Hold op med at kalde chikanerier for “trolling”

Apropos The Guardians analyse af 70 mio. kommentarer på deres site og kommentarsporene som platforme til nedgørelse og chikane af kvinder, farvede, queers, muslimer og jøder.

Zoe Quinn fortæller om det hun har lært om online chikane, forfølgelse og mishandling gennem sit arbejde med Crash Override.

Første pointe: Stop med at kalde dem der deltager i chikanen for trolde. Vi kan ikke se problemet for hvad det er, og endnu mindre organisere os for at bekæmpe det, hvis vi giver fænomenet et navn fra en mytologisk fantasy-verden.

Trolling er ikke et passende navn for chikane og mishandling.

Anden pointe: De fleste deltagere i online chikane har en mere eller mindre implicit konspirationsteori om at deres offer er stinkende rig. Så man forestiller sig at være en slags mini-batman. Langt de fleste i chikanehoben har et billede af sig selv som korsfarere på en retfærdighedens kampagne, ude på at slå den stygge drage. (Og dette til trods for at de hvide, mandlige chikanerier ofte omhandler så kaldte “Social Justice Warriors“). Hvis dem de bider i hælene er så enormt magtfulde og korrupte, kan de lettere og mere ubekymret nedgøre sine ofre, udstille deres liv og sende dem voldtægtstrusler.

Quinn anbefaler at skrotte den gamle strategi: “Don’t feed the trolls”.
Det understreges af en af de bedste måder at lukke ned for chikanerne. Quinn talte med +300 tidligere deltagere i online chikane og spurgte dem: “Hvad fik dig til at stoppe eller vokse fra det?” Det mest hyppige svar hun fik var at en de var tæt på, respekterede eller så op til sagde at det ikke var i orden. Dvs. at det sociale netværk, der tidligere fodrede og forstærkede de hysteriske kommentarer, ikke længere gav sin støtte.

Tredje pointe: For dem der deltager i chikanen handler det i sidste ende ikke om offeret. Som regel er offeret snarere at betragte som en slags teoretisk genstand, som en udfordring i et spil som det gælder at score point imod (husk: chikanemisbrugere er suckers for andres likes). En anden grund til at tidligere deltagere i online chikane holdt op var hvis de blev konfronteret bare med den mindste form for humanisering af deres offer. Quinn fortæller om den tid, hvor hun fik omkring flere opkald om dagen fra folk der forsøgte at chikanere hende. Men så begyndte hun at tage telefonen og en næsten identisk samtale fandt sted flere gange:
– Is this Zoe Quinn??
– Yeah … do you not know who you … are calling … ?
– Uhm… Do you know your number is all over the internet?
– Yeah, I’m aware …
– Oh … I’m sorry.

Folk der deltager i chikanerierne er ondskabsfulde, ikke ondsindede.

Fjerde pointe: Chikanehobene er organiserede. Dvs. de er at betragte som fællesskaber (frygtelige fællesskaber, der domineres af ængstelige værdier som social agtelse, hvem der får flest likes, hvem der er bedst til at dominere osv.). Det kan ske mange steder fra: facebook-grupper, reddit eller forums. Igen, det er ikke offeret det handler om, men så meget mere de frygtelige følelser deltagerne har om sig selv. Og som Quinn nævner: Intet snefnug føler sig selv ansvarlig for den lavine der braser ned over en anden.

Sidste pointe: Det er ikke anonymitet der er fjenden. For stigmatiserede personer, queer teenagers eller psykiatrisk diagnosticere personer er anonymitet snarere nøglen for et relativt tryggere sted at lufte sine tanker og få svar fra fæller. Omvendt: Quinns værste og mest stædige krænkere bruger deres lovlige, borgerlige navne og visse af dem ernærer sig ved deres navn. De får mikro-donationer, de bliver betalt pr. youtube-clicks og bygger deres brand på at chikanere kvinder.

“Hvis du ikke har noget at skjule, hvorfor så skrive anonymt?” er et tåbeligt og ignorant bidrag til diskussionen om anonymitet.

Månetid

Here, a woman would go on strike once a month for 10 whole days, declaring herself “on her Moontime”. It was her time off. She didn’t cook for her husband or do household chores. It was believed that a woman should seclude herself during her flow because “she is at the height of her powers”. Such time should not be wasted in mundane tasks, distractions or worries about the opposite sex. Rather, all her energies should be applied in concentrated meditation “to find out the purpose of your life”.

Camilla Power fra den britiske Radical Anthropology Group skriver i Guardian om kollektiv menstruationssynkronicitet, sex-strejke og separatisme i ikke-patriarkalske samfund: If the body isn’t sacred, nothing is: why menstrual taboos matter

Studie i at stå op for direkte aktioner i medierne

Her er et studie at optræde i medierne efter optøjer og svare dem, der typisk bekymrer sig mere over vinduer end at organisere sig for at vinde over fascisterne.

Yvette Felarca er organiseret i By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) og har tidligere stillet op til interviews og forsvaret direkte aktioner imod fascister i Californien. Sidst i juli 2016, hvilket fik hende suspenderet fra hendes job som gymnasielærer. (Videoer på youtube med studerende, der forsvarer hende i retten, vidner om hvor vellidt hun var). Så vi kan også forstå, hvorfor flere ikke tør stille sig op og tale så fattet og oprigtigt om hvad en troværdig måde at bekæmpe fascisterne indebærer. Protesterne imod hendes suspension lykkedes dog og nogle måneder efter blev hun genindsat.

Fordi interviewet er så eksemplarisk, her er en skematisk parafrasering af klippet. Godt at referere til for personer, der kunne nære mod nok til at stille op for samme type interview.

– What specifically is it about X that you and others have an issue with?
– [This is what we have an issue with.]
– Now X himself denies those allegations. What is the fear of him having a conversation with some people?
– Well, just to go back to how you characterized it … This isn’t a question of violent versus peaceful protest. I was there and there were thousands of people out there, who where united … it was a mass protest, it was a militant protest. And everyone was there to shut them down. And so, whatever it was going to take to do that, we were all there with the united cause and we were stunningly successful.
– But why not be peaceful about it? Why not chant … and hold your signs and things …? When you take the barricades, isn’t that counter-productive?
– You know, I think that the left has been far too timid for way too long. And it is why we have even gotten in this position, where we even have someone like Donald Trump leading a fascist movement as the President of the United States. We need to make sure that we have more mass protest, more militant protest. And the reality is that, these aren’t just people that are putting forward their ideas. There are white supremacists, who have already murdered these people in this place and there was one who was just beat down by a white supremacist. We have an obligation to defend ourselves. Not just for each other, but for our communities.
– Some say that because of what happened, this got national attention, he did national interviews, and so instead of his voice being heard by these people, now much more people are online googling him. So does that defeat what you were trying to do?
– The fascists already have a spokesperson in Donald Trump, Steve Bannon … What I find important about our success, and why I think it should be the model the movement needs to take now and in the future, because we need to make sure that the millions out there who are angry and who are scared under Donald Trump, know that there are people out there, who will stand up and fight the way the movement needs to. Clearly, it was not business as usual, it was people fighting united, in a mass united effort and by any means necessary.
– But the business community were really upset because they too were targeted. There is a lot of frustration and concern. And that innocent people, those that may be with your cause, will be hurt as well?
– There is two things to that. One, the boss is responsible for anything that happened and if the business community were upset, they should have joined those workers who were demanding that the boss step down immediately. Because he had a chance to cancel the event, to make sure it didn’t happen. Two, a few broken windows is nothing compared to the lives that are at stake. And if that is what it takes in order to make sure that more people involved don’t get targeted, if that is what it takes to make sure that he or some other white supremacist is not welcomed or allowed to come here and attack our community, then good: Let’s make sure then that that doesn’t happen in the future.
– So no regrets?
– No, what I think we need to do is to draw lessons from this in terms of how we can build a strong movement and be even stronger. And also that we continue to organize, because it is not spontaneous. This is about organizing and fighting by any means necessary.
– Okay, thank you very much for sharing your perspective on that and now colleague, over to you.

An image from the future (Ende Gelände 2016)

Here is 1500 people getting into a power plant in Germany last weekend and almost temporarily shutting it down.*

Back in the days, people tended to storm the parliaments, the winter palaces and so on. For sure those buildings still keep some of their aura: They still attract the odd demonstration every now and then, the talk is still that this is where power is at. But really, what these buildings and the people in them primarily tend to do, that is, their political function, is to channel our resentment and feelings of powerlessness. And thus, they succeed in keeping us distracted.

This being said, the focus of the strongest movements in our part of the world today have really shifted a lot. So it seems like there is a trend the last years which basically means: instead of storming the governmental buildings, storm the railways, the checkpoints, the borders and now the power plants. It has been said recently that power is in the infrastructure. It does seem like this is where Ende Gelände gets a lot of its strength from … it’s hitting the proper targets.

It’s been a long time since I felt the kind of collective power and joy I did this weekend.

One extraordinary thing about this movement is that this is the second time in a row that it is winning basically all of the tactical struggles. Last year it entered the mine and kept it shut down for 24 hours. This year it was double up. In many ways, this is the primary task of zombie capitalism: to not let movements win any immediate goals like these. Government can live with huge economic losses, ineffective production, empty labor and destruction of wealth, as long as no alternatives to the system begin to feel reasonable and achievable. Direct action movements that believe and affirm other worlds than the world of money and control are obviously a threat in this respect. They organize to immediately realize the things they believe in. Thus the police is there to never let these movements win the short-term tactical fights. It just makes you feel too strong, too hopeful… Which is exactly what I felt this weekend. Just think of how extremely rare it is for a movement to set a goal like “Hey, let’s publicly announce to storm a coal mine or a power plant and shut it down for 50 hours” and then get away with it. That it is so rare is obvious, even when you are in the middle of it. It probably took me a whole hour after we had seized the rail tracks and conveyor belts from the mine before I actually believed this was our final target. “There must be something wrong, how did we get here with so little effort? Did someone make a mistake? Have we been fooled and will be ambushed any minute?”. It just seemed unbelievable. The day after at Europe’s 10th largest point source CO2 emitter, the nearby lignite coal power plant Schwarze Pumpe (which the rail tracks were not supplying coal to anymore), people must have had a similar experience: No one on the blockade had hoped to reach this far. When people where suddenly behind fences inside the power plant area, then inside the administration buildings, and then (for the really adventurous) the coal reserve chambers, surely the thought must have come over most people’s minds: Which plug does one pull to make this thing stop? No one knew. For sure, this last weekend raises the bar for what is possible to achieve at mass actions, and next time someone might have done the research. It would take some effort to source the knowledge and discretely spread it inside the movement, but it would be worth it.

So in 2015 around 1500 people took part in the mass action to enter the coal mine. In 2016 around 3500  blockaded several points of the infrastructure, seized the machinery in the mine for two days and stormed the power plant. Let’s begin to imagine what we can achieve when we most probably double our amounts and get 7 or 8000 people together to do direct action against the fossil economy next time.

For your information, Ende Gelände is having a camp in August to strategize the next step. If one wants to take part, it should be possible to find out how. Otherwise, we’ll see you in spring 2017.

* Oh, if the video seemed really intense, this is only because it was that peak moment in some days of action where most of the time most people where just lying on straw, making conversations and eating snacks. Everyone at every level of confrontation should be able to take part in this. As for the impact, we still need precise data from the three days of action in Lusatia, but the best I have gathered is: During the second day (after 24 hours of blocking the supply lines going into the power plant), the first block stopped running and the power plant shifted down 2/3 of it’s potential on the second block to be able to keep a low fire running for as long as possible. (It is very expensive to let the fire die out and start the plant up again from nothing). All in all most of the supply lines to the plant were blocked for 48 hours and even after folks left the blockades, the power plant could not run at full power since, according to a Vattenfall spokesperson, they had to do repairs after the masses of people coming in to plant.

Dismiss all anthropology as eurocentric to be able to once again begin with Plato, Descartes, Heidegger etc.

Why do so many white revolutionaries not read social theory and philosophy from outside the European tradition? Here’s a long quote that puts the question in the context of anthropologists, but the issue is basically the same. The quote is from the foreword to the first volume of HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, a great journal by the way.

In a world where North Atlantic powers are growing less dominant and even in the old imperial centers, society grows increasingly diverse, maintaining the old, purely Euro-American centric forms of knowledge seems increasingly untenable. But at the same time, the sheer mass of our accumulated knowledge of different intellectual traditions is simply overwhelming. It’s not just our greater access to the world’s written intellectual traditions, from Medieval Islamic mysticism to African philosophy. Anthropology has revealed, from Cameroon to Vancouver Island, Yemen to Tibet, an apparently endless array of what can best be called material philosophies, often extraordinarily sophisticated reflections on the dilemmas of humanity, sociality, and the cosmos that are simultaneously inextricable from forms of material existence, none with any particularly privileged claim over any other. It was an excess of wonder. How could anyone possibly have command over all this knowledge? One wonders, indeed, if the reaction by scholars of other disciplines was a tacit, but nonetheless very real, sense of panic. There was just too much to know. But neither could all these other traditions simply be ignored: would not that be Eurocentric, even racist? Even to select one over another seemed unwarranted—by what criteria? To include all would be simply impossible.

In such a context, the anthropological auto-critique of the 1980s was made to serve a purpose for which it was never intended. In fact, anthropology has been since its inception a battle-ground between imperialists and anti-imperialists, just as it remains today. For outsiders, though, it provided a convenient set of simplified tag lines through which it was possible to simply dismiss all anthropological knowledge as inherently Eurocentric and racist, and therefore, as not real knowledge at all. This allowed those who wished to write histories of love, or truth, or authority to once again begin with Plato or Aristotle, proceed, perhaps, through Descartes or the Marquis de Sade, and end with Heidegger or Derrida, without ever acknowledging the existence of perspectives from outside the tradition of Continental philosophy. Often—more often than not, in fact—this revival of an exclusive focus on the Western philosophical tradition comes framed as a critique—but as a critique that must necessarily be internal to the tradition because it is held that those trained in contemporary universities somehow cannot think outside it. In the end, even anthropologists have come to follow suit, abandoning any attempt to create theoretical terms that arise from their own ethnographic work, but borrowing those developed by thinkers drawing exclusively on the Western philosophical tradition. Finally, the approach has been tacitly acceptable to intellectuals who identify with other non-Western traditions partly because it reinforces structures of authority, since it allows that other “civilizational” traditions should, once acknowledged, also be seen as similarly emerging top-down from a written intellectual tradition rather than bottom-up, from material philosophies, as a more anthropological approach would have suggested.

Another reason it has been so easy to parochialize ourselves is the very nature of contemporary Homo Academicus . Ethnographic theory is slowly realizing the necessity of turning its gaze within, towards an ethnography of everyday theory , uncovering how knowledge is produced in micro-daily interactions between students, faculties, departments and funding bodies. There is a wide dissatisfaction with the fragmentation of the discipline in directions serving the passing tastes of funding bodies—clearly, one factor behind the extraordinary outpouring of support that HAU has received since its inception. Ethnographic depth is increasingly superseded by the recourse to a game of concept-of-the-month—the uncanny, the abject, affect, biopolitics—each concept undergoing relentless exegesis and being displayed with pride during PhD writing-up seminars, only to be abandoned for the next term rediscovered in Spinoza, Heidegger, Rorty or Bataille. Reflecting on the brilliance of a work like Malinowski’s Coral gardens and their magic never seems to be quite as “cool” as quoting a new and unknown term from a European philosopher, one which can cast an interesting new game of lights and shadows with the dark cave where anthropologists are regarded to be still dwelling, playing meticulously with their rococo ethnographic figurines and primitive paraphernalia. In such a world, name-dropping becomes almost everything. The fact that it usually reduces academics to the embarrassing situation of considering themselves hip for recycling French theorists from the period of roughly 1968 to 1983, in fact, exactly the period of what we now call “Classic Rock” (in other words, for reading to the intellectual equivalents of Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin) seems to go almost completely unnoticed.