame from which I view the world. Daisy and lots of others tell me that my frame obscures the view; my frame excludes most of the world. The only way to make better sense of the world is to enlarge the frame. (Something like that.)

In the past Daisy and I have disagreed in comments. There are probably lots of disagreements between us but the times it's come up on this blog have has to do with a disagreement about whether or not the Internet changes things. Broadly speaking as I understand Daisy's point of view, the same rich males dominate everything and the domination of new media is no different; therefore the Internet isn't a difference that makes a difference.

You wrote: “One of the solutions to exclusion is simple. Expand tools (include twitter) and blaze messages throughout the Ether of the internet.”

That solution is very much along the lines of the edge strategies I've contrasted to vanguardism. I think bringing up that term was probably unfortunate. I did so because Daisy has been an activist so long that she's familiar with lots of jargon. But the idea is that an elite group attempts to place themselves in the center of a movement. The corollary is to try to remove the elite in the center to make room for people at the margins to take the center. While vangaurdism is associated with Lenin the general strategy is common across the ideological spectrum as well as in business.

Daisy's argument about exclusion seems to be that the power at the center is rotten because it's dominated by rich white guys. Some of them have got to go to make way for the diverse groups of people at the margins: Fight the power!

I agree with Daisy that the centers of power are occupied by rich guys. And when it comes to Feminist conferences she's just as critical of the occupation of the center being occupied by rich women. Surely it is important to point to that and demand that the centers of power more closely represent us all. The analysis about the centers of power is correct, but does it follow that the only way to fight the power is at the center?

You look at the problem and see one simple solution. It's so simple I suspect you have a hard time believing that old people like me don't see the simplicity nor the solution. You have grown up with a very network-centric view of the world, whereas old folks grew up with a very hierarchical view of the world. Daisy and I are arguing about the importance of a network-centric view. But I'm so entrenched in the old view, especially in comparison to you and your age cohort, it's no wonder I make so little sense. So I'm very grateful for your insight because I see new possiblities.

OT Follow blacklooks on Twitter, another old one, but a bridge builder like you.

hyipinvestor said...
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dieselsandwich said...

@John:

I think you might be misunderstanding the core of her argument. I really didn't see a single reference to the idea that a "center" needed to change to different people. Only that there is a problem with how things are done and exclusion. That statement is applicable to a viewpoint in which one wishes to change the center but it is also applicable to a viewpoint in which one wishes to abolish the center.

It might be more wise to actually ask Daisy which she meant instead of assuming she meant the vanguard one.

I'll do a search for that twitter person you mentioned, thank you.

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