Twitter’s new community fact-checking tool, Birdwatch, was the subject of satire among skeptical users this week. Twitter is allowing tweets to be flagged as misinformation, contributing to off-platform harm caused, or even as jokes misinterpreted to be serious. These claims are then judged by a consensus of users and marked as either true or false by majority opinion.
Twitter was seemingly inspired by Minds’ ban appeal system: where a randomly selected jury of users vote on if a given post has violated the platform’s terms of service. But Twitter’s flaw is not holding this chorus of opinions to account by comparison to an objective standard. Minds has its terms of service informed by legal standards. Twitter is defining fact itself by a consensus of interpretations. The echo chamber instantiated by their exodus of center-right accounts—including then-President Trump—now determines correctness; a power increasingly dangerous as our political class spends increasing amounts of time engaged in online discourse.
This unelected power to discolor interpretations of the world, and in turn influence domestic and international policy, is why many shared a comparison image between Birdwatch’s logo and a cover to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
But what’s behind big tech’s of subjectivist, collectivist redefinition of ‘truth’?
It’s the same ideology driving university classes’ leftward careen. As Jordan Peterson said, “whatever happens in the university happens everywhere five years later.” Campus activists funneled into international corporations; regurgitating inherited axioms, and ensuring they’ve become company policy. Google engineer James Damore’s researched response to a diversity training program—suggesting sex-typical personality traits and interests may influence a depreciated interest among women in tech—made him persona non grata among the same colleagues who cried on 2016’s election night.
What divisive dogma have professors drilled into our millennial workforce? Postmodernism.
As Professor Stephen Hicks identifies, postmodernists combined French and German collectivism with Heidegger’s anti-rationality, to produce a philosophy disbelieving in individuality, rationality, and objective reality; all to justify continued advocacy for socialism after atrocities committed by the USSR.
This poisonous ideology festered in America’s academies after Frankfurt School Marxists fled Nazi Germany. Post-war French intellectuals like Beauvoir, Derrida, and Foucault iterated on these ideologies, decrying hierarchies as arbitrary edifices of ‘micro-fascism’, and logic and language as ‘phallogocentric’ tools of patriarchal oppression. Identitarianism consumed humanities departments, infected social-sciences, and is now ensnaring STEM.
Because we understand the world through senses, which are subject to personal biases and impairments, postmodernists argued objective reality is inaccessible. Only instincts and emotions can guide you to “authentic” values”. There is no “truth” to postmodernists: only “your truth”.
Postmodernists then make the prejudiced leap of grouping people together who feel “emotional solidarity” through shared gender, racial, or class identities. Political theories formed to advance these group preferences. Thus, intersectionality is born.
This is how leftists advocate diversity and censorship simultaneously: creating a coalition of “oppressed” identities matters because postmodernists believe all minorities hold values opposed to those of the national majority.
These presupposed value differences created incite inter-group grievances. Without an objective interpretation of the world to share and compare to, negotiation between them becomes impossible. Everyone is reduced to being spokesmen for their group; and a voice against “oppressed groups” must be “repressed”, in the name of “tolerance”.
Continual censorship incites violence: when desperate people believe their voice is revoked, fists become their only form of expression. Force becomes the sole method of recourse for these balkanized factions. Those controlling speech redefine truth to justify silencing their opposition because they believe their group possesses the power and moral fortitude to win the inevitable fight. With their opposition gone, postmodernists’ politically-correct equitable utopia can come to fruition.
Professor Vybarr Cregan-Reid discusses the evolution of speech as a predator-detection utility. Unlike hand-gestures, speech could be used alongside tools and traversed darkness and distance. Determining shared intent motivated human cultural innovation; from prayer to patriotism. If we’re all looking at a flag, we’re oriented toward the same goal. Conversation is as key to individual and species-level survival as eating or running. As Karl Popper said: speech lets ‘our theories die in our stead’. Impediments to dialogue become existential threats.
Through social media, we’ve deferred most of our conversations to non-verbal digital mediums. Our ability to verbally determine intent, and negotiate beyond tribalistic prejudices, is now conducted at the behest of technocrats who disbelieve in objective truth. Perceptions of our neighbors are augmented by character limits and algorithms. Our feeds are feedback-loops of hostility: posts flaming rage are promoted to increase interaction and site traction. Subcultures thrive in echo-chambers. Ideological entrenchment deepens. The postmodern nightmare of identity camps talking impassibly over one-another is realized. Predators now control our threat-detection system.
Until nonsensical postmodern doctrines are publicly embarrassed by forthright appraisals of freedom of expression, academia will continually segregate our dialogue, and big tech devolve us as a species. It’s tragic James Madison was right that men aren’t governed by angels because a digital public square eternally beholden to America’s first amendment would be a revolution for free-speech on par with the Gutenberg Press.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.