Big Tech had no idea what they were building when they built social media. This fact is now widely accepted. With near zero understanding of the sociological forces they were goofing off with, they built tools leading to countless dead people and long-term damage to the fabric of society and to our shared reality itself. But the recent acts by our Silicon Valley Overlords to bring the culture war to the infrastructure of the new machine they created will have even more damaging effects that nobody understands, neither Big Tech nor the conservative pundits who oppose them. The reason why, has to do with how the architecture of the myth of democracy perpetuates peace and stability.
The Purge is Openly and Undeniably Ideological
On January 11th 2021, Facebook banned the phrase “Stop the Steal.” They removed the original Facebook group, and are nuking pages, groups, and events tied to the phrase. They did so because they determined it violated their “Coordinating Harm” policy after six deaths in the Capitol building during the recent “Occupy Rotunda” protest.
But on June 5th 2020, Mark Zuckerberg personally posted the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” amidst a protest effort that had already led to half a billion dollars of property damage in Minneapolis alone, and would eventually lead to between one and two billion dollars in damage and dozens of deaths. Property damage and death would, one might think, constitute “harm.”
The Arab Spring, which led to 61,000 deaths and the overthrow of several nations, was scheduled on Facebook, coordinated on Twitter, and streamed on Youtube. And Big Tech never put their finger on the steelyard for that. In fact, all social media censorship efforts during the Arab Spring came from the governments affected themselves. We saw similar effects in Myanmar, Cambodia, and the Philippines. Sixty-one thousand dead people sounds like “harm” to me.
We could also run through thousands of examples of left wing political incitements to violence during the inauguration allowed to remain on Twitter, but that would just be long and boring and I’m sure other media outlets are going to do it.
The actions of social media giants in the past week to censure and deplatform conservatives, and to destroy competing companies who don’t share their censorship policies, are not to reduce violence. They are to stop a culture they don’t like from communicating. This is obvious to everyone in the Middle East. It is obvious to everyone in Europe. It is obvious to everyone in Asia. It is obvious to somewhere around 47% of Americans, give or take. And the public statements of Big Tech in the past week, when combined with their prior inaction or even encouragement for parallel movements, amount to a bald admission. This is gloves-off culture war, leveraging the infrastructure of modern thought itself.
And nobody will stop them because nobody can.
Trying would be pointless, thus revealing the nature of true power.
Much of the consternation of this brazen cultural attack comes from people who think government matters. A laundry list of global government officials were in shock over Trump’s ban from Twitter and Facebook, not because they like Trump, but rather because they understand that Big Tech could just as easily do it to them. Top officials from France, Germany, Mexico, Australia, and Brazil all expressed outrage, some going so far as to call it “The Inquisition.” These are not Trump fans, but they are fans of their own perceived power. “Big Tech should not have the power to do this, we should, and we should be immune from them doing it to us.”
Further consternation over this culture war attack comes from basically all the American right, and some within the American left as well. All, presumably, from people who think government is the real power in a country. The wailing and gnashing of teeth over this is the sound of the slow awakening of the masses, both locally and globally, that government isn’t the true power, and perhaps never was.
This culture war attack lends credence to a certain theory of power promulgated by Mencius Moldbug and his gang of “Dark Enlightenment” thinkers, which goes like this. Elected officials are just a disposable, rotating scapegoat for the actions of the true power in the United States. The true power resides in four areas which mirror similar institutions in pre-democratic feudal societies. Academia is the church, which tells you what you’re allowed to think. Bureaucracy is the infrastructure telling you what you’re allowed to do. Corporations are a cast of groups who produce “the stuff,” who’s power is held in check by in-fighting amongst each other. And the military has all the guns, so sits back and lets everyone behave until they don’t.
image credit: Zero HP Lovecraft on Twitter
Your vote doesn’t matter. You vote for a rotating cast of American Idols to worship as demigods and then cast aside when the plot of the TV show says to do so.
Moldbug and the “Dark Enlightenment” crowd take this model and run too far with it. They run off into “therefore democracy is stupid” territory, and make silly pronunciations like we should go back to having kings. They fail to see that The Show has a very important function for the stability of a country. It prevents revolt. This illusion of choice in who holds power over you allows you to tell yourself a story that you’re free, and your destiny is not controlled by others. Outside of the salad days of Jimmy Carter, Trump was the first administration in my life that did not have a Bush or a Clinton as at least Secretary of State. We lined up to push buttons and hang chads to restore our illusions, because the illusions themselves have value.
If you buy the idea of Societal Darwinism and group scale natural selection, as I do, then the value of this function is proven in the pudding. The world pivoted away from monarchies because the countries who underwent the pivot prospered, and outcompeted those who didn’t. Not necessarily because the leadership was any better, but rather because they spent a lot less time murdering each other over who got to be in charge. Stability has societal efficacy, and the illusion of choice creates stability. This is the most important feature of “democracy” as we currently understand it. The various machineries in every country to promulgate their different versions of “democracy” all share one common feature out of necessity – that the Walmart Shoppers don’t ever actually gain control and implement the will of the mob. But the fact that they think they’re in power is a crucially important myth, instilled into us all as children, to keep us from revolting and wrecking everything. Cartoons about how bills become laws are the backbone of this essential myth.
Big Tech is casting aside this crucial myth to wield their power openly in the culture war. As humans pivot away from living in the world of the real, towards living in the world supplied by our glowing screens, all the power to create or destroy lies in the hands of the glowing screen suppliers. We all decided to carry around tiny little brainwashing machines in our pockets, and our chickens are coming home to roost.
This power grab is not nearly as encompassing as it could be. As severe as this looks, it’s actually just a trial run. AT&T could get involved. Google could extend the culture war to Gmail. The banks have already put their thumb on the scales of the gun debate.
Conservatives cry foul because they’re still married to the idea that this is political warfare. The game is not a game of political warfare. The game is a game of cultural warfare. The ideologies and indoctrinations are at war with each other, using humans as their tools of war, and humans participate in this because we are hard wired to do so. This game of cultural warfare goes back to the beginning of recorded history, almost assuredly further back than that. Big Tech is not deplatforming conservatives because the DNC told them to do so. They are doing it because they are enacting their Culture War Script using the power they already have. They’re doing it because they’re humans.
They haven’t thought the consequences out because the democracy myth shields them from understanding the consequences of unraveling that myth. Without that myth, the stability that the myth provides evaporates. When the illusion of choice goes away, and people’s lack of control over their own lives is laid bare, the only route to regain a sense of control over their lives is violence.
Osama Bin Laden was a very intelligent, very logical fellow, who came to a terrible conclusion because he built his case on bad givens. He laid all the logic out in a Letter to America, which was circulated worldwide back before media organizations decided to stop publishing manifestos of terrorists.
(3) You may then dispute that all the above does not justify aggression against civilians, for crimes they did not commit and offenses in which they did not partake:
(a) This argument contradicts your continuous repetition that America is the land of freedom, and its leaders in this world. Therefore, the American people are the ones who choose their government by way of their own free will; a choice which stems from their agreement to its policies.
His greatest logical flaw? He believed the myth. The myth that perpetuates stability here makes targets of us abroad, when the True Power institutions act of their own will.
Our last truly quality political assassination attempt in the United States was on June 14, 2017, when an unhinged Bernie Bro shot up a baseball practice full of Republican congresspeople. A scan of his social media leading up to the event showed he was saturated with rhetoric about how the repeal of Obamacare was tantamount to murder. “People Will Die” etc. But that was over three years ago, an eternity in culture war terms. We hadn’t even gotten up to “infinite genders” way back then. And given that support for political violence was very high in 2018, and projected to climb, it’s really quite amazing that we haven’t seen any quality attempts since. Credit to both BLM and to MAGA, given the amplified rhetoric during 2020, the Covid anxiety, the lockdowns, and the ensuing protests, that nobody on either side has given it a quality attempt. Credit to law enforcement for sussing out the bad attempts. Credit to us all for knocking on wood. Give it another knock.
Perhaps the fact that we’ve only seen a couple billion dollars of buildings torched and only had three dozen killed in the ongoing 2020/2021 civil unrest, with no quality assassination attempts, bodes well for the next month or year or term. The five attempts against Trump’s life were all as weak as the four against Obama, so it’s likely he makes it out of the world’s most dangerous job relatively unscathed. Biden’s likely to survive as well, although his age projects a 21% chance he keels over for peaceful reasons during his term, by actuarial tables.
But if some nitwit shoots him, we are in a world of shit. The illusion that politicians have power is tempered by the illusion that you can vote them out if you wait patiently. If these illusions are dashed, and dashed incompletely, then someone might resort to doing something tremendously stupid like shooting him. Big Tech’s moves in the culture war exacerbate the unraveling of these illusions. They reminded everyone who actually holds the power.
If you’re a red tribe ideologue, and you want to wage culture war in the new landscape, you basically have to do what the Woke did. Go where the true power is. Go get a job at Facebook.