Views from the third world. Earth.
I’ve been writing on Medium for over five years and I know that any algorithm is a harsh mistress. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down, it’s a mystery. But since October 7th I’ve been way down, and I know why. The algorithm hates Palestine. As Audre Lorde said, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” and right now, the master is dismantling Gaza completely. The tools need to either get in line or STFU about it.
Post October 7th, my traffic has been cut in half and earnings into a third. I’ve gone from around 30,000 views a month to 15,000 and around $1,000 to $500, though I’m still writing my fingers off. While I ostensibly have 40,000 followers on Medium, this is a meaningless metric. The algorithm rules them all, and the algorithm gives negatives fucks about Palestine. You either need to ‘respect both sides’ of this genocide, or whistle past the graveyard amicably. Supporting the Resistance is borderline illegal in western countries, and suppressed across its private media, including Medium.
Looking at what my feed is now, it’s actually much worse than that. The algorithm has actually been pushing me false atrocity propaganda about the rebellion of October 7th (savages! rapists! kill them all!), and even articles by people committing actual war crimes. Seriously, there’s an IOF war tourist blogging about blowing up civilian homes, and how he feels ‘conflicted’ about it. These are war crimes!
This is the master’s house and I’m a tool to think any better. Medium is a capitalist company based in America and it’s honestly a wonder that they paid me to talk shit about capitalism and America in the first place. What’s more interesting than my personal defenestration from Medium, however, is the bigger picture this paints. The algorithm spitting me out tells me that the western Internet is having violent indigestion right now. They may be throwing me out, but they’re throwing up blood all over the place.
What I have written for years on Medium are critiques of America, and its capitalism and imperialism (the highest form of capitalism). This was all fine, as long as I spoke in generalities. Even welcome. I was promoted, distributed, and occasionally invited onto mainstream media. In Capitalist Realism Mark Fisher talks about how capitalism relies on a structure of disavowal. This is kinda what I was doing. As Fisher says, quoting the otherwise dubious Žižek:
Capitalist ideology in general, Žižek maintains, consists precisely in the overvaluing of belief — in the sense of inner subjective attitude — at the expense of the beliefs we exhibit and externalize in our behavior. So long as we believe (in our hearts) that capitalism is bad, we are free to continue to participate in capitalist exchange. According to Žižek, capitalism in general relies on this structure of disavowal.
This was my jam on Medium. Capitalist disavowal was my niche. Complaining about capitalism and America within an American capitalist platform, while paying withholding tax to the American government. I might have been smart, but the people making money off me were genius. Palestine, however, is a one-way ticket to demonetization. What’s the difference?
The difference, I think, is that the rebellion in Palestine cannot be monetized. It’s not just people talking about decolonization, it’s people actually doing it. This rebellion threatens the image and most importantly the money of Empire and they cannot digest it. That’s why the privatized censors are furiously trying to expel the toxin, before the media throat seizes up with all the incoherence and the allergic reaction goes anaphylactic. But it’s too late.
The fact that this niche is closing up is actually a positive sign, and it only costs me like $500 a month for the information. When a worker goes on strike that hurts the worker, but it hurts the company too. In this case, when Medium reduces my work on their platform, it reduces them as well. And I’m not the only one. The entire western media is having massive indigestion, trying to keep this rebellion down. Empire cannot devour this rebellion and has to throw up a lot of knowledge workers that aren’t thinking right. The Hegemonster is not feeling well, which is actually good news for those of us trying to slay monsters.
The Overton Window
As Lyndon B. Johnson said, it’s “better to have your enemies inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.” This, increasingly, is his Empire’s problem. Inside the tent, everything is viewed through what’s called an Overton Window. A range of acceptable political debate and opinions, a frame that I also viewed the world through. In this frame, ‘Islamism’ is a default bad (even for Muslim people) and certain things — like ‘Israel’ or even America existing — were unthinkable. But that’s all gone out the window now.
I’ve read the direct sources the western media slanders— the Quran, Hamas, Hezbollah — and these are perfectly valid philosophies for governing, especially for governing themselves. They also seem to be perfectly capable philosophies for resisting. Inspiring even.
At the same time, I’ve seen the things ‘Israel’ and America are doing and they don’t deserve to exist any more than Nazi Germany or Rhodesia. They’re killing people at a faster rate than Dresden, killing children at a faster rate than Auschwitz, and killing brain cells if you believe this is for some ‘greater good’. It’s just evil. America and ‘Israel’ don’t need to ‘do better’, they need to be destroyed. Death to America, Death to ‘Israel’. That would have sounded crazy to me just a few years ago, but now it seems obvious. They’re genocidal maniacs.
Within the algorithm, of course, you can’t say this stuff. Writing about blowing up people’s houses is cool, but writing about stopping it isn’t. The algorithm is actually there to enforce a very narrow Overton Window, which grows increasingly absurd given the screams and bombs coming from outside, and the images coming through gaps in the curtain.
Now the western media has to resort to much more obvious censorship, and also has to conspicuously not report big news that people know about. This increasing ‘authoritarianism’ actually reduces their authority. It’s a death spiral. The fact is that people like me actually lend credibility to these outlets, and they’re hiding us. Meanwhile, many people have independent sources of information, and they know that obvious things are being left out. People increasingly know that the Overton Window is a screen, and that the programming is increasingly detached from reality. It’s only so long before they get pissed off, leave the tent, and start pissing into the tent rather than out.
Sour Grapes Make Fine Whine
Like me, writing this. Or me, publishing everything for free on my own blog (www.indi.ca). Maybe 300 people will see this post on Medium (hi Sari!), but I have 2,000 email subscribers of my own now. I now make more money from subs than Medium. Sour grapes can make fine whine, if you let them mature a little.
Hence, this is not a call for Medium to ‘be better’. This is no great injustice to me. Medium is a tiny part of a western media-sphere that’s collectively gone mad. I’m a tiny person and I’m happy to be excluded from bad company. The western media was the clothes of western empire, and its pants are obviously full of feces and on fire. They can lie all they want, but the smell gets around. The greater injustice reeks.
‘Israel’ has taken such a giant shit on every human value that the narrow Overton Window of ‘lively debate’ cannot clear the stench fast enough. The ‘centrist’ position of supporting Palestinian freedom while condemning their freedom fighters is both morally vacuous and boring. The moderate position of condemning violence ‘in general’ is patently insane when one side is running around in tracky bottoms and RPGs and the other is bombing hospitals with fighter jets. And the idea that ‘Israel’ has a right to self-defense (it doesn’t as an occupying power) and that Palestine is only explainable by racism. This is all obvious to any objective observer, and censoring such people doesn’t make the obviousness disappear. It just makes the media look like they’re ‘in on it’. ‘It’ being genocide. And that’s not a good look in any century. To be on the right side of the western media today is to be on the wrong side of history.
The View Outside
Where we are, in history, is at the beginning of an active rebellion against White Empire. Condemning ‘both sides’ is to sit on the fence of a concentration camp. The media trying to run Benetton advertising on the apartheid wall just look like part of the problem. The brave fighters of Hamas et al literally bulldozed through that wall on October 7th, and ‘Israeli’ bulldozers have been literally burying people alive in hospitals ever since then. I don’t think this is a hard one, unless you’re willfully obdurate.
Western empire is falling, western propaganda is failing, and the western media are in on it. All the King’s algorithms and all the media men, cannot put Humpty together again. The Overton Window has broken and people can see that it was a screen hiding a frankly dystopian reality. The current censorship is thus not a sign of strength but rather desperate weakness. People may not see this post, but they’re aware that they’re not seeing something, and that’s an even bigger problem.
I’ve been writing about the end of this Empire and wishing for it for years now. Now that it’s happening, who gives a shit about losing some hits? When much braver people than me are burying their children? When much braver men are blowing up tanks with their bare hands? To paraphrase Douglas Adams’s dolphins at the end of the world, ‘so long, and thanks for the clicks.’
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The views expressed herein are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of The Greanville Post. However, we do think they are important enough to be transmitted to a wider audience.
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