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Sunday, February 19, 2017

From 4chan to Fourth Reich

I finally got around to reading this important piece on 4chan culture and its relationship to the Trump movement. The piece explains the appeal of the Pepe character: He's a perpetual loser, and thus a perfect mascot for young white male losers who have given up all hope. These losers hate women precisely because they know that no girl would ever want to sleep with them.

Enter Milo Yiannopoulos:
Yiannopoulos’ rambling “arguments” against feminism, are not arguments at all, as much as pep talks, ways of making these dis-empowered men feel empowered by discarding the symbol of their failure — women. As an openly gay man, he argues that men no longer need be interested in women, that they can and should walk away from the female sex en masse. For example in a long incoherent set of bullet points on feminism he states:
The rise of feminism has fatally coincided with the rise of video games, internet porn, and, sometime in the near future, sex robots. With all these options available, and the growing perils of real-world relationships, men are simply walking away.
Here Yiannopoulos has inverted what has actually happened to make his audience feel good.
This is familiar. Most older people on the left will recall how, in the 70s and 80s, some lesbians used the argot of feminism to seduce pretty young straight women. (And puh-leeze don't try to convince me that it didn't happen, because everyone knows that it did.)

While reading this article, my mind kept wandering to 1980 and the rise of Reaganism. People forget that Reagan had enormous appeal to college-aged voters, and that much of this appeal was based -- at least at first -- on what we would now call "the lulz."

As many of you know, I went to UCLA. In 1980, someone adorned the front door of the Daily Bruin with an outlandish poster of Reagan as a cowboy, standing in front of American flags, guns, horses, and the rays of heaven shining from above. The imagery was beyond corny. I am quite certain that the person who affixed that image to that doorway did so ironically -- as a form of parody display.

But guess what? Reagan ended up winning an obscenely hefty proportion of the youth vote in that election.

Ever since that election, I've despised the very concept of irony, because it provides an all-purpose excuse for would-be highbrows to embrace the low. Whenever I read a postmodernist art critic extol "irony" as the one true virtue, my mind flashes back to that Reagan poster on the door of the Daily Bruin. Or I visualize a smirking young man who eats shit at a formal dinner table in order to shock the bourgeois. He may tell you that he does it "for the lulz," but then he develops a taste for shit.

Thus, Reagan in 1980. Thus, Trump in 2016.

Superb as it is, the afore-linked article is also incomplete. A comment from someone named Richard J. Anderson fills in the rest of the picture; I take the liberty of republishing his words here. Don't skip or skim: This is important stuff.
I figured out the Project Chanology connection to the alt-right and GamerGate a while back and was thinking of writing something similar. There’s one piece of the puzzle that Dale misses, and that’s the infiltration of 4chan by white supremacist groups like Stormfront, in the wake of Project Chanology.

It wad Project Chanology that elevated 4chan from “curious internet shithole,” to “infamous internet shithole,” and white supremacists saw it as an easy place to recruit. The pre-existing “ironic” racism of /b/ certainly didn’t help, either, but Project Chanology showed that a loose group of trolls whose biggest accomplishment was rigging Time Magazine polls could be mobilized towards something bigger.

Though the white supremacist influx was most seen on /new/ and later /pol/, it infected other boards too. Inside of a couple years, I watched the /mu/ board go from discussion and sharing of music to regular discussion threads about how violent rap music is, and how ugly and crazy various female musicians are. (Grimes was a particular target, especially after her Tumblr post complaining about /mu/.) Other ex-Channers have made similar comments on other boards: how /lit/ started talking more about “degenerate culture”, or /x/ going completely off the rails.

Combine this with the NEETs that hang around on /r9k/, /adv/, and /soc/ desperate for advice on getting laid, and you have a population ripe for radicalization. GamerGate wasn’t the first push by the radicalized 4chan. For that, you have to look at Operation Lollipop, which attempted to disrupt black and feminist Twitter though multiple sock-puppet accounts. (The same tactics were used again during the “#NotYourShield” portion of GamerGate.)

What truly chaps my hide about all of this is how Christopher Poole (moot) takes no responsibility for what he has wrought, and indeed, was rewarded with a cushy job at Google instead.
Funny, isn't it? Before World War II, proto-Nazis spread ideas among young people via sports and nature exploration societies. After World War II, neo-Nazis in Germany and elsewhere tried to seduce a new generation by working within athletic groups.

But today's generation poses a problem. How to appeal to young males who would rather eat their own toes than play sports or go hiking?

The answer: Gamergate. The neo-fascist infiltration of the science fiction subculture provides another example.

This is our future: A Master Race of couch potatoes and basement dwellers and unlovable virgins.
Comments:
With respect to lesbians seducing straight women, I give you an allegedly feminist novel that you probably didn't subject yourself to, "The Women's Room". I read it 35 years or so ago, so my recollection might be a little bit off, but I'm reasonably certain I'm close enough for our purposes.

There was one actual lesbian, who was, by the way, the only decent person in the book. There were various straight women who were treated poorly by men, most of whom dallied with the lesbian while she rebuilt their self esteem so they could go back and find another man. One woman became a political lesbian after her daughter was brutally raped. The protagonist divorced her doltish husband, then found a much better guy to mess around with (no lesbian therapy required because she was the main character) and then walked away from him when he expected her to move for his work. I had arguments with plenty of other women, especially lesbians, back then because I objected to what I saw as a very negative portrayal of lesbians as either doormats or women who just couldn't deal with men for a period of time.
 
Heinlein. Nothing new about fascists in sci-fi.

Apart from that, wrong on every count, and the linked articles written by ignorant idiots. Pepe isn't a loser. 4chan isn't made up of MGTOWs. Gamergate was nothing to do with 4chan, which banned all discussion of it, and was solely a reaction to gaming websites denouncing "gamers" in general.

The embarrassing "hello, fellow children" nature of the articles would be funny if it wasn't so libellous. 4chan will be happy, though, as it makes them look far more important than they are.
 
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