Voyou Désœuvré

The internet is having one of its periodic freak-outs about a privacy policy change. Gawker posted a ridiculous, trolling article, which made its way onto Tumblr, and now is showing up in the Washington Post and on Democracy Now. The sentence causing all the concern is:

In a radical privacy policy shift, Google announced today that it will begin tracking users across all services—email, Search, YouTube and more—sharing information with no option to opt out. The change was announced in a blog post today, and will go into effect March 1.

Now, as Forbes points out, this is bollocks. This is not a policy shift at all, still less a radical one – tracking users across services has been in Google’s privacy policy since 2005. What I’m trying to figure out, though, is why people are freaking out over this. A couple of possibilities occur to me: Read more↴

Given the amount of time spent discussing the handful of bank windows smashed during Wednesday’s Oakland general strike, you might imagine that many people care about property damage; and yet, if you look for such people, who are they? Liberals complain about property damage during the various marches and actions, but they’re quick to add that it is not they themselves who are disturbed or offended; rather, they are concerned about the effect this property damage will have on others, particularly the cops who will react violently and the media who will focus on images of destruction to the exclusion of whatever else the demonstration achieved. The liberal’s position here is perverse in the Lacanian sense: it expresses itself not as an actual desire, but as a desire to be the instrument of the desire of some fantasized other. Part of what supports this disavowed desire is that the objection to property damage can present itself as neutral, even expert, strategic advice. It’s bad strategic advice, though, and I think in a revealing way. Read more↴

k-punk, recently:

The denials that the News of the World would be salacious which Murdoch made when he took over the paper in the social democratic era give way to neoliberalism’s claim to be only giving people what they want.

What may be even more damaging about the claim that the people “want” Murdoch-style tabloids is that the same argument is made by the defenders of the “quality” press. This claim is usually made in sorrow: once there was a time when the media gave people the informationpublic questioning they needed to know, but now commercial pressures encourage the media to give people only what they want. Read more↴

The coverage was almost entirely predictable. It was predictable because it was in important respects stage managed by the police…. The state seeks to manipulate the media in order to protect the status quo from serious challenge. (Dan Hind, VersoBooks.com)

I do think this focus on police infiltrators risks overemphasizing the agency of the state, and concomitantly underemphasizing the possibilities for resistance. Read more↴

I didn’t include American newspaper readers in my earlier credulity index because, hilariously, American newspaper readers are not merely credulous, but adulatory. Hence their mistaken belief that there’s something still alive for the internet to kill. On the contrary; if the internet can destroy the rotting corpse that gives off the kind of stench embodied in this Washington Post editorial, so much the better. When one republishes journalistic conventional wisdoms which anyone paying attention would know to be false, at what point does laziness become indistinguishable from lying? E.g.: Read more↴

Why shouldn’t we call out Lib Dem “betrayal”? Because they haven’t betrayed anyone. To think that they have reinforces the mistaken belief that, when they describe themselves as “progressive,” they mean “left.” But Lib Dem progressivism isn’t just a fluffy sort of not quite socialism, it’s a specifically liberal version of progressivism.

Consider, for example, welfare provision. The issue here is not simply one of more or less state support, but about how that support is provided. Conservatives don’t actually want (too many) people starving in the street; but they do want those who receive state support to be directly disciplined, probably by highly moralizing institutions (hence the conservative support for certain kinds of religious charity). Liberal welfare provision, on the other hand, requires that the recipients be disciplined by the amorphous institutions of the market. Read more↴