[Plura-list] Incomplete vs. overshoot

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Mon Feb 26 11:47:26 EST 2024

Read today's issue online at: https://pluralistic.net/2024/02/26/horsehoe-crab/


I'm on tour with my new novel *The Bezzle*! Catch me TONIGHT in SEATTLE with Neal Stephenson (Feb 26, Third Place Books) and TOMORROW in PORTLAND at Powell's. After that, it's Phoenix, Tucson, Anaheim and more!



Today's links

* Incomplete vs. overshoot: The horseshoe theory is really, really wrong.

* Hey look at this: Delights to delectate.

* This day in history: 2004, 2009, 2014, 2019, 2023

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


🥥 Incomplete vs. overshoot

You know the "horseshoe theory," right? "The far-left and the far-right, rather than being at opposite and opposing ends of a linear continuum of the political spectrum, closely resemble each other, analogous to the way that the opposite ends of a horseshoe are close together":


It's a theory that only makes sense if you don't know much about the right and the left and what each side wants out of politics.

Take women's suffrage. The early suffragists ("suffragettes" in the UK) were mostly interested in votes for affluent, white women - not women as a body. Today's left criticizes the suffrage movement on the basis that they didn't go far enough:


Contrast that with Christian Dominionists - the cranks who think that embryos are people (though presumably not for the purpose of calculating a state's electoral college vote? Though it would be cool if presidential elections turned on which side of a state line a fertility clinic's chest-freezer rested on):


These people are part of a far-right coalition that wants to abolish votes for women. As billionaire far-right bagman Peter Thiel wrote that he thought it was a mistake to let women vote *at all*:


Superficially, there's some horseshoe theory action going on here. The left thinks the suffragists were wrong. The right thinks they were wrong, too. Therefore, the left and the right agree!

Well, they agree that the suffragists were wrong, but for opposite reasons - and *far, far* more importantly, they totally disagree about *what they want*. The right wants a world where *no* women can vote. The left wants a world where *all* women can vote. The idea that the right and the left agree on women's suffrage is, as the physicists say, "not even wrong."

It's the kind of wrong that can only be captured by citing scripture, specifically, A Fish Called Wanda, 6E, 79: "The central message of Buddhism is not 'Every man for himself.' And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up."

Or take the New Deal. While the New Deal set its sites on liberating workers from precarity, abuse and corruption, the Dealers - like the suffragists - had huge gaps in their program, omitting people of color, indigenous people, women, queer people, etc. There are lots of leftists who criticize the New Deal on this basis: it didn't go far enough:


But for the past 40 years, America has seen a sustained, vicious assault on New Deal programs, from Social Security to Medicare to food stamps to labor rights to national parks, funded by billionaires who want to bring back the Gilded Age and turn us all into forelock-tugging plebs:


If you only view politics as a game of elementary school cliques, you might say that the left and the right are meeting again. The left says Roosevelt got it wrong with the New Deal (because he left out so many people). The right says FDR was wrong for doing the New Deal in the first place. Therefore, the left and the right agree, right?

Obviously wrong. *Obviously*. Again, the important thing is *why* the left and the right think the New Deal deserves criticism. The important thing is what the left and the right *want*. The left wants universal liberation. The right wants us all in economic chains. They *do not* agree.

It's not always just politics, either. Take the old, good internet. That was an internet defined by technological self-determination, a wild and wooly internet where there were few gatekeepers, where disfavored groups could find each other and make common cause, where users who were threatened by the greed of the shareholders behind big services could install blockers, mods, alternative clients and other "adversarial interoperability" tools that seized the means of computation.

Today's enshitternet - "five giant websites, filled with screenshots of the other four" (h/t @TVEastman) - is orders of magnitude more populous than that old, good internet. The enshitternet has *billions* of users, and they are legally - and technologically - prevented from taking any self-help measures when the owners of services change them to shift value from users to themselves:


The anti-enshittification movement rightly criticizes the old, good internet because it wasn't inclusive enough. It was a system almost exclusively hospitable to affluent, privileged people - the people who least needed the liberatory power of technology.

Likewise *pro*-enshittification monopolists - billionaires and their useful idiots - deplore the old, good internet because it gave its users *too much power*. For them, ad-blocking, alternative clients, mods, reverse-engineering and so on were all bugs, not features. For them, the enshitternet is great because businesses can literally criminalize taking action to protect yourself from their predatory impulses:


Superficially, it seems like the pro- and anti-enshittification forces agree - they both agree that the old, good internet was a mistake. But the difference that matters here is that the pro-enshittification side wants everyone mired in the enshitternet forever, living with what @Saurik calls "Felony contempt of business-model." By contrast, the disenshittification side wants a *new*, good internet that gives *every user* - not just a handful of techies - the power to decide how the digital systems they work use, and to be able to alter or reconfigure them to suit their own needs.

The horsehoe theory only makes sense if you don't take into account the beliefs and goals of each side. Politics aren't just a matter of who you agree with on a given issue - the real issue is *what you're trying to accomplish*.


🥥 Hey look at this

* Become a Wikipedian in 30 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRRHR1NEOqE

* Report: The Dollar Store Invasion https://ilsr.org/report-dollar-store-invasion/ (h/t Regs to Riches)

* Forest and Factory Zine https://shop.haters.life/products/forest-and-factory-zine-2-pack (h/t This Machine Kills)


🥥 This day in history

#20yrsago Education czar calls teachers’ union a “terrorist organization” https://www.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/02/24/paige.terrorist.nea/index.html

#20yrsago Garry Trudeau puts $10K up for anyone who will confirm Bush’s Air Guard claims https://web.archive.org/web/20040401103812/http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/faqs/index.html

#20yrsago Nelson’s Grey Tuesday RSS https://web.archive.org/web/20040503084858/http://www.nelson.monkey.org/~nelson/weblog/culture/blogs/greyDay.html

#15yrsago Conan copyright trolls censor fan-readings of public domain stories https://www.sffaudio.com/conan-and-new-zealands-new-copyright-law-vs-broken-sea/

#15yrsago Unimaginably gigantic cell-phone market in Shenzhen https://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=283

#15yrsago John Hodgman explains what’s wrong with “Meh” https://waxy.org/2009/02/john_hodgman_on_meh/

#15yrsago Bruce Sterling’s The Caryatids, my pick for best book of 2009, a novel of clear-eyed hope for the future https://memex.craphound.com/2009/02/24/bruce-sterlings-the-caryatids-my-pick-for-best-book-of-2009-a-novel-of-clear-eyed-hope-for-the-future/

#20yrsago Universal crackpot spam solution rebuttal https://craphound.com/spamsolutions.txt

#15yrsago Steampunk: Love the machine, hate the factory https://web.archive.org/web/20090301121548/http://www.make-digital.com/make/vol17/?pg=16&pm=1

#15yrsago RIP, Philip Jose Farmer https://web.archive.org/web/20090228143743/http://www.pjfarmer.com/

#15yrsago Authors´ Guild vs. reality: Kindles and read-aloud https://memex.craphound.com/2009/02/25/authors-guild-vs-reality-kindles-and-read-aloud/

#10yrsago Mozilla’s $25 Firefox smartphone: a free/open device for billions of new netizens https://www.cnet.com/tech/mobile/with-firefox-os-mozilla-begins-the-25-smartphone-push/

#10yrsago Whistleblower: NSA secretly continues Merkel surveillance by bugging other German officials https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/02/nsa-moves-from-bugging-german-chancellor-to-bugging-german-ministers/

#10yrsago Text of Little Brother on an art-litho, tee, or tote https://www.litographs.com/products/brother

#10yrsago Takei to Arizona lawmakers: we will boycott Arizona if it passes its anti-gay Jim Crow law https://www.cnbc.com/2014/02/25/razing-arizonageorge-takeicommentary.html

#10yrsago How Youtube’s automated copyright system lets big music screw indie creators https://torrentfreak.com/why-youtubes-automated-copyright-takedown-system-hurts-artists-140223/

#10yrsago DICE: emulator for hardwired, discrete-circuit games from the 1970s https://adamulation.blogspot.com

#10yrsago It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (must, MUST read) https://memex.craphound.com/2014/02/25/its-complicated-the-social-lives-of-networked-teens-must-must-read/

#10yrsago GCHQ’s dirty-tricking psyops groups: infiltrating, disrupting and discrediting political and protest groups https://memex.craphound.com/2014/02/25/gchqs-dirty-tricking-psyops-groups-infiltrating-disrupting-and-discrediting-political-and-protest-groups/

#5yrsago Costa Rican measles outbreak traced to unvaccinated French tourists https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/measles-costa-rica-french-tourist-boy-anti-vax-vaccination-who-global-health-threat-infection-mmr-a8794256.html

#5yrsago France fines UBS €3.7b for helping rich French residents launder more than €10b https://www.thelocal.fr/20190220/breaking-french-court-hits-swiss-bank-ubs-with-37-billion-fine-in-french-tax-fraud-case

#5yrsago German neofascists used Qanon to expand their reach https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-fringe-groups-are-using-qanon-to-amplify-their-wild-messages

#5yrsago Lime scooters have a software bug that causes them to hurl their riders to the ground https://qz.com/1558033/a-software-malfunction-is-injuring-lime-riders-around-the-world

#5yrsago Artists against Article 13: when Big Tech and Big Content make a meal of creators, it doesn’t matter who gets the bigger piece https://memex.craphound.com/2019/02/25/artists-against-article-13-when-big-tech-and-big-content-make-a-meal-of-creators-it-doesnt-matter-who-gets-the-bigger-piece/

#5yrsago Deposition of opioid profiteer Richard Sackler reveals his bizarre defense: definitional games and insistence that words mean their opposite https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/02/sackler-behind-oxycontin-fraud-offered-twisted-mind-boggling-defense/

#5yrsago Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will pay every staffer a living wage, ending the longstanding practice of Congressional staffers taking second jobs https://rollcall.com/2019/02/22/alexandria-ocasio-cortezs-call-for-a-living-wage-starts-in-her-office/

#5yrsago As expected, the EU has advanced the catastrophic Copyright Directive without fixing its terrible defects https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/02/european-governments-approve-controversial-new-copyright-law/

#1yrago This is your brain on fraud apologetics https://pluralistic.net/2023/02/24/passive-income/#swiss-cheese-security


🥥 Colophon

Today's top sources:

Currently writing:

* A Little Brother short story about DIY insulin PLANNING

* Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. FORTHCOMING TOR BOOKS JAN 2025

* The Bezzle, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. FORTHCOMING TOR BOOKS FEB 2024

* Vigilant, Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. FORTHCOMING ON TOR.COM

* Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. FORTHCOMING ON TOR.COM

Latest podcast: The Majority of Censorship is Self-Censorship https://craphound.com/news/2024/02/25/the-majority-of-censorship-is-self-censorship/

Upcoming appearances:

* The Bezzle at Third Place Books (Seattle), Feb 26

* The Bezzle at Powell's (Portland) Feb 27:

* The Bezzle at Changing Hands (Phoenix), Feb 29:

* Tucson Festival of Books, Mar 9/10

* Enshittification: How the Internet Went Bad and How to Get it Back (virtual), Mar 26

* Wondercon Anaheim, Mar 29-31

* The Bezzle at Anderson's Books (Chicago), Apr 17

* Torino Biennale Tecnologia (Apr 19-21)

* Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (Winnipeg), May 2

* Tartu Prima Vista Literary Festival (May 5-11)

* Media Ecology Association keynote, Jun 6-9 (Amherst, NY)

* American Association of Law Libraries keynote, (Chicago), Jul 21

Recent appearances:

* Radioactive (KCRL)

* The enshittification of music (Music Ally)

* Aaron Swartz (EpistemiCast)

Latest books:

* The Bezzle: a sequel to "Red Team Blues," about prison-tech and other grifts, Tor Books (US), Head of Zeus (UK), February 2024 (the-bezzle.org). Signed, personalized copies at Dark Delicacies (https://www.darkdel.com/store/p3062/Available_Feb_20th%3A_The_Bezzle_HB.html#/).

* "The Lost Cause:" a solarpunk novel of hope in the climate emergency, Tor Books (US), Head of Zeus (UK), November 2023 (http://lost-cause.org). Signed, personalized copies at Dark Delicacies (https://www.darkdel.com/store/p3007/Pre-Order_Signed_Copies%3A_The_Lost_Cause_HB.html#/)

* "The Internet Con": A nonfiction book about interoperability and Big Tech (Verso) September 2023 (http://seizethemeansofcomputation.org). Signed copies at Book Soup (https://www.booksoup.com/book/9781804291245).

* "Red Team Blues": "A grabby, compulsive thriller that will leave you knowing more about how the world works than you did before." Tor Books http://redteamblues.com. Signed copies at Dark Delicacies (US): and Forbidden Planet (UK): https://forbiddenplanet.com/385004-red-team-blues-signed-edition-hardcover/.

* "Chokepoint Capitalism: How to Beat Big Tech, Tame Big Content, and Get Artists Paid, with Rebecca Giblin", on how to unrig the markets for creative labor, Beacon Press/Scribe 2022 https://chokepointcapitalism.com

* "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 https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1840/Available_Now%3A_Attack_Surface.html

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a solution. https://onezero.medium.com/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism-8135e6744d59?sk=f6cd10e54e20a07d4c6d0f3ac011af6b) (signed copies: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2024/Available_Now%3A__How_to_Destroy_Surveillance_Capitalism.html)

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1750/July%3A__Little_Brother_%26_Homeland.html

* "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: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2682/Corey_Doctorow%3A_Poesy_the_Monster_Slayer_HB.html#/.

Upcoming books:

* Picks and Shovels: a sequel to "Red Team Blues," about the heroic era of the PC, Tor Books, February 2025

* Unauthorized Bread: a graphic novel adapted from my novella about refugees, toasters and DRM, FirstSecond, 2025

This work - excluding any serialized fiction - is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially, provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link to pluralistic.net.


Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright, or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.


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