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Who will rule Twitter next? Online conflict is fundamentally unresolvable

Whose side is Musk on?


December 21, 2022   10 mins

It is often declared that Twitter is not real life; too rarely does anyone add, because it’s far more important. As the primary vector for the construction and dissemination of political narratives, social media has become the central battleground where all conflicts short of open war are fought, based on firmly-held beliefs that rarely have a secure grounding in objective reality. What use does mere reality have, other than as kindling for the far brighter flames of political myth? No wonder, as the ongoing Twitter Files disclosures show, the company is riddled with bureaucrats of the American security state: there is no reason to doubt that the same is true of Instagram or Facebook, nor that the Chinese aren’t doing the same with TikTok and the Russians with Telegram. 

Where America is unique among the rival great powers jostling for mastery of the century to come is its distraction fighting a still-virtual civil war on social media at the same time. In the midst of this global contest, we as social media consumers are like some luckless peasant community of a contested borderland, simultaneously the justification for the war, through their expressions of sincere concern for our safety and security, and the battleground, through the harvesting of our data and the endless background turmoil that now fills our lives.

Into this bearpit strode Elon Musk, carrying a sink, with a stated vision of remaking Twitter according to the dreams of its founders barely a decade ago as the “global town square”. The phrase, redolent of Socratic dialogue beneath some shaded colonnade, seems quaintly inappropriate. Few Americans, and fewer foreigners, would wish to linger long in San Francisco’s real-world urban plazas, and their virtual replacement is hardly more congenial. In the real world, far beyond the ayahuasca visions of the site’s unworldly founder, the central square is as often a place of repression and public execution as of well-ordered debate and conviviality; it is the place where political power is expressed through the raising or toppling of statues, bloody revolutions, and intimidating displays of force.

The tiresome and self-defeating illusion of many conservatives, like that of any Hyde Park orator, is that if only the passing public were given free exposure to the brilliance of their dialogue, they would soon become converts. It is the precise illusion punctured by the German political theorist Carl Schmitt, in his 1922 work Political Theology, when he observed that “a class that shifts all political activity onto the plane of conversation in the press and in parliament is no match for social conflict,” for as he notes, “the essence of liberalism is negotiation, a cautious half measure, in the hope that the definitive dispute, the decisive bloody battle, can be transformed into a parliamentary debate and permit the decision to be suspended forever in an everlasting discussion.”

But it cannot, and here we see the essential contradiction of Musk’s self-imposed mission: the conflict between free speech and the good of the community is fundamentally unresolvable. Decisions will always finally have to be made by someone, and those decisions are always by their nature political, arbitrary, and thus always a source of dispute. For the essence of politics lies in the final decision for Schmitt, then still writing as a fashionable intellectual of the Catholic Centre Party, aiming to save the Weimar state from its own dysfunction: his remorseless logic had not yet driven him to embrace the disastrous political form which gives his reputation its current frisson. Schmitt’s fundamental insight is more applicable to the Musk case than we may at first think: for now Musk has found himself mired in the ad hoc policing of speech on the site, whether through Twitter polls, or his own arbitrary decisions. 

For Schmitt, this is all as it should be: the arbitrariness is the point, as the sovereign reveals himself as such through “a pure decision not based on reason and discussion and not justifying itself, that is, to an absolute decision created out of nothingness”. For at times of crisis, unresolvable in terms of ordinary politics, comes the state of exception in which sovereign power unveils itself, cutting the Gordian knot of political deadlock: “at times it does so as a deus ex machina, to decide according to positive statute a controversy that the independent act of juristic perception failed to bring to a generally plausible solution; at other times it does so as the graceful and merciful lord who proves by pardons and amnesties his supremacy over his own laws”.

This tension reveals itself at its most political in the edge cases, the debatable borderlands where what is lawful may outrun what is good for the community. Again, this aligns with Schmitt’s insight: his opening line from Political Theology, that “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception,” is immediately followed by the observation that, “only this definition can do justice to a borderline concept,” indeed, this very “definition of sovereignty must 
 be associated with a borderline case and not with routine.” That is, only those cases where the course of action is contested are by their nature political: and only through the final act of decision, one way or another, does the political sovereign reveal himself.

On Twitter, the edge cases are those, like Trump’s presence, on which the preservation of America’s political order have been stated to depend, and on the content most widely considered objectionable by society as a whole: jihadist and extreme Right-wing invocations to terrorist violence, and child exploitation content. Back in an earlier iteration of the platform, before the political community reached a consensus that groups such as Islamic State should not be allowed to openly congregate on social media, Twitter became one of the prime vectors of jihadist propaganda, recruitment and social interaction. It was interesting, even amusing at first, to engage in back and forth debates and snarky banter with Islamic State fighters on Twitter; then it became horrifying and unbearable as the group hurtled further into its darkness. From being a reporter whose career was largely based on the juxtaposition of monitoring Isis content on social media, while reporting the battle on the ground against their physical manifestation in Syria and Iraq, I eventually had to stop following Isis content at all: the constant blurring of the virtual and the real, between London and the Middle East, became too jarring. But is it true, as has recently been claimed, that Musk’s commitment to free speech will lead to a terrorist revival on the platform?

Experts are undecided. Moustafa Ayad, an analyst with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue thinktank monitoring jihadist use of the platform, told me that on Twitter, “the rate of Islamic State accounts being set up or used to spread propaganda has increased over the past two months under new management”, perhaps due to lax moderation as “most moderation teams have been gutted (despite public statements to the contrary) of the context and subject matter expertise required to effectively go after terror-supporting accounts.” Yet Twitter remains a site of negligible activity for the group, compared with other apps such as Telegram where discourse is far less tightly monitored (at least overtly). On Twitter, supporters of Islamic State evade banning through avoiding open encitements to terrorist violence. As Ayad notes, “They primarily stay away from posting violent content to inhabit ‘legal grey areas,’ but they continue to post branded terrorist content and share legacy material, old videos, sermons and series. They will similarly use the phrase ‘IS,’ as a means to reference the Islamic State and still argue that they were referring to the concept of an Islamic state and not the group.” It is illegal to advocate for the Islamic State, after all, but not for an Islamic state: a distinction of which Anjem Choudary finally fell foul when forced by events to upgrade his fealty from the theoretical to the real. 

Laith Alkhouri, CEO of Intelonyx Intelligence Advisory, told me that he has not “not seen an uptick in accounts returning since Musk took the helm”, as groups such as Isis already have secure and thriving networks on far less rigorously policed social media platforms. Like Ayad, Alkhouri notes that the surviving Isis Twitter accounts maintain their presence by avoiding explicit celebration of violence. The accounts he has seen “mostly focus on religious content, abstain from posting images/videos or Isis branded content, and refrain from mentioning Isis as a group. I think these evasion techniques help keep accounts alive.”

Due to the nature of America’s internal political conflict, the policing of Right-wing speech is a more contentious matter than that of jihadist content: jihadist terrorism may kill far more people, but it does not threaten the political order, in the eyes of the political mainstream. Lucas Webber, co-founder and editor of the Militant Wire consultancy, told me that “There is nowhere near the level of terrorism-related content on Twitter compared to the peak IS in Iraq/Syria era of the mid 2010s. However, some extremist elements and ideological armed movements have adapted and manoeuvre around Terms of Service violations.” The Russian extreme-Right Rusich militia, fighting in Ukraine, uses Twitter to “funnel supporters” onto Russian-owned platforms, “and then fundraise from this support base to provide Rusich with weapons, drones, medical supplies, and more – things that have a real-world impact and are used to kill Ukrainians”. As Webber notes, “elements from the “TerrorGram” movement were quite pleased when Elon Musk took over and expressed their excitement about leveraging the platform to grow their international support network. This could ultimately result in direct acts of violence — for example, the recent Bratislava LGBTQ bar shooter was deeply immersed in this space and posted on Twitter during and after the attack.”

But in Webber’s opinion, “the hysteria from public figures and the mainstream media seems to be largely politically motivated and blown out of proportion. However, the loosening of restrictions will inevitably give more space and oxygen to extremist actors to spread their message and promote their cause.” While decision-making on the edge cases of acceptable speech remains largely arbitrary as “Musk has taken a kind of brute force approach and is aggressively forging his vision through trial and error rather than any real coherent terms of service,” Webber believes that “this aspect will become more institutionalised and stable over time, and this is where it could either revert to type, or settle on set and consistently enforced rules that provide more freedom for political dissidents, conservatives, Right wingers etc to express their opinions”.  Yet it is here, in the debatable lands between legitimate Right-wing critique of the current order, and assertions of the need to violently overthrow it, that Twitter’s speech policies have been most fraught: where does Trump, now facing criminal charges for “insurrection” fit in, having declared on January 6 a state of exception he did not bother to attend? The broadly liberal political establishment may have overreached in its muzzling of Right-wing discourse, but even here lines will eventually have to be drawn by someone, and the final decisions made will always be by their nature arbitrary.

On the heated question of child exploitation content, similar edge cases will always remain a source of political conflict. Though initially disputed by many, experts now agree that Twitter before Musk’s takeover was markedly lax in taking down child abuse material, with the Internet Watch Foundation claiming in 2019 that the site was responsible for 40% of the illegal content hosted on the public internet. Even here, legal grey areas and ambiguities remain, and will, therefore, remain a source of political conflict as the dividing lines are contested. Like Instagram and TikTok, Twitter remains host to legal but unseemly material derived from underaged social media influencers: the task of distinguishing between what is legal and what is morally acceptable proved such a headache for Tumblr that it ended up banning all glamour content (in the process driving adult pornographic influencers to Twitter en masse). Though vastly more reported — and this can only be because it has become a source of heated political distinction between the two American political factions — just the same case can be made regarding the confluence of children and drag performances now driving the American “groomer” discourse. 

As the tech writer Jon Stokes observes in this excellent recent essay, the politics of sex has become the central dividing line of American political conflict. As Stokes enumerates, “Drag Queen Story Hour, Drag Brunch for kids, Kids putting dollar bills into strippers’ thongs, doing pole dancing with strippers, or some other sex-work-related activity, School books that present sex work to kids as just another kind of work, Pride parades with kink on full display and kids present and even participating, Drag kids, Child beauty pageants, Evangelical purity balls, Gay conversion therapy, Porn use by teens” have superseded race as the central battlegrounds on which America’s two political factions contest social media. Sharply divided by the politics of sex in general, the conflict between liberals and conservatives is most heated precisely where the stakes are highest — in the protection of children — and where the boundary between what is legal and what is morally acceptable is so contested.  

In all of these vexed debates, the central political question is, as Schmitt observed, Who decides? Who decides who may stay on Twitter, and who must be banished from the town square? Who can pluck Kanye West or the former president from their ignominious exile, and thrust them back into silence when they reoffend? It is only Musk, exercising his sovereign power. Where such decisions were once obscure, seemingly nudged behind the scenes by functionaries of the American security state, now they are on display, to be hissed or applauded by the crowd, as if watching an emperor decide the fate of a wounded gladiator. This situation cannot go on for long, but in observing the contours of the present battleground, we are given insight into both Schmitt’s thought and into the contradictory, unresolvable tensions within conservatism between advocating free speech for all that is legal, and opposing that which is harmful 

In his 1929 lecture The Age of Neutralisations and Depoliticisations, Schmitt mocked the technological utopians of his day, who, like Twitter’s founders, believed that “technology appeared to be a domain of peace, understanding, and reconciliation,” where “all peoples and nations, all classes and religions, all generations and races appear to be able to agree” because “unlike theological, metaphysical, moral, and even economic questions, which are forever debatable, purely technical problems have something refreshingly factual about them.” No, warned Schmitt, it is precisely the opposite: “Technology is always only an instrument and weapon; precisely because it serves all, it is not neutral.”

As he observes, in a passage that skewers the initial Utopian dreams of Silicon Valley, “If humanitarian-moral progress is still expected by many today from the perfection of technology, it is because technology is magically linked to morality on the somewhat naive assumption that the splendid array of contemporary technology will be used only as intended
 and that they themselves will control these frightful weapons and wield this monstrous power.” Yet this is a grave misunderstanding, Schmitt warns: “Technology is no longer neutral ground” but instead, “every strong politics will make use of it” in ways which “will be revealed only when it is known which type of politics is strong enough to master the new technology and which type of genuine friend-enemy groupings can develop on this new ground”.

It is in the friend-enemy groupings coalescing on social media, particularly on Twitter, that the political battleground deciding our future has been drawn, and it is in the battle for who controls the edge cases of acceptable speech, that the power to make the arbitrary decisions defining political sovereignty resides. It is a marvel of America’s political culture that, at precisely its moment of greatest internal conflict since its civil war, the world’s richest man could buy himself, if not the throne itself, what is likely to be a veto on who next ascends it. Similarly, for all that Schmitt has re-emerged as a source of political inspiration on the Right following his 2000s adoption by the populist Left, it was America’s liberal establishment that revealed themselves the true Schmittians, in their urge to save American democracy from its errant voters. Under their guidance, echoing Schmitt’s definition of crisis as where “a case of extreme peril, a danger to the existence of the state” exists, American politics since 2016 has become a permanent state of exception, in which the diminution of sovereign power in the White House was manifest largely through manipulation of social media. 

Like an absent-minded ascetic king, Jack Dorsey accidentally built a site of great, yet unclearly defined political power, certainly greater than many nation-states: when, by threatening Musk with sanctions, we see the European Union try to assert its own sovereignty, power frankly does not seem weighted in Europe’s favour. Whether or not Musk wishes to keep this power is an unresolved question: as he has recently declared, “Those who want power are the ones who least deserve it.” It is now too late for us to debate whether or not such power should exist: the fundamental question, for Twitter as for American politics, remains unresolved: who next decides?


Aris Roussinos is an UnHerd columnist and a former war reporter.

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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

This must be a satirical article because the author’s arguments are so misguided it’s laughable. Yes, defining the edges of what is acceptable speech will always be an issue, and yes, there will always be a master who makes the final decision.

But this fundamentally misrepresents the real issue – deep state involvement in a speech platform by the FBI, and arbitrary and opaque ideological decisions made by moderators working for Twitter.

He does mention this briefly, but treats it as a secondary issue, rather than the primary issue. This is the true battleground, this is the war where good and evil battle each other. It’s not on the fringes of what is acceptable content.

Most people can live with the tilted decisions that were made at Twitter. But they lied about it – lied about it to users, lied about it to Congress and tried to gaslight us all.

What is needed at Twitter is transparency. Make the content decisions and algorithms public. If that happens, ruling on fringe content will become much less ideological.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It is illegal and a violation of the United States Constitution for the US government to use corporations to violate rights they are forbidden from violating through their own power (like the 1st and 4th Amendments). Seems obvious, but there has been a concerted effort for years pretending this is not the case (particularly under the Obama administration). That is why there is such a smokescreen pretending these were just the actions of a “private company” with no coercion from government actors. Then again, there is a certain former CIA director who lied under oath in front of Congress about an illegal domestic surveillance program and still has a nice retirement and gets cushy media treatment, so I am not holding my breath.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I can only hope there is a reckoning for these violations.

The FBI has become an activist organization for a particular ideology and political party. This is a much, much bigger threat to democracy than a narcissistic blow hard like Trump.

I keep harping about this in many of my comments. Virtually all the institutions that bind western society together are captured by the same authoritarian, self-destructive ideology.

The bureaucracy, media, arts, culture, academia, NGOs, big tech, finance are all committed to so-called progressive ideals that are opposed by almost everyone else. It is rotting democracy from the inside out.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I think Homeland Security is more scary. They were created with a Vast budget and scarce instructions – to go out and get terrorists. But the terrorists drifted off one way or another leaving this Terrorist Hunting Behemoth with not many terrorists to hunt – and a huge budget to justify, and no real structure or purpose which makes any sense. Idle hands and the devil’s workshop and all…..

The FBI are just corrupt, as they have been since Hoover – knowing where everyone powerful had the bodies hidden meant they could run amok… and they have. They are Political hoodlums so their motivations at least have a point. Some of the other security forces – I suspect they are just loose cannons.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

Absolutely. But if a Presidential candidate were to run on chopping Homeland and FBI budgets down to size they would take him/her/they down one way or other. Not mentioned enough is the CIA spied on the US SENATE and John Brenan is still a free man.
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/12/a-brief-history-of-the-cias-unpunished-spying-on-the-senate/384003/

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas Moze

Absolutely. But if a Presidential candidate were to run on chopping Homeland and FBI budgets down to size they would take him/her/they down one way or other. Not mentioned enough is the CIA spied on the US SENATE and John Brenan is still a free man.
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/12/a-brief-history-of-the-cias-unpunished-spying-on-the-senate/384003/

Gordon Hackman
Gordon Hackman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Virtually all the institutions that bind western society together are captured by the same authoritarian, self-destructive ideology.
The bureaucracy, media, arts, culture, academia, NGOs, big tech, finance are all committed to so-called progressive ideals that are opposed by almost everyone else. It is rotting democracy from the inside out.
Agreed. I’m surprised at how many people don’t understand this. We constantly hear about how right-wing authoritarians are a threat to democracy, etc. while the left has nearly total control of every major organ of cultural power and influence.

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I think Homeland Security is more scary. They were created with a Vast budget and scarce instructions – to go out and get terrorists. But the terrorists drifted off one way or another leaving this Terrorist Hunting Behemoth with not many terrorists to hunt – and a huge budget to justify, and no real structure or purpose which makes any sense. Idle hands and the devil’s workshop and all…..

The FBI are just corrupt, as they have been since Hoover – knowing where everyone powerful had the bodies hidden meant they could run amok… and they have. They are Political hoodlums so their motivations at least have a point. Some of the other security forces – I suspect they are just loose cannons.

Gordon Hackman
Gordon Hackman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Virtually all the institutions that bind western society together are captured by the same authoritarian, self-destructive ideology.
The bureaucracy, media, arts, culture, academia, NGOs, big tech, finance are all committed to so-called progressive ideals that are opposed by almost everyone else. It is rotting democracy from the inside out.
Agreed. I’m surprised at how many people don’t understand this. We constantly hear about how right-wing authoritarians are a threat to democracy, etc. while the left has nearly total control of every major organ of cultural power and influence.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I can only hope there is a reckoning for these violations.

The FBI has become an activist organization for a particular ideology and political party. This is a much, much bigger threat to democracy than a narcissistic blow hard like Trump.

I keep harping about this in many of my comments. Virtually all the institutions that bind western society together are captured by the same authoritarian, self-destructive ideology.

The bureaucracy, media, arts, culture, academia, NGOs, big tech, finance are all committed to so-called progressive ideals that are opposed by almost everyone else. It is rotting democracy from the inside out.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I have called before for an in-depth article from Unherd on the Twitter Files.
The information coming iro the FBI is staggering e.g. that the FBI paid Twitter millions of dollars for their ‘staff time’ – read regular meetings between the FBI and Twitter and cosy and continuous chats about who should be silenced. As of 2020 there were so many former FBI employees working at Twitter that they created their own private Slack channel and crib sheet to onboard new FBI arrivals.
This is only a tiny bit of what has been dropped.
The latest I haven’t yet read
 where the Pentagon gets involved.
I sign up to Unherd to get this sort of journalism please. Be sure that fake news corporate media is ignoring the whole thing.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago

Well said. I can‘t wait for an in-depth article on that. It seems all major publications/media are very silent on this, which in my mind was as big if not a bigger violation than Watergate.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago

Well said. I can‘t wait for an in-depth article on that. It seems all major publications/media are very silent on this, which in my mind was as big if not a bigger violation than Watergate.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephanie Surface
Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I was going to say something similar. The claim is that it’s about child porn – but ultimately it is about total control of the narrative. If the various attempts to pass state censorship laws – like here in Canada – are successful then progressive critics will be censored forever. COVID mandates and vaccine mandates were a great example of ‘the state’ getting things terribly wrong in part because they silenced their critics and were cheered on by our now entirely worthless traditional media.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas
Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It is illegal and a violation of the United States Constitution for the US government to use corporations to violate rights they are forbidden from violating through their own power (like the 1st and 4th Amendments). Seems obvious, but there has been a concerted effort for years pretending this is not the case (particularly under the Obama administration). That is why there is such a smokescreen pretending these were just the actions of a “private company” with no coercion from government actors. Then again, there is a certain former CIA director who lied under oath in front of Congress about an illegal domestic surveillance program and still has a nice retirement and gets cushy media treatment, so I am not holding my breath.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I have called before for an in-depth article from Unherd on the Twitter Files.
The information coming iro the FBI is staggering e.g. that the FBI paid Twitter millions of dollars for their ‘staff time’ – read regular meetings between the FBI and Twitter and cosy and continuous chats about who should be silenced. As of 2020 there were so many former FBI employees working at Twitter that they created their own private Slack channel and crib sheet to onboard new FBI arrivals.
This is only a tiny bit of what has been dropped.
The latest I haven’t yet read
 where the Pentagon gets involved.
I sign up to Unherd to get this sort of journalism please. Be sure that fake news corporate media is ignoring the whole thing.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I was going to say something similar. The claim is that it’s about child porn – but ultimately it is about total control of the narrative. If the various attempts to pass state censorship laws – like here in Canada – are successful then progressive critics will be censored forever. COVID mandates and vaccine mandates were a great example of ‘the state’ getting things terribly wrong in part because they silenced their critics and were cheered on by our now entirely worthless traditional media.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

This must be a satirical article because the author’s arguments are so misguided it’s laughable. Yes, defining the edges of what is acceptable speech will always be an issue, and yes, there will always be a master who makes the final decision.

But this fundamentally misrepresents the real issue – deep state involvement in a speech platform by the FBI, and arbitrary and opaque ideological decisions made by moderators working for Twitter.

He does mention this briefly, but treats it as a secondary issue, rather than the primary issue. This is the true battleground, this is the war where good and evil battle each other. It’s not on the fringes of what is acceptable content.

Most people can live with the tilted decisions that were made at Twitter. But they lied about it – lied about it to users, lied about it to Congress and tried to gaslight us all.

What is needed at Twitter is transparency. Make the content decisions and algorithms public. If that happens, ruling on fringe content will become much less ideological.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

Aris, that you think Twitter is far more important than real life at least explains why you consistently write delusional drivel.

Last edited 1 year ago by Allison Barrows
Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
1 year ago

Agreed. It’s alarming to think there are more out there like Aris. They are products of a strange kind of anti-democratic messaging that seeped into the “intellectual class”. These are fake intellectuals who have closed their ears and minds to the real world and the cleansing power of terse discourse.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

I’m not exactly sure what you mean here, what has ‘terse discourse’ got to do with democracy? Plato was pretty good at the former but didn’t support the latter! Firstly, when appealing to ‘democracy’, it might perhaps be better and more consistent if some people on the Right were not quite so transactional on the one hand, and naĂŻve on the other. For a start it is somewhat problematic not to accept the results of elections, especially with a completely cavalier attitude to the consequences of this, even if there were irregularities.

I think we should also accept that ‘democracy’ just isn’t enough, as any true conservative would; some of the comments of the Right are naĂŻve here. The UK for example in recent years has had two manifestly useless party leaders foisted on the electorate through ‘internal party democracy’ in Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Truss, according to the views of the electorate rather than party activists.

There is no one ‘pure’ democratic system, at least in an advanced complex society, and certainly not one which would always produce the same results in a close contest. The US Constitution actually has (deliberate) non democratic elements, such as the Electoral College and the number of senators representing each State. These have in recent decades tended to give greater representation to the Republican Party. The Democratic Party can perfectly reasonably point out, for example, that Donald Trump would not have won either the 2016 or 2020 elections, by quite significant margins, on the popular vote.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
John Croteau
John Croteau
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Andrew, you must be British. The US Electoral College is clearly Democratic. It’s based on the fact that the United STATES is a republic comprised of independent STATES. The states elect presidents by democratically selecting their electoral college representatives. Many STATES are the size of European countries like the UK, and in many ways equally disparate. Thinking that inner-city voters in Leftist echo chambers like NYC, LA, Chicago or SFO should dictate life for mainstream Americans is exactly what got you Brexit. Our decentralized government structure may actually save us from the dystopian day of reckoning that’s unfolding in the EU. Looks like we have to bail you out from another sh** show derived from Leftist, globalist policy and economic reliance on yet another despot, Putin’s Russia. The Right wing reaction in Europe this winter will make American conservatives pale by comparison.

John Croteau
John Croteau
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Andrew, you must be British. The US Electoral College is clearly Democratic. It’s based on the fact that the United STATES is a republic comprised of independent STATES. The states elect presidents by democratically selecting their electoral college representatives. Many STATES are the size of European countries like the UK, and in many ways equally disparate. Thinking that inner-city voters in Leftist echo chambers like NYC, LA, Chicago or SFO should dictate life for mainstream Americans is exactly what got you Brexit. Our decentralized government structure may actually save us from the dystopian day of reckoning that’s unfolding in the EU. Looks like we have to bail you out from another sh** show derived from Leftist, globalist policy and economic reliance on yet another despot, Putin’s Russia. The Right wing reaction in Europe this winter will make American conservatives pale by comparison.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

I’m not exactly sure what you mean here, what has ‘terse discourse’ got to do with democracy? Plato was pretty good at the former but didn’t support the latter! Firstly, when appealing to ‘democracy’, it might perhaps be better and more consistent if some people on the Right were not quite so transactional on the one hand, and naĂŻve on the other. For a start it is somewhat problematic not to accept the results of elections, especially with a completely cavalier attitude to the consequences of this, even if there were irregularities.

I think we should also accept that ‘democracy’ just isn’t enough, as any true conservative would; some of the comments of the Right are naĂŻve here. The UK for example in recent years has had two manifestly useless party leaders foisted on the electorate through ‘internal party democracy’ in Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Truss, according to the views of the electorate rather than party activists.

There is no one ‘pure’ democratic system, at least in an advanced complex society, and certainly not one which would always produce the same results in a close contest. The US Constitution actually has (deliberate) non democratic elements, such as the Electoral College and the number of senators representing each State. These have in recent decades tended to give greater representation to the Republican Party. The Democratic Party can perfectly reasonably point out, for example, that Donald Trump would not have won either the 2016 or 2020 elections, by quite significant margins, on the popular vote.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

It’s really strange that this is the same Aris who wrote this:
On the frontline with the Right Sector militia – UnHerd

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

He may failed the RCB* and never got over it?

(*Regular Commissions Board.)

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

He may failed the RCB* and never got over it?

(*Regular Commissions Board.)

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, Twitter IS important and sets the stage for many political decisions in the real world, not to mention people being hounded out of their jobs, as has happened now on numerous occasions.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
1 year ago

Agreed. It’s alarming to think there are more out there like Aris. They are products of a strange kind of anti-democratic messaging that seeped into the “intellectual class”. These are fake intellectuals who have closed their ears and minds to the real world and the cleansing power of terse discourse.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

It’s really strange that this is the same Aris who wrote this:
On the frontline with the Right Sector militia – UnHerd

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, Twitter IS important and sets the stage for many political decisions in the real world, not to mention people being hounded out of their jobs, as has happened now on numerous occasions.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago

Aris, that you think Twitter is far more important than real life at least explains why you consistently write delusional drivel.

Last edited 1 year ago by Allison Barrows
Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

No mention of the links between the previous Twitter administration and the US intelligence agencies? It is now clear that meetings between Twitter executives and the FBI were routine in the run-up to the 2020 Presidential election. Nor of the censorship of any criticism of the Covid lockdowns and the efficacy of the vaccines? Big Pharma has made billions from injecting healthy people with under-tested vaccines due to the propaganda drive orchestrated by amongst others Twitter.

It is also curious that support for Russia in its war with Ukraine is implied to be right-wing. In the UK at least most of the support for Russia has come from the Left.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

And Twitter hasn’t even begun to release this data.
I read today that a man on the board of Reuters is also on the board of Pfizer. Now I haven’t even checked that out yet, but my bullshit meter isn’t going off – I am becoming so inured to the manipulation and corruption.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

So, are you saying that Tucker Carlson, a Putin fan boy, is left wing?
The reality, which a right-winger like you cannot accept, is that both the hard right and the hard left have utterly disgraced themselves by their mealy-mouthed equivocation / de facto appeasement of the little rat in the Kremlin.
Most support for Ukraine comes from moderates.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

And Twitter hasn’t even begun to release this data.
I read today that a man on the board of Reuters is also on the board of Pfizer. Now I haven’t even checked that out yet, but my bullshit meter isn’t going off – I am becoming so inured to the manipulation and corruption.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

So, are you saying that Tucker Carlson, a Putin fan boy, is left wing?
The reality, which a right-winger like you cannot accept, is that both the hard right and the hard left have utterly disgraced themselves by their mealy-mouthed equivocation / de facto appeasement of the little rat in the Kremlin.
Most support for Ukraine comes from moderates.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

No mention of the links between the previous Twitter administration and the US intelligence agencies? It is now clear that meetings between Twitter executives and the FBI were routine in the run-up to the 2020 Presidential election. Nor of the censorship of any criticism of the Covid lockdowns and the efficacy of the vaccines? Big Pharma has made billions from injecting healthy people with under-tested vaccines due to the propaganda drive orchestrated by amongst others Twitter.

It is also curious that support for Russia in its war with Ukraine is implied to be right-wing. In the UK at least most of the support for Russia has come from the Left.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
1 year ago

Since Hitler used free speech to take power, we should preserve our democracy by censorship. Just because Hitler and Stalin heavily censored the news is no reason to suspect censorship is a bad thing. Besides, even though Stalin killed millions, and made a deal with Hitler to start World War II, many people still think he was a great man.

Also, it’s the FBI’s duty to protect us from possibly misleading posts on Twitter. It’s fabulous that they paid Twitter over $3 million for censorship to keep us safe. It has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment, which as we all know, allows for misleading posts to be censored at the direction of federal agencies. It’s a penumbra in the Bill of Rights. Censorship preserves our democracy.

/sarcasm

Last edited 1 year ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

You are a fascist.
Change my mind.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

You are a fascist.
Change my mind.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
1 year ago

Since Hitler used free speech to take power, we should preserve our democracy by censorship. Just because Hitler and Stalin heavily censored the news is no reason to suspect censorship is a bad thing. Besides, even though Stalin killed millions, and made a deal with Hitler to start World War II, many people still think he was a great man.

Also, it’s the FBI’s duty to protect us from possibly misleading posts on Twitter. It’s fabulous that they paid Twitter over $3 million for censorship to keep us safe. It has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment, which as we all know, allows for misleading posts to be censored at the direction of federal agencies. It’s a penumbra in the Bill of Rights. Censorship preserves our democracy.

/sarcasm

Last edited 1 year ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
1 year ago

“Decisions will always finally have to be made by someone, and those decisions are always by their nature political, arbitrary, and thus always a source of dispute.”
Here’s a novel idea – let each user decide (i.e. open algorithm).
I can hear the authoritarians: But you might be exposed to ISIS propaganda or child porn! The default content algorithm would have training wheels on of course – if users chose to see the worst the web has to offer, so be it, it makes it easier to track down both purveyors and clients, with a drone missile hopefully where appropriate. Let’s not pretend that they don’t have other means to disseminate.
The fundamental premise of this piece is wrong – there doesn’t need to be a person or group controlling what I am ALLOWED to see

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
1 year ago

“Decisions will always finally have to be made by someone, and those decisions are always by their nature political, arbitrary, and thus always a source of dispute.”
Here’s a novel idea – let each user decide (i.e. open algorithm).
I can hear the authoritarians: But you might be exposed to ISIS propaganda or child porn! The default content algorithm would have training wheels on of course – if users chose to see the worst the web has to offer, so be it, it makes it easier to track down both purveyors and clients, with a drone missile hopefully where appropriate. Let’s not pretend that they don’t have other means to disseminate.
The fundamental premise of this piece is wrong – there doesn’t need to be a person or group controlling what I am ALLOWED to see

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael Coleman
Gary Cruse
Gary Cruse
1 year ago

The next fascinating event to watch is the battle between the EU and international social media.
Does Musk muzzle Europeans?
Or does the EU back down?
Stay tuned.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  Gary Cruse

The EU can’t even sanction its own members let alone go toe to toe with an American billion.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Gary Cruse

Musks current activities will surely result in the EU having to be more open about their own “moderation” rules.
A big win for the inhabitants of EU colonies.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago
Reply to  Gary Cruse

The EU can’t even sanction its own members let alone go toe to toe with an American billion.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Gary Cruse

Musks current activities will surely result in the EU having to be more open about their own “moderation” rules.
A big win for the inhabitants of EU colonies.

Gary Cruse
Gary Cruse
1 year ago

The next fascinating event to watch is the battle between the EU and international social media.
Does Musk muzzle Europeans?
Or does the EU back down?
Stay tuned.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

Aris Roussinos is I think an interesting writer, but pretty jejune – he seems to struggle here with the difference between conservatives and liberals, which a recent speaker Yoram Hazony at UnHerd could have elucidated him on (admittedly many of today’s self-described conservatives cleave far closer to liberalism, which confuses the issue). And boy is he long-winded!

Conservatives properly described certainly don’t believe in the untrammelled arbitrary power of the Divine Right of Kings, or arbitrary power by whim whether by Elon Musk or anyone else. They believe in the historical accumulation of wisdom of institutions built up over centuries (and thereby culturally contingent and non universal), concepts of giving honour to others in the family, tribe and nation (which last concept was NOT invented by the French Revolution but understood in Biblical times, indeed in the Bible. Hierarchies are important and indeed essential in any human society. Parents and children should have a close loving relationship, but not one of equality and one where parents want to be their children’s friends and demonstrate this by giving in to their every short term demand. In fact children should honour their parents, who on its own account and because they have more wisdom.

Liberalism prioritises the idea that all human societies can be understood and perfected through the act of pure reason, a belief that has absolutely no empirical or historical justification, as ‘reason’ can lead to Marxist-Leninism, National Socialism, ideas of racial supremacy, even the idea that Sharia law is the sole answer, or that children should be able to have sex with adults, quite as readily as that of a ‘liberal’ society.

As we have seen, this eventually acts as a ‘universal acid’, first throwing into doubt, and then eroding the very foundations of society (whose origins are of course taken for granted rather than as historically contingent and vulnerable as they are). This ends up in the absurdity, not to say evil, of saying men can become women if they ‘feel’ they are. (Perhaps unfortunately, not ‘ends up’ – who knows what monstrous nonsenses will be spawned next?).

Elon Musk isn’t and shouldn’t be treated as a saviour figure, but he has provided a civic service of some importance by demonstrating beyond any doubt the deep political bias against anyone on the Right and government collusion in the suppression of free speech. Free speech isn’t absolute and should not be unconstrained, but it is real and meaningful as any comparison between the conservative Republic of the early United States, or indeed aristocratic Britain, and say Tsarist Russia or Qing China would demonstrate. If anything, it should be constrained in a conservative, not ultra liberal direction, in order to stop society destroying itself.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

Aris Roussinos is I think an interesting writer, but pretty jejune – he seems to struggle here with the difference between conservatives and liberals, which a recent speaker Yoram Hazony at UnHerd could have elucidated him on (admittedly many of today’s self-described conservatives cleave far closer to liberalism, which confuses the issue). And boy is he long-winded!

Conservatives properly described certainly don’t believe in the untrammelled arbitrary power of the Divine Right of Kings, or arbitrary power by whim whether by Elon Musk or anyone else. They believe in the historical accumulation of wisdom of institutions built up over centuries (and thereby culturally contingent and non universal), concepts of giving honour to others in the family, tribe and nation (which last concept was NOT invented by the French Revolution but understood in Biblical times, indeed in the Bible. Hierarchies are important and indeed essential in any human society. Parents and children should have a close loving relationship, but not one of equality and one where parents want to be their children’s friends and demonstrate this by giving in to their every short term demand. In fact children should honour their parents, who on its own account and because they have more wisdom.

Liberalism prioritises the idea that all human societies can be understood and perfected through the act of pure reason, a belief that has absolutely no empirical or historical justification, as ‘reason’ can lead to Marxist-Leninism, National Socialism, ideas of racial supremacy, even the idea that Sharia law is the sole answer, or that children should be able to have sex with adults, quite as readily as that of a ‘liberal’ society.

As we have seen, this eventually acts as a ‘universal acid’, first throwing into doubt, and then eroding the very foundations of society (whose origins are of course taken for granted rather than as historically contingent and vulnerable as they are). This ends up in the absurdity, not to say evil, of saying men can become women if they ‘feel’ they are. (Perhaps unfortunately, not ‘ends up’ – who knows what monstrous nonsenses will be spawned next?).

Elon Musk isn’t and shouldn’t be treated as a saviour figure, but he has provided a civic service of some importance by demonstrating beyond any doubt the deep political bias against anyone on the Right and government collusion in the suppression of free speech. Free speech isn’t absolute and should not be unconstrained, but it is real and meaningful as any comparison between the conservative Republic of the early United States, or indeed aristocratic Britain, and say Tsarist Russia or Qing China would demonstrate. If anything, it should be constrained in a conservative, not ultra liberal direction, in order to stop society destroying itself.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Philip Stott
Philip Stott
1 year ago

The best thing Elon could do for humanity is fire Twitter’s servers and code into space, and suck up the losses (he’s got form for that).
The failure of post Twitter wannabes (Parler, Truth Social, et al) shows there is no appetite for a rerun.
As for Twitter being a front as a primary CSAM vector, that doesn’t really ring true.
I occasionally frequent the dark web to procure products that I once would have needed a dealer for – pretty much everything is available there including drugs, weapons and no doubt CSAM and jihadi propaganda. All that is needed is a VPN and TOR browser.
If I can go there to buy weed, I’m sure the peados and jihadis can get their fix too.

Last edited 1 year ago by Philip Stott
Michael Argent
Michael Argent
1 year ago

End anonymous posting – problem solved ..

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

Do the frothing Trump fans posting hereon have anything to say about the British government’s well-established form of govt censorship, the infamous D – Notice procedure?
https://thedissenter.org/very-british-form-of-press-censorship/
You’re remarkably quiet about it.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

Doubt is the hallmark of a democratic mind. 
All forms of social media should be banned. They serve no useful purpose.
Most ordinary people are too excitable to be trusted with opinions.
Most ordinary people are intellectually lazy, emotional, tribal, gullible, and too excitable to be trusted with a serious debate. 
Here are some typical hallmarks of an idiot:
Lack of doubt / certainty – anyone who is convinced that s/he’s right and you’re wrong; and 
Contempt, and a lack of curiosity – not only are you wrong, but the idiot will also have not the slightest interest in anything you say, and will view you with contempt (or worse) for holding different views. He will have no interest in any facts or ideas outside those which he, or his thought bubble, already are happy with. 
The purposes of down votes in a comments forum is to reveal just how many idiots are among us.  The down-thumbs facility is a mechanism by which narrow-minded bigots can reveal themselves.
https://ayenaw.com/2021/07/18/post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc/ 

Todd Kreigh
Todd Kreigh
1 year ago

“who will rule Twitter next” .. those 5 words are insightful in what’s to come next. Is the author serious when he says Twitter is “far more important than real life”? If so, then it’s typical of his generation’s thinking.
Has the author considered, why does Twitter have to be “ruled”? It’s the point I think Musk is trying to make.
Speech is supposed to be free, not regulated by a trove of woke pissants sitting on their asses playing God. If social media has been so weaponized against the masses it stifles actual thought and dimes them out to the feds, and if it can’t be reformed, then we’d be best off to quit using it altogether.

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
1 year ago

Did you just defend Twitter by using the arguments and logic of a Nazi?!
All of the arguments about Twitter make the same ridiculous mistake. Twitter is not a public square and Musk is not a sovereign power. Twitter is a corporation and Musk is a capitalist. The only obligation Twitter ever had was to be profitable, and it is still failing to fulfill that obligation. Twitter is garbage and anyone who spends time on it is a twit.

Last edited 1 year ago by Benjamin Greco