So, Are We Going to Burn it Down, or What?

Online-life, whatever its capacity to connect people and foster positive relationships, is characterised by tribal hostility and conflict. A succession of campaigns seem to rise up out of the collective unconscious resentments of some of its users, then spread through the online communities like a virus (or meme). Since the killing of George Floyd, the most vigorous campaigning has clustered around the issue of racial equality, but before that trans rights were in the ascendant. By contrast, old-school feminism, and traditional Marxist class-struggle are in decline, presumably because they pre-date the internet and nobody wants to support the same campaigns as their old mum. 

Online activists, especially those associated with Black Lives Matter, seem particularly energised, at the moment. They feed on the energy of mass support. They think they can see the old order weakening; they hope they’re about to break through: one last push, then they will have achieved Utopia. 

Society, for them, seem to be underpinned by egalitarian principles, which have been hijacked and subverted by a sort of corrupting white establishment. If they can dismantle this system, they hope to return to a state of natural humanist virtue, inherent in human consciousness, but smothered by White capitalist society. It’s typical, Classical Liberalism, blended with a bit of classical, Marxist, class-consciousness stuff. 

This seems naïve to me, and I wonder if it is a mind-set that has been fostered by the internet, where all programmes are founded on basic computer operation protocols: it’s actually pretty difficult, these days, to crash the whole system and lose everything. There’s always back up on the cloud or somewhere. But what if society is more fragile, has no back up, can’t be rebooted or off-and-on-again-ed? We should proceed with caution, I think. It’s not enough just to protest and destroy things. You must come up with robust working alternatives and be ready to implement them.  These would need to be created and administered by people with expertise and experience of government and social administration, not clueless ideologues. And that suggests incremental change and no revolution. Sorry, folks. I know all that score-settling would’ve been fun, but…

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