Politigram & the Post-left
December 20, 2018 2:28 AM   Subscribe

*record scratch* *freeze frame* Yup, thats me. You’re probably wondering how I got in this situation. A book about gen-z memes and their political socialization. [PDF]

What the author calls post-left, it's the old (european) left. Americans are finally getting normal.
posted by - (23 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
This document often refers to "authoritarianism" and "libertarianism" as two extremes on the same axis.

Is this normal usage? I had been under the assumption that libertarianism referred to something akin to anarcho-capitalism, which strikes me as a rather different thing than being simply anti-authoritarian.
posted by ragtag at 4:08 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that seems weird.
posted by dominik at 4:12 AM on December 20, 2018


That's some Time Cube level output right there.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:19 AM on December 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


I think this is mainly a means for lonely and anxious teenagers to socialize. It's never going to make sense on its own merits.
posted by um at 4:22 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]



I dunno, I'm torn because I think this is quite interesting and describes an actual distinct shift in how discourse gets generated and spread around. And also points to the single huge advantage of being young and looking into a very precarious future - the freedom not to pretend that existing systems (which we may none the less be stuck with and that's why people sell themselves on them) are actually great and functional. Also, of course, your own death is much less real because you're more likely to be young and healthy, so it's emotionally far easier to say "I don't care if I die of a toothache as long as we can smash capitalism".

But at the same time, the culture of teen/early twenties people reading theory on a competitive basis, going to shows, drinking unwisely, being lonely and constructing community around one-upping each other over theory shit - I've been there, it was super toxic and everyone eventually got PhDs. For some of them it took as long as ten years to give up and go to grad school, but still. If these people break the "reading Delueze is the first step on the road to professionalization" cycle, we might really have something.
posted by Frowner at 4:43 AM on December 20, 2018 [18 favorites]


the culture of teen/early twenties people reading theory on a competitive basis, going to shows, drinking unwisely, being lonely and constructing community around one-upping each other over theory shit


So- Chicago...or Reed?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:00 AM on December 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


This document often refers to "authoritarianism" and "libertarianism" as two extremes on the same axis.

Pure libertarianism, not what exists today as a wing of the Republican Party, can be distilled as opposition to the use of force. Force is defined very broadly as anything from taxes to fix the potholes to a law that says you can't discriminate to actual military force.

So from that point of view libertarianism as the opposite of authoritarianism makes some sense.
posted by COD at 5:15 AM on December 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


possibly a review of "the medium is the message" is in order?
posted by danjo at 5:22 AM on December 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


The new usage for libertarian vs authoritarian framing is one I'm seeing more often lately, and have been wondering if the change will stick. (In the US, "Libertarian" was usually understood to mean the party of guys with Rand novel hero fantasies who want to get rich selling legal weed on the blockchain or whatever.)

It's got a point to it. Both right and left wings have diverging approaches within themselves: top-down 'there oughtta be a law' Authority-principle arguments, and anarcho-whatever 'I object to any further chains' Liberty-principle arguments. Both use them in the same way, but for different issues. Sorta like how there's a Left-Populism and a Right-Populism now, so one can't use Populist without clarifying.

Bringing in Authoritarian vs. Libertarian as 'new' modifiers could clarify positions ("shit, you're right, that is a very authoritarian approach, what I just proposed, and I don't think of myself that way. Hm. Oh no, are we the baddies?")and might lead to something positive. Or maybe it's just a plot by those filthy Centrist traitor scum.
posted by bartleby at 6:21 AM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think it makes more sense to modern ears if you preface the term to get "civil libertarian". But actually the unmodified usage here of libertarian as the opposite of authoritarian is the original meaning in political science jargon, with the US Libertarian Party's use being an aberration that simply happened to catch on in one particular part of the world for a while. Hopefully, it will die out with the Libertarian Party itself. (Since it seems like most US "Libertarians" have just naturally gravitated back to the GOP anyway.)
posted by tobascodagama at 8:19 AM on December 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


The new usage for libertarian vs authoritarian

The politicalcompass.org website has apparently been putting it in convenient quiz/chart form since 2001, and I'm fairly sure that the concept is older than that. Some American politicians temporarily taking over the "libertarian" name is the more recent development, to the extent that they succeeded in doing so in the context of general Internet discourse over the past ten years.

It's amusing to take the test again after about that many years. I vaguely remember that I used to be more centre-libertarian than it places me today; I've drifted to the left, possibly due to spending too much time on metafilter.
posted by sfenders at 8:20 AM on December 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


to pile onto the libertarian derail:
False dichotomy:

Libertarian = coercion including violence is only justified to defend my property and my freedom from other people, to whom I owe no obligations. That violence and coercion should be paid for by those other people. *Sound of eagle screech*

Libertarianism is the internal freedom and power that comes from being privilged within an authoritarian system. That allows the "freeman" to be blind to that system and pretend his pollution and possessions don't come at anyone elses expense.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 8:56 AM on December 20, 2018 [9 favorites]


ok, RTFAed, interesting, plausible, would need data to support, anecdotal is this the pulse of a generation, or the easy to observe niche of a few overthinking youngsters.
lots of fun memes to explore.
GRITTY approves
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 9:26 AM on December 20, 2018


In these circles, there is no greater cachet than to embarrass your opponent through skilled argument. Slut_for_dprk annihilates hoxha.vs.the.revisionists in an epic comment thread that is screenshotted and regrammed throughout the whole community! For all their deep ideological disagreements there is a remarkable camaraderie amongst the members. VirginiaforBernie can comment ‘lol’ on a post by gecko_vs_the_state even though they are diametrically opposed in their political belief.
Reminds me of the INTP mailing list circa 1998. I'm sure it reminds others of Usenet circa 1988.
posted by clawsoon at 10:20 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Funny... a college philosophy professor - I didn't take any courses from him, but I did drop into his office to chat - lent me Max Stirner's "The Ego and Its Own".

The major influence it had on me was an increase in dashes in my writing.

Interesting that the Wikipedia page about Stirner and about the book don't mention anything about the "Mongoloid" period of history, since that's the only thing I really remember about its philosophy.
posted by clawsoon at 10:52 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


If there's any dark outside force infiltrating these groups, that dark force would appear to be cigarette companies.
posted by clawsoon at 11:13 AM on December 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Capital-L Libertarianism refers to a particular right-wing movement, hereinafter referred to as "right-libertarianism." "Libertarian socialism" and the concept of "left-libertarianism," to include approximately the range between democratic socialists and anarchists has plenty of history, though.

The recent popularity of the term with respect to a two axis "social, economic" left/right model is almost certainly owed to the political compass quiz. People love to criticize its use of the term but - the limitations of the two-axis model itself notwithstanding - I don't really get this. It seems clear enough to me in context.
posted by atoxyl at 1:56 PM on December 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


heheh "pseudonymous tweens." My spouse admins for a large (100k+) facebook leftist meme page that manufactures memes along these lines and he's, like, 40.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:01 PM on December 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


He's 40 pseudonymous tweens?
posted by sfenders at 4:49 PM on December 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


All wearing one big overcoat, yes.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:03 PM on December 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


This is really interesting to me. I'm not on Instagram, and I'm not familiar with these anprim nihilists or their beliefs, but the style is very familiar to that of the left groups I see. I guess that's the whole deal - everyone makes their own version of the meme.

I do hope this is not all that representative, because these nicoteens seem to be really casually close to joking about a whole lot of senseless, avoidable death.

Where's the disability perspective? Where's the understanding that there are different ways to produce with different impacts on the world?

I do like their queer memes though, and I think I recognise a couple as having made it around my circles.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 5:22 PM on December 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Thanks all.

atoxyl: People love to criticize its use of the term but - the limitations of the two-axis model itself notwithstanding - I don't really get this. It seems clear enough to me in context.

For me, at least, it's a complete and utter lack of political education. (And so it may be unique to me here and I apologize for that.) I'm trying to get caught up, but given the number of bad faith actors and the reuse (and re-reuse) of terminology has me very flustered trying to make sense of it all. You need to know the background and context of the person you're talking to, and on the internet that's very difficult. ("Libertarianism" is an example. Another is that "liberalism" means something different in mainstream US, international, historical, and leftist discourse. Another is that "social democrats" and "democratic socialists" are not at all the same.)

I imagine that's part of what's going on with Politigram: all these kids are trying to make sense of it all starting from zero and they're doing it in a very public place, making it possible to watch people and communities evolve political awareness over time. That's super interesting, but I suppose it's not surprising that the fascists, having much more money and organization, managed to catch onto how to make use of this new sort of psychological data more quickly than anyone else did.
posted by ragtag at 6:01 PM on December 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Another is that "social democrats" and "democratic socialists" are not at all the same.

I would argue that in a sense these two are right on the opposite sides of a a line (labeled "collective ownership of the means of production" or something like that).
posted by atoxyl at 7:14 PM on December 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


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