Saturday, July 23, 2011

Even if you are not an anarchist...

(I probably won't write too much more about Reddit on my blog, and I'm sorry if it seems like I've been focusing too much lately on the subject of internet communications, but this is something I wrote in an attempt to help establish a more open and accountable subreddit for people interested in ideas about anarchism.  If you don't already have one... I hope you'll consider opening a Reddit account if only to subscribe to this forum.)  

This post is about intellectual honesty. As some of you may know, there has been a great amount of dissatisfaction with the style of moderation displayed in the r/anarchism subreddit. This has been a simmering issue for several months. Unfortunately, up til now, there has been little that could be done about it since r/anarchism associates itself with the basic name of the philosophy (even though, at best, it only partially promotes that philosophy). More to the point... the moderators are widely panned as hardly being anarchists at all. They ban sincere anarchists at a whim, they invite trolls from other subreddits by harassing those forums, and their primary method of communication consists largely of logical fallacy and obfuscation. In short... they are helping to give anarchism a bad name. Perhaps that's by design, perhaps it's due to a collection of personality disorders, but the bottom line is that the philosophy of Anarchism -- in it's historical & contemporary forms -- is not adequately presented on Reddit.

I recognize that most of you reading this won't necessarily be anarchists. But that doesn't mean that we couldn't potentially have honest debates or discussions relevant to anarchism. And I would hope that if you wanted to discuss the ideas of anarchism that you would have the integrity and gumption to seek out the actual positions of actual anarchists (and not simply strike up a conversation with a group of reactionaries who have essentially squatted the r/anarchism subreddit). And that's what this is all about... establishing a new anarchist subreddit where civil debate and honest discussion can be had without worrying that you might have your posts deleted or be banned because you used inappropriate words like "lame" or "drama" or if you mistakenly refer to someone as a "he" in a passing comment. If you want to discuss the so-called "tyranny of words," that's fine... you won't be banned or censored for it. At worst... you will be downvoted in accordance with reddiquette. There will be no need to defend yourself in a separate subreddit where you may also find yourself banned before you can even mount a defense. You will also not be banned from the subreddit if you've ever posted something to a subreddit which seems to conflict with the principles of anarchism. That latter idea is right up the alley in terms of how r/anarchism moderators operate -- but it's not how r/AnarchistNews will function.

As with any subreddit, you will not agree with everything you see submitted there. And trolls will still be present to try and stir things up -- just like in other subreddits. But I'm trying to appeal to your sense of intellectual honesty regardless of your political inclinations. Anarchists have a long tradition of bringing about fundamental changes in society (perhaps moreso than you may be aware) and have included in their numbers some of the world's greatest scholars (Leo Tolstoy, Henry David Thoreau, Noam Chomsky, and others whose credentials may be debated). The ideals of these people, and other historical anarchists, should be treated fairly, with intellectual honesty, and with the respect that is seriously lacking in the r/Anarchism subreddit.

So I beseech you, once again in the name of intellectual honesty, to subscribe to r/AnarchistNews, vote on some of the articles, and comment if something seems interesting to you. I hope that's not too much to ask. Whether you fully agree with them or not... anarchists deserve a place in a free society (or any other) where they can honestly and openly discuss things of interest to them. But the current anarchist clearinghouse on Reddit (r/Anarchism) is not very reflective of anarchist ideals, ethics, or practice. It's a subreddit where the trolls have taken over the forum and it should be abandoned because the current moderators will never relinquish their control over it -- at best they will merely shuffle around the sycophants and sockpuppets to give the semblance of change. People should literally be warned about engaging with that forum.

As a closing sidenote... I should point out that the number of subscribers to r/Anarchism has partially been inflated because of the controversies that have occurred there in the past which reached the front page of Reddit. Other non-anarchist redditors subscribed merely to watch the chaos and to support the common users in their disapproval of the moderators. However, unfortunately since then, the number of subscribers has given the air of legitimacy to an otherwise corrupted subreddit. This is a situation that needs to change. People should abandon the r/Anarchism subreddit and support a truly anarchistic subreddit.

TL;DR -- r/Anarchism is not an adequate forum for anarchist discourse. A new subreddit (r/AnarchistNews) has been created for that purpose and could use your honest support (regardless of your political leanings).

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