Fighting neonazism on the Internet


This 22 April 2017 video is called Theresa May laughing meme [Jaws edition]. Modeled on the film Jaws about a ferocious great white shark, it is about Conservative Prime Minister May threatening the British National Health Service.

By Astrid Johnson in Britain:

The left is fighting a meme war on the ideological battleground online

Thursday 28th September 2017

ASTRID JOHNSON speaks with the artists kick-starting class consciousness and spreading socialist values on social media

ONLINE memes are difficult to define by their varied nature, but by far the most common and popular medium of meme is that of the funny picture, often with overlaid text.

They can cover a vast range of topics, adopt countless cultural in-jokes and range from the beautifully intricate to the hilariously mundane. But whatever the variety or the form, one thing is certain: memes dominate the internet, and have done for as long as many can remember.

For around the past five years, there’s been a rather unfavourable group of individuals exploiting the popularity of memes as a recruitment tool: the alt-right, a loosely-defined movement aligned with the right wing, fascism and white supremacy.

Spreading like a virus through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and lurking in internet forums like Reddit and 4Chan, the alt-right is orchestrating the distribution of dog-whistle phrases that mask genocide advocacy, and call for the formation of a white ethno-state.

But they’re being met with a fierce opposition from communists, socialists and anarchists. And they’re pretty good at making memes too. Indeed, left-wing memes have existed for about as long as memes themselves have in general. But in recent times, they’ve experienced a boom in popularity and production to spread class consciousness and fight back against the oncoming tide of fascism both online and off.

“I fell in love with socialism at a young age. It just seemed like common sense to me,” says one of the administrators of the Facebook page Labourwave on condition of anonymity.

Labourwave — which writes its name in a mixture of alternative characters not dissimilar to replacing an ‘e’ with a ‘3’ in a password — publishes online what some have called works of art.

After taking courses in graphic design, the site’s administrators began to fall in love with vaporwave, a counter-culture art and music movement that critiques capitalism with ironic idolization of 1990s consumerism aesthetics. “I loved the almost dystopian, anti-capitalist message.”

But as the alt-right began to expropriate vaporwave from its original community, Labourwave decided to start creating unabashedly socialist imagery, and in creating their Facebook page became part of a movement that’s seen success in making people more aware of their political options.

“I’ve seen many people say that leftist memes are what radicalised them … Memes are just modern entertainment, so it just seems logical to me.”

Labourwave thinks that, similarly to alt-right memes, art from them and others like them might be a more effective means of convincing people of left-wing politics. “Leftist memes are much different since they promote, mostly, positive messages about overcoming injustice and oppression.”

Regrettably, the left-wing community suffers from a lot of in-fighting, and this is something that can’t be escaped when making memes online. “Anarchists and authoritarian communists hardly ever get along, but that’s why I like to make a lot of left unity memes.” And Labourwave isn’t the only one trying to unite the masses.

“We don’t really like to discuss our specific ideologies,” says an admin for Sassy Socialist Memes, one of the most popular socialist meme pages on Facebook with a following of over 965,000 people.

“The strength of this page is that it acts as a broad church for leftists of all types, and that is why we can post memes about both anarchists and Maoists.”

Despite its huge success and wide reach, the people behind Sassy Socialist Memes never really intended to make something big out of their page. “It started as a fun inside joke between friends and just kept snowballing as more and more people joined the page.”

But through its success, many have begun to consider left-wing politics with a greater degree of interest. “We’ve had fans message us saying that our page got them interested in left ideology. We also have people ask us for reading recommendations or ask us questions about theory.”

At the end of the day, Sassy Socialist Memes isn’t looking to trigger any large social change through their actions. “We mainly just want people to enjoy our stuff. Anything extra is a bonus.”

However, the admins do think that if the alt-right are appropriating memes as a means of recruitment, then perhaps the left would also do good to do the same. “The alt-right uses memes as an ideological gateway, so one can say the left can do the same.”

The Labourwave Politburo of Agitation and Propaganda take this sentiment one step further. The creator of the page embraces the propagandistic, recruiting nature of socialist memes. “I hope that my work directly facilitates a revival of the ideals of the USSR. Original Soviet propaganda posters are great both artistically and at visually conveying socialist principles.”

It sees memes as a very palatable and approachable medium, and believe that this makes them perfect for sharing socialist sentiment.

“Memes can transform the essence of dense Marxist literature into an easily digestible format. Though reading theory is important, not everyone has the time.

“I have seen so many people say that they only got into it for the memes at first, but then over time they realised there was much more to it.”

The Politburo, based in the United States, has good reason for its passion, and the conviction of its views. “I was drawn to left-wing politics after watching the carnage that the great recession inflicted on the working people of this country…

“I’ve now seen the Pulse nightclub massacre in my hometown. I’ve seen Donald Trump lead a rally at my university, where he asked his supporters to swear allegiance to him.

“The only chance that my generation has is if the working people of the United States, as well as the working people of the whole world, create truly just governments based not on greed and death, but on equality and hope.”

And it is for these reasons that the Politburo does what it does. “Marxism is the ideology that supports this worldview.

“It has been responsible for near miraculous leaps in democracy and progress in the past.”

I asked the creators behind the Politburo what inspired them specifically to make the art that they do.

They shared with me a quote from the German playwright Bertolt Brecht, that I think quite effectively conveys the intention behind not all but many of the countless socialist meme creators online: “Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”

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Facebook helps Rohingya genocide in Myanmar


This video says about itself:

11 September 2017

The United Nations has described the reported atrocities [against] the Rohingya Muslim minority community in Myanmar as nothing short of ethnic cleansing.

Rohingya villages in Myanmar are either burned to the ground or are still in flames.

Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan reports from Balukhali Camp in Bangladesh, where the large numbers of refugees arriving daily are putting a strain on resources.

According to Dutch NOS TV today, Facebook corporation has decided to block messages by the Rohingya ARSA rebels from Myanmar (Burma). These rebels arose in reaction to the oppression and violence by the Myanmar dictatorship against the Rohingya national minority.

Facebook claims ARSA are ‘terrorists‘.

The NOS writes (translated):

Facebook and Twitter are widely used in Myanmar for dissemination of information, also by the army. As far as known, messages by the army and government are not banned by Facebook.

Apparently, according to the Facebook censors, governments cannot be terrorist … except, maybe, governments which the United States government hates and may want to start a ‘humanitarian’ regime change war against.

However, the Myanmar government and armed forces are not in that category, Rohingya genocide or no Rohingya genocide. Burmese armed forces work closely with NATO armed forces, like the German Bundeswehr. The police militarization in Ferguson, USA sets the precedent for militarised police in Myanmar.

Jeremy Corbyn calls on Aung San Suu Kyi to end Burma’s violence against Rohingya Muslims. Labour leader to use keynote speech to highlight plight of Muslim minority, saying they have ‘suffered for too long’: here.

The Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has deployed security forces along India’s northeastern borders to prevent thousands of Rohingya refugees entering the country. The Rohingya are fleeing ongoing military violence in Myanmar (Burma). New Delhi also plans to expel around 40,000 Rohingya already in India: here.

Burma: Pogroms continue against Rohingya Muslims: here.

Real Neat Blog Award, congratulations to 14 nominees!


Real Neat Blog Award

Late in 2014, I made this new award: the Real Neat Blog Award. There are so many bloggers whose blogs deserve more attention. So, I will try to do something about that 🙂

It is the first award that I ever made. I did some computer graphics years ago, before I started blogging; but my computer drawing had become rusty 🙂

The ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog Award are: (feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.

4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.

5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

My seven questions are:

1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

2. What is your favourite sport?

3. What has been a special moment for you so far in 2017?

4. What is your favourite quote?

5. What was your favourite class when still at school?

6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?

7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?

My nominees are:

1. Thomas Peace’s Nature-up-close Photography and Mindfulness Blog

2. Mick E Talbot Poems

3. Book ‘Em, Jan O

4. I.A.

5. Ohh, Honey

6. Eclipsed Words

7. ANIMALS

8. Ohmyfatness

9. umaima12blog

10. ThrifDee #Dubai

11. I Bought A Camera …

12. A Curricular Sequence of Project-Based, Aquatic Ecosys-STEM Themed Learning Activities

13. This Is North Kensington

14. Reader Choice

Real Neat Blog Award, congratulations to 13 nominees!


Real Neat Blog Award

Late in 2014, I made this new award: the Real Neat Blog Award. There are so many bloggers whose blogs deserve more attention. So, I will try to do something about that 🙂

It is the first award that I ever made. I did some computer graphics years ago, before I started blogging; but my computer drawing had become rusty 🙂

The ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog Award are: (feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.

4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.

5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

My seven questions are:

1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

2. What is your favourite sport?

3. What has been a special moment for you so far in 2017?

4. What is your favourite quote?

5. What was your favourite class when still at school?

6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?

7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?

My nominees are:

1. Daniel’s Aquatic World

2. musalley

3. Apricity All The Way

4. intheshadowofthewolf

5. Crafts, Chronic Illness, and Adulting

6. Architects for Social Housing

7. magicandbeauty

8. CocoChlo blog

9. Art History blog

10. Shades Magazine

11.TALES OF THE PEN

12. penpowersong

13. In Dianes Kitchen

British Conservatives’ luring young people flop


This 18 May 2017 video from Britain is called Michael Gove Gets His Numbers Hopelessly Wrong On [2017 general election] Tory Manifesto.

By Conrad Landin in Britain:

Activate: Right’s derisory bid to copy Momentum

Tuesday 29th August 2017

The Morning Star‘s industrial reporter CONRAD LANDIN looks at a bafflingly amateurish effort to mobilise the (24+) ‘youth’ vote

A TORY campaign group aiming to emulate the success of Momentum has faced widespread mockery.

The new organisation, branded Activate, aims to “actively engage young people in right-of-centre politics,” according to its website.

Unusually for a youth organisation, Activate’s constitution suggests recruits under the age of 24 will not be considered full members.

Well, that means that at least Colonel Blimp, the retired high level military officer considered to be the archetype Conservative party supporter, may become a full member, being very far over 24.

Security by Colonel Blimp, 1930s cartoon by David Low

The group is chaired by Gary Markwell, a Conservative local councillor in Sussex. The Activate website initially profiled Tories in key roles in the organisation, including an all-male national committee.

But on Tuesday afternoon the “people” page disappeared from the site. Activate did not respond to the Star’s request for comment on this matter.

The foundation of the group follows calls from senior Tories for the governing party to emulate Momentum, a grassroots pressure group set up out of Jeremy Corbyn’s successful Labour leadership campaign.

In June the Star reported that Environment Secretary Michael Gove had said the Conservatives could “learn something” from Momentum’s success in getting thousands of people newly involved in politics.

Yesterday a Conservative spokesman insisted that Activate had no formal links to the party.

The group has been lampooned for its amateurish use of graphics and social media. Its first official tweet showed Mr Corbyn in front of Labour slogans accompanied with a shot of Star Wars character Admiral Ackbar, captioned “IT’S A TRAP.”

And online critics were puzzled by the seemingly random presence of a square-root symbol in the organisation’s logo.

A Momentum source said: “We’re flattered that Tory activists have been inspired by the success of Momentum in setting up Activate, but they’ve made some rookie errors early on.

“If they had really learnt lessons from our viral social media content, they would know they don’t have to use the hashtags #meme and #retweet with every graphic they share.

“And if they are as committed to a ‘modern’ Conservative Party as they say, maybe they shouldn’t have picked an all-male national committee. At this rate we wouldn’t be surprised if Activate deactivates in the near future.”

This satiric video from Britain says about itself:

A Message From Theresa May, The Strong And Stable Prime Minister | Comedy Central

4 May 2017

What the UK needs now is strong and stable leadership which is also strong and stable but also stable and strong.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

The Tory attack of the clones

Tuesday 29th August 2017

IT IS easy to mock the embarrassing efforts of Activate, the “independent national grassroots campaigning organisation” aiming to win back the nation’s youth for the Conservatives.

Its initial tweet, a meme of a Star Wars character from 1983’s Return of the Jedi warning the young not to trust Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, has been howled down for feeling the need to include #meme and #retweet — an admission, surely, that its activists might not know why they were recycling pictures of fictional aliens from the Thatcher era or what to do with them.

What can the left make of this, other than what we already knew — that the world Young Conservatives inhabit is a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?

Activate is clearly hoping to bill itself as the Tories’ Momentum — and the real Momentum can be proud of that.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Momentum has been slandered and derided from the moment of its birth.

It has been accused of masking an infiltration into the Labour Party by Trotskyists in numbers never seen before.

It’s been made the subject of televised yawnathons where so-called investigative journalists find out nothing whatsoever and present it as damning evidence of “entryism” and other dirty tricks.

It has repeatedly been denounced in the most aggressive terms by MPs of the party it is trying to support, who have referred to it as a “rabble” and a “mob”, defamed its enthusiastic young activists as bullies and used every excuse going to try to have the movement shut out of Labour politics.

But it stayed above the insults and organised, effectively, for Labour victories in seats the party’s headquarters had written off in June.

Few would now deny that tools like the My Nearest Marginal website and training in canvassing provided by Momentum played a major role in Labour’s mammoth effort to get out the vote, which brought Corbyn’s party its biggest vote increase since 1945.

The Tories want some of that action, and are clearly worried by their abysmal polling ratings among young people.

Founding their own Momentum shows at least some Tories recognise that the soundbite and spin-based politics of the Blair years, where a campaign consisted of carefully calibrated messages designed to win over an increasingly imaginary “Middle England,” is over.

Corbyn has brought back mass political engagement and campaigns now need to be fought on the ground and in the community rather than at Westminster and on TV.

Activate won’t work. As the author Alex Nunns told this newspaper in June, you can’t recreate Labour’s mass mobilisation without large numbers of activists, and Labour is the only mass membership party in Britain today.

Nor does the Tory message of lowering taxes on the rich while freeing big business to treat us like dirt and trash our planet resonate well with young people.

But if Activate is doomed to failure, the Conservative Party is not. It has beaten back the tide of history often enough before now. It is the most electorally successful party in British history, and it has not managed that without the ability to appeal to working-class voters.

Theresa May may be a dead duck and the government on its last legs, but a Labour victory depends on maintaining the radical passion for change that got out the vote in June.

It should bear that in mind before seeking to win the approval of Establishment “grown-ups”, whether in the City of London or the European Commission.

If we stick to the parameters of the possible as defined by the ruling class, the Dark Side has already won.

Ruth Davidson telling the Tory party to ‘man up’ proves that there’s no such thing as a liberal Conservative: here.