Monday, December 10, 2012

The three tier attack

In internet discourse at the present time, one of the time honored patterns is the three tier attack on a discourse system. It takes advantage of peonism – the pathos connection of ordinary seeming people to other ordinary seeming people – and to the sub-pop illusion, namely that there is another different world which we could have right now, but is being kept from us by a conspiracy of elites. It also takes advantage of the breakdown of disinterested gatekeeping. All gatekeepers now are self-interest, and there for weed the discussion of the best, because these people reduce the size of conversation, and therefore the number of ad impressions, this is a descendant of the social reality of the baby boom, where there were far more children than adults.

The first step are the screamers. The screamer loudly asserts some patent untruth, for example, African Americans are stupid genetically, or that Albert Gore was secretly taking in unknown billions for the Democrats, that Saddam had working nuclear weapons or was close to acquiring them. The screamers point is to end all other discussion, and make it focus on the screamer. The screamer will offend whatever the smartest people left are, who will know the screamer is uttering unspeakable nonsense.

The second step is the spammer, while the screamer can spam links or repeat talking points, having others creates the illusion that a large body of social opinion exists, and that it is backed up by some independent body of research. Of course it doesn't, all the links are mirrors of a few original pieces of propaganda, where the screamer and spammer are primed with their screams, and links. The Free Republic is like an infection reservoir for crazy. These are replaced as the old ones decay.

This hovers for a while, until everyone with the ability to disable the attack has been outed as "uncivil." If need be some version of Godwin's Law is invoked: I can't be a Nazi, I am a peon like you. The logical result is that Nazis win all arguments, because Godwin's Law forbids telling the truth about Nazis.

However, at some point the last of the three tiers comes in, the suit. The suit does not scream, he will confess to agreeing to some of the points the other side makes. He will drop words that betray he has a viewpoint, but it is such a moderate view, he has to be reasonable, and look the people against him are so unreasonable, what's wrong with a little discussion of the Jewish Question?

Until social mechanisms are in place that overturns this, the discourse system is screwed. One was created, but that was crashed. Where only a few people are writers, and most are in the soup of facebooking and tweeting and commenting, it is easy to capsize the discourse with the time honored three tier attack.