Principles overboard

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Earthling moderator: „Tell me, do you wish to be a dictator of the planet Earth?“ Photo: Outer Limits: The Galaxy Being

Recently, I received an email sent to members of a private group from the list moderator, who is usually quite strict about prohibiting politics being forced into the group.

The email forwards a protest letter against Trump’s policy of separating families at the (Mexican – US) border. Of course, any other political issues – or even criticism – a list member may feel is important will be excluded because “political discussions beyond simply announcing politically-slanted events are generally beyond the scope of list traffic”. The situation is so serious that a diversity of opinions will not be tolerated.

The moderator reiterates that „shortly after the election in 2016, we are in a new political moonscape with no compass. People with a multinational orientation, scholars, writers, and other artists represent a threat to the president who wishes to become dictator. The evidence for Trump’s authoritarian drive is clear to all who are willing to look at what’s happening, head on.” Everything is crystal clear: “We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity (Outer Limits, introduction).” It’s natural for an authoritarian to wish to become a dictator, or perhaps just a moderator. But, that’s speculation.

„The mood in the United States is unbelievably grim and repressive.” One doesn’t have to live on the border to Gaza to experience that “the world is on fire all around us.“

“The situation is extreme to the point that I feel I must carve out space for resistance against Trump. My greatest concern is for the most vulnerable, especially poor people of color. But it’s easy to imagine much of the funding for scholarly and creative work being drowned in the Landwehrkanal (a canal in Berlin, not the Potomac!). That’s potentially a huge problem for most of you unless you are independently wealthy (fat chance).” It seems that uncreative rich “people of color”, among others perhaps, face no danger of being drown in a Berlin canal.

Here the moderator doesn’t hesitate when it comes to authoritarian censorship: “All this is to say: on Trumpism, I am abandoning my longstanding policy of squelching political discussion on the list.  I think this is necessary because – as in other authoritarian systems – Trump has blurred the lines between every day life and the regime. This tactic of blurring puts all of us, potentially, in harm’s way.” But, “We can change the focus…”

“No memes please! I trust nearly all of you to understand the difference and abide by it. If not – well I am still the moderator. If this slight loosening of policy becomes unmanageable, the obvious step would be for someone to set up a second group devoted to politics.“ If an authoritarian fears loosing power, then creating divisiveness can offer a solution. 

There are powers in the universe inscrutable and profound. Fear cannot save us. Rage cannot help us. (…) And to achieve this, we must begin to understand ourselves, and each other. (closing narration, Outer Limits: The Galaxy Being).”

William Wires, 21 June, 2018

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