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Birth of the Digital Oligarchy: The Trump Ban and the Social Media Ruse

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/01/2021 - 6:08am in

On January 6, as the events unfolding at the U.S. Capitol were discussed on Twitter, the barrage of opinions predictably accumulated on one side of the political spectrum. Outrage over what mainstream pundits characterized as the desecration of the symbols of democracy and similar bleeding heart liberal rhetoric was far more prevalent than the opposing camp’s tendency to side with the so-called “insurrectionists” or tweets in support of the made-for-social media putsch.

Evidence of straight forward collusion between elements of law enforcement and the Trump loyalists who stormed the Congressional building began to emerge throughout the evening, giving a measure of credence to the emerging narrative of a purported “coup” attempt by the sitting president. Simultaneously, members of Congress with large followings started calling for impeachment and other retaliatory measures against fellow members of Congress, who seemed to be implicated in the tawdry affair.

 

Two days later, after tensions continued to simmer among its most vocal user base, the famously left-leaning social media platform carried out a coup of their own by permanently banning Donald Trump’s Twitter account “due to the risk of further incitement of violence” and proceeded to execute a mass purge ­of 70,000 accounts, which ran afoul of their revamped rules targeting “extremist” behavior.

The ban was celebrated by a number of left-leaning media outlets like The Verge and Raw Story; the former publishing an article detailing all the ways in which Twitter’s actions and those of other social media networks were justified as a “desperate response to a desperate situation,” incongruously disparaging any comparisons to the real-life purges of Stalinist Russia, while citing “the facts on the ground” as a legitimate excuse for the virtual takedowns.

Predictably, conservative publications like Fox News decried the measures as a power grab by Big Tech and protestations came as far away from Europe, where German Chancellor, Angela Merkel – whose disdain for Donald Trump has never been a secret – called the decision to deplatform a head of state “problematic,” an opinion shared by France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Marie, who warned of a “digital oligarchy” usurping the powers of the state.

Missing in the salacious back-and-forth conversation between ideological factions and absent from the argument that they are private corporations, which have the legal authority to ban or deplatform anybody they wish, is the fact that Twitter, Facebook, and all the other major social media platforms are organs of the state to begin with, and that nothing they do falls outside of the ultimate designs of the powers they serve. 

Examples abound of how these platforms regularly engage in cyber reconnaissance missions for American and Atlanticist interests in violation of their own terms of service, such as when NATO commanders made use of coordinates provided by Twitter users in order to select missile strike targets in their war against Libya in 2011. 

 

Facebook’s recently created oversight board includes Emi Palmor, who was directly responsible for the removal of thousands of Palestinian posts from the social media giant during her tenure as Director of Israel’s Ministry of Justice. She, along with other individuals with clear sympathies to American interests, now sit on an official body tasked with emitting the last word on any disputes regarding issues of deplatforming on the global social network. 

 

Following you since 1972

In Yasha Levine’s seminal work, “Surveillance Valley,” the military origins of the Internet and the close relationship of social media companies to federal and local law enforcement are made patently clear. Since their creation, Twitter, Facebook, and other Silicon Valley behemoths have worked hand in hand with law enforcement agencies to augment their capacity for mass tracking and surveillance.

From facial recognition technologies to aggregated user post history, these platforms have been a crucial component in the development of the pervasive surveillance state we now live in. In the book’s prologue, Levine details the attempted creation of a citywide police surveillance hub in Oakland, California called the “Domain Awareness Center” (DAC), which drew intense opposition from the local citizenry and privacy advocates who were quick to undress city officials who were trying to hide the proposed center’s insidious links to the NSA, CIA and military contractors.

Among other capabilities, the control hub would be able to “plug in” social media feeds to track individuals or groups that posed any kind of threat to the establishment. While the DAC project was successfully defeated by an engaged public, similar initiatives were quickly implemented throughout law enforcement agencies across the country and continue to be perfected in order to not only track, but infiltrate political groups deemed problematic. 

 

From the early 1970s, when the Internet’s precursor ARPANET was used to spy on anti-war protestors, the vast machinery that constitutes our present-day technological ecosystem has not deviated from the original intentions of its creators and has reached a level of sophistication most of us can barely comprehend.

The seemingly innocuous ad-targeting algorithms that generate bespoke advertisements based on our surveilled lives via social media conceals a far more sinister architecture of control, which includes direct influence over people’s political opinions through micro-targeted messaging and even more insidious methods that are powerful enough to influence people’s actual behavior.

 

Amateur honeypots and the victory of the surveillance state 

One of the biggest misconceptions we have about social media is that platforms like Twitter and Facebook represent the voice of the people and that they are the new “public square” where anybody can get on and voice their opinion. While this perception holds some water on the surface, a closer examination reveals that – on the contrary – these platforms are simply propaganda tools brilliantly disguised as vox populi.

According to a Pew Research study from 2019, 80% of all tweets are created by just 10% of Twitter users. Most people who have an account on the ostensibly left-leaning social media platform rarely tweet at all. In addition, a majority of the content is created by accounts with very large followings and, in most cases, verified accounts that mainly represent established mainstream media personalities. 

 

Given that the politics espoused by this minuscule portion of the social network’s user base are amplified by the platform’s own algorithms, which have been shown to contain biases as all algorithms do, the perception that these platforms represent some kind of public opinion is revealed to be a very dangerous assumption.

A case in point is disturbingly reflected in a meme that ostensibly developed in yet another social media platform and rapidly spread on Twitter as a result of the incident on Capitol Hill. A tweet posted the day after on January 7 claimed that a woman in Washington D.C. was changing her profile preference on the Bumble dating app to “conservative” in order to entrap “insurrectionists” looking to hook up while visiting the nation’s capital by forwarding their photos to the FBI.

The tweet received hundreds of thousands of ‘likes’ and was retweeted thousands of times. The comments expressed overwhelming support for what amounts to an ostensibly spontaneous snitching operation by regular American citizens against other American citizens. In such a case, whether the meme itself is true has no bearing on the fact that Twitter, Facebook and any other platform where it was disseminated has the ultimate effect of normalizing and generating consent for the idea of self-monitoring and bringing the designs of the surveillance state full circle.

Feature photo | Ben Heine | Shutterstock

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post Birth of the Digital Oligarchy: The Trump Ban and the Social Media Ruse appeared first on MintPress News.

In 2021 let’s do institutional academic social media better.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 7:01pm in

Chances are you dutifully follow a number of poorly managed institutional academic social media accounts, producing infrequent, unengaging and perhaps occasionally important content. In this post, Andy Tattersall, provides advice on how to approach institutional academic social media in a more productive way and makes the case for its vital role in keeping academia connected … Continued

Craig Kelly Appoints Himself Australia’s Minister For Science PM Does Not Dispute The Claim

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/01/2021 - 7:00am in

The Member for Hughes Craig Kelly has taken to the Facebook to announce that he has appointed himself Australia’s Minister for Science. In the week since posting the announcement Australia’s PM, Scotty from marketing has not disputed the claim.

”The Liberal party is a broad church with many people with many different opinions,” said a Liberal party Insider. ”If Craig wants to be the Minister for Science then who are we to get in his way.”

”Besides, he’s very popular online you know.”

When asked whether this now meant that members of the Government could seemingly appoint themselves to whatever portfolio they wished, the Insider said: ”Within reason sure. I mean George Christensen is the Minister for Manilla and Craig’s got Science.”

”We do draw the line however, I mean Dutton did call shotgun on being PM after Malcolm was knifed but were not stupid.”

”I mean could you imagine going to an election with Dutton in charge, the Australian people will swallow a lot of crap but not crap with crushed up glass in it.”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy some methylated spirits and leeches, Craig Kelly said it works a treat for gout.”

When asked if

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

We’re also on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theunoz

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Non-MAGA Activists Caught in Social Media War as Twitter Begins Purge

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 3:43am in

Few could have predicted the huge fallout from the Stop the Steal rally in Washington, D.C. that saw the president of the United States banned from virtually every social media platform, including his favorite, Twitter. 

In solidarity with Trump, tens of thousands of conservative users appear to be deleting their accounts and moving over to pro-Trump Twitter clone Parler. Celebrities, politicians, and social media figures — particularly conservative ones — have registered losing tens of thousands of followers in a matter of hours. Twitter’s share price plunged by 7% this morning, knocking around $2.5 billion off its market value in one fell swoop. 

While the massive publicity generated would normally be positive news for Parler, which brands itself as a “free speech app,” it seems to have suffered a far worse fate than Twitter. The app was deleted by Google and Apple from their app stores over the weekend. But it was Amazon’s decision early this morning that proved a more fatal blow. The company, whose cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services, hosts the app and website, decided to pull it, effective immediately. “We cannot provide services to a customer that is unable to effectively identify and remove content that encourages or incites violence against others,” Amazon said in a statement.

Before it was taken offline, however, activists and researchers had begun a project to download and archive vast quantities of information, totaling over 70 terabytes, including deleted posts, videos, and users’ location data. They intend to use it as evidence to find and prosecute those individuals involved in the storming of the Capitol Building last Wednesday, an action that led to Congress and the Senate being evacuated and five people dying. Those leading the action allegedly used Parler to plan and organize the events and to communicate with each other during the violence. 

The president himself encouraged the crowds to go to the building and “fight like hell” to stop what he regards as a “stolen election,” where he was the legitimate winner. “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong,” he added. 

In response, a host of popular social media platforms, including Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat froze Trump’s accounts on the grounds that he was directly inciting violence. Discord and Reddit also banned popular Trump forums. 

 

While many who opposed the president celebrated, whistleblower and internet freedom advocate Edward Snowden warned that allowing social media companies to set a precedent where they could effectively ban whoever they want from their services set a chilling precedent. “I know a lot of folks in the comments [who] read this are like ‘YAAAAS,’ which, like — I get it. But imagine for a moment a world that exists for more than the next 13 days, and this becomes a milestone that will endure,” he wrote on Twitter.

Almost immediately, a number of non-Trump accounts began to face problems, with pro-Assange journalist Suzie Dawson locked out of her account, educational file sharing website Sci Hub’s account suspended, and the Red Scare podcast’s profile deleted. Other figures began to demand that the accounts associated with the Venezuelan and Chinese government be removed from social media platforms as well. 

 

If Parler can find a way past its massive data hack and a company to host it, it still faces a number of huge problems, including rampant racism and false information predominating its platform. There are also large numbers of fake accounts purporting to represent public figures. The company has also broken its free speech absolutism promise as well, deleting incendiary tweets from Trump-supporting lawyer Lin Wood calling for Mike Pence’s head. 

Perhaps more ominous for America, however, is a media reality where different groups of people become completely insulated from one another on the basis of political identification. Already, algorithms have split us off from others who think differently, showing wildly contrasting news and views to us based on our prior actions. However, until now, this was at least happening on the same platform, meaning there was some overlap. If, however, liberals and conservatives are using entirely different social media websites, any chance for inter party debate is lost. 

The storming of the Capitol Building on Wednesday was a prime example of what can happen when one group of Americans lives in an entirely alternative reality. Further disintegration of media will only accelerate this trend, making incidents like this more likely in the future. 

Feature photo | Shutterstock

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Non-MAGA Activists Caught in Social Media War as Twitter Begins Purge appeared first on MintPress News.

Christensen Tells ScoMo Make Me The Ambassador To The Philippines And I’ll Drop The Trump Posts

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/01/2021 - 7:00am in

The Government’s member for Manilla George Christensen has told his boss Scotty from marketing to make him Australia’s Ambassador to the Philippines and he will cease posting Trump themed conspiracy theories to social media.

”George and his colleague Craig Kelly kind of have the PM over a barrel at the moment as the Government only has a two seat majority,” said a Government Insider. ”So they can do and post as they please.”

”To be fair to them the PM isn’t going to really come out strongly against anything Trump related as he does like the medal that the President gave him.”

When asked why as an election winning Prime Minister Scott Morrison was seemingly dictated to by his back bench, the Government Insider said: ”Scotty likes to keep everybody onside.”

”He’s also on holidays this week so he’s unlikely to be actually checking social media, except to see how many likes his latest photo has gotten.”

”Now, if you’ll excuse me, the member for Dawson has asked me to head on down to Rebel sport and a thousand ping pong balls to send over to the Manilla girls ping pong club. He’s the club’s number one ticket holder you know.”

Mark Williamson

@MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

We’re also on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theunoz

The (un)Australian Live At The Newsagency Recorded live, to purchase click here:

https://bit.ly/2y8DH68

Tech Wants Trump to Go

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 10/01/2021 - 1:36am in

The Republican Party is tearing apart. Power in the nation is shifting almost by the minute. Continue reading

The post Tech Wants Trump to Go appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

“This Will Be Remembered as a Turning Point”: Snowden Warns Against Trump Social Media Ban

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/01/2021 - 3:56am in

NSA whistleblower and internet freedom advocate Edward Snowden has cautioned the public against celebrating President Trump’s recent social media ban. “I know a lot of folks in the comments [who] read this are like ‘YAAAAS,’ which, like — I get it. But imagine for a moment a world that exists for more than the next 13 days, and this becomes a milestone that will endure,” he wrote on Twitter. 

Both Facebook and Twitter announced they would prevent the president from using their services in the light of his incitement of the storming of the Capitol Building on Wednesday. Twitter has since reversed its decision. However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was adamant that Trump would not be allowed to use his platform. “The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power,” he announced, adding that his company,

Believe[s] the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

Many were elated at the news of the decision, while still others urged big tech companies to go further. “Ban Donald Trump’s Twitter account – for good,” wrote Sarah Manavis in The New Statesman. Former First Lady Michelle Obama was of a similar opinion, stating that,

Now is the time for Silicon Valley companies to stop enabling this monstrous behavior — and go even further than they have already by permanently banning this man from their platforms and putting in place policies to prevent their technology from being used by the nation’s leaders to fuel insurrection.”

Of course, senior U.S. government figures use social media all the time to incite insurrection — against enemy countries like Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, or China, but these do not trigger calls for deplatforming. Indeed, many government figures (including President Maduro of Venezuela and Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran) in those countries have their accounts suspended or removed, not for incitement, but for simply existing. Last year, Facebook also announced that it would also delete any posts that presented recently-slain Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a positive light. 

Journalist and press freedom proponent Glenn Greenwald strongly opposed Obama’s call for social media giants to get tough on Trump, warning of the consequences of such an action. 

A handful of Silicon Valley oligarchs decide who can and cannot be heard, including the President of the United States. They exert this power unilaterally, with no standards, accountability or appeal. Politics now is begging them to silence adversaries or permit allies to speak,” he wrote.

Unfortunately, “after yesterday, that tech oligarchs should police our discourse is a virtual consensus,” the co-founding editor of The Intercept lamented. 

The latest edition of the Reuters Institute Digital News Report notes that 63% of Americans (over 200 million people) use Facebook, and 29% use Twitter (95 million people). Both platforms have become key gateways and distributors of news around the world. Facebook in particular is by far and away the most widely used news source in the United States. And both have extensive and deepening ties to the U.S. government, relying on semi-governmental organizations to curate news feeds, deciding what sources to promote and what to de-rank, de-list or even delete.

It is doubtful that any new bans will stop at only the president, however. Indeed, after the 2016 election and the dubious accusations that Russia had taken over social media, swinging the result for Trump, big tech platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Bing changed their algorithms, supposedly to promote more trustworthy sources and demote unreliable ones. The instant effect, however, was a collapse in traffic for high-quality alternative media sites. Overnight, Consortium News’ Google traffic fell by 47%, Common Dreams’ by 37%, Democracy Now! By 36% and The Intercept by 19%. MintPress News suffered similar, unrecoverable losses. 

Late last year, it was also revealed that Facebook had intentionally choked traffic to the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones because of its political orientation, despite personal assurances to its bosses that it was doing no such thing. Partially as a result, conservatives and the far-right dominate Facebook, with figures like Ben Shapiro amassing fortunes and massive followings, despite his well-known and well-documented constant violation of the platform’s terms of service. Perhaps his personal relationship with Zuckerberg, who reportedly enjoys listening and debating with him, helps. In contrast, anti-war voices are constantly throttled far more aggressively than even Mother Jones, if not banned outright. 

Big tech representatives have argued that they cannot hold the right to the same hate-speech standards as the left, because, as one Twitter employee told Motherboard, many Republican politicians would immediately have to be banned for spreading white supremacist hate. “Content from Republican politicians could get swept up by algorithms aggressively removing white supremacist material. Banning politicians wouldn’t be accepted by society as a trade-off for flagging all of the white supremacist propaganda,” he reportedly said. 

In 2013, Snowden was employed by NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton but became increasingly disillusioned with his job after trying to report to management his grave concerns about what the NSA was doing. He took the decision to blow the whistle on the NSA’s enormous spying operation, collecting data on virtually every U.S. citizen while eavesdropping on foreign leaders. Greenwald published his revelations in The Guardian. Since then, Snowden has been trapped in Russia, unable to return to his country of birth for fear of meeting a similar fate to incarcerated whistleblowers Chelsea Manning or Reality Winner. There had been growing calls from both left and right for President Trump to pardon him. However, Trump instead decided to continue his tradition of pardoning military members convicted of gross war crimes.

“For better or worse, this [Trump’s social media ban] will be remembered as a turning point in the battle for control over digital speech,” Snowden warned

Feature photo | Donald Trump meets Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Sept. 19, 2019, in the Oval Office. Joyce N. Boghosian | White House

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post “This Will Be Remembered as a Turning Point”: Snowden Warns Against Trump Social Media Ban appeared first on MintPress News.

New Workshop Series To Bring More Philosophy to Philosophy Twitter

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/01/2021 - 1:50am in

The “Cogtweeto Philosophy Workshop Series” aims to bring together philosophers who are active on Twitter (a growing group—see below) to discuss their philosophical work in contexts more suitable for doing so than Twitter.

The series will take place on Saturdays, once every six to eight weeks, over Zoom. In the first, taking place on January 30th, “Philosophy Twitter will teach us about a philosopher or philosophical tradition that most of us (probably) don’t know—but should.” It will have three different kinds of sessions. The first is similar to a traditional brief conference talk with a commentator, the second is an informal hour-long “coffee hour” talk about a work in progress or idea in development, and the third is an hour long lecture presentation followed by discussion.

The workshop series is organized by Jennifer Foster (@philoso_foster), a Ph.D. student in philosophy at the University of Southern California, and Cassie Finley (@Angry_Cassie), a Ph.D. student in philosophy at the University of Iowa.

I asked them about the motivation for the workshop and how the idea developed. They wrote:

Twitter has become a thriving community for philosophers to interact and get to know one another, but it’s been largely limited to social interaction. Scholarship is more or less limited to the occasional link to a published paper, as opposed to more serious engagement. Jen Foster had the idea to host a Twitter philosophy conference so we could expand the scope of the Twitter-philosophy community’s interaction to incorporate more scholarly activity. Part of the motivation is to expand access to conferences to philosophers who, for myriad reasons, do not have easy access to philosophy conferences, to help graduate students get experience in a low-pressure conference environment, and to encourage philosophers who already know one another to engage not just socially but philosophically with one another’s work.

Cassie Finley volunteered to help Jen with the organization, at which point it became apparent that a workshop series with multiple styles of presentations would better facilitate those ends than a traditional or workshop-style conference. We opted for a series of workshops, held on a Saturday every 6-8 weeks, each surrounding a particular theme, with three different talks per workshop.

The sessions will be hosted over Zoom. Because these are intended to be opportunities to practice in a lower-pressure environment than the usual academic conference, we’ve decided not to record the sessions. Part of the reason for this is that recording can add an additional layer of stress which may discourage individuals from sharing their ideas in the questioning periods, and it may discourage others from submitting to present in the first place. Similarly, because we want this to support students and early-career scholars, having a recorded presentation on the internet for all to see raises the stakes and could have further reach than the more comfortable, discussion-based environment we want to promote.

We also realized that for many people, and for many different reasons, traditional conferences can be inaccessible—but philosophy can, and should, be done in so many other spaces. For instance, even in the traditional conference setting, often some of the best conversations are had after APA talks because someone saw another’s talk and is able to speak with them afterwards in a more comfortable, social setting. The built-in social dimension of Twitter allows for that social interaction; but without a venue of some kind to present work to one another, philosophers on Twitter seems to be missing out on the opportunity to interact with one another’s work.

Our hope is that this workshop series can be a platform for expanding networking and feedback opportunities for those who may not have access or experience doing so. That being said, Cogtweeto workshop attendance is not limited to those who are already on Twitter. We built the conference around Twitter because there is already lively engagement between philosophers in a social setting, so building from that seemed pretty natural. As it stands, because we want the close integration of social interaction and philosophical engagement, we’ve decided to limit submissions to those who are on Twitter.

Philosophy Twitter has seen an acceleration in growth over the past two years, according to Kelly Truelove (@TrueSciPhi), who, among other things, tracks Twitter- information related to philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians at his site, TrueSciPhi. He recently noted that there are now more accounts with over 10,000 followers than there were accounts with over 1,000 followers when he began tracking this information in 2013:

You can see Dr. Truelove’s list, Philosophers on Twitter, here.

For those interested, Ms. Foster and Ms. Finley provided some additional information about the types of sessions:

The first talk is a traditional ‘APA-style’ talk, which requires a 3,500-word paper submission and will include a commentary on the paper. This session is intended for graduate and advanced undergraduate students, post-grads, independent scholars, and early career faculty. Our hope is for attendees to see what an APA-style talk is like, since many undergraduates and graduates have not had, and potentially do not have, the opportunity to attend the APA, while also giving the presenter an opportunity to practice giving that form of talk with a commentator and audience, as that setting is not easily experienced otherwise. The second talk, the ‘coffee hour’ talk, is more workshop-style; as we describe it on the website, we hope that it is more like a conversation among participants about a paper in progress than a traditional-style “talk.” Grad students, adjuncts, early career faculty, and independent scholars are encouraged to submit to this session as it’s more geared towards workshopping the early stages of an idea and getting feedback from others. The last ‘colloquium’ talk is geared primarily towards late-stage graduate students, post-docs, and adjuncts, as it’s intended to be a practice opportunity for an hour-long job talk. Many grad students enter the academic job market with little-to-no experience preparing for, let alone actually giving, such a long presentation. There are also few opportunities in grad school to practice fielding an hour-long Q&A. While this will be the most formal of the three talks, we hope that it still feels fun and “low-stakes.”

The deadline for submissions for the first workshop is January 10th. You can learn more about it here.

Related: Visualization of Philosophers’ Twitter Networks. Daily Nous/Justin Weinberg on Twitter.

The post New Workshop Series To Bring More Philosophy to Philosophy Twitter appeared first on Daily Nous.

Scared Alex Belfield Mockingly Rants about Diane Abbott Leading the Labour Party

Yesterday right-wing YouTuber and internet radio host Alex Belfield put up a video expressing his surprise and horror over a discussion on Twitter about the Labour party. The peeps there were saying that Keir Starmer had finally had enough of leading the party and was about to stand down. Ready to take over from him was Diane Abbott. The rest of the video was just Belfield doing a very unfunny impression of the veteran Black MP making some kind of acceptance speech for the leadership. Abbott is one of the most vilified MPs in parliament. She receives half of all the misogynistic letters received by female parliamentarians. Belfield appears to be one of the people, who has a singular dislike of her. He’s been presenting her as thick as ever since she made a stupid maths mistake talking to one of the presenters of Talk Radio about Labour party policy and how it would be funded a year or so ago. He’s also played up the fact that Abbott has been extremely critical of the police, who I think she feels are racist, but had to call them for help when she was threatened by her privately educated, drug addict son.

I can’t say that Abbott is my favourite MP, and while I can see her being many things, stupid is not one of them. Plenty of Tories have been caught out being unable to do basic Maths as well, but Belfield and the Tories are obviously determined to push the idea of Abbott being massively thick in the hope that it will colour public perception of her. This says to me that they’re afraid, desperately afraid of her. Belfield put up a video a month ago ranting against Abbott’s nomination as MP of the year. I think he may have been one of the right-wingers, who was outraged at a similar vote by a sizable number of the British public in favour of Jeremy Corbyn for the same award a year or so ago.

Last week the Groan published an article from one of the leaders of Operation Black Vote arguing that the Tories were trying to set the working class against Blacks. This is absolutely correct. Belfield constantly harps on about how White working class boys are the most disadvantaged group in the UK. He has a personal chip on his should about this, as he is also constantly talking about how he is a working class lad without a degree from a pit community, in contrast to the ‘woke’ leftie snowflakes at the BBC, who are over-promoting Black performers and drag queens. I’ve no doubt that Belfield is right that about the disadvantaged condition of working class White boys. But he is definitely using it as a weapon for party political purposes by placing them in opposition of Blacks. Part of the reason White British youths are disadvantaged is due not to affirmative action programmes for Blacks and other minorities, although these have played their part, but to Tory policies that have devastated working class White communities. This included the closure of the mines which supported villages like Belfield’s. The Tories have absolutely no interest in helping the working class, whether White, Black, Asian or whatever. They’re only interested in using their underprivileged condition to generate hatred against the Labour party and programmes designed to improve the situation of Blacks in the UK.

As for Starmer giving it all up and deciding to pack it as leader of the Labour party, oh! If only! He’s been a disaster as leader. He has no policies, no real opposition to the Tories and, I would argue, no morals. He’s a typical Blairite. His only real opposition is not to neoliberalism and the Conservatives – he seems to be following Blair’s example of adopting Tory policies while trying to present Labour as better able to carry them out – but to the real socialists in his own party. He and Rayner have been doing everything they can to carry on the witch hunt against true Labour centrists – the peeps who want a return to proper Labour policies and values – by smearing and expelling them as anti-Semites. He has done everything he seemingly can to protect the plotters and intriguers, who conspired to sabotage Labour’s chances at last year’s elections and in 2017. These individuals were also guilty of real racism towards BAME MPs and activists. But no action has been taken against them, to the disgust of the party’s Black members and supporters. His leadership is also becoming a personal autocracy, as he and the new head of the NEC impose rules silencing local parties from voicing their criticisms of his leadership. Local leaders and officials have been suspended for breaking these rules.

I and many, many other Labour members and supporters would be delighted if Starmer went. And while I have problems with Abbott – I think she does go too far in her accusations of racism – I would certainly rather have her as leader of the Labour party.

And that, I think, is what’s behind Belfield’s constant mocking and pillorying of the MP. He’s afraid. Afraid that others like me would also prefer to have her as leader of the Labour party. White peeps from working class families. The same people he and the Tories are trying to turn against Blacks.

As far as I know, Starmer isn’t planning to retire from the leadership anytime soon. But I’d be highly delighted if he did. He has done nothing for the working class. And the Tories aren’t going to do anything for them either, except make them poorer and even more desperate. Only the Labour left is going to do this, and that includes Diane Abbott. I don’t think she’d be popular with the general public, as Tory propaganda has probably gone too far.

But I think intellectually she’s more than a match for right-wing loudmouths, and has and will do more for working class peeps than he and the Tories ever will.

History Debunked Refutes the Myth that James I was Black

More from the whackier end of racial politics. History Debunked has put up a number of videos refuting various assertions and myths promoted as Black history. One of his videos attacked the claim, seen in the Netflix interracial historical romance, Bridgerton, that Queen Caroline was Black. This has arisen from the fact that one of her ancestors was a 13th Spanish Moorish prince. But that was five hundred years before her birth, and so any biological trace of her non-White ancestry would have disappeared way back in her lineage. Apart from which, the Spanish Moors were Berbers and Arabs from North Africa. They were darker than Europeans – the term ‘blue-blooded’ for the aristocracy comes from the Christian Spanish nobility. Under their idea of limpieza de sangre, ‘blood purity’, the racial ideology that distinguished them from the Moors, their skin was supposed to be so pale that you could see the veins in the wrist. But the Moors were nevertheless lighter-skinned than the darker peoples south of the Sahara, in what the Arabs called Bilad as-Sudan and the Berbers Akal Nguiwen, ‘The Land of the Blacks’. Which I think shows that the Arabs and Berbers, dark as they were compared to Europeans, very clearly didn’t think of themselves as Black.

In this video Simon Webb debunks a similar myth, that James I of England/ VI of Scotland, was Black. This ahistorical idea apparently began with the Black Hebrew Israelites, a Black Jewish sect who believe that one of the lost tribes of Israel went to sub-Saharan Africa. Webb mentions that a group of them settled in Israel in the Negev. He uses this to try to refute the demand that Israel should open its borders by stating that Israel had taken in people of a number of different racial groups. They are now, for example, taking in people from India. It’s true that Israel has taken in refugees from Africa, but many of the groups they’ve accepted were Jews. In the 1970s they mounted a rescue operation to transport the Falashas, the Black Jews of Ethiopia, away from their oppression in that country to safety in Israel. My guess is that the Indians they’re accepting are also Jewish. There’s an indigenous Jewish community in India, the Bene Israel, and it sounds like some of them may be migrating. There is, however, considerable racism amongst White Israelis. Abby Martin covered this in some of her reports for The Empire Files on TeleSur, in which she interviewed Black Israelis about the abuse, including physical assault, they’d experience. Gentile African refugees, although present, are resented by many Israelis as ‘infiltrators’, the term they also use for Palestinians trying to return to the ancestral lands from which they were evicted during the Nakba, the term they use for foundation of Israel and their massacre and ethnic cleansing in 1947.

But back to the Black Hebrew Israelites and James I. The Black Hebrew Israelites believe that the Spanish Moors were Black, and that they went from Spain to colonise Ireland and Scotland. Which must be news to most Scots and Irish. Mary, Queen of Scots was mixed race, but Lord Darnley, James’ father, was fully Black and so was James. The English, however, were determined to erase any trace of this Black ancestry, and so embarked on a deliberately policy of intermarrying with the Black Scots and Irish in order to make them White, at the same time destroying all the contrary evidence that they were Black. Although this myth began with the Black Hebrew Israelites it has spread out from them into the wider Black community. To support his description of this bizarre myth, Webb on the YouTube page for the video has link to an article in the Zimbabwean newspaper, The Patriot, which proudly promotes this claim.

Was King James I of England black? – YouTube

The belief that the Spanish Moors were Black has formed the basis for an anti-White racist view of history. A few years ago the American left-wing magazine, Counterpunch, carried on its online edition a piece by a Black historian, Garikai Chengu. This claimed that the Moors were ‘obviously Black’, and their colonisation of Spain brought science and reason to a Europe then gripped by ignorance and superstition. There’s some basis for this in that the revival of science in the West began when Christian scholars acquired Arab and Islamic scientific texts from places such as Islamic Spain and Sicily after that was conquered by the Normans. However, it’s grotesquely exaggerated and is really just a piece of racial supremacist propaganda, albeit one by Blacks rather than Whites. I think it’s fair to see such Afrocentric views of history as a form of Fascism, including this myth that the Irish and Scots were also really Black. Some historians have no trouble describing certain Black political movements as forms of Fascism. One recent book by an academic historian not only includes the classic Fascist movements of German Nazism, Italian Fascism and various other White, European far right movements, but also Marcus Garvey’s Negro Improvement Association and the Nation of Islam, as well as Narendra Modi’s BJP in India. The inclusion of Marcus Garvey and his organisation may well offend many Black activists. Garvey is one of the pioneers of Black liberation. A month or so ago there was a Black celebrity writing in the pages of the Radio Times recommending that children should be taught about him in school. I really know very little about Garvey, but the claim that he was Fascistic rings true. When I was working as a volunteer in the Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol one of the jobs I was given was unpacking some of boxes of material given to the Museum by private individuals and institutions. One of these included a document by Garvey’s organisation. I didn’t do more than glance at it, but it appeared to be describing some kind of military parade or armed wing. This included women’s units and mechanised and mounted forces of various kinds. I don’t know if Garvey and his followers were ever able to set up such a paramilitary force or whether it was all a fantasy. But one of the features of Fascism is its militarism. The Nazis and Italian Fascists, not to mention the various other Fascist movements, all started out as paramilitary organisations complete with uniforms and arms.

Alongside the entirely reasonable demands for social and economic improvement and renewed action to combat White racism, the Black Lives Matter movement has also brought out and articulated strains of overt anti-White racism. One example of this was the attempt by Sasha Johnson, of the Oxford branch of the organisation, to set up her own paramilitary Black army in Brixton to protect Blacks from the cops, and her tweet that the White man wouldn’t be Blacks’ equal, but their slave. Which got her banned from the social media platform. I think there is a real need to start studying and publishing material specifically on Black racism and Fascism. At the moment, there appears to be very little, if any, books specifically published on it. If you search for ‘Black racism’ on Google, what comes up is articles and books on the attacks on affirmative action programmes by right-wing Whites. Way back in the ’90s and early parts of this century there was a book published on Black anti-White violence in America. This might be White Girl Bleed A Lot, which is a similar book. However, I’m not sure how academically respectable the latter is, as I think its author may have joined the extreme right. I can see many people on the left resisting any attempt to categorise and study various Black Fascist movements from the belief that, as Blacks have been oppressed in the West, and are still disadvantaged, it is unfair to characterise such movement as they arose in response to White racism and persecution.

But this does not change the nature of these movements and the racism and racist history they promote. Whatever their connections to the broader Black liberation movement, they’re still racist and Fascist themselves, and should be viewed as such. Fascism everywhere needs to be fought, regarded of race.

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