Cancel culture is no culture

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Needless to say that freedom of speech is in danger. Needless to say that freedom of speech is misunderstood. Shaming, bullying, harassing, insulting, humiliating are no freedom of speech but a boiling violence. For anyone who is familiar with this issue, it is known that violence is the opposite of freedom. Violence is enslaving and therefore a sign of weakness. Obviously, the main issue is to understand what causes violence everywhere. However, for this post, the topic is about the new phenomenon of “cancel culture”, a direct consequence of violence. So what is cancel culture?

According to the dictionary, “Cancel culture refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. It is generally discussed as being performed on social media”. But as we witness on daily news, cancel culture can become “cancel physically” by kidnapping or killing a disturbing opponent. Here, there are two different levels of analyzing the problem.

The first one is theoretical. When cancel culture is applied with common sense, it can become a way to shut down violent people, harassers, offensive statements and all the ugly things that we can watch and see or perhaps be victim of. The theory itself is good.

However, the second way is less positive. For example, who decides what is offensive and what’s not? People in charge, usually people of power, do this, but on their own terms. So there is a high risk that decision makers are subjective in their decisions. Hence, journalists being threatened, opponents kept silent, Julian Assange under surveillance for revealing the truth, George Floyd murdered and so on.

Cancel culture is a bitter reminiscence of Nazi, Soviet and Fascist regimes.

I am afraid that these regimes have been globalized.

The invisible people

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Human history mentioned invisible people without mentioning them. The mass, the vast majority, the anonymous are mainly forgotten in all walks of life.

In Plato’s “Allegory of the cave”, the invisible people are left to their destiny, choosing between comfort and manipulation or the arduous journey of freedom made by Socrates, the only visible one.

The invisible slaves changed history with Spartacus, the visible slave.

Mandela, The King, Gandhi are still vividly visible men of salvation and justice.

The invisible people are the people we choose not to look at. Beggars and homeless are faceless and nameless people of the modern world.

History, ethics, philosophy taught us that ideals of justice and equality are to fight for. However, society is still based on hierarchy, on visibility and invisibility.

The real force lies in the invisible world!

The influence of The Joker

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Few months ago, exactly in October, when Lebanon’s protests started, a politician linked street riots to the movie The Joker. Couple of weeks beforehand, I had watched it and wrote a review about it on here: The Joker, or how to watch a movie through concepts

I didn’t give much attention to the politician who blamed the movie for the happening protests for two main reasons: first, not everyone had watched the movie; second, people were protesting against corruption, so the movie was irrelevant here. However, world news has become a replica of the movie: now, I see everywhere The Joker.

Did the movie predict the state of the world or did it influence a certain worldwide ambiance, at least for the people who watched it?

It is difficult to answer these questions accurately, but one thing is sure: there is a correlation between riots and the movie. Apart from the Gilets Jaunes in France that started late 2018 beginning 2019, alongside some movements here and there, what’s commonly referred to as the Global Wave Protests started around October 2019. Again, was it a prediction or is it a replica? Honestly, a part of me is happy to see that art is impacting the world, especially after a long trend of pop commercial mainstream art, insignificant and shallow in its majority.

The Joker is an eponymous movie about a mentally ill man who considers himself as a joker, living in a corrupted and forgotten city. The socially invisible and bullied joker, forced to become a criminal for he has no choice, and a hero figure for a whole population as forgotten as invisible by the government as he was. So, the joker is each person unfairly treated, relentlessly claiming for long awaited and somehow out of reach rights.

Surely, there were some predictions in the movie while in the making alongside the start of some moving parts of the world. Maybe the brutality and the depth of The Joker _ not to forget the huge talents of all the working team_ had influenced protesters.

However, one question remains unanswered: did the working team on the movie expect the shifting in the world?

 

Protests, violence and mimesis.

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Ever wondered how come The  Global Wave Protests in 2019 (and still on in 2020) were born? Going back few years ago how was it possible for the Arab Spring to occur amongst brutal dictatorships? And on a smaller scale, why would a peaceful protest turn to violent riots?

On my previous post (https://maylynno.wordpress.com/2020/07/04/), I pointed out a link between desire, desire of recognition and mimesis. Humans are driven by desire and by competition which is an underlying desire of recognition, leading to envy, to jealousy and to imitation. These social dynamic concepts are intensified by the infinite mirror of the word that is social media. Social media is the production (one can use the word industry) of mimesis. It takes one massively broadcasted happening protest on social media to trigger many other protests around the world. Also, it takes one individual violent act during a strike to turn a peaceful march into a war zone.

I have spent half of my life protesting down the streets for all kind of rights. I know for a fact that once in a crowd, the energy level of each participant is intensified. There is a crowd bath that makes all people function like one body. Fear of being attacked becomes a rage of attacking. The boiling energy, as any energy, will eventually burst out, especially when awaited solutions are delayed. The more they are delayed, the bigger will be the possibility of violent acts. The rage of one person will trigger mimesis or the rage of every marching participant. This happened in Black Lives Matter movement (The US riots: a mirror of the world), with the Gilets Jaunes, in Hong Kong, in Lebanon Protests (Revolution and emotional wreck), in the Arab Spring, in Ukraine, in Sudan and elsewhere too throughout history until now.

However, this mimic violent act, mostly caused by rage and energy of protesters, is the desire of the government. Violence is responded by violence. And who has based its power on the “legitimate violence” (Eric Weil)? The State has. “The legitimate violence” is incarnated by the State’s armed forces. Forces of order will mimic violent protesters and sometimes it is vice versa, depending on the situation. Everybody imitates everybody. It explains why Mahatma Gandhi was so powerful in both his silence and his stillness down the streets along millions of his Indian followers.

The question remains on the importance or not of violence for a protest’s success. There is no one size fits all type of answer. Sometimes violence works and sometimes it turns against protesters. What is a common ground to any violence act in the world, whether in protesting or in wars, is mimesis and the desire of recognition.