The appeal in novelty offers revolutionaries a popular advantage. Not only do conservatives fail to meet new challenges with new ideas, they lack the constant need to re-dress their old ones.
But a culture of censorship that fails to deal with the content of the offending material (‘cancelling’), has lent stick-in-the-muds a novel form of crowd-baiting. The mob are now primed to seek outrage in laconic statements of banal truth and those who make them.
“They let you grab ‘em by the poosy,” may not have been intended for a wider audience, but Trump’s observation will one day be acknowledged as the most effective campaign soundbite of our time. Not only did it indicate its author’s grasp of a perceived reality amidst a saccharine sexual dystopia, it demonstrated the disingenuity of those who omitted the words – ‘they let you,’ as if his observation were an injunction. If it is true that all politicians lie, at least this one didn’t lie to himself.
The legacy of Trump’s tenure to the free world, if nothing else, has been to illustrate the fragility inherent in totalitarianism. But how can the common man – afraid for his livelihood tread the path that he has beaten? It may be that social martyrdom is somewhat less effective without national media coverage, but I find such modest platforms as a friend’s dinner party, Christmas greetings card or colleagues’ zoom-meeting sufficient to cultivate looks of outrage indistinguishable from the rictus of coital ecstasy. The golden era of the shitpost and the troll has arrived.
shitpost | ˈʃɪtpəʊst |
noun vulgar slang
a deliberately provocative or off-topic comment posted on social media, typically in order to upset others or distract from the main conversation
The ‘off topic’ and ‘main conversation’ clauses set the totalitarian scene here. Really they are ‘off premise.’
The art of the shitpost is simultaneously to define what the conversation is about and to have the last word in it. A good shitpost can’t be responded to by the offended party unless they acknowledge their own false premises. It provokes, in other words, precisely because it is on-topic.
The finest shitpost in recorded history read: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” In this, Pontius Pilate strayed considerably from the presumptive topic of a con being put to death. The real flourish was that Pilate would have dictated in Greek and not understood a nuance in the Hebrew translation pinned above Christ’s head. “ישוע הנוצרי ומלך היהודים” forms the acronym ‘יהוה’ which simply means ‘God.’ Credit is due to the hand of happenstance.
The triggering was well recorded in the gospels and continues to this day.
troll2 | trɒl, trəʊl |
a deliberately offensive or provocative online post.
Anything, in other words, which questions the woke orthodoxies of race, gender, ecology, pathology, economics and so forth. Like the shitpost, the troll achieves its highest potential as an art form when it is transmitted, deliberately or accidentally, by those who hope to turn others against its author.
The name of Eton’s current headmaster, for instance, is now a mere appendage to that of the teacher William Knowland, whose lesson on traditional masculinity was deemed offensive by a female colleague. The school duly scrubbed the lecture from their intranet. Things might not have escalated if Eton hadn’t then fired Knowland for publishing it on his private YouTube channel. Knowland’s appeal turned the nation into his classroom.
Or how about the Church of England? If you have heard of their latest initiative for the accommodation of non-traditional sexual relationships, it is probably in the context of the criminal investigation into Ben John, whose traditionalist riposte caused a transgender clergyman living in such a relationship to feel ‘unsafe.’
The objectives may be questionable and the opposition daunting, but a solid 0.01% are trolling their way to public approval. This is the death knell for smug institutional bullying, quota systems, de-platforming and approval-seeking censorship. China’s social credit rating system contains similar seeds of its own destruction.
As past revolutionaries have been forced to conclude, cancel culture has to be 100% effective if it is to work at all.