Blue Ticks and Dead Parrots: the Old Jokes of Musk and Cleese

Watching Elon Musk’s management ‘style’ unfold as he takes a wrecking ball to Twitter and engineers performative mass sackings is sickening. Not just for the bad taste and pettiness but the prospect of such a man being in charge of such an important public resource. The queue of toxic people banished to Gettr and other platforms appealing a return in the new era of ‘absolute free speech’ promised by Musk is also a daunting prospect.

The role of big tech and its ownership of the means of communication and the commons of social media is a brutal reality and an assault on democracy. The need for common public ownership of these platforms has never been clearer.

The rise of libertarianism and its ownership by the right and far-right is a hallmark of our time, and Musk’s intervention its latest – and potentially most dire – manifestation. The platform will be ruined if, as seems likely the ‘free speech’ ethics is used to trump everything else.

Discussing the new book by Matthew Syed, ‘What Do You Think?’ Zoe Williams observed:

“It has become commonplace, in so many discussions, from “cancel culture” to the wider perils of life online, to mourn the decline of civility. When did we stop being able to disagree? What happened to nuance and complexity? Why all the ad hominem attacks? Why can’t we hear a problematic opinion without immediately issuing a death threat? What happened to kindness in public life?

These questions are particularly deployed in the free speech debate, with a ratchet effect: if you can’t say exactly what you like, and have people respond to you in a kind way (anything unkind counts as “cancellation” or “wokery”), then you have lost your right to speak; and given that freedom of speech is such a core tenet of the broader principle of liberty, you have lost everything.”

Cancel culture, like ‘wokeism’ is the tired shibboleth of our time, as testified by John Cleese in last years Channel 4 show John Cleese: Cancel Me and on a new show on the GB News channel. Imagine being so cancelled you had two tv shows to moan about it?

The right is on the offensive in this debate. Despite pursuing the horrendous immigration policies or advancing planet-wrecking climate economics, they have managed to frame the public debate as to be about civility and politeness for their opponents with complete licence to say what they like on their side, or they will have very hurt feelings. By seizing the discussion about ‘free speech’ they have diverted attention to the method of discussion and away from their, often heinous views and actions.

Writing in The Spectator, the former Herald columnist Iain Macwhirter, who had been sacked for a tweet deemed racist, called it ‘an assault on my integrity’. His article ‘How a tweet got me sacked’ is like a public exercise in deflection and exceptionalism.

The problem isn’t his views or the writing for which he is responsible, it’s the fault of others he explains: “The Herald isn’t the only publication that lives in fear of social media. The journalists who are addicted to Twitter are part of the problem. Free speech and independent journalism are finished if we submit to the caprice of doctrinaire online zealots.”

Newspapers don’t live in fear of social media, but it is an open and – more or less – democratic forum, Macwhirter was sacked not by ‘online zealots’ but by his editor. What columnists like this have had to adjust to is the openness of the new era. They don’t have the status and privilege of protection behind the printed word anymore, and some of them really hate it.

Reality check: it’s not acceptable to be racist on a public forum anymore.

That isn’t very difficult, and pleading ‘irony’ in retrospect doesn’t cut it.

Taking responsibility for your actions, ironically, is often a key message from the right, but it’s one they don’t want to accept for themselves in public discourse.

As Williams states: “This argument has always been pretty asymmetrical: the speech that constitutes the catalysing event, being free, has no duty of kindness upon it (how are you supposed to speak your mind if you have to be kind to everyone?), and yet the response must always be civil. The debate has – apologies for the jargon – its arse on backwards. The putative threat is from the “woke army”, liberals so high on their own sanctimony that they won’t rest until they’ve chased their target from public life.”

Few people are actually cancelled. Forums like Twitter need some protection of rules and structure, or they quickly descend into abuse. We live this out in the real world through codes of behaviour, tone and understanding. If you behave obnoxiously in the pub you will eventually be thrown out.

The ‘war on wokeism’ is a tired tirade of the new right who are appalled at getting called out for their repellant views. Now we have the phenomenon of Musk, a seemingly immensely stupid billionaire wrecking what has become an essential global social platform.

Scott Nover, who ‘writes about the internet’ has noted that the commercialisation that lies at the heart of Musks Twitter takeover is his own fault and his own doing. He writes: “Elon Musk’s offer to buy Twitter was so outlandishly high that a.) Twitter’s old board couldn’t say no, b.) Musk himself couldn’t afford it, and c.) it damned the entire company to significant debt and massive layoffs. Every part of this deal has been and continues to be stupid.”

Now we hear via Bloomberg that ‘Twitter is to be Sued for Mass Layoffs by Musk Without Enough Notice’. The lawsuit comes ‘as new boss plans to eliminate half of workforce’. It’s not going well. Creating new ethical and democratic forums out of the wreckage of the dictatorship of Big Tech has become a vital necessity.


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  1. Dave Millar says:

    Wouldn’t be sorry to see the implosion of Twitter; and no, it’s not ‘essential’.

  2. Maggie Mellon says:

    If the right is capitalising on the harms of cancel culture the smug self-congratulatory and self-identified left has only itself to blame. Your “public asset” of twitter has banned women and glorious cancelled comic Graham Linehan for pointing out the obvious truth that men cannot be women. That was “not in line with twitter values”. But meanwhile Twitter sanctioned rape and death threats (“suck my enormous female dick” and “shut the fuck up Terf”. Maybe you should imagine being a woman told to shut up before bemoaning the ending of cancelling of anyone you disagree with.

    1. Derek Williams says:

      Meanwhile, under his self-proclaimed bastion of Free Speech, Musk “cancels” Kathy Griffin by suspending her Twitter account for impersonating him. I can only share your disgust at some of the aggressive language used against women on Twitter, that is inexplicably not pulled down, however this invective should not be considered representative of LGBT+ groups’ policy.

      Your “obvious truth that men cannot be women” remark however, suggests you are not well informed on transgender matters.

      1. Gender Dysphoria has been connected to multiple biological factors such as genetics, changes in brains structure, and prenatal exposure to hormones. (see, for example, “Gender identity disorder in twins: a review of the case report literature”)
      2. Gender Dysphoria may occur as frequently as 1 in 500 people. (see “Prevalence, incidence and sex ratio of transsexualism”)
      3. Twin studies indicate that Gender Dysphoria is 62% heritable, and therefore has a strong genetic influence. (see “The Heritability of Gender Identity Disorder in a Child and Adolescent Twin Sample”)
      4. In male-to-female transsexuals, Gender Dysphoria is often associated with genetically-induced androgen insensitivity.
      5. Male-to-female transsexuals have been found to have a typically female stria terminalis (part of the brain), while female-to-male transsexuals have a typically male stria terminalis. (see “A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality”)
      6. In addition, the hypothalamus in male-to-female transsexuals appears to function as a typical woman’s does. (see “Male-to-Female Transsexuals Show Sex-Atypical Hypothalamus Activation When Smelling Odorous Steroids”)

      WPATH, WHO, AMA, AAP, ACS, both APA’s, representing the overwhelming majority of clinicians, researchers, and medical personnel in all related fields, accept that gender is separate from sexual anatomy and that gender identity is inherent. About 1 in 2000 babies are born with ambiguous external genitals, and many adults don’t have ‘typical’ sexual organs either. There are over 80 Intersex conditions that result in cis XY women and XX males, from CAIS to Klinefelter’s Syndrome. But if you still believe that gender is binary and fixed, then the following questions should be easy for you to answer:

      1. What gender is a person who looks female externally but who has XY chromosomes? Look up Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. These people are usually raised as female, and very often nobody knows that they have XY chromosomes until puberty or later.
      2. What gender is a person who looks male externally but who has XX chromosomes? Look up Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia.
      3. What gender is a person who is XO?
      4. What gender is a person who is XXY?
      5. What gender is a person who has both XX and XY cells scattered throughout their body? Look up chimeras, who are formed from the fusion of two embryos in the uterus.
      6. What gender is a person who has both male and female parts? Look up hermaphrodites.

      Given the massive dislocation caused to a transgender person dealing with this personal discovery, it’s not a reasonable conclusion that it’s something millions of people would actively choose. Why would a biological man choose to become a transgender woman, when the consequences can be so dire in terms of sociological and familial displacement and rejection?

      1. Robert says:

        If gender dysphoria is a recognised medical condition as you say, why are the Scottish Government so insistent on eliminating the medical diagnosis as a precondition for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate?
        You should know that predators will do almost anything, up to and including becoming priests, social workers, and teachers, to gain access to their victims. Merely making a statement of their change in “gender identity” (which then enables them to change their name on all documents, and bars authorities from revealing their previous identity) is an incredibly low bar and an invitation for abuse.

        1. Robert says:

          Also, you are confounding sex with gender. They are completely different concepts. There is no such thing as a third sex; there are some individuals (a very small percentage, far less than the 1.7% figure that is bandied around) who show characteristics of both sexes. This has nothing to do with gender identity.

          1. 221109 says:

            You’re right, Robert. It has nothing to do with biology; it’s about autonomy, self-identification, and our civil rights in relation to those. The political issue is whether or not the state should have the power to deny people the right to self-identify as they choose, irrespective of how – and on what basis – others would identify them. The Scottish government, to its credit, says it shouldn’t. The deeper philosohical issue is whether a person’s identity should be treated as a natural or a non-natural quality. Again to its credit, the Scottish government is (albeit unselfconsciously) assuming the latter as its metaphysical policy.

  3. Robert says:

    Mike Small performs a magic trick here, transforming the thorny issue of free speech into a non-existent problem invented by the right as a cudgel to beat the left. Liberal censorship is rendered invisible, “few people are actually cancelled” and nobody needs to worry about anything except those pesky libertarians (who of course are “oned by the right and far-right” so nobody has to care about them.)

    Abracadabra! Issues like bodily autonomy and freedom (debate about vaccine passports or lockdowns is silenced by the slur “anti-vaxxers”), the war in Ukraine (NATO good, Russia bad; what else is there to say?) or state control of social media (why don’t we see a warning about “US state-affiliated media” on any social media channels?), disappear in a puff of rhetoric. Any qualms about these issues mean you must be a libertarian, therefore you must be right-wing, and nobody should care about your free speech, because it’s offensive.

    Also vanished is the elephant in the room of Scottish politics (especially as we’re on the topic of free speech)—to wit, the transgender issue.

    It’s an issue that you know plenty about, Mike, because you wrote about it—honestly, intelligently and at some length—back in October 2020, in connection with the “hounding” suffered by your friend Jenny Lindsay:

    (Archived just in case:

    You write: “I personally, and in this journal generally” [since you wrote the piece for Bella before bottling out and posting it to your 49 followers on Medium], “have tried to steer a path of being a defender and ally of trans-rights whilst simultaneously showing solidarity to women and to give space for feminist voices on these pages. I think still that’s possible, though its clearly challenging, particularly as it’s difficult to have open dialogue.”

    No shit, it’s challenging, Mike, when platforms of the left like Bella are self-censoring while simultaneously pointing to the right and saying “There’s no problem with free speech — those bad people just want the freedom to say offensive things!”

  4. Robbie says:

    He is just another Donald Trump character a dangerous ba-heid, and pretty soon when the US elections are over I wouldn’t be surprised if Bidens out and Trumps back In ,god when you look at all the dangerous idiots that rule or have great influence in the world It’s alarming and you only have to look at the last 12 yrs and the Tory party to get the picture. Cop 27 what a joke.

  5. Me Bungo Pony says:

    “Cancel Culture” has always existed. It’s nothing new. It’s just that those bearing the brunt of it right now are the ones that have historically been the perpetrators of it. Racism, McCarthyism, apartheid, black-balling, heresy laws, black lists, eugenics, etc. All “cancel cultures” in their own right. Question these horrific practices and you’re a woke, snowflake Liberal apparently. Well, if that’s all I have to suffer in standing up for my beliefs, then so be it.

  6. 221106 says:

    I’m a big fan of cancel culture. On her article, ‘No Grand Pronouncements Here… Reflections on Cancel Culture and Digital Media Participation’, Eve Ng describes it as ‘a collective of typically marginalised voices “calling out” and emphatically expressing their censure of a powerful figure’, which empowers communities to self-police what they consider to be wrong, oppressive, or inappropriate opinions, while Lisa Nakamura (Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet) insists that cancelling someone is a form of ‘cultural boycott’ and that cancel culture is the ‘ultimate expression of agency’ in a post-truth world (a world in which accountability is no longer centralised).

    Cancel culture denies no one the right to say what they have to say; it denies only that anyone’s obliged to listen to it.

    1. Niemand says:

      Cancel culture is the ‘ultimate expression of agency’. Yes except for the person cancelled and all those that agree with them, when it is the total opposite. You are just outlining a hierarchy of agency, a competitive one where one agency will defeat another approach. It is simple authoritarianism. Whatever happened to the melting pot of ideas, progress through discussion and consensus or at worst, the majority view? Nah, better off with dictatorship. Count me out.

      1. 221107 says:

        I don’t see anything ‘authoritarian’ about calling out and boycotting what we consider to be wrong, oppressive, or inappropriate opinions. We certainly shouldn’t attempt to silence dissonant voices, but we’re perfectly entitled to ‘blank’ them. I still think the best way to respond to hateful public demonstrations of bigotry, for example, is not to ban them, but to line the streets and turn our backs on the demonstrators or fill the theatres and fidget and hiss under our breaths in disapproval at their performance.

        1. Niemand says:

          But who is ‘we’? That is the major bone of contention and it is not clear at all who the we are. You assume it is the majority (perhaps) but one of the aspects of so-called cancel culture, is that it is not that at all but a very loud minority on platforms like Twitter that get a lot of attention across the media mainstream and otherwise and thus have unwarranted influence. So these opinion formers are not properly representative. Each case is different of course but there are quite a few areas where such influencers are doing their work against background of hidden debate where general agreement is far from secure, but seemingly winning out regardless.

          1. 221107 says:

            ‘We’ = each and everyone, without exception. No one has the right to silence dissonant voices; everyone has the right to cancel/boycott/blank/refuse those we don’t like.

      2. Alec Lomax says:

        If you prefer dictatorship, you can always emigrate to Russia. Or Italy, considering the way they are heading.

  7. SleepingDog says:

    I was watching a documentary about ancient Egyptians and their cult of afterlife, and thought about what it could mean if the Internet was increasingly disproportionately populated by the views of the dead. Perhaps some people will leave an AI version of their online personas, posting topically but reactionarily on the next incarnations of Twitter. This does not mean novel ideas are on the whole better, but older ideas will have had longer to be analysed and rebutted. It is interesting reading the flailings of the long tail who continue to try to defend British racialised chattel slavery in online course discussions, for example, as the best forms of counter-arguments are presented concisely by other learners. Ideologies may contain layers, and repellant and wrong right-wing views have often had to hide in a more secretive centre at times. Umberto Eco has provided a useful summary of the contradictory and irrational elements of ur-Fascism.

    In psychological terms, we see signs of projection (snowflakes) and other desperate cognitive efforts to disguise rotten minds. There was considerable interest in discovering the paths to personal Thatcherism. Was it home-owning? Share-owning? A recent BBC Panorama programme suggests motor-vehicle-driving may provide a psychological impetus towards me-first hate-driven practical ideology for some.

    And the psychological counters? Apparently having daughters tends to make men less sexist.
    Perhaps Twitter could inject some form of empathy-nudges, displaying context-related prompts like “imagine you had a daughter” before you got to confirm a tweet.

  8. Helen Burns says:

    Musk, the self made gazillionaire who got to where he is “through hard work and talent”. Oh, and his family’s handy emerald mine. Who hasn’t got one of them?

  9. Voline says:

    I think that Mastodon has a lot of promise for providing the public square while putting a check on antisocial behavior. Its distributed federated structure, tools at the disposal of administrators, and culture give a resilience and yet censorship-resistance.

    Jeff Jarvis has some interesting ideas here:

  10. Derek Williams says:

    Those who stigmatise liberals with patronising ad hominem epithets like ‘libtard’, ‘woke’, ‘cancel culture’ and the like on ‘free speech’ grounds seem to want to make racist, misogynist and homophobic statements, or to violate national security by one means or another. Why else moan when the freedom to utter them is curtailed at law, or by public pressure?

    Free speech is an internationally recognised human right. However there has never been unfettered ‘freedom of speech’ For example, it is not a legitimate exercise of free speech to:
    1. Groom children on the internet, or anywhere else, for sexual exploitation or other nefarious intentions
    2. Inculcate suicide ideation via social media
    3. Commit perjury in a court of law
    4. Incite acts of discrimination and violence against disliked minorities, such as people of colour, Jews and LGBT+ minorities
    5. Defame someone by publishing libel about them
    6. Commit fraud, such as by swearing a false document or affidavit
    7. Spread false information so as to influence the outcome of an election
    8. Commit acts of treason against a legitimately elected government in a free and fair election
    9. Betray state secrets to an enemy that places your country’s security at risk
    10. Engage in ‘revenge porn’ by publishing explicit images of someone without their consent

    If you want to see egregious curtailments on free speech in action, take a look at Russia, where you can be imprisoned up to 15 years merely for saying “Russia invaded Ukraine”, and arrested for holding up a blank sheet of paper in the public square. Russia’s so-called “Gay Propaganda” laws make it illegal to come out as gay if anyone under 18 might hear you saying so – now, there’s a curtailment on free speech right up the Right’s alley.

  11. James Mills says:

    Question : Who is Elon Must and what is Twatter ?

  12. Robert says:

    [Reposting this comment which failed to appear after 24 hours. Ironically]

    Mike Small performs a magic trick here, transforming the thorny issue of free speech into a non-existent problem invented by the right as a cudgel to beat the left. Liberal censorship is rendered invisible, “few people are actually cancelled” and nobody needs to worry about anything except those pesky libertarians (who of course are “oned by the right and far-right” so nobody has to care about them.)

    Abracadabra! Issues like bodily autonomy and freedom (debate about vaccine passports or lockdowns is silenced by the slur “anti-vaxxers”), the war in Ukraine (NATO good, Russia bad; what else is there to say?) or state control of social media (why don’t we see a warning about “US state-affiliated media” on any social media channels?), disappear in a puff of rhetoric. Any qualms about these issues mean you must be a libertarian, therefore you must be right-wing, and nobody should care about your free speech, because it’s offensive.

    Also vanished is the elephant in the room of Scottish politics (especially as we’re on the topic of free speech)—to wit, the transgender issue.

    It’s an issue that you know plenty about, Mike, because you wrote about it—honestly, intelligently and at some length—back in October 2020, in connection with the “hounding” suffered by your friend Jenny Lindsay:

    (Archived just in case:

    You write: “I personally, and in this journal generally” [since you wrote the piece for Bella before bottling out and posting it to your 49 followers on Medium], “have tried to steer a path of being a defender and ally of trans-rights whilst simultaneously showing solidarity to women and to give space for feminist voices on these pages. I think still that’s possible, though its clearly challenging, particularly as it’s difficult to have open dialogue.”

    No shit, it’s challenging, Mike, when platforms of the left like Bella are self-censoring while simultaneously pointing to the right and saying “There’s no problem with free speech — those bad people just want the freedom to say offensive things!”

    1. Time, the Deer says:

      Not really sure that ‘you publicly stated that you weren’t taking sides in a ridiculous oversimplified culture war’ is really the ‘gotcha’ you think it is, Bob. It definitely wasn’t worth saying twice.

  13. Niemand says:

    I watched Stewart Lee’s ‘Snowflake’ routine on iPlayer the other night. Not bad though well below par for Lee who I have been a big fan of for 15 years or more. Towards the end he came out of ‘Stewart Lee Comedian’ persona and addressed the audience with clear seriousness: ‘whatever your politics, don’t get involved in the (right’s) culture wars’. This is after 45 minutes of Stew being the ultimate ferocious cultural warrior, but obviously from a left-wing perspective (for the record, the majority of which I am well on board with), laying into all kinds of (apparently) right wing ideas and people. So the idea that the so-called culture wars are an invention of the right who are the only ones indulging in them, is a blatant untruth. Cultural warriors abound everywhere. Culture is worth (metaphorically) fighting for!

    But what we have here instead is: Right = evil cultural warmongers of oppression and destruction; left = righteous defenders of all that is good.

    No intelligent, honest person can possibly buy into this narrative because the evidence against it is incontrovertible. Yet its allure is in the power of the lie, when repeated enough times, eventually comes ‘true’. Thatcher was a great advocate of that approach.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @Niemand, I agree that culture is worth contesting. I watched a documentary recently on disaster hoax conspiracists which said that democracy required a basis of shared reality. Well, to solve global problems, particularly those caused by humans, we need a global basis of shared reality. That does require some accommodation of extra-national views, not least in the historical events that have led to present problems. That in turn requires contention against and correction of patriotic and parochial biases (which tend to be associated with the imperial right in Britain).

      One contemporary battle is about hypocrisy and cant. These have traditionally been associated with the right-wing, reactionary elements and ideologies in the UK and its predecessors. It is not difficult to see why. It is the privileged in society who can pretend public virtue and practice private vice, and whose voices (cant) are heard the loudest. Power corrupts, corruption is gilded. Imperial crimes are given pious excuses. Whereas political views on universality and equality don’t need to be hidden in an opaque envelope, they can be open, bold and rationally consistent. I think political academic Michael Freeden explains this view of ideologies (I didn’t take that module) better than I can.

      So who today is most hypocritical? I think in British terms, it is still clearly the right-wing, reactionary, imperialist factions (I don’t actually like left–right as a general political description, but here I would include royalist, high-church, hierarchical, militarist, imperialist, capitalist, ego-dominance views in the ‘right-wing’ shortcut). There are people involved in pettier forms of lifestyle hypocrisy, but ideologically, the ‘right’ has historically (and over past decades) had to pretend to virtue more. Partly because imperial parties have been in power all the time, and own (yet try to hide) the crimes of Empire.

      One of the most obvious hypocrisies about free-speech advocates is that they often seem to be fervent believers in official secrecy. That group categorises whistle-blowers as traitors, and support the lifelong omertà oath of civil servants and other agents of the state. In my mind, you cannot reconcile free speech advocacy with a sweeping suppression of speech of conscience. I think Vera Brittain has written some of the best work on this that I have read (such as The Functions of a Minority in One Voice: Pacifist Writings from the Second World War). It is central to the role of citizenship to call out the perceived wrongdoings and crimes of their own state; it is hypocritical to support citizens of official enemies who do this, yet condemn ones own citizens for doing the very same).

      1. 221107 says:

        It’s the notion that there’s a need for a shared or singular reality that gives rise to so-called ‘culture war’ or a struggle for dominance between rival systems of value, belief, and practice that claim to uniquely represent that one true reality. The current culture war among rival ideologies that all insist that theirs is that unique representation can be seen as the last stand of a pre-democratic dirigisme that insists on a behavioural conformity and is unwilling to let people go their own several ways into a behavioural diversity that affiliates each not to all but only to such cognitive, evaluative, and practical communities as circumstances might offer us.

        As I’ve said more than once, in contrast to the sanctification of a singular reality, we need the affirmation of a plural reality that insists on:

        1. Legitimate diversity – since the varying experiential situation of different people makes it normal, natural, and rational for them to proceed differently in cognitive, evaluative, and practical matters;
        2. Restrained dissonance – to ensure that peaceful and constructive interaction can prevail despite the diversity, dissensus, and dissonance that exists between our several realities;
        3. Acquiescence in difference – an acceptance that people can and should, to everyone’s benefit, accept and come to terms with the fact that others will differ from oneself in opinion, evaluation, customary behaviour;
        4. Respect for the autonomy of others – that we not only ‘tolerate’ others but also respect their autonomy and concede their right to go their own variant ways within a framework of equal reciprocity that enables a peaceful and productive communal order, the maintenance of which is conducive to the best interests of everyone alike.

        The fact is that we live in a world of pervasive disagreement, in which the quest for a singular shared reality – the uniquely perfect order that would emerge under ideal research conditions – is sheer olde-worlde utopianism. Our inescapable historicity (our temporal embodiment as researchers) ensures that such ideal research conditions don’t exist; God is dead. Pluralism lays the basis for a world of contextualistic realities and truths that abolishes both dogmatic absolutism on the one hand and relativistic nihilism on the other. But, to work, it requires a social and political order than can function effectively even in the presence of dissensus.

        1. SleepingDog says:

          @Lord Parakeet the Cacophonist, I used the term “basis of shared reality”, I did not argue for a “singular reality”. A basis of shared reality is required for the success of COP27 in Egypt, and it can accommodate pluralism up to a point. You seem to deny that global science provides a common basis. That is a fringe view, I would suggest, which undermines your frequent claims of certainties elsewhere, when it suits you. The idea that an objective reality can be empirically tested for evidence of universal laws and properties is not a dogmatic one.
          Perhaps you can explain how politics can work without a basis of shared reality.

          1. 221107 says:

            Global science does provide a shared reality, but only on the basis of colonisation. Global science is the imposition of European cognitive behaviours and prescriptive theories of knowledge (e.g. the principle that there’s an objective reality that can be empirically tested for evidence of universal laws and properties) on others at the expense of their own ‘indigenous’ cultures. That singular shared reality is a cultural hegemony consequent on our imperial conquest of the world.

            I’ve explained how politics might be organised to accommodate cultural pluralism, and the respective realities they produce, ad nauseum on this blog. It would require the radical decentralisation of sovereignty throughout the diverse communities [of knowledge, value, and place] that constitute our postmodern societies and a civic nationalism based on the twin democratic principles of maximal autonomy and subsidiarity. I even posted a link to my submission to the Smith Commission that outlined what such a politics could look like in a future ‘decolonised’ Scotland.

          2. SleepingDog says:

            @Lord Parakeet the Cacophonist, you seem perversely certain in your claim that science comes from European Empires, but that itself is a false, propagandist and bigoted Eurocentric view, based on racist notions of superiority. Science, like art, is something that most people are capable of, and may be seen throughout human history, at least without your blinkers on.

            The view currently expressed on Wikipedia:
            “The nature of the history of science (and by implication, the definition of science itself) is a topic of debate. The history of science is often seen as a linear story of progress but historians have shown that the story is more complex. Science is a human activity, and scientific contributions have been made by people from a wide range of different backgrounds and cultures. Science is increasingly seen as part of a global history of exchange, conflict and collaboration.”
            There are, for example, many commonplace recipes we use today that date back thousands of years which must have taken considerable experimentation to achieve. In another example, the mathematics of ancient India formed a basis for the universal system of numbers we use worldwide today, and their astronomy is another branch of universalist science.

            You seem oblivious to your glaring inconsistencies. You state your historical views as if they were hard facts, but ignore the many assumptions you take as givens. Who are ‘we’, then? The human inhabitants of Planet Earth? So you accept the objective existence of Planet Earth, of biological humanity, of our location in time and space, and our ability to communicate with each other as if we all had individual minds but shared languages and common experiences? If so, surely you have to accept there are global issues that require global (rather than village-sized) responses? And how are your little parish democracies going to deal with anthropogenic climate change, the pollution of the seas, biodiversity loss, the threat of nuclear war, pandemics, surveillance capitalism (and so on)?

            Or are you still denying (albeit obliquely, so as not to get banned from this site) anthropogenic climate change, which is why you refuse to engage with the question of the most obvious and pressing global summit (COP27 in Egypt) today? Do you think the Prime Minister of Barbados is confused in accepting that the climate science of her colonisers provides a realistic description of the state of the world? Would you like to double down on your racist Eurocentrism and say that to her face?

          3. 221107 says:

            A word about my ‘certainties’. I claim no authority for my certainties. They’re only ever provisional. You’ll have noticed how much my mind here has changed over the years. You’ll also have noticed how that mind comprises a haill clamjamfry or forcefield of contradictions, which is the condition out of which my certainties are continually mutating and evolving.

            A pluralistic society is one in which a shared reality is continually and freely evolving in and through the contradictions between the clamjamfry of variant cognitive, evaluative, and practical behaviours (beliefs, values, and customs – i.e. ‘cultures’) that equally constitute our collectivity. That reality isn’t ‘objective’ in the sense of being an object we all share; it’s an unending dialectical process in the working of which we all participate and whose ‘object’ isn’t a fixed ‘given’ but is rather a protean product of our social interactions.

            At least, that’s the current certainty I’m tasked with overcoming as part of my evolution in these wee pseudonymous, fun-filled dialogues of ours.

          4. 221108 says:

            There’s no doubting that non-European cultures have contributed to what Europeans count as ‘science’. This is itself a sign of colonialism and cultural appropriation. Science (the getting of knowledge) is a human activity, but what counts as ‘knowledge’ in global science is based on globalised paradigms that largely originate with the European Enlightenment.

            (I know I’ve referenced these arguments before in the eternal recurrence of this issue, but, if you can be at all bothered, have a look at Shiv Visvanathan’s collection of essays, A Carnival for Science, and/or the work of Catherine Odora Hoppers, Brenda Leibowitz, Francis Muchenje, and/or Michalinos Zembylas. There are also useful entries on both the coloniality and the decolonisation of science to which I’ve contributed on Wikipedia.)

            And, yes, I currently accept as useful (and sometimes employ sous rature) cultural constructions like ‘humanity’ ‘Planet Earth’, ‘the objective existence of Planet Earth’, ‘biology’, ‘time’, ‘space’, ‘history’, and ‘culture’. Such constructions have pragmatic value as what Hume called ‘habits of thought’. But, at the same time, I recognise them as elements of historical ideologies and refuse to reify or even just universalise them.
            I’ve never denied the fact of climate change. It’s our various understandings of the phenomenon that I test with my little philosophical hammer.

      2. Niemand says:

        A perfectly fair summary SD and little to disagree with from me.

        My concern is more at the level of local detail if you like, individual people. I have never been a PC gone mad type and for many years I scoffed at that and in many circumstances still do but when you keep coming across cases of ordinary people losing jobs or suffering severe sanction, all highly unfairly I found it impossible to ignore. The problem with trying to make a case that such cases represent something serious is that they are anecdotal and when set against the kind of broader argument about injustice you make, seem to pale into insignificance. But I don’t think they are insignificant and knowing a few people personally who have suffered, it brings it home even more.

        In Stewart Lee’s show I mentioned there is a point in the middle where he mentions cancel culture and he starts by saying, almost offhand, but seriously, that he knows there are such cases of people losing jobs unjustly, that this is real, but very quickly moves onto a routine about Ricky Gervais totally false claim that he has been silenced. The routine mostly consists of Lee imaging Gervais doing a show where he literally is physically unable to say anything. It is hilarious and brilliant. But at the end of the day what Gervais says and falsely claims, whilst good for a comedy routine, is trivial compared to those people alluded to who really have suffered some form of cancelling, ordinary folk trying to earn a living. To gloss over this and focus on another moaning, right-wingish celebrity as if to bolster the idea that cancel culture is made up right wing, hypocritical moaning simply does not stack up, not even with what Lee actually said some minutes before.

        But what this also shows is that the situation is fluid and ever evolving. I think the arguments about all of this are good and I think the left especially should be having them.

    2. Alec Lomax says:

      Culture wars – waged by philistines !
      Thatcher and free speech. That was the same Thatcher who tried to ban Peter Wright’s Spycatcher book. That worked out well for her!

  14. John Learmonth says:

    I’m old enough to remember a time before social media.
    We all seemed to survive.
    Happy days, let them all go bankrupt and bollocks to the lot of them.

  15. Wul says:

    Refusing to hand someone your megaphone, or let them use your stage, is not denying them free speech.

    What people like Cleese want is license, not freedom. A license to have their own opinion broadcast, without challenge, consequences or right of reply. He thought that private school and Oxbridge and money gave him the right to always be right and now he doesn’t like it up him.

    This particular “Tenement Jock” has no time for his pish.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @Wul, I guess you are probably correct, but there is another layer to this, a kind of elitist or class-based self-censorship whereby ‘loyalty’ (it may simply be selfish interests) to some group or totem (such as Anglic ancestor worship) means that private dissenting or critical opinions, or embarrassing or incriminating statements, are suppressed. People like John Cleese may be aware of all kinds of damning stuff about their peer group and the British establishment, but they don’t commonly use their extensive freedoms of speech and globe-reaching platforms to blow the whistle or hold wrongdoers to account (or admit personal guilt). This is why the abuse of children in British private (‘public’) schools has so long been suppressed, and how British colonial and war crimes have been so extensively covered up.

      So a licence not only to express opinions but to suppress criticisms, to adopt a guise as a fearlessly-independent truth-telling free-speaker but in reality to perpetuate the edifice of a rotten house of secrets and lies.

      1. 221108 says:

        Yep, the grievance of those who oppose cancel culture is indeed driven by a will to suppress criticism and censure.

        1. Niemand says:

          This is simply untrue in very many cases.

          To say all those who have an issue with cancel culture all stem from the same place is ridiculous for a start. I am one of those and have no desire to ‘suppress criticism’ at all and neither do many I know. And what do you mean by censure? Getting sacked from your job perhaps? Being visited by the police to have words even though you have committed no crime? That word is doing a lot work isn’t it.

          Maybe you think it clever to turn the argument round to say those who have concerns about people suffering some form of cancelling are actually arch cancellers themselves and this is their rationale for complaint. But no-one with a genuine interest in the truth would say such a thing.

          1. 221110 says:

            I think you might be confusing cancel culture with censorship, which confusion the right in particular exploits in its attempt to avoid cancelling and censure. Being sacked for expressing opinions that your employer considers to be wrong, oppressive, or inappropriate is censorship (and is unjustifiable within a democratic context); boycotting the expression of opinions that you consider to be wrong, oppressive, or inappropriate is cancelling (which is justifiable in a democratic context).

            ‘Censure’ normally means ‘to express severe disapproval of (someone or something), especially in a formal statement.’ Cancel culture is (according to the writers I cited and whose definitions I follow) the expression of severe disapproval of opinions one finds to be wrong, oppressive, or inappropriate through the ‘noisy’ boycotting of those opinions. As I said, everyone has a right to say whatever they want, but no one’s under any obligation to listen to them.

          2. Niemand says:

            You are dancing on the head of a pin. You know what I mean – losing your job and thus means to express yourself in the way you had access to before (if say you are an author or artist) is cancelling. Censorship and cancelling are very closely aligned and interwoven, not separate entities. There is nothing confused about this contention

            The broader point is this – if we talk about freedom of speech then simply saying we have it if you are not clamped in irons for saying something does not cut it. Freedom of speech means that within reason (i.e. not the obvious total extremes) you should *not* suffer severe censure and cancelling for expressing yourself, or alternatively you continually self-censor to avoid such a fate. If you do there is no meaningful freedom of speech. What is liberty if you are ostracised and lose your livelihood unjustly or keep quiet for fear of it?

          3. 221110 says:

            We clearly employ different conceptions of cancel culture. The concept I employ is that of the likes of Eve Ng and LIsa Nakamura. That concept doesn’t sanction censorship or depriving anyone of their right to say what they like by threatening their employment by way of censure. If a lecturer expresses opinions that you consider wrong, oppressive, or inappropriate, you draw attention to the fact and boycott his or her lectures. If a TV channel or newspaper does the same, you draw attention to the fact and boycott that information mediator. If you find the parading of loyalist or republican shibboleths offensive, you line the street and turn your back on the parade or (better still) follow it down the street playing the Dance of The Cuckoos on a tuba. If you find a comedian’s material offensive, you don’t applaud but instead hiss at their jokes.

            The key feature of cancel culture (so conceived) is that you allow people to say whatever they like and then ‘cancel’ it by expressing your disapproval if you don’t like what they say (in much the same sense that -1 ‘cancels’ +1. That’s not the same as censoring or suppressing what you don’t like by some coercive means

            Like I said, those on the ‘right’ who demonise cancel culture in the name of free speech rely on an obfuscation of the difference between censorship and cancelling.

        2. SleepingDog says:

          @Lord Parakeet the Cacophonist, I have no idea how your comment, seeming a reply, relates to mine, if that was the intent.

          If clarification is needed, what I was suggesting was a flipside to those that ostentatiously claim to be fearless free-speech crusaders. This kind of self-promotion suggests that a) they think they have something of value to say, and b) if they have something of value to say, they will say it. Conclusion: if they don’t say something, it has no value (or perhaps so little value they cannot fit it into their busy saying schedules, assuming they are effective prioritisers of their free speech). Of course, value may be subjective, but then they wish to subject (some of) the general public to their views, with the presumption that values are shared. Clearly this includes the kinds of newspaper opinion columnists and television opinion show hosts covered by this article.

          And yet, the reactionary and elitist British establishment (sometimes perversely depicted as being ‘cancelled’) actually perform a collective silencing (of the kind in Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History, or Ian Cobain’s History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation) or lying (as in Lucy Worsley’s History’s Biggest Fibs) or covert propaganda (like in Frances Stonor Saunders’ Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War).

          If free speech is good, what exactly is it good for? Are there times where we should be obligated to speak out, to bear witness, to blow whistles? And do these free-speech crusaders actually do this, or support this? A topical example is IICSA’s Mandatory reporting for England and for Wales:
          which recommends making an ethical rule about reporting wrongdoing into a statutory requirement. But how many of these free-speech crusaders spoke up about the abuses going on in their schools and other organisations? Or more broadly, the wide ranges of wrongdoings committed throughout British empire and society? Why should we listen to people who do not use their freedom of speech to stand up and give mea culpas or render J’accuses to their own in-groups? If you have a platform where you speak on issues of public importance week in and week out, what do your omissions say about you, and the value of free speech?

          A final thought on historians. I read Antony Beevor saying he found many instances of Allied war crimes in his researches that other historians had ignored when writing their history own books. He included some of these in his works, but yet could not bring himself to include the most horrific examples. What does this discovery and restraint tell us about free speech, self-censorship, and our common understandings of our shared histories?

          1. 221110 says:

            I was agreeing with you, SD. Those whom you identify as the worst offenders are indeed appealing to their right to free speech in an attempt to suppress criticism of what they have to say. Neither the criticism nor boycotting of speech we find wrong, oppressive, or inappropriate isn’t an attack on anyone’s right to speak freely. Everyone should be able to say what they like, including that they don’t like what others are saying. In my view, to improve the democratic health of society, it’s the culture of censorship that needs to be cancelled.

          2. 221110 says:

            Free speech is good because it’s a necessary condition of the ‘ideal speech situation’ out of which a general will emerges. (Remember? We’ve discussed this on more than one occasion in relation to pluralism, democracy, the tyranny of the majority, etc.)

            Conversely, it’s bad if your project is rather to impose a minority or majority will or ‘truth’ on society generally.

          3. SleepingDog says:

            @Lord Parakeet the Cacophonist, but you confuse your frictionless cacophony, which says nothing about finding, listening, processing, selecting, prioritising, integrating, understanding, checking, responding, querying, collating (and so on), with collective decision-making, which requires all these and more.

            In some ways, our limited vote-based democratic models negatively effect public discussion, adding a lot of noise of agreement (or polarised reactionary disagreement) since one voice can be considered one vote (although in digital terms, faking or amplifying a human voice is not too difficult). This can lead to hubbub and pile-ons and shout-louders.

            On the Internet, to cultivate meaningful exchanges, speech usually has to be moderated (and that can just be to keep discussions on-topic, or to prevent destructive speech, or apply a whole set of editorial guidelines). Anonymous speech tends to have a limited role in digital politics and unattributable speech even less, but may be a significant way new ideas can be added to an agenda. Generally, to get to a collective decision, multiple steps must be taken in a formalised way to agree in stages its composite elements, options, tests; while methods must also be taken against reactionary attempts to thwart decision-making (examples: filibustering, sophistry).

            According to your expressed viewpoint, COP27 in Egypt is bad since people are trying to agree on a model of climate science and (maybe) impose collective solutions to global problems on every country on the planet. In real life, people may tend to go for ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ rather than ‘truth’ when it comes to making decisions (or perceived self-interest over the needs of the many), but you put flat-earthers in the same category as round-earthers. Oddly, it seems the only thing solid to you is yourself and the bedrock of your dogma.

            In political terms, free speech has been much abused particularly from the USA where corporations have been given rights and it has been argued in court that lying through advertising is a form of protected speech (I don’t know where their Supreme Court is on this at the moment).

            In brief, sometimes speech is bad, sometimes more speech is worse than less, speech is unevenly distributed, formal restrictions are required for collective decision-making, bad actors can exploit free speech and derail decisions, speech is just one element among many that are required for functional, healthy, planetary-realistic politics, information integration is often a more pressing problem than free speech, and the ethical/productive thing is often to shut up and let someone else speak for a change.

          4. 221111 says:

            ‘[Y]ou confuse your frictionless cacophony, which says nothing about finding, listening, processing, selecting, prioritising, integrating, understanding, checking, responding, querying, collating (and so on), with collective decision-making, which requires all these and more.’

            No I don’t. All those actions are part of the dialectical process that takes place within the context of an ideal speech situation, our approximation to which ensures (as far as possible) that the outcome of that dialectical process is the general will of its participants. You haven’t been paying attention.

            (To get to grips with this, you really need to do some of the background reading. Otherwise, you’ll continue to struggle.)

          5. SleepingDog says:

            @Lord Parakeet the Cacophonist, the Cult of the Intellectual is very similar to, and overlaps, the Cult of the Artist, and both are conservative and reactionary branches of the Great Man (Occasionally Woman) View of History. Maybe your authorities are wrong, and it is you who is struggling.

            Another reason speech is problematic is the varying quality of self-awareness. I use the term here in the sense expressed about King Lear, by daughter Regan:
            “‘Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever
            but slenderly known himself.”
            If Lear lacks self-awareness, the implication is that his behaviours including speech may be motivated largely by his subconscious. Therefore speech may be a poor indicator of (proxy for) will.

            I have expressed a concern for the quality of speech. Your personal preference may be to exert no quality control over your own, but I would suggest that quality of speech is something we should usually prioritise over freedom. After all, it is the quality of shouting ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theatre that matters to the people inside: if it warns of a real and impending threat to life, or if it is an attention-seeking device by a performance artist. Protection of the speech of whistleblowers is again intended to promote a quality of speech higher than that used by an organisation’s public relations department (ie artists).

            But again, there are voices which will not be heard, which is why I argue for proxies for the non-human living world to participate in a biocratic replacement for humanist or corporate or theist systems of government. #biocracynow

          6. 221112 says:

            But what’s the great man theory got to do with any of this? And in any case, don’t you think that, as a discursive strategy, our ‘death-of-the-author’ pseudonymity here and elsewhere is an effective antidote to the ‘great man’ syndrome?

            I, too, find speech problematic. I’m currently of the view that, due to their unequal distribution of power, the social and political conditions in which our collective discourse takes place distort that discourse. Our collective discourse will only be liberated from this distortion when – and to the extent that – it takes place in an ideal speech situation; only then will our collective discourse be an expression of the general will of society. Our task (as avant-garde artists, for example, or critical theorists and other delinquents) is to be continually chipping away at the power relations that currently prevail in and distort our collective discourse and its institutions. This is the work of decolonisation and liberation, which goes way beyond the petty matter of whether or not we should have our own wee Westminster in Edinburgh.

            (But I’ve said all this, inter alia, many times before. Why are you so agin it? Is it because it’s all going – wheech! – right over your head?)

          7. SleepingDog says:

            @Lord Parakeet the Cacophonist, one can be anonymous or pseudonymous but still see oneself as a Great Man or Woman or whatever. All those superheroes with secret identities; even the revolutionary in V for Vendetta. In one of you past incarnations, did you not portray yourself as one such hero, transcending the bonds of thought the common people labour under? So, not an antidote.

            Your ideal political system seems bent on will expression. I have said I consider that Will is over-valued in political systems, compared to, say, health, empathy or perhaps planetary wisdom. One of Adolf Hitler’s favourite movies was Triumph of the Will by Leni Riefenstahl.

            When you say “our task” and identify yourself with a vanguard, I wonder if you have really ‘decolonised’ yourself in any meaningful way. Perhaps I am one of these little people for whom such flighty rhetoric is for ever doomed to fly “over my head”. Yet I am philosophically trained, and can see that your frequent use of sophistry is not worthy of a philosopher; and being schooled in psychology, I can see that your adoption of fractured, disintegrated personas undermines your claims to integrity. You’ve said a lot of things before, and sometimes even you agree that they are inconsistent and can be contradictory. What do you stand for? Filtering out the inconsistencies, what remains includes a strange loyalty to the British imperial Union, a support for theology, a particular liking for parish-meeting level talking shops, and a rather patriarchal view of society.

            This all strikes me as characteristic of a political hobbyist, rather than someone who believes politics must address urgent life-and-death collective-decision-making on a planetary scale, on a planet that humans are ravaging with their wilfulness. And as someone who has studied political science and social policy, I recognise a dilettante.

          8. 221112 says:

            But the world is [nothing but] will and representation. Our decision-making is informed by our desires, choices, predispositions, consents, or (in negative constructions) refusals. Without a shared will to power, will to health, will to empathy, will to planetary wisdom or whatever, there are no public decisions to be made, no politics.

            When I said ‘our task’, I qualified this as our task ‘as delinquents’ who transgress the rules by which the existing inequalities of power in our society are created and maintained. As I explained, part of this ongoing task is to be decolonising one’s own thinking, to be surpassing the hegemony that capitalist ideology exercises over one’s own consciousness and that of one’s class in the social matrix in which it’s embedded; another part of that ongoing task is to be decolonising our social institutions (our universities, our police forces, our art galleries and museums, our sports, our historical narratives, our metaphysics, our sciences, etc., etc.). I’d be the last to claim that I’d decolonised myself; that decolonisation remains a perpetual work-in-progress.

            Since you’ve been schooled in psychology, you’ll recognise that my fractured, disintegrated personas aren’t adopted; they’re (at least, according to one theoretical tradition within psychology, which grew out of the Abrahamic tradition of the Fall) a consequence of the fragmentation of human life under capitalism. We all lack an integrated meaning of ‘self’ and will only become ‘whole’ with the immanent collapse of capitalism into communism.

            Alternatively (according to another theoretical tradition within the same science, which grew out of Hume’s radical empiricism), there is no ‘self’, whole or fractured, that as such owns the bundles of discontinuous experiences that resolve themselves into insubstantial and purely indexical nodes of consciousness. In which case, ‘I’ is nothing more than the interiority and ‘the world’ nothing more than the exteriority of otherwise protean bundles of experience or ‘personas’.

            You pays your money, you takes your choice; psychology can and does (depending on which theoretical perspective you subscribe to within its community of knowledge) equally show that the so-called ‘self’ is a mutable plurality rather than an immutable unity, any deviation from which is to be considered a ‘disorder’. Have a look at Foucault, who argues that ‘disciplining’ deviations from or disorders of the normative ‘self’ is an oppressive exercise in ‘biopower’.

            ‘I’ stands for the same sort thing that Socrates stood for, since you ask: not for any particular dogma, but for a praxis of perpetual uncertainty (‘aporia’) and growth, of self-overcoming. Therein lies my happiness (‘eudaimonia’). As a trained philosopher, you’ll understand all this, for that’s what philosophy is. Have another read at Plato’s Apology.

  16. SleepingDog says:

    Apparently many new ideologies began as Internet jokes or memes. These can be insubstantial and chimeric (what exactly is ‘soulism’, for example?). They can form the basis of shared identities.
    However, their relation to real life can be tenuous. The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator personality categorisation spawned a series of Internet memes but has apparently little scientific backing, and is somewhat notoriously self-pleasing. Twitter is a major medium for these kinds of recognisable-snippets-with-variants.

    It can be problematic when these are taken too seriously. As theorists Cas Mudde and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser argue, populism is a thin-centred ideology, and political, social beliefs or worldviews based on Internet memes tend to have the thinnest of centres, however popular they are.

    I don’t advocate ignoring Internet memes either. I didn’t know about the significance of the rice-rabbits, for example, from the BBC article.

    1. 221109 says:

      I’m glad to see you’re reading Mudde & Rovira-Kaltwasser. They cite populism as one of the most prominent challenges to pluralist democracy.

      However, while they consider populism to be an ideology, others define it as a political strategy employed by some charismatic leaders to reach or exercise power (e.g. T.S. Pappas, Populism and liberal democracy: A comparative and theoretical analysis) or as a discourse (e.g. E. Laclau, ‘Populism: What’s in a name?’, in F. Panizza (ed.), Populism and the mirror of democracy), or a performance (e.g. P. Ostiguy, ‘The high-low political divide: Rethinking populism and anti-populism’, in The Committee on Concepts and Methods Working Papers, series 35). It’s a job of work to challenge the assumptions of these prevailing theoretical and methodological traditions to advance our conceptualisation and analysis of the phenomenon of populism itself. this complex phenomenon, reconciling the efforts of different research traditions.

      My own work in the area, which is strewn across the margins of the European Journal of Political Research, deconstructs populism into five dimensions:

      1. an antagonistic depiction of the polity (it’s run by open or hidden elites against ‘the people’);

      2. a moral interpretation of ‘the people’ (people are either good or evil, right or wrong, for or against; only the good, right, and for-us are ‘the’ true people);

      3. an idealised construction or ‘utopian vision’ of society (whether that vision is of a society that’s racially or culturally pure, socially just, environmentally friendly, or whatever);

      4. popular sovereignty (the idea that ‘the [true] people’ should have the final say in public decision-making); and

      5. a reliance on charismatic leadership (a Boris or a Thatcher or an Alex or a Nicola).

      Mudde, in his monograph on Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe, proposes a variety of different deconstructive avenues for the analysis of both the ‘supply-side’ of populism (the narratives, discourses, and policy proposals of its parties and their leaders) and its ‘demand-side’ (the popular grievances to which its supply side appeals).

      Finally, I agree with Mudde’s suggestion that we conceive populism not as an ‘ideology’, in the sense in which you use the term, but as a multilayered network structure whose interactivity and intersectionality we need to better understand and map in order to get to grips with and counter the phenomenon of populism itself.

      1. 221109 says:

        To clarify, what Mudde’s suggesting is that we conceive populism not as an ‘ideology’ in the sense of ‘a body of ideas’, but (as Žižek and other Marxists do) as an ‘ideology’ in the sense of ‘a multilayered network structure of social relationships’ that’s productive of our realities.

  17. Niemand says:

    Off-topic question: are all comments pre-moderated now?

    1. No, we just have some issues we’ll be updating system soon …

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