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The Great Crackdown

The most insightful observation of the past four years was that China is not importing our liberal values: instead we are importing their authoritarian values. I see this everywhere now that it’s been pointed out.

The tech monopolies aren’t even bothering to couch their censorship anymore. They’ve had their Reichstag fire, and now that they have nothing to fear.

I’ve thought the past four years Trump and the GOP weren’t doing nearly enough to curtail the tech monopolies. They’d call the oligarchs in for hearings, make them a little uncomfortable, but took no serious anti-trust action or started enforcement of the laws against anti-competitive practices, or even bothered to use campaign finance laws. The Dems have always been very effective at using government as a weapon, but the GOP frankly sucks at it, and I don’t notice that Trump was any good at it either.

My current internal debate is whether quitting social media is just giving in, and we wouldn’t do better to move communications to a lower profile and to trusted networks of people. I think I will greatly curtail my personal activities on social media. I cannot quit totally since I manage pages.

I will be focusing on traditional community building locally. I will try to get the blog back to some base level of activity, because the network of bloggers used to be a great tool for us before social media came along. We used to do just fine without the tech monopolies. It’s time to route around their censorship. We should stop trying to make another Facebook or Twitter. That is playing by their rules, and the network effects and anti-competitive practices of big tech make that an impossible prospect now. We need to focus on federated services and building networks they can’t shut down.

We need an open source movement for social media. Microsoft’s monopoly on the operating system was brought to an end by the first wave of open source technology. We need a second wave to commoditize the tech monopolists into irrelevance.

27 Responses to “The Great Crackdown”

  1. Jeff the Baptist says:

    “We should stop trying to make another Facebook or Twitter. That is playing by their rules, and the network effects and anti-competitive practices of big tech make that an impossible prospect now. ”

    Disagree. Not only would that be vacating an important online space, but it would be far better to construct the next one as a trap. For instance instead of building Conservative Facebook, we should build Evangelical Facebook. Religion is a protected class in every state. Political viewpoint is not.

    The tech oligarchy will still come for Evangelical Facebook, but now it will be taking actions which are blatantly and illegally discriminatory. Let the lawfare commence.

  2. Andy B. says:

    “The tech monopolies aren’t even bothering to couch their censorship anymore.”

    One of my favorite quotes (in the sense that it most discomforts me and causes me to think) is this by Joseph Goebbels:

    “When democracy granted democratic methods for us in the times of opposition, this was bound to happen in a democratic system. However, we National Socialists never asserted that we represented a democratic point of view, but we have declared openly that we used democratic methods only in order to gain the power and that, after assuming the power, we would deny to our adversaries without any consideration the means which were granted to us in the times of opposition.” — Joseph Goebbels, 1935

    I cite that because right now, worldwide, the loudest screams about “free speech” and “censorship” are coming from the “hard-right”, to avoid using a more inflammatory term. They worked seeming magic (like say, our 2016 election, or Brexit) but their true nature having been exposed, they’ve became all kinds of “democratic” when threatened with being deplatformed, or otherwise being denied the tools they exploited. To what extent are those of us who believe in rights, expected to be schlemiels for would-be authoritarians — again?

    Philosophically, I’ll turn the question around and ask, if a privately owned entity practices what is perceived as “censorship”, isn’t that censorship actually their own “freedom of expression”? They get to decide what their resources can be used to communicate? Should Nancy Pelosi be able to demand space in The American Rifleman?

    It occurs to me that the question is analogous to the “money is speech” argument that was applied in the Citizens United decision.

    • Andy B. says:

      It further occurs to me — reading my one comment — that something we all need to avoid is conflating state censorship, with private entities exercising their own “freedom of expression”, i.e., controlling what their private resources can be used to to express.

      The problem with that is that in fascist systems the boundaries between The State and Corporations or other nominally “private” entities (e.g., The Church, or Islam, or . . .?) become increasingly blurred. Go back to the 19th century and you will find religious sects urging the muzzling of other religious sects, and calling that “patriotic.” The lack of recognition of a clear boundary between Church and State made that plausible, and it deeply influenced The State well into the 20th century.

      • Sebastian says:

        What you have here is Standard Oil colluding with the railroads to only carry Standard Oil’s oil. Except this is worse, because now the oil is now information, and you have tech companies colluding, often with the blessing of political actors, to ensure only one point of view is carried, which just so also happens to be opposed to said political actors, and competition for the monopolists. It’s a much more dangerous collusion because it can control the flow of political information, which J.D. Rockefeller could never have dreamed of.

        • Andy B. says:

          Just for clarity, I’m not really arguing in anyone’s favor, just reflecting on that complexities and hypocrisies that are born out of whose ox is being gored.

          I won’t complain if the social medias’ “trusts” are broken up, but I will point out the complexity that your analogy between oil and information/opinion falls short, because oil was not addressed in the Bill of Rights. Freedom of speech was, and if I were called upon to defend the social media corporations, I would argue their right to control the “expression” on media they own is an absolute, guaranteed (perhaps ironically) by the First Amendment. I’ll repeat that I see an analogy to the “money is speech” argument made in the Citizens United decision.

  3. phrack says:

    It’s worth looking at bit into the tech history of Gab. Gab is a fork of Mastadon, a federated, privacy-respecting alternative to sites like Twitter. More here: https://github.com/tootsuite/mastodon.

    Needless to say, Mastadon was not happy about Gab’s fork:

    https://blog.joinmastodon.org/2019/07/statement-on-gabs-fork-of-mastodon/

    Mastadon preceded to block Gab servers on their own servers and then worked to pressure servers out of their control within the “fediverse” to block Gab servers as well. While many willingly complied, Mastadon folks brigaded Apple and Google to remove clients for servers that did not block Gab from their respective app stores.

    This was effective in creating two “fediverses”: Gab and everyone else. Since then, Gab no longer attempts to federate with others but has advanced the Mastadon code base enough that Mastadon folks are now upset this code exists that is better than their own but they refuse to merge it because “Nazis”. Examples:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Mastodon/comments/jyydcn/forking_rebranding_gabcom/

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Mastodon/comments/ie49qp/is_gab_still_part_of_mastadon/

    (… and dozens more)

    Anyway, none of this is intended to take away from your resiliency point. A well-designed distributed system is obviously much more resilient than a centralized one. However, they’ll still come after you and anyone they consider to be aiding you.

    Additional reading:

    https://reclaimthenet.org/mastodon-blocks-gab/
    https://reclaimthenet.org/gab-biggest-mastadon-node/

    • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

      Wow I had no idea the history of Gab!

    • Gorge Man says:

      Huh. Interesting. I’ve never heard of Mastodon, only Gab. This will be some interesting reading.

    • Deadlocked says:

      Just FYI – Gab didn’t start off as a fork of Mastodon. I’m not sure if their first versions started from scratch or if they used some other codebase as a starting point. According to Wikipedia, they switched to Mastodon to get around Apple & Google disallowing their apps; I think that they were also looking for a more stable codebase.

  4. Ian Argent says:

    As much as it will suck, the upcoming gun control initiatives are going to drive people back into activism; the people who went back to sleep after Heller/McDonald are about to get a very nasty wakeup call.

    • Andy B. says:

      Meanwhile, while they were sleeping/gloating/not-getting-involved, they allowed their issue to become badly polluted by association.

      The point is not whether that is “fair” or even “legitimate”, only that the associations were predictable, but nothing was done to resist them. Now the fight is going to be 1,000 times harder.

      I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has lectured me about the importance of “coalitions”. I’ll be waiting to see how much value some of those “coalitions” have to the gun rights battle now. When we are driven back to “activism”, how much will we need to keep an eye on the guys standing next to us?

  5. RAH says:

    Who is hosting you They go after your ISP provider Shut down your bank accounts. Chase did that the Laura Loomer then she exposed it and they reopened her access. Recall how the left tried to get banks to shut down gun manufacturers. If we can not use the banking system because it is private then do we have any freedom?

  6. RAH says:

    Remember that it first happen to Conservatibve Treehouse a blog site It can happen to any blog The attempt to shut us up it accelerating. It reminds me that Trump had a tweet that “in Reality that are not after me, They are after you” ” I am just in the way” seems to be a true warning.

  7. Bitter says:

    Local elections in many places started last year and will be voted on this spring and fall.

    It’s time to get organizing in person. Remember some posts I did years ago on organizing with commercial ranges and clubs. Find some inspiration. Make the ideas work for you and your communities.

    Perhaps a really important message in all of this is to also make sure you have a way to communicate beyond the big tech companies. Distribute your eggs across the baskets so that if one company brings down the ban hammer on any gun range or community of gun owners, you have ways of reaching key allies in your neighborhood, region, and/or state to find out where things are shifting.

    We actually have a HUGE asset – facilities. Facilities to have community meetings and plan activist work. The loss of civil society and these networks in so many other areas of life means that most groups who still have members do not have places to meet that they own or run. Gun ranges, by their very nature, do. Our hobby means we need spaces. Those spaces can become meeting halls.

    • Abigail says:

      And this is why meeting people in person is forbidden in so many places right now.

    • Andy B. says:

      “We actually have a HUGE asset – facilities. Facilities to have community meetings and plan activist work.”

      I thought about this overnight and thought I should offer some advice from my Cynic’s Notebook:

      Despite having some advantageous resources, gun clubs also have some inherent liabilities that are almost universal.

      It is probably wise for a gun club not to engage in overt, active political activities, especially partisan activities, that can be identified directly with the club. At my club I used to encourage and organize letter-signing sessions that identified only the issue and the person signing the letter to the legislator, but not the organizing entity. That was counter to my political training that “you always claim all the credit you can!”, but, my trainers had other motives — mainly, never-ending fundraising and the associated self-promotion.

      Consider whether your club has any Achilles Heels, i.e., anything at all the club would not want attention called to, especially if, in the worst case, it could be financially ruinous.

      Review your state’s “Paramilitary Training” laws. It is possible that some of today’s most popular shooting activities could be construed to be “paramilitary training.” That might be a huge stretch, but in our current/coming polarized environment it could be persuasive and plausible to non-shooting outsiders.

      Think about any recent factionalism in your club that may have left a significant number of members (or ex-members) feeling “wronged”, and therefor justified in invoking any club liabilities in revenge. Perceived victimhood can produce some astounding mental gyrations.

      All of the above examples may be stretches, and may not be successful in and of themselves, but as harassment they can be financially costly. Our opponents often have “regulation” on their side, meaning that once they call a question, the government fights their battle for them. In suburban regions, gun clubs are often on tenuous footings with regard to public relations, which usually has more influence on outcomes than actual “law.”

      Make sure the outcome you are pursuing is worth it.

  8. Horatius says:

    Hopefully your site registrar for DNS doesn’t pull the plug.

    Can you post your IP address so we can still find the blog, or have some backup option?

    GoDaddy just pulled ARF’s domain:
    https://www.ar15.com/forums/General/OFFICIAL-STATEMENT-REGARDING-TODAY-S-EVENTS-January-11th-2020/5-2413380/

    • Sebastian says:

      The IP won’t work because I host multiple sites. But it’s 71.123.55.74 if you were to set a hosts file. I’ll be in the process of moving off of GoDaddy as my register very shortly.

      • Richard says:

        I assume you saw that GoDaddy deplatformed AR15.com. I think I might move your switch up the priority list.

        • Sebastian says:

          That’s why I said I’m moving. I’m small potatoes, so I’m not that worried. If they do deplatform me, I’ll up the priority. But right now, too much to do. I’ll get to that in a bit.

  9. Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

    I’m unsure exactly how to proceed either. I did doing Parler awhile a go, and I did join Gab. I’m still on Twitter (for now). I think some of it is helpful to just listen to the echo chamber and hear what they are saying. Kinda like reconing them.

    I think we need to go back to the blog interconnection system we had. It was much better and harder to shutdown.

    And yes, the GOP shot themselves in the foot not doing something about Big Tech when they had the chance.

    (PS I no longer get emails when people reply even though I’m subscribed. Is that something on your end?)

    • Abigail says:

      We definitely lost something when the blog network fell apart. I am very thankful for all the work Sebastian has put into keeping this blog alive. I know Joe is still going too, how many others?

  10. Richard says:

    Bravo. Resiliency is going to be important.

    I missed most of the social media craze. Never on Twitter and terminated Facebook about 2014 because the political craziness was out of control.

  11. Richard says:

    Another thought. You like many other conservative and gun rights blogs are suffering from a troll infestation. I actually noticed it here first but it has spread to Instapundint, John Richardson, and Ayoob. They don’t come to discuss but to insult and disrupt.
    What is perhaps more annoying that people feel the need to try to refute the nonsense thus creating more disruption. I know you don’t like to expel people but perhaps putting a “Don’t feed the trolls” stamp on some of the more obvious ones would be appropriate.

    • Bitter says:

      Not a full troll infestation, just one commenter. And, yes, he’s a real person. It’s not uncommon to find him posting here under multiple names – sometimes to his own comments – but he’s one local guy.

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