My Blog Week: November 7 to November 13
A Word on the Week
All activist communities produce a fringe. On one side is commercialism, leading to compromised coziness with corporate interests. Opposite is performance politics, flirtation with criminality, property destruction, aggressive confrontations with authority (or hapless clerks and flight attendants stuck representing it). The manipulation of social media by propagandists makes a strategy possible, in which outliers are either manufactured or boosted until the false position becomes public enough to demand response, at which point the fringe is insistently pushed to the forefront.
Most of us aren’t conversant with the spectrum of activism, and learn what’s new in exactly this way—by the eruption of a controversy, by the appearance on news shows of experts who opine on one side or the other. Let’s imagine that a group emerges from the eco-sector, whose doctrine is that all lands are open to off-trail hikers, that no personal property rights can supersede their right to walk where they choose. They call themselves Blazers. Stories on the Blazer movement begin to circulate, from news sources using English, logoed to look European in origin. Blazing is cited as popular especially among the under-thirties.
First to pick up these stories in the United States are the pseudo-news sites created by right-wing foundations. They put a terror-spin on the Blazing movement, saying property owners are at risk from roaming bands of Blazers, who will steal and damage, and threaten Americans in their homes. Social media is soon flooded with posts by self-professed Blazers, who for the sake of contradiction, must call attention to the coverage. When the whole thing rises to mainstream notice, it seems necessary for papers of record to do features on the Blazer movement. They contact Blazint.com, the home of Blazers International, and receive a press package, directing them to founding members who can be interviewed.
An election cycle arrives, and several right-wing candidates win minor office, having campaigned on Blazer terror. State legislatures pass laws to fund Land Patrols, allowing them to be organized by favored individuals who acquire grant money, and access to military surplus all-terrain vehicles. Meanwhile, on the left, varied sites, deciding that Blazer is the new preferred term (by the young who their ad people tell them click most) for any hiking enthusiast, begin referring to all hikers and environmentalists as Blazers.
Finally a muckraker site posts an investigative piece, proving that Blazint is a manufactured entity, underwritten by Russia, while its social media messaging emanates from a troll farm based in Lagos, Nigeria. None of its officers and spokespersons operate under their true identities. Evidence that Blazing was a real movement at the time of its online eruption is impossible to find.
Thousands of indignant hikers and environmentalists retweet the story. “We are not Blazers. We have never asked to be called Blazers. We’ve been saying all along we have nothing to do with this!”
The next day, a feckless celebrity podcasts that he is a Blazer, and endorses the movement. It seems the story and the belief that Blazing is real can’t be killed. The people whose causes are harmed by it can’t replace this changeling with the truth.
In its broad parts, the above invented scenario can occur. We’ve seen fringe beliefs touted by extremists who suddenly become spokespeople, and whose dramatic stance is substituted in the public mind for years of hard work done by moderate and dedicated activists.
On Monday, a new Totem-Maker, with the character laying a provocateur’s foundation. On Tuesday, “Please Help”, a charity conner falls into someone else’s scheme. Wednesday, The Sword Decides!, Giovanna confronting the deed done in her name; Thursday, Hammersmith, with Minnie trying to put on a show. Friday, a reissue of “Rattus”, and Saturday, I began a fresh edit of Catastrophe.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: November 7 to November 13