It’s no secret that Silicon Valley is, more or less, left-wing. Every tech giant still around, shaped the internet into what it is today, albeit largely unwillingly. It’s only been in the last four years or so that their agenda became clear to the less-astute: absolute control.
Two stories dropped this week that have reminded us of this fact. The first concerns a piece of legislation long in the making: Articles 11 and 13 of the European Union—the oligarchs’ response to the meme wars, to put it succinctly. Allegedly making memes untenable within the confines of the EU, these articles inflict fines on the unauthorized use of copyrighted material. “So what?” you might ask; after all, that’s exactly the point of copyright law in the first place. The difference is that now, the EU is signing into law provisions that would create digital task forces to monitor and flag copyrighted content. Essentially, what YouTube has been doing for years will be inflicted upon the rest of the internet.
Naturally, this only applies to the unfortunate saps who live in the European Union. But you can predict that the geniuses in Silicon Valley are looking forward to implementing this on American soil, as well as the rest of the world, soon enough. Ostensibly, the problem with all of this is that the information disseminated during and since the 2016 election was done using alt-media sources, infographs, and of course, memes. If any of those had a copyright slapped on it, then according to Articles 11 and 13, the those users going around posting them are due for a visit from INTERPOL. Or whomever.
The other, somewhat more interesting bit of news was the leak of the top Google staff meeting immediately after the election of 2016 was over. It covers every base in the modern liberal playbook: Trump is a fascist and his supporters are all Nazis, this is a dark day in America, we failed as a liberal tech giant to prevent this, and give your neighbor a hug (I’m not kidding). Granted, the substance of the meeting is hardly news—we’ve known for years now that Google is not the unbiased search engine it claims to be—but the brazenness with which they are willing to lie to everyone outside of their employment remains baffling.
What do these two stories tell you? The same thing you already knew: the people in charge of the mainstream internet—techies in California, mostly—not only don’t care about you or the market, they’re ideologically –driven idiots. Not only that, but the people who have their backs are none other than the largest political organizations in the world. It’s enough to make you think there’s a conspiracy afoot.
Maybe they’re isolated incidents. Maybe these two things are completely unrelated. Maybe Zuckerberg, and Google, and the whole insane misdirection surrounding “Net Neutrality,” and the EU articles—maybe that’s all just a coincidence. Okay, let’s believe that. Let’s assume that the Big Tech in Silicon Valley, the convergence of surveillance agendas in and around Washington, and the EU articles are all just coincidental things utterly unrelated to one another. They still bear the same fruit, and the fruit hangs from the same tree.
In general, I’m not one to chock up advances in technology as being caused by trends of Modern thought. You hear that sort of argument all the time from people who don’t understand the positions of traditionalists and anti-Modernists across the political spectrum. “So you don’t like modernity?” They ask with the smug self-satisfaction that only an idiot can mount, “well I guess you don’t like modern medicine and pasteurization either, huh?” Technological innovation is not, and has never been, unique to Modernity. It’s only the hubris of the Enlightenment and the embrace of the cult of scientism that would decree such.
I’m starting to believe, however, that there is one exception to this rule. The existence of the Internet, at least as it has developed to the present day, is every bit a product of the Modern agenda. It is intrinsically globalist and internationalist, it’s fundamentally egalitarian, and perhaps its most appealing feature: it’s spontaneous. Anonymity levels the playing field of the voices who compete for rhetorical or intellectual dominance on forums and image boards, competing narratives and investigations are mere clicks away from each other, and online retailers are capable of getting almost anything to you within a couple of weeks—if not hours. The Free Market of Ideas, at least at the beginning, was exactly what the internet has been billed as, and more or less, what it’s been.
Granted, the modern liberal impulse has been to rip it all down, but as I’ve written of before, the “modern liberal” impulse is exactly the same as the “classical liberal” one, only a little more honest and tempered by experience. Platforms are used by people, and people have to form groups. The people who have harnessed the reigns of the machine now are, obviously, those with the most to lose should any form of conservative or traditionalist narrative seriously take root. While their platforms make it difficult to actively purge dissenting voices, they’ve nonetheless found ways of doing so.
But that’s not really the point, is it? Traditionalism will never take root on the internet. It can’t. Traditionalism rejects the internationalist and leveling impulses that allow the internet to function. At best, traditionalists can only embrace the internet as a short-term tactic to indulge in. The endgame is greater than the internet will ever be. It’s little more than something to pass the time with.
The internet has certainly made possible the dissemination of texts and information across whole sectors of the population that would have been impossible before. I can’t deny the utility of online booksellers throughout my growth as both a writer and a reader. Yet all the same, the global dissemination of information seems only to have muddied the waters of personal intrigue. German Idealism remained German; Anglo-American Analytic philosophy likewise remained English, if at least in language. Locality wasn’t the point; the route shaped by ethnos toward Logos made that knowledge comprehensible. In a global world, where the boundaries of intelligibility remain, ostensibly, only matters of dialect or language, where does ethnos remain? What greater tool of destroying these boundaries exists than the internet?
But let’s put that aside for a second. Worse still: the internet, given its foundations, would only ever have been run by the liberal- or libertarian-inclined. Certainly, you’d have your one-offs and your blogs and your small forums. But the large services would be run by the people who gravitated toward the essence of what the internet was: liberalism in as pure a form as possible. And liberalism always decays, eventually, into the neoliberal state of authoritarianism that the soft-conservatives are so eager to point out today.
The presence of the internet should be enough to force those few hardline traditionalists who still exist to confront the fact that Modernity is ever-present and inescapable. In its own fashion, the internet is Modernity given total form and function, and its convenience makes it possible to spread what message traditionalists have. This very blog, obviously, wouldn’t exist without it. But it can only ever function as a means to an end. Modernity must be used as a landscape and formed into something greater than what it is. Traditionalism, as a method, supports this. The very term would not exist without Modernism to begin with.
Remain skeptical of the internet. That’s the only conclusion I have right now. Use it, but only piecemeal; avoid sites that require complete registration of identity and information. Expect to get de-platformed once you become large enough to attract the ire of those in charge. That’s the way of things. With luck, eventually, the internet won’t have to exist at all.