Proudhon v. Facebook: A Mutualist Solution to Cyber Tyranny

I’m pretty sure this place use to be a democracy. Not America. Contrary to what Broadway may have told you, even our saintly Founding Fathers were little more than racist neocons in pantaloons. I’m talking about the fucking internet. The Anarchist’s American Dream. A brave new world wrestled from the savages of the military industrial complex who birthed it and wilded into a stateless candy land of endless possibilities by fuzzy little daydream believers like Steve Wozniak and Richard Stallman. The place that gave us Linux and Anonymous and Napster. That land of a million possibilities where no kink was left without a chatroom and a 12 year old hacker in Ethiopia could take down the American Federal Government just for the lulz. That glorious pirate utopia of temporary autonomous zones foretold by Hakim Bey, where only censorship was taboo and any lunatic with a Commodore could say whatever the fuck they wanted about the latest twat in the White House and the only recourse was to bitch and troll. Even a confirmed Luddite like myself couldn’t help but to look upon this satanic majesty and swell with pride at the seemingly inevitable supremacy of raw chaos.

Those memories are still so fresh in my mind but they seem quite quaint now. Much like the Wild West, those bad old all-or-nothing days seem to have given way to the scourge of untrammeled crony capitalism. Social media sites which once braved the criticism of the normies and Karens of the straight world have become colossal bureaucratic monstrosities, operating in tandem with America’s deep state to censor our blessed digital commons in the name of national security and combatting whatever the powers at be deem to be fake news. Facebook has taken the lead in this Orwellian jihad, unleashing a beige wave of crypto-fascist algorithms to flush out what they call “Coordinated inauthentic behavior” or CIB. In this latest purge, they have proudly published monthly reports announcing the extrajudicial destruction of some 46 pages, 91 accounts, and 2 groups, all of which we are promised with scant evidence are operations of Kremlin sponsored skullduggery. A crime that could be better summed up as being an upstart news source with views that don’t support the western values of blind globalism and “humanitarian” regime change.

And so it goes, as Nick Lowe once sang, where it’s goin’ no one knows. But I have a bad feeling that the big Stalinesque show trials of Slavic friendly news sites like Southfront and Newsfront are just the tip of a very censorious iceberg. Since the mainstream media let their lust for ratings get an embarrassing imbecile like Trump elected, they’ve doubled down on the Russiagate fairy tale they tell themselves in the mirror to get to sleep every night and rained down a four year shitstorm on the hardworking muckrakers of the Fifth Estate like myself. You can’t seem to so much as fart in the wrong direction on platforms like Facebook without getting a thirty day ban for one lame excuse or another. These seemingly insignificant acts of knee-jerk censorship can be devastating to little blogs like mine that have grown to depend on social media and the implied democracy it was once built on. The most tragic thing for a politically incorrect commie like me is to see my own comrades become savage little Eichmann’s of the status quo and relish in this toxic culture of censorship in the name of social justice and supposedly anti-fascist deplatforming.

It has become a dreadfully common spectacle to see cliques of self-proclaimed anarchists circle the wagons and snitch out political incorrectness to the proper authorities on places like Twitter. What’s worse is they seem to have convinced themselves that they are performing their anarchist duty by ratting out Nazi scum, and sure, it begins with disgusting Alt-Right creeps, who’s non-existent honor I wont even attempt to defend even though I will be lynched defending their rights, but soon everyone who disagrees with the herd becomes a target and any transgression becomes an excuse to have them eliminated until we’re left with anarcho-communists trolling primitivists and libertarians just to provoke a response that they can report to Big Brother.

Their excuse is that it doesn’t count as censorship if it’s not approved by the state, which is patently absurd. We are anarchists for Kropotkin’s sake, we don’t even believe in the state, which only leaves private and public governments, like the ones we form every day, to regulate human rights. If we don’t selfishly uphold the principle of free speech as an anarchist principle, even for the sick cunts who hate us, then who will? It’s this kind of reactionary violent mob mentality that gives anarchism a bad name. We can do better than this. If I can bare the weight of having skinheads threaten to rape me for being a transfeminist, then surely a bunch of macho Antifa street fighters can bare having their feelings hurt by MAGA morons without telling the teacher on them. Fight your own battles. Call out the cunts for being cunts. But if we become the censors of unpopular opinion, we won’t be smashing the state so much as replacing it.

However, this issue is really much bigger than free speech and I’m frankly a little shocked that I seem to be the first leftist to notice. On the one hand, this is very much a labor issue in the Marxian tradition. These are multi-billion dollar companies getting filthy fucking rich off our creative labor. Nobody goes to Facebook to hang out with bougie nuevo-creepazoids like Mark Zuckerberg. We the dweebs are the keyboard laborers in this strange new economy. Not being paid is one thing, but not being afforded any sense of ownership over the means of our production and handing over total control to a faceless class of cyber-managers should piss off any self-respecting lefty worth their weight in agit-prop. And then there is the issue of property rights.

When it comes to politics, I’m all over the left hemisphere of the map, taking direction from everyone from Che Guevara to Benjamin Tucker. But when it comes to property, I tend to look to an underrated 19th Century French philosopher named Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, an old pen pal of Karl’s who was the first bomb-chucking motherfucker to proudly proclaim himself an anarchist. Pierre was also the founding father of mutualism, a school of libertarian socialism that preaches that ownership should be based primarily on occupation or possession, over management. The idea is that if you occupy a space and work that land, then the fruits of that labor belong to you and you alone. If this space is occupied by many inhabitants, say like an apartment or a social media site, then the only democratic way to operate it is cooperatively. There can be a negotiated association fee paid for basic upkeep, which the add revenue we drive on social media platforms more than covers, but any other capitulation amounts to little more than a surrender to slumlordism and shouldn’t be tolerated by any self-respecting anarchist.

In an age when more and more of our lives have become digital, the new commons exists largely online and this once promising utopia has become a dystopian company town. It was we the proletariat geeks who built the Facebooks and Twitters of the world. I say we either take them back or abandon them to the same fate as ghost towns like Myspace. Anarchists need to take a stand against all authoritarian hierarchies in our lives, not just the totalitarian regimes of Washington and Wall Street, but the ones in Silicon Valley as well. These are our spaces and censorship of one should be treated as censorship to all. Bloggers of the world unite and take over!

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.