Sunday, November 18, 2018
Who gets to organize? What makes assembly unlawful? When are platforms likely to boot people belonging to these groups?
Part of the big picture of how an individual should behave concerns, does he (she, etc) act on his own, or join a group, or movement?
When I say, “act”, I generally mean “speak” – and I know Nassim Nicholas Taleb disapproves.
In the past two years, with Trump and his non-denial of white supremacy, we’ve gotten into discussion who gets to have a group? Does the First Amendment guarantee that any group can organize?
Well, not for an illegal purpose, to commit violence, or overthrow “the government”.
There are claims that white supremacists should not be allowed to even assemble as a group. Let alone that they get booted from mainstream social media and hosting platforms (leaving them with places like Gab). That’s because racial minorities (POC) and religious are protected classes. That’s less clear with groups formed on gender and sexuality issues (especially after some of the Trump administration’s recent announcements on “erasing” non-binary biological genders). But it’s clear (as with a recent NBCNews story on my LGBT blog today) that hate groups targeting LGBTQ are still around.
On the other hand, can Antifa or similar groups on the far radical group be stopped from organizing? It would seem that as long as they don’t state violence as their purpose, the answer is no. White males are not a protected class that can be extinguished (despite alt-right claims).
I can remember, however, that in the 1950s and early 1960s it was almost impossible for Communists (with a capital C) to organize legally, presumably because at the time Communism by definition subsumed the use of violence or revolution to achieve its political and social goals.
On the other hand, if it is permissible for white supremacists to organize, then POC groups, in theory, have to remain wary that all their gains of past decades (even centuries) have to carefully guard themselves from future political reversal. There is no settled law (which is what a lot of the fear over Kavanaugh was about). Theoretically, not only segregation but slavery could return. That always has to be stopped politically (although you hope the more recent amendments, especially the 13th and 14th , are a sufficient political firewall). Similar lines of thought occur with systemic anti-Semitism (and, of course, radical Islam, which we seem to be quickly forgetting about). This line of thinking gets really murky on gender issues.
Also, this gets to be elaborated (a favorite phrase of therapists) into group think, that individualized speech should be suppressed unless the speaker has earned the privilege of the floor, and that people need to be organized, and accept leadership that speaks for them. There seems to be some naïve group think on the Left (like the long series of daily moral lectures by Umair Haque on Eudaimonia), with critiques of capitalism as predatory in nature, without any guidance as to how individuals are to behave in order to provide themselves a living. Presumably consciousness is to become more communitarian (the “New Man” stuff) but it is not so clear what the “community” comprises, but that gets off topic now.
I wanted to link to a perspective by Ramsay Taplin, who sold his “Blogtyrant” business last June, and gives a perspective on why he sold it.
Well, I don’t like selling things either – but, given the influence of “skin in the game” thinking, the idea is going around that sites need to pay their own way (even if owned by people with significant assets from other places) with, in some sense, transactions from users (they might be upvotes converted to digital currency, but they need to be something that can be measured by an accountant). Otherwise, they seem gratuitous, which means they, through asymmetries (a favorite concept of Taleb) attract needless security burdens and create targets – at least for Russian bots. It’s rather shocking how quickly this style of thinking has evolved since 2016, although there were warning signs before.
And I think we may see an elaboration of the idea that what matters is not only content itself, but the identity of and circumstances of the speaker, and the contextual social implications from the derivation of the speech from that particular speaker – the union of which constitutes “implicit content”. Indeed, we may seeing a bit of cultural Marxism (Frankfurt School, perhaps) in the way some people even in the tech industry now think about it. We may well see more emphasis in the next two years. Already, it seems social media and platform companies trade lists of forbidden people (or groups they are members of).