Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Eventually the moderators declared officially that there could be "no anarchism without feminism"

An interesting question from Social Justice, Ideological Hijackings, and Ideological Security by Warg Franklin. How do you inoculate yourself from creeping intolerance from extremist social justice warriors. The default method is to turn one's back to them, "We know they are saying childish things and will ignore them till they go away." But they don't go away. A second common approach is to engage them on their own terms to attempt to refute whatever absurd accusation they have made. The problem with that approach is three-fold. First is that their ideology is so arcane that not even they understand it. Trying to use their terms to address their charges simply leads to accusations that you don't understand. Not very productive. The second issue is that the more you demonstrate they are wrong, the more shrill become their accusations. The third challenge is that they routinely deploy a motte and bailey argument with weak charges and strong charge. They start with the strong charge (ex. "the voting process is inherently racist") which, when attacked with facts leads them to retreat to the weak version of their argument (ex. "there can be disparate voting levels.") As soon as they are no longer confronted with the facts they revert to their strong charge even though it has been refuted.

Franklin recounts an under-the-radar experience that seems to be of a common pattern - SJWs subverting a community and driving out all the original community members.
Back in 2010 or so, I used to hang out at /r/anarchism on Reddit. It was a neat place to talk about how different strains of anarchism attempted to solve the problems of crime and invasions and economics without a state and money.

There were a few anarcha-feminists around, which worked all right for a while. But then they found a dangerously misogynistic troll who made them uncomfortable, and they got them banned. I think the story was that they were an outsider and troll sent over by the Mens Rights people to spread hate and misogyny or something. Nobody was willing to go out of their way to argue against banning such a person. But then they found a few more. The precedent had been set, and only a few people spoke up against the further banning, and those who did thereby outed themselves as misogyny apologists as well. Then, partially because there were so many "trolls" to ban, and partially because of the weak controls on who got to be moderator, some anarcha-feminists got moderator positions, and started banning and deleting the comments of the "trolls" who were making /r/anarchism an "unsafe and unwelcoming" space for women.

At this point, a more broad backlash started up. People were upset about the seeming violations of free speech, and how much non-spam stuff the moderators were removing. At some point, the moderators decided that the whole discussion was unproductive, and made a policy of deleting complaints about the moderation policy. They also were by this time consistently deleting everything that might make non-whites and non-men feel "unsafe", and banning repeat offenders. Some of the other moderators were against what was happening and started to interfere, so if I remember correctly the anarcha-feminist moderators somehow removed all the other moderators who weren't on board with their program.

Eventually the (anarcha-feminist) moderators replaced the black flag banner with the black and pink, and declared officially that there could be "no anarchism without feminism", and anyone who disagreed was dangerously misogynistic and had to go. I didn't really care one way or the other about feminism, but as something of an outsider, the whole incident seemed totally stupid. I wanted to talk about anarchism, not feminism, but somehow these people had taken over and ruined everything. I got bored and left for greener pastures.

Instead of laughing at anarchists for the irony of creating a totalitarian system for themselves, we should be alarmed and take note; a community of people absolutely opposed to oppression and authority and violations of individual rights wound up oppressing each other with arbitrary authority leading to the destruction of the usefulness of their community. We can scoff and write this off as an isolated incident or an inherent failure of anarchism, but we've seen similar happening or trying to happen all over: Effective Altruism, the Tech Industry, Occupy Wall Street, the Video Game Industry, and many other places. A pattern emerges in these examples and demands some investigation.
Ranklin then goes on to discuss some approaches to protecting communities from ideological hijacking. He has some ideas, though I am not sure they are fit for purpose. But he is very much asking the right question. First things first.

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