Don't mind me, I'm just sitting here blocking people who post [memes containing fascist / toxic masculinity elements, despite it being totally unrelated to the topic of the meme] which then get boosted into my timeline.

If I was more aggressive, I might report, but I don't want a flamewar / "discourse".


Hot take: using imagery and phrases from fascist memes/dogwhistles in non-fascist memes is a form of spreading and normalizing fascist propaganda.

@steko This ... has a very disturbing amount of truth-value to it.

Fascist messaging is emotive, visceral, low-information, symbolic, and appealing.

That's not to say that countering messaging can't share those traits, but fascist media strategy is exceedingly strongly based on this. Its opposing forces ... tend toward the long-winded.

See Hanna Arendt, the Frankfurt School, Paxton, Chomsky, and others on this.


@dredmorbius @steko @zatnosk Let's not forget that a big chunk of all human communication is basically just using the same mechanisms as what are known as ”internet memes”, so claiming that all memes are fascist is to claim that a very big chunk of every human being's communication is fascist. And we don't want to do that, do we?

@Stoori Note the difference, the nuance, between "yes, that's absolutely true" and "that has a lot of truth-value to it".

Fascism and memes both live in the nuance-free zone.

Sometimes that's good. There's an advantage to being able to cut through all the clutter, bullshit, social delicacy, etc., etc., and "tell it like it is".

But though a direct and simple message is clear it's virtually always deficient.

Reality is complex. And truthful, honest communication about it reflects that complexity.

I find it interesting that it's precisely that level of nuance and distinction which seems to have been lost in your own reply, just sayin'.

@steko @zatnosk

@Stoori Recognising the fascistic tendency or potential of communications modes and media formats is actually precisely what I'm encouraging here.

It's not that "all memes are fascist".

But you'll find that very nearly all fascists uses memes.

I'm reminded of the parallel with a famous observation of John Stuart Mill on stupidity and conservatives:

I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.

My view (supported by the work of Arendt, Paxton, Eco, MacDonald, and others) is that fascism is a behavioural mode, not an ideologial one, one that tends to be highly emotive, low-information, and reactionary. It probably emerges in times of high social and political stress.

Knowing that, and being aware of the risks and signs is valuable.

Yes, fascism wears ideological trappings, but those serve its behaviours and not the other way 'round. The specific ideologies claimed are fluid and flexible and inconsistent both internally and over time.

See the commentary on this post:

@steko @zatnosk

#fascism #ideology #HannaArendt #FrankfurtSchool #Memes #MemeticWarfare #RobertPaxton #UmbertoEco #DwightMacDonald #MarshallMcLuhan #AdamCurtis #CenturyOfTheSelf #NoamChomsky

@Stoori My "light reading list" on media and its interactions with society, psychology, and politics covers some of this:

(That's getting a bit dated, though it's still a good start.)

@steko @zatnosk

@dredmorbius I don't deny what you say about how fascists communicate. But I do disagree on assuming that memes are ”low information”.

Some of them surely are, but many memes operate by being intertextual and layered, thus being *high information*.

Also, having an ugly picture with typoed text is only a tiny subset of all memes. You're probably using memes all the time when you speak to other people even though you don't think at it like that.


@steko @zatnosk

@Stoori @dredmorbius I should spit more hot takes if I can get a lecture of this level so easily. Definitely I hate fascism and I don't hate memes, I think memes (not only internet memes) are just one way for internalized fascism to silently grow its roots @zatnosk

@Stoori Can you give, say, three examples of what you consider to be intertextual, layered, and high-information memes?

A breakdown of what fraction of most popular memes meeting these criteria would also be interesting.

@steko @zatnosk

@dredmorbius The first part is actually a pretty standard university level discourse analysis homework. Here's one for which I've written a two-page analysis (the analysis in Finnish and I'm not going to translate it, you just have to take my word that this is intertextual, multilayered and high-information).

The second part asks for statistics that I guess there are not readily available.

@steko @zatnosk

@Stoori The best you can do is to point me to two examples I cannot even read?

Are there no intertextual, multilayered, and high-information memes in English?

(At a stretch, I'd accept French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, or Norwegian, as at least somewhat accessible.)

Surely if intertextual, multilayered, and high-information memes are as prevalent as you claim, finding such examples should be as straightforward as skimming off the most recent submissions to GifyCat, Imgur, /r/aww, or Instagram, no?

Or ... maybe that's actually the problem.

@steko @zatnosk

@dredmorbius well, the thing is, I've been doing mental work whole day, I can't be surfing the internet for your satisfaction while I'm so tired. I just pointed out to a meme that I happen to have analyzed, so it was handy to do so.

And I don't like your aggressive tone now, and I'm sorry for that. It's just that I feel it a bit appalling that you so single-handedly disregard a whole academic branch just because I don't have enough spoons to feed you memes.
@steko @zatnosk

@Stoori I'm not asking you to do wor for me, I'm asking you too substantiate your earlier bald assertion.

Again: if the examples are as abundant as you claim, this should be no difficulty.

And yet now my requests are "aggressive", you find it "appalling", and you lack "enough spoons".

Or, maybe: memes tend strongly to be shallow, information-poor, and quite frequently (though not always) fascistic / fascism-generative.

I'm not denying that some memes can be deep, spiritual, enriching, intellectual, and contribute markedly to the wellspring and store of human knowledge and intelligence.

I am, however, claiming that that is an absolutely minuscule fraction of the whole and not in the least the typical experience. And that most communication of complex ideas tends to involve words (as texts or narratives), perhaps in combination with static or moving images (see my recent comments/boosts of videos describing Hamming Codes).

But somewhat less often a static image with some 90-point Helvetica Bold over it.

Again: you made a claim. I'm asking you to support it.

@steko @zatnosk

@dredmorbius I'm sorry to be such a disappointment to you now, but just to let you know that winning arguments on the internet is not very high on my priority list at the moment. I can only recommend you to look for how linguists have applied discourse analysis to memes, as a starting point. You shouldn't have too much trouble finding research articles on the topic.

If that doesn't satisfy you, then I'm sorry, but I'll mute this thread now.

@steko @zatnosk

@dredmorbius @Stoori @steko @zatnosk Social media, just like television, optimize for engagement/audience e.g. for ads (noise), not for social interactions, documentaries, or entertainment (signal).

A few years ago I'd noticed that when you clicked in the post composition frame on Facebook to write something, the frame would take about two thirds of the screen and become whiter (maybe 000000) while the rest of the screen would become almost black. It was clear to me that it was meant to keep my publications as short as possible.

Following this idea, I'd learnt even earlier that French private television channels (TF1, M6…) would remove scenes in imported series to show more ads. The connection between these two examples seems pretty clear to me.

M6 especially seem to excel in a form of pornography for example towards death, in their series "They were 10" (an adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel). I believe ads-based media aiming at infinite growth tend to be short, poor, and hustling. This is how Facebook and Twitter shape our publications through deceptive design and another example may be tweets being limited to 280 characters. (Or Facebook's new "laugh", "sad", "anger", "love", "wow" reacts.)

@dredmorbius @Stoori @steko oh for fucks sake "Doc" Edward Morbius, stop being a fucking asshole in my mentions.

Someone says "I'm too tired to find academic-level evidence for my claim" (i.e. do actual work) and you conclude that that means their claim is wrong just because you don't believe it.

Again, stop acting like an asshole and treat people better than that.

@dredmorbius the problem right now is that you're taken this thread too far and your tone is way too uncomfortable for me. You can be right all you want in your philosophical debates (nobody asked for a debate, by the way), just do it with more respect for others. I'm off @Stoori @zatnosk

@zatnosk Yes! I really hate all those "make fascist afraid again" memes because it's like... no. Stop normalizing that shit.

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