22.4.12

Tea Party Strategy


Tubechop from documentary The Billionaire's Tea Party.


Update July 26:  Unfortunately youtube has removed the video that I had taken the clip from. I have re-posted the trailer above and I highly recommend you watch it for yourself since it reveals so much about who funds these 'grassroots' conservative movements.    

Since the video is gone, the brief overview of my previous Tubechop is that it showed a Tea Party group in the US advising new (mostly young) members to deliberately go to sites like Amazon, Rotten Tomatoes ect. and down vote Michael Moore's films over and over to lower their rating.  The person who made the documentary had infiltrated the group by posing as a conservative. 

They were told how important it was for them to fight the "culture war" online by doing this just a few hours every day (Presumably to help make it appear that opinions like supporting health care, gay marriage or gun laws are not widely supported).

This is what is out there.  This is how serious a culture war some are willing to engage in.  I hate to see it come to this, as I've acknowledged before that I do have a great respect for Tea Party members and their devotion to civic duty.  Is there a difference between a blogger - specifically myself -  writing about reducing corporate corruption and promoting environmental sustainability, and someone like the young man in this video?   I know I present many of my specific opinions here that clash directly with the worldview of The Tea Party and other conservative groups, so am I just the enemy pushing my own brand of utopia, yelling frivolously from a soap box?   I self-promote this site where and when I have a chance, so do I have any right to say what I do is above comparison? 

When I examine my motives and the actions I've taken to share my worldview, I am clearly not fighting hard enough or taking my battle as seriously as these folks.   No, I have not taken the time to go to Amazon and down vote Sarah Palin's books, nor have taken time to up-vote Michael Moore films on Rotten Tomatoes.   In fact I rarely ever rate anything whatsoever.  Call me lazy, but I can't be bothered unless it was in the awe-striking class of film or reading experience.  I've written some glowing reviews on The Teradactyl, but I have indeed read, listened to, or watched anything I'm willing to vouch for.  It strikes me as shockingly hypocritical that a movement that so deeply embraces a lack of intervention in their lives from the government should see no issue with the calculating manipulation of the minds of their fellow men by influencing search engines into presenting material that skews the perception of what type of opinions are dominating public thought.   

I could not be bothered participating in this type of manipulation.  So what is my motivation? The big name bloggers throw their weight around the internet, but are largely criticised as a scourge on real journalism, muddying the waters around any legitimate set of facts - worse even than even pundits or paparazzi.  So why throw myself under the bus?   I have taken a lot of time to assess what I'm doing here, and I kept coming back to this quote from Bertrand Russell:    


Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many possiblities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. Thus, while diminishing our feeling of certainty as to what things are, it greatly increases our knowledge as to what the may be; it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never travelled into the region of liberating doubt, and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familar things in an unfamilar aspect.

In many cases, my posts are primarily meant to fulfil a demonstration of that sentiment in as few words as I can manage.   I'm even happy to let others explain at times when it's obvious they are more capable of cutting to the heart of an issue than I am.  I want to stimulate your wonderment, your conscience, your sense of self, to soften your day or simply bring to light what I believe we all should know about if we are to understand our world better, presented sometimes (albeit rarely) without comment.

When it comes the way the liberatarian activists in this video are promoting their point of view, it seems to me that if you believe you need to work this hard and act disingenuously to bring people around to your way of thinking, then you might question the validity of what you have chosen to promote?  Outright propaganda should not be necessary.  If I determined that these kind of devious tactics were required to be successful then I would feel I was operating from a weaker position than my opponent(s).  

We might agree that the public dialectic on social issues is to be respected, and remains absolutely necessary to social evolution and democracy, but when the process is tainted and confused with purely political rhetoric, our understanding of each other becomes distorted and our morality misplaced.
This type of arrogance is seen most frequently throughout internet message boards and television punditry.  Yet at the same time, the internet is facilitating the sharing of diverse worldwide perspectives.  This unprecedented exposure to the world around us often demonstrates how far removed we can be from other cultures, but not from our shared existential struggle of love, loss, fear, anxiety, family, and striving for personal self-determination and happiness.

What this snippet of video implies to me is how these practices are like viruses, or a wrench being forced into the process of positive inter-connectedness the world is currently experiencing.  This shows no respect for the freedom these groups say they are defending, nor the freedom they are currently fortunate enough to enjoy.   It feels desperate, and even as these techniques are successful in altering results and presenting false impressions, I feel they will be short-lived and petty victories precisely because they are ill-won.

Strangely enough, it seems in today's culture wars old advice about how to deal with wartime propaganda still applies.   Sharing this video and revealing these deceptions that are being deployed within the online marketplace of ideas just reminds us to keep watchful of how we consume information.  Be aware of the possibility of propaganda.   Stay connected with your peers and hear what they have to say by dissecting and comparing information together based on what you have actually have read, watched, listened to or even experienced firsthand.  Try on new concepts and ideas withhold relying on rating stars to influence your acceptance of some belief or other being widespread or widely accepted.


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