A shameful day. I miss my Twitter friends dearly, but perhaps I willed this. I have two jobs, neither of which I perform particularly well, and two malnourished children to feed. On second thought maybe they look that way because they’re half Asian. (Just kidding. I have a normal family, dweebs). A nice respite from the infinite meme-carousel is recommended so we might remember to enjoy the finer things in life. “See you next week!” Yeah, yeah; I know.
I was mass-reported for this completely uncontroversial tweet. Everyone knows minority women are annoying, most of all the women themselves; half of them advertise their annoyance and deliberately make it a central component of their personalities. When the Plains Separatist movement cleaves away the American heartland, zoomer Tom Jefferson will hold forth his quill and write, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, brown women are too annoying for our civilization fr.” Sure, he will have a busty Latina wife, but the original Jefferson quote wasn’t penned entirely in earnest either. (I assume nobody disputes the ‘elder abuse’ part, since the type most riled up about such tweets has this as an explicit element of their ideology).
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But, in full transparence, this reporting campaign related to my suspension only inasmuch as it drew in users who ordinarily would have been siloed in very different parts of Twitter. Do you really think a gaggle of underemployed, self-described cat-moms have that power? Twitter’s report algos almost certainly use pfp facial recognition to ignore every report associated with the schoolmarm physiognomy. These types probably report each other in secret all the time. No, it was because I called some faggot a faggot. If you come into one of my threads and insult my friends like a faggot, then you get called a faggot. Louis CK rules: “I wouldn’t call a gay guy a faggot, unless he was being a faggot.” (Cue the last line of Se7en). He decided to report that offensive tweet, as if to disconfirm it. Well done, totally. I knew there was a decent probability of getting suspended for this outburst (it has happened to me before) but I considered it a moral obligation.
It’s unlikely he is a homosexual— although, like infamous Twitter pederast Yoel Roth, he ‘works’ in Ethical AI, and who knows what types gravitate there— rather than the milquetoast, pronoun’ed dissembler common in the aspirational class. Nevertheless, it highlights an important dimension of the socio-political field. Well, maybe not, but I can use this whole situation as the point of departure and vehicle for some thoughts. For most of us, there is nothing a non-relative, friend, or intimate could say to damage us psychically. ‘Racist’ and ‘sexist’ are used as pejoratives but are inconsequential to all but the older, genteel class of conservative that dedicated itself to a ‘politics of civility’ whose generative conditions no longer exist. To the remainder, these labels matter only to the extent that they’re used to administer external punishment, such as loss of employment. We reasonably experience this threat as ‘violence’ because of its social consequences. If you held a gun to the average guy’s head and forced him to choose between a moderate ass-kicking and an indeterminate— perpetual, maybe— period of unemployment, he would in all likelihood choose the former.
Leftists are not lying when they proclaim, “words are violence.” I am not saying this statement is true, but that they experience some words (in the abstract) as violence psychically, the same way we would experience one of them screaming about our racism to our employers as a threat. It is all-too-easy to conclude their experience originates in the attachment of their livelihoods to the symbolic realm, to their reliance on image and the trappings of intelligence and competence rather than their fruits. This is a mistake. Sure, this is all empirically true but is an incorrect appreciation of their internal reality (from which you can understand people well enough to predict the movements of history). Take, for instance, the flock of aggrieved AWFLs who took exception to my ‘brown women’ tweet. All of them are ‘visiting assistant professors’ or adjuncts. Occasionally these are well-remunerated, but the vast majority are temporary, subsistence wage roles. Perhaps they are truly too incompetent to find better compensated employment anywhere else, but— hold on, my local HR department is calling.
Not to mention, it doesn’t work in the opposite direction. Would a gay man suffer professional consequences after getting called a faggot? I agree, it is terrible what was done to Alan Turing; I mean today, right now. What about a woman whose qualifications were called into question based on her sex alone? Oh. I have the ability to read minds: many black lawyers (under the age of fifty) dream about the day someone calls them nigger in public the way boomer dads dream of winning the lottery. (Lumpen blacks will simply stare at you with Charlie Manson eyes muttering, “say it, say it”). My greatest reservations about racism and sexism are that they are the secret desire of a large portion of today’s Eichmanns (in part because that is today’s narrative justification for cathartic violence).
It is natural to observe some logical contradiction here, because it is not logical. You must understand the structure of fantasy. Imagine the quite ordinary, and not unhealthy scenario, where you as a man fantasize about a superhuman ability to kick a thousand asses at once and save the day. Perhaps you introjected Neo a little too much on your latest view of The Matrix (or John Wick, if you’re tasteless— grow up). You should make yourself stronger and come to a healthy and somewhat exaggerated estimation of your abilities in the cycle of self-expansion, of course. But imagine the guy who has endless, uninterrupted fantasies of kicking ass, every day, every year, even if— to use a coarse analogy— the fantasy operates purely as a continuous background process. He never goes to the gym, never lifts; he only watches movies and plays games where he overly-integrates the protagonists into his own mental representation of himself. In his mind he is Neo, even if he ‘knows’ he is not. “Neo’s like sixty now. Didn’t you see Resurrections?” Fine—
What happens when that guy— I like to imagine him as a 5’1” Guatemalan in LA— gets his ass kicked? Not by a biker gang, but by a girl and in public. If you’re that girl, you should probably steady your Glock or run, because once he comes to and you turn around he’s going to cave your head in with a brick, or whatever’s ready at hand. Sorry, that’s too easy. You can’t even bitch slap the guy if you’re a 6’3” linebacker because eventually, sometime, somewhere, you’ll have your back turned and the grudgelet will stab you in the neck, or use the great semi-automatic leveler. You have no choice but to humor his delusions. Once you pull an Inception and install the idea that a person isn’t at all like the image he holds of himself into his brain, his only option is to rectify the doubt, preferably through elimination. It’s survival instinct grafted onto a world that’s grown incompatibly complex for our evolved minds— a personal experience of death in a world without much natural selection. And the contradictory twist: the guy wants you to assault him because he genuinely believes he’ll get to rough you up, but he’s simultaneously confused someone would consider assaulting a person as obviously tough as himself, and if you strike him down he experiences it as a child who has a toy snatched from his fingers— an affront to his organizing principles of reality.
Now imagine that fantasy shared by ten million people (although each might be individually convinced of their fantasy self’s uniqueness). Oh, the Cold Civil War. You see this dynamic unfold everywhere: we want some threats to exist bad enough to invent them— ‘right-wing extremism’, for instance— and simultaneously exaggerate their strength and, curiously, knock them down swiftly. We are constantly on the brink of installing a fascist dictatorship, so the story goes, yet the FBI will disappear your father if you report him for appearing at the wrong protest. “That’s not inconsistent.” To who? Academia is a white, racist, discriminatory environment, yet women and minorities have the ability to infinitely correct and overcorrect these historically-ingrained institutional features through the extraordinary power of complaining loudly. Talk about marginalization! You see the structure of the revolutionary fantasy: we are fighting a world-historical struggle against all-powerful enemies, yet we are so powerful that we can easily defeat them.
Words are violence to the fantasy, because it is a verbal construction, in a very particular way. A professor occasionally comes under fire for genuine sexual impropriety (political science never recovered from the first Epstein, David). But when is the last time a professor has been confronted with accusations of unadulterated racism? I do not mean clearly dispassionate slur usage (‘Today we will talk about Joseph Conrad’s The Nigger of the Narcissus’) or artless libertarian ‘hate facts’ and dialogue about the merits of free speech. No, I mean good ol’ 1910s, “it’s a political imperative we teach the niggers a lesson so they learn their place in the natural hierarchy.” Well, as far as I know it hasn’t happened in our lifetimes. If this were a regular occurrence, then perhaps the leftists would have a point about racism’s pervasiveness in academia. ‘Racism’ and ‘sexism’ must be convert, hidden, so our society can be suffused with it and simultaneously so it can be easily triumphed over. “We defeated the great Evil again today”, says the Last Woman, and she blinks.
Return to our 5’1” Guatemalan with delusions of toughness. We all know the type. He struts around and when confronted with the slightest provocation he snaps back, “you lookin at me?” Nope, not me sir; I saw your face tattoos and atrophied forearms and knew you meant business. To shoot down negligible threats is required to maintain the fantasy of toughness. Instead, imagine our 6’3” linebacker accosts our diminutive Mexican, locks eyes, and says without a hint of jest, “I can strangle you to death with my bare hands.” Now we witness a deer in the headlights, a frail mental model of the world infiltrated by another universe. I wrote the threat as “I can”, not “I’m going to”, to illustrate that it’s not quite a threat as we might conceive it, but a psychic threat, a statement of fact that reveals the fantasy as delusion. Such an utterance is so inconsistent with the fantasy world our Mexican occupies that initially it is perceived as parody, a wholly alien statement, and crystalizes into threat only once its seriousness sets in. (Again, my footballer friend, you should tread carefully, because now our Mexican lives to eliminate the threat— you— and reinstate his pristine fantasy).
We see the same dynamics unfold with aggrieved women upset over my “women shouldn’t go to grad school” tweet. (In fairness to myself, I wrote this tweet as a conditional solution to an artificial problem posed by a woman graduate student; my mistake, women can’t understand conditionals). Womxn ‘visiting assistant professors’ with gender studies PhDs are the intellectual equivalent of the 5’1” Mexican who thinks he’s Neo. No wonder they are constantly on the prowl for minor transgressions— a professor who denies her entry into a graduate course for which she’s patently unqualified, for example— that are easily conquered in our political environment. This upholds the fantasy that ‘sexism’ is endemic (because who can constantly police himself over minor ‘transgressions’) and easily surmounted by the #StongIndependentWoman intellectual. Not to mention when aired within Twitter echo chambers an outpouring of encouragement is inevitable, which reinforces the shared fantasy its participants inhabit.
A more direct, unambiguous sexism, however, is different. The annoying brown woman who set this minor farce in motion highlighted my tweet as an instance of “violence” against her. I believe she genuinely experienced my tweet in this way. Other woman VAPs openly expressed their confusion (to our amusement), and wondered if perhaps it was a distasteful parody. But seriously, why should we let women go to graduate school? It is doubtful it has led to any beneficial social outcomes, and there is a good argument it comes with profound negative externalities. Is it virtuous to feed their delusions with costly— in time, money, or both— graduate degrees whose end-state is a 45k/yr VAP, all under the guise of ‘empowerment’? We could eradicate the majority of graduate programs in the US to great success. The programs that remain— in a few technical fields— are predominately male anyway. Let’s compromise and have double-blind admission into those programs that ought to remain; oh, I see your problem now. (NB: Again in the interest of full transparence, my wife has a PhD in a rigorous field, unlike yours truly. She thought my post was hilarious, of course, and neither of us sees much value in our doctorates in retrospect. Perhaps because, in contrast to ‘everything is racist and sexist studies’ PhDs, we have grounded identities and a realistic evaluation of our values and virtues independent of the empty signifier that is the modern credential).
Reporting is the available mechanism for elimination. While this is partly unobservable, that ‘minor transgressions’ are not reported; they must be widely circulated so the offender’s defeat, his shame, is made unambiguous and the fantasy reinforced. Usually the offender is a real-face pfp with some professional visibility (like a professor), since they are likeliest to buckle or be visibly harmed and make the revolutionary victory transparent. One cannot take this approach with an anon, who is both freer in expression (hence able to verbally subvert the fantasy) and impossible to achieve victory over: you cannot shame someone’s shadow. No man, no problem, man.
One wonders why the ‘report and suspend’ feature exists at all. I have never had the occasion to report someone; there is already a ‘block’ feature, which I also use only for doxxers since I have the ability to ignore someone with my mind. You could argue ‘report and suspend’ makes sense from a legal liability perspective, and indeed, as has been revealed, federal law enforcement is heavily involved in social media regulation. After all, we do not want child pornography floating around Twitter, although curiously this was priority for neither Twitter’s internal safety teams nor the FBI. What this system cares about is ideological crime, the lynchpin of any successful regime.
If you want, and I would not blame you, ignore everything I have written up to this point. Here is the structure of totalitarianism, which may, regrettably, be useful for some time. In my first post on this blog, I adopted Agamben’s definition of totalitarianism as “a legal civil war that allows for the physical elimination . . . of political adversaries”. I would adjust this to reflect that totalitarianism constructs political adversaries, which may not truly exist ex ante, in order to wage a legal civil war and thereby augment its control over its territory, which since Weber has been recognized as the sole objective of the State. All states, by their internal logic, tend toward totalitarianism if left unchecked.
How do you construct political adversaries? You first need an ideology that defines them as political categories and imbues them with qualities that justify their elimination. Now, as the State, you need to have these categories eliminated, not because they are genuine threats but because it signals to us, as observers, that those who deviate from the regime suffer ‘consequences’. It is better if these adversaries are eliminated quietly, if they disappear; the ineffable “or else” hovers over your actions, since people tend to disappear for reasons you cannot quite identify, hence you better tiptoe. And how are those ‘adversaries’ uncovered? The State solicits denunciations. Many people denounce gleefully. It gives them permission— and shame-free, ideological cover— to eliminate their own adversaries, personal or professional, which stem from those base human resentments and grievances so common across the ages. Some covert, intermediary actor does the elimination, but the State and the aggrieved both reap the benefit.
It is this alliance that conceptually bounds totalitarianism. Every totalitarian regime has these qualities. The State uses some ideological cover— call it communism or fascism or whatever— to eliminate political adversaries and thereby extend its vectors inward until the regime is coterminous with the territory. It extracts denunciations from people, who denounce their coworkers, friends, family, professional and romantic rivals for some petty grievance or personal gain. The history of denunciation under totalitarian is extensively documented and enough to blackpill a person for life. The denounced disappear. Often this happens at the hands of a secret police, which injects enough uncertainty into social life that would-be dissenters are careful about ever stepping out of line.
I know what you are thinking, “Uh, I’m not sure you getting banned is the Holocaust, man.” Of course not. It’s more like Rwanda, more darkies involved. Okay, no, you’re right. My point is to merely use this situation to emphasize the structural similarities, to illustrate how the mechanisms we take for granted in our society are structurally totalitarian. We know the professional consequence of certain counter-ideological statements, or that the FBI will knock on your boomer father’s door if you report him for attending certain cataclysmic terrorist events (boomer protests). The ‘report and ban’ denunciation mechanism is another instance of the eliminatory process, and accounts for the alphabet agency interest in social media. Some thoughts must be purged, comrade. Even the fantasy element is common to totalitarianism. It is tempting to consider the ideology as a purely instrumental tool, yet people simply do not operate this way. They internalize the ideology’s conceptual field, including the construction of ‘adversaries’ as all-evil and themselves as all-righteous soldiers in a war of world-historical significance. At the ground, the young man who denounces his wife (or father, or brother, or neighbor) to the secret police is driven mad by petty resentments but this is expressed through layers of ideological abstraction that form his conscious and subconscious belief system; he truly believes he acts righteously. It is no less real if we admit the counterfactual that he would have an entirely different ideological belief system were he dropped in a completely different totalitarian system. “But he does exist in system X?” Don’t derail me.
In social constructivist argot, the State and its denunciation-happy subjects are mutually constituted. More than in the traditional mutually constituted binaries— husband/wife, doctor/patient, master/slave, and so on— there is an element of feedback in this State/subject relation. States (again, covertly so it feeds the element of delusion) reinforce their subject’s fantasy and further untethers him from reality, while the heightened fantasy accelerates denunciation and intensifies state penetration into the social world. It is a consequence of its internal logic that totalitarianisms tend to spiral into absurdity. And there is not much that can be done to upset this cycle, absent some world-changing, exogenous shock. What shatters millions of fantasies at once? Everyone has by now identified the ‘elite overproduction’ problem. They are already overproduced, and deluded from cradle-to-grave programming. If they are not accommodated, say through the creation of infinite make-work jobs, they will simply riot or agitate others to riot for them forever.
Notice, finally, what I have omitted from this discussion: the ‘leader’. He is irrelevant to totalitarianism and it is an artifact of an older historical moment that he seemed so prominent. Once I read a history of a particular youth mental institution whose superintendent would silently slink about in soft slippers to catch and punish nighttime troublemakers. He would place his slippers outside his bedroom door as a reminder to his wards, who had to walk past those symbols of silent oppression on the path to their rooms. Eventually, the sight of the slippers was enough to obviate the superintendent’s nightly roam. What if there were nothing left but the slippers? “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” No, there is no boss, Neo.
Say what you will of me— Evil is right there in my name— but my brand of Evil is not totalitarian. Putting the moral questions aside, you will almost certainly stumble through the social world painfully without an appropriate conceptual map. I remember the story, not an uncommon one, of the man who decided to happily stick around after his village vacated upon Nazi invasion because he considered himself a fellow-traveler; they shot him in the head, took his food supplies, and marched onwards. In ordinary times you can walk lockstep with the thick social vibes that surround you, while in others a cerebral skepticism is a basic survival tool. Sometimes it helps to turn off autopilot and think a few steps ahead. Can you guess what happens next?
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This is some high-octane NRx post-modernism.
And you're already back!
I thought you were just purely shitposting but I knew I had to follow you when you got me to read Gould's Collision of Wills.