Feb 06 2019

The Streisand Effect

If you’re not familiar with the concept it goes a little like this- In 2003 Barbra Streisand sued a photographer over pictures of her Malibu Estate, claiming “invasion of privacy”. The instant reaction was to hugely increase the popularity of the image and doxx her address to anyone who cared to know.

The coinage itself came from Mike Masnick of TechDirt, a site I read several times daily and frequently cite (among many flaws of written English currently is a failure to correctly use the homophones ‘cite’, ‘site’, and ‘sight’, don’t get me started about the proper use of ‘affect’, which is to pretend, and ‘effect’, which is to cause), in a 2005 discussion of a takedown notice issued to urinal.net, which naturally enough specialized in pictures of urinals, by a resort that was unhappy to be included in a compendium of male restroom plumbing.

Worked about as well for them as it did for Streisand.

Anyway, I am happy to report Comrades that our Socialist Revolution has received a great, and totally unintended, boost from Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio and his capitalist Republican running dogs.

Trump wants to run against socialism. That’s great for socialism.
By Paul Waldman, Washington Post
February 6, 2019

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Trump identified the chief domestic danger we face, alongside immigrants who come here to murder us all: socialism.

On the off chance that a dangerous ideology cannot be banished with sufficiently vigorous chants of “USA! USA!,” Republicans are amping up their warnings that socialism is here and ready to put its heavy boot on our necks. The fact that they’re pushing this line is not surprising, given that the Democratic Party is indeed moving left and embracing policy solutions with stronger government components than what is currently in place on issue like health care.

The trouble is that as an insult, “Socialism!” doesn’t have the zing it once did. And that’s Republicans’ own fault.

Perhaps not entirely, I’ll grant you. One reason “Socialist!” isn’t the powerful insult it once was is just time: Since the Soviet Union collapsed almost three decades ago, there are a couple of generations of Americans who have no memory of the Cold War. For them, socialism is not synonymous with communism, which anyway is just something they learned about in history class. They don’t view it as the ideology of our enemies.

But more importantly, in the time since, Republicans have attacked almost anything Democrats wanted to do as socialism. Modest tax increases on the wealthy? Socialism! Regulations to lower carbon emissions and reduce the risk of climate catastrophe? Socialism! Health care reform built on maintaining private insurance but with stronger protections for consumers? Socialism!

After hearing that for so long, a lot of young people in particular seem to have concluded that “socialism” means little more than “policies that are more liberal than the Republican Party would prefer.” In other words, they’ve accepted the Republican view of what socialism is.

You can see it in polls like this one from Gallup, showing that among people under 30, 51 percent have a positive view of socialism while only 45 percent have a positive view of capitalism. They have little actual experience with socialism, but if you’re saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, you’re working at a job with mediocre wages and few benefits, and you can’t see how you could ever afford to buy a home, capitalism may not be looking so hot.

Lately Republicans have been working hard to convince people of this syllogism: Democrats are a bunch of socialists; Venezuela is socialist; therefore anything Democrats suggest will inevitably turn us into an economic disaster like Venezuela. Besides being completely asinine (ask economists whether we’re in danger of seeing U.S. inflation reach 1 million percent any time soon), the argument relies on the broad public reacting with the same horror Republicans do when they hear suggestions like a wealth tax or universal health care.

But they don’t, in part because when they hear the word “socialist,” Americans are more likely to think of Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez than Joseph Stalin or Fidel Castro. In other words, someone who admires the social democratic systems they have in Europe, particularly in Scandinavia, and would like to see something similar here: a capitalist economy, but one that isn’t structured so much to benefit the wealthiest elite and includes a stronger system of social supports. Which isn’t nearly as terrifying.

If President Trump decides to run against socialism in 2020, he’ll be repeating what Republicans did over the last few decades, except condensed into the space of a year or so. The policies he’ll be describing as socialist, like higher taxes for the wealthy and giving more people health coverage, already have wide support, and with his own low approval ratings he’s unlikely to persuade people to change their views on those policies. Instead of destroying the Democratic nominee by pinning on her a label that everyone agrees is horrific, he’s much more likely to make socialism more popular than ever.

Which is why actual socialists — or democratic socialists, who are almost certainly far greater in number in the United States right now than the pure variety — should be more than happy to see Trump wage a war on socialism. It’s the best advertisement they can get.

The Internationale (traditional British version)

Arise, ye workers from your slumber,
Arise, ye prisoners of want.
For reason in revolt now thunders,
and at last ends the age of cant!
Away with all your superstitions,
Servile masses, arise, arise!
We’ll change henceforth the old tradition,
And spurn the dust to win the prize!

So comrades, come rally,
And the last fight let us face.
The Internationale
Unites the human race.

No more deluded by reaction,
On tyrants only we’ll make war!
The soldiers too will take strike action,
They’ll break ranks and fight no more!
And if those cannibals keep trying,
To sacrifice us to their pride,
They soon shall hear the bullets flying,
We’ll shoot the generals on our own side.

So comrades, come rally,
And the last fight let us face.
The Internationale
Unites the human race.

No saviour from on high delivers,
No faith have we in prince or peer.
Our own right hand the chains must shiver,
Chains of hatred, greed and fear.
E’er the thieves will out with their booty,
And to all give a happier lot.
Each at his forge must do their duty,
And we’ll strike the iron while it’s hot.

So comrades, come rally,
And the last fight let us face.
The Internationale
Unites the human race.

Properly sung with the right hand fist raised in salute if you don’t have a convenient AK-47 to grasp.