Purging The Internet of Vermin!

All rebel and crusader kingdoms feel vulnerable. They are threatened by reactionaries, Secret Rightists who are attempting to sabotage and corrupt the Glorious Project. This is particularly true of the internet, because it is open to all.

It’s true that trolls scuttle like vermin through its warren of back-streets; cabals of paedophiles, misogynists and the far right[1] meet in open secret, take over whole neighbourhoods and transform them into toxic, hate-filled ghettoes[2]

The Activists are the self-appointed Lawmen[3] of this lawless frontier country, its Texas Rangers. It is their job to police their neighbourhoods, protecting internet users from harm by enforcing internet values. 

They can’t deny anyone entry: they don’t own the sites, and anyway, that would go against their principles of free speech and equality of opportunity[4], so instead they try to expose and isolate any enemies they uncover, and shame them into silence. They denounce and encourage others to do the same. In the absence of effective laws or judge-managed juries, they organise kangaroo courts and lynch-mobs. 

In other words, they impose the internet’s Neo-Liberal hegemony on their online communities, its metaphysical-ethical mind-set.

[1] Laura Bates, author of Men Who Hate Women (2020), claims there is a direct link between violent Misogyny and the far-right: Far-Right supporters are violent misogynists. And vice versa.

[2] In fact, I suspect the trolls have the most proportional and realistic understanding of the internet. They don’t rely on it. For them, it is just another playground to despoil, monopolising the swings and sabotaging the roundabout. If you shut it down completely, they’d be annoyed but they’d just wander off, disconsolately, to cause trouble elsewhere, as they used to. Whereas we would be horrified, seeing it as a victory for the controlling state. 

[3] The term is archaic and hence gendered.

[4] Internet users tend to be opposed to government regulation, for this reason. They resist incursions by traditional hegemonic institutions. They are classic liberals who believe the state is a threat to liberty and individuality and so should have a very limited role in their lives, if any. 

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