Published March 15, 2019
If the Laws of Physics are the same for all non-accelerating observers, I contend it must also be true for any laws of politics. Applying Einstein’s logic to the static charge of progressive post-politics provides a decent frame of reference for understanding a schema as ill-formed and banal as liberal democracy. Plainly put, if you exist inside the sandbox of allowable consciousness, you more or less see things the same as everyone else playing in the same box.
If I witnessed a mass shooter livestream his killstreak on social media, I could chalk it up to fascism and Trump and guns or something – and of course PewDiePie – and call it a day. In truth, this is precisely how I expect the event to be characterized by the media already.
Andrew Todd (I don’t know him either but he sure got a lot of retweets) said something to the same effect on Twitter, “The internet is 1000% a vehicle for right-wing radicalisation”. Todd’s at least half right. The Internet is a vehicle for all radicalization.
The difference between the digital world and the physical political world, though perhaps brutally reductionist, is roughly equivalent to that of Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation. The Internet was very much supposed to represent the accumulation of our shared culture, ideas, and values with the intention of making them all seamless and immediately accessible. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t turn out that way and what has instead been realized is that there never really was a shared set of values by which to digitize ourselves for convenience. Instead, the Internet proved to be a kind of distortion in politics that objects of immense mass cause for space-time in physics. The Internet moves at a different pace and abides warped rules that upset the universality dictated at the physical end of the political spectrum.
All it takes to concede this point is a mere observation of the political separation replete on the Internet. People self-segregate on just about every forum, imageboard, and social media site on the web to a hyper-specific degree. There is Right Twitter, Left Twitter, Black Twitter, White Twitter, Gun Twitter and so on, but there are also increasingly specific political divides growing every day in full awareness of each other. What the obnoxious dorks of the Intellectual Dark Web are prone to call “echo chambers” are in fact endemic of a compulsive human desire to associate with people most like ourselves, and the Cathedral just happens to have the biggest chamber, and that’s not to say I am a fan. Only in a system which operates on forcing people to share the consequences of competing interests would you find anybody objecting to like-minded people creating their own communal hovels in which to dwell a bit more conflict-free. The crux of an idea of a radicalized Internet was really the fault of the flawed notion of its inception: “we are all really the same after all”. We could wax poetic about this embarrassing immaturity being the bane of all of liberalism, but it’s too obvious to really be worth getting into. The important thing is that it qualifies the notion of the Internet as genuine Simulacra. It was designed to be a copy of something that never actually existed. Enter Simulation.
In his manifesto, Brenton Tarrant describes himself as a “partisan” fighting off invaders. He sees himself as imitating his ancestors, replicating their sacrifice. If you are looking for meaning, you find it in this signal. What the signal in any simulation provides is unspoken messages. Real meaning is not going to be conferred by media-employed activists and we don’t even have to go there because we all know that. What is important is that there are some undeniably important messages to glean from analyzing the rapidly progressing amplitude of this event. The death knell of any institution or system is the lack of legitimacy conferred to it. Arbitrary or not, it’s faith in an institution that keeps it alive, or at least more faith in it than anything competing with it. As such, it ought to be particularly horrifying to the gatekeepers of democracy that the malcontents have decided it’s become easier to influence policy – the stated goal of the attack – by killing scores of citizens than by casting a ballot. If the rebuttal to this message is something along the lines of it being an isolated incident, the appropriate response would be “for how long?” The radicalization taking place on the Internet is the result of people naturally finding harbor in communities that differ functionally from the “we’re all in this together” shtick offered by democracy, and absent of an enforcement mechanism to make them beholden to one another, nothing will keep them form continuing to do as they already are, which is to say separating and drawing lines.
The second major takeaway from this event is that the mass shooter now has a genuine aesthetic. Violence now subsists in a digital ether that doesn’t come with an explicit message meant to recontextualize it, mostly because progressive politics does not have the vernacular or capability to do so. The Internet has allowed for raw and unfiltered information to reach the minds of viewers without a narrative to wrap it in. Nothing about the livestreamed video even suggests motive. People have already started uploading vaporwave clips to /pol/ with footage of the shooting. The Crazy World of Arthur Brown’s “Fire” plays in the background while Tarrant guns down dozens, only to continue to drive around casually as he talks to himself on camera. If you didn’t know it was “news”, you might think it was a live-action trailer for a video game. The fear the Cathedral feels pertains to the clear lack of ability to control how people think and feel. Not one of these media agents can come out with raw unfiltered information before all these images are given their proper context, and there isn’t any. Las Vegas is finally making sense in retrospect.
While we’re on this point, the term “PsyOp” gets thrown around a lot, but it is not a coincidence that Twitter users in New Zealand were suddenly seeing their access to links showing the shooting footage promptly purged from existence. Twitter itself removed links and clips. Scribd removed the manifesto. Youtube, which features tens of thousands of hours of actual murder footage in one fashion or another, mysteriously saw fit to remove the videos as well. Candace Owens starts trending after an ironic mention in the manifesto, but I cannot imagine Bill Nye gets a name drop despite Tarrant being a self-described “eco-fascist”. This is not only the intention of the media, but of Tarrant as well. This is our third and final takeaway.
True to the form of Simulation, Tarrant himself imitates the behavior of the system he swims in. He is the Thing parasite, assimilating it from the inside out. His entire goal was a PsyOp, or rather to display selective information to a system he knew would take the bait. Blame right-wingers, blame guns, blame white people – push all of these things into the same corner as we so often find them, and watch the mass civil unrest. The only way out Tarrant sees is balkanization in a very literal sense, disparate ethnic groups clashing for the purpose of scrounging up what they can and promptly separating. Exacerbate the conditions of collapse, and accelerate it. The entire thing was a performance. Theatrics. The Dixie music, the skins glued all over his rifles meant to invoke his sympathies, the stream itself – all of it was a bait he knew the media would take. Who wants to bet that they will?
Message from the Editor:
Autistic Mercury obviously condemns the atrocities that took place last night.W. Nokoshima