Individuality, Clout-Chasing, Performing Neurotypical, and Anti-Blackness on Social Media
Ancient Perspectives on New Illusions
After the 80’s, the New Left found itself in a state of sloth. It turned a heavy head to every direction and found no reason except to rhyme with the past: ancient language, ancient tactics. They never ask what makes it ancient, and if they did, they would post the inquiry on the very ransom that makes it so. That ransom is social capitalism.
Social capitalism harnesses desire, itself, and coerces us into wanting more than what we couldn’t care less for— for image, for irony, and thus as a slight return of capitalism as farce. Hallmark-card worthy takes, platitudes, and their forms are produced ad nauseum because being known, and being connected to concepts and material existences that are “everywhere” (e.g. humanity, sexuality, life, and death) can make us feel safer than being an individual, even when these concepts are decidedly “problematic” or, in some spaces, moreso as they age. They can make us feel like we are “nowhere” because, as a concept grows in popularity, they overshadow our names. We lose our identities in a process that appears consensual, but only produces a continual surplus of narrative outside of material history.
Life would simply be better if we had access to and determination in what becomes of the afterlife of our cultural, societal, economic, and ontological labor, as well the production we put into our relations with Others.
I argue that truly universal, and thus relative, loss of identity would require giving utmost means of determination to those who have otherwise historically suffered at the whims of determination-for-profit in spite of the wellbeing Others, and is necessary for ending the lumpen-making games of Representation and clout that so often become tokenism and hypervisilibity. There will be no more production of recognizably universalized narratives after liberation, no more taxonomy. And the concept of “ancient” can be rendered ancient.
To be made ancient is not to be rendered without utility, but to made into a fraction of a broader range of consciousness and waking life. To be ancient is to be exposed in a permeable glass caging, not on display but placed within a relative reference of time of which one may worship, and be worshipped, as desired. It is a nostalgia and chauvinism everyone can see through. But it is bass frequency, unspoken, unseen, and therefore normalized. Born from fear of the loss of identity, the ego sits: hypervigilant but waiting to be broken.
This is what the mechanisms of social media’s capitalism accomplish for anti-blackness and monetary capitalism.
Pierre Bourdieu’s The Forms of Capital illustrates the concept that each individual occupies a position in a social space with multiple dimensions. People are not only defined by economic class, but by every single kind of capital he or she can articulate through social relations. One such capital is the interpersonal network— you know, the “I know a guy who knows a guy who can open your locked car door, so you can get the keys inside, so you can get to work to make money [to survive].” An easier to understand example is nepotism: the practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs. This harms not only the working class, but also those who can not find work through hire, and may become lumpenproletariat .
It can be beneficial, like using your network to make connections and access to resources and information otherwise unattainable, but it could also be used to produce or reproduce inequality. An example of inequality can be seen in the privatization of resources, which includes the withholding of access (gatekeeping: intentionally or unintentionally making resources more difficult or impossible to reach) and connections to those much needed resources.
Most often, social capital is materialized through the existence of symbolic capital, which is different (yet not seperate) from social capital in that social capital is an overarching systemic characteristic. One may possess social capital in spaces that leverages your trust, validity, and influence within an environment, and this is quantified by symbolic capital. Symbolic capital can, however, still exist when a person is completely isolated and unreachable through social interaction. It must also be said that symbolic capital is earned on a person-by-person basis, and may fluctuate widely between members in a community. Social capital is the overarching sense of trust and cooperation that people in an environment possess in between one another, and symbolic capital is the level to which a single person’s merit and/or validity matters specifically to themselves, as opposed to a community. Symbolic capital is moreso one’s prestige within a cultural ecosystem, meaning that the more one is in tune with a cultures status quo, the more symbolic capital they have — whether that be one’s ability to perform neurotypical as a politician and/or activist, or how much genocide one enables through participation in an imperialist army.
Both social capital and symbolic capital are commonly-used tools for both oppressing others and survival, due to systemic scarcity of accessibility to wellbeing e.g.what happens if you can’t get into your car? You cant get to work, and can’t make money to eat. It can be the difference between homelessness/houselessness and well-being.
The opposite of this oppression would be the communization or even socialization of these resources, which takes collectivization a step further by allowing freedoms such as collectivized access to be available to all (since even collectivized access and autonomy can be withheld in a community).
Every day, people perform, create, and put effort into various spheres of life involving at least some form of social relations— whether that be comforting and validating a loved one, or handing the customer their super-custom medium Number 3 at McDonalds with a big ole smile. Through this daily practice, people eventually develop a disposition, or individualized culture, for social action that is conditioned by their experiences in specific spheres of life.
Disposition is otherwise called sense of the game. It is an intuit of intrpersonal hierarchy exists. It for knee-jerk reasoning; dispositions are a conditioned and seemingly automatic response to the social world. They give rise to opinions, tone of voice, mannerisms, and other societal cultures and etiquettes.
Bourdieu also says that people fall into binary positions as dominant/dominated, and orthodox/heterodox. These binaries can be examined on a contextual (e.g. sphere-by-sphere) basis. The sense of the game a person develops atop a sphere of life, combined with all the other senses of the game a person develops in different spheres of life, form what Bourdieu calls a person’s habitus.
The habitus developed by a person will become that person’s social space. Members of that social space will often acknowledge, legitimate and reproduce the social forms of domination and prejudice that they have experienced. The common opinions of members of a given society are so transparent, so hidden in plain sight to the outside and sometimes even the inside observer, that even the acknowledgment of other possible means of production (including symbolic production) and power relations are clouded from conscience and practice.
My habitus has been developed as a Black transwoman from a third world country who had lived in the lower-middle class for most of her life. My social space was originally orthodox in anarchism. However, due to a globalized system of white supremacy that uses anti-blackness as its main means of economic, ontological, and social production, my sense of the game has been inscribed with “anti-authoritarian” beliefs that transcend materialism and also focus on ontology. As for “authority” itself, I would come to learn that my lack of preference for it is relative to those subject to its authority; I love to learn.
In other words, my perspective of America as an ecosystem in my social sense of the game does not only involve capitalism, but genocidal and rape-culture oriented white supremacy, cis supremacy, white proximity, and by proxy, all white cis/het peoples that benefitted from systems that oppress me, their integrationists, their assimilationists, and their apologists : cops and the capitalists and bourgeoisie kin they protect.
What seemed to annoy most was the fact that history has placed Black people on the lowest caste of all— almost like they didn’t want to deal with the fact that I can’t be racist because all racism is derived from anti-blackness.
Centering Blackness, then, got me pushed out of what was originally orthodox anarchist spaces due to my habitus and therefore reactions to anti-blackness and transmisogynoir, because it is to my benefit to speak out on it. However, my dissent does not reproduce the same oppressions and inequalities a class reductionist does by ignoring or invalidating anti-blackness (and therefore perpetuating it).
So in the process of my exile, I first lost clout, or the aggregation of my social capital. Why? Because my life-experiences and ontology informed my habitus, which in turn formed opinions, which informed my actions. It all comes down to being Black, trans, a woman, chronically depressed, and outspoken.
With my exile, I lost my means to achieving clout when I was banned from Facebook for over 6 months by facial recognition— the same clout that introduced me to a now close friend who would fund my travel to Vietnam, as well as my food and living space there. I not only lost my clout, but I lost connections to family, suicidal Black friends of whom I hadn’t thought of asking for an alternate contact method, images of Dominica I would browse through to comfort my anxiety and remain in tact with where I came from and the culture I have been forced to depart from, jobs, essays, and much more.
I eventually migrated to Twitter, where I was introduced to “Leftist Twitter” due to follow-suggestions by Twitters’ algorithms. Of course, my habitus was not well-received there either.
But I continue onwards because the goal isn’t to become a celebrity or to build a career on liberation that never comes. I will continue to get abused and shunned for saying the same things gaslighters, abusive rhetoricians, and social capitalists will eventually make a part of their brands… By the time they begin spouting the same words I shouted some time ago, words they despised me for, they will forget the harm they’d done to me. And though they forget how they’ve hurt me for believing in the same things they will come to believe, I keep pushing forward because liberation isn’t about me. It’s about destroying this social hegemony for good.
The fear, pain, and disdain associated with being “exposed” or “called out” is the inherent pain of having an ego. Be more afraid of being the oppressor than of being the aforementioned. — MerriCatherine
And yet, despite all of this social isolation on something as fickle, intangible, and yet materially pseudo-omnipotent as The Internet, I haven’t even touched upon the isolations I’ve experienced off The Internet. I haven’t talked about the cultural capital I’ve survived as a Black transwoman, as an immigrant, as many things I hate listing and am not completely happy with calling myself due to the present conditions in today’s realities. My tastes, posture, clothing, mannerisms, etc. are not only just a handful of the I need to use to survive, but they are also Things I need to conform in ways not conducive to my wellbeing. Beyond code-switching, the fatal dangers that are closer than a promise away demand that I am, or appear to be: cisgender, neurotypical, abled, and otherwise as close to white as possible in mannerism and language, in interests, and in the apparent trajectory I strive through. These aspects of being define my trajectory. The ways I choose to be, or have no other choice but to be, define my social class, always in contract to anOther. And so it must be, if only I could fit in; if only the cultural superstructures we obey today— not out of “socialization”, “conditioning”, or any other forms of “grooming, but of fear born of true consequences— could be destroyed for good, a new mode of existing and not existing not established but acknowledged, we could exist, or not exist, for the better reality of a convalescent wellbeing.
Discard the NonHuman
On Twitter, there are automated accounts created to follow, repost, reblog, and advertise known as bots. These bots are often reported quickly due to their poor design which often results in the spam of messages or tweets. Most bots barely have any followers due to their half-life and poor-quality content.
A Twitter user is very likely to encounter one of these automated accounts, the experience itself rarely being pleasant or even so much as meaningful or sensible. Those bots’ accounts that seem to belong to an individual person may entice further investigation, upon which a user may realize this account is false. This realization may occur more than once, with the follower-count being anywhere from 0 to 300 or more, where the account may be followed by other bots to feign legitimacy, or by people following the account through a pay-by-follow program (yes, those exist for people trying to make money online; they also pay you change to retweet or post links, too).
But what happens when someone who knows what a bot is comes into contact with a Real Person’s account with little followers? The opinions of the person with little followers, if not common or agreeable or even sensible to a person’s habitus, may be interpreted as belonging to an automated response, or a non-existent person. That person becomes a machination, a nonhuman.
To validate one’s humanity on social media then you must acquire as much capital as possible while maintaining an air of agreeableness, desirability, and ultimately, commodifiability. One must display and reproduce not only the mere opinions of their habitus that leads them to a social space, but also acknowledge, legitimate and reproduce those same opinions, activities, and inequalities the social space deems acceptable by its sense of the game. It can be inferred that those who are best at performing the above or even better than most become well-accepted and lead-producers of etiquette, opinions, actions, and reproduced inequalities within their social spaces, and may even become producers of said social spaces’ culture.
They become figureheads, bosses, and Great Men. In the process, they may use websites designed to reward clout with material economic benefits such as Patreon, the namesake of which which is a play on the word patron, as in one who protects or supports; a defender or advocate; [historical, Roman law] a protector of a dependent, especially a master who had freed a slave but still retained some paternal rights; [obsolete or historical] a property owner, a landlord, a master. One must take into account the etymology of this word in reflecting upon the relationship between cultural superstructure, patron, and producer . It can go without saying that the reverberations of white supremacist -transcendentalist ideals can be observed in, for example, the nature of civilization and what is recognized as civilized (e.g. “clean”, neurotypical, cis gendered, Christian, white, “well-behaved” and not angry, etc.) in determining who has unlimited access to the basic necessity wellbeing, and who does not — on other words: who is pushed to live, and who is left to die.
Sites such as Patreon not only turn clout into capital, but also turn recycle clout into visibility on the site itself, which features tags through which one can find other people to become patrons of.
This compilation of clout results in increased opportunity for more avenues of capitalizing on visibility. They may also be rewarded with more clout by ending up on interviews, or on television, where they may advertise their intellectual labor (often times political or based in humor). Fame and Celebrity are then too socio-political materializations of social capitalism. The relationship can be simply observed as: Dissent can not be popular within an authoritarian society without subjecting said society to subversion. But dissent isn’t the only action that causes loss of clout and belonging. Mental illness and personality “disorders” also create a social sphere of interpersonal and systemic placelessness.
I was already considered nonhuman due to my race, but was further unhumaned multiple times due to the habitus my race, class upbringing, and the historical system of ontological abuse I survive. I am diagnosed with Chronic Major Depression type II, Schizotypal Personality Disorder (most commonly found in Black women), and ADD. Each of these has contributed to my othering, unhumaning, and loss of clout/belonging. It doesn’t help that so much of the Black community suffers mental unwellness due to systemic causes of stress and trauma, often times resulting in mortality. Coming out publicly about my suicidal ideations makes me lose my stance in social spheres; there are times in a bout of suicidal thought during which I can watch my followers and Facebook “friends” unfollow and un-add me.
Sometimes when I post or respond to posts, people can ignore me. And because I haven’t learned to cope with being purposefully ignored or shunned, it feeds into my depression and I become suicidal, especially when the question or input is important and directly tied to my existence in this world. When I talk or post, I have the tendency to speak in metaphor with flowery language due to my personality disorder. I have trouble telling experiences are real or fake due to my derealization (that of which being ignored does not help). Deflections (eg. responding “what?” to my clear-spoken dissent) often feed into trauma I’ve experienced in an abusive relationship filled with codependency and gaslighting. Online interactions have real life effects actual people: on peoples’ finances and quality of life outside of being stressful.
My personal Patreon pays for a monthly Chase bill I’ve been threatened with repo over. Clout I had in the past was monetized into my HRT medicine, and my electrolysis and has increased my sense of wellbeing by easing my dysphoria. I can’t imagine whether I’d be alive today had I been more disagreeable and honest from the start; folks who follow me/donate to me practically own me, and if I need to distance myself or close some off from my life and/or labor, I high-key risk losing my well-being.
Getting blocked after I dissent on a topic of which would benefit my literal survival in the world if it were addressed tells me that I am not entitled to being heard. And all this seems to stem from the fact that no one wants to disobey their sense of the game to dissent and risk exile; no one wants to lose their clout, let alone share it with me by delving into topics they are afraid of losing cultural monopoly over. In essence, the Idol doesn’t want to lose its status on a hierarchical plane of capitalism that is capitalist social media. It also doesn’t want to lose its sense of individuality, an almost completely Westernized concept of being that takes from the common good and gives to Whoever Can Outdo The Other.
But regardless, deflection and being ignored send messages of a lack of entitlement to liberation; if no one wants to merely discuss an issue of antiblackness with the Black person it affects, then how can we we ever be ready to tackle the issue? Not being entitled to liberation is yet another symptom of social death as it echoes the unhumaning of the Slave made chattel: an entity without autonomy and a conscious. It’s a state of being (i.e. ontology) Blacks as well as NonBlacks can impose on Black people, and its something that can only be imposed on Black people, due to a material history of inaccess to humanity.
Identity / Individuality / Identity and “… the ruins of your dreams.”
People’s living standards, especially in relation to allostatic load, don’t decline from losing clout unless remaining visible and consumable was a constituent to their wellbeing. To me, the latter is most important as it almost always must reflect the material ideals of a cultural superstructure.
Part of my personality disorder materializes in having a weak sense of self, and therefore a very, erm, unsturdy identity. It is also a symptom that comes with many borderline personalities. For me, it is deeper than insecurity in that I could be accused of doing something and believe it if I’m not mindful. A sense of self is often times developed by exposure not to environment, but to other people. It is the reason why you hear stories about people who were raised by dogs growing up and still acting like (you guessed it!) dogs. It depends upon your agreements, disagreements, realizations, and disillusionments based on all the social labor you perform and constitutes your identity. In other words, your identity is based on similarities and contrasts to Others. (for more information click here)
The imagery associated with losing one’s individuality often depict imprisonments where only a few voices (if any) are heard, bleak landscapes of grey, and the assignment of identities without acknowledging ones autonomy or consent (such as barcodes and prisoner numbers as opposed to unique names). But this is clearly already our capitalist reality; it exists with or without the internet in actual prisons and on social media. In public schools and prisons that restrict uniform, and anywhere where an anti-oppressor sentiment can get you maimed or killed. The placelessness social capitalists fear (i.e. not belonging anywhere and therefore not having identity) is also already a reality for Black people whose links to their ancestors have been purposely severed via chattel slavery— not belonging in the Africa because the don’t know where they come from and if they could be welcomed, and not belonging anywhere they can be found because of anti-black ideas of sovereignty. These are realities for many Black people on Earth, and most often Black people, who like me live in a country that promotes and reinforces individuality to extremes.
I’m formally here to assure you that the loss of individualism does constitute the loss of identity, lol. Individualism as a concept disregards the Others and entities that are not constituent of our selves, disparaging focuses such as how we as a whole affect the environment. It places emphasis on privatized activity, while identity is only defines the personal sphere of one’s life (e.g. how one chooses to be seen or heard). There can in fact be societal spheres that are inclusive of all identities, yet oppose individualism. Individualism does not have to be centered. Individualism can be sidestepped through a recursive or at least ever-adapting program of interpersonal consent that opposes individualism and instead considers the decision-making capabilities of an entire population. But in our socially-capitalist reality, only a fraction of our society captures the attention of thousands of people. They get to decide what is acceptable and what isn’t, who to listen to and who to ignore, which restaurant to visit and which to avoid, who is right or real, and what wrong or imagined etc.. Individualism pretends that it either has no effect on Others, or that its best interest can always be best for society.
We are forced to choose between choices that have been limited against our will to the benefit of white supremacy and capitalism. But when we truly examine how the collectivization and communization of identity will materialize in the world, it looks less like a wave of grey, and more like a colorful band of always-changing, always growing and shrinking identities— some fluid and some static— co-existing amongst themselves with their own identies: both shared and not shared. We will exist without the threat of exile but also without the looming threat of being forced into a society we do not abide by.
So I must ask: what is so scary about losing your individuality, and losing your stake in a culture that both actively and passively oppresses others? Is all the pain caused to comrades and compeers worth finally reaching the ruins of your dreams?
You won’t lose your identity just because the good of the collective is placed over the good of the individual. And you also will not become no one.
You will always be yourself, and have your self.
To those who live comfortably as high-functioning individuals with out-of-net (non-internet) resources, social media is not a big deal (sans cherry-picked bullying?). To the rest of us, the individualism, authority, and ableism are tools of anti-blackness on the internet that leave us wondering if we are entitled to live, especially as our dependence on social media has grown with time. Today, even some employers ask for your social media accounts pre-hire. It would be foolish to pretend it does not matter when it has literally allowed Trump to elicit responses from North Korea’s leader.
Bourgeoisie Authoritarianism and Social Media: The Ecology of Idolatry and Hero-Worship
Social capital determines your potential to be heard and/or understood.
Social media’s top-down authoritarianism is most well present in the language it enforces: “likes”where we may just be expressing agreement, “friends” where we may only be searching for informative outlets, and “followers” where we are not looking join a cult, but are only subscribers. The language informs the actions we take on social media. It also dictates what those actions mean to us, without allowing or even acknowledging our autonomy.
The only way this ecosystem could be truly democratic is one that is extreme in democracy — one that rebukes the illegitimate power of “representation” in favor of consensual processes — welcoming constant pro-consensual socio-political revolutions and proactively promises more. This is an example of an anarchist society, in which there are “no gods nor masters” to dictate the status quo.
Idols, also known as celebrities, are also a symptom of fame and celebrity. Idols stunt the creative processes of an ecosystem by crowding out space for attention from subjugated peoples seeking what liberation would look like specifically for themselves in favor of what the status quo allows to be liberated.
In a Eurocentric, or more accurately a non-Black-centric world, the price we pay for imaginative/creative and therefore intellectual labor is not only the favor of the lighter-skinned, more ‘masculine’, younger [but not too young], able-bodied and minded. The burden of namesake, and baggage plays a role too. That is not to say that bias in favor of the oppressor is not worthy of invalidation, but that the pure desire of non-Blacks to subjugate Black people around the world is cause to the inexploration of those liberation movements that reject whiteness most.
On one hand, we have the Black Panther Party, Rainbow Coalition(s), and other class reductionist (albeit dissonant with racial nationalism [read: internationalism]) analyses that are upheld in most if not all white-dominated Left spaces. On the other, we have the likes of Amilcar Cabral, Romaine la Prophetesse, Nkrumah, Lumumba and relatively so, even Ho Chi Minh — all of which garner less attention and analyses that the broad popular focuses of the Left. Here is a small modicum of solidarity between darker skinned people across the world, and darker skinned Asian people in the East. This baggage is structurally enforced through systemic anti-blackness where the Blacker one is, the deader — both socially dead and statistically dying, both in regards to rate of being upheld as legitimate attempts at liberation, and as efforts worthy of being worshipped to the same regard that the USSR is today.
They are made to be nothing but mere shadows, afterthoughts, second thoughts and sometimes even third thoughts behind the tall, brunette white man in a ushanka, or his poppet; even the more famous Touissant L’Ourveture begged the French for sovereign recognition before less-famous Dessalines took matters into his own hands and commanded the 1804 revolutionary massacre of the ruling classes. And even less known, Romaine la Prophetesse, the ‘man’ ‘possessed’ by the metaphysical Virgin Mary, referring to themselves as a woamn on numerous occasions, who began widespread revolts along the coastlines of Hispaniola — the land’s name before Dessalines changed it back to the original Taino Haiti.
Parallel and intimately tied to this purposefully protracted process of disgarding the dehumanized (alongside those percieved as nonhuman adjacents albeit at lesser rates), is a process of idea-binding. Those ideas upheld most on the Left happen to be those of the white Left, and through the adhesive nature of current analyses of Idols and their ideas, images of the efforts of white men and women flood our minds, especially as a colonized people. The ideas are tied to these visuals, and therefore encourage a homogenized ecosystem of revolutionary thought where it could be infinitely varied, thus drawing all identity in without tokenization.
Day to day, white efforts are measured by the standard of context, while those that are nonwhite are examined outside of context (e.g. infantalizing and appeals to naivete such as “everyone hated Black people back then”), and are often times painted as barbaric, primitive, and through other dehumanizing portrayals. And with nonBlack terminology, nonBlack design, and nonBlack narrative come the intimately-tied rentism of liberation praxes and theory — where one is expected to pay tribute to a non-Black Idol that upholds one idea, even if there, for example, a Black person who had the same ideals within context, though even context is most often times unnecessary in the case of successful Black liberation efforts (especially because ‘successful’ and ‘liberating’ are reduntant ends). In effect, we have a world that simultaneously stigmatizes nonBlack liberation againt subjugation in favor of upholding the history of nonBlack liberation movements and their ideals, so much that in claiming an ends as righteous, we are expected to act (and pay tribute) accordingly. I am not allowed to be a Marxist while despising all of Marx’ antiblackness, etc.. I am to affirm his biologocal supremacy as a cis, straight, white, dead man from Europe whose antiblack perspectives, misgivings, and violences are to either be forgiven, forgotten, minimized in contrast, and/or justified for…?
And so, the burden of a homogenized history will always fall upon the backs of those not included in the ontology of the “human” — to battle against the beurocracy and gatekeeping of liberatory, dual-power styled space as placeless Black people ‘til we can finally have a place to take root among, but not with, the Black revolutionaries who piggybacked whiteness. Im this way, social capitalism is, in verbatim, paradoxically anti-social. It does not foster co-operative, consensual, and truly meaningful relations between people as much as it fosters competition, sycophantry, misinformation about each other (e.g. badjacketing and goodjacketing), erasure, and scapegoating amongst much more.
The above reasonings are only parts of a whole — molecular components of global, always-homogenizing white supremacy. In ecology, genetic variation is a key characteristic of a species that survives. A society or community houses its own variation in genetic code the same way a specimen does. The “genetic code” of a society is multifaceted at BOTH macro & micro levels of material processes, as well as ideas, concepts, & theoretical developments, etc…
Let’s take social media platforms, for instance. Most award users with not only personal rewards such as validation, but also externals:
The most important and oft ignored reward one receives as a Popular user of social media is visibility. Visibility denotes a user’s capability to reach other users, and in turn influence them more often for rather than against the social sphere’s disposition. So if someone appeals to a social sphere’s overarching superstructure or culture, they will often receive attention. If a social capitalist is seeking visibility, they make posts public on Facebook, and may use hashtags or buzzwords on Twitter, so that if anyone searches for a popular topic their post is easy to find and is therefore more visible. All in all, viral tweets accululate the most visibility. Visibility as a strategy for acquiring social capital relies on a great variety of tactics, involving “tweetdecking”.
Posts also become more visible the more one interacts with it. On Twitter, people with popular tweets will appear more frequently on timelines and on searches as a Top Tweet. Facebook and Tumblr elevate the popular posts that exemplify the status quo of a particular social sphere. The more interactions a post receives, the more potential it has for more interaction. Visibility then can be said to multiply upon itself.
Social capitalism is what makes one person’s suicidal ideations, depression, death, growth, accomplishments, thoughts, beliefs, and desires more meaningful and valued than anothers’ — as opposed to all people’s trials, tribulations, and blessings being equally important. It represents power, and more specifically, control over space that could be equally reserved for another.
Symbolic capital determines your potential to be heard and/or understood; in doing so, social capitalism also undermines the chances that you will be represented, often times being the root cause of why, for example, lighter-skinned, “masculine”, cis, and/or heterosexual men are more positively and most represented than other member of the Black community. And so a social capitalist is essentially a well-known (or otherwise aspiring to be) person, or entity, who makes utility of interpersonal relationships to invest in themselves, or another person who would benefit themselves, and churn out profitable socio-cultural gains. Social capitalists thrive of social capitalism’s ability to erase, silence, and/or crowd-out voices that are not theirs, so that they can take more space within discourse, or even praxis. In this way, social capitalism effectively disables oppressed groups within social justice movements. And due to material and psychological limitations and scarcity of resources (e.g. attention span, access to goods/capital, and goods/capital themselves), they essentially maintain monopolies or otherwise hoard these resources for themselves.
A social capitalist, like all bourgeois celebrities, are out of touch; they are so in tune with (relatively) many tenets of the status quo that they reproduce its language and reasoning even in other spheres of politics, regardless of how supposedly far-left or far-right they are. A social capitalist has no idea what liberated people need— only what social capitalism says is acceptable to further entrenching the existence and supposed legitimacy of capitalist sovereignties and society. A goal of acquiring Fame takes over the liberation and people working with or for social capitalists begin feeling resentment because, rightfully so, they feel they too should have some light. Competition attracts and breeds competition and individualism is born in every heart and mind, all the while conditions remain fermenting into barbaric proportions of culturally-homogenized fascism.
At some point, a social capitalist entity has made the decision to work towards fame because it simply feels better than changing the status quo into something never seen or heard of that benefits all of society, especially with globalizing technology such as the Internet. In this was, social capitalism’s means are amenities only accessible to some, and not all. These include but are definitely not limited to: internet, connections to those of high societal status, academia, desirability determined by a sovereignty’s cultural superstructure, and overall wellbeing. They become brands of comfort instead of beacons of realities, and thus liberation. Perfecting the art of rhetoric, most are populists, and others are working towards populism. If they were not capable of populist language, they would not be seeking such populist status. And in this way, it can also be said they are not revolutionary. They are the counter-revolutionary program wearing the scalp of a revolutionary atop their own. Social capitalists are out of touch when their niche language and esoteric values benefit capitalism by being esoteric. It isn’t about being understood, and moreso about being accepted or agreeable with the status quo, often times making excuses for society and society’s harms.
People who aren’t specifically combatting systemic oppressions often use what is known as “cancel culture” to monopolize on social capital by digging up “dirt” on others to defame or de-legitimize them. Some go as far as to even spread misinformation, spinning facts to benefit their narrative of self-righteousness.
Identity exceptionalism is one axiom of the aforementioned hegemony — and thus function of social capitalism, not because of how it centers the subaltern of the subaltern, but because of its oppressive nature when it posits that all subaltern critiques of an idea are necessarily liberatory. This is what causes social capitalists with the loudest voices to discredit entire oppressed populations of people e.g. Kanye West— whose statements on slavery being a choice have been used against Black people as a sort of evidence against slavery as involuntary simply because the values legitimacy and merit are connoted to clout. There are many ideas, such as Blackness being inherently Special (not unique but superior, and as if there is one kind of Blackness that exists), or transgender identity being radical, that perpetuate the reactionary ideals of exceptionalism. Another example: There’s a difference between being genderblind and not assuming what someone’s gender identity is. Being genderblind is the equivalent of being raceblind— a highly individualist, lifestylist take on lived experiences of the "radical" where suddenly social constructs, or as Max Stirner would call them, "spooks" suddenly don’t exist because one says so. In reality, there is an obvious culture superstructure at work especially in Amerika. In the same way that cops are able to identify us n**gers in the street before murdering us, there are signifiers that determine how we move through society. Material traits. Whether or not these traits should represent a dichotomous and hegemonic system of oppression is obviously the issue but the system exists regardless. Many lifestylists call things "women’s clothes" while also saying gender is a social construct implying that gender does not exist. Instead of admitting that this system does exist and that the signifiers are real, they pretend it does not exist and thus also are ignoring the very important aspects of oppression we need to focus on before destroying: such as the signifiers relationship to the signified. Whether or not we believe such a system should be in place is the determining factor in our actions. There are clear cultural signifiers that lead people to being targeted versus blending in with society. This is what makes passing important to so many trans people such as myself… the fear of violence—whether physical or metaphysical like being exiled from one’s friends groups and communities… Its the reason why someone who calls 911 can identify someone as Black just by looking at them, leading to lethal interactions with the cops and other racists.
In this way, subaltern clout will always benefit the oppressors of a given society, community, or other type of interpersonal relationship because those in power will utilize whatever is available to maintain their positions of power... It’s also worth saying that ideas, actions, and words that reflect the status quo most will often have the most staying power until they warp the cultural superstructure itself. And so, clout and these politics of representation through popularity are nothing more than a new take on integration and respectability.
The ability of a social capitalist to hold onto interpersonal ties in profitable ways that benefit them also increases their output and eventual investment of social capital into their own social spheres. This means that someone who does not abide the status quo of a societal/interpersonal sphere of life is that much less likely to have a meaningful hold on social capital.
A key psychological concept at play here is rewarding Popular users, and their Idols, with a sense of belonging. Belonging is protected simultaneously by a sense of security, and the looming threat of not-belonging… eg. being discredited and/or exiled. This key psychological concept is what leads users to side with more popular opinions within a specific ecosystem… And even without a specific ecosystem; often times siding with a popular user often assuages our sense of belonging in reality even if reality is bleak.
[Reminder: ecosystems exist at micro and macro levels, meaning they can exist in vacuums from other ecosystems, or like matryoshka dolls.]
An example would be Leftist Twitter, where movements are rightfully homogenized yet refuse to further develop their foundation of theory.
In Leftist Twitter, there are Idols who often times repeat platitudes that can not be forsaken without the threat of exile. In other words, there is a monopoly of visibility/representation against the subaltern on social media that is not being addressed. If a dissenter or outlier (ie someone who voices nuance) speaks directly to or about an Idol, that Idol has the power to dictate how the nuance is incorporated into the community — through either a rejection, a disparagement, or acceptance. Based on how they respond, ie whether or not their culture does not follow the established sense of the game of the ecosystem… Their response will often be seen by their Idols and many others, due to their visibility, and absorbed accordingly.
Belonging to something larger than ourselves, even if that something is problematic and oppressive, calms and soothes the feeling of being oppressed. It is the reason why so much “cooning”/race-traitoring (sometimes interchangeable with uncle-tomming or aunt-jemimaness) happens within Black communities. It is also the reason why so many of us flock to popular users on social media who do little to challenge the status quo (hence the popularity), whether in action, or theory. Belonging or subscribing to a status quo means less alienation.
In the process, we find ourselves closer to movements who are more susceptible to being co-opted / assimilated / appropriated due to their proximity to the status quo. We find ourself nearer and nearer federal and state legislation, and authority, the closer we align with those who do little to change the status quo. Sometimes we even find ourselves aligning with feds themselves.
I am reminded of this unnecessary power structure by a couple episodes of Black Mirror. Nosedive is one episode which takes place in a hyper-smiley universe where everyone’s interactions are subject to ratings, culminating in personas valued by this rating system, or otherwise jailed because of peoples inability or dissention to the system. In these spaces, where romance, sex, love-bombing, and other communal activities are perverted into tools of capitalizing within these scenes in an intensified yet unspoken battle royale to the loudest positions within activist communities. I myself have been approached sexually by multiple people, and have been confided in by less people, with intents to “acquire something” through these manipulative and performative means. People treat these spaces as if they are living in a San Junipero universe, where actions ruled by their objectifying intents play no consequence in the lives of other activists who, too, are trying to liberate actual people. In doing so and in allowing these manipulative and predatory people to remain, these activist spaces effectively desttoy themselves and their movements by perpetuating a hiearchy thay involves the objectification of another’s body (usually someone with more social capital) in order to acquire a similiar social standing or more. We must remember that The Revolution takes the shape of the struggle to bring that revolution to fruition. Objectifying bodies, fascist-dystopian performativity for the observers who watch instead of participate, and the utter lack of trapsparency, sincerity, and consensual confrontation are oppressive tools that perpetuate capitalist societies and are all used to subjugate people within them.
And it turns out that counter-revolutionaries who infiltrate are particularly keen on sleeping with or otherwise objectifying activists to get information and social capital that can be used to destroy their movements as well. We ought not use the same tools of unconsensual domination and manipulation against ourselves within these spaces unless we ourselves are deciding to be counter-revolutionaries… I am assuming everyone reading this essay does not desire to be this.
There is a clear correlation between popularity, co-optation, and authority that isn’t being addressed often, all tied together through social capitalism: a mechanism designed for individuals or entities to acquire power at the expense of others.
The Social Capitalist’s capital can be measured in visibility — a function of the number of Idols (eg friends, followers, subscribers) and the Idols FREQUENCY of USE or mention of/within the platform.
What makes this phenomenal is the material basis of Visibility… The psychological, and therefore material, need to belong with others.
Where does social capital come from? Authority. According to Marx, hunter-gatherer societies were communist. They were also not authoritarian.
And without authority, capitalism can not exist, meaning that there can be “no gods nor masters” without authority over “x” — whether that “x” be money, thoughts, or Visibility. Authority over Visibility on social media materializes in “draggings”, in subtweets, & in gossip digested in a self-righteous fashion.
Self-critique is a consensual process that cancels out the toxicity of self-righteousness. It does this by providing the dissenter a way to save face, or redeem themselves, in an ecosystem, and for the ecosystem. By saving face, they can incorporate a critique and thus further variegate their own ideological “genetic” makeup. Homogeneity in a movement is a result of positive growth in a movement as goals and objectives become more acute, however it runs the risk of failure without appealing to the many, many identities existent in the world, and peoples’ relationships to them. Nevertheless, the root of social capitalism in an interpersonal ecosystem can often be found in that ecosystem’s ideological foundation:
Does this ecosystem encourage critical thought and discussion or does it devalue variability/heterogeny?
Note that this is not an argument for the free speech Nazis hail, nor is it an argument against the “echo chambers” Nazis devalue. Because WITHIN an ecosystem, species (schools of thought) CAN SHARE GENETIC (ideological) TRAITS.
In an anti-authoritarian/anti-celebrity/anti-popularity ecosystem, the refusal to allow social capitalism, and therefore any existence of symbolic capital, a foothold would be key characteristics of the cultural superstructure.
And whom will deliver us from a culture of canceling celebrities to a culture of canceling celebrity?
Social Capitalism’s connection to Capitalism is a cultural and historical one.
Since Black bodies, chattel and cattle-ized, arrived upon the shores of the “West Indies”, they were subject to not only the abuses of plantation managers and slave drivers, but also to the looming hand of royalty from whence they came; “West Indian” planters had “no choice but to obtain slave labor if they wished to remain viable sugar producers,” in places like Barbados, where indentured servitude became less and less available and thus the demand for chattel’d Blacks, more and more. (1st Link, 2nd Link)
Not everyone was able to be a social capitalist in societies that existed pre-capitalism. However, “famous figures” who were either Royalty, Authority, or dissenters have left large and seemingly permanent footprints in history.
The difference between a social capitalist & what I’ll call a pathfinder for the sake of argument, is the the material basis of acquiring social capital. Pathfinders always left a historically material effect on society. Social Capitalists do not. Social Capitalists ape pre-existing conditions laid within the foundational framework of their ecosystem. And what further distinguishes Social Capitalists from Pathfinders is social capital’s ability to hinder material variation in “genetic” makeup. I also need to add that Visibility is strongly influenced by the ideological foundation the social capitalist capitalizes on (e.g. Visibility in a white supremacist ecosystem will never benefit non-whites, unless forms of proximity, assimilation, or integration are variables accounted for in the framework).
A goofy aspect of Social Capitalism manifests in seeing an idea or image or brand mass produced in infinitely different ways (e.g. racism, except In Color!). These most often take the form of mass produced hot takes and opinions. Sometimes stolen ideas and formatting (a personalized manifestation of corporate plagiarism) exists in socially capitalist spaces too. Reactions to the theft of intellectual labor are similar to a thieving from a corporation. However, punishment that involves money is not as common as punishments that involved social capital (eg. losing followers for misgivings; a hypothetical copyright can be protected when a social capitalist uses their clout to discredit “thieves” into exile.)
We see similar privatizations popular Black bodies, such as Huey P. Newton and George Jackson, used to further legitimize the clout and social spheres of groups ranging from majority-nonBlack anarchists to majority-nonBlack Marxist groups.
It’s a personal choice to subvert these machinations of social capital. Although it seems difficult and almost impossible, subversion of social capital is very attainable.
What is to be done?
I’m sure many readers feel like there’s nothing that can be done to subvert intrinsically authoritarian, capitalist-oriented social media. But I disagree. Let’s begin, first, with answering these questions:
— Who has the most social capital in each of your social spheres?
— Who benefits most from social capitalism in each of your social spheres?
This answer depends upon on the constituents of your social sphere’s ideological framework, the superstructure of its foundation. It varies by habitus, and by social space.
—What are the Idols of your social sphere expected to be like in character?
Are they knee-jerkingly disparaging of critical race ideas? Are they anti-theory/intellectual? Are they always performing mental stability? Are they neurotypical?
—What does your social space believe in; what praxis does it believe in (eg. whose voices is it centering and why)?
—Which opinions have been disregarded, and who do they belong to? What was their habitus? Does that come into conflict with your social sphere’s beliefs? Why or why not?
—Can you list your Idols? How do they use social capital? How does social capital use them? Which ideas in your social sphere do they uphold? Who do they benefit? Do they challenge status quo in your social sphere? How or how not? Would you/have you dissent(ed) to them? If not, why? If you’ve dissented, how did they respond? Have they been abusive (e.g. gaslighting, punch-down threats)?
—Based on the questions above, what oppressions does your social sphere’s hoarding and movement of social capital perpetuate?
—What happens after you amass all the social capital in the world?
It is necessary to find answers to these questions if one if to move on to action. Many of us who participate in “call-out culture” have already done so. This text not being an authoritative text, I will follow up with decolonized examples of tried-and-true modes of organization one can mobilize from. I understand that some of these proposed activities are flawed, difficult, or discomforting, but I expect readers (who I hold as visionaries) to use their imagination to improve proposed actions to efficiency, or otherwise create entirely new tactics to suit this strategy of subverting social capitalism.
We must redistribute ALL the visibility of the social bourg.
Our voices must grow as massive and as grating, to tear through their cast iron walls of gatekeeping & intergenerational wealth.
We must remember that Social Capitalism is antisocial, for what is more antisocial that becoming a slave to hyper-homogenous normativity and identity? What is more antisocial than solely associating with people who refuse to criticize others, or allow criticism of others, let alone themselves, within social spheres? And if it were even possible to reach permanent homeostasis in our societies and identities, if it were possible to be identical in thought and action, would there ever be an Other? No, and so we would only be talking to ourselves, listening to ourselves, and giving heed to no one else.
We would become pure, stale, unchanging ego — deprived of the sustenance we find in the exchange of ideas, intimacy, and companionship.
And what is stale sustenance that will never grow and adapt in the face of impending doom that is rot and decay?
It is death, and dead. It is not-living, and it is not surviving.
It is dying.
And such is belonging to a social scene through which only a homogenized, superstructurely-imposed self exists. Such is only what homogenous social spheres become.
Life is adaptation is variability… is change.
As a social capitalist, you’re not only trying to gain social capital, but to protect it as well. Protecting social capital implies that is being infringed upon with the threat of being lost, or that it is being lost. Therefore hoarding social capital must rely upon the silencing of others who dissent to your beliefs/actions from both within and without the scenes, social spheres, and friends groups you belong to. We must become all voices in unison, but not identical. We must become noise itself — a choir of identities in unrelenting disparity to which all "access" is afforded.
People and our ecologies must no longer have a homogenous, normalized face and ontology. We will have enough variation to survive any attempt on silencing our collective voices against celebrity, idolatry, peremptory personalities.
But in order to do the above, we need to end sycophantism— the need to value our worth through the senses and ideas of celebrity.
We must truly know and understand that we as well are worthy of being heard, seen, and of existing.
From a Culture of Canceling Celebrities to a Culture of Canceling Celebrity
In an attempt to alleviate any cognitive dissonance that will often materialize against anti-virtual clout arguments as self-imposed helplessness and pessimism against liberation, I will propose a solution.
I do not argue that my own proposed methods are omnipotent and godlike tools that will eliminate every single threat against Black existence, but I do argue that these methods are indisposable and efficient. The outcome of the following methods will be further collectivized, methodical, and therefore strengthened communities and culture that allows the elimination of oppressive forces to come exponentially swifter, and with less suffering and losses.
I dont believe that austerity in social capital is an answer to the question of liberation. This culture of spectacle is hypervisibility... Exhibitionism. This is the decadence social capitalist leftists™ on social media fear to address most. Symbolic capital is the column under their analyses analyses that allows them to dictate between truth and almost-truth.
The cultural superstructure is man-made. However I do not argue that social capital ought to be avoided. I just argue that we find a way to make social capital infinitely available, and accessible, to all upon their consent, and by the work of those who can give it. I dont believe that austerity in social capital is an answer to the question of liberation.
The problem is the capitalist characteristic, and how it is artificially made into a scarcity and nasty, unfriendly competition, where there is always someone who wins and hoards anything from something as sentimental as a pleasure, to the visibility and ecologically personable understanding of validity necessary to be liberated. These people who are winners stifle the voice calling out from the depths of burning, blinding subjugation and allostatic load. They ensure tbat there is always a loser, broken & barred from one’s own duty to wellbeing as defined by oneself. But austerity is not an answer. We sre not meant to live in a vacuum as individual brands — even the most alone loners need themselves. And social capitalism deprives us of our selves, leaving us only an ego without a conscience or willingness to create a sustainable environment for all.
Instead, I argue that it is a social necessity that ought to belong to all, to be able to be utilized at the very moment of one’s consent. That it be available in endless supply.
I believe it is possible to subvert social capitalism, or otherwise use a more efficient means of exile based in reality or prophecy, by:
—first fostering communities of similarly oppressed peoples,
—then mobilizing within our communities, and finally
—establishing a culture of self-critique and accountability within our communities.
We are already “in the shit”, just as we are with white supremacy, and so although it can be argued that naïveté drives any kind of subversion from within, I must remind my readers that subversion takes on many forms other than reformism and revision, the most revolutionary of which has historically proven to be sabotage. As a minority, as most oppressed populations have been when juxtaposed he raw might of oppressors, I strongly believe guerilla tactics and strategy are imperative to relieving us of our conditions. And so my methods are heavily influenced by these theories, as they have proven successful more than not in history.
Being within a system that imposes violence on people does not constitute helplessness, but also constitutes power that only arrises through perspective, regardless of what ends it is used towards. It is the same reason why a theorist looking in can not provide the insight of a survivor looking about at their oppressive surroundings, and out into new futures. And so, believing in the people being oppressed within a system is the only subversive mode of thought one can have— if they are to consider themselves able of doing so.
The saboteur within a system of oppression and vertical hierarchy is of the people, meaning they have the greatest sense of the game within a system of oppression because they are capable of participating, or rejecting the game itself, and have survived in rejecting it. The saboteur within a system of oppression is also then most aware and capable of escaping participating in this oppression, for they have rejected it. It is with this knowledge and understanding that the sabotuer is the most capable of subverting social capitalism. But how?
As an example, communities of saboteurs could resemble unions or revolutionary cadres, online and off, where members withhold attention & clout from social capitalists/”blue checks”/celebrities the moment they slip up in accountability or perpetuate any other form of oppression. It could mimic strikes, where we conserve emotional labor instead of arguing them down. It could also mimic hold-ups and/or the public shaming of the China’s cultural revolution, depending on the comfort levels and ability of those involved.
The difference between reactionary and truly revolutionary shaming, then, depends upon who is doing it. Regardless, I would strongly advise against a shame culture that provokes shame internally, and instead solely focuses it to external machinations. I also strongly advise against collectives holding senses of morality above the eradication of systemically imposed oppression, as both these forms of shaming often becomes cult-like. Within these collectives, there also ought not be dues, requiring only an oath to tie everyone together.
As someone deeply invested in decolonization, I suppose it is my job to continue decolonizing thought by also reminding readers that there is theory outside non-Black theory, and there is praxis outside that which you are accustomed to:
An “oath” is a tool the Kikuyu (more disparagingly referred to as Mau Mau) used, in which they swore allegiance by basically admitting they’ll die if they break the oath — all implications following that admission of responsibility. Although I would reserve this specific outcome for those revolutionaries and/or activists who are more seriously inclined to eradicating social capitalism as defined and expanded upon above, it effectively removes the chance for people to become snitches by putting the onus on the personal, and has proven to do so time and time again in revolutionary movements by the oppressed, worldwide. In typical guerilla fashion, these unions could also be designed on a pyramid basis, with one person only knowing/recruiting two other people to the union, and each of those other people recruiting two more people, so that it is not possible to snitch on every single person in the group.
In every movement, it is also necessary for an organization of people to turn inwards and purge flaws that make itself weak, such as oppressive/counter-revolutionary thought and behaviors imposed via centuries colonialism. Education on social capitalism is necessary to prevent future authorities from monopolizing on an ideological framework / ecosystem. But it’s always personal choice to subvert it or not.
The self-critique that is necessary is not self-critique done by our oppressors (for they ought not necessarily be forgiven by a survivor of systemic oppression), but self-critique on an intersectional basis once our oppressors (the likes of which are to be decided collectively) are effectively neutralized, whether culturally, ontologically, or even physically, from our spaces. The idea is to undo internalized mechanisms of oppression we perpetuate amongst ourselves as oppressed/subaltern peoples. Again, oppression is a reality strongly rooted in relativity, yet bound (though not necessarily) by overarching superstructures formally known as systemic oppression.
Each union can also decide how it fact-checks receipts, who is centered in each case, and even what (if any) themes the union specializes in. These characteristics ought to be customized to fit the needs of the group on a union by union basis. Then, and only then, should unions form democratic confederations. I believe it would be best to do this on small, localized ecosystems or social spheres first, then confederate with other communities/social spheres to accrue further ability to curate the appropriate culture. Once confederated, much larger actions such as mass-reportations can be accomplished. It would also be imperative to pool resources, skills, and mediums as well.
Again, the goal isn’t to have these perpetuators of systemic violence change or reform persay, but to effectively flip social capitalism on its fickle head so that the outlier’d and systemically oppressed become the autonomous filters of inclusion and exclusion in any given social sphere. It is to be expected that social capitalists, thriving on the dishonoring, isolation, and otherwise other’ing of people with revolutionary concepts that potentiate improvements to movements, will find themselves being isolated (albeit much slower than someone without clout) in an event we call “cancelling”.
It is this cancelling which gives a person the opportunity to decide whether or not they want to keep perpetuating systemic violence, and centers the victims by allowing them to come out with a preferably-public statement on amends, if they so choose. If they do not, they will be effectively be eliminated on a cultural-societal basis, finding themselves and their problematic attributes on a metaphorical island of their own violence, and therefore, the communities of the oppressed further fortified and coherent.
This is the outcome that is to be expected, because in reality, the oppressors within systemic oppression, the settler-slaver-and-master complex, has proven time and time again that forgiveness and the opportunity to reconcile oneself backfires upon the community. These experiences are often that of restorative justice, as the oppressor is allowed back into the community and perpetuates yet another echo of systemic violence against the survivor population. And so, the methods I propose are based upon an outcome that also carries the potential to sabotage not only social capitalism, but ontological oppression as well.
It is always the case in any struggle for liberation, whether it be via attrition or protracted struggle, that isolating the enemy effectively weakens the enemy and therefore provides the revolutionary the ability to dispose of them how they see fit. By isolating white people in a protracted and de-colonial struggle, for example, they would receive the same fate and be subject to their own machinations of imposed violence. It was this same knowledge of “cancelling” that drove the Cultural Revolution in China via the struggle session (disclaimer: I am not a Maoist and in no way is this a promotion of Maoist ideology; the Cultural Revolution is one of many examples of this phenomenon). However, this “revolution” backfired in many ways because targets were often the wrong people (ie. intellectuals) and not specifically those who systemically benefit from the cultural superstructure— the cultural superstructure in Amerika, for example, being white supremacy, with anti-blackness (and a dishonored proximity to blackness) being its fuel.
The goal also ought not be to solidify a vanguard within the movement during the process of other’ing, which would make the struggle rather exclusionary. The goal is to create a culture of consent while centering oppressed voices within larger oppressed populations— for opression reproduces itself as different scales like insets within insets. If his process can be done in such a manner, the end result would be these voices, thoughts, and ideas being heard equally if not moreso than that of the less-oppressed within a given social sphere. The activity of unifying, even if temporarily in action against shared enemies that threaten the most vulnerable points of a community is historical and beyond common, even so in military strategy. And so these communal call-outs are not only testament to the might of collective voices and action, but also a means of further entrenching unity— for during the process we will be thoroughly materializing out comradery with extraordinary resolve.
I’ll use Twitter as an example:
People in a union could collect the receipts of a person that needs to be held accountable once a poll or call for such is made to do so (whether based on activity online, or off. Then the union would produce a collection of ever-developing receipts online, or in the physical world (e.g. wheatpastes or posters in their hometown). In this example the receipts could be under a Twitter handle people could follow.
Programmers can design bots to tell if you unfollowed/blocked the person who needs to be held accountable or not. If not, you may be considered an apologist and need to be held accountable too. These receipts also need not be posted on social media, but can also be archived on a public domain, and archived periodically on an archival website that is completely separate. Accountability will be determined on a victim-centered basis. Personally, in a social sphere I belong to based on my habitus, the strategy would be to redistribute social capital across social media and promote a self-critique culture that centers Black non-man voices. If these voices are properly centered, and social capital redistributed by receipts and their being made public and shared, non-Black voiced and the voices of Black men, whether -cis or -trans will be effectively isolated or dampered depending on how we, the survivors of systemic misogynoir, so choose.
The communizing or socialization of clout is also another very possible option, though it will require the most work since the system of social media itself works against it. Depending on the platform, it is possible to cultivate a sphere of open information and debate within similiar-enough social groups through language and culture. The use of language such as “egoizer”, “social capitalist”, “anti-clout” and variations of the aforementioned will all contribute to this new culture.
From time to time, people can also be banned from social media due to inherent algorithms within programming. This may look like what is known as “shadow-banning”, or outright banning by IP address or even facial recognition. This is why non-white people have developed new ways of referring to white people (e.g. xonq nopp, yt) ever since Facebook took yet another reactionary turn and determined that white people are entitled to respect or the Black-exclusionary characteristics of “ethics”. This bias in the system can not be improved upon without immense groundwork in reformism that I personally see absolutely no worth in. But what I do suggest is we take note from the concepts that guerilla warfare is waged through; if action is taken primarily on social media, identities and groups ought to expected to be lost.
The online saboteur and guerilla must travel lightly, in that they must understand the impermanence of, for example, having an account on an inherently oppressive medium. They must expect accounts to be removed, voices to be silenced by the hardware of the superstructure itself, and archive receipts or other building blocks of shaming devices offline, on sites collectively owned, like new, anti-capitalist and decolonized social medias. It is also necessary for one to redefine what the meaning of “historical” is, as history by oral tradition has often been subject to ahistoricalness with colonialism. To the guerilla, histories don’t exist on one medium (e.g. on paper), but on many mediums. So when a guerilla wants to cultivate permanent materials to be used as weapons against the social capitalist, it is important that they cross-post, and use the cheapest, most easily available resources to archive notes for dossiers, such as free online archive sites.
In developing new, anti-capitalist social medias, we could follow the direction of Chinese social media apps such as WeChat (sans the personal QR code that serves as a digital ID), which does little to to nothing to advertise the accomplishments of the social capitalist by painting their likes as big blue and approving thumbs-ups, or Twitters warm, loving hearts. For the anti-capitalists, WeChat also has way less ads (you know, the stuff that Russia apparently used to get Trump into office). The funding for these capitalist, decolonized social medias ought not be funded through the brute force of crowdfunding, but can also be accrued through revolutionary means. It can be developed to provide completely encrypted services and be derisive of anonymous systems of communication that provide personal safety, such as the pyramid formation mentioned above.
It is important to note that another characteristic of guerilla warfare also consists living as simply as possible. This means that the incorporation of crowdfunding is a burden to the virtual guerilla. The best mode of action against the impermanence of receipts of social media is to save and collectivize receipts offline, or to collectivize and compile them as dossiers on private online servers such as Megashare. One may even go as far as to printing them and creating actual, physical, stores of them to be scanned and digitized online or posted offline wherever, and whenever.
The point of these methods is to create a permanent, yet highly mobile and allocatable, collectivized space that archives the material necessary to effectively neutralize the oppressor. Therefore, it is also important to define systemic subjugation when identifying who is subjugated. I won’t be surprised to see “national bolsheviks” or “national anarchists” of the like co opting this theory and pretending that anyone looking for clout is a social capitalist… We all deserve clout, all of us in building the most utopian of communisms. What is important is that those who are, say, survivors of sexual abuse, have enough clout to at least be heard, if not believed.
In actual guerilla warfare, this space would be materialized as an ideology, or other abstraction, so that the ideas necessary to sustain a waged war would be in the minds, and spirits, of participants. In the virtual sphere of reality, it would be allocated, cross-posted, archived, and always available for distribution. The materials that will eventually be used can be deployed in an infinite number of ways, from doxxing to getting settlers/slavers fired. But the point is always to isolate the oppressor socially and culturally in a war of abstractions, because survival is the reason for any and all strategies/tactics in guerilla warfare. This is why weakening the enemy is always a useful tactic in guerrilla warfare. Constituents of any solution must always include building up community while kicking the oppressors out, together with all they stand for and have built in our spaces.
All in all, minor individualist actions such as leaving the reactions to tweets/posts (e.g. Likes and Favorites) out of screenshots as to prompt the viewer to react based on content, and not also approval of said content, are also effective at creating a new, communal culture based on consensus and not the dictatorship of majority.
It was hard realizing that what I was doing, last year as a social capitalist on Facebook, was harmful. Facebook last year. The irony is that it took me experiencing the isolation first-hand to realize that clout and social capitalism in social media can only re-create flesh-world oppressions the same way it does offline, whether it be as passive as selectively crowd-funding, or as aggressive or even unconscious as silencing people and gatekeeping. I am still faced with insidious attempts to boost my work and voice, and have since avoided becoming a social capitalist with bravado. Every time I’m approached for someone scouting for tokens, my soul retches because I know first-hand what constitutes a Large Following. Nevertheless, I maintain my voice by following a code that has done me well: anonymity and disownership. Though those strategies may not work for everyone, it has for me.
It wasn’t fun unconsentingly relinquishing all the power I hoarded from other Black transwomen like myself, and instead centering those who don’t have it. In doing so, I have become one of, as renowned revolutionaries and guerillas have said, The People. I see the gaslighting, deflection, and other silent violences, and I experience them first-hand as well. All the subjugation perpetuated at myself and others is irrefutably now. I can confidently say, from beneath the feet of the oppressor’s hand, that this is another power-seeking mode of being that needs to be destroyed with authority. It will be hard, but systemic oppression was never implemented to be easily abolished. The severed and therefore other’d must become whole.
That experience was merely a single example of social capitalism in play , and brings me to another point: social capitalism benefits from both “good” and “bad” press, and thus can not be a synonym of press. It is more than visibility.
You would be foolish to assume that bad press/”negative social capital” is communal social capital — as if that doesn’t benefit the endless supply of celebrity, as if that doesn’t supply the alt-right’s triggering contests through accelerationism in a world that co opts Black revolution lightyears quicker than it fosters Black liberation. Surely, you know of the countless Bad Boy, Problem Girl tropes and Big Stick/Big Mouth politicians that couldn’t have beeb elected without their fiery and hellish personalities — a preference of the groomed Amerikan masses, for example, that is changed over time to conveniently suit an always-artificial, popular national culture. This new culture, in turn, creates conditions for a future that can only be correctly guessed with the study of both ontological and historical materialism — only useful because capitalist tendencies are recursive, not progressive, in their co optation. Capitalists do not innovate, they steal and build upon the labor of those getting stolen from.
This situation is a humanist™ silencing of Others. So even “negative social capital” can be utilized to gsin visibility over others. This shouldn’t be new. And yet, ending this system of unconsensual domination isn’t limited to self-defeat and an ascetic, hermit-like approach to visibility — but relies on its destruction. That is a lifestylist approach. Social capitalism must be destroyed everywhere, for all. We need to remember that for social capitalism to exist, there must be another to subjugate through silencing narratives in regards to hoarded visibility, and more importantly hypervisibility and gamefied clout.
If it becomes a competition, then there is capitalism involved. We are deserving of communal wealth in clout.
It is important to not be discouraged by capitalism’s omnipotent presence within social media. It is even more important to reimagine social media without capitalism: a world where no one’s voice is shut out, a world where abusers are all held accountable in online spaces, a virtual world without bullies and capitalists, a space to vent without being isolated, a world without addicting incentives in the form of colorful validations and broken promises if attention, and where your private info isn’t leakable to law enforcement… A world that is still beautiful and full of nuance and passion: a place to be, without the unnecessary stigma against personal identity.
To those who have been burned specifically for their anti-reductionist, intersectional dissent, I hope you feel validated by this. But to those who are afraid to speak up and would rather obey their sense of the game, I hope you will find courage in these writings. You don’t need to be as weak as, for example, those in the White House who are afraid to get burned by speaking against Trump. And you don’t have to feel alone, either. We out here. I was never convinced that the socially, libidinally, or ontologically rich would allow us to argue, debate, or essay their power away. But I have belief that someday we will be able to seize these societal means of cultural production and gatekeeping without degradation into begging.
We just need to start practicing the theory we preach.
A special thank you to those who helped me make this essay possible with thorough feedback, in particular Tierra Timbers who both helped sharpen this essay and inspired me to write it.