Yes, Please, Ignore the Obvious Government Shill in the Name of Free Association

I’m going to make this somewhat quick, but it’s all I can think about and I would like to think about anything else while I draw. Before I really dig into this though, I’ll get two things out of the way:

1) My break has been, in large part, to focus on learning Russian. I’ve enjoyed my break while learning it, and my studies have been going very well (Я наслаждался перерывом, пока учаю русский язык, и моё изучения были идёт очень хорошо).
2) I have a larger five-part piece in the works, promise.
3) I have no plans to return to Discord.

Bear in mind every time I say “anarchist space” below, I mean online. This happens offline too, for sure, but I’m talking about primarily online here.

Mainly though this is something I’ve been kind of wanting to talk about and my time away from ‘online anarchist spaces’, and some minor reflection, has really cemented my thoughts on the matter. For a little background, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time in far rightist circles and sometimes, I, some breed of masochist, like to peer back into the belly of the poor beast that swallowed so much trash. The authoritarian left behaves just like the right: a high amount of suspicion and a very finely sharpened sense of someone being ‘off’, because one of two happens: either they act completely wrong and are easily identified as an outsider (at best, someone new) or they act a little too tryhard and are tossed out for being a suspicious person in the space for a little too long for comfort. Anarchist discussion spaces diverge from this, and a good many anarchists online have shit-all natural or honed intuition for knowing when someone is ‘off’ in one way or another. This is especially amusing when you consider that to call yourself ‘anarchist’ puts you on at least one government watchlist once your IP address is red flagged enough, but to call yourself ‘alt-right’ means nothing at all to most in power, it takes a bit more to get on a watchlist than that. (The police, in fact, love them.) There is something worth outlining in that first link that will make most of what I want to say fall into place:

“The U.S. government, especially FBI, has always been preoccupied with policing anti-state and anti-capitalist movements,” said Michael Loadenthal, a visiting assistant professor of sociology at Miami University whose work explores the history of surveilling social movements. “But since the late ’80s, their approach has shifted from the more lethal and heavy-handed tactics embodied in the COINTELPRO era, to more clandestine, long-term infiltration.”

This should be well known in anarchist spaces, to any anarchists worth their shit. It is well known that the government uses public online spaces to track people. There is a reason that tankies and neonazis alike are paranoid of feds in their space all the time. The neonazis, in particular, convene in highly public spaces, and 4/8chan are both known for the attention they get from ‘shills’, either corporate (on /v/ and so on) or government (on /pol/ usually). A lot of threads on the *chan boards are made to sell products. A lot of arguments break out due to intentional disruptions, so as to continuously bump the threads to lift them to the top of the catalogue for the board for more free advertising. This happens on /pol/ as well, and the result there is much more ‘disastrous’ to neonazis and their ilk if the infiltrator’s plans go well. Their failure is good for anti-fascists, of course, but they are quick to 404 threads and ban someone if that someone reeks of government shill. The paranoia level is somewhere in the heavens, far beyond the places of some transhumanist’s wet dream.

But anarchist online spaces, especially on Discord, however, just… don’t. They are miraculously awful at picking up on directed attacks from outsiders-playing-internals, despite all of the ideology being, in theory, against falling for these basic tactics and obedient submission.

If we can agree that Noam Chomsky essentially serves power and that David Graeber is a bit of a fuckin war-mongerer and sexist with an odd idea of what a ‘radical’ is then what is to stop you, me or anyone else from saying that William Gillis is, probably, also serving power, when he likens all nihilism to fascism and all anti-civ and anarcho-primitivists are fash as well (‘is it genuine or divide and conquer tactics?’ is the key question here) and posts in his ‘Anarchism 101 Quotes’ page in favour of Graeber and he has this weird piece where he is seemingly all for mass recording by the people because ‘[f]ree association is the most diffuse police system possible’? Now, these people aren’t in anarchist spaces, no less the ‘large’ anarchist Discord servers (serving up a hot mess everyday for sometimes nearly 1000 members!), but plenty of people in those servers will happily clap their hands for Manufacturing Consent by Chomsky, Debt: The First 5000 Years by Graeber and there are tons of people who are absolute FALC transhumanists and will happily post Gillis for hours.

When your Big Ol’ Anarcho-Stars are all feeding the power structure on their knees, and oblivious to how well they do it, even if ‘they’ is the man who outlined the propaganda model in Manufacturing Consent, well, anarchist ‘spaces’ are absolutely shitty places to find a consistent ideology, or to even get a feeling for what is, or is not, ‘typical’ of the festering waters you are about to wade against. Obedience to what is absolute bullshit you just gotta believe is standard fare in Authoritarianism–it’s part of that whole Authority thing–but there is a disgusting undercurrent in the online anarchist sphere of a kind of daft consumption of whatever scum comes along that doesn’t seem ‘too obvious’. If ‘anarchism’ should be, in large part, the shunning of aggressively manipulative bullshit and its expected obedience to bend to its will, then most online ‘anarchists’ are fucking awful at doing so. If ‘anti-civ is fascism painted green and black’ is a summary that, almost word-for-word, parrots Gillis’s sentiments without scrutiny beyond his claimed ‘authority’ on the subject, and Gillis is all for random fuckers recording whoever, whenever, to be ‘the most diffuse police system’ in the entire fucking galaxy, and we can agree that Gillis may be serving state power like his colleagues…

…then why, exactly, should I see the people in these spaces who pedal this kind of shit as anything less than literal children who base their political theory on Star Trek completely unironically, or as fed shills intentionally disrupting chat to shitpost about how great some irrelevant bullshit is? I won’t waste a whole lot of time on the fact that the U.S. government sees animal liberation (specifically the ALF) and ‘eco-terrorism’ (specifically the ELF) as the largest internal terrorist organisation threats and have since 2001 (spooky .gov link there, don’t be a basic bitch, get a VPN). Tons of environmental activists are murdered every year all over the world. So if I don’t exactly trust a big talking head anarchist with a cushy university job, and all his fans, who call anti-civ and anprim anarchists (those most likely to put their neck on the line for their goals, beliefs, ideas and passion) ‘fascists’ for the sake of smearing a whole group because of ‘ideology’, well, I suppose I certainly don’t feel sorry for the lack of trust. This rhetoric has reached in and put online anarchist spaces in a paralysed chokehold. To care for the environment is anti-civ. All anti-civ nihilists are ITS trying to creep neonazism into anarchism. And all I read–keeping in mind that ITS only became really ‘well known’ as a group after Gillis wrote this blog post–is, more or less, a discreet, but classic, kind of division tactic that any other ‘politically extreme’ group would have sniffed out and kicked out ages ago. ITS murders anarchists, they aren’t anarchists, so paint all ‘extremist green’ views as ‘ITS neonazis’ and, well, the idea permeates much like how ‘anprims are crypto-fash!’ is directly from his book as well. And as far as I am aware Gillis offers absolutely no solutions of his own to the climate issue, but I’m sure that ‘more technology’ and/or ‘space colonisation’ has something to do with it in his ideal science fiction world. ‘More tech’ is straight from oil company lobbyists, and anyway tech solutions are bunk, we’re past the point of no return and no one is doing anything about it.

I’m extremely suspicious that anarchist spaces are (not long after Gillis’s anticiv nihilists = ITS neonazis article) suddenly hostile to the same people as the entire power structure the world over is. To be perfectly blunt, it reeks of shill and intentional sabotage, and it doesn’t take a genius to see just how well it worked. Anarchists who have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to environmental issues are constantly talking shit on Twitter and Tumblr as well. The seed of division was not only sowed, it sprouted quite well in the online anarchist space. And now it is easy to grab onto to absolutely wreck any cooperation that could have existed by aggressively targeting that weak point. So, congrats, anarchist kids on the internet, you got bamboozled somewhere along the line. I focused on Gillis because shockingly few other people seem to bother, but the issue is that a lot of anarchist spaces are full of people who, intentionally or not, knowingly or not, parrot his words without scrutiny. If two other ‘big name’ university anarchists are shitheads and got into some public space despite being anarchists, then surely the next ‘big name’ university anarchist will probably also be a shithead and pedalling the wheels of the power structure’s traverse to destroy everything. There’s a pattern, you see… but anarchists seem to be oddly bad at seeing what is right in front of them…

In my time in these spaces I have seen chats fall apart while DSA (or democrat or tankies or…) pundits shill their politics without repercussion, liberals showing their squatting skills off better than anarchists while turning every discussion into shitposting or talking about video games, so-called ‘riot porn’ get effectively banned from the main chat for unnamed ‘sensitive users’, entire chats have meltdowns for hours or days over what words should be banned (I have another post about this in my head for later), all ‘debate’ and serious and rigorous discussion be derailed and rerouted to the ‘correct’ channels, where it inevitably falls apart when no one does so…. Users who do not ‘break any rules’ but completely swarm a channel (or two) and make the space impossible to hold discussions, with no kick or ban, of course. There is, of course, always your spare liberal or three who are there to ‘learn’ but help to derail discussion and veer it off into the most basic Anarchy 101 bullshit so the original topic never gets fleshed out (knowledge, after all, is power, and knowledge requires research and discussion and debate). Then, of course, the typical issues: too many Americans on the internet with zero perspective outside their own borders, most spaces banning primitivists for being ‘crypto-fash’ and tarring all anti-civ anarchists as ‘crypto-prim’ (and thus, ‘crypto-fash’) and the kind of inner identity-politics-as-policy procedure that would make Maoists shed a tear of pleasure. Top this all off with a side helping of all their friends being invited in by them to help shit the place up, as well.

What you end up with, are waters that, on the surface, are hard to gauge… but once you’re taken into the undertow, you realise are absolutely polluted to the point that the Yellow River in China looks clean.

To call any of the above users out as ‘government shills’ is a big no-no in these spaces. It is worse than beating someone down with the insult of tankie or liberal, and certainly worse than ‘fascist’ (after all, all anti-civs and anprims and nihilists…). You’re just not allowed to say ‘hey, this fellow here reeks of fed shill to me…’ without the Anarcho-Chat Police coming in, sirens wailing, to say that you sound like the suspicious one here. Wee woo wee woo! It turns out that they are prepared for Gillis’s idea of greatness in the stars with their trigger fingers squarely on the Print Screen button. Gotcha, criminal scum.

And yet, we know that corporations pay people to infiltrate wherever they fuck they want to advertise in whatever space. They have a product to sell, and if 4chan’s /v/ is seen by 100.000+ people daily, that’s a lot of nerds to advertise a Sony VR headset or Super Mario 58 or Nvidia graphics card to. And we know that there is a large, blank, completely unaccounted-for hole in the U.S.’s government’s budget every year called the black budget, where they pour billions of USD into ‘black list’ Intelligence Service projects. What is paying 500 shills $10/hr for 30 hours to infiltrate any ‘Politically Extremist’ space and fuck shit up? Leftist, Rightist, off the charts… if it’s a threat to the Liberal hegemony, what is $7.8mil USD a year to divide and conquer and break up large groups of ‘Politically Extremist’ people in discreet ‘friendly’ subversion or outright derailing to the point where everyone ‘serious’ fucks off to the next target, where the NSA collects all of their data now that they have successfully been corralled into a digital fence for the picking, and the entire place falls apart?

And anyway, 100 disenfranchised ‘would-be extremists’ today is much cleaner than having to explain drone-striking those same people when the U.S. empire starts collapsing and they finally get to use the power they long ago granted themselves.

If 2 people of 500 target the same chat and play a game of ‘good cop, bad cop’ by means of ‘overt derailment and agitation, discreet subversion and division’, the government gets to pat themselves on the back for spending a few pennies on some losers who effectively tore apart a town square of ‘Politically Extremist Ideology’? They have a product to sell after all, and that product is Liberalism and the notion that ‘this ideology’, be it anarchists, MLs, ancaps, or neonazi fascism, ‘could never work’. Bear in mind, the right is well aware that while the police love them, the feds in Intelligence, who hold the real pillars of power away from collapse, are not so fond. In other words, a broken clock is right twice a day, as they say, and the rightists’ paranoia about their space, as public as it is, is warranted insofar as their goals are concerned, whether we like it or not.

And that is a hard fight when… what, exactly, do anarchists do in contrast? Shit-all, so long as any malicious waste of time plays within the rules and, in the event they fuck up, apologise and promise never, ever to do it again. And yet, the same spaces are still full of despair that, somehow, the alt-right is growing and that the Overton Window moves ever-further to the right. The same spaces are full of bushy-tailed, bright-eyed hopefuls that some anarchist revolution is going to sprout up overnight and win (the whole fuckin galaxy if you listen to some people!) by magic. The same spaces rebuild themselves after yet another anarchist chat falls apart in the exact same fashion with the exact same events and the exact same drama and, sometimes, the exact same players, ad nauseam and yet, how dare you say that person is a government shill! The same spaces are full of ‘anarchists’ fretting about proving that human nature is ‘nice’ and that you will give very many chances for any dick to be able to stay in the ‘commune’, until the whole thing makes a couple handfuls of people abandon the ideology altogether because the ‘idea’ (whatever that means to leftist hopefuls) can’t even work in a fucking internet chatroom.

This isn’t a call for paranoia to the point of authoritarianism and hatred of outsiders, but sometimes the malicious infiltrators are so obvious that being ‘nice’ because someone is ‘foreign’ to the online space you have carved out as designated ‘for anarchists’, is merely playing a doormat for every authoritarian that wants to curbstomp your face into the sidewalk on their travels to [more] consolidated power.

Just food for thought.

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