RechtsLinks 4.3.2017: Weaponized Narratives, Humpty Dumpty der Political Correctness und die Paleo-Conservatives for Porn

Sehr interessante Studie von Columbia Journalism Review über unterschiedliche Verhaltensmuster bei der Nutzung von hyper-partisan Websites: Study: Breitbart-led right-wing media ecosystem altered broader media agenda. Die Studie zeigt auf, dass die (Medien-)Polarisation (in den USA) nicht regelmäßig zu sein scheint und rechte Medien weitaus jünger und radikalisierter sind – mit nur einer handvoll gemäßigt rechter Mags wie etwa die Daily Mail oder das Wall Street Journal –, als linke Medien, die ausgehend vom Zentrum entlang des linken politischen Spektrums sehr viel gleichmäßiger verteilt sind. Die Ursache dafür ist anscheinend der Erfolg von Breitbart. (Hervorhebungen von mir.)

We began to study this ecosystem by looking at the landscape of what sites people share. If a person shares a link from Breitbart, is he or she more likely also to share a link from Fox News or from The New York Times? We analyzed hyperlinking patterns, social media sharing patterns on Facebook and Twitter, and topic and language patterns in the content of the 1.25 million stories, published by 25,000 sources over the course of the election […] When we map media sources this way, we see that Breitbart became the center of a distinct right-wing media ecosystem, surrounded by Fox News, the Daily Caller, the Gateway Pundit, the Washington Examiner, Infowars, Conservative Treehouse, and Truthfeed.

Our analysis challenges a simple narrative that the internet as a technology is what fragments public discourse and polarizes opinions, by allowing us to inhabit filter bubbles or just read “the daily me.” If technology were the most important driver towards a “post-truth” world, we would expect to see symmetric patterns on the left and the right. Instead, different internal political dynamics in the right and the left led to different patterns in the reception and use of the technology by each wing. While Facebook and Twitter certainly enabled right-wing media to circumvent the gatekeeping power of traditional media, the pattern was not symmetric.

The size of the nodes marking traditional professional media like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN, surrounded by the Hill, ABC, and NBC, tell us that these media drew particularly large audiences. Their color tells us that Clinton followers attended to them more than Trump followers, and their proximity on the map to more quintessentially partisan sites—like Huffington Post, MSNBC, or the Daily Beast—suggests that attention to these more partisan outlets on the left was more tightly interwoven with attention to traditional media. The Breitbart-centered wing, by contrast, is farther from the mainstream set and lacks bridging nodes that draw attention and connect it to that mainstream.

Moreover, the fact that these asymmetric patterns of attention were similar on both Twitter and Facebook suggests that human choices and political campaigning, not one company’s algorithm, were responsible for the patterns we observe. These patterns might be the result of a coordinated campaign, but they could also be an emergent property of decentralized behavior, or some combination of both. Our data to this point cannot distinguish between these alternatives.

Another way of seeing this asymmetry is to graph how much attention is given to sites that draw attention mostly from one side of the partisan divide. There are very few center-right sites: sites that draw many Trump followers, but also a substantial number of Clinton followers. Between the moderately conservative Wall Street Journal, which draws Clinton and Trump supporters in equal shares, and the starkly partisan sites that draw Trump supporters by ratios of 4:1 or more, there are only a handful of sites. Once a threshold of partisan-only attention is reached, the number of sites in the clearly partisan right increases, and indeed exceeds the number of sites in the clearly partisan left. By contrast, starting at The Wall Street Journal and moving left, attention is spread more evenly across a range of sites whose audience reflects a gradually increasing proportion of Clinton followers as opposed to Trump followers. Unlike on the right, on the left there is no dramatic increase in either the number of sites or levels of attention they receive as we move to more clearly partisan sites.

The primary explanation of such asymmetric polarization is more likely politics and culture than technology.


Jacobin über Widersprüche in Alt-Right-Aesthetics: Paleocons for Porn – The new online right draws on transgressive aesthetics to rebrand conservative politics. It’s a contradiction that won’t hold. (Vorher: Die Ästhetik der Alt-Right.)

Chan culture’s shitposting and crapflooding shares more with the Paris ’68 slogan “It is forbidden to forbid!” than it does with Phyllis Schlafly or William F. Buckley. Its dark obsessions with cruelty, rape, humiliation, suicide, murder, race, and genocide taboos have led chan culture to an avant-garde antimoral sensibility not unlike French dramatist Antonin Artaud’s theater of cruelty: “There can be no spectacle without an element of cruelty as the basis of every show.”

In the Guy Fawkes mask-wearing days of the early Occupy movement, pro-hacker progressives did a great deal to glamorize 4chan because of its leaderlessness and its nonhierarchical form. But as Evgeny Morozov warned, this network fetish could easily cause us to overlook the real content of any movement’s ideas, which in this case remains the lowest form of a vacuous, faux-ironic, sniggering moral imbecilism. Its empty postmodern style has energized and fused with the openly antisemitic and white-supremacist core of the alt-right who mean what they say literally but snobbishly roll their eyes at the normies and “basic bitches” who “don’t get” their sophisticated non-irony as they Sieg Heil and very clearly lay out their vision for a white ethno-state. […]

While liberals enjoyed cultural hegemony and became complacent and intellectually lazy, the young transgressives of the alt-right produced an undeniable level of creative energy. The war for the soul of America Pat Buchanan waged in the 1990s has long since been won by the cultural left, and the tyrannical overreach of liberal intellectual conformity undoubtedly helped create the youthful rebellion against it. But this temporary alliance of very different factions — the most stark being between the traditionalist right and the libertinism of chan culture — has produced a schizophrenic incoherence.

The alt-right mourns European culture’s decline but has itself created the most degraded and degenerate forms of culture the West has ever seen in its own fetid forums. It romanticizes the West but hates its Christian “slave morality” and the best of its intellectual traditions. The alt-right uses the now completely bankrupt language of counterculture and transgression when they talk about being “the new punk,” which should serve as a reminder of how empty those ideas have now become.

But how will that framing continue to make sense during the Trump era? When liberals are no longer in power, the philosophical irreconcilability between its paleo-conservatism, which aims for a return to traditional marriage while disapproving of porn and promiscuity, and the amoral libertine Internet culture from which all the real energy has emerged, will soon begin to show.


George Monbiot vom Guardian wird technokulturpessimistisch und ich muss ihm leider zustimmen: Screened Out (Hervorhebung von mir.)

For some of those immersed in virtual worlds, everything loses its meaning – even racism and fascism. Everything is possible. Nothing is possible. Nothing hurts any more, until the consequences crash through the screen. Immersed almost permanently in virtual worlds, we cannot check what we are told against tangible reality. Is it any wonder that we live in a post-truth era, when we are bereft of experience? […]

Several people have explained to me that it [PewDiePies Jokes were] all just fun; he didn’t mean it. Which, to my mind, is exactly the problem. When the Holocaust, nazism and racism are so abstracted from reality that they become just another expression of ironic detachment, when moral norms collapse into knowing laughter, our defences against offline horrors disintegrate.

Breaking down the barriers of acceptability through humour is now a deliberate tactic of the far right. PewDiePie might see his “jokes” as harmless and fun, but they mesh with agendas that are neither. The Nazi website the Daily Stormer notes that PewDiePie “could be doing all this only to stir things up and get free publicity … it doesn’t matter, since the effect is the same; it normalizes Nazism, and marginalizes our enemies.”

The shrinking of our contact with the tangible world has taken place at a speed to which we struggle to adapt, with consequences we cannot yet grasp.


Wired über den Verlust von Bedeutung durch Fragmentierung des Konsens und durch pure Geschwindigkeit und Masse anhand des Begriffs „Fake News“: The Internet Made ‘Fake News’ a Thing—Then Made It Nothing:

„fake news” as an epithet, if not an accurate description of a story about, say, a child sex ring at a pizza joint, is something new—a seemingly straightforward concept that has shattered into a kaleidoscope of easily manipulated meanings.

But how did the discourse around this so quickly spiral from “Pope Francis Shocks the World, Endorses Donald Trump” (he didn’t) to Donald Trump shouting “fake news” at a CNN reporter during a press conference before his inauguration and incessantly tweeting about it after his inauguration? The origin story of “fake news” reflects the dizzying speed at which semantic shifts occur in the social media era. But it reveals far more: What happens to factuality itself as algorithms replace humans, Facebook supplants traditional media, and the president declares war on the press. That perfect storm has made “fake news” as unstuck from fact—and as unstoppable—as any viral hoax. Watching the meaning of “fake news” evolve shows just how easily even facts about facts can slip away. […]

Like its forebear “political correctness,” the protean [dt.: vielfältig] meanings of “fake news” have made the term meaningless. It’s a rallying cry to some, a joke to others. It’s both and neither. It was born from a media frenzy bent on describing a murky reality, and it died by that, too. Mostly, it’s become a signifier of cynicism, a term feeding a public sense that maybe nothing is believable, or worth believing, anymore.


InTheseTimes: The “Identity Politics” Debate Is Splintering the Left. Here’s How We Can Move Past It.: „Building effective mass politics requires the articulation of forms of identity politics that are durable and conducive to solidarity. This does not mean that there are no tensions between the demands of distinct groups or between different strategies and tactics to advance those demands. Maintaining militant opposition to homophobia, anti-Muslim Christian supremacism, and police violence might not help win over white workers in the rural Midwest. But combined with a strong class program, socially conservative workers can not only stomach such positions but might even be convinced, over time, to change their minds.“

NYReviewOfBooks: The True History of Fake News: „Procopius, the Byzantine historian of the sixth century AD churned out dubious information, known as Anecdota, which he kept secret until his death, in order to smear the reputation of the Emperor Justinian after lionizing the emperor in his official histories. Pietro Aretino tried to manipulate the pontifical election of 1522 by writing wicked sonnets about all the candidates (except the favorite of his Medici patrons) and pasting them for the public to admire on the bust of a figure known as Pasquino near the Piazza Navona in Rome. The 'pasquinade' then developed into a common genre of diffusing nasty news, most of it fake, about public figures.“

NYTimes: Trump and the ‘Society of the Spectacle’:

Debord, an intellectual descendant of [Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Karl Marx], opens with political praxis couched in high drama: “The whole life of those societies in which modern conditions of production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. All that once was directly lived has become mere representation.”

In the 220 theses that follow, Debord, a founding member of the avant-garde Situationist group, develops his indictment of “spectacular society.” With this phrase, Debord did not simply mean to damn the mass media. The spectacle was much more than what occupied the screen. Instead, Debord argued, everything that men and women once experienced directly — our ties to the natural and social worlds — was being mulched, masticated and made over into images. And the pixels had become the stuff of our very lives, in which we had relegated ourselves to the role of walk-ons. […]

With the presidency of Donald Trump, the Debordian analysis of modern life resonates more deeply and darkly than perhaps even its creator thought possible, anticipating, in so many ways, the frantic and fantastical, nihilistic and numbing nature of our newly installed government. In Debord’s notions of “unanswerable lies,” when “truth has almost everywhere ceased to exist or, at best, has been reduced to pure hypothesis,” and the “outlawing of history,” when knowledge of the past has been submerged under “the ceaseless circulation of information, always returning to the same list of trivialities,” we find keys to the rise of trutherism as well as Trumpism.


Zeit.de: PARLAMENTSWAHL IN DEN NIEDERLANDEN: DIE JUNGEN FANS DES GEERT WILDERS: „'Die Regierung hat nach der Wahl 2012 eine strenge Sparpolitik geführt, um die Auswirkungen der Wirtschaftskrise zu bekämpfen', sagt Matthias Hüning, Niederlandeexperte von der Freien Universität Berlin. 'Vor allem der Kultursektor wurde regelrecht kaputtgespart'. Auch das Sozialsystem ist stark betroffen. Viele Niederländer haben ihre Arbeit verloren, die Verschuldung der privaten Haushalte gehört zu den höchsten in Europa. Auch die Jugendarbeitslosigkeit stieg während der Krise, noch immer liegt sie bei mehr als zehn Prozent. 'Viele junge Menschen arbeiten als Freelancer ohne große Aussichten auf Festanstellungen', sagt Hüning. Die Regierung fördere sogar die Scheinselbstständigkeit, die in Deutschland zum Beispiel bekämpft wird. 2016 gab es rund 8,4 Millionen Erwerbstätige, über eine Million davon sind hauptberuflich Selbstständige. 'Wilders wettert zwar gegen den Islam, hat aber andererseits linke Forderungen: niedrigere Mieten, mehr Geld für Wohlfahrt.'“

Zeit.de: Fake-News: Macron ist schwul, NOT!: „Weil auf einer russischen Website steht, der französische Präsidentschaftskandidat Emmanuel Macron sei schwul, diskutiert die Welt drüber. Rekonstruktion einer Fake-News.“

Eine Entgegnung auf das durchaus zulässige Argument, „überbordernde Political Correctness“ sei eine Erfindung von rechts: Zeit.de: Im Wunderland der Korrektheit – Warum Political Correctness eine reale Gefahr für die freie Gesellschaft ist – und keinesfalls nur ein konstruierter Vorwurf der Rechten. Der Text ist ein bisschen verquer und ich stimme dem in seinem Fatalismus oft nicht hundertpro zu, aber lesenswert ist er:

So es einen Karl Marx der PC gibt, heißt er Humpty Dumpty, ein zu Unrecht vernachlässigter Philosoph aus Lewis Carrolls Alice im Wunderland. Seine Lehre, knapp zusammengefasst: "Wenn ich ein Wort benutze, hat es just die Bedeutung, die ich ihm gebe – nicht mehr und nicht weniger." Alice: "Die Frage ist doch, ob du Wörtern so viele verschiedene Bedeutungen zuteilen kannst." Humpty Dumpty: "Die Frage ist: Wer soll Herr darüber sein? Das ist alles."

So ist es. Wer ist Herr des Verfahrens bei der Benennung, die das Denken, Hören und Handeln prägt? Der noch wichtigere Analytiker der PC ist George Orwell – lange vor Derrida und Lyotard, Multikulturalismus und Poststrukturalismus. Orwell lässt einen Dezernenten aus dem "Wahrheitsministerium" dozieren: "Kapierst du denn nicht den eigentlichen Sinn von Neusprech?" Beschweigen und Beschneiden sollen die "Bandbreite der Gedanken einengen". So "werden Gedankenverbrechen buchstäblich unmöglich, weil es keine Wörter mehr gibt, um sie auszudrücken".

Das Neue? Dieses Geschäft haben früher die Totalitären besorgt, heute tut es die freie Gesellschaft selber, wie es Tocqueville vor fast 200 Jahren im jungen Amerika beobachtet hatte. Es geschieht nicht im Dienste eines Tyrannen, sondern im Namen einer höheren Moral und Empfindsamkeit. Immer häufiger wird das Korrekte in Gesetze gegossen (Umweltschutz, Anti-Rassismus), aber meistens mit sozialem Druck und Beschämung durchgesetzt – was prompt auf der Gegenseite das verdruckste "Das wird man doch wohl noch sagen dürfen" hervorruft.

Die Trumpisten aller Nationen bedienen sich inzwischen ebenfalls aus dem Arsenal des Korrekten – wie sie es definieren. Sie haben die strategischen Vorteile des Opferstatus entdeckt. Sie sehen sich als Leidtragende der Globalisierung, der Einwanderung, des Multikulti-Kultes – und der Bevormundung durch die "Elite", die ihnen das Maul verbiete und die Würde raube.

Wobei die Wähler von Trump und seinen europäischen Genossen noch das geringste Problem sind, fordern sie doch Macht auf dem verfassungsgemäßen Wege. Wer wissen will, wie die echten Außenseiter denken, begebe sich in die digitalen Kommentarteile der Medien – oder zu den Websites, die vor Fake-News und "alternativen Fakten" strotzen. Wie bei Humpty Dumpty und George Orwell geht es um die Macht über die Sprache, die Denken und Handeln bestimmt.

Das Gegenmodell zur klassischen PC ist die Alt-right-Bewegung, die "alternative Rechte". Das Ziel ist das Gleichdenk, der Angriff gegen den Comment und die Moral, die das "Establishment" hochhält. Die Waffen sind gefälschte Fakten, Verdrehung, Diffamierung und Charaktermord, verpackt in Hass und Verachtung. Was Links kann, können die neuen Ultras allemal, bloß viel besser. Unübertroffen sind Zynismus und Gemeinheit.

Endlos zitiert wird das Wort von Karl Marx aus dem Achtzehnten Brumaire, wonach sich alles zweimal ereigne – "das eine Mal als Tragödie, das andere Mal als Farce". Dieser Spruch gehört im 21. Jahrhundert revidiert. PC war erst ein unumgängliches Programm. Dann geriet es in den Mündern seiner Gegner zur Farce, zu Hohn und Spott. Schließlich griff es als Tragödie von links nach rechts über. Diese bedroht die liberale Demokratie, die ohne Meinungsfreiheit nicht existieren kann.

Humpty Dumpty wusste es: Die Frage ist, wer Herr über das Wort ist.


Guardian: Have we got Machiavelli all wrong? – What if the Italian civil servant whose name became shorthand for devious politics was trying to warn us about the despots, not advise them?

Don’t judge by reputation or appearances. “Take nothing on authority.” These are among Machiavelli’s less-known maxims, and we should apply them to his own words. If we look again at how he lived his life and how that life shaped his thoughts, it looks as if we’ve got Machiavelli all wrong. And it’s time we got him right, because no contemporary writer is a better guide to understanding and confronting our own political world. […] Machiavelli was convinced the real threats to freedom come from within – from gross inequalities on the one hand, and extreme partisanship on the other. He saw first-hand that authoritarian rule can take root and flourish in such conditions with terrifying ease, even in republics like Florence that had proud traditions of popular self-government.

His city’s tempestuous history taught Machiavelli a lesson he tries to convey to future readers: that no one man can overpower a free people unless they let him. “Men are so simple,” he tells us, “so obedient to present necessities, that he who deceives will always find someone who will let himself be deceived.” To each of us, he says: don’t become that someone. Citizens need to realise that by trusting leaders too much and themselves too little, they create their own political nightmares. “I’d like to teach them the way to hell,” he told a friend toward the end of his life, “so they can steer clear of it.”

So what can citizens can do to preserve their freedoms? For one thing, they can train themselves to see through the various ruses in the would-be tyrant’s handbook. Machiavelli’s The Prince describes most of them, in ways that mimic their disorienting ambiguity. On the day Donald Trump signed his executive order on immigration from seven countries, for instance, these comments were painfully apt:

Nothing makes a new prince so esteemed as to carry on great enterprises and give rare examples of himself. In our times we have Ferdinand of Aragon. If you consider his actions, you will find them great and some of them extraordinary. He kept the minds of the barons of Castile preoccupied with war; so they did not perceive that he was acquiring reputation and power over them. Besides this, to undertake greater enterprises, always making use of religion, he turned to an act of pious cruelty, expelling the Marranos [forcibly converted Muslims and Jews] and purging them from his kingdom; nor could there be a more wretched example than this. And so he has always done and ordered great things, which have always kept the minds of his subjects in suspense and admiration and occupied with their outcome. And his actions have followed one upon another so that men never have time to work steadily against him.

When we know that these words are Machiavelli’s, we tend to let his reputation colour how we read them. But if an anonymous poster were to put up this passage online, how would you take it: as lavish praise for a great leader’s statesmanship, or deadpan sendup of his grandiosity and cheap tricks? You might suspect that it’s all a braintease, a test of whether you can smell trouble behind big talk and manic hyperactivity. And you might wonder: can distraction tactics like these ever bring states lasting security? Machiavelli’s answer is, no, they can’t. True political success needs completely different methods: low-key diplomacy, long-range solutions to complicated problems.

Alongside his lessons for citizens, he also has a message for new populist princes. You might, he tells them, rise with ease to the top by using divide-and-rule tactics and other stock manipulations. People might believe your self-serving version of reality – the world of us-versus-a-thousand-predators – for a while. But in the daily grind of governing, harder realities bite. Then you’ll be tempted to show everyone who’s boss, and try to ascend from a civil order to an absolute one. But be warned: citizens who are used to being governed by laws and magistrates are not ready, in these emergencies, to obey a despot. And if you do steal their freedoms, they never forget them.


Brad Allenby von der Arizona State University auf Defense One: Weaponized Narrative Is the New Battlespace. (Siehe auch: The Myth Gap).

Narrative is as old as tribes. Humans are pattern-seeking storytelling animals. We cannot endure an absence of meaning. Rather than look up at the distribution of lights in the night sky and deal with randomness, we will eagerly connect those dots and adorn them with the most elaborate – even poetic – tales of heroes and princesses and bears and dippers. We have a hard-wired need for myth. Narrative is basic to what it means to be human.

What’s new is the extraordinary power of today’s weaponized narrative. It attacks our group identity – our sense of who we are, our privilege of not being identified as “other.” The rise of the Connected Age allows attacks that tear down old identities that have bound us together. But it also allows the creation of narratives that define the new differences between “us” and “them” that are worth fighting for.

Weaponized narrative comes at a critical juncture. The speed of upheaval in our lives is unprecedented. It will be filled by something. We are desperate for something to hang on to.

By offering cheap passage through a complex world, weaponized narrative furnishes emotional certainty at the cost of rational understanding. The emotionally satisfying decision to accept a weaponized narrative — to believe, to have faith — inoculates cultures, institutions, and individuals against counterarguments and inconvenient facts.

This departure from rationality opens such ring-fenced belief communities to manipulation and their societies to attack. These communities can be strengthened through media tools and messages that reinforce the narrative — crucially, by demonizing outsiders. Trust is extended only to those who believe, leaving other institutional and social structures to erode.

In the hands of professionals, the powerful emotions of anger and fear can be used to control adversaries, limit their options, and disrupt their functional capabilities. This is a unique form of soft power. In such campaigns, facts are not necessary because – contrary to the old memes of the Enlightenment – truth does not necessarily prevail. It can be overwhelmed with constantly repeated and replenished falsehood. Especially powerful are falsehoods or simplifications that the target cohort has been primed to believe by the underlying narratives with which they are also being supplied. […]

Post-factual politics weaken democratic governance. It enables what might be called post-modern soft authoritarianism. Such authoritarianism is not absolute in the traditional Nazi or Stalinist sense. Rather – much like Putin’s Russia today – it relies on a sophisticated combination of managed public expectations, a tenuous but real political legitimacy, and the division of state power among otherwise isolated communities. These then become easy to balance against each other, the more readily to be dominated by authoritarian personalities and institutions.

The mechanism, again, depends on weaponized narrative. Old authoritarianism too often required large security forces, violent repression of citizens, and absolute control of information (the Big Lie). How much simpler to engineer human communities so that the expensive and messy process of explicit authoritarianism can be replaced by the far gentler – and more effective – mechanism of narrative.

History is replete with examples. For centuries in Europe, the Church’s narrative of the Great Chain of Being kept the peace. Rebellion simply lay outside the reality within which most people lived.

It is certainly not clear that weaponized narrative necessarily leads to soft authoritarianism. But it is at least plausible that the advance of inclusive democracy and universalist Western values has been reversed. Authoritarian organizations and states are more adaptive in this new post-factual political environment. Weaponized narratives can only increase the possibility of soft authoritarian outcomes if they are not understood and engaged.

At any rate, it is certainly a reasonable hypothesis that the Enlightenment age of the individual – the core to any democratic system – is clearly ending. Unprecedented complexity, and information volumes and velocities, simply mean that individual cognitive capabilities – no matter how brilliant – are overwhelmed. Power shifts towards those who understand and deploy narrative, be they large states, large corporations, or religious and cultural communities. Power leaks away from the naïve faith in individual rationality that has characterized the last three centuries in the West.

What this may mean for military and security organizations committed to democratic states – or, indeed, for the United States as a whole – is not entirely clear. But much of what has previously been assumed to be fixed and unchanging is turning out to be, in fact, unpredictable, unforeseeable, and random. And the rate of change is accelerating.

It is futile to wish this change away. Instead, we must recognize weaponized narrative, to defend against it, and to put it to our own uses. Our societies and institutions must adapt, or pass into history alongside others that did not.

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