_md: Can you elaborate on how Internet memes are authoritarian by design?

Submitted by Fossidarity in discussion

In this post you say (quote):

Incidentally, this is why I do not want to seize the "memes" of production. So many products of internet culture (including the "it was a joke" after-the-fact defence) are authoritarian by design, and we only taint ourselves by trying to use them.

Can you elaborate on this? I get how the "it was a joke" meme is authoritarian but I'm curious how this applies to all Internet memes.


You must log in or register to comment.


md_ wrote

Oh, okay :) I don't have time to really expand this to the extend I'd like, and my ideas are still not fully developed, but some thoughts that I had for a while:

I think a fundamental difference between reactionary and progressive ideas is that reactionary ideas are easy to convey. They are easy because they are simplistic, and because they tap into reflexes, traditions, instincts and human cognitive shortcuts. Progressive ideas have more hurdles to overcome. They are more nuanced, and they don't have pre-existing cognitive shortcuts to tap into. And they are of course ideas that promote constant examination and critic, even of these ideas themselves. As anarchists for example, we often say that all hierarchies are under constant scrutiny and if they fail to justify themselves, they are to be abolished.

Memes, even people who make progressive memes admit this, are not nuanced. The medium of memes has so many technical restrictions that simply cannot be used to actually convey progressive ideas. Only the hollow surface stays with the viewer. But it is a horrifyingly fertile ground for reactionary ideas, because they do not need nuance.

That's not to say that memes cannot be funny -inside jokes are good- but they cannot change societies towards more progressive politics. At best, they do no harm, at worst the hollow surface due to the lack of nuance gets twisted into reactionary positions.


TheLegendaryBirdMonster wrote (edited )

I think this article is semi-relevant, it kinda gets the general feeling of 4chan/internet "it's only a joke" culture.


I'm not sure it answers 100% to what you're asking but it's a good read non the less


md_ wrote

Thank you for sharing that link. It was really good, and indeed relevant.