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We are immersed in a revolutionary moment that has come upon us almost without warning. In large part it is being powered by the Internet and its many applications and data-bases that fuel social media. The disruptive evolution of online information control and dissemination platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon cannot be overstated because the “Cancel Culture” could not exist without the vastly expanded technological systems that are allowing often malicious behaviors that have been described as done by posters with “Asperger’s on steroids.” The dominant platform companies, headed by highly political “visionary” leaders such as Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, Jack Dorsey, and Jeff Bezos, are not neutral facilitators of questionable behavior. They are dedicated actors with political visions that shape their approach to data development, access, and shaping. A consequence of this totally unprecedented set of technologies is that Western, still largely-representative, quasi-democratic societies are disintegrating. The maliciousness and the empowerment of radical identity groups and “Social Justice Warriors,” along with ignorant and malicious individuals, has reached the point that our societies risk becoming “rotten at the core” as the principles and institutions that provide their foundations erode. This phenomenon is a main focus of “Un-Canceling” America.
Thought control and tearing down existing institutions are at the center of what is going on. We can all wish George Orwell’s 1984 was merely a work of fiction, but Orwell was a true prophet who grasped all too well the inherent nature of authoritarian true believers and the societies they always create if given the chance. A central way in which such societies maintain their power is to control language. Why this works is stated clearly by linguistics expert Ruth Anshen. She offers the vital insight that humans do not only “use” language, but “become” the language they use. She explains: “man is that being on earth who does not have language. Man is language.” Language is the lens through which we are able to “see” our world. It not only defines our identity but sets limits on and determines our ability to understand and interpret reality. When this occurs with members of activist collectives and Identity Groups that become a collective “person” or “hive,” “their” language becomes “their” personal reality, one they too frequently impose on others. The SciFi website technovelgy.com defines 1984’s Crimestop as a means of thought control. It is a deliberately induced form of “protective stupidity” geared to defending against people following “any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction.”
“Cancel Culture” is at its base the tool of secular political religions and punishing heretics and those who do not shun them is an essential part of the process of proselytization and control being pursued by the High Priests of the identity and secular religious movements. As seen in the examples related to China, Iran, Pakistan and Egypt, heresy is a critical means of controlling a population, and that is what Cancel Culture is all about in its quest for power and privilege.
cancel culture, social media, technology, language
Barnhizer, David, ""Un-Canceling" America" (2021). Law Faculty Books. 61.