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  • Doug Belshaw 12:40 pm on February 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , government, politics   

    Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few.


  • Doug Belshaw 10:42 am on December 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Guy Debtors, politics   

    One enemy of spectacular democracy is the same as another, just like spectacular democracies themselves.

    Guy Debord, Commentaries on The Society of the Spectacle
  • Doug Belshaw 2:46 pm on April 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: politics, radical   

    [An ‘ideological curriculum’] presents a rigid sense of answers to any given problem that can be policed, called-out, and then used to shame an punish those who disagree. In this scenario, radicalism is an ideal, and everything else fails to live up to it, perpetuating suspicion, self-righteousness, and the constant policing of behaviour and thought. This approach crushes the transformative potential of radical spaces by creating a series of ‘shoulds’, morals, orders, and rules where one is never radical enough. This is ‘rigid radicalism’.
  • Doug Belshaw 2:41 pm on April 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , politics   

    There is a recognised crisis in democracy in the UK, a democratic deficit, fuelled by austerity, social decline and democratic alienation, especially in UK northern towns, who often voted for Brexit almost in spite at the system failing them. Towns suffering from what had been called “shit life syndrome” by Blackpool’s public health leaders. Shit lives exist everywhere in the UK, but are concentrated into post industrial working class communities, or coastal resorts full of underused bed and breakfast hotels, plenty of fast food, and cheap alcohol outlets. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have them, too, but Scotland, at least, has some greater vision than trickle-down economics.
  • Doug Belshaw 2:18 pm on April 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , politics   

    It is a paradox of modern politics that, despite 24/7 media coverage and an unprecedented crisis engulfi British governmental institutions, the public is remarkably disengaged. The Twittersphere expands while the public sphere contracts, leaving disillusioned citizens in a managerial democracy.
  • Doug Belshaw 10:44 am on April 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: David Mitchell, politics, The Guardian, Theresa May   

    The power that our two-party state puts in the hands of the roughly 650,000-strong membership of those parties is vast… This is not serving Britain well. This isn’t about the 52% or the 48%. It’s about the 1.4%: that 650,000 who, by energy rather than wisdom, and with the intensity rather than the popularity of their views, foist them on the moderate majority. Theresa May is a creature of this corrupted system and, whether Tory or Labour, her successor will be too.
  • Doug Belshaw 4:21 pm on August 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Mayel de Borniol, politics,   

    Lower leftism 

    As Mastodon is decentralised, instances are ‘federated’ together using a social networking protocol called ActivityPub. Instances within the ‘Fediverse‘ can be more or less specialised. For example, social.coop is focused on co-operativism, humanities.one is for discussing the Humanities, and donteatanimals.org for discussing animal rights and veganism. There’s even a guide at joinmastodon.org for choosing an instance that suits you.

    I was talking with Mayel earlier today about some controversy there’s been around social.coop’s federation policy. Over and above the ability of individual users to block or mute other users, instance administrators can ‘silence’ other instances. The proposal was to implement a federation policy which states:

    An instance will be silenced if it meets any of the following criteria:

    • Explicitly allows something forbidden by Social.coop’s Code of Conduct
    • The instance has as one of its goals shitposting or the instance has no moderation policy.

    The following are examples of any of the instances that would be silenced:

    • sealion.club (shitposting)
    • shitposter.club (shitposting)
    • toot.love (no moderation)

    In practice, that means that if you’re a member of social.coop and toot.love is silenced by the administrators, then you don’t see any toots from that instance in the federated timeline. It also mutes any notifications from that instance. You can, however, still follow specific users from that instance and you’ll get notifications from them.

    I thought it was all pretty uncontroversial, to be honest. But then I’m a straight, white, middle-aged man who doesn’t have to deal with online/offline harassment.

    This brief conversation between Mayel and I reminded me of a post he’d shared a while back entitled Lower leftism: expanding upon the political map by Margaret Killjoy. It made me think in new ways about my own politics. You can read the post for the nuance, so I’ll skip straight to the diagram I found useful:

    Political map

    One thing that frustrates me about (what’s usually referred to as) ‘the Left’ is the constant in-fighting. Killjoy’s map, however, explains some of that. We’re not all advocating for the same future; it’s much more nuanced than ‘left’ vs ‘right’.

    A lower leftist is anyone whose politics fall into the anti-authoritarian, cooperative quadrant of the political map. It includes anarchists, Zapatistas, anti-state Marxists, democratic confederalists, libertarian municipalists, and a large number of traditional societies from across the globe… any society that does not desire a state and does desire economic cooperation. (While we’re at it, let’s throw in that we’re only talking about identity-tolerant societies, because regardless of how “anti-state” they claim to be, a society that persecutes people for ethnic, sexual, gender, or ability reasons is just as authoritarian in practice as any formal governmental society.)

    I wouldn’t call myself an ‘anarchist’ but I’m definitely some kind of left libertarian. As such, I fall squarely inside that purple ‘zone of solidarity’ — although probably closer towards the middle of the map. (Which explains, if you read the post, why I vote for The Green Party.)

    The key insight in Killjoy’s post for me is that we shouldn’t form alliances with those who seek different futures as it won’t end well:

    When considering strategic allies (in contrast to the natural allies to be found in the lower left quadrant), my suggestion is that we ought not prioritize one axis over another. We ought to only form strategic alliances with those who aim to push society — in relation to the existent society, rather than in relation to our ideal society — in the same directions that we do. We ought not, presumably, ally ourselves with those who aim to push society in a direction counter to our interests. This seems obvious, when written out, but is a mistake that lower leftists have made time and time again.

    I’ve still a lot of thinking to do around this.

    • mike hales 10:15 am on September 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Replied to this Doug, but my reply isn’t flagged as in your queue for moderation. It was a long one – d’you have a word limit?

      • Doug Belshaw 10:28 am on September 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Mike, not aware of any word limit, but as you say it’s not in my moderation queue 🙁

    • mike_hales 12:19 pm on September 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      I still couldn’t post for some reason. And what I wanted to offer was long. So I’ve posted it here https://www.foprop.org/lower-left. I hope you feel it meshes with your thoughts Doug?

      • Doug Belshaw 12:34 pm on September 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Mike! I’ll take a look at this after this conference I’m attending 🙂

  • Doug Belshaw 1:44 pm on February 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: digital literacies, politics   

    (But What If) We're Wrong. 

    CC0 Evan Dennis (via Unsplash)

    I finished reading Chuck Klosterman’s *[But What If We’re Wrong?](http://www.worldcat.org/title/but-what-if-were-wrong-thinking-about-the-present-as-if-it-were-the-past/oclc/921864995&referer=brief_results)* yesterday. It’s fantastic. You should read it.

    What I particularly like about it is that he lets you the thought processes behind the points he’s trying to make, ‘open sourcing’ his belief system for you to deconstruct. In other words, you don’t just get the big reveal. It’s a personal book, and *not* (as he says in the introduction) a collection of essays.

    There’s many quotable parts of Klosterman’s book, but this paragraph, which comes towards the end, really stuck out for me. Remember, he’s writing just before Brexit and the 2016 Presidential election:

    > We spend our lies learning many things, only to discover (again and again) that most of what we’ve learned is either wrong or irrelevant. A big part of our mind can handle this; a smaller, deeper part cannot. And it’s that smaller part that matters more, because that part of our mind is who we really are (whether we like it or not).

    This seems particularly prescient. It comes a few thousand words after this nugget:

    > If we think about the trajectory of anything – art, science, sports, politics – not as a river but as an endless shallow ocean, there is no place for collective wrongness. All feasible ideas and every possible narrative exist together, and each new societal generation can scoop out a bucket of whatever antecedent is necessary to support their contemporary conclusions.

    The point Klosterman is making is that the internet brings everything into a ‘long now’ where the time difference between, say, the 1970s and today is eradicated. Although he doesn’t mention it explicitly, he’s referencing what danah boyd calls [context collapse](http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2013/12/08/coining-context-collapse.html).

    > We now have immediate access to *all possible facts*. Which is almost the same as having none at all.

    It’s a crazy world we live in when Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia that’s (theoretically) editable by anyone [bans a well-known newspaper](https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/08/wikipedia-bans-daily-mail-as-unreliable-source-for-website?CMP=twt_gu) as an ‘unreliable source’.

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