[Marxism] Why celebrities love twitter and I hate it

Andrew Pollack acpollack2 at gmail.com
Mon Dec 30 11:25:31 MST 2013

1. Manuel's post should be read thoroughly, he's on point throughout.
Twitter (and texts etc.) is just a technique, one of several to be used in
combination, and one that works in situations requiring speed, brevity, and
broad scope of participation.

Think of episodes you've read about or been part of where a union has to
get on the horn ASAP to all its members to get them to the picketline --
how many words did they have time to use for each call? In a military
confrontation doesn't each unit need to be in touch with each other and/or
higher-ups quickly, repeatedly and briefly? In the old days, through
walkie-talkies, today via cell phones etc. (in the painful old Civil War
days through mounted couriers, limited in range, speed and number; do you
think the officers were happy about those limits?). Marshals at progressive
marches similarly need to be in touch for instant changes of route or
tactic if they come under attack.

2. See works by Miriyam Aouragh for balanced accounts of how social media
did AND DID NOT aid Arab uprisings. Here's two:

On Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 1:02 PM, Manuel Barrera <mtomas3 at hotmail.com> wrote:

> ======================================================================
> Rule #1: YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
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> "Twitter was the singlemost immediate cause of death for Occupy
> Cincinnati. . . Twitter isn't just a really crappy means of
> non-communication.  It's a perfect way of turning a potential movement into
> a corpse."
> This analysis along with Louis' is simply off the mark, juxtaposing
> technology to flaws in organizing and mass action. It is NOT that twitter
> is ineffectual. Indeed, the examples in the Arab Spring, the Iranian "Green
> Revolution" just before it, and the Turkish uprising recently all
> illustrate the positive role that social media has played; and, perhaps,
> more "accessible" to Mark and Louis, what would the anti-war movement,
> women's, Black/Chicano, and every other movement have done if there weren't
> mimeographs and leaflets? What was--and is--ineffectual is the belief that
> just because the Arab Spring relied on social media to help it organize
> that somehow using social media could be used to jumpstart the Occupy
> movement with predictable results. I remember at one point in the
> occupation of Tahrir Square when Mubarak's regime cut off social media
> communications, activists circumvented the blockage AND organized by making
> use of the skills of older activists and copy machines!
> Louis' "analysis" of Twitter--that it doesn't lend itself to writing
> essays (to paraphrase a tweet, "Duh??!!")--wholly misses the point of the
> medium; actually, many bloggers make good use of Twitter to send links to
> larger documents and stories. Occupy Cincinatti, I am sure, made many
> tactical and theoretical mistakes as too many other Occupy movements. I
> would say that the juxtaposition of anarchistic organizing and the designs
> of bourgeois liberal activists in the diaspora of the Obama/OFA/Democratic
> Party had more to do with this kind of social media activism. Such forces
> either really believed the U.S. masses were just waiting to be "called" or
> really did NOT want to call them to action. In my view, aside from the
> treachery the "anti-imperialist" left and organized left sectarians on the
> issues of the Arab Spring, Libya, and Syria, it is the fact of that the
> "left's" disdain and unwillingness to do more than simply "intervene" in
> the Occupy movement that has proven devastating for the initiation of a
> mass movement. Such groups, and the mindsets of disdain for how best to
> organize in a higher technology context, simply allowed the more youthful,
> but foolish, anarchists and countercultural elements in the movement to
> take leadership and the resulting dissolution of the movement when the
> state apparatus coordinated its repression against the movement. Examples
> abound, civil rights hero John Lewis being denied the right to speak in
> Occupy Atlanta by white radicals, the black bloc of Oakland, the descent of
> SEIU (especially in Minneapolis) into ultraleftism, the fixation on
> occupying "squares" with no effort to mount a campaign for democratic
> rights to assembly (of any mass character). All of those mistakes would
> easily have been countered had there been even a small cadre of activists
> such as once had taken place in the 60's/70's in the SMC, YSA, SWP (among
> others; just my own direct experience). Instead, the older "left" fought
> among themselves for position or to serve as "elders" with a supposed
> better way.
> The fact is that such media as Twitter, FB, and, even, this list, have
> their place, but just like it took years of patient organizing--and
> leafletting--to build an anti-war movement, it takes time to "build" as
> Mark says. The media used must be marshalled for different purposes at
> different times and it takes experienced cadres--i.e., revolutionary
> activists--to help the movement know what to do at any given time. That
> instead we see the folly--what I would call betrayal--of "intervening" and
> jockeying for position within the organized left has as  much to do  with
> the mistakes of the movement as a whole as the banality of using Twitter to
> call rallies on short notice (to be sure, groups like Occupy Homes in
> Minneapolis, have successfully used Twitter, FB, and cell phone texts to
> counter attempts at evictions, but that only shows the narrowness of social
> media for building mass movements).
> To Louis' credit, I have noticed he has been using Facebook with some
> effect as well as others. There is no reason why using twitter to publicize
> U-RM would be as useful. Too, the use of media like Youtube and sites like
> UpWorthy have proven useful tools in educating a range of people across all
> ages.  What makes "us" look like Luddites is our willingness to disdain
> media and counterpoise that disdain to "education" of the masses. It's
> important to get working people to read books, to become intellectuals. You
> can try to do that by pointng them to a library or Amazon or you can find a
> catchy 140 character phrase--writing is nothing if it can't be concise when
> the need arises--that links to the material. Ask yourself, which is the
> most likely to reap results?
> Or, "like, duh, it's not the media, dudes, it's the strategy!"
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