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The Machiavellian Nature of the Left's Twitter Obsession
It's about remaking reality along progressive lines.
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Well, it didn’t take long: Apple has apparently threatened to nix Twitter from its app store. A reason wasn’t given, but we can reasonably conclude it’s because Musk intends to allow a broader range of political views and opinions to be heard on the platform—something his opponents dismiss as the condoning of “hate speech” and the harming of “marginalized communities.” He’s also in favor of greater transparency, which is just as worrisome to the petty tyrants of whom the contemporary Left is comprised.
To these people, these modern day authoritarians of all castes — from wine-drinking suburban soccer moms who tweet about Elon Musk being evil incarnate to Apple CEO and CCP sympathizer Tim Cook to Biden administration officials trying to come up with the pretext to sabotage Musk’s newest company — who seek to preserve the Left’s cultural hegemony and think having to acknowledge alternative views and opinions is, rather than integral to any liberal democracy, an unjust imposition of emotional labor, censorship has been essential during an era defined by the democratization of information and the advent of digital participatory mediums. For those interested in maintaining power over others, the ability to contradict their dogma, to sow doubt about their social agenda, and to present people with alternative ways of seeing the world is treated as a threat. It is for this reason that they see free speech, one of the bedrock values enshrined in the Constitution, as a hazard.
Never mind that the First Amendment exists to keep the government from controlling what Americans hear, or that free societies counter misinformation with information, not bans and suppression. Power is the point, hegemony the goal, and the U.S. Constitution is nothing but an outdated piece of parchment that some old cis hetero white men collaborated on.
Nothing good has ever come of censorship. The power to control the flow of information and the boundaries of permissible speech is a hallmark of authoritarian regimes, and has been for thousands of years. Nevertheless, part of the widespread delusion at play here is this new belief among liberals that it’s not censorship that’s a hallmark of authoritarianism, but free speech—once universally considered an enlightenment value but which is now dismissed as the province of all the Disinformation Monsters out there in the big scary world.
The faddish contention that the marketplace of ideas can’t work or is too dangerous without constant ideological supervision and constraint is a product of the destructive manipulation of idealism for totalitarian purposes and part of the tacit campaign to remake reality along leftist lines.
That’s what Apple’s intentionally vague but nevertheless explicit warning shot fired at Musk, the latest iteration of the Left’s oscillation between fits of apoplexy and bouts of despair, is really about. Everyone who’s being honest with themselves knows that for over a decade now, Twitter, the modern-day agora with an outsized influence on reality because of the key role it plays in shaping discourse, has been an indispensable propaganda tool helmed by Silicon Valley oligarchs—extremely powerful people who all lean Blue and happily kowtow to Democrats. To folx like Tim Cook, Musk’s refusal to toe the party line is akin to heresy.
Before the bad Space Man came around, Twitter’s heavy-handed censorship allowed members of once hallowed professions that had lost the public’s faith and trust (i.e., journalists and public health officials) to again become the rightful custodians of knowledge, and they were using the platform in increasingly capricious and authoritarian ways to manage the perturbing agent between authority and the public: information.
Power tends to be partial toward those with the best command of information at any particular stage in history. Those who control the narratives a society uses to make sense of reality are the ones in possession of real authority. It follows, then, that if relationships among people, information (i.e. - news), and political authority are altered, it impacts how a society functions, which means change(s) in the structure and accessibility of certain information will royally mess things up for those who’ve enjoyed hegemonic rule under the status quo.
In order to institute the radical, society-wide ideological makeover the Left thinks will lay the groundwork for a Democratic Party regime extending far into the future, they need more than typical “political leverage.” Regardless of what the mainstream media would have you believe, much of what they’re trying to normalize — i.e. rewriting history, erasing biology, recasting racism as the sole provenance of white Americans, packing the Supreme Court, pushing “neuro-divergence,” gender-affirming surgery, “equity” over equality, “anti-racism,” giving teachers authority over students that bypasses parents, defunding the police, lax criminal prosecution standards, banishing the concept of merit-based grading, radical gender lessons for children, critical race theory, punishing people for their opinions, etc. etc. etc. — requires more than just influence, considering most Americans would rather not adopt the same disordered thinking that’s led the Democratic Party to reject, in the defense of bizarre pet ideologies, fundamental truths and realities that are as evident as the pull of gravity.
An agenda as idiotic and illiberal as this has to subvert public awareness; it can’t happen overnight because the public majority wouldn’t be amenable to it. Slow, inexorable change is the only way to refashion society as radically as the Left wants, and it necessitates significant influence over, if not firm control of, discourse. Such change must be subtle enough that, over time, people are desensitized to the subversive processes unfolding. In Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, French sociologist Jacques Ellul describes this as “pre-propaganda”:
“Direct propaganda, aimed at modifying opinions and attitudes, must be preceded by propaganda that is sociological in character, slow, general, seeking to create a climate, an atmosphere of favorable preliminary attitudes. No direct propaganda can be effective without pre-propaganda, which, without direct or noticeable aggression, is limited to creating ambiguities, reducing prejudices, and spreading images, apparently without purpose.”
An insidious process not all that dissimilar from what Itamar Even-Zohar calls “culture-planning,” it’s basically a concerted effort by the Left to arrange a semiotic environment via structure-engendering devices like narratives that naturalize schemas of social control favoring left-wing interests, and, over time, make considerable swaths of the country predisposed to the resultant culture. Such is the benefit of controlling the media and social media alike.
This is how ordinary Americans wake up one day and realize they don’t recognize their own country anymore.
Needless to say, Elon Musk taking over Twitter and thoroughly cleaning the place out of left-wing activist types has thrown a wrench into all this, and it’s infuriating some powerful players—including the Biden administration.
Even before Musk took over, leading Democratic politicians made a habit of subpoenaing social media executives and explicitly threatening them with legal and regulatory reprisals if they didn’t ramp up censorship against “agents of disinformation” (who, coincidentally, almost always hold political views of the conservative and/or anti-establishment persuasion).
But these are not the benevolent concerns about decaying political discourse they would have you believe they are; Big Brother looking over your shoulder as you scroll through social media is not about helping you make sense of things and protecting delicate progressive psyches from impure thoughts and microaggressions. Big Tech controls astronomical volumes of information that reaches the public. Ergo, the way for the Left to control that information is to control Big Tech.
Twitter might as well be a second dimension of the real world, so integral has it become to political discourse. Public health officials and scientists, academics and bureaucrats, media morons and government officials—they all spend unhealthy amounts of time in this social sewer and act in accordance with tribalistic narratives that circulate thereon; in other words, they’re very much under the influence of prevailing progressive orthodoxies. All of us are therefore affected by the stupid platform, regardless of whether or not we personally use it.
And because Twitter dominates the global communication market, it endowed with serious power the now former activist employees who were behind the scenes running the site’s algorithmic alchemy.
Algorithms are proprietary secrets. On principle, the proprietors decline to discuss how they operate. Elon Musk’s pledge to bring greater transparency to Twitter is just as alarming to the Left as his desire to roll back censorship, because with transparency comes accountability. And the Blue Bird’s biased algorithms and arbitrary policies, which have long been known to censor conservative voices and “shadow ban” accounts espousing dissenting views on everything from gender identity to global warming, election fraud, and the pandemic, are completely antithetical to transparency.
With the Grievance Studies majors no longer at the levers of power, that means the algorithms that’ve long codified their ideological predilections — a kind of algorithmic censorship — are going to be dismantled, if they haven’t been already.
And this is important, because by way of that algorithmic censorship they were essentially superimposing and normalizing a certain conception of America via the Overton Window, which is why Twitter was the perfect tool for a Democratic Party hoping to upend American culture and remold society in accordance with progressive ideology. The regime was conducting social-engineering using what Matthew B. Crawford once described as “a cadre of subtle dialecticians working at a meta-level on the formal conditions of thought, nudging the populace through a cognitive framing operation to be conducted beneath the threshold of explicit argument.”
If there should be any question as to how important Twitter was to their overarching goal of radically transforming society, one need only consider the primal scream therapy histrionics that we’ve been subjected to for the past couple of weeks. In no way, shape, or form is the reaction proportionate to the “offense” of permitting a broader range of political opinion to be aired. It would be funny if it weren’t so serious.