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On Making Democracy Safe For Memes And The Post-Factual Future


by Sean Orr | Yeah, and cigarettes probably don’t cause cancer: Kinder Morgan president ‘not going to judge’ whether climate change caused by humans. And we’re not going to judge whether or not your pipeline is safe. Alas, because we live in a post-factual world the CEO of an oil company doesn’t need to know the facts and he can be blatantly honest about it and people will say “well that’s refreshing” or “there are two sides to every argument”. But there isn’t. As Andrew Weaver says, “there is ideology on one side and science on the other.” Period.

I wonder where this fits into the cognitive bias codex.

Checking in on Standing Rock on Facebook is one thing, not banking with TD, Royal Bank and Scotiabank is another. How to Contact the 17 Banks Funding the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Meanwhile, Protecting False Creek from rising sea levels will cost Vancouver. Maybe if we build even more condos on the water’s edge they will act as a sort of levee…

Related: Before the Flood. Full movie.

But it’s ok because the Paris Agreement just came into effect: As Paris Agreement comes into effect, UN warns we are in ‘a race against time’. Except that it’s completely toothless and there is no way to hold rogue polluters accountable. Plus it’s probably too late anyway. As Derrick O’Keefe says “the Paris Agreement, as it stands, is an admission of defeat masquerading as victory. A noble-sounding codification of a path to runaway climate change and mass extinction”. Awesome.

So what is Canada doing about it? Liberals commit almost $350 million for Latvia mission to deter Russian aggression. Nice.

Liberals redirect $15B to infrastructure projects that ‘generate revenue’ for private investors. Oh, really?

Trudeau government to mail every household in Canada questions on electoral reform. Tell me more.

More than 13 million full-colour postcards were being printed up this week which, when they land in mailboxes in early December, will encourage Canadians to go to a website — mydemocracy.ca or mademocratie.ca — and answer questions about their democratic values.

Well, I’m convinced! Give these guys a raise! MPs, senators get pay hike as Canadians struggle with stagnant wages, rising unemployment.

The always well written and mostly hyperbolic Douglas Haddow on memes ruining democracy: Meme warfare: how the power of mass replication has poisoned the US election. Classic elite techno-anxiety. Saying that memes ruin democracy is a lot like saying hipsters are the dead end of western civilization.

It always seems odd to critique something that comes from the bottom-up, as though it isn’t just a mirror of what is coming from the top down. As much as my Facebook feed is littered with memes, I still think the dominant narrative of this election cycle is perpetuated by the mainstream traditional media.

But even if these smaller units of transmission are more and more popular, they exist in an echo chamber; they exist to make sense of and mimic the larger more holistic spread of culture, which has always been a web of semiotics. User based units of self expression are nothing new. Political cartoons or graffiti, for example, might not be effective at changing minds, but it is an expression replicated by and rooted in malaise and disenfranchisement. Memes are the same.

The internet doesn’t take things and twist them. The internet is things. It is culture. You may not like it, but that doesn’t mean it has been hijacked. Memes didn’t lead to the rise of white nationalism. The failure of the neo-liberal project did.

To wit: The IMF is starting to think that ‘neoliberalism’ has created an inequality problem. No shit.

Related satire of the day: US, world holds its breath with uncertain Yukon election results.

Petition of the day: Jill Krop Resign from Global BC. We’re better than that.

Past and future collide in downtown post office redevelopment plans. Yeah, the thing about collisions is…

Noted: Survivors Totem Pole raised in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Bonus: Meet the Man Drug Users in Vancouver Call a ‘Secret Kind of Hero’.

There are 4 comments

  1. Jill Krop should resign? Why? Yes she’s an asshat for deciding to air the video, but that’s what freedom of the press is all about. You may not agree with the content they air, but they have the right to air it. Don’t like it? Don’t watch.

  2. I think a more typical white cis response might have been “don’t like my column, don’t read it”. But this is so exclusionary. This is saying, “don’t ever fight for what you believe in”. It’s defeatist and entitled. I see the Global piece inching us closer to American-style spectacle. It’s hubris and it doesn’t benefit anyone to show a girl getting murdered on live television. It’s triggering for so many people. It’s needless. My response has nothing to do with my assigned gender or my privilege.

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