I am very interested in online writing as a type of performance which is a means to (hopefully) contribute in a positive way to the public conversation on matters of politics and society--however defined. As readers of my work here on WARN and elsewhere know, I am also very interested in the meta-game of punditry, professional opinion making, and who gets the chance to shape the public discourse under the guise of being an "expert".
There is a pattern and a type of style which allows some types of opinions to be considered respectable and mainstream. Some of these boundaries are stylistic (how and in what tone, manner, and venue does one write and speak). The other limitation is that of sticking to approved talking points and subjects.
"Speaking truth to power" can be very difficult within those rules. The trick is to push the boundaries outward while also creating one's own space within which to operate.
My most recent piece here on We Are Respectable Negroes focused on what I suggest is a clear connection between the Tea Party GOP's ethic of racialized citizenship and their efforts to destroy the social safety as a means of furthering the long game that is transferring resources to the 1 percent. The framework for the Republican's odious War on the Poor can be found in the concept of a Herrenvolk society that practices a type of bio politics which subsequently separates the public into "productive" and "unproductive" citizens.
The most obvious examples of a Herrenvolk order are South Africa, Jim and Jane Crow America, and of course Nazi Germany.
My reference to the latter forces a consideration of how Godwin's Law applies not just to online trolls, but also to a broader limit on the types of truth claims that are considered "acceptable" by many in the mainstream media, the chattering classes, and public, more generally.
During my several years of writing online and experiment with public pedagogy, I have learned that there are no guaranteed formulas for how a given piece of work may resonate (or not) with readers and the broader community.
Some of our best work--or what we think is our "best" and actually is not--may not be noticed until a later date. There is such a thing as being ahead of the curve. Alternatively, we can believe that there is something novel and interesting--and yes, attention-worthy and notable--about our work, when in reality our claims are too obvious. Thus, they are made to be uninteresting.
Yet, I have a lingering sense that my reference to useless eaters, Germany, and racial democracy in the context of the Tea Party's GOP assault on the poor and cutting of food stamps, was too direct, and thus too "problematic" for many readers and other venues.
I do not want to surrender to what I see as petty speech norms and rules that deem some ideas verboten. But, this is also a game which has to be played strategically and smartly.
Are my instincts misplaced? Or are more basic alternative explanation in play in the fear of clear echoes in current events which can be tied directly to the habits and practices of racial fascism of the near past?
Ultimately, how would you find balance between truth-telling and the practical hustle that is jockeying for one's proper position among the chattering classes?