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A Confederacy of Sh1tposters.
Speculative investigations into online Dissident ecology.
If you are already reading this, then it is too late. A spectre haunts the crevices of your imagination and your life as a whole. A ghost of lost potentialities and possibilities, a sort of mental frame that is at once forgotten, and then lost all together. What does this mean? Perhaps it is best to go back to the older internet meme of “cannot un-see”. Whats you see a cursed image, it is there forever, you cannot go back to a time in which the possibility of not seeing such a sight was still ongoing and having a real bearing on your life. You live in another time frame, another reality which has shucked itself off from the whole. This is of course applicable to “cannot un-think”, or “cannot un-know”.
This is the the purposed main point of entry and driving cathartic ethos of online dissident spaces. You can know “ground breaking truths” and then never un-know them. You can exit Normiedom and enter into a world of thought that was previously guarded from you. Or rather, this is the main lingo around such entryways into dissident thought; language such as the “red pill”, or pill talk in general (discourse that in itself devolves into pilpul) or the bifurcation of “dissident” and “normie” forms a loose notion of identification and perhaps even community, but one that resists true identity and the status of being a “movement”-proper for a number of reasons.
My aim here is to simply explore freely, or give a sort of taxonomy of online dissident or outsider-spaces, no matter how “blackpilling” these observations become or the places they take me are; it is of my opinion that we are entering a sort of dark period. “this was the bad times” Henry Hill stated at the end of Goodfellas, where things are slowly falling apart, and there is no real way to fix things unless a radical intervention occurs.
So too in the albeit short lifetime of the online Right or the “E-right” as I will call it (yet its time-span feels like a thousand centuries through the lens of digital time-consciousness), there have been these risings and falling, slumps and climbs, periods of a mutual animating spirit and then dissolution into micro-tribalism. But the Minoritarian (in the Deleuzian sense of a micro politics or nomadic action) tribalism or nomadism of the E-right always acts as a double-edged sword: On one end is a pure free play of exploring avenues of thought. On the other, total grabastic chaos, where nothing and no one is unified on a set of commonly-agreed upon actions or principles.
But what are the numerous Rightest principles that are celebrated? Hierarchy, order, family/faith/ethnos, etc. And of course the value of both truth and beauty, or the reciprocity between the two. However, these values exist paradoxically in an environment of immanence, a nebulous and free-floating conglomeration of posters and voices. It is precisely the paradoxical nature of the online Right which is fascinating as much as it is frustrating; truth arrived at through irony, beauty from a gratuitous obsession with ugliness, hierarchy arrived at from an anarchic Avant-Garde. This is the condition of the E-right, not so much a “movement” per-say, but a form of an Avant-Garde. Or rather a discourse machine, and abstract machine which channels information, knowledge, affects, etc. Into a plane of pure immanence, free-floating discourse and loose associations.
So let us explore the condition we find within the E-right, the various foibles and paradoxes and antipodes which plague its obsessions and worldviews. I cannot offer but meagre solutions to various problems, and perhaps half-garbled and all too purple and larded observations which on the face of it seem exaggerated and even superfluous. All in an attempt to grasp at something that might not even be there. However, I am a firm believer in the power of digital life taking on a sort of seriousness, an immaturity/an immature attitude towards the internet at such taking on a form of maturity. Or an understanding that we are living in a time where the simulated consumes the real, ergo the lines between both are blurred, and both conditions becomes indistinguishable.
A Shitposter's Apocalypse.
Recently after some push back on a more pessimistic tweet than usual, wherein I proclaimed that there is “nothing to the bottom of this” unless you are willing to sell your soul to the New York Times life section for 15 minutes of fame and a poorly pieced together E-book. I was then dealt the usual replies of trolling, accusations of “black-pilling”, perhaps warranted. But along the way there were enough insightful, yet critical replies to give me pause and actually put down what it is “this thing of ours” has become.
Being sunk within the trenches of “discourse” for multiple years and then taking a break from the endless stream of content, evolving meta memes and observations. Witty replies that go nowhere in spite of their juxtapositions and insights, shitposts, psychic hardening via explicit disregard for the barriers of thoughts expressed aloud (what Jung called our “conscious criticism” capacity). It seems surreal to lurk the same corners incognito, to go back into a mode of pure lurking and imperceptibility. The effect of being submerged in “discourse” weans on you, and suddenly these micro snippets of images and thoughts have little pull, they are seen for what they are; “touching grass”, “log off”, “go outside” are all hypocritical and cynical jabs at people. They don't really mean “have a connection to the actual real” as a way of helping the other, but a snide criticism of the enemy. We are all terminally online, pointing to the other and saying “look at you, you're terminally online and have no life”. But there is a grain of truth to that insight. Pulling back from something you've sunk so much time into only to view it for what it is, well that just might be downright necessary. “we are in a war of images” NobodyTM proclaimed once. But the war never stops, and morale never seems to improve.
The “war of images” is now quite literally translating into real war, hyper-war, where the image reigns supreme. The technics wrought upon the real by the Anglo (and other) mind which created the internet in the light of the nuclear cold war sun. To coordinate missile silos and strike-targets. This thing that we have let into our collective noosphere, its war is of the pure image. All text becomes image, the screen cap, yet we deny this with our literacy or “logo-centrist” mode of existence. But the image is what counts, because the image unites sound, text, word, voice, etc. Into one. It is the way point of the senses on the internet. So the image in the hands of the digital dissident becomes a weapon of psychological warfare. The image totalizes everything we are currently experiencing and feeling in the moment. Sometimes moments can be perfectly expressed in a meme. But it is mere expression “after the fact” which gives memes their power. The real alchemical stone is finding a way that reverses this dialectic. Image memes creating the real. This is what the E-right has experimented with, and continues its perfect special sauce of meme majik.
What is the E-right but a disparate group of trolls, cyber identities, shitposters, factions in a perpetual stalemate with each-other. Cults of personality, micro-tribal affiliations and digital denizens that refuse identification with anything approaching what constitutes normalcy in our world. But perhaps this is a kayfabe, and we are “normies” in waiting, if what is normal was so about 50 or even 15 years ago. And this is the paradox the E-right wing finds itself in, a sort of aristocracy castigated, apocryphal groups which should have offered the western world something more salient and satiating, but more on that later.
We venerate the extremely online schizoposter, the cognitive assassin that regards everything with a significance, or with a cavalier irreverence for everything just the same. Perhaps this is all unrepentant narcissism and self-marking, but I am reminded of the lyrics to “Quiet” by the Smashing Pumpkins:
“We are the fossils, the relics of our time
We mutilate the meanings, so they're easy to deny”
The digital trickster uses meaning as a plaything just as much as a source of truth-speaking. It is the E-right that has more or less shaped discourse in some odd way for the past 10 years or so, from “Gamer gate” to 2016. but perhaps this is a Pyrrhic victory, and our efficacy is greatly exaggerated. We truly are relics of this time, of a sort of innocence before experience, 2016 our hippidom, and now is our 1970s. Any interpretation of the “meaning” we generate is easily malleable and even weaponized against us, whatever “us” means. Even within the less guarded of moments, some of us break off and find the constant motion of internet life, especially it's generation of amnesia just as much as it has strengthened archival recollection, a source of convenient obfuscation. “i was never apart of such and such thing, I never means such and such meme in 'that' way” etc.
But this all seems to feed into the meta-ironic games we all play with ourselves. We start believing in our own illusions too much, and then we, as they say in wrestling, become “Marks for Ourselves”. There still remains an immutable spirit of contrarianism, of seeking out greater contradictions to the current order of things and tearing them apart, spiting upon what “normie world” holds sacred. But there is a problem with even reifying this split or bifurcation between the “dissident” and the “normie”. What is a normie? What do we mean as the object of our ire, ridicule and scorn? Is the “bugman” a hyper-normie or possesses the same extremely online affects we do, but in an entirely different direction?
Zero HP Lovecraft once enunciated some of the most penetrating criticism of the E-right in a long forgotten thread1: Cheap and evanescent online anonymous identities swirling in a void of loose conglomerations, fighting for recognition, Patreon subscribers, and the oneupmanship of petty dramas. The Dissident-sphere nirvana being the final E-book, getting big enough to the point of stepping off the wheel of poster-lurker. You grind enough to springboard off of “big accounts” and get heard, ritually scapegoating the odd girardian sacrifice to the Gods of content and E-drama, for being a leading voice in a mob persecuting wrong-think is a sure way to get noticed.
But the most pertinent analysis of ZHP, whilst being fully aware that he himself is also immersed in the same network of relations, is the idea of a discourse or “knowledge exchange” being the basis of online communities. If it is a “community” as such, the borders of which are impossible to police, remaining fluid and porous:
“From outside it looks like there is some kind of, dare we say, "movement"--but there is no movement because no one, not even BAP, can give you anything besides knowledge, and knowledge isn't the currency of a movement, thinking this is one of the ways democracy makes you stupid”2
a movement requires in his estimation “ownership and responsibility”. I would also add it requires a serious means of sustaining itself beyond the confines of simple knowledge exchanges. The “grift” model is there for a variety of quite logical reasons and circumstances; to clarify, what is a grifter? Someone who hawks content they do not particularity believe in or care about deeply while exploiting a niche. Like “sellout” in the music industry, the “knowledge economy” waters are filled with grifters in its depths, but not everyone is a grifter as such..
The conditions we find ourselves in almost selects for a model of disparate tribes and cults of personalities fighting for sparse buskered resources from a fickle audience. An audience who themselves wish to be heard or read or watched as well, and with little in the way of resources themselves considering the risks one takes donating to hyper online Right Wingers.
And this was always the rub of it, right from those halcyon days of 2016 where there was an eclectic mix of interesting and high-IQ posters having intelligent discussions. And then there were shameless grifters, bad faith actors and wannabe studio edgelords selling their wares, some even went on tour, a lot just streamlined or ripped off what others built before them. The issue was always patronage, the lack of funding and institutional capacity which ensured dissidents would not be totally harmed financially or otherwise.
Almost all dissident movements deal with the issues of legitimacy in the eyes of everyone outside of its virtual and physical walls. As well as its capacity to sustain itself by ensuring it's members don't go poor or are persecuted by the regime. But the forced jobless poverty (a Francis E. Dec reference there) became real, people went to jail, or were betrayed by one another or certain members of the regime who proclaimed their concern and loyalty to the Right and to ordinary normal conservatives. People who's lives were destroyed and caught up in a whirlwind of Neo-religiosity on the ascendant and very much institutionally and corporate-backed radical Liberal Left.
It always occurs in cycles, rises and runs which happen periodically in outsider groups. We have nowhere to turn, so we turn inward, basking in anonymity, just as much a trap as it is a source of freedom and liberation from direct persecution.
To Find a Self.
The regime offers the political left a number of palliatives and world visions that ease the pain of modern living: You can embrace a sort of “indigineity” where primitivist politics and lifestyles are coded in progressive terms. Either larping as an indigenous person, or wrapping total nihilistic misanthropy and anti-natalism in concern for the future enviro-apocolypse. Sharing stories and anecdotes by writers like Ligotti, Benatar, Sophie Lewis and David Suzuki about “the trouble of existing without consenting to exist”. Add to it some token anecdotal anthropology stories like “pure, noble savage” Inuits floating off elders on ice floats when they become a burden to the tribe. Of course Cioran, Linkola and uncle Ted K are never mentioned, much too problematic.
Another palliative offered to the Left is some BIPOC Wakanda Utopianism. Or some genderless utopia. Half-garbled “insights” from Angela Davis, Bell Hooks, Butler, Braidotti and Fanon, and God forbid their horrendous popularizes in the coffee table book industry. Then there is the most easy option which is to live as a bug person alpha consumer. Consume “the current things” by the most trendy marketing executives. Corporatized modern life selling you virtual hyper-moralism, secular religious doctrines, etc. And so on and so on to quote Zizek. Of course, despite Zizek's observations on this phenomenon of corporations selling existential and political security blankets to first-worlders, he himself isn't immune to shit-brain thinking either in regards to “current things”.
But when it comes to the political Right, the globo-liberal regime offers no such escape or palliative apart from total submission and the vivisection of all values and morals. No alternative or exit is offered apart from the usual soul-crushing “normie” conservatism, or being a blood thirsty capitalist disguised as a libertarian. So instead we create our own hyper-identifications we cling onto, and games we play with ourselves as not-so-outside-exits from the regime.
While being placed in ever tighter and more restricted Skinner boxes, these not-so-outside-outsides of the order of things include a series of elaborate Live action role plays. you can list them off: homesteader, cyber-accelerationist, frog vitalist body builder steppe warrior, fashionable aristocratic L'Enfant terrible, incel NEET rotter-doomer, racist shitposter, racist feminist, Anime racist, Castizo futurist racist, etc. Because racism is the ultimate transgression, yet racialism and difference seem to be paradoxically a gateway to truly understanding the other outside of one's self and ethnos. Such a powerful tool of friendship and understanding is closed off from everyone in the west!
But Larping is not an immediate negative. For Larping has its benefits, and can even test-drive an otherwise closed-off lifestyle or way of living to most people. To Larp till one authenticates their Larp is the dream of the extremely online, and some have made it, or came close to it. But to create a movement, an aesthetics of being from Larping, and seeing everything through the lens of meta-ironic humour and cynicism. This creates a doubling of being, an MMORPG of life. If politics has consumed everything in recent years, especially politics emanating from the online, then a political anon you take on becomes a playable character, divorced from your real life “in meat space”. And when the twain meet, especially on a large enough scale in the form of online realities becoming meat space realities, those meetings always historically end in total catastrophe and embarrassment for all involved.
An ecosystem needs lifeblood to survive, it needs a sense of purpose and confinement of entry. If the risks are very high and the rewards remain low, this further incentivizes unseriousness and frankly cavalier irony-poisoned behaviour. Everything becomes a joke because “its just online, its not real”. Only we have waken up to a time period in which the online becomes the everyday. A few people “make it” to the top and the rest wallow beneath the undertow. Being in something “to only have fun” wains thin as a sufficient reason for something after awhile.
Creating an environment where you get your own little circus outside of the big tent circus most people consume. Complete with its own spectacles and systems of scapegoating. Finding a sort of impotent form of cynical entertainment in the tragedy of others. Then mutually placing each other in a shark womb (I wrote about this years ago3) where one can only make it out alive by being the most craven and vicious backstabber. Etc.
This may come off as me doing the same, that I like others are “denouncing the scene”. But I in no way intend to do that at all. Because that route is itself apart of A self-contained spectacle certain grifters and bad faith actors have created around their presence in these spaces (without naming names). Where you pretend to be an “insider” into these “deeply problematic communities”. Even creating whole ideologies out of minor differences, clinging on to the margins of the scene yet ankle-biting and castigating it from the outside, feeding into a delusion of one's own importance and insight into things... This is the tactic of a worm-like soul. I merely intend to point out certain realities and complications with “this thing of ours” because I believe the E-right is on a threshold of sorts, and it is vitally important to confront our own limitations and foibles.
A main root-stem of the problem is a sort nihilism certain people have which is a residual sentiment from an older form of engaging with people and things on the internet. The internet is “serious business” I.E. A place where nothing matters, an elaborate entertainment network that somehow uses “meat space” for its never ending stream of content. The self becomes like a playable character, some have multiple characters they can level up in an infinite sandbox platform (although we only really have 5 major sites now to play on).
This attitude takes on the apathy that comes with there being “no friends on the internet” (call it the daddy Jim Axiom), or rather, no genuine sentiment or connection or sensibility expressed towards anyone. Everything is whittled down into a series of parasocial relationships. We read things into the most mundane interactions and fill them with significance. Or we cast everything aside into a realm that lay between reality and unreality, a sort of liminal zone of uncertainty. The internet can have a very real effect on your life, yet we pretend it doesn't because there is sufficient abstraction and ambiguity between “us” in the flesh, and there. Whatever “there” is. Things devolve into an elaborate game of out-contrarian posting against one another with more “high-minded” spaces online in particular4. There seems to always be an intellectual conceit, a mutual war of hot take vs. Hot take, yet we are supposedly driving towards mutual goals of truth and transgression.
The Object of Desire is not the real Object.
Much more will be written on this series on the nature of truth, but let us end this first chapter by picking apart a few things in the famed (infamous) Angela Nagle magnum opus “Kill All Normies”. One chapter in particular where she astutely outlines the nature of transgression and the sort of position the E-right is in as a weird Right Wing revival of the Situationist Internationale. In particular the sort of meme-ironic reference for certain “repressed and angry white male” antihero figures like Patrick Bateman, Travis Bickle, and Arthur Fleck (although I am sure if KAN was written today, Nagle would have written a whole chapter on Joker)5.
There is a sort of irreverence and callousness to everything mainstream and acceptable in a time of progressive hyper-moralization. Heghoulian takes this further in his essay6 on the subject of why American Psycho has become such powerful E-right identification. It is not to say we literally worship serial killers (white women do enough of that with true crime obsessions). Rather we long for a time where the possibility of being a Gigachad overman was somewhat real, although fictionalized and hyperbolic. Heghoulian is well aware of the irony of taking on Bateman as an archetype, considering Ellis was satirizing the bloodthirsty 80s corporate robber baron, especially produced by Hebraic Hollywood hucksters. But this is not the point, it is a “Detourment” or what Foucault called a “counter-discourse”. Like Nagle acknowledges in KAN, the critical image becomes positive by wearing it as an emblem of pride. When the “well actually they are the bad guys” critique comes out (Reddit inflection) its is meaningless. These franchises have long since ceased being in the hands of the Hollywood cabal and its narrow discourse around them. They are third or forth order simulations of themselves.
What Nagle and Heghoulian are positing is that the E-right is just as much caught in a complex of hauntological desiring-production as any other group now a days. Nostalgic longing is a desiring machine, it is what compels these memes, it is what partially got orange tiny hands Trump into the white house. It is not simply a desire for blood lust (although that is a compelling force in the online Dissident, I shall not ignore that) but a society that created conditions of what the E-right values. The control of various images of thought behind society, the control over the social-imagination-consent-manufacturing machine itself.
But this again is a paradox, because it must be apart of an integral ethos and understanding a Nation has of itself, even on the deepest of spiritual levels. The 80s was a time of Capitalism accelerating total deracination, but Batemen becomes a meme of a sort of will to power. It does not make sense when the E-right (rightfully) is starting to question rootless cosmopolitan libertine capitalism as a source of value-dissolution. It is rather the WTP expressed in these archetypal images that count, not the whole context of Ellis's 80s American capitalism is a state of total depravity.
Nagle states that “the cult of moral transgressor as a heroic individual is rooted in romanticism” and that “the psychopath, like the artist, privileges Id over Superego, and desire over moral constraints” linking this to Norman Mailer's proto-manosphere characters who bathed in transgressive misogynistic attitudes and ultra-violent actions7. 4chan became the site where this total irreverence through anonymity took place. Where “the surreal became pre-rational creative expression”.
“Its culture of trolling and taboo-breaking anti-moral humour, which is often described as insane and unhinged to outsiders. This view of psychopathy and rejection of imposed morality runs through the ethos and aesthetic of Rightest trolling culture”8. There are many things here. One being that desire, sentiment, affect, gut-instinctual impulses conquer the rationalistic and hyper-materialist thinking around all life in our current model of reality given to us by the modern world. There is an element of the rational still in certain groups(perhaps a whole chapter could be written on the war between the techno-futurists and the primitivists of the E-right). But what Nagle misses is that all of this is ostensibly for the goal of restoring a more sacred, more moral order to things, and we must use the tools of transgression to create conditions in our favour. Or at least this is what we tell ourselves. We become a shitposting online insurgent to restore order.
This is the problem, or rather, it is a problem exhibited with a lot of people in the E-right, not the whole mind you. As I have stated above, ironic troll culture only has a certain limited shelf-life, and can lead you into total depravity and unseriousness. Subverting our corrupt and anti-God world with the tools it has given us can only be done with a supreme clarity and caution around the noxious chemicals we are using. There is danger in them, even by relegating ourselves into a mostly online world is in itself a danger. Desire for something more wholesome and integral to life being arrived at through the backdoor by the desire for transgression and effacement of all “modern values” given to us can easily be detoured by the peevish desires of trolling and destruction for their own sake. So as the Tao Te Ching says, know the dark, but keep to the light.
Even that fact the we are most unified when we have common hatreds of something is telling. Comrade fealty is most often felt only when we intensely hate something, instead of rallying around what we love and wish the western world could be again still. But it must be noted that hate is not “bad” or a pure negative force the way a liberal egalitarian view of the world conceives of it as. Hate can be just as much a productive force and a desiring machine in its own way. Hate can be just as much a generator of concepts. But it is what we do with hate, that is what really matters. If hate is to destroy without the necessity of creating, then it can only derail any real lasting project. Hate must be given a chance, but a hate which motivates creativity instead of black-pilling despair.
Even when it comes to the Eternal Woman question, we cannot help ourselves but have a secret unconscious desire for something that we cannot articulate. So metaphorical wires get crossed and we end up desiring that which we hate and despise. The inspiration of this series of course comes from “A Confederacy of Dunces”. We find ourselves in the role of Ignatius J Riley, intellectually curious, eccentric, ancient or “against time” in our worldviews, yet strangely connected to modernity and its machinations, even as our antithesis. For example, one of Ignatius's favourite activities is to venture alone to the theatre and watch trashy, degenerate mainstream Hollywood films, just to find such celluloid smut distasteful, loudly proclaiming his disdain and elaborate critiques of them. How many Right Wing YouTube channels and blogs devoted to cinema critique is there?
Ignatius is intrigued as even weirdly and uncomfortably desirous of his AWFL (affluent (subversively) white liberal female) hipster “member of the tribe” counter-part nemesis Myrna Minkoff. She embraces every part of “the current thing”, loves any discourse around destructive sexuality and sexual expression, purely as an intellectual exercise, as she is a sexless harpie. Yet Ignatius almost feels like he must prove his worth to her in between bouts of irrational argumentation and mutual hatred. One pertinent quote even intersects with the uncle Ted-K pill:
“Between notes, he had contemplated means of destroying Myrna Minkoff but had reached no satisfactory conclusion. His most promising scheme had involved getting a book on munitions from the library, constructing a bomb, and mailing it in plain paper to Myrna. Then he remembered that his library card had been revoked.”
We all seem to get our jollies from preformative online misogyny, yet somehow always fold like a deck of carts to Der Erwige E-girl, the object of both repellent disdain and desire at the same time. Like Ignatius, the E-Girl generates discourse like nothing else, around dating, relationships and sex. The E-right substack and podcast scene turns into dating advice columns over single tweets of particularly egregious E-girl menaces. This isn't just me simping, its is genuinely astonishing how the “No E-girls, ever” crowd can be so enthralled by their ever word and biting critique, particularity of the rad-fem variety.
This reveals something about the Dissident psyche, to hold onto a driving force of adversary and humiliation. The E-girl becomes a vassal of desire, you can place anything you want into her. And when she evokes her own agency in the form of criticism and catty drama-racking, then there is a monotonous and loud collective groan and howl. There is something compelling enough to even argue and insult them in the first place. True indifference is the stake through the heart of the E-girl energy vampire. But yet we persist in arguing and groaning about the odd woman who orbits around E-right spaces. As dark needs light, so too does the E-right need the contrast to its irreverent, trollish chad-masculinity. And believe you me, this has often never worked out for the good, and has lead to total disaster on different occasions. Hence why a lot of online Rights have a gut-reactive policy of total containment and “blocking on site” of all estrogen witches.
This will be quite a long series I imagine, but to end this first part, let me state that our desires are complex and murky. They do no seem to arrive at any traditional cultural or political means, and this has a variety of consequences. If they can even be constructively arrived at in contemporary society at all. The next instalment will be on the nature of truth and power, then on the creation of an online Avant-Garde. So until next time, God bless. I felt a sort of inner compulsion to finally lay down an attempt at mapping the ecology of online Dissident spaces. Hopefully things will make sense, because even i am aware of how corny and theorycellish this comes off as.
3 Found in my “content minded” compilation, vol.1. https://gioscontentcorner.wordpress.com/2019/04/13/content-minded-vol-1-collected-writings-the-thermidor-years-collection-2017-2018/
5Nagle, Angela. Kill All Normies. Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right. (Winchester, Washington: Zero Books, 2017): Pg. 30.
6Heghoulian. “Lore and Order, Hauntology and the Right”. Substack. Feb 8, 2022.
7Nagle, KAN. pg. 31.
8Ibid. pg. 32.