Should communists engage in bourgeois social media?

Says Lenin:

“Whilst you lack the strength to do away with bourgeois parliaments and every other type of reactionary institution, you must work within them because it is there that you will still find workers who are duped by the priests and stultified by the conditions of rural life; otherwise you risk turning into nothing but windbags.”

One of the main concerns communists have addressed is the fear of losing so-called “privacy” on the internet when engaging on bourgeois social media. Many refuse to use Instagram, Facebook, the two most used bourgeois social media on the internet, out of privacy risks.

Yes, they are privacy hellholes, but organizing in a communist party is also an “attack” on your privacy. Having your name written down on a list somewhere is at least expected if you engage in revolutionary activity. Karl Marx himself was constantly spied on by the Prussian government spies during his time working at the Rheinische Zeitung, and he even acknowledged seeing spies following him to his peers.

There are times we should be careful about exposing ourselves and our organization, when doing certain activities. But we aren’t a sect, and we should learn to show our faces to the workers, even at the cost of our privacy, otherwise our ideas will remain unknown. Is our privacy more important than the revolution?

Besides, the spying and tracking capabilities of bourgeois apparatus goes way beyond sending data directly to through their software. Facebook, for instance, is known to create “shadow profiles” associated with your browsing behavior before you even create an account there. Google has fingerprinting techniques which make possible to identify you even if you change your IP. And everywhere you go, you leave metadata identifying your machine to servers anywhere.

Fighting for privacy through individual means and boycott is a meaningless struggle which only serves to keep us low profile and inaccessible to workers who engage in bourgeois social media. As communists we should strive to occupy ALL spaces with our critiques, and leave no vacuum possible in political discourse. Where there’s vacuum, it’s bound to be filled with content, and in a political vacuum if it’s not filled with our ideas, it will be filled by bourgeois ideology.

@yogthos
1614d

Communists absolutely must engage and agitate where people are. There is no hope for any real change without getting our ideas into mainstream discourse.

That said, I think it’s important to draw distinction between agitation and organization. Mainstream platforms are where we need to agitate and move people to the left. Meanwhile, open platforms built by activists for activists should be the ones used for actual organizing.

I think that even bigger concern than privacy is that commercial platforms can easily start denying service to us. A lot of people cheered when Trump got deplatformed, but exact same thing can be done to people on the left and the precedent has already been set. Platforms like Facebook or Reddit can destroy entire communities in one fell swoop.

I wrote about this in more detail here.

Muad'Dibber
mod
admin
713d

A lot of people cheered when Trump got deplatformed, but exact same thing can be done to people on the left and the precedent has already been set.

This is a big concern. Reddit has removed a few left communities, and the ones that are “on the chopping block” have no choice but to self-police themselves in order to not get removed.

Mainstream platforms are where we need to agitate and move people to the left. Meanwhile, open platforms built by activists for activists should be the ones used for actual organizing.

Absolutely. Once I get fully onboarded into my party, I’m going to recommend we switch internally to self-hosted platforms that we control (esp matrix).

Of course yall are right about privacy, we don’t have much if any of it, and even if we didn’t, it would still be 100% necessary and worthwhile to agitate on bourgeois social media.

@TeethOrCoat
513d

Instead of having giant left spaces like the late r/cth, why not instead go for strong and loud presence on the big political subs? I’ve noticed worldnews can have a lot of pushback sometimes and reddit has potential to produce gems like that Rushan Abbas AMA. Thoughts?

Could be possible to set up brigades from lemmy. I’ve seen lots of people on hexbear/chapo talk about wanting to do brigading campaigns.

@yogthos
413d

Yeah, hosting your own stuff is the best option if you have the technical skills. I help maintain a private zulip server for my org that we host on a VPS. Being able to control the server is great for any sensitive communications. It’s probably the only way to guarantee any real privacy.

Meanwhile, platforms like Lemmy and Mastodon are excellent for building public communities where we don’t have to worry about getting censored or randomly shut down.

Good news is that it seems people on the left have a lot better technical skills than on the right at the moment. Right attempts at platforms like Parlr and Gab have been hilariously disastrous.

@ksynwa
admin
513d

Agreed. I think it is important for communist thought to proliferate social media because of the presence of the working class there. But it should be a tool rather than a central piece to organisation. Private corporations can deplatform and censor anyone they want at any moment.

I really enjoy your thoughts about this.

@yogthos
313d

thanks!

Seabourne_PLA's
admin
814d

There really is no such thing as ‘privacy’ in the modern world. The state already has all of your data, they already know where you live, and where you work. If you keep a phone on yourself while you’re out, they can easily track it to triangulate your location. If you interact with the internet at all - and I mean, even just a little - corporations and the state will see everything you’re doing, even with VPNs. My service provider sent me a cease and desist order for piracy, while I was using a VPN that multiple people told me was good for specifically that. They know what you’re up to, and it’s fruitless to resist them on that. Heck, the FBI probably already knows every Lemmygrad user’s full name and address, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re all already on a list. Esp since many of us came from the leftist side of Reddit, which was selling our data.

So, it’s much better for yourself and those around you to stop caring about ‘privacy’ and instead dedicate your time to progressing movements. The people who get paranoid about their internet privacy end up - in my opinion - becoming very toxic about it, that’s not helpful to anyone.

If we keep sacrificing the revolution for our own privacy, then selfishness will be the downfall of the collective.

Muad'Dibber
mod
admin
413d

Yep, in the tradeoff between privacy and agitation, we should choose agitation every time.

@TeethOrCoat
513d

Yes, yes, yes. Not only that, we must be the last people to leave. If forced to leave, we must have the tenacity to return over and over again. We are already disadvantaged enough as is. If the US uses USAGM as an arm of war, namely psychological war, then I see the media, social or traditional as a sort of battlefield and not a place to relax with friends. I’m sure many of us have experienced how uncomfortable it is to argue on social media. This is why I liken it to a battlefield. In war, in battle, it’s not going to be comfortable. If you are anti-imperialist, it is a duty to engage and I agree very strongly with your last paragraph.

Felipe Forte
admin
creator
4
edit-2
14d

I use Facebook and Instagram as examples, but we should occupy every space, such as Twitter, Reddit, YouTube and other media, and, of course, outside the Internet as well.

We should be talking to the people online but for you to make that argument you don’t need to make a defeatist argument against caring about privacy. You brought up shadow profiles and fingerprinting but the both ca be dealt with one way or the other.

Use Facebook if you think you can actually agitate there but try to stay as private as possible.

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