The Private Citizen 116: The Left's Fear of Musk


Good to hear that the listenership is increasing, congratulations.

I wasn’t very active lately, so now I’m trying not to postpone the feedback, and do it while listening.

When I delay it, even with some notes, I tend to forget the context and then never send anything.

But I’m always enjoying the episodes!

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You know, listening to this episode I felt something was wrong with the argument. Well, maybe not wrong but overstated with possibly a bit of strawman in there. Or at least it should only apply to the comfortable left, meaning, here in the U.S., New York Times and Washington Post readership. I figured it couldn’t possibly apply to the rag tag, dissenting, “real” left. After all, the first mention of algorithmic speech suppression I saw was on pamphlets posted to telephone polls near MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts by a local Marxist/Leninist group decrying Google’s suppression of their writings.

Unfortunately, using Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now as my litmus test of the true U.S. left, as I usually do, what I come up with is an interview with Even Henshaw-Plath saying he asked Dorsey to ban Trump in 2016 and with Jessica González of “Free Press” talking about the need to keep out disinformation and protect women and people of certain ethnicities from harassment. Perhaps her heart is in the right place and this is not a jaded, principles be damned play for the win line, but either way it does seem to back up what episode 116 is complaining about.

However, the great thing about the left is they can never fucking agree on anything. That end of the spectrum is kind of like the Bible. Look hard enough and you can support whatever damned thing you want to say. Here’s a great Chris Hedges (the U.S. gets not much more left than that I think) article with a large list of suppressed left wingers who I suspect are no longer super keen about content moderation:

It could be that the left has to live a dark age for a decade or so. Once our Goldilocks Guardians of the Good have finished discarding the too right wing soup and gotten through trashing the too left wing soup (they’re well into it already if you read the Hedges article) you’d think the left adjuncts to modern quasi-progressive but largely neoliberal parties would finally realize that they’re too short to be slam dunking in the speech suppression game, that they’re rather more likely to be the dunkees.

Then again, as the not so poorly American educated Hedges points out above, in a way that’s not as depressing to Germans as the quote in the episode I hope, this might not be such a novel story (we never learn much of anything politically, or not for long?):

"Weimar Germany attempted to thwart Nazi fascism by enforcing rigorous hate-speech laws. In the 1920s, it banned the Nazi party. Nazi leaders, including Joseph Goebbels, were prosecuted for hate speech. Julius Streicher, who ran the virulently anti-Semetic tabloid The Stormer (Der Stürmer), was fired from his teaching post, repeatedly fined and had his newspapers confiscated. He was taken to court numerous times for libel and served a series of jail sentences.

But like those serving sentences for the assault on the Capitol on January 6, or like Trump, the persecution of Nazi leaders only enhanced their stature the longer the German ruling class failed to address the economic and social misery."

On a happier note, Fab, are you still a hockey fan? I remember you liking Sydney Crosby, so I thought you might like this article, though it’s not your favourite newspaper, and I don’t know what a “highly parasympathetic nervous system” is supposed to mean:

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Good to hear you’re still around. Don’t feel pressured to provide feedback. I’m happy you still get something out of the show, that is enough!

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Not to mention Hitler was sentenced to a very comfortable prison sentence in a lavish cell and was allowed to write Mein Kampf there.

A decent assessment.

Oh yes. Been a Pens fan since about '91 and never stopped. I have four jumpers that I’ve imported from the US in my cupboard.

And, funnily enough, since my wife’s area of study is the nervous system, I have an expert on the parasympathetic nervous system at home. :grin:

Go Pens!!!