Friday, August 4, 2017

Far-Right YouTubers Dominate

At the New York Times, via Memeorandum, "For the New Far Right, YouTube Has Become the New Talk Radio":

In June, Zack Exley, a political organizer and a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, published a report on “Black Pigeon Speaks,” a political commentator on YouTube. In Exley’s judgment, B.P.S. is emblematic of a marginal but ascendant sort of YouTube figure — a type that is becoming a meaningful force in the practice of politics online. B.P.S. has, by any objective standard, a significant and engaged audience; at the moment, he has about 215,000 followers, and his uploads have been viewed more than 25 million times. In an introductory video, he describes himself as something like a pundit or an analyst: “I attempt to make sense out of the increasingly nonsensical world we all share,” he says of his channel. “I try and be only as offensive as I need to be.” His videos are unhurried, heavy on explanation and argument, regularly stretching over the 10-minute mark. And, as Exley notes, his politics skew right. Hard right:
He is a traditionalist in many ways, and is positive about Christianity as a cultural force and foundation of Western civilization, but he is not a Christian. He defies the postwar “fusion” of classical libertarianism and evangelical Christianity. B.P.S. believes in a global conspiracy of central bankers led by the Rothschilds who are driving immigration into predominantly white countries to increase the pool of “debt slaves” and to drive down wages; thinks that “cultural Marxism” is a Jewish conspiracy that is undermining Western civilization; and believes that women being allowed to do whatever they want, including choosing their own mates, is the deathblow to Western civilization.
Like its fellow mega-platforms Twitter and Facebook, YouTube is an enormous engine of cultural production and a host for wildly diverse communities. But like the much smaller Tumblr (which has long been dominated by lively and combative left-wing politics) or 4chan (which has become a virulent and effective hard-right meme factory) YouTube is host to just one dominant native political community: the YouTube right. This community takes the form of a loosely associated group of channels and personalities, connected mostly by shared political instincts and aesthetic sensibilities. They are monologuists, essayists, performers and vloggers who publish frequent dispatches from their living rooms, their studios or the field, inveighing vigorously against the political left and mocking the “mainstream media,” against which they are defined and empowered. They deplore “social justice warriors,” whom they credit with ruining popular culture, conspiring against the populace and helping to undermine “the West.” They are fixated on the subjects of immigration, Islam and political correctness. They seem at times more animated by President Trump’s opponents than by the man himself, with whom they share many priorities, if not a style. Some of their leading figures are associated with larger media companies, like Alex Jones’s Infowars or Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media. Others are independent operators who found their voices in the medium....


The YouTube right may be comparatively marginal and ragtag, but it’s also comparatively young. If talk radio primed listeners for Trump’s style and anticipated the American right’s current obsessions, the YouTube right is acquainting viewers with a more international message, attuned to a global revival of explicitly race-and-religion-based, blood-and-soil nationalism. Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars, 35, is perhaps the archetypal YouTube-right vlogger; he has nearly a million followers, and his videos have been viewed more than 215 million times. He has in the last month published videos with titles including “Staged Video Shows ‘Refugee’ Fake Drowning,” “Finsbury Mosque Terror: What They’re NOT Telling You,” “The Truth about Refugees” and “Why Leftists Submit to Terror.” The scripts for these videos are straightforward nativist polemics, with a particular focus on Europe — Watson is from Northern England — delivered in a relentlessly insistent tone, and quite close to the camera. Watson posts extended “roasts” of his political villains, as well as rants that betray a peculiar blend of self-taught reaction: against pop culture, broadly, but also against “modern architecture” and “modern art.” If one video sums up what a receptive viewer might take from subscribing to his channel, it’s “Some Cultures are Better than Others.”

I obviously can do without the rank anti-Semitism. Interestingly, though, Ezra Levant has fired a number of his vloggers who've veered too far over into the outwardly racist right (here's looking at you, Lauren Southern). That said, I like Paul Joseph Watson, and Stephen Molyneux, the latter who nearly breeches the line at times, as well.

Whatever. These kind of people are shaking things up, giving voice to a lot of unconventional and politically unpopular opinions. They're helping to beat back radical leftism, and that's a good thing overall.