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Skwawkbox Spreads Panic on Coronavirus, “Johnson’s aim is to allow the virus to spread until at least 90% of the UK’s population has been infected – which will involve a huge death toll.”

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Fake News Site Says, “Johnson’s aim is to allow the virus to spread until at least 90% of the UK’s population has been infected – which will involve a huge death toll.”

 

The fake news site says:  JOHNSON’S HERD-IMMUNITY PLAN WOULD MEAN LETTING 90% OF UK CATCH COVID-19 – AND A MILLION OR MORE DIE

Johnson’s ‘herd immunity’ plan appears to mean a decision by the Tory government to stand back while – in the most optimistic scenario – hundreds of thousands of our people die.

To Johnson, Cummings and their fellow fans of eugenics, that might just mean ‘the herd’. But to you and me, that’s our loved ones, our friends, our colleagues – if we’re lucky enough to survive their plan ourselves.

The people the government says its first duty is to protect – and under that kind of a government, there is no reason at all for such optimism.

Postscript: Johnson’s refusal this afternoon to close schools, when Ireland will do so from tomorrow, is entirely in line with his ‘plan’.

Conspis are already commenting on the site,

Johnson, Cummings and the string pullers are revealing their true nature. What a tragedy that the ” moderates, centrists” Blairites, Labour first, Starmer, Thornberry et al all have played a part in these hideous people having the levers of power.

Another,

Bet those pensioners that selfishly voted Tory didn’t realise they were volunteering for a far right eugenics experiment with them as the guinea pigs.
Bet they are foaming at the mouth over their Daily Bile.

Not too long ago Swawkbox restricted itself to publishing stories attacking Keir Starmer, and Lisa Nandy , giving a platform to poor old  Richard Burgon, “by far the outstanding candidate in that contest”,  and this kind of piece,

REVOR PHILLIPS SHOULD HAVE BEEN EXPELLED WELL BEFORE NOW – BUT HIS CASE ILLUMINATES CENTRIST DOUBLE-STANDARD

 

Now it’s a return to the old days with scaremongering to the fore: endless stories about Coronavirus.

What old days?

 

These old days:  “DISABLED CLAIMANTS TOLD: 2 YRS TO GET JOB OR BE SANCTIONED FOR A YEAR.”  17th of July. 2017

And this, also in 2017.

On 16 June, in an article headed “Video: Govt puts ‘D-notice’ gag on real #Grenfell death toll #nationalsecurity”, Skwawkbox took up the claim made by grime MC Saskilla on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme that the number of victims in the Grenfell Tower fire was far greater than had yet been officially admitted, with as many as 200 people having died.

Skwawkbox used this claim to give credence to rumours that the government was engaged in an attempt to prevent the media reporting the true extent of the disaster: “At the same time, multiple sources told the SKWAWKBOX that the government has placed a ‘D-notice’ (sometimes called a ‘DA Notice’) on the real number of deaths in the blaze.”

This was followed by a screenshot of an entry from Wikipedia, which defined a DA-Notice as “an official request to news editors not to publish or broadcast items on specified subjects for reasons of national security”. The Skwawkbox article then continued: “In effect, although voluntary, this amounts to a gag on the mainstream media — and note that it is applied for for reasons of national security only.”.

….

Faced with the collapse of its story, Skwawkbox was forced to back off and post a grudging retraction: “EDIT: the SKWAWKBOX is now satisfied that no D-notice was issued. No plain answer to this blog’s question of other restrictions on information about lives lost at Grenfell has yet been provided, but a ‘D-notice’ (or DSMA-notice as they are now termed) was not.”

Did Skwawkbox apologise for getting the story wrong and offer assurances that there would be no repetition of this stupid and provocative reporting? You must be joking. Instead, Skwawkbox’s proprietor was stung by the well-deserved criticism of his article into posting an indignant defence of his shoddy journalistic methods. In a quite astonishing display of chutzpah, he declared that he himself had been the victim of “fake news”!

Written by Andrew Coates

March 12, 2020 at 6:27 pm

The Twittering Machine. Richard Seymour. From Internet Addiction to “post-Truth” politics.

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Image result for the twittering machine

 

The Twittering Machine. Richard Seymour. The Indigo Press. 2019.

This month Benjamin Griveaux, candidate for Paris Mayor from President Macron’s party, La République en Marche, stood down. Peter Pavlinski had posted on the Internet a video of the Macronist stalwart having ‘virtual sex’. Images of the candidate tossing himself off in a previous online exchange with the Russian exile’s girlfriend, Alexandra de Taddeo, had been taken, without, he claims, her knowledge, from her computer. Published on Paveninski’s site, Pornopolitique, it looked like a victory on the Web for those challenging what Richard Seymour in the Foreword to his new book calls the monopoly “formerly enjoyed by media and entertainment companies”. Pavlinski called it a blow against the “hypocrisy” of politicians.

The Twittering Machine is “an attempt” “to work out a new language into what is coming into being” in this “new techno-political system”. The title is short for the whole range of digital platforms. The book is a sustained critique of the “techno-utopians” dream of “creative autonomy” that has gone with the rise of the “bloom of the web”. Beyond being an “addiction machine” it has important political effects. Nobody is any doubt that the Affaire Griveaux would not have happened without the Net’s “ubiquitous publicity. This may be added to the growth of what Seymour calls “cyber-cynicism”.

Debate has raged over making public these “sextos”, and more online regulation, with some defending the confidentiality of intimate relations ( Griveaux scandal revives France’s will to regulate social media). For others it illustrates how “connectivity” can become the fantasy of sharing solitary pleasure. Others relate it to the  #MeToo movement, ,#BalanceTonPorc, and the way sexual issues, from harassment, and rape to infidelity, are no longer considered private in France.

Political Twilight Zone.

Less noticed internationally is the presence of Juan Branco. The author of Crépuscule (2018) and self-styled leftist he is one of the lawyers for Julian Assange. The advocate now represents Pavlinski and is, in effect, part of his public voice (Le Monde. Derrière la chute de Benjamin Griveaux, enquête sur le rôle d’un trio sans foi ni loi.)

Announcing the twilight of President Macron, the book (initially available for free on the Net) has been fiercely criticised on the left for its portrait of high-society plots, the international ‘Gotha’ of the international, elite schooling, moralism, dislike of ‘degenerates’ and venom against homosexuals. Crépuscule is studded with lengthy passages on the networks and manoeuvring of one gay man, Gabriel Attal, charged with organising Macron’s youth wing. For at least some this would-be Revolutionary Prosecutor looks more at home in the world of far-right ‘anti-globalists’ and 4Chan than the left. It comes as no surprise that Branco vaunts how, on Twitter, he had exposed media cover-ups of the oligarchs’ activities. (1)

Richard Seymour offers a way of looking at how figures like Branco and Pavlinski have become political players. Some readers will be disappointed at the absence of discussion about Lenin’s Tomb, Race-play BDSM and the merits of poking fun at people with severe facial injuries. But they will find that the author puts such “anti-celebrities”, the “propagandists of human failure” in their place. Seymour has also written a thoroughly readable thoughtful book.

Trolls and Trolling.

Many of the stories set out in The Twittering Machine, are more tragic than the fate of Benjamin Griveaux. Between our addiction to the instant rewards of ‘like’ on Facebook, the ‘community’ run for profit, the surveillance capitalism, we have the space where trolls gloated on young people’s plight and helped drive them to suicide. The taunting of Océane, her death in front of a high-speed train, her “protest” against an ex-boyfriend’s rape, her remote father, “a profiteer in the sex industry”, and society, made us weep. Seymour, in a sensitive account, talks of the yearning for popularity, for renown, and puts charge of self-regard in its place, “complaints about narcissism are almost always, as Kristin Dombek writes, about the ‘selfishness of others’.” (Page 94) In this world of intense self-promotion come moments of pack hunting. Vigilantes react against the baiting. “Trolling, and the backlash against trolling, is for the most part good money.” (Page 123)

Citing Jean Baudrillard it becomes clear that in a world of simulacra there is a “darkly dystopian potential”. In “post-truth politics” “new fascisms are emerging round micro celebrities, mini-patriarchs and the flow of homogenised messages.” Racist propaganda has “compensatory, antidepressant effects”. The Islamic State, ISIS, another “far right social movement” based on religious-racism spread on the Web with “snuff videos”, “It self-consciously incarnated the antithesis of everything liberal modernity stood for” (Page 187) These “collective hallucinations” have real effects, far-right murders, Daesh’s genocidal state. And there is the first “Twitter President” Donald Trump….

Digital Democracy? 

Can the Internet still have progressive potential? The Twittering Machine cites the role of the early pre-Net French system, Minitel a videotex online service. Seymour says that this played a role in student protests way back in 1986 – although while present out of solidarity at many of them, including the most violent, I failed to notice its impact. Have its successors now become a “sub-hegemonic practice” keeping us in line to the “emerging techno-political regime”? This is at least is certain.

Yet, it was not the technology used but that anti-democratic folk politics principle of “consensus” decision-making that hampered movements like Occupy, accelerating their own lack of a political strategy that could have an effect. The scope of “digital democracy” remains open. Parties organised digitally, like La France insoumise, have their own ways of blocking dissenting voices, by prohibiting any organised opposition. It is impossible to imagine the modern left without social media platforms, Blogs, YouTube, web sites, even Instagram, and the use of Twitter during protests.

In its opening chapters  The Twittering Machine speculates on the “subterranean” drives that attach us to a world in which “we are all scripturient”, writers of texts. The seemingly detached cyberspace in which letters are typed is equally one where we work “without remuneration the better to sell us as a product” (Page 215) Behind lies a taste of B.F. Skinner’s behaviourist ‘utopia’ for business, as surveillance capitalism shadowing the Twitter Machine. Behind the digital revolution and the time consuming Monster, the ‘Chronophage’, is profit from human lab rats. .

The Twittering Machine raises more questions than than it offers plausible conclusions. No left activist in the heat of a political struggle is going to leave behind her mobile, tablet, laptop, or PC and stroll in “the park with nothing but a notepad and a nice pen”. Nobody who wishes to express his or her views is going to rely on speaking or the postal system. Perhaps the “post-Baudrillard” writers, Gilles Lipovetsky and Jean Serrory are onto something when they write that amongst the promotion of the self, and the aesthetic capitalism on Facebook and the Net, may also inspire people to see in themselves their own artistic desires, that it may also allow personal creativity outside of mass consummation and simulacra. This leaves a place for a “utopia”, not exclusively of writing, but certainly fit to occupy the “dreamspace”. (2)

******

(1) Crépuscule ou l’erreur de la confusion. À propos de l’idole BrancoAjoutez aussi –- car tout y est — ses pulsions homophobes, qui transparaissent dans une note où l’effondrement de notre civilisation est associé à deux figures gay — Gabriel Attal et Edouard Louis — si dissemblables qu’on se demande ce qui peut les réunir si ce n’est l’homophobie de l’auteur et le vieux thème de la décadence homosexuelle.

On the alt-right use of the Internet see: Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right Angela Nagel. 2017 Zed Books.

(2) Pages 479 – 480 Gilles Lipovetsky and Jean Serror. L’esthétisation du monde. 2013. Folio.

______________

See also, RS 21.

Review: The Twittering Machine Mark Murphy

Notably,

It is important to note that the last major book ‘left-wing’ book that gave an account of the impact of social media on our politics was Angela Nagel’s Kill All Normies. The problem with her writing is that it is less a description of the material circumstances of our current digital predicament and more of a moralising screed against the current state of left-wing politics. Likewise, before Nagel, we had Exiting the Vampire Castle by Mark Fisher, who began tracing the jouissance (toxic pleasure) laden tendencies that social media brought out in the left. He tells us that the Vampire Castle – his metaphor for the horror story of social media – is driven by a ‘priest’s desire to excommunicate and condemn, an academic-pedant’s desire to be the first to be seen to spot a mistake, and a hipster’s desire to be one of the in-crowd.’ The problem with Fisher and Nagel’s work, in short, is that they have both become a resource for those who moralise against moralism rather than explain our addiction to moralism.

Seymour’s work is vital because he refuses to be drawn into any form of moralising. The psychoanalytic insight, which underpins Seymour’s work, therefore resists externalising, moralising and fetishising the return of the writing repressed. Instead, he argues that it needs to be looked at honestly as we are a part of it whether we like it or not. Against the all too common ‘techlash’ theme, he argues that social media does indeed bring out fascistic and conspiratorial impulses, but it has also given a voice to the marginalised. Moreover, even if the Twittering Machine does give the marginalised more voice, it does so at the expense of handing power to huge corporate entities like Google that monetise our attention.

 

Earthquake for President Macron’s Party in France after the “Political Porn’ of the ‘Affaire Griveaux’

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Image result for benjamin griveaux vidéo

 

French radio this morning was full of suggestions that the scandal that brought down Macron supported Paris Mayor candidate, Benjamin Griveaux, could be called an act of “revenge porn” (pornodivulgation or vengeance).

Reports of this appeared across the media:

Le Monde leads with this headline:

Le « séisme politique » de l’affaire Griveaux atteint Macron

Beyond the municipal elections, the announcement of the withdrawal of the LRM candidate in Paris has hampered moves to win back the public opinion behind the Head of State, which had been mounted to counter the slump in support generated by the pension reform plan (and the protests against it!).

France 24 uses the same metaphor,

Sex tape triggers French ‘political earthquake’, leaving Macron’s Paris bid in tatters

Benjamin Griveaux’s troubled campaign for mayor of Paris came to a startling end on Friday after an online leak of sexual images led Emmanuel Macron’s close ally to pull out of the race, leaving the ruling party without a candidate for next month’s municipal elections.

It also dealt a stinging blow to France’s ruling LREM party, which has been rocked by unprecedented divisions – some stemming from the bitter contest that resulted in Griveaux getting the nomination in the first place.

……

“This is a huge blow for the ruling party, and a huge blow for French politics in general,” Bruno Cautrès, a political analyst at Sciences-Po Paris, told FRANCE 24, describing the manner of Griveaux’s demise as a “political earthquake”.

The former mayoral candidate is a high-profile public figure, Cautrès noted, one of Macron’s earliest supporters, a lawmaker and a former government spokesman. He was running for the most coveted of France’s municipalities, a political fiefdom that has been used in the past, notably by former French President Jacques Chirac, as a springboard for higher office – and one Macron’s camp was desperate to claim.

 

According to French daily Libération, the video was first published online by a Russian performance artist who wished to expose Griveaux’s “hypocrisy”. Pyotr Pavlensky reportedly said he got the video from a “source” who had a consensual relationship with Griveaux.

The immediate political effect has been to sow confusion in the ranks of the Paris  La République En Marche (LERM). They are undecided about whether to launch another candidate or to fuse with other lists (after a prolonged row with a dissident Macron supporter,  Cédric Villani, who is standing without the support of the President’s party and scores around 10% in opinion polls).

Fusion avec d’autres listes, nouveau candidat… Dans le camp Griveaux, plusieurs lignes s’opposent.

Libération concludes,

Does Villani really believe in the possibility of a merger with the LREM list? Judging by his statement on Friday evening (“My project remains open to those who wish to offer a new start in Paris on the basis of progressive and ecological values”), it is far from obvious. “Cédric will not become the candidate of LREM”, firmly stated one of his lieutenants.

This was one of the most recent polls before the scandal broke (for the First Round of a Two Round election):

Anne Hidalgo , (Socialist, Left parties, some Greens) 23 %   Rachida Dati (LR) (classical Right)  20 %,  Benjamin Griveaux (LREM), 16 %. EELV,  (Greens) David Belliard (14,5 %)  Cédric Villani (10 %).

les Echos.

These results suggested that the Socialist Mayor Hidalgo had a good chance of  winning in the second round with the transfers from those backing the Green EELV in the first.

Now everything is up for grabs, with some claiming that Macron supporters could alky with any number of political groups…

The political class has denounced the video:

Le Monde talks of the abassement of democracy and an attack on the right of people to pursue consensual sexual relations in private.

Affaire Benjamin Griveaux : l’abaissement de la démocratie

La France insoumise declines to gloat:

Others have explored the wider issues of the affaire:

Writing of the “tyranny of transparency” Vanessa Jérôme writes in Libération,

«Ce qui est aussi frappant, pour ne pas dire irresponsable et lassant, c’est qu’à aucun moment, on n’insiste sur le fait qu’il s’agit – sauf information contraire ultérieure – d’une vidéo diffusée dans le cadre d’une relation librement consentie, peut-être même sentimentale ou amoureuse, dont on ne sait rien des attendus et de la temporalité”

What is also striking, not to say irresponsible and tiresome, is that at no time is anyone insisting that this is – unless stated otherwise later – a video broadcast about a consensual, freely agreed,  relationship, perhaps even an affectionate and loving one, about whose expectations and unfolding we know nothing.

The ‘Performance’ artist behind the leak has no regrets.

Russian artist defends sex tape leak that ended Paris mayoral bid

Russian protest artist Piotr Pavlensky on Friday confirmed to AFP that he posted a sex video that tanked the Paris mayoral bid of ruling party candidate Benjamin Griveaux, calling his action a fight against political “hypocrisy”.

…..

The controversial Pavlensky, who enjoys political asylum in France, said leaked images of a man masturbating were the first contribution to a “political porn” website created to expose what he considered deceitful behaviour by people in power.

“I have launched the first ‘political porn’ platform,” he said after Griveaux dropped out of the mayoral race citing concern for his wife and children.

“Obviously I need sources. I hope that I will have enough material.”

Known for some startling stunts, which have included nailing his scrotum to Red Square in Moscow, Pavlensky insisted his problem was not with Griveaux’s morals or personal choices, but political deceit.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 15, 2020 at 1:14 pm