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Thoughts on Callout Culture

edited 2013-03-23 12:57:57 in Philosophy
if u do convins fashist akwaint hiz faec w pavment neway jus 2 b sur

The short discussion about that PyCon incident yesterday led me to think about the whole phenomenon, and this is what I have come to.


In Discipline and Punish (written in 1975), Foucault analyzed the way punishment and disciplining have evolved over the previous 200 years. Feudalism used extremely violent, chaotic and almost universally public methods of punishment, which is done in the name of the monarch, the sole authority and sovereign, and meant solely as a display of his power and the horrible fate of anyone who opposes it. This was all terribly inefficient for the bourgeois liberal forces that replaced feudalism and who, inspired by Enlightenment philosophy and scientific development, sought for more refined and efficient methods of control. Since liberalism is opposed to physical violence on principle, these methods were focused on the mind rather than the body, meant to crush the spirits of convicts and turn them into disciplined servants of the bourgeois state. This is the point where the prison system became widely used, and its purpose became most evident in Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon project, a circular prison model built in a way that every single inmate would be under non-stop surveillance from the central guard tower, which would crush their spirits and lead them to accept obedience. Foucault claimed that this system is copied by most institutions of the modern bourgeois state, effectively creating a panoptical society.


This has changed since, though. The advancement of surveillance technology, media, social networks, tabloids, the internet, etc, have even further consolidated the means of the state and ruling class for control and the disciplining of society, while at the same time diffusing them among less powerful individuals and interest groups. The private sphere is steadily disappearing, which rendered the relative secrecy and subtleness of the classic liberal system of disciplining obsolete, effectively regressing to the feudal method of making the punishment public, although keeping the insistence on refraining from physical punishment, at least nominally. Some of these interest groups, specifically the ones with supposedly progressive goals and ideas, are using the method of public shaming in order to scare the possessors of reactionary and undesirable ideas into submission. This is especially evident among internet activists which like to associate themselves with left-wing and progressive ideas.


This approach is wrong, harmful and contraproductive. Oppression in the capitalist system is two-fold, and determined by economic and social structures, where the former lie in the material and the latter in the ideal realm. The two emanate one from another, and an egalitarian society cannot exist until both the oppressive economic and social structures are destroyed. The latter include racism, sexism, homophobia etc, which are what is important here. These originate from culture, media and social norms, due to the privileged groups holding cultural hegemony and imposing their views on the lower orders of society, which are taking them as granted due to their exposure. As a result, an absolutely huge majority of people are holding views that are harmful from a progressive perspective. In criticizing them and putting them to public shame, internet activists completely forget about the meaning of structures and the influence they have, instead focusing their wrath on the "perpetrators", chiding them for "not choosing to act and think properly" and thus completely negating the role of structures and reducing everything to a matter of choice, which is fundamentally a strongly right-wing view. The only thing that can be thus accomplished is completely alienating a huge majority of people who, unfortunately, do hold reactionary views but see no reason for changing them due to being put off by "feminazis" and the like. The left has always been a movement of the masses, change has to come through education and understanding, not self-righteous indignance.

Comments

  • "you duck spawn, refined creature, you try to be cynical, yokel, but all that comes out of it is that you're a dunce!!!!! you duck plug!"

    Can you say more about that PyCon incident? It must've slipped my attention.

  • if u do convins fashist akwaint hiz faec w pavment neway jus 2 b sur

    You know, the dongle jokes thing that was posted in Updates.

  • edited 2013-03-23 13:23:57
    "you duck spawn, refined creature, you try to be cynical, yokel, but all that comes out of it is that you're a dunce!!!!! you duck plug!"

    (Okay, my question was not relevant to the topic. Disregard.)

  • > The advancement of surveillance technology, media, social networks, tabloids, the internet, etc, have even further consolidated the means of the state and ruling class for control and the disciplining of society, while at the same time diffusing them among less powerful individuals and interest groups.


    The means, maybe, but...


    1. social media and the internet were not developed with disciplining the masses in mind.  They were developed with monetization in mind.  The result of this is actually that a lot of possibly-monitoring-worthy information -- from the perspective of a theoretical control-intentioned state -- is actually just glossed over because it is not immediately useful to make money.


    2. social media and the internet were not developed with explicitly disciplining the masses in mind.  According to the Panopticon Project as you describe it, the point is not just to monitor prisoners, but to indicate to them they're being monitored, so as to break their spirits.  However, what social media and the internet have done is the opposite: it has made people feel private while being public.  So people are even less inhibited.

  • edited 2013-03-23 14:35:21
    if u do convins fashist akwaint hiz faec w pavment neway jus 2 b sur

    Glenn:


    1. The state and big capital work hand-in-hand. The information doesn't immediately have to be monitored, but could be stored for later use. Facebook, for example, stores all personal data even if you delete it, and sells them to businesses and state agencies. But right now it's not exclusively government monitoring that matters so much, but wider social implications - I'll elaborate in my second point.


    2. This is true - like I mentioned, the Panopticon model has become partially obsolete. It's not authorities breaking into the private sphere anymore - it's that what used to be private sphere is being absorbed into the public sphere. Privacy is dying.

  • One foot in front of the other, every day.

    The left has always been a movement of the masses, change has to come through education and understanding, not self-righteous indignance.



    Pretty much. The best example of counter-effective leftism is Tumblr slacktivism, of course, which shows us exactly how callout culture is an alienating force that diminishes the audience for some important ideas. 

  • edited 2013-03-25 00:49:14
    yea i make potions if ya know what i mean

    It's worth noting that a semisizable chunk of SJ bloggers actually are activists. It's pretty easy to tell the ones that are apart from the ones that just rant in allcaps all day. There's also a pretty strong contingent that are often mistaken for trying to change people's minds when they're just venting or being annoyed.


    Ultimately, if you're an idiot, I'm going to get pissed off at you. Not even necessarily because your views reinforce stupid cultural prop-ups from the 1800s, but just because you're a jackass.

  • I don't even call it violence when it's in self defence; I call it intelligence.

    I feel almost bad about answering to such a lengthy OP in such a short way, but oh well: Of course social structures exist. But to get rid of them you have to attack them, and the nodices, so to speak, of those social structures are the people who hold up those hurtful, regressive views. You cannot attack the structures as such, since they are just abstractions; you have to attack the people. And personally, I don't see why one shouldn't. The confinement by social and economical structures cannot be used to explain away everything. I mean, I know the effects a good social indoctrination can have on a person; after all that was the reason I argued against home schooling e.g. But at least to a degree every person must also be held accountable themselves for their views. If people have abhorrent views, other people will abhor them. That's just natural.


    Now, slacktivism is a problem of course, yes, but that's not quite what the OP was going on about...

  • They're somethin' else.

    What exactly is Call-out Culture?

  • edited 2013-03-25 07:17:54
    Diet NEET

    Example: somebody posts a rape joke on FB.


    Normal response: tell someone it's in bad taste and why.


    SJW response: screencap, post to Tumblr, urge your followers to signal boost it(makes reblogging sound meaningful), contact whatever workplace/school/uni you can find to express yourself as a Concerned Citizen, refuse to explain yourself when asked why the heated reaction 'because it's your job to educate yourself', insert token 'not responsible for the anonymous death threats(but why are you suddenly concerned if you didn't care when activist X got death threats)', use lots of underwhelming GIFs that give reaction images a bad name, complain about how tired you are of the whole debacle whenever a backlash starts building.


    It's an extreme example and there are some call-out tumblrs that actually do it right(anonimize the offender while still linking them the volatile reactions as a wake-up call, actually having an FAQ in place that explains the terminology and the how and the why), but that's the gist of it.

  • Rule number one about convincing someone to do something: don't antagonize the person.

  • I don't even call it violence when it's in self defence; I call it intelligence.

    ^ But convining the person you attack isn't actually the goal. Likewise, in discussions the other side nearly never changes their opinions. The aim is to convince bystanders. And those bystanders won't even notice there's an issue unless you point it out to them. And best not in abstract terms, but in concrete cases.

  • That depends on what discussions you're talking about.


    If it's a political debate where your role is grandstanding to rouse your supporters and convince undecided people, then zingers work well.


    If it's a private discussion where you're trying to get someone to actually do something, such as change their behavior, then smacking them down is counterproductive.

  • I don't even call it violence when it's in self defence; I call it intelligence.

    But tumblr and twitter are not private. Though I suppose it depends on whether you think the topic of the thread is calling out people (thread title) or publicly shaming people (OP). The latter is obviously not private.


    I need to point out, I still find public shaming wrong on grounds of privacy protection etc. But calling matters out, as a way to show "Here, that's what's wrong with society"? I have no problem with that.

  • Is public shaming really effective nowadays?

  • WMG: public shaming activists are in cahoots with Gendo Ikari and support his causing the Third Impact.

  • if u do convins fashist akwaint hiz faec w pavment neway jus 2 b sur

    @Octo: I don't think that shaming someone for espousing an oppressive opinion or oppresive rhetoric, that is nevertheless widely accepted in society (like what's the case with most things Tumblr activists are opposed to) is going to do anything productive - the only ones who will support you are those who were already with you, and the rest will think you are hysterical or overreacting. It's a terrible tactic.


    And you can definitely attack social structures, by critically deconstructing them, agitating against their manifestations or, in the case of cultural products, creating non-oppressive alternatives.

  • You can change. You can.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with calling out racists/sexists/whateverists idiots on the internet. My issue is simply that it often proves counterproductive and it tends to reinforce stereotypes (Like the whole feminazi thing) which makes it much more annoying to actually explain to people who are unaware of the fact that society is fucked up why the world is fucked up and why the guy who's yelling his lungs out and calling other people all sorts of epithets has kind of a point. 

  • if u do convins fashist akwaint hiz faec w pavment neway jus 2 b sur

    ^ precisely this.

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