[Plura-list] Organic fascism; Stop the "Stop the Steal" steal

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Thu Feb 4 13:48:07 EST 2021


Next Tuesday, I'm helping Ed Snowden launch the young readers' version
of his spectacular memoir "Permanent Record." Join us for a livestream
event with Copperfield Books on Feb 9 at 19h Pacific.



Today's links

* Organic fascism: The Pastel Q/organic food crossover.

* Stop the "Stop the Steal" steal: My op-ed on ES&S's bullying of
e-voting critics.

* This day in history: 2006, 2011, 2016, 2020

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current
writing projects, current reading


💼 Organic fascism

Remember the "urban farming" wave, whose most prominent proponent was
the youtuber Curtis Stone, author of "The Urban Farmer?"

Stone is now a covid-denying trumpist who believes in impending
civilizational collapse and rails against SJWs.

Writing about Stone's transformation for his Farm Worker Bulletin, Luke
Carneal explores the connections between heterodox food-movements
(especially organicism) and far-right ideology.


In Carneal's telling, Stone's turn *against* urban farming (lest you
find yourself in proximity to antifa supersoldiers and BLM mobs) does
not represent a conflict with Stone's ideology - rather, it's always
been a tendency in pastoralist movements.


There's a zone where preppers and back-to-the-landers cross over, where
suspicion of capitalism and elites can be part of a yearning towards a
fair and humane future or a reactionary turn back to some imaginary
state of human grace.

It's an idea I first encountered in Leigh Phillips's "Austerity Ecology
and the Collapse Porn Addicts," which described how the German Agrarian
Conservativism movement became a critical part of the Nazi vision.


It's a vision of pastoral extermination that sees off teeming millions
to make room for a kind of Shire living, where we are all returned to a
mythological state of leather-apron-clad bourgeois shopkeeping and
smallhold farming.

That tendency lurks in the history of environmentalism in the form of
"ecofascism," which marries eugenics to ecology, insisting that Earth
has exceeded its "capacity" and balance can only be restored by
despatching billions of unnecessary people.


Ecofascism is on a spectrum with Pastel Q, the name for the intersection
of the "wellness" movement and far-right conspiratorialism.


Pastel Q is a cross between the true understanding that health science
has been corrupted by monied interests (see, e.g. the food pyramid's
emphasis on industrial carbs) and false claims that the corruption
extends to vaccines, elections, and pedophile rings.

In other words, Pastel Q and other right wing movements have some sound
epistemology - an understanding that expert truth-seeking enterprises
are actually an auction that sells the official truth to the highest

But this isn't so much an epistemology as the *absence* of an
epistemology. If expert truth-seeking exercises can't be trusted, then
how can we know what's true? The epistemological void created by
corruption is fertile soil for the ravings of paranoid, right-wing huxters.

This is how you find yourself at the organic farmer's market chatting
with a lovely person who turns out to be armed to the teeth and prepping
for the end-times, who shelves their Whole Earth Catalogs next to their
copy of the Turner Diaries.

I remember being in a hipster coffee shop in east London while reading
Ben Goldacre's indispensable "Bad Pharma," a brutal indictment of the
scientific fraud and profiteering of the pharmacy industry.


The barista asked me about the book and when I described it to him, he
voiced his complete agreement and explained that this was why he
wouldn't get vaccinated and practiced only homeopathic medicine.

He really needed to read Goldacre's followup, Bad Science, which gave
the same treatment to the "alternative medicine" movement, exposing the
lethal quackery behind the Paltrow-Industrial complex.


Those two books - Bad Pharma and Bad Science - reveal such an important
tension, the idea that corrupted science doesn't militate against
science itself - rather, it demands an anticorruption movement.

But a superficial reading of critiques of science leads people badly
astray (and given how busy people are and how impossible it would be to
acquire fluency in all the implicated disciplines, these readings will
inevitably be superficial.

It's not ridiculous to read critiques of industrial agriculture and food
processing and conclude that "adulterants" are the problem - that
"natural" processes are superior but are hamstrung because they're
universal, non-proprietary, and impossible to monopolize.

Not least because adulterants and admixture can trigger an instinctive,
toddler's revulsion - the "my carrots are touching my peas, *uggggh*"
instinct - the same infantile revulsion behind Lovecraftian white supremacy:


As Carneal says, "The worldview of the reactionary small
farmer/homesteader places him squarely within the long history of
self-victimization found commonly amongst conservatives."


💼 Stop the "Stop the Steal" steal

I've got an op-ed in today's Washington Post, about the legal threats
that ES&S - the litigious, private-equity-backed voting machine
monopolist - sent to SMART Elections, a citizen group that criticized
ES&S products to NY election officials.


I blogged the story in Jan, after reading Princeton's Andrew Appel's
defense of SMART; Appel has done important, careful, peer-reviewed
research on defects in ES&S's Expressvote XL, and he defended the claims
that ES&S was threatening to sue over.


The point that Appel made, that really struck home with me, was that the
timing and character of ES&S's claims echoed the claims of Dominion
Voting Systems against trumpland's most unhinged conspiratorialists,
like Rudy Giuliani.


Dominion was the target of baseless conspiracy claims that were part of
a plot to overthrow American democracy. ES&S's threats made it sound
like anyone who criticized voting machines was part of the same movement.

This is a cynical ploy straight out of the Trump playbook, as when he
took the term "fake news" (coined to describe fraudulent anti-Clinton
stories) and used it to dismiss all media criticism of his regime.

The conclusion Trump wanted us to draw from the fact that some political
scandals are ginned-up hoaxes is that ALL political scandals are frauds.

Likewise, I read ES&S's as saying that anyone who criticizes voting
machines is pulling a Giuliani.

It's a devastating attack on the truth itself, a challenge to our
ability to ever know anything. And it's especially grave to wield this
weapon against voting-machine critics, because voting machines are, in
fact, garbage (including ES&S's).

For that matter, *Dominion's* machines are *also* trash, just not for
the idiotic reasons that Giuliani and co came up with. Appel followed up
his post on the Expressvote XL with an equally damning post about
Dominion's devices.


The takeaway here isn't that Giuliani made baseless accusations against
Dominion, therefore Dominion (and its competitors) are great. Indeed,
the fact that Giuliani didn't even bother to base his (lying)
accusations on the *real* defects in Dominion just proves he's an idiot.

ES&S's gambit reminds me of the "tankies" who deny the Chinese Uyghur
genocide. After publishing on Intercepted's primary source docs on the
human rights atrocities yesterday, I was inundated with accusations of
aiding US imperialism.


The argument goes, "The US has historically ginned up cases against its
economic adversaries by inventing or exaggerating their flaws (Syria,
Iraq, Iran, Cuba, etc), *and* the US right wants a new cold war with
China, *therefore* anything bad you hear about China is an op."

As one source put it to me, our media is about affect, "picking what you
believe is correct or not based on if it makes you feel good."

Once you arrive at the (actually correct) shortcut belief that US state
claims about human rights abuses overseas are pretexts for aggression,
then it's easy to fall into the trap of defending anyone the US
criticizes as blameless or at least not as bad as they seem.

But your enemy's enemy is not your friend. The reason the US is able to
sell claims about its adversaries' bad human rights records is
that...they have bad human rights records.

The issue isn't that the US fails to identify human rights abusers -
it's that it only takes action to defend human rights when it serves its
political interests, and the rest of the time, it's happy to collaborate
on the abuses.

Likewise, the reason that Giuliani and co were able to sell their
unhinged conspiracy about Dominion's voting machines is that voting
machines are and always have been garbage, and the companies that make
them are profiteering bullies who use the law to silence critics.

The problem with Giuliani's conspiracy theory isn't that voting machines
aren't garbage - it's that he's wrong about how they're garbage, and
what that means for election integrity.

Giuliani's targeting of voting machines isn't a signal that they're good
because he's an idiot who's wrong about everything - it's that he's so
wrong that he's even wrong about the things that he's wrong about.

Meanwhile, ES&S gets to look like an aggrieved target of Trumpist
election interference - rather than as the monopolists who have sold
their unsound products up and down the country.


💼 This day in history

#15yrsago BMW cheats search-engines, Google removes it from search
results http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2006-02-04-n60.html

#15yrsago AOL/Yahoo: our email tax will make the net as good as the post

#10yrsago Dread clicks and whirs: the sounds of hard drives failing

#5yrsago Who funds the “Millennials Rising” Super PAC? Rich old men.

#5yrsago Videos of this year’s Shmoocon talks, starting with
Gershenfeld’s talk on nonbinary computing

#5yrsago Laura Poitras’s Astro Noise: indispensable book and gallery
show about mass surveillance

#1yrago Upright Women Wanted: be gay, do crimes, circulate books


💼 Colophon

Today's top sources: Naked Capitalism (https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/).

Currently writing:

* My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and
reconciliation. Yesterday's progress: 506 words (106739 total).

* A short story, "Jeffty is Five," for The Last Dangerous Visions.
Yesterday's progress: 265 words (3183 total).

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 30)

Upcoming appearances:

* Launch for the young adult edition of Edward Snowden's memoir

* Boskone, 58, Feb 12-15, https://boskone.org/

* Keynote, NISO Plus, Feb 22-25,

* Interop: Self-Determination vs Dystopia (FITC), Apr 19-21,

Recent appearances:

* Chop Shop Economics

* Monocle Reads

* Hedging Bets on the Future (Motherboard Cyber):

Latest book:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone
technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political
cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution
and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a
(print edition:

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

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"*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla*" -Joey "Accordion
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